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Hot Off the Press: My New DIY Paper Craft Book!

Sep 19


My new (and first) paper craft book, Simply Paper Cutting: Hand-Cut Paper Projects for Home Decor, Stationery & Gifts, is now available in our shop and on!  Order your copy today (please allow 2 weeks for shipping), either for yourself or the paper fanatics in your life.

It's filled with step-by-step instructions on how to to draw and craft with the simplest of materials, an X-ACTO knife, card stock, and glue.  Here are a couple of teaser photos to give you a sense of the projects you can make:

Hand-Cut "Flower Geometry" photo frame.

Square gift card presentation card

"Little Bow Peep" and "Cowlick Boy" cupcake toppers

There are 15 projects in all, plus extensive tutorials on crafting and designing with a knife.  The book will be more widely available in book stores beginning October 1st.  Order your copy today!

[With much gratitude to the Editors and Staff at Fox Chapel Publishing, my amazing business partner and step-by-step photographer, Vanessa Trice Peter, and glamour photo maven, Lisa Franchot.]

PHOTO CREDITS: Lisa Franchot Photography

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Straight from the Studio: Fall Place Cards

Sep 14

It's closing in on 100 degrees in Los Angeles this week, so yesterday I tried cooling down my brain by working on Fall and Thanksgiving place cards.  (DIY-ers have to give themselves more lead time for the holidays, right?). 

I adapted the red pepper and eggplant motifs I created for my daughter's school doors (above), plus the butternut squash and mushroom motifs that I created for a Traditional Home magazine shoot and turned them into the place cards.

All of the place cards (below) were made by cutting and layering Bazzill Basics card stock with an X-ACTO knife and Tombow Mono Multi Adhesive.  Here you can see my paper color choices and master stencils.  For each motif, I create a master stencil and file it with paper color chips. This filing system is my "trail of bread crumbs" that leads me back to my original designs and allows me to cut multiples more efficiently.

Red peppers with yellow highlights and green stem
Butternut squash cross section in various shades of rich Autumn yellows and oranges
Deep purple eggplant with grass green stem and pink highlights
Mushroom cap in earthy browns

Paper crafters who use the Silhouette Cameo, you'll soon be able to download these designs from my Silhouette online store.  As you can see from the close-up below, the grass cloth texture of the Bazzill card stock really makes a difference, both to the eye and the touch.

And if you're interested in learning my "cut-layer-cut again" technique, make sure to check out my new DIY book, SIMPLY PAPER CUTTING, which hits the shelves and this September 15th!



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Found Pattern: Rome

Aug 08

Is it possible for one's eyes to actually tingle with excitement?  That's what five days of pattern hunting in Rome felt like to me.  Here are some patterns I spied in the Eternal City, mostly food and architecture-based, such as the sandwich display (above) in Via Veneto that caught my eye.  Tomato, mozzarella, basil -- repeat!

I fell in love with the vestibules of Rome. And who wouldn't, given tile work like that above near the Piazza Espagna (Spanish Steps).

Another doorway I snuck into.  The intricate marble design made me do it.

Iron lanterns near the monument of Vittorio Emmanuel.

Candy shop near the Pantheon.

Pastry art at Il Fornaio bakery in Campo di Fiori.  Yes, it was 9 a.m., and yes, I was already eating dessert.

The famous market square of Campo di Fiori was undeniably pattern-ville.

Another market stall in Campo di Fiori, this time selling candied kumquats and other dried fruit.  Love the different orange hues and the way the protective glass covering reflected the adjacent building.

Filigreed iron work, alluring and intimidating at once.  Maybe "alluring and intimidating" might be a tag line for Rome. 

I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, which they say indicates a return to this great city.  I hope the legend is true as there are so many more patterns to photograph -- and eat!

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My First Digital Fabric for Interweave Magazines

Jul 16

I'm excited to announce my first "mini-collection" of digital fabric, created for the editors at Interweave, publishers of 16 different magazines for art and craft enthusiasts, including "Cloth Paper Scissors".

You can see the fabrics I designed and read my article about how I designed them on page 62 of Cloth Paper Scissors July/August 2012 issue, available at participating newsstands, or via digital subscription here.  Jenn Mason, my editor, invited me to create 3 distinct but related designs, which she had produced into digital fabric.  The photo above shows the original paper cut with a sample of the final fabric in the background.  All 3 were inspired by traditional Japanese kimono fabric.

