Decorative Cardboard Letters: Baby Shower Decorations

Idea:
My friend Dina is expecting her first child and her Bridesmaids and I are showering her with love! We had four weeks to get the decorations ready and went minimal and chic to make it on time.

I love letters and fonts. I will take any chance I can to make them and now that I had the time, I took a stab at creating decorative cardboard letters. The challenge: finding the right size and font letters. Michael’s and JoAnn’s carry at least one set of wood or paper mache letters ready to decorate but never have they carried letters in a font, size and price that really appealed to me.

Inspiration:
Jennifer Jones photographed the most adorable Vintage Lamb Themed Baby Shower and the cardboard letters used in the shower is probably the best execution of yarn-wrapped cardboard letters I’ve seen.

Ingredients & Investment:

What I love about this project is that I already had all the materials I needed for this project except for the yarn.  Yarn is fairly inexpensive and I needed it for two other yarn-based decorations I planned for the baby shower anyway.

  • Corrugated Cardboard Boxes
  • Mod Podge
  • Tissue Paper
  • Font of preference
  • Printer
  • Printer Paper
  • Knife: I LOVE the OLFA Utility Knife my sister handed down to me.  She regularly used it for all types of materials during her FIT Interior Design undergraduate days.
  • Cutting Board: Another hand-me-down from my sister.  She gave me two different sizes of the Alvin cutting mat.  Both get used for almost every project.
  • Yarn
  • Time
    • Cut cardboard into 4 Letters: ~20 minutes each
    • Assemble letters: ~15 minutes each
    • Wrap letters in tissue paper: ~1 hr each
    • Wrap letters in yarn: ~1 hr each

Instructions:

I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel so I searched the web and curated the best instructions by Serendipity Child for making cardboard letters from scratch.

I made a few tweaks along the way:

  • I wanted to make sure all parts of the letters were no thinner than 1/2″ but also didn’t want a chunky font.  So I picked a serif font and used Silhouette Studio to offset the letters until I achieved the desired 8.5″ tall letter.
  • I don’t have an eye for proper proportioning so I printed the letters, taped the letter to the cardboard and cut using the printed “stencil”.  Because the letters, at a height of 8.5″ were wider than the 8.5″ paper, I printed the same letter on the same sheet twice.  One print captured the majority of the letter.  The second print captured the remainder of the letter.  Once I got the majority of the letter cut, I moved it over to trace the remainder.  It’s hard to explain but I have a photo below with an example of the letter “A”.
  • Serendipity Child used gummed tape, PVA glue and tissue paper to wrap her letters.  As I said before, because I was wrapping the letters in yarn, I skipped the gummed tape step (also because I didn’t want buy gummed tape because I didn’t have it on hand) and substituted PVA with Mod Podge to affix the tissue paper to the letters.
  • Yarn wrapping serif font isn’t easy.  It was mostly trial and error but I found Let Birds Fly’s advice to ‘wrap in the direction you would write them’ helpful.

Images:

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Growing Succulents

Happy #SucculentSunday!  Succulents are easy to grow.  But, they are living things and still need some TLC.  If you don’t mind periodically replacing your succulents, you can pretty much do nothing and they should last about a month before showing signs of distress.  If you plan to love on them the ladies over at Needles and Leaves hit it right on the nail with their post on growing healthy succulents. If I may, without being overwhelming, I’d like to expand on this short and sweet list.

To reiterate Needles and Leaves list and what has worked for me:

SOIL

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I layer from bottom to top with the following:

  1. Shallow layer of rocks to limit standing water at the bottom of the pot.  The layer should be tall enough to allow water to drain down but shallow enough to not reach the roots.
  2. 5 parts MiracleGro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix mixed with 1 part MiracleGro Perlite.  Perlite is optional since the potting mix drains well but Perlite helps prevent soil compaction, is highly permeable and has low water retention.  Succulent roots do not like being wet for too long so the sooner you can draw the water away the better.
  3. Mosser Lee Sand to quickly drain the water away from the top most roots
  4. Mosser Lee Pearl Stone Cover partially for decorative purposes but also to keep the leaves away from the soil and sand which can wet and rot the leaves.

