paper suitcases from t-shirt boxes

June 27, 2012 § 13 Comments

Hours and hours flew by as I made our wedding favor boxes: paper luggage.

At first I thought: it’s just a t-shirt box and I only need to repeat the process a dozen times, it’ll be a cinch.   I didn’t consider the hours alone on painting each side of the t-shirt box into our wedding colors.  Nor the time to contemplate and execute the paper details like the corners, straps, handles, and Velcro enclosures.

What was most important is these need to be compact.  These suitcases will be traveling from Toronto to New York to Las Vegas afterall and, well, they have to fit in our big suitcase before they are given away to our guests and vendors the morning of the wedding.  So I made sure to maintain the ability to fold and unfold these in the same way they came when they were t-shirt boxes, but also have the ability to attach and detach items that easily convert them into luggage.

We’ve called them our “Keep Cool” kits, as they will contain relief from the Vegas and Grand Canyon heat.

Tutorial to follow after the wedding!  Keep posted!

no-sew color block suede cushions

June 27, 2012 § 2 Comments

Aaaah, where did the time go?!?  I feel like I have been DIY’ing at all hours of the day, everyday, only to pause for work and sleep.  I get home from the office, inhale dinner, craft until midnight, wake-up, and repeat.  That’s been my schedule for the past two and a half weeks and I’m still not done and the wedding is now less than a week away!

What have I made since the handpainted Turkish rug-inspired straw mat?  Color-blocked cushions to match!  The camel and apricot micro-suede applied on our boxed invitations have come to further use as cushions for our upcoming Grand Canyon wedding picnic.  I went off and bought black micro-suede to add more to the color blocking.

I wish I had the time to do the tutorials now, but I still have a bunch of mini projects to finish.  So for now, I’ll post the pictures and will have tutorials ready after the wedding.

Using Stitch Witchery, I managed to make these without any sewing.  More on the process when the tutorial is posted in a couple of weeks.  Next: our fun favor boxes that took days to complete!

straw mat turned kilim magic carpet

June 11, 2012 § 3 Comments

So the previously mentioned straw mats have had a backbreaking 8-hour makeover this weekend.  I sewed four together to create a massive mat on which I painted on a number of kilim patterns.  This once blank large mat is now packed with bright colorful prints (in our colors, of course!).

It’s convenient that the kilim has reached mainstream global fashion in the year O.T. and I are wed.  I have caught sight of the patterns on tops, bottoms, and bags in ways antique kilim-makers never dreamed.    Of course kilim rugs are from varied origins, however the most prolific kilim-makers are the Turks.  Creating a Turkish rug-inspired mat for our Grand Canyon picnic was another seamless way to incorporate O.T.’s culture into the wedding and to give a big welcome to his parents who are flying in from Istanbul (apart from the Turkish ebru handmarbled papers on our wedding stationery).

Before busting out my acrylic paints and cutting out stencils from plastic chopping sheets, I studiously researched the types and meanings of kilim patterns.  It’s amazing what kilim.com has to offer on the topic.

It turns out, there is a lot of symbolism behind kilim motifs, apart from looking cool and tribal.  What’s even more amazing is the relevance of these to our wedding.

To start, we chose the most common symbol of Turkish superstition — the eye.  The eye wards off any harm caused by an evil glance.

On our kilim magic picnic carpet, I also painted on the tree of life, which is the hope of life after earth.  It cannot be a Turkish carpet without the comb, which is a symbol of marriage and birth.  (To me, that pattern has always been a ‘dentil’, as used on a frieze.  But hey, we’re not talking architecture).   Of course, on our mat, there is also love and unison, the harmony between man and woman, the yin and yang.  Or as O.T. sees it: two Pacman ghosts gettin’ it on.

Then there is the star to signify happiness.  It couldn’t be more perfect

terracotta clay succulents

June 11, 2012 § 1 Comment

As soon as I posted the wedding invites and saw the overall concept through a computer screen (not on my desk as it had been evolving for weeks), I automatically felt the urge to perpetuate the evolution.  The box shouldn’t be square, it should be an octagon.  The concave corners should have a larger radius, to be accommodated by the octagon box.  The green border shouldn’t be an invisible tint of honeydew, it should be a vibrant pistachio (a shade of green that would be noticeable through a camera lens!).  The rounded variety of terracotta succulents should be used, not pointy (I made both types).  It doesn’t end.  It drives me mad.