Above is my original paper cut of a "Whorl" pattern.  You can see the resulting digital fabric it was turned into, along with the third pattern, in the article.  Interweave delivered my fabric to 3 talented sewers who fashioned them into pillows, which will appear in Interweave's  magazine for quilters, Stitch.  Check Stitch's web site for upcoming issues in August to see the pillows.

If you are relatively new to arts and crafts as I am, Cloth Paper Scissors is a magazine for "fiber arts and collage work, including mixed media, assemblage, altered books, art dolls, visual art journals, rubber stamping, creative embroidery, and book arts."  I'm so grateful to Jenn Mason for giving me the opportunity to take my designs from paper to fabric.

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My Designs, Hands-Free: Silhouette Cameo and Anna Bondoc

Jul 03

"You must be a very patient person."

It's a phrase I hear often about my work.  Sure, I happen to love spending hours cutting shapes out of paper, but I've met plenty of people whose best friend may not be an X-ACTO knife.  Call me an anomaly.

The good news is that now anyone can craft the note cards above without having to make a single cut!  That's because I recently became a Contributing Artist for Silhouette, makers of the Silhouette Cameo, an electronic cutting tool that resembles a desktop printer but does the cutting for you in minutes. Crafters connect the Cameo to a Mac or PC via USB cable, download a design, insert the paper of their choice, and push a button.  The Cameo cuts the shapes, right down to the "Congratulations" and "Thank You" lozenges shown above (minus the handwriting, which is my own).  If you're new to electronic cutting tools, as I was, it's best to visit their site to understand exactly how the Cameo works.  Once you have the tool in hand, visit their online store to download designs like these place cards:

Of course if you don't have a Cameo and would like to buy the place cards, note cards, and embellishments, visit the Anna Bondoc stationery store or our Etsy shop.  Meantime, I'll continue to upload new designs to Silhouette frequently, including these "Spiral Flower" note cards, a favorite of mine:

PHOTO CREDIT: Vanessa Trice Peter
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Dinos on the Move: A Personalized Baby Gift for a Boy

Jun 13

A close friend has 3 young sons, and after gifting #1 and #2 with rocket and vintage car name plates, I realized I was out of "boy patterns" for the youngest.  A previous post chronicled my bias against pink for girls, but dinosaurs are so visually interesting that I didn't mind creating a typical boy design.  Here's a quick look at how I came up with his Dinosaur Herd nameplate.

Don't laugh, but because I have one daughter, I didn't know the difference between Stegosaurus and Triceratops.  I viewed many images of scary teeth-baring creatures before coming up with this more baby-friendly creature.

The old art school method of photocopying a single motif and laying it out still works for me.  I liked the playfulness of the upside-down dinos, but because there were so many small, detailed cuts, I opted to place fewer dinos right-side-up for more visual breathing room. 

It took me 3 tries to get it right.  Top: too pointy.  Middle: too smooth, no interest.  Bottom:  just right.  Using the stencil allowed me to place the motif carefully yet organically, and to flip and reverse the image easily.  Sure, Photoshop may be faster, but not when an X-acto knife is involved!

I used the minimal amount of glue to prevent buckling, and Tombow Mono Multi is still my pet adhesive for these tasks.

I often adhere first layer to second before deciding how intricate to make additional cuts. After cutting a second color of spine spikes, for example, the design still lacked something, so I penciled and cut lizard-y spots on the skin. 

I had wanted to use yellow, green and orange but remembered the recipient's gorgeous ice-blue eyes. I cut out the letters of his name in this blue, cut the lizard spots and glued another blue sheet beneath to match the lettering.  I finished the piece with a final layer of deep yellow as the base.  

Here's how it looked just before being dropped at the printer to be shadow-box framed in gorgeous blond maple wood.

The name plate is now available in limited edition on our site.  It makes a great baby gift for boys -- or open-minded girls' parents -- and hangs well in any nursery.  Here's to you, Henry!

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"Girl Colors": One Design, Multiple Colorways

Jun 05

I admit to having a bit of a chip on my shoulder about decorating girls' rooms in pink. It's just so...expected.

