paper suitcases from t-shirt boxes

June 27, 2012 § 24 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!

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).

canadian living february 2012 issue: valentine candy heart boxes

January 9, 2012 § 8 Comments

On Friday, as my co-workers and I spent our lunch hour wandering the aisles of a nearby Walmart, I spotted the February issue of Canadian Living Magazine already out on newsstands!

I did my rounds of grocery shopping on Saturday and, indeed, the issue is available everywhere magazines are sold in Canada.  So if you’re in Canada, please head over to your closest newsstands to pick up a copy and turn to pages 66-67.   For those of you beyond our Canadian borders, you can find the article at canadianliving.com. (I will update once the craft is available for viewing online).

Here it is!  Treat boxes in the likeness of candy hearts for you to make for your sweetheart this Valentine’s!

Am I giddy!  My first print publication.  Well, my “first”, unless considered are my monthly column for our local Parish newspaper at the age of 13 and my dreadful illustrations in the high school newspaper, but they simply won’t (shan’t) count.  So yes, this is my first print publication.  Ever.  And of the year.  I am so blessed.  I didn’t imagine when I started this blog not so long ago that my first print publication would be a two-page spread in a national magazine.

I cannot wait to share with you other publications to follow in 2012 (and, praying for a bit of luck, beyond).  I could not have more gratitude for the opportunities being given.  Thank you!

paper clip christmas cards

December 15, 2011 § 24 Comments

So I thought (we all thought) my paper clip Christmas crafts were done with.  But I realized I hadn’t crafted a single Christmas card for the blog this season.  Gasp!  Is Christmas ten days away?  

Given my recent posts, paper clips were right here within reach and this was just too easy.  I happen to have a huge tub of colored paper clips with perfect shades for Christmas shapes.

These cards can be easily crafted by little hands.  Just dab the paper clips on some glue and design away.

eyeball paper packages

October 30, 2011 § 8 Comments

Ahh, I can’t believe Halloween is a couple of short hours away.  I haven’t been holding out on you, I promise!  I had some more ideas I wanted to test out and make and share here this month, but there simply weren’t enough hours in the day!

As mentioned in my last post, I spent the previous weekend brainstorming and carving pumpkins for the show on Tuesday morning which turned out to be such an amazing experience.  I have plenty to say about what happened on Tuesday and I also have the video clips to post, but will do so in a separate post.  After that, I caught my breath on Wednesday night.  Come Thursday, O.T. was speaking at a conference in the east coast in Albany, NY, called me after work, and surprised me with “I’m taking the Greyhound from Albany, meet me at the station at 6:30 am”.  Immediately after hanging up the phone, I attempted to embark on a cleaning frenzy, with no success (again, not enough hours in the day).  In any case, my spectacular week couldn’t’ve gotten better!  So he’s been here for several days and will be here until Wednesday.

As for the past couple of days, being Halloween weekend, the days are prime calendar real estate (after Christmas and Thanksgiving, of course).  We had a couple of parties to attend this weekend and everything went by in a blink!

As for things that blink — I did have time to make these eyeball paper packages for the office tomorrow.  420 mini chocolates in 60 eyeballs in 2 hours.  I wish I had shared this sooner, but I actually JUST came up with the idea today.  One of the rare occasions when I’m glad I waited til the last minute.  Otherwise, I would’ve simply reused my old ideas and would’ve felt a bit of self-reproach for not coming up with anything else different.  I’m quite happy with the efficiency of these packages, considering how laborious most of my previous treat packages have been.

I have a 13″ x 19″ format color printer, and have stacks of 11″ x 17″ paper which I used.  My very hastily made design (which you may download here for blue, here for brown, here for green) is intended to be 11″ x 11″.  One eyeball paper package fits 7 pieces of mini chocolates.  Simply fill with treats, gather, and twist.   Yes, how handy that the excess twists into the optic nerve!

I’m sure you haven’t left your Halloween treats for last minute as I have, so perhaps this is an idea to consider for next year!