The urge was more rampant over the weekend, with the further progression of our wedding crafting.  I thought of another hundred different ways to make our invitations.  But better.  More unique.  Last night, I asked O.T. for the umpteenth time “Do you like how our invitations turned out?”.  His reply: “Well, it’s classic.”  What I hear is: boring, predictable, ordinary, aren’t you capable of more creativity?  For someone who used to own a company called out-of-the-box ideas and make invitations as contemporary as this fairytale castle, our own invitation design is perhaps not anything anyone expected of me, not even myself.  Suddenly, as though out-of-body, I want to shake myself for not going out-of-the-box.

I’d like to believe when I went to the drawing board after booking the wedding a month ago, that I had a purpose (and very little time).  The terracotta succulents were intended for the invitations, yes.  But they were ultimately designed for the bouquet, which I have since made and love far more than the invites.

I used self-hardening terracotta clay.  Not just “air dry” — that stuff crumbles (I tried and failed miserably).  Heart shape cookie cutters.  Rolling pin.  Garbage bag.  Paper floral stems.

To start, I rolled the clay between a folded sheet of garbage bag to a thickness of 1/8″.  I allowed the garbage bag to wrinkle, which left a leather-like texture on the surface of the clay.  Then I cut a number of heart shapes using two sizes of cookie cutter.  I further split the hearts into two halves.

For the invites, the terracotta succulents are pointy and flat-bottomed.  I placed halves of the larger hearts to form a 6-pointed star shape and placed a second layer, with halves alternating to cover gaps.   I continued by placing halves of the smaller hearts in the same manner until it reached a full bloom.  I guess “bloom” is not exactly the word.  Succulents have leaves, not petals.  I pinched each leaf to create a point.   Then I set it all aside to harden.

For stemmed terracotta succulents, I started from the inside out by pinching three small halves around the tip of a paper floral stem.  I pinched additional layers, with halves alternating to cover gaps.  I used three layers of small halves and proceeded with another three layers of large halves.  I made two varieties using the same heart halves — pointy side up and rounded side up.

For the bouquet, I have a combination of terracotta and artificial succulents.  Realistically, there won’t be any time to prowl around Vegas nurseries for fresh succulents the day before the wedding, so we purchased artificial succulents and cacti at qualitysilkplants.com with a $100 splurge.  Real succulents and cacti would’ve cost us far less.  However, given the time-frame, this was most efficient.  My bouquet is made well ahead of time and I can’t wait to show you.   Let’s hope the terracotta survives the trip in my carry-on!

suede-boxed invites with hand-marbled papers and terracotta succulents

June 4, 2012 § 5 Comments

I didn’t think this would be so hard!  Especially after designing handmade stationery for over 150 weddings in my designer days.  I discovered, amidst the arduous task of making my own invitations, that it is a million times easier to design for someone else!

The problem was I wanted to design in every style possible.  In one brainstorm, I’d want classic and sophisticated.  The next, I’d want graphic and whimsical.  Then after more thought, I’d want minimal.  It was a harrowing process to narrow down to one decision only.  I’m not used to this!  Clients did all this decision-making for me!  But for our own invitations, I felt like I could’ve made a hundred different versions to satisfy my fickle fancies.

It was a challenge to clear my mind of all the invitations I’ve made in the past.  One thing is for sure: wedding invitations are about tactility.  The product is entirely about texture and touch.  So how could I make something classic, sophisticated, graphic, whimsical, and minimalist at the same time?  Well, I tried.  Really tried.  And it hit me: all of my fickle fancies could be relevant and cohesive.

For a classic style: a square shape with concave corners.  The invites are printed on my favorite stock of all time — leather-textured paper, which reminds me of old books.

For an air of sophistication, the inserts are carried in a handmade micro-suede box (color blocked in apricot and camel), with personalized dust sleeve made of the same leather-textured paper used for the inserts.

For something bold and graphic, I knew ebru, the Turkish art of paper marbling, would be relevant by today’s trends and significant by O.T.’s culture (apart from conveniently resembling the Grand Canyon walls).  He was really impressed that I went so far as to learn how to make my own marbled papers.  He would like to take credit as supervisor of this process.

For a bit of whimsy, I sculpted succulents out of terracotta clay to complement our earthy desert venue.  I mentioned in a previous post that terracotta will have a significant part at our wedding and the invites provide this sneak peek.

For the minimalist architect grad in me: a monogram of our future family initial with a simplified and very architectural hatched illustration of the Grand Canyon.  O.T. and I heavily considered helicopter silhouettes, but later decided the oversize “T” emulated helicopter rotors reaching to the bottom of the canyon, in a very implicit way.

