Last week was my first week in the new studio! There’s still a lot to do, and a lot of mess to sort out, but it just feels right — I have a great space-mate and the location is amazing. The better location meant some downsizing (read: gigantic tupperwares of random paper and envelopes now filling up my basement). It feels good to have less stuff in the studio and better organization is a good thing. Because I’m sharing the space, I’m more conscious of keeping things tidy, so I’ve been stocking up on decorative boxes and baskets (thank goodness for TJ Maxx) to keep the visual clutter to a minimum. Another thing kept to the minimum? Our budget. That’s meant making do with the furniture I already owned, recessed shelving made in the cheapest way possible, and (for my half) a large, inexpensive jute rug purchased on sale to cover the unfinished concrete floors. (Above, the space before the store front windows were installed; below, the space before we moved our furniture in.)
My studio-mate Jessie found the coolest online floor plan tool so that we could play with and share possible to-scale plans. It’s helped Jessie plan what type of storage to buy for her half of the space, helped us choose rug sizes, and helped me get a realistic idea of how many cabinets I could cram into my 175 square feet of space.
You can choose UrbanBarn products, or use generic “symbols” (as shown in our plan above) to add pictures of your own furniture, rugs, and even equipment like computers, printers, etc. As you can see from our plan, we used the exterior space to drop possible furniture options and leave notes for each other.
The plan below is a sample one from their website, which shows that you can even get into color schemes and materials:
I highly recommend UrbanBarn if you’re trying to space plan — especially if you need to share those plans with someone else!
When I’m working on my wedding invitation collection for letterpress company Bella Figura, I tend to do two formal designs with one slightly less formal design. Annadel is my playful invitation this year. I wanted it to be classy, elegant, but very joyful. Something that could be dressed up or dressed down.
I was picturing a late afternoon wedding, outdoors in a vineyard, with a focus on the food and wine. It wouldn’t be complete without a firework send-off!
The green is a fun complement to the gold foil (a little different from the gold/blush combination that’s so popular).
I found a couple of spare hours last week to try nail polish paper marbling! I was thrilled to break out the, uh, paints and get my hands dirty — a much welcomed break from the computer screen. It took a little bit of practice, and I didn’t end up with what I had in mind, exactly, but maybe that’s the charm of the whole thing. I’m looking forward to trying it again soon, and incorporating these patterns into some stationery!
I went to a beauty supply store and bought tons of very cheap nail polish. I found that the Sally Hansen polish gave me trouble (maybe it dries too quickly?) but all the other brands I used seemed to work fine. The most important things are to use room temperature water and work really quickly. My best prints came from water that was cold from the tap, let to sit for about 30 minutes before starting.
In the end, I wondered if it would be worth investing in some actual marbling paints, if you want more control over the whole process. But, for a quick and fun activity, nail polish will certainly do.
pans of water big enough to fit your paper (you’ll want an inch or two of water)
paper (or objects!) small enough to fit in your pan
toothpicks or skewers (my preference), or a homemade comb (straightened paper clips taped to cardboard will work)
nail polish (cheap brands are fine, but I had trouble with Sally Hansen polish)
paper towels (to lay skewers etc on top of to protect your table)
nail polish remover for clean-up
disposable gloves, if you like… it gets messy
a plastic fork, or something to skim the excess polish off the water
a well ventilated room to work in
1. Fill your pan with an inch or two of cold water from the tap, and let sit until it gets to room temperature (maybe 30 minutes or so)
2. Choose your color scheme for your first print. Go ahead and unscrew the caps from the nail polish jars that you want to use. Get your paper handy.
3. You’ll need to work quickly, because once you pour in your polish, you have seconds to make your pattern and put in your paper before the polish starts to make a gloppy film. So, go ahead and pour in your polish. You can play with different techniques, but you might try starting with your lightest color. You don’t need a lot. You can vary the amounts of each color so that some are more prominent in your design, and some are more accent colors.
4. Quickly use the skewers (comb, toothpicks, what-have-you) to swirl around the paints — you’ve just got a few seconds.
5. Lay your paper face down in the water. You might need to press down just a bit so that all of the paper touches the water. No need to leave it in very long! Pick it up and see what you came up with.
6. Lay your paper aside to dry and use a plastic fork (or something) to swipe the excess polish from the surface of the water.
7. Repeat, til you feel funny from the fumes!
For more marbled inspiration, check out these posts:
marbling with Design Mom / marbling with Elise Blaha — paper & objects / nail polish marbling with Etsy / “real” marbling with Etsy
It’s here! I know I say this every year, but it’s like Christmas when the new Bella Figura wedding invitation collection launches. The deadline is in the summer, so it’s a big project and then to have to wait 6 months or more to see how they turn out… jeez. Or maybe all the anticipation is a good thing. Now I’ll be checking my mailbox every afternoon in hopes of finding the letterpress samples inside.
