Archive for the ‘custom card designs’ Category

I can never overlook an opportunity to send mail and Valentine’s day is such a wonderful one.  I usually design a quick card with the boys’ picture on it and send it out to family and friends.  This year the idea of a field guide was snowballing in my brain and gathered enough momentum to manifest itself into a very special Valentine’s Day greeting.

Our Field Guide to Loveable Things.

It’s kind of a cross between an Audubon field guide to insects that Eli has kicking around and a little nightly ritual we have called “happy things”.  Eli likes his head to be filled with happy things right before he drifts off into slumber.  So we talk about things.  We often talk about things that have delighted us in the past.  The time that we visited the goat farm and about 50 baby goats came running up to us all maaaaaing enthusiastically.  Or the June night in Maine when a firefly crawled across Eli’s finger.  The rattly, comforting sound of a purring kitty.  The sweet goodness of a summer ice cream cone at the farm.  Steaming hot chocolate after sledding.  The satisfaction of a good skipping stone.  Happy things.  People and animals and moments that are easy to love.

And so I arrived at a very condensed version of a long list of lovably happy things. These particular loves are a little snapshot of the things that have been delighting us in our mid-winter days.  Each item got a “Latin name”  (Chocolate = Nomore leftus, Maple syrup = Sapophytum delicium,… you get the idea) and a pseudo-scientific little description of its habitat, feeding habits, etc.  It’s silly and sweet (Soren = Soso cutus) and a fun way to celebrate our very, loveable life.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Wishing you all so many loveable things.

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I always get really excited to make valentines for Eli to exchange at school.  These sweet little valentines first got their start when Eli was in preschool.  My octopus and fishy valentines have been around the block now and this year, with Eli in second grade and all, it was time for some fresh new faces.  Thus the Rock Star valentines were born.   Owl, Rain or Shine and Dinosaur valentines quickly followed and have kept my little shop busy for the last few weeks.

The honest truth of it is that my son doesn’t care a whole lot about what his valentines look like.  He even reminded me that his classroom valentine exchange is optional.  Maybe optional if your mom is not a card designer.  There’s no way my boy is going to school without some handmade valentines in his backpack!  I only have so many years to enjoy this….  That said, Eli was more than satisfied with the whole rock star design.  Electric guitars, amplifiers, not too much red or pink.  You know, it’s cool.  And that’s good enough for this mama.

Exchanging valentines is fun, but I suspect that the goodies that come along with commercial valentines these days are the main event. Last year when I looked through Eli’s paper bag stuffed full of little cards, do you know that the majority of them had something attached to them?  Pencils, lollipops and (I’ll try to suppress my gasps of horror) these packets full of sugar.   It’s hard for a handmade valentine to top a packet full of artificially colored sugar, no?  Still, I think it’s entirely possible that some young eyes might find a colorful valentine card sprinkled with little hearts inside a translucent envelope a refreshing change.  Even sans sugar.

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My sisters and I have been after my dad to open up his own Etsy shop for some time.  He’s always been a tinkerer and woodworker and creator of unique and wonderful things.  He’s been retired for a few years now and so his workshop has seen a lot of action.  He always has something new to share with us.

Running an Etsy shop is not at all a fun or realistic possibility with dial-up internet.  And so my dad has continued to tinker away for his own enjoyment.  Recently though, there’s been talk.  Talk of high-speed internet.  Talk of shop names.  Talk of things to be made.  It’s all very exciting.

In the meantime, I’ve been so excited to collaborate with Dad on this sweet little calendar.  I designed the pages with a collection of my favorite designs from 2011 and Dad came up with a rustic and lovely birch wood display stand.  The wood is cut from the woods behind his workshop (happy woods, woods that I grew up in) and sanded smooth and polished with a little beeswax polish.  It’s woodsy and rustically beautiful.  Just the thing for my favorite designs.

It’s winter solstice.  We’re spinning back towards the sun again.  And as 2012 sneaks its way in, I feel like this little calendar is a retrospective of my work and loves over the past year and a mantra of good things to come.  I’m eager for many more interesting and wonderful collaborations down the road.

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There is so much making associated with this season.  Much of it falls into the work category, it’s true.  There are many orders for holiday cards and gift tags to be fulfilled.  And I love all of it.  I really do.   But there is also the making which falls into the personal category.  My own gift-making and decorating.  And wouldn’t I be a big liar if I didn’t say that these things are the most fun of all?

