There’s been a little trend with Save-the-Date Cards lately…send out two versions because you can’t decide which photograph you like best! Not a bad problem to have. Does it also say something about the future bride and groom when all the photos are so cute and great no one can narrow it down to just one? This particular happy couple happens to be one of my younger cousins, Chelsea, and her fiance Neil. They met at Indiana University, of which both are recent alumni. (Hence the Hoosier spirit of the cards). They had an amazing photo shoot and couldn’t decide between what we dubbed “the wine basket” and “the college shirts.” I mentioned that another bride of mine had the same dilemma and ultimately decided to order two versions. She jumped on the idea so here we are! Design-wise the layout is almost the same, and I just love how the typography came together. Combining too many fonts can be tricky but I think I found a pleasant balance. The back of both cards is the same; the black and white “date blocks” that they specifically set up with the photographer. (Clever!) I started in a completely different direction for these and it’s always funny where things end up. Early drafts never compare to the end result, and some day I’ll be daring enough to show those too. Looking forward to the wedding invitation soon!
I haven’t worked in an office setting since my first son was born in 2008. I left to stay home with him when he was born, and although I made some really awesome friends at that office, I never would have thought that five years later, we would still get together and hang out. (But I’m eternally grateful that we do!) There have been more babies, Christmas nights out, patio parties…usually accompanied by wine, food, and more wine. Recently, we had one of the funnest reasons to throw a party: a new baby is on the way. I jumped all over the invitation (surprise, surprise) and instantly thought of pink sailboats. The new Mom and Dad have a very classic, clean and chic style, like they just stepped out of a J Crew catalog, lol. So I thought a soft, nautical vibe would be perfect. I drew up a sail boat illustration with some clouds and sunshine, and a ship’s wheel for the return address. For some cute karma I incorporated leftover pink card stock from their wedding invitations as a backing mat for the shower invitation, and added a jute bow as an embellishment. I can’t resist envelope liners so I added a purple one to the inside and sealed up the envelopes with pink washi tape.
For party accessories, I wanted to do a version of the nail polish favor I’ve seen on Pinterest. OPI brand makes a pretty pink shade called “It’s a Girl!” and according to the pin, you just add a little round thank you tag and there you have it. I wanted to get a little more creative with it (and honestly, the $9 price tag on OPI polish was undesirable). So I wandered around Ulta (a makeup store) and found a nice pastel array of colors that worked perfect. I got pastel pink, yellow, purple and blue. I also found mini nail files which fit next to the bottle nicely. I wrapped them both in the same jute and attached a little flag on a toothpick that said “To Pretty Up Your Piggies”.
One of my other ideas was to drink our beverages out of mason jars. Thankfully my best friend cans her own jelly, so she had a bunch of jars for me to borrow. She also suggested putting a cupcake liner over the top of the jar BEFORE screwing the lid on, and then poking a straw through the paper. SO CUTE. I found some pink “It’s a Girl!” liners at Hobby Lobby and also picked up some blue striped paper straws. (I’m in love with paper straws.) I pulled out the jute again and wrapped the jar up to make it coordinate. We served sparkling lemonade (and wine!) in the jars and in case you’re curious, yes you can drink wine with a straw!
I popped some more flags onto cupcakes for dessert and my part was done. Our amazing party hostess (she should get paid for these things, she’s up there with Martha Stewart) served the best lunch and decorated perfectly. The weather cooperated for once and we had a great day. Now we’re all waiting for little Baby Alexandra to make an appearance so we can get together again…
I hoard art supplies. Like random art supplies (aren’t all art supplies random? No.) Things like silver necklace chains, buttons, ribbon of any shape, length or material, miscellaneous adhesives, etc. It all stems from my grandma who is the giver of all my artistic talent and, ahem, hoarding tendencies. I always keep things no matter how many I have left, because you just never know when they might come in handy. Gift tags, special birthday cards, project for my boys (yeah right) or in today’s case, place cards for a Silent Auction and Tin Can Auction. This last June friends of friends lost their little daughter in a car collision when they were struck by a drunk driver just a few miles from my house. Friends of the family are hosting a benefit to help them pay with medical bills (other family members, including children, were hospitalized), funeral costs, and I imagine some therapy or additional support. The organizers put together an awesome Silent Auction and Tin Can Raffle, and I volunteered to make the display cards for the items. And because I’m a hoarder, I had a lot of materials to work with to put together pretty, sweet little place cards to honor Olivia and this generous event. I had plenty of white card stock (from Avenger decor), Starburst-shaped rhinestones (from baby shower invitations), and purple tulle (my wedding invitations).
