wrapping up 2009 with real wedding updates

Catching up with some real wedding updates! Business finally picked up around mid-July (after launching my designs in late spring of 2009 and then moving cross-country later that summer), dropped off a bit, and then got busy again in mid-October and, I'm happy to report, hasn't died down too much since. It's been an interesting juggle since previously, I was primarily a stay-at-home-mom to my 18 month old son, not wanting to begin the daycare transition until I had some sort of steady income to offset those costs. But it turns out launching a business while taking care of a very active, not terribly fond of long naps, little guy is challenging to say the least. So in 2010 I'll have three full week days to devote to my custom invitation and stationery business, among other pursuits. Hopefully the orders keep coming! For now, a round-up of the last quarter of 2009...

Natalie & Justin
My first wedding invitation order involved customizing the tea length butterfly motif ensemble available in my shop. The challenge: add several colors to an already busy palette.

I added a simple graphic to the invitation design, one additionally butterfly punch, and some hand-stamping to the decorative wrap for an ensemble that incorporates all six of the couple's wedding colors in an elegant design.  The decorative wrap really pulls everything together, don't you think?

Rachel & Sam
In October I did a large thank you card order for a newly engaged couple who contacted me the next month for save-the-dates.  Repeat customers are the best! 

Both the folded thank you note and A2 save-the-date with ribbon detail have a Pacific Northwest feel for a wedding that sounds like it's going to be an extremely classy event, with a palette of silver, gold, and green. Just lovely, and a blast to work with.

Mariana & Luis
Around this time I also began working with the sister of a bride on a customized version of the snowflake motif ensemble, available here

We tweaked the font, palette, and printing style (my first thermography order!) to match the details of her sister's event and I was really pleased with how this order turned out.  I'm working with one wholesale printer who offers both letterpress and thermography and it was, of course, a bit of a learning experience (their turnaround time adds about two weeks to my overall process), but I'm pleased to be able to offer these printing upgrades.  I paid a little extra out of pocket to have a few additional sets printed so that I can offer prospective clients thermography samples now, available in my shop, along with samples of all of my other designs.

Amanda & David
For this couple I created a custom save-the-date photo magnet with paper backing and a hand-stamped, lined envelope to coordinate with the Autumn Leaves design, available here.

We couldn't find an envelope liner that worked with both the fall theme and specific colors (replacing the gold in the original design with yellow here) so I decided to search for a simple stamp that could be used on the inside of the poppy orange liner.  In the process, I discovered another shop on Etsy - Sugarskull7's hand carved rubber stamps - and had a custom stamp made that coordinates with the original wedding invitation design.  It wasn't created in time for this order but I plan to put together another fall design that will use the custom stamp in some way. Stay tuned for that!  And if you're in the market for rubber stamps, check out Sugarskull7's shop!

Currently in the works (but not quite ready to show & tell) are a tea party themed bridal shower invitation and my first screenprinted design!  Metallic silver ink on black card stock!  Can't wait to show off that one...

Here's to lots and lots of weddings in 2010! Happy New Year!


fresh from the Makery: a belated happy holidays!

My holiday greeting to you, like my cards this year, is late.  I made my cards, I think for the first time ever, which is hard for me to believe considering I've spent most of the past dozen or so years making art and stuff and selling paper goods in some capacity.  It's kind of like going for a manicure, I guess - the manicurist never has time to do her own nails, you know?

But not this year.  This year, of all years (trying to essentially launch a business while caring for a budding toddler full-time is no easy feat - lots of folks do it, I'm sure, but not me, at least, not gracefully), I decided to make my own, mainly because I spied these stickers standing in the check-out line at Michael's.

Pink on a Christmas card!

I used the sticker as the envelope seal and the rest of the design of the card came from this small detail, including the palette - chartreuse, turquoise, and red - to the illustration used on the front (vintage ornament silhouettes, of course)...

 ...and the flashy red paper used for the envelope liner.

Here's to an equally sparkly 2010!


vote for me!