I released my collection of paper-cut children's wall art in 2010, including this "Stained Glass Butterfly" pattern (above, right).  I conceded to using pink but balanced it out with what I considered refreshing blue tones.  Then last week, a friend commissioned us to create a baby gift using the butterfly design but for a baby girl's purple, brown, and gray "shabby chic" nursery.   

In the end, I fell in love with the delicious interplay between these earthy browns and almost synthetic lilac tones. My daughter has a penchant for pairing chocolate ice cream with raspberry sorbet, and this wall art's custom colorway struck me as edible in the same way.  We'll have our framer shadow-box this in white molding and serve it up pronto.  Here's to design challenges!

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Design Crush: Contemporary Japanese Art and Design at MAD Museum

May 29

Though my recent trip to New York centered around the Surtex and National Stationery Shows, I managed to schlep up to the Museum of Arts and Design, a jewel-box of contemporary hand-made art and craftsmanship near Columbus Circle. I caught "Beauty in All Things", an exhibit of contemporary Japanese artists working in traditional materials such as paper, wood, silk, and metal.  This metal sculpture by Honda Syoryu (above) wowed me immediately.  In a recent post I wrote about experimenting with wave patterns, and this sculpture provided plenty of food for thought.

And how about this "Cabbage Chair" prototype by the artist Nendo? It was worth the price of admission alone.  Made of high intensity pleated paper, it struck me as being not so much about comfy seating as it was about wonder and imagination. 

A silk textile by Masakazu Kobayashi called "Hills of Kyoto" made me gasp audibly (and prompted a museum guard to shoot me a Look). I'd never seen silk woven and layered this way.

Maybe the most dramatic piece was this chair based on a tea ceremony whisk.

A bamboo woven basket.

A wonderland of subtle, rich colors and craftsmanship, no?  It's good to leave one's studio and be reminded how many people across the world are using their hands in wondrous ways.





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From Hand-Cut Paper to Digital Canvas: My Custom Wall Art

May 15

Because the colored paper I hand-cut is about 12" x 24" at its largest, my artwork tends to fit in smaller spaces.  So when the Beverly Hills Greater Los Angeles Association of REALTORS commissioned me to liven up 9 feet of wall space in their newly renovated Board room, we called in our friends at Black Crow Studios to help us dramatically enlarge my work using their state-of-the-art digital process.  Tracy Hiner, Black Crow's Founder, has been creating custom digital wallpaper and wall art for years, and took what started out as my "Modern Bulb" hand-cut paper designs that measure 6" x 6" (below)

and digitized them into three panels at nearly 3' x 4' each.

The Realtors' Association had so much fun transforming paper into digital art that they asked for one more canvas.  This was a color challenge as it needed to fill a narrower space where a bright orange and earth tone wall met.  They liked the look of my hand-cut 12" x 12" "Wave" pattern (below),

but I felt the colors would clash with the surrounding wall colors, so I asked Black Crow Studios to come up with a yellow and gray color way.  Tracy worked her magic to enlarge the wave design into a 2.5' x 2.5' framed canvas.

As viewers come closer, they can still see the layered, textured paper surfaces.

All four pieces are stretched digital canvases and professionally "float" framed to enhance their dimensionality.  If you're interested in these or any of my paper art pieces customized to a specific size or color combination, contact us at  We can work with you to bring bold colors and intricate paper cut art to any room in your home or office at an affordable price.

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Found Pattern: IKEA Redux

Apr 10

I'm in the middle of three exciting but exacting things: 1) moving to a new house and studio; 2) finishing the manuscript of my DIY book (cover below!); and 3) designing 3 digital fabrics for a couple of sewing magazines. All wonderful, but SHEESH.  Hardly any time to blog!

I am beyond excited to set up my new studio, so of course I headed to IKEA for organizing gear.  The last time I was there, winding through the Marketplace in the basement inspired one of my first "Found Pattern" posts, so I took a minute to snap another round of new products, just for fun.

Two hours in the Land of Norddal, Ulsberg, Malm, and Birkeland can get overwhelming, so it was an enjoyable visual vacation.

