It’s that time of year again! One of the rhythms and routines of small handmade business life is deciding every year how to attempt to carve order out of the chaos that is the end of the year. Just being a human in November and December is difficult, balancing weird schedules from holidays and school breaks and family obligations and changing weather patterns! Trying to balance “human-ing” and “business-ing” as a single person business has always been a challenge, but it turns out that looking ahead and making a plan makes a huge difference in everyone’s experience!
It turns out that this year that looking ahead and planning makes an even bigger difference, as the world braces for a massive increase in shipping during a time of staffing shortages, and we’re not really sure how long it will take things to get places.
With all of the above in mind, here’s my plan. It may change! You won’t regret shopping early and being prepared.
3D House Portrait Applications Open: Saturday, October 23 – Tuesday, October 27, 2021
A friend commissioned some custom maps for family members around the holidays last year. He also asked if I could add some sort of indicator of where the family members homes were in each town. This was something I had thought of a few times over the years, but never actually sat down to figure out. This time, I figured it out!
A few months ago, I added the option to include a place marker when you order any Paper Place, or custom Paper Place, from my website. Etsy doesn’t make it easy to add this sort of customization, so this feature is only available here at yeiou.com right now.
Add a Map Marker
In order to add a marker to your map, first choose the map you’d like to customize! Once you’re on the product page, scroll down to the “Place Marker Style” option and choose the design you’d like for your marker. Indicate the address of the location you’d like to mark, add the map to your cart, and you’re good to go!
This map of Medford, MA was the first map ordered with the new options, and such a great color choice!
I wanted to share some exciting news: my work is being featured on this season’s set of NBC’s “Making It” with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman!
Airing nationally on Thursday evenings at 8pm Eastern (or streaming on Hulu), the show is a light-hearted, feel-good competition series featuring makers, artists, and designers from across the country. Now in its third season, executive producers Poehler and Offerman designed the show to celebrate the creativity and craftiness in all of us.
I was honored to create three custom pieces for the NBC set. When I sent them off for filming I had no idea where or whether they would make an appearance in the show. It’s been fun to spot them each time they’re shown on an episode!
The house with the orange background is one of my sample house portraits that I was able to rent to the production since I wasn’t doing any in-person events in the fall of 2020 thanks to a certain pandemic situation. But the most exciting pieces are the two others that I created specifically for the show:
The “Making It” Barn
This House Portrait Silhouette version of the Making It barn was a fun make! As I was gluing all those little bits together I imagined how it must feel to actually be standing inside the barn for the show. Maybe some day that will be me! I love the addition of the barn quilt this season, and I’m tempted to make an updated version that includes it!
This House Portrait Silhouette version of the cottage was also a fun challenge. Those light fixtures are actually 3D! The dormer windows on the second floor are gorgeous, with the arch to let in even more light. The show doesn’t really use the inside of this space as far as I can tell, but the various hilarious exchanges that Amy and Nick have on the porch are what make “Making It” such a delight. Though it’s sad to say goodbye to whoever leaves at the end of each episode, I love seeing the different “farming” “jobs” they get to act out, often on the cottage porch or nearby, at the the very end of the episode.
Variety is the spice of life! Each 3D House Portrait takes hours and hours and hours and hours of work, and I find myself craving novelty (and burning out).
I feel bad about taking so long! I know there are folks who’ve been waiting for a chance to order a house portrait for a while, or who might purchase if the timing/pricing were less complicated. House Portrait Silhouettes will have a faster turnaround time, and will be available for purchase at your leisure. No need to set any alarms or rearrange your schedule.
I am still making 3D House Portraits! I’m catching up on my queue and fitting in a few projects for family this summer. I will reopen orders later in the summer / early fall of 2021. As always, the best way to stay informed of all house portrait details is to make sure you’re on my email list.
Your House Portrait Silhouette begins with a clear photograph of the home or building you’d like me to work with. I then carefully trace the outline of the structure. I draw in details like windows, doors, shutters, and other architectural elements that help describe the building. After you’ve reviewed the drawing and chosen a background color (there are 38 to choose from!) I will turn my drawing into files for my computerized cutting machine to cut. I use a computerized cutting machine so that everything is super accurate. My machine can cut straight lines, smooth curves, and beautiful details! With cut pieces in hand, I attach the detail pieces to the background, carefully lining things up to match the photograph, then frame it up and ship it to your door.
House Portrait Silhouettes are:
11″ x 14″ and arrive framed and ready to display
Available in your choice of 38 background colors
One layer of paper in the foreground depicting the silhouette of your home, one layer of details glued to your background paper
Three rounds of design revisions
$264, including shipping within the U.S.
Simple and Modern
House Portrait Silhouettes are a beautiful, minimalist depiction of the essence of a house. Working from a photograph, I carefully trace the important details to make sure that all of the perspective lines are spot-on. This then allows me to create an image that subtly depicts implied architectural features like the bay window at the front of this Newbury Street house, or the deep front porch of the (above) gray background house with that gorgeous arched attic window.