After voting for someone else's project, I figured what the heck, right?  I have a few holiday projects under my belt, after all.  So I submitted my Mother's Cookies Holiday Circus Animal ornaments to the Michael's Handmade Holidays contest.

You can rate all the projects that have been submitted to the site (click here to rate mine!). Up for grabs are Michael's gift cards each week and a grand prize that involves a trip to New York City to see the Martha Stewart show (including an unofficial detour to the Doughnut Plant...yum).

So you should vote for me...I don't get out much (evidenced by the fact that I make animal cookies out of felt).


orange is the new red & green

Thanks to regular reader and "Fiskateer" Kimberlee, aka Java Diva, one of the lead Fiskateers, Angela, contacted me a few days ago about being a guest blogger on their site. I was honored to have been asked and got to work right away on this candied orange slice ornament (orange is their thing, you know, as in the orange handles on Fiskars products, and I've been wanting to do a candied orange slice project with the French embroidered knots I've been obsessed with lately, and the project seemed timely, what with the whole citrus at Christmas tradition...). You can read more here.

I'm not giving this one away, or putting it up for sale in my Etsy shop. Nope, I think I'll add it to my own tree that we plan to get and decorate next weekend (which means Christmas is less than three weeks away...WHAT?!).

Now back to the online Christmas shopping and making cards...


a steampunk-inspired butterfly motif wedding invitation ensemble

I managed to make it through the entire month of November without a single blog post!  It was a busy month of inquiries, several of which turned into orders, which of course I'm extremely excited about and keeping my fingers crossed that the business keeps up.  But before I get into any "real wedding" updates, let me first catch up on a new design I added to the shop a few weeks ago.

After seeing this cake featured on the Sunday Sweets edition of Cake Wrecks, I was motivated to create a Steampunk-inspired wedding invitation.  The "inspired" part is important since I can't claim to know much about this genre before seeing this cake, but I fell in love with the palette and saw an opportunity in the combination of the clockwork imagery with the more feminine butterfly motif (a motif I've used before), the Victorian era fonts, and the use of copper shimmer paper and embossed hand-stamped details.

The result is a horizontal tea-length invitation in soft white and pool blue, layered over copper shimmer card stock, and tied together with a navy satin ribbon that matches the ink used for the text and one of the two stamps used on the left portion of the panel.

The response card is also hand-stamped and embossed, using the single butterfly stamp also used on the invite.  As always, samples of this design are available in my Etsy shop.  The palette was really the inspiration for this design but the colors are, of course, completely customizable, whether your wedding is Steampunk-inspired or not!


fresh from the Makery: Mothers Cookies Holiday Circus Animals Ornaments

I know I wrote in the last Makery post that I wouldn't have another project to share until next Monday, but here I am, trying something different for a change and posting early instead of late. Don't get used to it, dear readers.

I started my holiday shopping list this weekend, browsing Etsy and other sites (yes, I aim to do as much of my shopping online as possible), and as usual, in addition to getting just a few ideas for the folks on my list, I came up with far more in the way of things I want for myself and project ideas, including Christmas-y stuff. In addition, during my latest trip to Target I spied the holiday edition Mothers Cookies frosted circus animals! They're different than what I remember - all white with red and green sprinkles, instead of a mix of red, green, and white frosted cookies - but even so gave me the idea for this week's project, a set of three felt cookie ornaments to add a little sugar to your tree.

Nom nom nom.  You can get a set for yourself for just twelve bucks!  In addition, I'll be offering the two winners of the cookie giveaway (winners to be announced by Wednesday this week) their choice of the pink and white cookie cards, as originally promised, or two of these ornaments.  I can also make these holiday edition "cookies" into greeting cards.  And there's still time to enter the giveaway - leave a comment on this post if you're interested.

It's felt-only cookies for me from now on, my friends. I'm vowing to get back to my diet 100% between now and Thanksgiving, when let's just say I won't be counting points...


now offering thermography AND letterpress printing!

