I like to say that I can make anything out of paper, and every once in a while I get an inquiry that challenges that statement! A client reached out a few months ago to see if I could create a logo out of paint chips. Of course I said yes!
It was so interesting to learn how to work with paint chips, which require a slightly different handling than plain paper. It was exciting to work with such a range of colors, since I tend to work mostly with white paper. And it was a fun challenge to pull the whole thing together.
March marked the 12-month point from when I created my first paper house portrait. Since March of last year I’ve delivered 24 custom house portraits to art lovers in 7 different states. The commissions range from a famous church in Greece to a girlfriend’s childhood home in the Midwest, to a family’s vacation home in Florida, to a construction company’s office, and more. Several were gifted to clients or friends who just purchased a new home, or as a wedding, anniversary, or birthday gift. It has been remarkable to be a part of such momentous occasions in people’s lives, and be able to create an heirloom that will hopefully be a tangible reminder of the memories and relationships that center around these homes and spaces.
My primary observations after a year, in no particular order:
I’ve challenged myself to work larger. My original portraits were 8″ square, and lately I’ve been creating more pieces that are 11″ x 14″, and even one that’s 20″ x 20″. Working larger has allowed me to add more nuance and detail to the houses, since I’ve learned that one can only cut a piece of paper so small before it kinda just falls apart.
I’ve experimented more with using colored paper for different areas of a house, to add contrast between the roof and the walls, or the walls and the shutters. I look forward to exploring this more, and I’m currently trying to figure out how I can store more different kinds and colors of paper, so that I can expand what I keep on hand to include more colors that make sense for homes and buildings.
I’ve learned that porches are tricky to make, especially the kind with lots of posts and a roof. I can’t tell yet if it’s the sort of thing that will get easier with practice, or if every house portrait is so unique that every porch will be tricky. For one of my house portraits, I spent an entire day just trying to get the porch right. I may have to add an extra fee for houses with big porches, but I’m going to try a few more times first.
As I head into the summer art show season, I have temporarily shuttered my online shop so that I can focus on the house portraits already in my queue and spend some time coming up with fun new products (and hopefully making progress on organizing my workspace – it’s been a disaster for a long time). The shop will re-open mid-May, just in time for my first weekend of outdoor shows, the Bedford Plant & Art Sale and Inman Eats & Crafts.
Some people can’t stand the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard, or the squeaky noise that styrofoam makes. Some people get aggravated when they see garbage on the ground, and some people get annoyed by poor grammar in an email from a colleague. We all have our pet-peeves, our things that people around us probably don’t even notice, right?
My pet-peeve is kinda weird…I get riled up when I encounter situations that are awkward or inefficient because of poor design. Everything from kitchen tools that fall apart when you try to use them (spatulas with a rubber scraper and a wooden handle, I’m looking at you) to websites that make it hard to find key content. One of the things that landed on this list quite some time ago was invitations, especially wedding invitations, that have a lot of little pieces, and no good way to keep track of them.
In my invitation design work I typically address this issue by using pocket enclosures that go inside an envelope and have their own little pocket that holds all of the bits and pieces. This can be an expensive option, though, as the enclosure itself costs at least $0.70 per invitation, which can be a significant percentage of an invitation budget for a piece that doesn’t actually communicate anything, just looks nice.
It was the intersection of these two problems: lots of pieces, and expensive pockets, that I set out to solve, and I came up with this:
Teal, gold, and triangles. A shimmery gold envelope coordinates with the metallic ink on the bright, handmade paper band around the invitation.
The invitation is a generous 5″ x 7″ (A7 size) which feels big, but isn’t ridiculous.
The accordion fold reveals plenty of space to describe all of the details of your big day, from hotel blocks to directions and RSVP information, as well as a little note instructing guests that they can pull the three panels apart at the perforations to make this:
With this invitation design, I wanted to solve the “loose bits” problem in a more cost-effective way, but I also started thinking about what happens to the invitations after they arrive at their destination. I take a lot of care when I’m designing and making these things, and it seems sad to just have the invitations be destined for the bin after the wedding is over, so this invitation doubles as a decoration that guests can hang in their home as a cheery pick-me-up for birthdays, holidays, or all year. The added bonus, I suppose, is that if they hang it up somewhere in their home, they’ll also know where to find it when your wedding day comes around and they realize they don’t know the way to the venue!
For this wedding, the bride wanted to bring in a lot of textural, textile elements: lace, burlap, linen, wood grain, flowers, and the colors yellow and blue. She was especially interested in incorporating paper doilies, to mimic lace.
I pulled together a paper palette with the doily, brown “paper bag” paper, a beautifully textured cream-colored paper, and after a lot of searching, the perfect blue color. I also scoured stock illustration databases to find an illustration that incorporated the same flowers that would be featured in the bride’s bouquet, come wedding time.
I am a big fan of pocket enclosures for wedding invitations, since they keep all of the pieces and parts together and organized, hopefully preventing last-minute guest confusion. For these invitations we adhered the paper doilies to the pre-made enclosure (and went through an astounding number of glue sticks in the process). I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out the custom shape for the invitation and the invitation backing. The invitation actually tucks into the loops on the blue backing paper.
I designed these invitations for some good friends several years ago. They lived in the Chicago area at the time, and wanted invitations that reflected Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on the area. We went with a fall-themed green and brown color scheme and pulled in some delicate illustrated elements to add interest and reference wrought iron decorations.
The brown enclosure contains all of the pieces, and keeps everything organized so guests know what’s planned.