Happy Halloween!

fall and halloween d-i-y ideas

September 29, 2011 § 2 Comments

I cannot wait to work on fall and Halloween crafts for October, but before I do, here’s a recap of the fall and Halloween ideas I designed last year.  If you didn’t get a chance to make any of these creations last year, I hope you try them out this season!

My most favorite post was the one with the Halloween balloon body parts.  Doodle on balloons to create creepy eyes, bloody brains, and witch’s fingers:

halloween balloon eyes, brain, and fingers

Make cute little phantom place cards by drawing faces on pumpkin seeds:

ghost-faced pumpkin seeds

Cut out and fold an itsy bitsy spider treat box with the very first printable I designed and shared on this blog (and it was my very first tutorial ever):

spider favor box

Grab a tupperware bowl, four corks, scraps of paper, a pen, and some raffia and create this witch’s candy-filled cauldron with broomstick:

candy-filled witch's cauldron

You know I love me my packaging, so here’s another printable!  Fill this harvest corn treat box with…you guessed it…candy corn!  (I think this is still my favorite treat box out of all treat boxes I’ve designed for this blog to date):

candy corn favor box

Your little ones can make art of autumn grains with this wheat and corn décor made of exactly that: wheat (pasta) and corn:

And the most popular fall tutorial I made last year was the carved butternut squash centerpieces:

Oh, and I almost forgot: I did a whole week of pumpkin experimental recipes last year:

         

My favorite from pumpkin week was the pumpkin panna cotta:

And, I almost forgot, I designed and baked a ginormous woven cornucopia cracker for Thanksgiving:

Enjoy!  More fall and Halloween ideas from me coming up in October!  And I have a birthday GIVEAWAY coming to you this weekend!  paper, plate, and plane is very soon turning 1.  And I am very soon turning 1 year older.  I am excited to host a special giveaway to celebrate the occasion(s).  Stay tuned!!!  😀

no-carve stamps

July 5, 2011 § 13 Comments

Hope you had a wonderful Canada Day and 4th of July holiday weekend!  I spent mine in Michigan at my parents’ with newfound relatives and without a moment to craft.  And I couldn’t wait until today to show you my latest contribution to CRAFT.  It feels like a while since I last posted a crafts tutorial using a totally random household material, so today I’m excited to introduce a technique that allows us all to design and illustrate our own stamps without having to carve rubber or linoleum or block or anything at all.

I illustrated and made my own peony, dahlia, and lilac clear rubber stamps to create these prints inspired by vintage botanicals, in celebration of summer, using a very simple technique with one household object that most of us would otherwise pass with little consideration for craft projects.

Yes, the random household object is silicone rubber caulking, which some of you may recognize as window or tub sealant.  Head straight over to CRAFT to read my super duper simple tutorial.  I promise it is easy and absolutely no carving is needed!  Please show me the designs you come up with using this technique, as I’d love to see them.  Enjoy!

father’s day golf card

June 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

I was in the rough for a while.  Finally mustered up the drive to get a grip, break out of my rut, get my head out of the sand, repair the chip off my shoulder, and here fore present you this last minute idea for Father’s Day.  Yes.  I’m back and unafraid to use a score of puns.

Here’s to the golfer dads in our lives — an accordion-folding, flag-raising, puntastic golf-themed greeting card — designed so you can tell him in a fair way:

DAD, you’re below par…

on the green

BUT, you’re above all else

You will need cardstock, bamboo skewers, double-sided tape, mounting tape/foam adhesive, and 1/4″ hole punch.

Without much fuss, you can very quickly design a card using none other than your word processor.  I made simple arrows and chevrons to create a design, as well as diamond-shapes to create flags.  It’s not apparent — I printed blue ink on light green cardstock and green ink on light blue cardstock.  The front and back panels are 3-3/4″ x 9-1/2″, to perfectly fit a size-10 envelope.  The inner green panel is scored such that there would be three 3-3/4″ squares, plus 1/2″ on each end for adhesive.  Each “hole” is made of randomly-shaped green cardstock, punched with a hole.

Now let’s putt it all together:

1. Using double-sided tape, affix your front and back panels to the inner panel to form an accordion-folding card.

2. Using double-sided tape, affix one flag to the end of a bamboo skewer.

3. Trim the skewers in different heights, ensuring they are not longer than the length of the front and back panels of the card.