I’ve had a bucket of felt balls and a bucket of acorn caps sitting in my studio for weeks now.  Today with the “help” of some tiny hands and my trusty glue gun, they were transformed into a whole bunch of little Christmas tree cuties.  I’ve made these little felt acorn ornaments before and I’ve been eager to make more.  As I was making this time around, a handful of clothespins (doesn’t everyone keep clothespins in their office?) got a little too close to my glue gun and a whole bunch of acorns jumped on.  Or something like that.  These are my new favorites now.  They clip right onto those fragrant boughs and add a whole lot of handmade charm.  They’d look real cute clipped onto a pretty package too.  I’ll be honest though, I’m not sure I can part with them.   When I was little, our family ornaments were largely homemade.  My artist uncle had painted up a whole lot of clothespins as toy soldiers in various colors and they made up a good portion of our tree’s adornments.   As a result, I have a particular fondness for the rustic charm homemade ornaments.  And isn’t it nice when something as simple as a Christmas tree covered in clothespins can make you feel all warm and cozy inside?

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I’ll confess that I’ve exhausted myself (at least temporarily) of the whole reversible baby pants marathon.  So with a friend’s new baby requiring a little handmade love from me, I felt it what high time to change things up.  With my own littlest one now 6 months old (!) and busybusybusy with anything that he can get his sweet little paws on, soft baby toys have been a much-loved blessing.  Before Soren was even outside the womb, I was whipping up a whole stack of soft blocks.  Mostly, I was just crazy-nesting and needing to sew, sew, sew.  But also, I was having fun using up all those fabric scraps left over from all those, ahem, baby pants.

I’ve been loving those squishy blocks these days almost as much as little Soren.  For one, they don’t hurt when they come flying at your head.  For two, it seems really satisfying to my babe to be able to squish them so completely between his hands.  And for three, they make a mighty nice teething toy.  They’re quiet.  They’re pretty.  They’re fun to toss.

So.  I thought it would be fun to share our findings with the newest baby on the block.  I’ve spent the past couple of days cutting and sewing little scraps of fabric into soft fish toys.  They go nicely into a bucket.   (They’re as fun to chuck around the room as they are to pile back into the bucket!  We like that in a toy!)  And Ta-Da!  A bucket of fish.  And also some personalized fishy note cards for all that baby correspondence of his.   Babies have a lot of friends, you know.

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My little niece just had a big birthday.  One of those fancy ones where the numbers line up.  Her 7th birthday on the 7th of March.  Having fully experienced the rambunctious joy of a 7th on the 7th back in August with my Eli, I knew it was time to pull out all the stops.   This little girl was going to get 7 presents!

I knew I wanted to get her a book on sewing and Emma Hardy’s Sewing for Children looked like just the thing.  It’s full of plenty of projects at various levels of difficulty for her to sink her little needle and thread into.  I decided to pick a few different projects from the book and supply her with all the materials needed for her to dive right in.  In addition, I provided the budding seamstress with a set of needles, pins, homemade pin cushion and a handful of colorful embroidery floss.

The fun part was wrapping it all up.  I ordered her 7 gifts so that needles would be opened first and the book would be opened last.  Everything in between added to the unfolding puzzle of what to do with all this weird stuff from Aunt Heather.  Inspired by the Alexander Henry fabric, Farmdale Crossing Chickens, used in her pin cushion (and also provided for her tote bag project) and equally infatuated with my happy new chicken notecards, chickens became a sort of packaging theme.   She got tags, a birthday card and a mailing label to boot.  All plucky and clucky for the birthday girl’s big 7.  She also has, Eli and I had to note, SEVEN letters in her name.  Wow.  Fancy birthay times 7.

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A lot of little valentines have tumbled through this studio of mine the past few weeks.  It’s always a joy for me to make cards and maybe it’s even a bit of an extra thrill to make tiny ones and package them up all sweet.  A lot of paper hearts were punched.  This pretty paper confetti was designed to sprinkle throughout each small glassine envelope that houses a valentine.  It makes me giddy to think of all the little ones out there exchanging fishy and octopus valentines today with little paper hearts sprinkling all around.  Aside from shop orders, family valentines were also made and mailed.  I really cherish any opportunity to send mail.  It’s a bonus if I get to put my babe’s photos on it too.

