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A Few Of My Favorite {Wedding Stationery} Things

It’s 2017 (which I still find hard to believe) and just like every other year, our refrigerators have begun to fill with save-the-dates and invitations to witness one of the most beautiful moments in life. Two people professing their love for each other, and a commitment to share their lives together, forever. In my mind, there are few things more captivating than the look on a groom’s face when he catches that first glimpse of his bride in her wedding gown.

As a calligrapher, I’ve felt the impending wedding season since the beginning of January, as custom requests began to flood in, and clients began to check my availability for April (a very popular wedding month this year.) And in the midst of all the preparing and brainstorming to help make their dreams a reality, I have noticed a few trends that I wish I had known about when I got married – because they are absolutely gorgeous ways to make your invitations more unique. And don’t worry if you’re on a tight budget (because who isn’t?) Simply adding one or two of these special elements can make a big difference.

So get ready to have some serious stationery envy — here are five of my favorite wedding stationery trends, that can take your invitations to the next level:

  1. Vellum Envelopes – This is one of my favorite trends at the moment, possibly because of how fun it is to write on vellum, but also because it is just so stunning. Almost any ink color stands out beautifully on these envelopes, and the see-through nature of vellum gives a little teaser to what is inside, without totally giving away the surprise. This is an “upgrade” that does not add to much to your overall cost, but provides a huge “wow factor.”fullsizerender
  2. Handmade Paper – Fundamentally speaking, your invitations will only be as beautiful as the paper you use. And from the moment your guests open their hand-addressed envelope, they will no doubt be taken aback by the unique look and feel of handmade paper.
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    Handmade Paper by Share Studios. A paper company featuring the work of Maker, Stephanie Hare. Located in the state of Maine, Stephanie produces beautiful, handmade paper from Kozo fibers (bark harvested from the Paper Mulberry Tree.)
  3. Wax Seal –  The next design element I’d recommend (which I am pretty obsessed with these days) is a wax seal. This is another great way to make a big impact, with an element that can still be used for things like Christmas cards and baby announcements, once the wedding festivities have ended. In my mind, this one is a no-brainer because it is both stunning and cost effective. Personally, I find myself sending more “snail mail” simply for the opportunity to use my wax seal, and I’m sure you’ll do the same.
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    Get Marked offers a wide variety of wedding themed wax seals (their “carriage stamp” shown above.) They also offer the opportunity to submit your own design for a custom wax seal. 
  4. Custom Watercolor Elements – Another way to add a little bit more of a unique touch to your invitations is by adding a few custom watercolor elements. From envelope liners, to custom crests, and illustrated maps or venues, adding a few touches of custom watercolor elements will mean your invitations are not just unique to you, but they truly reflect you as a couple, and what guests can expect for your special day.
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    Venue card designed and painted by me.
  5. Silk ribbon – And now, since you have taken such care in each individual element, it’s only necessary that you bring it together with the same level of care – and silk ribbon is, no doubt, the way to go.
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    Honey Silks Co. is a creative silk ribbon company, offering a beautiful assortment of hand-dyed silk ribbon.

So there you have it, my friends. Five of my favorite trends in stationery, that are sure to bring the “wow factor” to your invitations.

If you’re currently in the midst of planning your wedding, do your best to enjoy it!  It really can be a fun process if you don’t get too carried away. Because the truth is, even if everything goes wrong, the most important thing at the end of your big day is that you will be married and you get to share life together, forever.

Much love,

Signature

Shop Small // A Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are upon us, my friends! Can you believe it’s almost Thanksgiving? As holiday shopping begins to ramp up, and Black Friday approaches, I’ve found myself searching for ways to give back to this small business community I’m so honored to be a part of. As I’ve mentioned before, it is my goal to support as many small businesses as possible with my holiday shopping. But, as many shops begin to promote Small Business Saturday, and the hashtag #shopsmall goes viral, you might be wondering, “what’s the big deal about small businesses?” Well, let me explain…

According to the Small Business Administration, since 1990, big businesses eliminated 4 million jobs, while small businesses added 8 million jobs. In fact, since 1995, 66% of all new jobs in the U.S. were generated by small businesses.  Additionally, shopping small is a benefit to your community because taxes are paid to the city and county where the business is located, and, according to Civic Economics, contributes to 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses being recirculated locally, as compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores. If that isn’t reason enough to shop small, I don’t know what is!