I’m going to go ahead and play favorites — in this year’s collection, I like the Analina invitation best. Not only did I get to collaborate with the super-talented Sarah Hanna (who did the calligraphy while she was in Italy — presumably sipping an excellent glass of wine and taking in a beautiful view). But, it was also a collaboration with my grandmother. My grandmother was a talented artist and pattern designer who gifted me a box full of sketches to use as I’d like, including licensing the patterns. I’ve been hesitant to use them in my work, because the sketches seemed so precious, and turning them into work-related projects felt weird. And then I realized, I’m crazy, this box allows me to collaborate with my beloved grandmother, whom I miss, and she would surely (hopefully!) be proud of my work and business. The scalloped shape is one she made to border a square table cloth and I pieced them together to make the design motif that runs throughout the suite.
As for the wedding that goes with it? I picture a small, formal, elegant afternoon wedding in some exotic locale. Simply decorated, tons of candles, curtains flowing in the breeze, overlooking a peaceful blue sea. Indoors but with floor to ceiling windows open to the balcony. Can you see it? A girl can dream.
Here’s a few more of the many items Sarah and I worked on:
I read Design*Sponge’s State of the Blog Union last week with great interest, as the changing blog world (and my place in it) is something I’ve been contemplating for the past couple years.
I discovered blogs in 2007 — a little late, for sure. I was a recent college graduate, sidetracked with an AmeriCorps stint that left me feeling lost and unsure of where I was heading. When I discovered design blogs, I realized two things: there were other people interested in what I was interested in, and that because of the online marketplace, people were able to start small businesses that wouldn’t have been feasible a few years before. Two things that seem obvious today!
I devoured sites like Design*Sponge until I felt like I was going to explode if I didn’t start sharing some of the amazing things I was discovering on a blog of my own. I spent hours staking out corners of bookstores, with big stacks of design magazines and books around me. I began working several part-time jobs with graphic designers and interior designers to get my foot in the door. Soon thereafter, I landed my first full-time graphic design job. In 2008 I began Mint and was blogging several times a day. That sounds like a lot, but it was easy — I had so much to share because my world had just gone from being very small to being so very big. There weren’t a ton of design bloggers posting several times a day, so there was a sense of camaraderie among those of us who were. It was easy to quickly gain readers and stand apart.
Since my early blogging years, my focus has shifted. As dozens of full-time design bloggers turned into thousands, as it became harder to have a voice and be heard, harder to get advertisers to offset the enormous number of hours it takes to keep a daily blog going, my attention was turning more toward my business, my husband, and my friends. I think it was in 2011 that I started wondering “what to do about” Mint. I started to realize that there would always be someone harder working, with a prettier house, cooler wardrobe, and better photography skills. Reading blogs stopped being fun and became depressing — everything was a little too shiny and perfect. I’d go back to old Mint posts that I used to be proud of, and feel embarrassed that I ever thought they were worth publishing. It stopped being acceptable to just post on other people’s work, something I was pretty good at, to creating longer, original content, while figuring out how to share that content in a unique way across many social media platforms. While I think that made blogs more interesting on the whole, it all made me less interested in blogging. I was already working so hard and it seemed that now I’d have to work much harder, for mostly intangible benefits.
I’ve also struggled with my voice as a blogger. I have mixed feelings about posting personal stuff online, so I feel constantly torn between wanting to share more and wanting to share less. You’ve seen me try posting schedules and weekly columns, paid blog contributors, and short breaks hoping the burnout was just a temporary thing. When you’ve done something every single day for years, it’s really hard to stop. Who am I if I’m not blogging here every day? I’ve done a lot of growing up and finding myself while blogging right here, and now that my focus continues to shift away (hey, baby Juna!) I find it even harder to know my place in the blog world. It has opened doors for me, allowed me to make wonderful connections, and to grow a business. It’s scary to think about leaving this daily-design-blogger world. (Does it mean no more doors, connections, growth? Will my business suffer if I’m not here every day at 9am?)
I am fortunate that Hello Tenfold is still my full time job today, over four years after starting it. I feel giddy when I open my studio door in the morning, look around, and realize that I’ve created a business where I get paid to do what I love. The time I took away from work while I was pregnant and during Juna’s early months made me realize that I love my job down to my bones. I want to grow Hello Tenfold, and to do that, I will need to let some things go.
I’m not letting Mint go completely, not exactly. But I want to transition it from an I-post-about-everything-everyday blog to a more narrowly focused blog about my studio and inspiration relating directly to my stationery work. It’s a natural transition but a tough one, because closing doors (or changing six year old habits) is never easy.
I envision a Mint with fewer posts, and more Hello Tenfold related posts. I’m don’t know if that means starting a new blog, or blogging right here with a different focus. I don’t know if this new project will be called Mint, or if it will be Hello Tenfold. It feels good to make this project smaller, more in line with my real everyday life and interests. Perhaps this sounds like an anticlimactic end to a very long blog post, but for me it’s a completely different way of thinking about blogging, and a challenge to figure out how to turn what interests me on a daily basis into something that will interest you, too. And ironically, the more I think about it, it looks like what I’ve been loathe to do in the first place — more original content. But I hope I can learn to think less about what is the “right” way to blog, and more about what is the happiest way for me to blog.