There's never a shortage of saturated, bright colors and shapes, even when the objects are run-of-the-mill items.  Somehow, clustering them together creates charm, and the staff seems to understand how to display things in simple but eye-catching repeats.

Next time you're at IKEA, I challenge you to a game of pattern hunting amongst the piles of Scandinavian affordability.  I promise, it'll make you smile.

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The Hunger Games Brownies (Reprise)

Mar 21

The odds were ever in my favor and a good friend snagged me tickets for the opening weekend of "The Hunger Games" movie.  No mean feat, given that people have been camping out for tickets in LA for weeks now -- and everywhere, really.

In honor of my friend and the mania surrounding the release of Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy, I'm reposting here about how I created a Mockingjay stencil and used it to decorate brownies for a Hunger Games-focused book club dinner.  When I posted this last October, I felt a little abashed by my YA geekiness.  But given that there are now Hunger Games recipes and fashions, it seems I'm not alone.  Read the Mockingjay post here.

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DIY Spring Entertaining: Handmade Napkin Rings

Mar 18

Since March is National Craft Month, I thought I'd try cutting napkin rings for impending Spring holiday meals.  Being in a multicultural family means I celebrate both Passover and Easter, so I figured Spring vegetable motifs might be a "crossover" hit.  Luckily I'd already designed garden vegetable patterns a couple of years ago and saved my original stencils.

As if on cue, I received this box of goodies from my friends at Elmer's/X-acto -- thanks, guys!  I put them right to use.
I used X-acto's 9" paper cutter to trim 6" x 2.5" rectangles for the napkin rings. Because I use 12" x 12" card stock, I had to trim down the sheets to fit in the cutter, but its size means it fits right on my work desk, schleps well between my studio and home, and trims and aligns rectangles and squares speedily -- perfect for making things in quantity.  Most importantly, the cutter sliced through 2 sheets of 80# card stock right quick. 

For the napkin ring, I cut a tab on one end of the rectangle and inserted it into a slit on the other. Here, X-acto's Basic Shapes Stencils came in handy for cutting a 1/2" semi-circle tab. The stencils are made for use with blades, but fair warning:  I made the mistake of using my ultra sharp X-acto Z blade and sheared off a sliver of the stencil by accident!  The packaging indicates that the stencils are meant to be used with swivel blades. I didn't have those handy, but my #11 blade used prudently worked fine.

After notching the semi-circle at the base slightly, it slid nicely into a slit of the same diameter on the other side.  You could secure it with glue just to be sure.

Now it was ready for the napkin "topper".  Here, I cut the first layer of pea pods, then layered and cut several shades of green beneath it to create the pattern.
I also cut a 3-ply carrot motif design (with cut stems as flourishes on top) and paired them with my mother's vintage Heller plates from the 70's (which she almost donated to Good Will -- can you imagine?!).  I love the riot of jewel-like colors. 

The rings fare well in more formal place settings, as shown with ceramic plates and linen napkins from Heath Ceramics, as seen below. 

The rings look fetching at both the base of the rolled napkins or in the more traditional center position.

Whether you dress them up or down, I think the rings (or cuffs, really) are versatile enough for just about any occasion.  With a little vase of rununculus flowers from my local Farmer's Market, the colors really popped, and usher in Spring with colorful fanfare.

Happy Craft Month, everyone!

PHOTO CREDIT: Vanessa Trice Peter

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Found Pattern: Blick Art Materials

Mar 07

Looking for pattern inspiration? Your favorite art store is guaranteed pattern heaven.  I frequent my local Blick Art Materials in central LA.  It's my "happy place", and I find myself there even when I don't need more pencils or X-acto knives. Today, I took my camera along to snap beauty that occurs naturally when colorful art supplies are displayed.

Sharpie caps looking like candy

Paintbrushes bunched like sprays of dried flowers

The biomorphic beauty of screen printing squeegees

A tumble of squares (the ends of wooden dowels)

Spray paint, "Caged"

Chevron pattern (so hot right now) formed naturally by stacked frame moldings
Rake-like toss pattern of mini easels

Thanks for the ideas, Blick!