Now, I know it will be impossible to get away without including some beloved Target items, because, let’s be honest – I’m there at least once a week. But when it comes to finding something personal and unique for my friends and family, nothing compares to the options provided by small shops, and the joy it brings me to know that my purchase will directly benefit individuals and families who pour their heart and soul into their craft.

This is why I have compiled for you a list of 10 small businesses who offer great gift options for your friends and family this holiday season:

1. Hexagon Marble Coasters – The Mojave Moon

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These gorgeous coasters, by maker Reanna Dembitsky in Buffalo, New York, are crafted from a beautiful white marble, and are sure to match the decor of any home. Measuring 4 inches, from point to point, they are the perfect size for just about any drinking glasses.

I first began working with Reanna as a supplier for marble, which is an increasingly often request from brides these days. I was immediately impressed by her professionalism, great customer service, and willingness to work within my needs. She is truly a gem in the Etsy marketplace, and I’m proud to call her a friend of mine!

2. The Anything Pouch – Live Styled

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Created by a mama, for mamas (and those that love all things organization), The Anything Pouch is the ultimate tool for living an organized life. Each pouch is handmade, measures roughly 9″ x 8″, and is completely customizable. The pouches are made from a 100% cotton material, and are lined to provide extra reinforcement.

Live Styled is a shop based in Orange County, California, created by Ashley Houston. Ashley has long been one of the most creative people I know, and just so happens to be my sister-in-law! When she came up with the idea for The Anything Pouch, while packing for a family trip, I immediately knew she was onto something. I just love that these pouches keep my diaper bag organized (because it can get a little scary in there!) — but the great thing is, they can be customized if you’re not buying a gift for a mom.  Whether you’re shopping for a student, traveling professional, mother, or someone who just likes everything to have its place – the anything pouch is the perfect gift.

3. Macrame Wall Hanging – Lark & Arrow

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Grace Gulley, the artist behind Lark & Arrow, specializes in hand crafted macrame wall hangings and plant holders. Additionally, Grace has a genuine love for others and helping them in their own creative journeys. She is the founder of CYL Collective – a creative community for women to find inspiration, support, and community — beautiful, right?!

With one glance at her work, it is easy to see the time and care that goes into each piece. If you’re searching for a unique gift for a creative, or perhaps a new statement piece for your own home, look no further. Each piece truly is a work of art, and is sure to be enjoyed for a lifetime.

4. Custom Family Recipe Tea Towel – The Gift of Today

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Tarayn Comer, the maker behind The Gift of Today, is on a mission to provide personalized products that will bring you joy. Specializing in unique and custom gifts, Tarayn offers a wide variety of beautiful gift ideas, including a custom family recipe tea towel.

When searching for something special to memorialize my Great Grandmother, who recently passed, I stumbled upon this tea towel and knew it would be the perfect gift for a family member this year. To have your own custom tea towel created, all you have to do is send a good quality photo of the recipe you would like to be used, and Tarayn takes it all from there! There is virtually no work required on your part, and you are certain to end up with a gift that is as special as it is unique.

*If you’d like to purchase your own custom tea towel, Tarayn is offering free shipping with the code: MERRYCHRISTMAS, from now until December 31st, 2016.

5. White Marble Phone Case – Skinit

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This next item was an exciting find for me. As a mama to a toddler, iPhone drops are not a question… they’re inevitable. So when searching for a phone case to protect my new iPhone 7, I was discouraged by the lack of options that were both chic AND protective – until I found Skinit. Up until this point, it seemed that every case I wanted barely covered the back of the phone, and certainly did not provide any sort of screen protection on the front. With Skinit, every case design comes with the option of a lite case, cargo case, and pro case. I, of course, went with the pro case so I can ensure the most possible protection from my energetic little girl, and I am loving everything about it!