I'm so excited to announce that I am now offering both thermography and letterpress printing on all of my wedding invitation ensembles!  I won't be doing the printing myself (although I will continue to offer high-quality flat/offset printing and, coming soon, screenprinted invites!); I spent much of last week calling different wholesale printers and found a printer that offers both styles at really reasonable rates.  The printing charges will be added to the basic ensemble fee, any optional extras, and shipping, of course, but for an order of approximately 100 sets, for example, you could have letterpressed wedding invitations for less than $5 per set!  Check out my shop policies or any of the sample listings for more details.


a mod wedding invitation ensemble in purple and gold

My other Etsy shop has been occupying a lot of my time lately, leaving me less time to crank out the two new designs I've had in my mind for a few weeks now. But I've finally managed to put the finishing touches on one and added it to the shop earlier today.

I've been searching for a way to offer folders without charging almost as much as I charge for the invitation ensemble itself for awhile now and I finally ordered a few samples of some smaller (A2, measuring 4 1/4 by 5 1/2 inches, to be exact) pocket folders.  I chose to create a design using the gold folder, along with gold patterned paper I received from the same paper company.  The palette is rounded out with accents of deep purple, like the satin ribbon belly band that keeps the components of this ensemble together.

Instead of using any sort of paper punch on this one, as I do with most of the designs currently in my shop, I chose instead to create a simple border on the invite itself that compliments the patterned paper layered underneath.

I'm particularly pleased with the balance created between the decadent palette and the smaller size of the overall ensemble.  This palette would be lovely for a summer or fall wedding.  And of course the colors are fully customizable, as always.  Check out the shop for more details!


fresh from the Makery: Mother's Cookies Scavenger Hunt

This week's "project" is actually a giveaway of a previous Makery project timed in conjunction with the Mother's Cookies Comeback Celebration. If you're a regular reader you know from the many posts inspired by the company's products in one way or another that I'm a fan. So of course I agreed to participate when contacted about the virtual celebration and related "scavenger hunt", especially when I learned it would involve receiving four free bags of cookies, two to keep, and two to giveaway (and seeing as how I joined Weight Watchers just a few weeks ago, I definitely can't keep all four bags myself!).  Between October 27th (that's today!) and November 10th, frosted circus animal junkies like myself will be featuring banners like the one you see to the right that you can click on to go to a cookie collection page where you can see how many cookies you've found and how many more you need to collect in order to receive a coupon for your next bag of Mother's cookies. Sweet!

To help get the party started, I'll be giving away two bags of cookies to two lucky readers (one each). Each bag will arrive with a free set of two of my 'homage to Mother's Cookies' notecards (one with pink "frosting", one with white, similar to the cards in the image above). If you'd like to participate, just leave me a comment to that effect on this post as well as your email address, if it's not included in your profile, so that I can contact you if your name is one of two I'll randomly select on Wednesday, November 11th.

The Makery will return to its regularly scheduled programming on Monday, November 16th.


if Etsy had been around when I got hitched: DIY favors with help from ILoveYoYo

This week I'm featuring satin lining "yoyos" that a crafty bride might want to incorporate in a DIY wedding project, such as these flip flops included in ILoveYoYo's customer appreciation Flickr photostream:

A friend offered ballet slippers to guests at a recent wedding I attended and I thought it was such a great idea - all the ladies were wearing them by the end of the night.  If I had to do it again, I'd encourage my guests to stay on the dance floor with something similar, offering up turquoise flip flops or slippers embellished with these lovely red satin "yoyos".

Google Android Phone Case Version 2.0

To date, I've sold four of the Android phone cases I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. How cool is that?! Two of my recent sales were actually for version 2.0, so to speak, which I "mocked up" after a prospective customer "convo"-ed me about adding a few more features, namely a second, interior accessory pocket, a top tab velcro closure, and a metal D-hook attached to the side for car keys or a swivel hook/strap combo of some sort.

There's only so much you can do with felt and blanket stitch and the fact that these are completely handmade (I do have a sewing machine but I haven't used it regularly for almost 20 years), but I'm pretty happy with the revised version.  Ironically that customer has yet to buy one but two other customers seemed equally fond of the added features.  So it's all good.