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A Cut Above: How to Decorate with Paper Embellishments

Mar 02

Because I frequent scrapbook paper sites for my paper cut projects, I used to see embellishments for sale but was never sure what one did with them. One day while playing around with blank note cards I had lying around the studio, I tried cutting motifs to glue to the cards and saw how easy it was to create patterns with loose motifs in a free-form way on a variety of surfaces. I then designed this "Botanical Snowflake" embellishment (above) to remedy my "bad at tying gift bows" problem.  With a few well-placed glue dots, I adhered a trio of them to a band of ribbon on a kraft paper wrapped gift.  Voila: a gift topper without tying myself in knots!

Hence was born my line of paper cut embellishments, including all the motifs in this post. "Steaming Bowls" (above and below) was a no brainer, as 70% of my brain is preoccupied with what I'll be cooking or eating at any given time.  I use them to liven up place cards, note cards and kitchen-related wrapped gifts.  See how easy it is to dot them with glue and arrange them on writing journals?  Here, I've topped a Rebinder recycled 5 x 8 journal with the motifs to create a sweet little gift for foodies who jot down recipes, restaurant reviews, or memorable meals they eat while traveling.

I also enjoy how embellishments let you upcycle blank paper products lying around the house.  With just a bit of glue, you can add bold splashes of color simply and elegantly.

These lovely coffee brown and apple green blank gift tags from Paper Presentation get an easy makeover with warm, filigreed yellow floral motif.  Note how you can hang the motifs off the paper edges to emphasize their see-through beauty. 

Of course, if you're feeling strapped for time, you can purchase these pre-made place cards (above and below) at my Etsy store.

But if you're a paper cutting fiend (or you'd like to become one), you can find a complete step-by-step tutorial and pattern templates for these place cards in my upcoming DIY book, to be released by Fox Chapel Publishing this October.  

Just writing this post has got my mind spinning with ideas for cake skirts, bunting, and wedding favor decorations...more on that soon!

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Product Review: Sharpest X-Acto Blade Ever?

Feb 23

In a previous post, I showed you photos of my "Happy Swag" face after receiving a box of 500 X-acto Z Blades at a craft trade show. X-acto has billed its new Z Blade model as "Best in Class" and "7 to 10 times sharper" than any other blade on the market.  As a loyal X-acto user for over 7 years now, I was curious to see just how much better it could get. I can say unequivocally that I wasn't disappointed.

Here's me cracking open the new box, getting a look at a row of 250 gleaming blades.  All that sharpness concentrated in one spot was a little intimidating yet thrilling given that I usually buy the 100-pack!  The Z blade edges' golden glow (due to their zirconium nitride coating, apparently) gave me an inkling that I was in for a real treat.  But the real proof came when I loaded up my craft knife and pushed down into a brown sheet of 80 pound card stock.

The Z blade sank into the paper with what can best be described as a "serious bite."  When you draw with a knife, you want smooth, fluid cuts and these blades didn't disappoint.  They were clearly superior in strength and flexibility.  To wit: if a blade tip is going to snap off, it typically occurs as I round a corner.  These "fan-like" shapes have tons of rounded corners, (in fact, almost all my designs do) and the Z blade hugged them like a race car, practically bending as I swiveled the knife. 

See those cutaway scraps on the side of the mat? They give you a notion of the number of cuts I make.  In a 12" x 12", two-layer piece like this, I usually change a #11 blade 4-6 times or more.  With Z blades? Just once.   Given that a 100-count box of standard X-acto blades costs about $24 and 100-count box of Z Blades costs about $28, you can guess which I'm going to buy.

Given that I had 499 more blades at my disposal, I went ahead and cut this little number.  Though it's a 5-layer, intricate flower, I changed blades about 3 times.  I'm impressed, X-acto.  Thanks for making my time on the cutting mat feel like flying.

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How to Cut a Winter Cake Stencil

Feb 08

It's 70+ degrees in Los Angeles in February, and though I hardly get nostalgic for the hypothermic winters of my Midwestern childhood, I do miss the beauty of winter's natural patterns.  This snowflake cake stencil (for use with powdered sugar) is evocative of snow, making it one of my favorite festive desserts.  Yes, you can purchase culinary stencils, but I had fun designing and cutting my own snowflake -- all in the time it took for the cake to bake.  Give it a whirl for yourself, below:

You'll need:
an X-acto knife
self-healing cutting mat
80# card stock (such as 12" x 12" scrapbook paper)
springform cake pan (I prefer 9")
confectioner's sugar
your favorite chocolate cake recipe

Before you bake your cake, trace the interior of the springform circle, then sketch your snowflake pattern within its boundaries.  Here, I've enlarged one of my place card embellishment designs (the smaller orange cutout on the top right).