4. Take your “on” flag and feed the skewer through the hole and secure on the back with double-sided tape.  Affix mounting tape.

5. Tape down the skewer and the hole on one panel of the green.

6. Continue with the “the” and “green” flags to complete your card.

There it is, a father’s day card, crafted to a tee.  Now if I’ve missed other golfing lingo, please feel free to gimme!

Happy Father’s Day!

mehndi-inspired illustrated card

June 10, 2011 § 8 Comments

I’ll be heading to a henna party this evening for one of my friends who is a bride-to-be.  In some Middle Eastern, East and West Indian cultures, it is customary for women to apply a decorative design with henna, called mehndi, on hands and feet before a wedding — a bridal shower of sorts.  Last night, I decided to design this congratulatory greeting card for her, made in the likeness of mehndi.

I had a lot of fun creating this design, which is composed almost entirely of hearts (fit for a bride-to-be) with some added swirls and lines to keep within the typical style of mehndi patterns.  The flower and leaves are nothing but a repetition of hearts.

All I used were: kraft card stock, light purple card stock, purple rhinestones, pencil, black felt pen, double sided tape, and 2″ circle punch.

1. I made a 5″ x 7″ card, with a sleeve made of kraft cardstock.  The folded sleeve has a final measurement of 6-1/2″.  I made a 1/2″ allowance on two edges for double-sided tape.  I punched the center of the edge of the sleeve where I want a design to peek through.

2. I cut a sheet of light purple card stock to a final size of 5″ x 7″, so that 1/2″ would peek through the sleeve.  I doodled away with my pencil.

3. I went over my design with my black Sharpie felt pen.

4. I added the rhinestones for some sparkle.

5. I applied double-sided tape to the 1/2″ allowances I made and folded the sleeve shut.

I have never attended a henna party before.  I am excited to see the designs the mehndi artist will create for my friend and her bridesmaids.

no-fuss foam roses

May 7, 2011 § 30 Comments

Mother’s Day is hours away, but there’s still lots of time to make these beautiful foam roses in minutes.  They’re much more dainty than the no-fuss paper roses I made for Valentine’s, and perhaps far more versatile.  In a few simple steps, you can make these sweet rose magnets, rose pushpins, and rose jewelry.

You have probably made paper roses before by cutting and rolling spirals of paper.  This applies the very same technique, however, I’ve added the petal details by employing a simple tool that many of us have stowed in our crafting bins — scalloped scissors.

You will need: scallop-blade scissors, hot glue gun with glue sticks, and thin foam sheets.  I purchased a multi-colored package of 36 – 4″x6″ foam sheets from the dollar store.  They quality is much thinner than what you would find at the craft stores, however, they are the perfect thickness for this purpose.  The thinner the foam sheet, the smaller you can make your roses.

1. Cut your foam sheet into 2″x2″ squares.  A 4″x6″ foam sheet can yield six roses.

2. Using your scalloped scissors, cut each square into a spiral.  Two and a half revolutions around the spiral should be sufficient.

3. Starting from the outside of the spiral, roll the foam sheet inward.

4. Apply hot glue to the bottom of the rose.

While the glue is still hot, you can apply the rose immediately to a magnet, thumb tack, earring backing, or fashion ring.

Happy Mother’s Day!

kill bill: sword push pins

March 2, 2011 § 30 Comments

This week on Iron CraftChallenge #9: …and the Oscar goes to…. The challenge is to create something reflecting any movie that is special to you, not necessarily one from this year’s Academy Awards.

Now, Kill Bill was never nominated for the Academy Awards (it did, however, get best actress and best supporting actor nominations for the Golden Globes).  But it was the first movie that popped up in my head after reading the challenge description, perhaps for various reasons.  First, I truly enjoyed the Kill Bill movies, lauded for their visually graphic, push-the-envelope, cheeky, not-take-itself-too-seriously approach.  Second, I had already crafted a Kill Bill papier maché project many years ago, back in 2003 when Vol. 1 came out and my group of friends decided to dress up as Kill Bill characters for Halloween.