And I can’t think about mail without thinking about my little penpal.  Every letter starts off with a pet name.  Our pet names for each other have run the gamut in our 14 years of weekly (more or less…) letters.  I really like whiskerlicious.  Muffin-top is good too.  Over the years we’ve come up with some delightfully silly equations to arrive at suitable pet names.  Becca’s equation is to take a household object and add something soft:  bucket + fluff = bucket fluff.  The equation that I often use is:  something sweet +  a body part.   This results in the wonderfully ridiculous cupcake-head and honey-bum.  My favorite is pie face.  Use your discretion, of course.  Not everyone thinks it is darling to be called candy-butt, though Becca, I suspect, would quite like it.  And obviously, despite it’s being a household object, never use the word toilet with anything.

Valentine’s Day is such a perfect opportunity to exercise a pet name equation, but really any day will do.  If you’re so inspired today, pick up a pen and write a little note to a special spoon-pillow or sugar-foot.  It will make you feel good, it will make a friend feel good, and it’s easy as pie.  Or pie face.

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calendar envelopes

Happy New Year, lovelies!  I’m always good for a fresh new start!

I spent New Year’s Day clipping and snipping up old calendars of years gone by (including Nikki McClure’s fabulous 2010 calendar which was so very loved all year) and turning them into envelopes that will jazz up my correspondence for some months to come.  What a lucky little pen pal I have.  In fact, it was my pen pal who inspired this venture.  Becca sent me a series of calendar envelopes early last year and they were so much fun to receive.  It turns out they’re really fun to make too.  It’s like some kind of wonderful alchemy to turn one fully functional thing into another.  It’s out with the old and in with the new all with the same materials.  So resourceful, don’t you agree?

I used envelope templates from Paper Source that I’ve had kicking around here for a long time.  But you could just as easily make templates out of any old envelope that you have on hand.  It’s a simple job of tracing, cutting, folding and gluing.

Here’s to a new year filled with enticing adventures, delicious occasions, creative undertakings and lots of satisfying correspondence!

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My friend Lisa got married this past weekend on a sunny beach in Mexico.  Sadly, I was not able to be there in person, though I did have the delight of making her wedding invitations.

Lisa wanted to continue on with the travel theme that had permeated her save the dates and shower invitations and mused with me over the idea of them resembling passport or boarding passes.   I  decided to give the boarding passes a go.  A web search informed me that not only had they been done before, boarding pass invitations were a well established thing for destination weddings.  I was sort of bummed about that.  It’s always nice to feel that your approach is innovative, you know?  But I soothed myself with the knowledge that boarding pass invitations had never been done by me and this was a nice opportunity to take a popular idea and make it fresh, unique and related to my friend’s established wedding theme.  I like the opportunity to rise to a challenge.

The sunset-beach-with-palm-trees design made its way into all of Lisa’s invitations in one form or another.  We kept the same color scheme and fonts throughout each piece.  In the end, each part was unique unto itself, but fit nicely into a collection.

I might not have been at the wedding in the flesh, but a whole lot of me was fused into these invitations.   Somehow that eases the sting of the December wind on my face while my childhood friend celebrates a new beginning within the rich, warm air of Mexico.

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Last spring, I worked on my friend Lisa’s save the date postcards for her destination wedding in Mexico this coming December.  Over the summer, her sister asked me to design the invitations for a wine-tasting shower in Lisa’s honor.  We wanted to continue on with the color palette and theme that had already been established, but to net something fresh and unique and appropriate for the occasion.   Lisa’s sister wanted guests to fill out recipe cards (one a food recipe and another a “recipe for a happy marriage”) and return them with the RSVP card.  I designed it so that the cards easily tear off  (gotta love that perforating blade attachment on my rotary cutter) from the invitation.  I love the little bits that tear off.  It’s obviously a very practical, utilitarian feature but it’s also fun.  Isn’t it always so satisfying to tear something at the dotted line?

For the images, inspiration took over and Lisa’s love of wine and travel merged  pretty effortlessly.  Wine glasses became full of the sea at sunset.  Mmm.  Wine and sea.  Now that’s a combination that’s hard to beat.

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