WATER

There isn’t a magic quantity or duration as there are many dependencies.  My general rule of thumb is to allow the soil to be 100% dry for a few days before watering again.  I have a toothpick stuck in each pot and I use it to gauge the moisture in the soil.  Since most of my plants are echeveria or a hybrid of an echeveria once a week I submerge the terra cotta pot in water and remove from water once the top layer is wet.  This method of watering from bottom to top avoids wetting the leaves.  Here are a few things to consider when watering:

  • Generally speaking plants with thin leaves need more frequent waterings and plants with thicker leaves require very infrequent watering.  For example, Lithops and Baby Toes like to go for 2-3 months with completely dry soil.
  • What pot are you using?  Decrease watering if it’s not a porous and/or permeable pot (i.e. terra cotta) or does not have a drain hole.  I’ve experimented with glass, ceramic, tin cans and terra cotta and I have to admit that that while the terra cotta pots aren’t the prettiest they make for a perfect home for succulents.  Terra cotta pots are porous and therefore can allow water to pass through when soaked in a bath and also allows air to pass through and dry the soil.  The soil in my 2″, 3″ 4″ and 6″ pots are all pretty much dry within 3-4 days of their baths.  The soil in a tin can with drainage holes was still entirely wet 2 weeks after its last watering.  I’ve since repotted those succulents in terra  cotta pots because I didn’t want to risk rotting the plants to see how long it would take the soil to completely dry.  If your plants are planted in the garden, I would assume the drainage is as good as potted plants in terra cotta if not better.
  • What climate are you growing your succulents in? I’m in New York where the winters are cold and dry and the summers are fairly hot and humid.  A bath once a week suffices in the winter while most succulents are dormant since there’s little heat and very dry air to promote evaporation.  A bath once a week also suffices in the summer while most succulents are actively growing.  The summer heat is drying the water but, the air is humid enough to keep the soil wet a few days longer.

SUNLIGHT

I think Needles and Leaves basically covered this.  If there is one thing I would add, it would be that 4-6 hours of light is ideal.  Whether direct or indirect.

Experiment and have fun!

My Succulent Addiction

I wish it didn’t take me this long to start a succulent journal. There’s so much I’ve learned and I wish I could look back and reference when and how I came to learn the information. Better late than never.

The first draft of this post talked about choosing the best pot. The second draft talked about the basics of growing a healthy succulent. Then I thought – if these posts are meant to document the knowledge and experience I have at the time, before I start entries upon entries of my knowledge, I should probably explain my experience to date. Maybe it doesn’t make sense but I’m thinking of this as a job interview. Before I start telling the world what I currently do, they need to know where I’ve been. A resume of sorts.

Years of Experience: 2 years 4 months
Start Date: September 2013
Total Number of Succulent Species: 22
Current Number of Succulents Species: 20
Number of successful propagations: 30
Pot of preference: Terra Cotta
Soil of preference: rock as lower layer, cactus soil + perlite mix as mid layer, dessert sand as top layer
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone: New York (Zone 7a)
Environment: Indoors. East and West facing window sills. 2 hours of direct sunlight in the Winter. 6 hours of directly sunlight in the Summer. Dry Winters and Humid Summers.

Funny, two years ago, I never would have thought to document the last 4 items. I guess I have come a long way.

Images:

Echeveria Perle Von Nurnberg

Echeveria Perle Von Nurnberg

Indoor Plants: Succulents

I feel like I have to explain why I’m blogging about succulents because they are clearly not paper projects:

I tried keeping this blog limited to crafting and using Instagram as a platform to share my succulent obsession. But, I’ve learned so much about growing succulents in the last two years and Instagram doesn’t seem like the right platform for me to document these lessons learned. It is not easy living two separate social media lives!

I’m giving in.

