June 13, 2011

Personal is best.

I believe that when you make a gift yourself or give something personal, it has the most meaning.  Some of my most treasured gifts have been the most personal.  So, naturally when my friend's birthday came up, I decided to make her present - personalized note cards.  You've seen me post about them before here and here but for my girlfriend, I decided to go a step further.  She is a writer (and a good one at that!)  so I added an image of a vintage typewriter.  I chose a style font that was a bit simpler to suit her and came up with this:

She can use these for personal or professional use as she sends out inquiries for her articles and eventually her novel.  I want to encourage Heather in all that she does and I hope this tells her that I believe in her and her gift!  Happy Birthday to my bestie!

Check out her musings at: www.heatherclifford.com

June 10, 2011

School's out for Summer!

As a follow-up to my previous post, the end of the year is fast approaching and that means teacher gifts.  Teachers love personalized gifts - anything with their name or monogram tends to be very much appreciated.   I chose a simple white note card and envelope and tested a few different styles and fonts before I settled on this:

Since there is only the name as the focal point, I decided to go with a style that had a little more flourish and then added extra on each end of her name.   

I didn't forget about the envelope flap:

And, since I am starting up my own business, I thought it would be fun and appropriate to add a logo to the back side of the card:

Eventually I'll have my website there and other info but for now this will work.  Next up, I need to package these in a pretty way so I'll be shopping for either a little box or clear cellophane with pretty ribbon.

All in all these didn't take me too long - there are 12 and I did each one by hand. For a great gift for anyone but especially a teacher, why not give them personalized stationary?  I guarantee they'll love it!
Message me if you're interested in having me make personalized note cards for the teacher in your life!

June 3, 2011

It's all Greek to me!

Some scholars believe the ancient art of calligraphy dates back to 200 BC.  However far it dates back, one thing we do know: the word calligraphy has its root in Greek:  kalli, meaning beautiful, and graphia, meaning writing.   I guess Mr. Gus Portokalos was right:

Happy Friday!    

Teacher Appreciation Gifts

It's hard to believe another school year is coming to a close.  My oldest is just about to finish his first grade year and what a year it's been!  I need to think about a great gift but I may just end up doing a repeat of last year's gifts for his kindergarten teachers.  The feedback was great!  They loved them!

For this easy project, I purchased 2 dozen blank note cards and matching envelopes.  I went with the highest quality I could find.  (Keep in mind the texture of the paper.  You don't want anything that the ink will bleed onto or that is too roughly textured.) I decided to keep it classic by using black ink and to change things up I did 2 different style fonts for each teacher.

You can see the top font is a little more simple and modern while the bottom font is more classic.  I didn't forget about the envelopes and chose to do a monogram on the back flap for extra detail.

I think I prefer the name to be in the lower right hand corner of the card instead of centered:

Could there be a better Kindergarten teacher's name than "Mrs. Sweet"? All in all I was happy with how these turned out but I'm excited to see how they come out now that I have new techniques, inks and have really practiced and grown in my craft.  Have you ever made your teacher's gifts? Tell me about them!

June 1, 2011

Mountains and Tangerines

I love doing place cards.  They're simple and can be so beautiful plus it's fun knowing that a person will feel special seeing their name in exquisite hand writing.  Who doesn't love to see their name beautifully written?

For Chris' wedding, the colors were navy and tangerine so she wanted orange colored card stock with white ink.  The table names were mountains throughout Vermont and those were done on navy card stock with white ink.  Always nerve wracking and always fun, here's how it turned out:

My First Professional Gig

I couldn't be more excited when I was asked to address envelopes for a wedding.  I was absolutely mortified also because I had never done calligraphy on any professional level.  Someone was going to be paying me to do this!  I practiced for days on end and began.  White envelopes with medium navy ink.  The invitations and wedding colors were navy and tangerine so there was a theme developing here.  My bride to be could not have been sweeter, more laid back or pleasant to work with.  She wanted a very simple, clean style - to match her and her groom's personalities.  The first thing I did was count the invitations and the envelopes.  I felt a knot in my stomach when I realized that there were only 2 extra envelopes and that meant, basically, that I couldn't mess up (more than twice).  Gulp.  I began and quickly realized I'd have to speed things up because I had a pace going of about 10 minutes per envelope x 150 envelopes = 1,500 minutes or 25 hours of work.  Because this was my first gig, I only charged $1/envelope for a grand total of $150 which wasn't a lot but I was gaining experience and that was worth more to me at that point than the total amount earned.

I survived and more importantly, I enjoyed every second of that experience. Most importantly, the bride was very happy and commissioned me to do the table names and place cards.  I was thrilled and relieved all at the same time.

Here are a few pics of that very first project.  It amazes me how much I've improved since then!

How It All Began

I've always loved penmanship.  I remember as a little girl being mesmerized watching my mom write even if it just was signing her name on a check.  I always noticed people's handwriting, noting the slant, how even and most importantly, how legible.  I prided myself on my own penmanship as a young schoolgirl - and always got perfect grades in all my penmanship classes.  (This of course was when they had penmanship classes).  They need to bring back penmanship classes - have you seen the way kids write nowadays?  Honestly, it's bad and honestly, I sound really old and prissy right about now.   Maybe I am a total geek but for whatever reason, pens, paper and writing were my first loves.

Where I saw a calligraphy set I'm not sure but I remember begging politely asking my mom for a calligraphy kit - a Sheaffer to be exact - and my dear mom bought it for me.  (Thanks, mom!)  I went straight to work in my room, every day after school practicing and copying the letters in the tiny booklet that came with the set.  I started writing people's names and then poems and giving them to my mom as little gifts.  I loved it which is why it mystifies me that I just stopped.  Cold turkey.  I can't remember exactly when but it was probably when I went off to college.  This scene plays out in my mind like Andy leaving behind his toys to set off for college in Toy Story 3.  I cried at that last scene.  Where was I?  Oh yes, back to the sad days where my fountain pen and nibs and ink sat in the back of my desk drawer, unused, unloved and eventually thrown away.

Fast forward 15 years or so when I receive a phone call from a young woman preparing for her wedding.  A colleague of hers had given her my name and number stating that I probably did calligraphy because I seemed like the type.  Whatever that means.  I was just about to turn her down (because I had honestly forgotten I even knew how to do calligraphy) when all of a sudden an image of me at my desk writing away came sharply into focus.  Yes!  I knew how to write calligraphy!  Yes, I could most certainly help her out with her wedding!  That same afternoon I headed to the store and bought my supplies.  For the next several days I sat at my desk hunched over with ink-stained hands writing until my hands cramped to the point of pain.

I haven't looked back.  Now, it's my home business and my hobby and my favorite pastime.  I hope to get many more clients because I just love it so much.  If you're looking for a calligrapher - I'm your gal!  Leave me a comment or email me and I'll be happy to get in touch with you.  The great thing about calligraphy is it can be done long-distance.  I'm just happy I rediscovered my first love.