Sunday, February 27, 2011

Every now and then... get an envelope job that is problem-matic. I’ve dealt with many difficult issues. Dark envelopes that I can’t use my light box and templates, bleeding envelopes, rough hand-made paper envelopes. Over the years I’ve found ways to resolve all these issues to complete the jobs.
Well, last week I got a job that tested my abilities. I was told that they were ‘kraft’ paper envelopes, so I anticipated them probably bleeding. So, I tested one. It was like writing on a brown paper sack from the grocery store, and yes, bleeding like crazy. My normal fix for that is to spray them with spray fixative, so I sprayed all of them. Still bleeding. Hmmm, sent out a question to a few of my calligraphy colleagues to see if they had any other suggestions.
Someone suggested hair spray and adding a few drops of gum arabic to my navy blue acrylic ink, another couple suggested powdered sandarac. I’d tried the later while waiting for a response, and had no luck. So, I tried the hair spray and gum arabic, luckily we had an old can in our medicine cabinet in our bathroom. I hadn’t used hairspray in years, anyway, gave an envelope a good shot, let it dry and tested it. Viola, it worked! Now, I did go out the next day and buy a new can, and it seemed to work even better. I hope the bride didn’t notice the distinctive scent of hairspray.

Oh, and did I mention that these same envelopes required pointed pen lettering, and the pen would pick up fibers of the paper? And, did I mention that I couldn’t see through the envelopes, so each one had to be ruled? Lastly, did I mention that there was a nice letterpressed image of coral on the bottom front of the envelope requiring my planning the address around it? Whew! 
I guess the only good thing about it was that there were only 50 to do. And thank goodness the table and escort cards are on a nice ‘regular’ paper, as I will be finishing those up in a couple weeks.
Evie antics: She’s started saying and identifying colors. So far, yellow is the clear favorite, but ‘bu’ is a close second. Hey, those are my college colors! Go Eagles!

Until next time, Jen

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentines and other work

There were a few Valentine’s floating about the studio this week. But, more on that later.
A friend on Facebook referred another friend to me. She had been at a Chamber dinner and the speaker was very inspirational, so much so, that she wanted one of the woman’s quotes done in calligraphy. It’s a great quote, really.
"If I am going to drown I don’t want to waste time in shallow water."  — Clara Arbiser
I wrote this out a couple times on gridded layout paper, and my muse must have been with me because I was happy with the lettering right away.
Now, for colors, I made some suggestions to the client after I took some inventory of my massive stock of paper. The obvious imagery would be to use blues, but the client also wanted to incorporate some of the lady’s personality into the piece. She is from Argentina, and was very vibrant and passionate, and wearing the color red. So, I suggested doing the lady’s name in red, but much smaller to not over power the other wording.

I chose a piece of paste paper that had bold blues and greens with subtle spots, from what, I’m not sure, but thought it could look like drips of water. The client really couldn’t visualize the white lettering that I suggested, so she wanted a more subtle blue for the paper. So, I chose a plain light blue paper and did the lettering twice. On one of them I added some pastels to look like calm water. I also did the white lettering on the paste paper just so my client could see it.

I scanned all three examples, and sent them off to the client to see if she liked one of them. She liked more than one and wants to have 2 of them, the paste paper with white lettering and the light blue one with the pastels. Bingo! But, I’m just glad she liked my work. This has happened more than once for me, so I’ve found that it’s always a good idea to give the client choices.

As for the Valentines, I made some simple cards that I saw a design for at Archiver’s this time last year. It started out that I just wanted to send a couple to my nephews from Evie. But, ended up making them for other family members to thank them for their baby sitting services.