This whole project was an ordeal, more time consuming than I expected.

The boxes took the longest time to make.  I cut and glued millboard before covering the surface with the micro-suede material I showed in my previous post, and affixed a monogrammed transparency as a window.

The terracotta succulents took a long time to dry (3 weeks) and they still don’t look entirely dry, but I am quite liking the darkened tips.  I will post a tutorial on how I made the terracotta succulents next.

The ebru marbled papers were the quickest to make (without considering the hours upon hours of researching how ebru is done).  I was at odds about the marbled papers for two reasons.  They can be bought online, but it was really important for me to make our own in the colors and patterns that unify the project.  The materials to make ebru are pricey, so there was a point where making ebru was difficult to justify.

I found sites recommending shaving cream.  I tried.  What an awfully imprecise way to make marbled paper!  Then there are sites which recommend methyl cellulose (very pricey considering I could only find it online and shipping fees to Canada are enormous).  But I wasn’t going to give up.

I happened upon this amazing blog, Knit One Quilt Too, on easy paper marbling using liquid starch.  It was decided.  I will embark on the adventures of my own hand-marbled papers.  And for super cheap!  Sta Flo Liquid Starch sells for $2.97 at Walmart!

It was a painless process.  I placed half a jug of liquid starch in a shallow tray.  Then I gently drizzled watered-down acrylics on the surface of the starch.  And marbled away using a bamboo skewer.  I carefully dipped my paper on the surface of the marbled starch and immersed it in a water bath for a few seconds to rinse the starch, then laid the paper flat to dry.  I was impressed with the level of control the liquid starch provided and couldn’t be happier with my first paper marbling experience.

Insane, these invitations made me.  And I only had to make four!  I have never put so much thought and time into invitations for anyone else, nor will I ever.  I am pretty happy with the results!

canadian living june 2012 issue: father’s day card

June 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

It’s been a few weeks out on newsstands.  Where did May go!?!  Here’s my latest contribution to Canadian Living magazine: Father’s Day shirt card with a life-size wearable paper tie (clipped on with paper clip, of course).

terracotta, suede, apricot, champagne, honeydew, moss, straw, capiz, onyx, and gold

June 2, 2012 § 3 Comments

They have something in common!  They will all belong in our wedding ceremony and “desserts in the desert” picnic reception on the bluffs of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Hooray, it’s all coming together!

We didn’t just want a color scheme.  We wanted items that are beautiful in their natural color, tactile in their form, and above all, significant in their purpose.  Alas, we found a theme that meaningfully bridges our two unique cultures and our spectacular venue.

Given the earthy surroundings, there will be plenty of terracotta.  These items were first to be purchased, as they are the focal point of our picnic.   Conveniently, minimal crafting is required with our plans for these ready-made pots and saucers.  However, I also picked up 5 pounds of self-hardening terracotta clay and have been busy sculpting away.  More on my terracotta sculpting in another post!

The culture of the Grand Canyon considered (we are getting married in the lands owned by the Hualapai Indians), suede is a must!  O.T. is a fan of camel suede (and not afraid to wear it in blazer form).  I love camel suede just the same (and also wasn’t afraid to wear, with great frequency, a pair of camel suede pants in my college years).  I struck luck when I found camel micro-suede on sale for $12/m.  With even more amazing luck, I found a beautiful apricot sorbet shade of micro-suede on clearance for $4.75/m (I could not love it enough!).  Lots of items will be made with these.  Some are already done, which I will be showing soon!

What’s a picnic without straw mats?  Equally important, straw is such a significant part of Philippine craft and export.  But to bridge our cultures, these mats will don a Turkish persona!  Big things (Turkish things) are about to happen to these modest dollar store mats.

The pride of Philippine craft, the capiz will make some appearances, too (thanks, Mom!!!).  These flat, thin, opalescent shells will give a sparkling contrast to the terracotta, suede, and straw.

Of course, apricot, honeydew, and champagne are beautiful colors, but they’re meant to be eaten and drunk.  This will be, afterall, a desserts-in-the-desert picnic!  I have planned my best to use the apricot and honeydew in creative and edible ways (among a list of desserts I plan to develop and make, because I’m crazy like that).  And to swallow it down?  Champagne.  O.T. and I are actually not much of drinkers, but our helicopter service happens to come with champagne — so who would refuse?  I’m sure someone in our small party would be happy to drink it all down (namely, my brother)!

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