If you’re shopping for someone with a new phone case on their wish list, or can’t quite seem to find the right gift for that special someone, look no further than Skinit. With hundreds of phone and computer cases, and even the option to create your own custom design, you’re certain to find the perfect gift.

*For 20% off your purchase, use the code: ariapaperie20, from now until December 31, 2016. (Excludes gift cards, e-cards & shipping.)

6. Wax Seal – Get Marked

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The next item on my list comes from Get Marked, an Etsy shop specializing in wax seal stamps made from high quality gold plated brass, complete with a wooden handle. Get Marked is successfully leading the charge in bringing back the wax seal stamp in a more modern and functional way.

I first came across the beautiful products from Get Marked through Instagram, and was quickly drawn to their wide selection, as well as diverse options for customization. I often look for gifts that will provide more of a unique and personal touch, and I couldn’t imagine something more unique and personal than a monogram wax seal. Can’t you just picture it? A newly married couple, or that friend of yours who LOVES to send “snail mail” as often as possible… with a monogram wax seal? It doesn’t get much more fun than that, in my opinion. Each wax seal stamp comes beautifully packaged in a small drawstring bag, which makes giving this as a gift even more fun. Every order also comes with complete instructions so you can start stamping right away!

7. Laser Cut Wood Sign – Happily Ever Etched

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Happily Ever Etched is a one-stop-shop for personalized event decor and gifts. With a presence on Etsy, as well as a store front in Buena Park, California, the husband and wife team behind this shop have one clear vision: To inspire individuals to give gifts with meaning. With one visit to their gorgeous shop, you can quickly see the passion and care behind their business. But if you aren’t local to Orange County, the good news is you can still order any of their custom pieces online!

If you find yourself still in search of that perfect, creative gift for someone special, a laser cut wood sign from Happily Ever Etched is sure to deliver. From family names and inspiring quotes, to business logos and statement pieces, you’ll make anyone happy with their own custom laser cut wood sign!

8. Copitas Cups – Julie Cloutier Ceramics

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Julie Cloutier is an artist living and working in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco. Her ceramic work focuses both on functional wares and sculptural installations. She draws upon her architectural background to inform her minimalist lines and quotidien investigations. You can see her installation Useful Irrationalities at Irving Street Projects where she is in residence through the end of the year.
I first came across Julie’s beautiful work when shopping for watercolor supplies at Case for Making, in San Francisco. (Which, as a side note: you must check out the beautiful watercolor dishes she creates exclusively for this shop!)  But when I saw the Copitas cups, made exclusively for Quitokeeto, I knew they had to be included in this gift guide. These small stoneware sipping cups are unique, each hand thrown on the wheel. Available in 3 glaze colorways; soft lemon, flecked gray, and espresso, these handmade cups are each a unique work of art that will serve both a functional and aesthetic purpose in any home.

9. Tassel Keychain – Stitch & Shutter

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Stitch & Shutter offers a line of leather goods made by hand in Denver, Colorado. The collection includes a range of items from jewelry and handbags to wallets and key accessories. Every piece, handmade by owner, Megan, is hand cut, hand dyed, hand stitched, and then burnished with beeswax from the owner’s father’s bees. Megan’s goal is to combine traditional craftsmanship with modern yet timeless designs, and she more than achieves this goal with her beautiful work.

When I first found Stitch & Shutter through Instagram, I was immediately drawn to these gorgeous keychains. I mean, who wouldn’t want a gold-dipped, black leather tassel to adorn their keys? But even more, each keychain has the option of adding a small initial charm, which is perfect for customizing as a gift – while maintaining the minimalist look. Check out their website for more color customization options, and to get your own lovely keychain!

10. Gift Wrap – Kawaii Goodies

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Now that you’ve found all the perfect gifts for your favorite people, it’s time to move on to the fun part — gift wrap! Kawaii Goodies, by shop owner and maker, Soury, is your one-stop-shop for all things holiday gift wrap. I don’t know about you, but I love making each gift into it’s own little piece of art through unique gift wrap.