The original phone case is still available, of course (just packaged the custom green and magenta case pictured above), and received a little love from this blog and this one ("an Android for grandma"!) a couple of days after I originally listed it, probably thanks to Neal tweeting about it and one of his followers re-tweeting it.  Not exactly going viral or anything, but I'm glad my little Android dude is getting some love.

By the way, the Makery will be a day late again this week, but this time it's not my fault. The "event" this week's "project" coincides with doesn't start until the 27th. Check back then for a true giveaway, times 2!


fresh from the Makery: mmm, cookies

Sadly, folks, I got nothin'. Last week was the week of inquiries into both Etsy shops (and I sold a cozy!) and I'm still catching my breath. Which makes it sound more impressive than it is. When most of your day is occupied by feeding, entertaining, and wiping the bottom of a cranky toddler, it doesn't take much to disrupt what you've learned to accept as normalcy over the past 16 months. Getting only six or seven hours of sleep each night catches up with you real quick. But I promise I'll make it up to you with next week's post, which will involve a partly edible giveaway for not one, but TWO lucky readers to enjoy.

Stay tuned!


if Etsy had been around when I got hitched: Favors by Safiya Beauty

When it comes to wedding favors, I'm a big fan of anything edible.  For our wedding, we ordered custom-printed m&ms in our wedding colors (red and turquoise) and placed those in small vases that we used for silk flowers that the guests could take away and enjoy at home without worrying about keeping the flowers watered.  The silk flowers worked nicely for that reason and allowed me to incorporate zinnias, typically in bloom during late summer, into my early spring wedding, which used fresh gerbera daisies instead.

Though not edible, I find these little 'XO' soap favors equally indulgent and downright irresistible:

These customizable soap favors are made by Safiya Beauty from natural, eco-friendly ingredients.  I love the little hot pink boxes but of course the colors are customizable.  I think these would be great for a Bachelorette party as well.  The shop also offers monogram shea butter soaps and soap favors that have been perfectly packaged for Fall weddings.


fresh from the Makery: because Androids need cozies, too!

I'm a day late, but (not to toot my own horn or anything) I'm pretty pleased with this week's project - a phone case for all the other mobile device users out there (yep, that's right folks...there are gadgets made by companies other than Apple).

It was Neal's idea to make a phone cozy for his T-Mobile G1 (a bit longer and significantly chunkier than the iPhone), complete with a little green felt Android Robot stitched onto an accessory pocket on the front.  The example shown here and listed in my shop is actually the second version I made, not totally satisfied with the original prototype, which is now in the care of a certain 15 month old.

I used embroidered French knots for the eyes, of course, and learned the lovely blanket stitch for the edge.

Here's a shot of the cozy, in action:

Why is making cute (and occasinally, though not in this case, edible) stuff with felt and thread so satisfying?  It's a mystery I continue to try to unravel...


Save the Date!

I finally got around to adding a customized photo magnet save-the-date with paper backing to the shop late last week, something I've wanted to add for awhile now.

As often happens, a prospective customer's inquiry motivated me to mock-up a new design and add it to the shop.  Since that customer is interested in the red and turquoise ensemble (a modified version of the invitation that I created for my own wedding in April 2005), I created a save-the-date that would coordinate with that design.

I wanted to make something that would set the stage for the event and the formal invite to follow but not steal the show completely, borrowing some, but not all of the design elements of the invitation itself.

The photo magnet is calling card size, measuring 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches, and tucks into the layered, paper backing, which fits snugly into the corresponding A2 envelope.  I liked the idea of using a paper backing because it allowed me to keep the magnet itself fairly simple, a visual reminder of the event to come, and also of the anniversary to be celebrated for years after.  Even though I'll be celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary next spring, I put this mock-up on my fridge because it's still relevant!

As always, the design is completely customizable to coordinate with any of the other ensembles in my shop.  In fact, I created similar designs for the snowflake and fleur-de-lis motifs but have a little bit of tweaking to do before I add them to the listing.  More save-the-date designs coming soon!