For the sake of ease, I made the cards a little different so the organizers could differentiate between the two sets of cards. The Tin Can cards were had green accents and the Silent Auction cards had blue accents and purple bows. All the cards got rhinestones and were the same size/style. I tied the bow to the back instead of the front, so it peeks through but doesn’t crowd the design. I really wanted these to be special, sweet and appropriate for the event.
I love Halloween. Like, a lot. I’m not sure why, but it’s definitely my favorite holiday. I may or may not have purposely planned my first son’s birth around October. (His birthday is October 20th.) a friend of mine is throwing a Halloween party this year; the grown-up kind. No smiling jack-o-lanterns, friendly ghosts and happy vampires. Adult, spooky, scary stuff. When she asked me to make invitations I was pretty psyched. As a matter of fact she asked me around 11PM one night over FB and my brain was exploding with ideas. Way to get jazzed up right before bed!
My plan of action was dark, vague shapes, a scratchy/scripty font, maybe some landscape imagery. I tried to use some old-fashioned wording, i.e. All Hallow’s Eve instead of Halloween, and also added a big full moon. I threw in a touch of red and put a gradient on the title. The front ended up almost totally black, so I made the back the opposite. Something about the white ghosty imagery is extra spooky to me…
I opted for a Luxe Shape instead of the standard 5×7″ rectangle, and found a vintage-style newspaper print for the envelope liners. I threw the return address on the back flap inside a black gothic graphic, and combined two of the fonts from the invitation for the mailing address. Then it was time for the fingerprints. Way back at the beginning I came up with the idea for bloody fingerprints on the envelopes and I was determined to do it. I tried a few different methods, like red stamp ink, marker, etc. Finally I busted out my tacklebox of oil paints and pulled out Dark Cadmium Red. I covered my fingers and got to work. No lie, it was messy. There was red paint everywhere, which was awesome because oil paint doesn’t come out very easily, if at all. I got pretty lucky and didn’t do any permanent damage (that I know of). I think I went a little nuts, but the envelopes look pretty sweet. I was doing a lot of dabbing the next day to lift off some superfluous paint and praying it would dry quickly so my friend could get them in the mail. I even went the extra step and gave them a coat of hairspray. When in doubt, hairspray. It sets everything!
Hopefully the post office doesn’t freak out!
Last week I was presented with a challenge…design, print, pack and ship a set of 40 birthday invitations with a ‘vintage carnival’ theme in less than a week. I received the email on Sunday night, and dropped the completed set in the mail on Friday on my way up north with my dudes. What happened in between was a little hectic to say the least. Just a few months ago I did a set of carnival invitations but this client wanted something completely different, and I’ll be honest, it was difficult. ‘Vintage carnival’ means a lot of ribbons, scrolls, intricate graphics and complex typography (to me anyway). Plus it needed an ‘old timey’ feel, so I muted a lot of the colors and turned the opacities way down. I also got to use my new gradient mesh skills that I learned doing the Darling Delilah project. And the biggest hurdle: you can’t force creativity. Period. It just has to come on it’s own, and sometimes it’s pretty friggin’ slow. ON TOP of this project I was also finishing up other clients so I could have a nice weekend up north with my family. There were many 2AM nights and my older son watched A LOT of Disney Junior so I could work during the baby’s nap time. Plus I needed to get all my kids’ stuff straight so we could pack and leave first thing Friday morning. In the end, I never packed any pajamas for myself but love how the cards turned out. I opted for a Linen Stock for the invitations, and Brown Kraft Envelopes. I designed a matching return address label, and made it nice and big to also act as a seal. I forgot to mention this party sounds kinda sweet and I totally want to go!
