Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Download: Keep Moving Forward Desktop Wallpaper


I had the pleasure of working with Chelsea Costa on a new desktop wallpaper series for her blog. I met her at Alt Summit over two years ago and fell in love with her clean style and honest approach to writing and crafting. When she did a call for calligraphers, of course I was on board.


She gave me a few quotes to choose from, and about 2 weeks ago I felt like Walt Disney’s quote was the most appropriate for what I needed to hear internally. Sometimes life gets overwhelming. Work bogs you down. Kids can be so much work. And the house is never clean.


Sometimes when my to-do list gets too long for me to handle, I just stop. The mental load of having so much to do brings me to a screeching halt. I need to remind myself to keep moving forward. Because if I’m moving forward, I’m getting something done. And that’s an important feeling.

Check out Chelsea’s blog and download the wallpaper here.

Now if you want me to bore you with technical details, I used a #5 automatic pen and a #8 sable round brush to complete this work. I experimented with a Neuland variation and brush script. For pigments, I used Daniel Smith Phthalo Turquoise and Cobalt Teal Blue.

Silhouette Promotion: Print and Cut feature


So. . . Exciting news for anyone who makes artwork in illustrator and cuts with Silhouette. Silhouette has a plug-in for that. Now you can cut directly from Illustrator or Corel Draw using Silhouette Connect!


It’s quite convenient. I spent a total of 20 minutes designing, cutting and ironing Penelope’s little heart decal last week. It’s a much faster process! Also, the software detects the size of your artwork and sends everything to the cut program in-tact. No resizing necessary.


There are a couple of bugs that need to be fixed with the software: no where on the cut settings does it tell me at what position I should adjust the knife (I end up opening the other silhouette application just to get that information or I guess) and there have been a couple of connectivity issues where I have to turn off and on my machine and disconnect and reconnect the USB in order for the software to detect the machine. Annoying? Sometimes. Dealbreaker? No way.

This month’s promotion, we’ve been asked to highlight the print and cut feature. I don’t like it, to be quite honest. I wasted several hours trying to get my printer and silhouette to play nicely. And all I got out of it was 1 alright fake return address label out of it. Here’s the breakdown of my personal experience (please pipe up if you’ve had a great experience with the print & cut feature! I really hate to dwell on the negative around here):

  • 1st sheet: Didn’t cut all the way through, even though settings were for “printable foil”- I also discovered that the Silhouette doesn’t cut anything outside the registration marks (good to know)
  • 2nd sheet: I accidentally printed the cut guides (user error)
  • 3rd sheet: Silhouette didn’t line up at all with printing. Even with adjusted cut settings, still didn’t cut through gold foil paper
  • 4th sheet: Registration marks weren’t printed all the way by my printer, so cutter didn’t detect cuts properly
  • 5th sheet: Registration marks and printing came out perfect on kraft sticker paper. Cutting started off right, but then got slightly off as the cutter continued down the page.

My studio has been a disaster zone full of half-completed projects, so there may have been some serious yelling and throwing of paper and craft supplies at that point. The mechanics of the feature were easy enough to figure out without the user manual (although it can help with troubleshooting), but I couldn’t trust the precision of either printer or cutter to get anything spot on.  I want pixel perfection!

Despite all that negativity, I still love my Silhouette cutter. Why? Because I don’t tend to use that feature in my projects. I’m sure I could think up something more clever than return address labels if I ever get out of my creative slump, but knowing how frustrating this whole process has been to get one half-decent label will likely squash anything clever that comes along. I may keep trying to get that perfect recipe of machine harmony to try and get this feature to work together. Until then, I’m going to continue doing my happy dance that I can cut directly from Illustrator for everything else.


This month you can get great deals on machines and 30% off all specialty media! Click here for more info. Use code: MELISSA at checkout. Valid through March 31, 2014.

I am a Silhouette affiliate. I wouldn’t blog about their products unless I really loved them. And I do. I receive a portion of sales made with the promotional code MELISSA, so thank you for your support!!

Freebie: Please Knock Printable

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This post is inspired by a note I saw on Instagram yesterday. I thought I’d get all paper crafty and bust out my fancy decorative papers for a quick printable DIY. Let’s make notes telling our visitors to knock cute today. You can get fancypants with decorative paper, or go plain jane and simply print on the paper you’ve got on hand.


Simply print, cut and (if applicable) fill in the blank!


There’s a fill-in-the-blank version for any other need you may have. We had a doorbell busted sign on our front door for about 3 months, then Chris discovered that fixing the doorbell wasn’t as complicated as he had once thought. 5 minutes later, the sign was gone.


I used an ombre paper and 6 inch Lucky 8 punch* to make my sign just a tad cuter. And as luck would have it, it nested perfectly inside my coffee filter wreath.

Side note, the coffee filter wreath has done remarkably well considering it gets wet everytime we get rain or snow. Color me impressed!


And the No Solicitors sticker has been doing its job as well. Lucky us! Click the below link to download the printable knock sign.

And hey! If you like this printable, subscribe! Follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or RSS. Thanks for stopping by!

This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!

*Products provided by We R Memory Keepers. Printable, images and thoughts are all my own. 


Calligraphy: Keeping it Real With Dooce


I’m excited. Nay, beyond the MOON to share with you a fun collaboration that I had the pleasure of completing with Quarterly and Heather Armstrong!


Quarterly approached me on Heather Armstrong’s behalf to see if I could put together an art print for her calligraphy-themed box. Ummm. . . Heck yeah!

The phrase: “Neither Representing nor Keeping it Real” is in a box full of pencils, a broad-pen calligraphy set, paper and envelopes.


I had more than a little fun flourishing the border for this piece, keeping them simple with  a monoline, but making them meander every which way.


Heather and Quarterly were a dream to work with, letting my creative juices flow. The icing on the cake? The kindest shout out from the queen of blogging herself! In the box’s letter she writes:

“There is a local artist named Melissa Esplin –– whose work I follow religiously, and in this package I’ve included an exclusive hand-lettered print that we worked on together: her talented hand giving life to a phrase that once served as a tagline on my website. I love the juxtaposition of scripted letters that are so often associated with inspirational and romantic notions being used to render my facetious twist on a popular phrase.”


Chris couldn’t stop laughing at my half hour long happy dance when I showed him the shout out. It. Made. My. Year.

Did you know that this month (in addition to being Black History Month) is International Correspondence Month? Kind of perfect given that Valentine’s day is basically upon us. I’ve written 2 letters so far this month (pretty sad), but I intend to use every envelope in my Quarterly box before Feb 28th and send some letters. I hope you take on a similar challenge and write to someone you love this month.

All photos taken by the uber talented Will Deleon.

A Dream Collaboration: Hand-Lettered Hankies


We’re in full blown recovery mode around here. It’s taken just about all of my energy to get up and get dressed these days! Alt Summit was amazing, but so much work.


As part of the preparations and plans, I collaborated with Brittany from House that Lars Built and Spoonflower to make floral hankies as our takeaway for our Secret Garden mini party. We printed 200 of them, and they disappeared in about 15 minutes!


The lettering was fun to do, but I think the florals are the show stopper. We printed these babies on cotton voile. They’re crisp and vibrant in person.


I’m thinking I’m going to frame one (or both!) design on the wall, or back it with a thicker cotton and make a pillow case.

Did you miss out on getting one? Head over to Instagram and enter our little giveaway! We’ll be picking a winner tomorrow morning.


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