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.
So, onward. And thank you for reading.
It snowed in North Carolina last night. Everything is white and clean, and my house is cold. Its a good day for blankets, hot chocolate, and comfort food. Anything with an egg on top feels pretty comforting to me, and béchamel sauce doesn’t hurt either. Thanks to the kitchy kitchen, its Croque Madame for lunch.
Jessica Helgerson via Design*Sponge
My husband is currently building me a fatty farmhouse dining table to seat 12. It will be rough and giant and lovely…I can hardly wait. While he’s busy drilling dowel holes and clamping things, I’m left wondering what to do about all those seats. I love the mix and match idea, but I can’t decide what should unify the look. Paint color? Lines? Fabric? Here are a few rooms that inspired me this week.
Kelley McDowell on Architectural Digest via Pinterest
Style Me Pretty via Pinterest
Intrigued by one found on pinterest, much of my Tuesday evening was devoted to hunting down mourning rings. Naturally, mourning rings were popular in Victorian times (Victorians!). They honor the dead, sometimes with their name, a quote, often hair, and would have been passed down from generation to generation.
From left to right, top to bottom: Georgian skull ring with enamel skull on top of hair ($4,350) / Mourning ring with skeleton with arrow between legs, crown, cross-bones, hour-glass, pair of wings, star, spade and pick (British Museum) / Woven hair ring ($195) / Mourning ring with monogram in hair (British Museum) / Hair locket ring ($870) / ring with hair set shank ($280) / ring with trees made from hair (British Museum)