If Etsy had been around when I got hitched: something blue from Pinkpainter's Place

One of the great things about Etsy that I personally have yet to fully explore but would have had the site been around when I planned my wedding is the vintage category, perfect for fulfilling that something old and/or borrowed and/or blue. Like this vintage, monogrammed hankie from Pinkpainter's Place:

Kind of works for all three, doesn't it?  "Perfect for your Mary, Mallory, or the next Mrs. Martin."  Indeed.  I'm not completely sure why, but I just love the idea of having an old-fashioned hankie on hand during your big day!


two new designs and free shipping this weekend!

As promised, two of the three new designs I've been working on recently were added to the shop this past weekend.  First up is a 5 by 7 inch invite that pairs a subtle pop-up hydrangea motif at top center, showing a layer of "blossom" pink paper underneath the white invite, along with a "night" (or navy) blue border, all matted on a pink patterned paper (printed front and back). 

The patterned paper and translucent pink petal wrap are from the package of samples I recently received from a new company I'm using for my paper and supplies.  I wasn't blown away by much of what I received in the mail, sticking instead to the high-quality paper and envelopes I've been getting primarily from Paper Source.  But there were a few items I liked and will incorporate into my existing inventory, including the two details included in the ensemble above, as well as a new line of smaller, somewhat more reasonably priced pocket folders in about a half-dozen different metallic colors.  Pocket folder will certainly bump your ensemble out of the affordable range if you let it, so I'm constantly on the lookout for ways to offer decorative extras like these without breaking the bank.

Next up is a square invite that uses the classic fleur-de-lis motif against a contemporary palette of white, bright yellow, turquoise blue, and chocolate brown.  I'm really happy with the way the corner punch coordinated with the main punch used on the invite, as well as a third motif flat-printed on the outer envelope, underneath the return address.  I was worried about using such a bright shade of yellow, but I think it works really well in moderation along with the other colors included in this ensemble.

The third design I'm working on uses one of the smaller pocket folders I mentioned above; samples will be available in the shop by this weekend.  I should also add that I'll be offering free worldwide shipping in my shop this weekend.  That means free shipping on samples purchased between October 9th and 11th, and down the road for any custom order started this weekend (meaning if you purchase a sample now and order invitations in a few months, I'll honor the discount then!).  Stay tuned for more details...

fresh from the Makery: Mothers Cookies Coffee Cozy

I've been wanting to do more with felt material in general (especially considering I still have quite a bit of the tan felt leftover from those DIY cat carrier covers) and with the theme of food in particular. I'm not sure why felt lends itself so well to making fake food, but I know I'm not alone in the discovery of this perfect pairing. I've also wanted to do more with the "frosted" circus animals that can be found so far primarily on paper products. Since I've already made one reusable coffee cozy/cuff/sleeve, putting the two together seemed like a perfect fit.

This week's project uses up a bit of the tan felt, along with a layer of pink on the inside, and features a "parade" of four animal cookies in alternating pink and white marching around the outside. And when you're not using it on a to-go cup of coffee or tea, you can wear it as a bracelet!

Okay, that last image is mostly a joke, but you could theoretically wear it as a bracelet on your way to your local caffeine fix.  And as I write in the Etsy listing, where for only twelve bucks you can purchase your very own handmade Mothers Cookies coffee cozy, this reusable sleeve is not only eco-friendly but also easy on your diet.  I don't know about you but I'm always tempted to get some sort of baked good to go with my already unnecessary enough (unnecessary in terms of caffeine and calories, but totally necessary for my sanity) vanilla latte (from Peets, naturally).  Maybe if I use this thing I'll be better able to resist that temptation.


if Etsy had been around when I got hitched: Jenny Hoople's Handmade Jewelry

This blog series is becoming quite the dangerous window shopping.  After posting a thread to the promotion section of the Etsy community, I got several suggestions for some really gorgeous products to post each Sunday as part of this series (dangerous because many of these items would be great for your wedding and, as in my case, beyond!).  I'll start with some of the lovely items for sale by Jenny Hoople.  After posting this "blossom" pink and navy blue ensemble to the shop yesterday (more on those new designs later), these rose quartz earrings stood out:

I love the pale pink, don't you?  These earrings would make great bridesmaids gifts (that, even better, the ladies could wear long after the big day!) and are available in a few different colors.  If you're looking for something a bit more traditional, the shop features several stunning pearl necklaces.  I'm particularly smitten by this Rhythm Freshwater Pearls necklace:

I love the organic quality to this necklace, a combination of the freshwater pearls and the undulating "rhythm" of the four sizes used, all hand knotted on silk.  This is just a tiny sampling of what Jenny Hoople has to offer, and at great prices!


flowers, new colors, and pocketfolds, oh my!

I'm working on three new wedding invitation designs, at least two of which I plan to add to the shop tomorrow (maybe all three depending on how well my 15-month old son naps in the afternoon!) so stay tuned for that.  I'm really excited about the new designs and color combinations, using some of the paper samples I recently received from a new company I'm using for materials (in addition to my existing paper stock).  I've also been busy this week generally cleaning up the shop (fall cleaning?).  I've decided to move all non-custom items, even if they qualify as "paper goods", to my other Etsy shop, where I feature items that are part of what I call the Makery and blog about here.

I sort of agonized over the decision, partly wanting to make all manner of stationery (greeting cards, Halloween party invitations, customized Christmas tags, etc.).  On the other hand, I'd like to concentrate on the work I really enjoy, and that's making wedding invitations.  And it's amazing how good it felt to streamline the shop a bit, making room for more of the stuff I really enjoy - mock wedding invitations that I hope to customize for more real couples in the coming months.

Along the lines of housekeeping, I also worked much of last weekend tweaking and re-photographing all of my existing designs and I'm pretty happy with how things turned out.  I feel like the new images showcase the invites better and the border helps to consolidate the overall look of the shop.  Most of the changes to the existing designs were minor, but I did modify the star motif ensemble to a flat invite with no die-cut motif or duplex bordering.

I wanted to create an example of how I can offer an even more reasonably priced ensemble, with the option to add on, of course (I plan to add more of these kinds of flat-printed designs and motifs in the future).  Check back here and in the shop for all the details and additions this weekend!


fresh from the Makery: Britney Spears ornaments

The Makery is back!  And how fitting that I should choose to use up some mysteriously acquired Britney Spears stickers for my comeback project, no?

As often happens lately, I'm not 100% satisfied with the final product.  I think in order for these to work as ornaments, they should perhaps be round.  As is they look more like bookmarks, which was my original idea but later decided Christmas tree ornaments made way more sense.  Rounder and shinier.  But as is, in addition to stickers of Brit on the front and back, they include a hand-embroiderd heart outline around her face:

...and a red gemstone used to dot the "i":

The stickers I discovered during our recent cross-country move (the primary reason for the Makery's several months long hiatus).  I can't recall if I bought these myself or if they were some sort of gag gift (I remember Neal sent me the CD of her second album while I was participating in a work exchange program one summer in France...I swore it was a gag gift but secretly listened to that CD all summer), but either way they seemed fitting material to use for the Makery's comeback project.  Britney is making a comeback, right?

I have enough stickers to make ten of these and may continue tweaking them.  But for the time being, I'll be giving one away here, and the rest will be available for purchase in my other Etsy shop.  Need to add a little Britney to your Christmas tree? Leave me a comment on this post and I'll add your name to the drawing at the end of the week.

C'mon, you know you want to.


If Etsy had been around when I got hitched: Just Wright Boutique

I've seen a lot of great alternatives to the traditional wedding guest book on Etsy (we went with the Polaroid photo album, which - now that Polaroid film is no longer made - might no longer be an option).  I'm particularly fond of the boxes where guests can write the couple a special, slightly more private message, and file it away alphabetically, like this one from Just Wright Boutique:

Maybe I like the tidiness of the filing system because I worked in an office for several years?  Either way, I love the idea of guests including their contact information, allowing the new couple to acquire a joint address book on their wedding day.