Next, place the sketched design atop a cutting mat and carefully trim out the shapes with an X-acto knife.  If you are new to craft knives, you may want to read my cutting tips.  Either trim the circle out along the circle circumference, or for a more filigreed design, cut a 1/4" border outside each petal silhouette, rendering you with the stencil below:

After your chocolate cake has cooled completely, remove the springform ring, place one hand beneath the cake pan base and carefully flip the cake onto a cake plate or stand such that the bottom side is up. Most baked cakes are slightly domed on the top, so the bottom provides a flat, firm, even surface for the sugar to rest upon.  

Lay the stencil atop the cake, pour about 1/4 cup confectioners sugar into a fine mesh sieve, and give a practice shake away from the cake to get a feel for how much sugar is dispensed with each shake.  (You may even want to practice on a cutting board without the cake once or twice.) When you're feeling confident, begin lightly dusting the sugar over the cake top and stencil until the cake surface is coated with sugar.  Avoid shaking on too much, or the sugar will pile and slide, marring the crispness of the lines.

Carefully grasp two ends of the stencil and lift, taking care to keep the paper as horizontal as possible so the sugar atop the stencil doesn't fall onto the cake.  Once you get past stage fright, it's fun to do this at the table where you're sure to get oohs and aahs as you lift the stencil off and the design materializes.      

Voila! With careful storage and cleaning, the stencil will give you several uses.  If you like this project, consider trying my brownie stencil tutorial, too.

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Swag and Swagger: 2012 Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show

Feb 02

We're back from 5 days of hawking designs and learning about the latest in handmade/DIY goodness at the Craft and Hobby Association's winter trade show in Anaheim.  Here's me (above) at our display booth trying my best to look snazzy under fluorescent lighting. How to best describe one's experience at a trade show? Schmooze-a-rama.

We had fun planning the Fall launch of our paper cutting book with our friends at Fox Chapel Publishing and meeting paper aficionados from all over the world.  I also landed some key swag.  That smile above is genuine, folks. My nerdy paper cutting self was over the moon at this Elmer's tote bag's retro, minimalist cool.  The folks from Elmer's/X-acto saw my paper cut designs and also endowed me with a 500-count (!) box of their most durable, sharpest blade, the Z-series.  Billed as the sharpest blade on the market, it's supposed to last much longer and be less likely for the tips to snap.  As someone who sometimes blows through 100-count boxes in a month, this is a giant gift to me. More on this product when I sit down to design with these blades. I also got to meet with Tombow, the company that makes my go-to glue.

We also introduced one of my newest products, "A Cut Above" place cards.  People seemed to make a beeline to these first.  Many told us that the motifs would make great all-purpose embellishments.  Great suggestion!  Look for embellishment packets soon on our Etsy site.

Here's a close-up shot of the table in the planning stage at the studio, which is pretty much what it looked like at the show.

And finally, our handmade Press Kits, which made a cool pattern when laid out on my studio floor.  Phew -- trade shows are a lot of work!  I guess this blog post is the answer to my friends' question, "Where have you been hiding for the last month?"  Thanks so much to all of the people at the CHA show who stopped by to show paper and pattern love!

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Why DIY? Five Reasons I Make Things by Hand

Jan 25

This is my business card. I've been prepping my exhibit for the Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show this weekend, and found myself silently cursing the demon that possessed me to design these four-layer cards that, at my fastest, take me 40 minutes to turn out just 15.  Below are the paper layers I have to glue together in perfect registration and trim down to 3.5" x 2" before adhering the final printed card. 

As I made a batch, I thought about my failed attempts to learn computer design and my passion for the tactile beauty of the handmade.  I can't be the only nutcase around, given the DIY, handmade, and crafting renaissance and the popularity of Pinterest, Etsy, and Martha Stewart Crafts, to name just a few sites.  I can't speak for everyone, but here are 5 reasons I work with my hands.