Kawaii Goodies offers a wide variety of wrapping paper, twine, labels, stickers, stamps, and more. Soury designs many of the labels and stickers herself, but one of my favorite aspects of her shop is that she also pulls from the creative community for collaborations. Many of the designs you find in her shop were hand-lettered or illustrated by other artists, which is such a fun way to encourage community over competition, all while supporting another small business.

So there you have it – my 2016 Holiday Gift Guide! Hopefully you were introduced to some new businesses, and perhaps even able to cross a few gift purchases off your list! As you can see, there are so many wonderful artists and makers out there (and this post doesn’t even scratch the surface.)

Do yourself, and the small business community, a favor, and #shopsmall this holiday season!

Happy Holidays,

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The Handmade Pop-Up: Vendor Features

It’s November – which means, it’s officially socially acceptable to start talking about Christmas, right? For those of you interested in getting a head start on your holiday shopping, I encourage you to check out The Handmade Pop-Up! This unique holiday shop, hosted by Maker’s Movement and CYL Collective, is a fully online event that will be held November 4-6th on The Handmade Pop-Up website. I’ve already begun to peruse the vendor directory, and can’t wait to get some shopping done myself!

Everything from artwork, ceramics, and home decor, to clothing, jewelry and leather goods will be represented in the shop – so you shouldn’t have a problem finding exactly what you need for all the special people in your life (even the kiddos!)

Here’s a little peek at some of the shops that have caught my eye:

Andrea Luna Reece Art – Ceramic Plus Sign Planter

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Harper Apothecary – Organic Anti-Aging Serum

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Two Tree Studios – Handcrafted Wood Board

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Apple White Handmade – Teepee Stuffed Toy

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A Childhood Store – Oversized Natural Soy and Beeswax Crayons

 

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To see more of what The Handmade Pop-Up has to offer, check out the Vendor Directory. I can’t wait to see what everyone has for sale this weekend!

Happy Shopping!

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Create Anyway

When I first decided to pursue calligraphy as more than just a hobby, I was quickly taken aback by the overwhelming amount of talent in the field. (Just search #moderncalligraphy or #handlettering on Instagram and you’ll know what I mean.) But I decided not to allow my inferiority to keep me from doing something I was passionate about. And I am so glad I did.

The phrase “creativity takes courage” has been circulating through my social media feed for months now. Many of the calligraphers and lettering artists I follow have beautifully added their own creative flare to the phrase, and it is great to see the different styles and techniques used. At first, I saw this phrase as a nice sentiment, but for some reason it didn’t “click” for me until more recently.

For those of you that don’t know, my first creative passion is music. I have been singing in church since I was a young girl, studied music in college, and sang for many special events over the years. It has been a wonderful creative outlet for a long time, but because it’s so familiar to me, it doesn’t necessarily require courage anymore… Fast forward twenty years to something I have never done before, at least publicly, and now I fully understand why creativity takes courage.

It can be difficult to put yourself out there when you know there are people more capable, talented, and connected than you. Through the simple browse of a hashtag, you can find hundreds of other posts just like yours – many of them that you would consider better than your own – and this will make you seriously question whether it’s even worth the effort. But I encourage you in this: create anyway. Because your creative outlet is for you first.

If I have learned anything in the last year and a half of this creative journey, it is just how important creativity is to my soul. I can’t let my own insecurities or self-doubt get in the way of something so necessary to my life. There will always be someone better than me – and that is okay! It gives room for growth; something to aspire to, and motivation to keep working hard.

So do yourself a favor, and create something new. Soon. Whether it’s a painting, a hand lettered quote, or something else that is soothing to your soul – do it. Give yourself space to make mistakes, and the freedom to be creative – because, as Maya Angelou puts so eloquently: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Thanks for following along! If this was helpful to you, or you’d like to share what you’ve been encouraged to create – I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment below.

Cheers,

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First Day of Fall

It’s officially here – the first day of fall! Can you feel it in the air? If you’re in sunny SoCal, like me, probably not… but that certainly won’t keep me from basking in the beauty that is everything fall.

