Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Calligraphy: Eric & Margaret’s Invitations


Our family just expanded! My brother-in-law Eric got hitched last month to a really awesome gal. We’re so thrilled to add her to the family.


Since Eric and Margaret live pretty close to us (for about a year Eric lived with us), we’ve been able to get to know Margaret really well. But for some reason, I was coming up blank when it came to the design of the invitation. I think I started 3 different designs. None of them felt quite right. Too masculine, too formal, too boring.


The other limitation was the size. We went with an A2 envelope, which left us with basically a quarter sheet. With only that much space, I had to be creative to get information for both receptions on there without looking cramped or tiny. With relying on the personality of the type and going for a simple layout, I was able to make this happen.

In this case, bride and groom had varying amount of letters in their first and middle names. This made balancing out left to right a little complicated, but the extra flourishes to the right of ‘Eric’ did the job.


The colors were greens and bright yellows, which are perfect summer colors, but can get a little overwhelming if you have large fields of those colors. We opted for a bright white stock and green print with little details of yellow in the printing and with washi tape.


The design and assembly of the invitation was simple, but special. I’m thrilled how it all turned out. I’m also thrilled that they got hitched, too. :)

Calligraphy: McKenzie and Andrew Wedding


I’ve promised myself to not take on anything until February of next year, but somehow this project was too interesting for me to pass up.

A local wedding planner approached me with the idea that her bride wanted some kind of timeline of the couple’s courtship to display at the wedding along with watercolored signage for the event.


She had found an example of what she wanted on etsy, a simple sans serif print in colorful blocks (can’t seem to find the link), but it didn’t go with her wedding’s decor, so I went a little more whimsical and romantic with the design.


I used watercolor for their names and gold ink for the rest of the information. It’s a very subtle warm gold which plays well with the slight changes in color the watercolor offers.


This piece is 11 x 14. The tricky part was laying out the large field of text in an interesting, whimsical way while still keeping style, scale and composition consistent. I ended up laying it out on a separate sheet of paper before transferring it to the watercolor paper.


At each of the 18 tables for the event, there are little question/answer cards. The bride’s response on one side and the groom’s on the other. Another fun little design element that helps you get to know the couple in addition to the courtship timeline.


They had four food stations that needed signage, so I made 8×10 artwork for that. Again, mixing the watercolor and gold ink for more dimension.


Then I labeled the food with small table tents, mixing script and caps print for easy readability and composition.

It was a fun project, but I have to admit, I underbid the amount of time it took me to do this. The small signage came in just as predicted, but the timeline took at least three times as long to make. Lesson learned!

Part of me wants to take on more of this kind of work, but there’s just not enough time for it. And honestly, I’d much rather teach a bride how to do it herself. Feed a man a fish. . . right?

Last-Minute Happy Easter Printable


How did Easter creep up so quickly? I can’t believe it’s already here. Our celebrations this year (as with everything this year) are going to be simple. An easter basket filled to the brim with candy that Penelope and Felix have to find. No dresses, no decor, just keeping it simple.

There’s something to be said for that. I love the idea of going all out for celebrations; but when mental health lies in the balance it’s all about simplifying.


In collaboration with Brittany of House that Lars Built, I made a little printable easter banner. The printable is available in three sizes: 2″ wide (above), 10″ wide and 16″ wide. You can use the banners as inserts in candy-filled Easter eggs, as a little banner above Easter baskets or as a decoration at the breakfast table.

easter tables121

Photo by Trisha Zemp

Brittany styles the banner with a mossy basket and paper flowers. To learn more about how to make Easter Awesomeness like this, check out her awesome DIYs here and here.

egg garland12

Photo by Trisha Zemp


I ended up using the artwork as a little printable for an activity I co-hosted for the ladies at church. We had a simple devotional about the real meaning of Easter with a little social afterward. The candy-filled Easter eggs were a sweet takeaway. The event was very simple, but just what I needed.

Lately, I’ve been enclosing my Easter eggs with washi tape to make sure they don’t randomly split open. I’ve gathered quite the collection of washi tape over the years (which I’ve now finally organized in a cute dispenser!), so it’s great to put it to good use. My mom and grandma used to tape Easter eggs shut with regular tape which was perhaps a little too effective. The sticky residue of clear tape lingered year after year. The washi tape is a nice solution because it’s easier to remove and doesn’t leave any stickiness behind.

So what will you do with the Easter banner? I’d love to hear/see what you plan on doing with the artwork!

Click the button above to download. If you enjoy the download, make sure that you follow along via feedly, instagram, facebook and/or twitter!

*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!
*Tape dispenser provided by We R Memory Keepers.


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!!
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