I was Gogo and I devoted a few hours into making a ball and chain weapon using a balloon, newspaper, glue, metallic paint, and a few feet of metal chain from the hardware store.  I don’t ever know what happened to that craft and I only have these pictures to remember it.  There I am in my cheap black wig, almost eight years ago, flailing my papier maché ball and chain.

Source: Global Prints (www.globalprints.com)

Well, I didn’t want to remake the ball and chain from Vol. 1.  I feel its duplication would rob me of the experience of creating something entirely new.  And sometimes, I really don’t know what overcomes me to come up with some very random crafts.  But after googling Kill Bill for this challenge, I wanted to make use of the graphic conveyed in the poster for Vol. 2, and the thought process transpired as follows: death list — grocery list — sword — push pins.  Just like that, this one idea came within seconds, which does not happen nearly often enough in my culling of ideas.

The thought process of how-to came rather quickly, too.  I had a paperclip right beside my keyboard, and I knew instantly that a miniature sword push pin could be constructed by the simple bending of a paper clip, some 1-1/2″ square paper scraps, glue, black electrical tape, and faux-metal Con-Tact paper (which I’ve recently used to make a faux metal bib necklace and faux metal flowers).

To create your own sword push pins:

1. Stretch a paperclip and bend in half, ensuring that the sides are straight, parallel, and 1/4″ apart.  Apply glue on one 1-1/2″ square scrap of paper.  Place the paperclip along the edge of the paper and roll, making sure the bend is covered and the two paperclip ends are exposed.

2. Cut a 1-1/2″ x 3/4″ piece of Con-Tact metallic paper.

3. Wrap the Con-Tact paper around the paper-covered paperclip.

4. Cut a 1″ strip of electrical tape.  Fold 1/8″ from the edge, sticky sides facing away from each other.  Snip 3 little triangles.  Unfold and you’ll have 3 diamonds.

5. Affix electrical tape on the top end of the paper-covered paperclip.  Again, snip 3 little triangles to appear on the back side.

6. Wrap electrical tape around and trim any excess.  This makes the handle.

7. Cut a 1-1/2″ strip of electrical tape.  Fold in half, sticky sides facing each other, to make a double-sided square of electrical tape.

8. Cut electrical tape square into a circle.  Cut a 1/4″ slit along the center.

9. Slide the paper-covered paperclip through the slit until the circle reaches the bottom of the handle.  Trim the circle and round the corners of the handle.

Now, tack onto your cork board to help you attack your lists of to-do’s!

st. patrick’s lucky card

February 27, 2011 § 4 Comments

I like designing cards for all holidays, and although St. Patrick’s Day isn’t one when greeting cards are the expectation, I think we can all use a little wish of luck sent our way.

So, here’s a simple idea for a St. Patrick’s greeting: a 5″x7″ playing card with a rainbow back and a shamrock ace, “Wishing you the luck of the Irish and an ace up your sleeve”.

*Update: The free printables are ready for downloading: card front and card back.  The card is double-sided and I’ve horizontally centered the crop lines on the page, but you may need to play around with your printer’s alignment to ensure they line up exactly.*

going the distance. out-of-the-box ideas. and keeping the faith.

February 21, 2011 § 19 Comments

Last night was one of those sad drives from the airport — a recurring event in my life.  O.T. flew back to California and I’m in withdrawal.  For two and a half years, I’ve coped with a long distance relationship by repressing the matter from my consciousness.  But there are times like today when all worries are rampant.

It dawned on me: I have not seen California in five and a half months!  That is a record.  O.T. has been making the sacrifices to come to my neck of the woods.  He has spent a total of a month’s worth of time in Toronto over the past four months alone.  It adds up to a lot of time away from home.  Come to think of it, last year in the nine months between January and September, I spent a combined three and a half months in California.  In all of 2010, between the two of us, we spent nearly five months combined of being away from our own respective homes.  Five months out of twelve!  In the past two and a half years, we’ve probably spent nearly a combined ten months on vacation.  THAT is how we go the distance.