I’d like to get more of my past projects loaded up my blog, so I’m kind of picking them one at a time. I did this wedding last year for a cool chick who’s day job was planning wedding and events at a local concert venue. Seeing so many other weddings, she knew exactly what she wanted and had every tiny detail planned and coordinated. Her direction was “trendy and chic.” The funny side note about this wedding was I literally had my second son right before her date, and was emailing her from the hospital about Escort Cards. I had originally planned to sneak to the venue and take pictures but after complications sent me back to the hospital that didn’t happen. So I had to settle for my own photos, bummer. I would’ve loved to see her decor!
The suite included a flat 5×7″ Main Invitation Card, a double-sided Map & Directions/Hotel Info Card, a Layered RSVP Card with Color Envelope, Belly Band Wrap, Layered Monogram Card (to seal Belly Band), Patterned Envelope Liner and Color Envelope. In addition she also received Booklet-Style Ceremony Programs, Layered Tented Escort Cards, Layered 4×9″ Menu Cards, Layered Table Numbers, Folded Thank You Cards and “In Lieu of Favors” Signs. (They made a donation to the Humane Society, great idea.) Yep, that’s a lot to stuff! But it all turned out fantastic and came together really well.
I should add that the bride did all the assembly herself to save some bucks. I’m always happy to let the clients assemble themselves! (It’s fun for like, for like, five minutes and then you realize you have a loooong way to go.)
I heart envelope liners. I really do. They take an invitation set to a whole other level. Add color and flair. An unexpected touch of coordination. But…they’re time consuming to make. And seemingly expensive to purchase (depending on what you consider expensive, but usually the same price as your color envelopes or more). And yes, people just chuck envelopes in garbage ten seconds after opening them. I get that. Honestly, I rarely have clients who go for them, but I get super-psyched when they do (yes, I get that excited over paper). A liner means I get to add another design and style element, and the overall finished invitation set is going to look cohesive and polished. So, here’s a step-by-step tutorial about making your own envelope liners. And they aren’t just for sets of invitations; even a store-bought birthday card would look great with a little extra jazz. And let’s be real, I really do care about my invitations, so I don’t care if you get your liners from me or make them yourself. Just do it!
Step 1. MATERIALS…Envelope(s), text weight paper for liner, scissors, pencil and adhesive
Envelopes- A European flap is best (deep point) but any pointed envelope will do. Square flaps aren’t the greatest in my opinion for using a liner because the flaps are smaller, so you see less liner. I have a picture at the end of two square envelopes with liners so you can see what I mean.
Liner paper- Any text weight paper will do…”text weight” is simply regular ol’ paper. Can you use card or cover stock? Yes, but it will be a little trickier when it comes to the fold, and will add weight to your envelope (which could push your postage up to the next bracket if the invitation set is pretty thick).
Adhesive- My all-time favorite is the Tombow Adhesive Runner. You can buy it locally at Archiver’s Photo Memory Store or Michael’s, or online (much cheaper!). Quick and easy. Double-stick tape will also work, but stay away from glue sticks. I find that they always ripple, even on the kinds that say “no wrinkling”. Just a heads up.
Steps 2 & 3. MAKE A TRACING…Open up your envelope and lay it over the back of paper (keeping the front clear of pencil marks). You are going to trace the outer edge of the flap, and down to the pocket of the envelope. This is where your paper can stop; there’s no need to go all the way down inside the pocket.