I must say, I love this season for many reasons, but mostly because it is the precursor to the holiday season. Time with family, comfort food, Christmas music… did I mention the food? 😉 But really… As I get older, one thing becomes more and more clear with each passing year – time with family is precious. The reality is, life is busy. And it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day craziness that our lives bring. But the holidays are a condensed time of just being together – and that is something I truly cherish, and look forward to each year.

But enough about the holidays, because we’re talking about fall here, right?! Much like the start of a new year, the beginning of a new season is a great time to take an inventory of your life and think about the things you are thankful for, and perhaps some changes you  would like to make for the future. I would encourage you today to think about what those things might be in your life, and write them down. Being reminded often of the things we are thankful for promotes a more joyful life, and writing down goals for our future encourages a more purposeful life. And who wouldn’t want both of those things?

Alright, enough preaching from me today. In honor of the first day of fall, I thought it was time to offer a new seasonal wallpaper to get your phone in the spirit of the season! And if the weather won’t cooperate and give us something sweater-worthy, at least our phones can pretend, right?

Download yours for free below, and enjoy this new season!

Cheers,

Signature

iPhone 5 –

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iPhone 6 –

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iPhone 6 Plus – sweater-weather-i6plus

4 Tips for Connecting Letters

One of the biggest questions I’ve received regarding lettering in a brush script style is “how do I connect letters?” As an experienced lettering artist, I often forget that this seemingly simple concept didn’t come quite so easily in the beginning. I spent many hours practicing drills, and working on perfecting each individual letter, but when it came time to connecting them, I just couldn’t get it quite right at first. So after lots of trial and error, and even more practice, I’ve come up with a few tips to share with you that will help you on your way to connecting those beautiful letters you’re creating!

1. End with an upstroke.

This is very important when lettering in brush script, because it contributes to the more elegant nature of this style. As it becomes routine to end each letter with an upstroke, you will notice that you are better set up to begin the next letter in the word you are writing. Or, if it is the final letter of a word, ending in an upstroke will give it a more finished look. So whether it’s the middle of a word, or the last letter of a word, an exit upstroke is key.

2.Think ahead.

Unfortunately, simply ending each letter with an upstroke will not always create the beautiful words you’ve envisioned in your head. That is why it is important to think about what is coming next in order to best position yourself for the following letter. In this video you can see how the upstrokes after each of my letters are just a little bit different, depending on the letter that will follow. Some are long, some are short, and others even curve in a slightly different manner. Think about where the next letter should begin, and stop your upstroke from the preceding letter with just enough space to ensure that the next letter you are writing just slightly overlaps your previous upstroke, so the word is fully connected.

3. Pick up your pen.

I’ve said it once – but I’ll say it again! This is where picking up your pen is absolutely crucial. After you’ve completed your carefully thought out and well positioned upstroke, pick up your pen to begin the next letter. This ensures proper spacing, shape, and angle entry. For a refresher on this concept, check out this post.

4. Put it into practice.

When you’ve taken all the steps mentioned above, practice, practice, practice. This is another thing I stress a lot around here – but it’s only because it is a tried and true method! You cannot expect to be a great hand letterer simply because you’ve read all the information, and bought the pens… You must put what you have learned into practice, and keep practicing even when it doesn’t appear perfect to you at first. I promise you, with time and effort, you will be well on your way to success.

I hope this is helpful to those of you who have just begun your lettering journey! Please feel free to comment with any questions, or other concepts you’d like explained a little more in detail for a future blog post.

Cheers,

Signature

Starter Kit // Video

For those of you who have already purchased a starter kit, congrats on taking the first step toward an incredible creative journey! While there is a lot of information that has been added to the booklet to compensate for the fact that you are not learning from me in-person, it is definitely important to see things first hand… So I have created a video just for you!

In this video, I have worked through every page of the booklet in real time. The first time through is with the Tombow Dual Brush Pen, and the second time is with the Pentel Sign Brush Pen. It is rather lengthy, however, this will be a great resource for you to see things like angle, pace, and how I form letters. Feel free to jump around to any trouble spots, and refer back to this as often as needed while you are learning.

Have fun!

Amanda

(If you’re having trouble clicking on the video link, here is the direct link: https://vimeo.com/172813809)