Then I had a thought of a use for all the baby food jars that I saved after Evie was finished with them. Broke out my doily punch, (see my last blog post for more on that) and made strips to wrap around the jars, tied a ribbon around it, added flowers and viola, Valentine bouquets. They look very spring-like, don’t you think? And since it was almost 60 degrees today, we can only hope that spring is right around the corner. But, personally, I'd like a few more pretty snow days to cover all the gray & brown of the trees and grass.
Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Evie’s 2nd Birthday Party

I love playing with paper and paper products. Every year, except this one, I make handmade Christmas cards to send out to family and friends. So, naturally, I want to do the same for Evie’s birthday invitations. I’ll do it as much as I can until she asks for Dora invitations or something else.
So, how do I start out? I think about the cool things I have that I want to use. I have a really cool doily punch by Martha Stewart so I started thinking about how I could use that to incorporate into the invitations. So, I punched a strip of white paper on 2 sides to make a doily strip. I used an almond colored paper for the base of the card, but also wanted to add some ‘girly’ pinks or other colors. Ok, I cheated on the writing here. I used a cool set of alphabet rubber stamps on the lace strip to say ‘Peek a boo, look who’s turning.’  Then I hand cut the number ‘2’ out of Japanese origami paper, and added the flower. 

I printed out the words of the invitation on a white paper to insert inside the invitation. I used the doily punch on the top and bottom edges and added a cute little photo of her and tied it all together with some string.
Done, mailed them out.

Next up, the cupcake picks. I remembered that I had bought some cool doily stickers at Big Lots last year. I had intended to use them in the design of a wedding invitation suite that I did last year, but the bride wanted to go in another direction, so I have a bunch of them. I just needed to find them in my, let’s just say, temporarily disorganized studio. I figured the best way to find them was to start putting stuff away, and it worked. Just as I was about to give up, ta da! they were found.

I used a 1.5 inch scallop punch in the almond paper, topped that with a pink circle, the doily sticker on top of that and the final touch, a gem in the middle. Glued them to sticks. Done. Note: I was asked a question on how I attached the sticks. First, they are kabob skewers that I cut into thirds or approx. 3 inches long. I used a hot glue gun to attach them and did not have something on the back to cover them. As an option you could do that if they were going to be viewed from both sides.

Last year I had wanted to make a window banner, but time ran out, we had a death in the family and her party was very small, so it got skipped. More time this year, so I had to come up with something to match the rest of the paper products.
I went to one of my favorite scrapbook stores, Archiver’s, and bought a package of 10 scalloped edge 5 inch circles. I cut a 4.5 inch circle of the almond paper. Then, at another favorite store, JoAnn’s, I bought 4 inch paper lace doilies and layered it all together. I punched a bunch of white scalloped edge circles and then did brush lettering on each individual one. I didn’t think ‘Happy Birthday’ would fit, so I opted to write ‘Evie is 2’  The space between the words have a stamped flower and a paper flower on top of that. Lastly I punched holes in each side of the large scallop and tied them all together with 1/4 inch organza pink ribbon, added long tails on each end to hang across the window.

Luckily, I had almost all of the paper products that I used, saving me some $. All I bought were the large scallops, paper lace doilies and some ribbon. Today I re-purposed the leftover cupcake picks to use on the thank you notes that I need to write. I had fun making all of these and hope I can catch up on my scrapbooking and use all these fun items for her 2nd Birthday page.
Evie antics: She had the most fun with the helium balloons and the puzzle that her grandma sent from Georgia.

In the studio: For the thank you notes, I had a whole box of small envelopes that had gotten moist and the flaps were sealed. I didn’t want to toss the whole box so, I sent a question out to my calligraphy friends on Facebook to see if anyone had some advice for salvaging them, besides steaming. I steamed a few open, but it was tedious, time consuming and dangerous with the hot steam. The envelopes also look a bit worn from the process. One of the ideas that was sent to me was to put them in the freezer for 24 hours. I was excited to try this as I thought it might work. Sadly, I just took one out and tried to get the flap unstuck, it sort of worked. Parts of it came undone, but the rest tore. Not the result I wanted, but hey, worth a shot. I’ll try the steaming with a hot iron and damp cloth next, but if that doesn’t work, they will be tossed.

Thanks for reading. Jen