Step 5. TRIM TRIM TRIM….Now you need to trim about a half inch around the entire thing to accommodate the glue on the flap. You can do this by sight, or use a ruler. Honestly, I always do it by sight (laziness). This is about how much needs to come off. When you get to the point, try to round it out in one smooth motion. The trick is to manipulate the paper, not the scissors. Takes a little finesse but 30 liners later you’ll be a pro!
Step 6. GETTING YOUR FOLD ON…Insert the liner into your envelope and make sure it fits nicely, and all the glue on the envelope flap is visible. (If not, head back to Step 5.) While it’s in place, hold it down in the pocket and carefully fold the flap down, folding the liner down with it. The liner is going to shift a little under the flap and that’s okay, just keep holding it firmly with your other hand on the pocket. This is where card/cover stock may give you trouble because it’s thicker. If you’re using a thicker stock, scoring the paper might be a good idea if you really want a super clean fold. Simply mark on the paper where you want the fold to be, and using a ruler, run a metal nail file down the line a few times. Why a nail file? Because I find an official scoring tool (called a “boning tool”, seriously) to be redundant when a metal nail file works great and I have one handy. And they’re way cheaper than a boning tool.
Steps 7 & 8. GLUE THAT SUCKER IN PLACE…Using your chosen adhesive, put some on the FLAP END ONLY. The part of the liner that goes in the pocket will NOT BE GLUED. It needs to shift slightly when the envelope opens and shuts. TRUST ME. When you press the pieces together, put the flap flat on the table and press it that way, so you know it’s adhering in the right position.
Step 9. TRIUMPH!
Optional Step 10. TEMPLATES…If you want to be super awesome, make yourself a little template to use over and over again. Then all you have to do is trace and cut and the liner is already the right size. That being said, all envelope are NOT the same, so it will only work for the same brand of envelope. There’s another lesson there too: be aware of liners that you buy online, separately from envelopes. I’ve ordered some liners from Etsy and had to trim all of them to fit my envelopes.
Here are some liner/envelope samples from my stash. Get creative! Mix textures, pair metallic papers with matte envelopes. Choose a crazy pattern that’s totally unexpected, or pick something that totally coordinates. Go forth and be artsy.
I recently finished up an announcement set for a high school graduate. The clients didn’t really like what the school was offering, both price-wise and aesthetically, and surprisingly enough it was the same company that did graduation announcements when I was graduating (10 years ago!). There hasn’t been any major progress in the high school graduation announcement department I guess. My clients had some GREAT graduation photos taken by Brandy Nicole Photography and were thinking of really showcasing them on the cards, as well as the school colors (purple and gold). The graduate’s mom mentioned that her son was really proud of his school, so I went snooping around for the school’s mascot/emblem online to add more personalization. I spent some time on the school’s website and also discovered their motto. After a little time in Illustrator I had a crisp version of the mascot ready to roll and together with the motto it looked awesome.
So where do the envelope labels come in? I had the return address printed on the back flap of all 101 envelopes…however there was a small snafu with my printer and the address was printed incorrectly. I’m not a fan of wasting paper, so I didn’t want to just scrap them and start over. The only option was a label. I hate labels. Well no, I hate standard-white-Avery-dumb labels. I’m actually coming around to colorful-cool shapes-fun labels. So in this particular situation I designed the label as a purple rectangle with a gold border and white type, and then printed them on a full-sticker sheet so I could have a full bleed (the design extends all the way beyond the border. I could go on for years about full bleeds. In my opinion if you don’t have a full bleed, you have nothing!) I trimmed them up and voila! A lovely little label with the correct address that coordinates with the announcement and honestly, adds a nice color element to the envelopes.
What’s next? I need to problem-solve a nice big label for my son’s birthday invitations. They’re comic book-themed so the envelope is a clear plastic sheath. I need something big and noticeable so the post office doesn’t give me a hard time. And the hamster is off!
I’ve put some of the other draft designs in my Etsy shop- go check them out! https://www.etsy.com/listing/97236497/custom-word-collage-graduation?listing_id=97236497&listing_slug=custom-word-collage-graduation