Have you ever noticed how places are always an important part of the story? Whether the story is a fairy tale, a fable, or what happened Tuesday afternoon, there’s always a setting. Over time, you collect places that are important to your story, whether that’s a home, a park, a school or campus, an office, a restaurant, a town, a state, a region, a country, or all of the above. My work is about celebrating places, and I love to do that by preserving memories of them with paper – something that is everywhere, and usually so ephemeral and fragile, but cut and sculpted and framed becomes an heirloom.
Paper for the map cut-out as well as the background
Japanese Woodcarving Knife (for cutting the paper)
You will also need:
A prying tool or old credit card
A pencil or other drawing tool
Optional: collage materials like glue, additional paper colors or textures, photographs, memorabilia
The funny thing about remembering and celebrating places, is that they then become part of the story of the place you are now. If you’d like to share your paper places online, tag @yeioupaperobjects on Instagram, and use #yeioupaperplaces!
I started making Paper Places in the summer of 2019. I had already started making house portraits, and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make enough of them to keep my business afloat. The idea came to me sort of abruptly and at the last minute. It was the night before a craft fair I was participating in nearby in Somerville, MA. I made a few maps of Somerville and some of the surrounding towns, working into the early morning hours the night before the event.
The next morning, I hung them up with my other work to see what would happen!
Throughout the day I had a lot of fun conversations about how weirdly-shaped places are! I sold a few, swapped out some background colors, and generally felt encouraged.
When designing my Paper Places, I focused on making them in a way that felt clean and modern. I designed them to be easy to hang on a wall in a grouping without looking weird. Pulling from the bright color palette of my paper craft kits, I offered a bunch of different color options. Once I had all of that, I focused my efforts on adding new place designs. It turns out there are a LOT of places in the Boston area, let alone the world!
Custom Paper Places
I very quickly realized that I could never keep up with all of the requests for new places, nor could I reasonably predict which places people might want! In order to fill that gap, I added the option to order a custom-designed Paper Place! It’s been fun over the years to make gifts for parents, siblings, children, real estate clients, and friends, near and far.
In March of 2018, I was really burnt out from a busy holiday market season that happened immediately after several months of working full time while gutting and rebuilding our new kitchen and then moving to our new house. After running at over 100% capacity for something like 8 months, I decided to take some time to play, experiment and breathe. I made paper out of other paper! I painted pictures on paper for no reason! I slept in! I cooked dinners and breakfasts! It was glorious.
I haven’t been able to take time like that since, though, because the other thing that came out of that quieter season was the beginning of the custom house portraits! Based on a custom project I had finished for a friend in mid-2017, I stumbled my way through creating the first house portrait, a model of our little house in Arlington, MA. I shared the process on Instagram as I solved fun challenges like “the angle of the roof is NOT what I expected it to be!” and since there seemed to be at least a little interest, I decided to give it a go.
I used the photos of this house portrait to list my very first “Custom House Portrait” in my Etsy shop for $50. I limited this pricing to 5 orders, since that would easily cover the cost of materials and shipping, but it wasn’t too much for what was essentially an excuse to learn and experiment.
A few brave souls took me up on it, and I embarked on this weird journey of figuring out things like “How do I give depth to a roof that you can’t really see in the photo?” and “How do I get the roof and floor of a porch to actually line up with the porch columns?” and “Just how thin can I make this sliver of paper before it disintegrates?”
I thought these first house portraits were SO detailed! I thought there was no way I’d be able to fit more detail into something like this! I did eventually have to move to a larger format (11×14 inches instead of 8×8), but still, three years ago me had no idea how far this was going to go.
One of the questions I get asked is some variation of “you’ve made a bunch of these, you must be so fast at it now!”, but because I’m a detail-oriented perfectionist, what I actually learn from each new house portrait I finish is how to pack even more details in so that it takes even longer to finish! I wouldn’t have it any other way, though, and I’m very fortunate to have the world’s most patient customers.
I created 17 house portraits in 2018, 34 in 2019, 22 in 2020, and 13 so far in 2021.
In 2021 I plan to continue accepting orders in batches of 5-6 commissions, opening orders once every 2-3 months at a day and time announced only to those who’ve joined my email list. This is the best way I have right now of keeping my work queue manageable. At the beginning of 2020 I had an order queue 5 months long, it was incredibly stressful! I’m also trying to give a fair-ish chance to everyone – the day and time changes for each launch, to account for different time zones, schedules, etc.
This month’s launch will stay at my current pricing, but there will be an increase of some amount for the next launch (hopefully June or July 2021). I’m also hoping to upgrade to a higher quality frame and glass, either as a part of the standard pricing or an optional add-on.