But things are changing.  Back in the fall, I put my wedding stationery business on hiatus indefinitely, due to a combination of an expired business license, a feeble economy, burn-out, and a dying dream.  As of last month, I terminated the website for good.  It’s been a big decision and a long time coming.

I look back and my eyes well up.   Four and a half years ago, shy of my 27th birthday, I gave my two weeks’ notice at my steady job at a civil engineering firm.  I was armored with the hope that I would beat the odds (what is it — 99% of small businesses fail?).  Well, it wasn’t going to happen to me.  And not to out-of-the-box ideas (it stings to mention the name now, which I admit I’ve deliberately avoided since starting this blog).  Within eighteen months, I suffered burn-out and slowly and surely lost my will, but continued with numbness for three more long years.  In hindsight, I understand how I met my failure.  I was good when things were good, but I was an utter disaster when the littlest things were awry.  I simply didn’t have the maturity to trudge through hardship at the time.

The beauty is I went through some of my most creative moments while steering the course of my own ship. I know I had great things to offer, but I also know I still had a lot of growing up to do.  One day, I’ll be back and I’ll do it right.

I am blessed with good graces.  And I rest assured the higher powers-that-be are watching over me and making sure of my survival.  Just days after I closed down the website for out-of-the-box ideas, three weeks ago I got two important calls from two unrelated companies (a school and a civil engineering firm) with offers of employment. The real miracle is that I didn’t seek them out.  (Have faith that when the time is right, things do fall on our laps).  Even more miraculous is that both companies are willing to work around my current part-time teaching schedule (which I’ve had for almost three school years).  So for now, until further notice, I juggle three jobs, a blog, and small steps towards a sideline in freelance writing.  I am blessed and ever grateful.

Now with my life drastically changing, how do we narrow the distance between me and O.T.?   As I have done all my life, I am keeping the faith.

“you maki me happy” sushi card

February 9, 2011 § 7 Comments

If you share the love of sushi with the love of your life, this greeting card craft is designed for you!

Sushi is one of those foods for which I acquired the taste quite late.  I remember my first experience of sushi as a child, around the age of seven, an era long before sushi catapulted into trend status.  I was impressed by a plate of such pretty and colorful food.  But one big bite had me wondering if there was a tragic mistake!  My then seven year old palate assumed it was to embark on a gastronomy of pure candy and had little ability to equate an appealing sight with the taste of fish.  I wonder now if my parents explained what it was made of (I’m pretty sure they did), but I failed to listen, mesmerized by the prettiest food I did see.  I remember deviously pretending to wipe my mouth with a napkin in which I tucked away my half-chewed maki.  I avoided sushi for nearly fifteen years until one afternoon in the Toronto subway, a friend insisted in sharing her packed deli sushi for the long commute.  I declined repeatedly as much as she insisted repeatedly, and I now thank her for it.  My life just wouldn’t be whole without sushi.

To create the sleeve of this card:

1. Cut a 7″ x 9-1/2″ piece of cardstock.  Score and fold at 3-1/2″ and 8-1/2″.

2. Print the chopstick holder template I whipped up for you here.  You may superimpose a message using a photo editing program.  Cut the shape.  Score along the length, 1/4″ from each edge, and fold the edges up, printed side down.

3. Using double-sided tape, affix the top of chopstick holder to the bottom edge of the 3-1/2″ section of cardstock.

4. Fold the sleeve and affix the bottom of the chopstick holder to the top edge of the 1″ section of cardstock.

To create the inner card:

5. Print your greeting on a 7″ x 9-3/4″ piece of cardstock.  Score and fold at 3-7/8″ and 8-3/4″.

6. Punch out six 1″ circles of each: black cardstock and white cardstock.  Trim the white circles by 1/8″ using a pair of scissors, creating a more organic shape.  Cut small squares of pink and green cardstock.

7. Arrange the circles and squares on the front of the card to make six maki.  Break apart a pair of disposable wooden chopsticks.  Using white glue, affix the top of the chopstick along the top seam and the bottom of the chopstick along the bottom seam.

Insert the inner card into the sleeve.

Now go and maki someone happy this Valentine’s Day!

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