There's a reason kids go crazy when told "Don't touch!" We are covered in skin with thousands (millions?) of nerve endings -- we're meant to interact with our environment in a tactile way.  I love the feel of paper under my fingertips, the knife blade cutting through the card stock, the bottle as I squeeze glue onto the paper.  I feel connected to my materials, as though there's a direct channel between my body and my design.

Working by hand slows me down, making my creative decisions better.  Because I spend a lot of time manually measuring, aligning, erasing, and cleaning my work space, I buy myself time to make considered decisions about color, composition, and proportion.  In the time it takes me to cut out a shape, for example, I'm forced to reckon with whether it's genuinely beautiful, or whether it belongs in the recycle bin.

When you craft by hand, what you see is what you get -- there's no "middle guy" between Art Director and Designer.  It's just me.  There's also no sitting around waiting for the printer to output or to see how the design looks on someone else's screen.  Above, for example, as I cut some place cards I can test what rounded corners do to the design and make adjustments.

You can see nicks, pencil marks, and uneven spacing in my hand-cut pattern art above, but I like being in tune with the process of creating something, even the ugly stages.  It's kind of like live music or theater: there's always the chance of the flubbed line or note.  But those moments humanize us all.

5.  IT'S WHO I AM.
This is harder to explain briefly, but I'll let Frank R. Wilson tell it his way:  "The hand is not merely a metaphor or an icon for humanness, but often the real-life focal point...of a successful and genuinely fulfilling life." From The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture

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Love, Framed: Valentine's Day Gift for Kids and New Moms

Jan 20

Need a sugar-free V-day gift for a special kid, or to congratulate the parents of a February baby? May I suggest: my personalized kids' wall art with a heart pattern that brightens any nursery or child's room.

This framed, adorably square 6" x 6" piece is made to order with the child's initial of your choice and constructed of layered, jewel-colored archival card stock.  To order, just let me know the letter you'd like and I'll customize, frame, and ship it to you in, um, a heartbeat.

A lot of readers are curious about my paper layering technique, so here's a little Behind the Scenes look at how this design came to be. (Actually this is how all my paper cut patterns are born):

First I cut the top red layer of hearts.

I apply a little (and I mean little) bit of glue to the cut layer.

I carefully adhere layer 1 to layer 2, in this case, icy blue.
Finally, I trim out each upside down heart, adhere a base layer of tangerine orange, and add a child's initial.  This little guy is just waiting for a Michael, Michelle, or Maya to come along....

OK, so you're not an X-acto knife nut like me.  I've done the crafting for you -- I love this stuff!  Happy Valentine's Day planning.

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Paper Valentines for Your Tabletop

Jan 17

Who says valentines are just for sealing in envelopes?

I express my affection for people by making both art and home-cooked meals, so I combined these two passions in my "Modern Hearts" paper-cut tabletop pieces that dress up a Valentine's Day gathering.  The place cards and wine tags below are available at our main site and Etsy.

Two Products, Multiple Uses
Here's how I put these paper pieces to use when I entertain:

Modern Love Wine Tag
As traditional gift tag
: Hang a tag around a bottle and write a love note (or thank you) at the bottom.
As hostess helper
: At the self-serve drinks table, label the wine type to keep guests in the know.
As inspirational art
: Write a wine-love-related quote in the blank space.  The recipient can even save the tag and hang it in his/her office for a daily reminder of your affection! Here are three quotes I love:

"May our love be like good wine — grow stronger as it grows older.”
- Old English Toast

“Where there is no wine there is no love.”

“In water one sees one’s own face; but in wine one beholds the heart of another.”
-French Proverb

Place Cards
At a dinner party
: Write each guest's name (and a love note/quote on the inside).
At a large party: Indicate table numbers.
At a buffet: Write the name of an entree or dish.

Beyond Red and Pink
As a designer, I gravitate to fresh spins on traditional shapes and colors, which explains these atypically shaped hearts in crimson red, balanced by sweet potato orange and cool aqua. 

I hope these paper valentines for your tabletop bring new meaning to the phrase "hearty meal" at your table!  Write or send photos to to let me know how you used these at your party.

COMING SOON: Valentine's Gift for Kids

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