I keep talking about carving out time to take another break like the one that started this all back in 2018, just some time to recharge and rest, but with everything else going on this last year it’s been all I could do to just keep going with the bare minimum. Making something that people want and want to pay me to make has been such a delight – after many years of struggling to make this business viable with products that just didn’t sell very well, being suddenly too busy is an amazing problem to have, but it still feels like a new problem that I’m actively learning how to manage!
Last summer’s political and racial unrest here in the U.S. kicked off a season for me of learning, listening, and reevaluating. I haven’t talked much about it here. Mostly because, well, I’m a naive white woman, and listening is what I feel like I need to be focusing on right now. If you’ve been following along though, you know I said I was going to do some things. I thought I’d take a minute to report back.
I realized that even though in my personal life we have always made sure to prioritize generosity in contributing to organizations we care about, it wasn’t something I was doing as a business. Since June, I (yeiou paper objects, that is) have been making monthly contributions to a local organization that works to keep families housed, and also helps unhoused families find emergency and long-term places to live. I contributed a portion of each house portrait sale in 2020 to an organization in my town that distributes food to families in need (a need that grew exponentially in 2020).
Over the summer I also made a one-time contribution to an organization that was running a creative business incubator program for students, which was a no-brainer for me to contribute to, since my own business was bootstrapped by my husband’s income, not something I would have been able to do without financial support!
In addition to these concrete things, I’ve been looking inward and reflecting, reading, learning, and having conversations about what it means to be white in this country, where the idea of “whiteness” even came from, the systemic atrocities of white supremacy, and how to move toward something better…all sorts of light things.
This doesn’t feel like much in the grand scheme of things, but if you were curious, that’s the update!
Oh, and P.S. Black Lives Matter
And, if you’re interested, here’s some of what I’ve been reading / watching to broaden my horizons and to better understand the colonial and white supremacist backdrop of the world I’ve been raised and living in:
I first created this printable project as a fun Thanksgiving craft a few years ago, but this year it felt like a good thing to talk about on Veterans Day (Remembrance Day in Canada and the U.K.). I’ve been trying to be much more mindful of the world around me and specifically the struggles of people who aren’t just like me as sort of an ongoing personal project this year. Six years of working alone at home made my radius of awareness pretty small, it turns out! It took a pandemic, a major social justice movement, global Black Lives Matter protests, and a lot of thinking about my own privilege.
So, today, for the first time as an adult, I’m taking a moment to think about Veterans Day. Specifically, to think about it as more than just a day off, or a day when the post office is closed, or even a “bonus” day to get more work done. I don’t know what it’s like to serve in the military, but I know that every single person who has served or is serving has at a minimum given up time spent with their loved ones, and likely a lot more than that. Thank you, veterans, for all of the different sacrifices you have made. So many thanks.
Whether you’re celebrating Veterans Day or getting a head start on Thanksgiving or have a random act of kindness to thank someone for, here’s a crafty way to do it:
One of the reasons I love living in urban Massachusetts is the sort of details prevalent in neighborhoods full of homes that are over 100 years old. The more detailed, the better!
Do you like looking at old houses and hand-crafted details?
I sometimes get lost walking around my own neighborhood because I look up and around at the houses instead of down at the street signs and where I am going. It’s still dangerous for me to drive around in new areas because I really just want to stare at the houses! If you like looking at houses in your neighborhood, online, on TV, (This Old House, anyone?), or in any form of photography, you’ll know just what I mean.
The tiny details are the reason I kept creating house portraits
There is magic in the details, and bringing that to life is one of my favorite parts of creating an architectural portrait. I excel at picking out the details that make a home unique, no matter how small.
Of course, your house’s design and the scale of the finished piece, how closely the proportions match the frame dimensions, and the quality of photograph all determine the level of detail that brings your home or special place to life behind the frame. But if there’s something special, like this weathervane, that makes the home yours, please make a note of it when you contact me!
This weathervane is one of the microscopic details I’m most proud of. The bird is 0.34 in (0.86 cm) wide and 0.2 inches (0.48 cm) tall. The entire weathervane is smaller than my thumbnail!
Sometimes I get to fully build the details like this bird, but details with more dimension in real life force me to create some illusions. Take a look at the chimney below. Using 8 separately drawn and cut shapes of paper I created the illusion of depth using layering and subtle scoring and folding.
It’s all part of the process
Hand-cut corners and lines also give miniatures the feel of the real place. This is where a house portrait becomes a house sculpture! The scrollwork on this roofline is all cut by hand. The detail is about half an inch wide and crafted from three separate intricately scrolled pieces and some shorter straight pieces.
What architectural details make your home unique? Be sure to point them out when you purchase a house portrait slot!
Join my email list to get updates on when orders open, and to learn a little more about the process. You can also visit my Etsy shop to see more architecturally-inspired paper art.