Echeveria ElegansGraptoveria FanfareFenestraria AurantiacaGraptosedum Alpenglowanacampseros rufescens
EcheveriaEcheveria Black PrinceEcheveria Perle Von NurnbergCrassula Buddha's TempleEcheveria Minima

Christmas Card: Packages Redux

Idea:
2014 was my third year making my own Christmas cards. Dropping a stack of finished handmade Christmas cards in the mail is rewarding but, this year I wanted my cards to be equally as whimsical but less time consuming to make.

Inspiration:
I’ve been trolling Pinterest for Christmas Card ideas since July. Loll of Stamping with Loll’s Christmas Packages Card beats them all with her simple and elegant design.

Images:

Photo credits: My very good friend Dina

Interesting Points:

After printing and cutting all the accommodation maps and envelope liners for Michelle & Joe’s Save the Dates I had a boatload of scrap white cardstock and cotton paper.  It’s a good thing I held on to them because I was able to use the scraps for my Christmas cards.

Save the Date: Letterpress Coasters Etc Part 2 – Assembly

Instructions:
The letterpress order is submitted, all printing items are printed, all shapes are cut.  This included addressing the envelopes (whether it be hand written, printed or affixed with a label), the accommodations card, the envelope liner and the anchor.

  1. Sit back and savor the fruits of your labor. Then contact the bride and encourage her to recruit her closest family members to a night of arts and crafts a la Penny Blossom Assembly Line.
  2. Prepare all raw materials. You should already know what it takes to complete the assembly if you made prototypes. These next steps are unique to this project but I think all paper projects follow the same principals.
  3. Complete one full assembly as a demonstration to the team.
  4. Assign one person to cut the required pieces of twine to the required length.
  5. Assign one person to glue the envelope liners.
  6. Once twine is cut, re-assign the twine cutter to tie the knot and bow around the cards.
  7. Once envelope liners are glued, re-assign the liner to stuff the envelopes.

Interesting Points:

Between me, my cousin and brother, we completed steps 1-6 for 75 save the dates and also fit in pizza for dinner in just 2 hours.

Images:

Open

Front

Back

Save the Date: Letterpress Coasters Etc Part 1 – Prototype

Instructions:
Previous large scale projects have taught me the importance of prototyping an entire design. I made sure this project for 75 Save the Dates had iterations of design and prototype before we procured the supplies and production.

After final digital designs and several protptypes the Letterpress Coaster Save the Date Project comprised of the following:

– 5×5 kraft envelopes
– White envelope liners
– 4.75″ circles with double-sided printing
– 4″ circle double-sided letterpress coasters
– kraft paper anchor cutouts
– twine

Interesting Points:

– Weight: Thick cardstock and coasters make great statements but one thing we forget to take into consideration during design is the weight of the entire package. 80lb stock vs 120lb stock could mean a difference of $1 per mailing. At 75 mailings, you can save or spend $75 based on your paper stock choice. We took the prototype to the post office to determine if the weight was within our budget.

– Mailable Envelopes: Our visit to the post office proved to be more valuable than expected. Our earlier design was a 4×4 envelope with 3.5″ coasters which turns out to be non-mailable. 5×5″ is the minimum square-sized envelope the USPS will deliver.

– Cohesiveness: The prototyping phase gives the bride a great opportunity to see the package come to life. Yes, your wedding is really happening because we have the papers to prove it! Now that the digital design has passed the brides approval, most of the critique during this phase will be on color, font and packaging. A change in paper/envelope color, adding an image, tying the package in twine or changing the font can make all the difference. We had the challenge of having a 5×5″ envelope USPS limitation and 4″ circle being the largest coaster size. To keep the coaster from rolling around haphazardly in the envelope, we decided to tie it to another piece of paper that would include the accommodation information and a map of the wedding venue’s surrounding area.

– Proof Read: A detriment of designing into the night is the increased likelihood of making spelling mistakes. Words like ‘Accomodations’ and ‘Benajamin Franklyn’ slip through. A second set of eyes or reviewing the printed prototype after a good night sleep can nip the embarrassing error before they become 75 embarrassing errors.

– Content-driven wedding planning: There will always be pieces of information that you or the bride will include in the design but may not have 100% ready. With the blessing from the bride this kind of information can be omitted from the save the dates or placeholder text can be temporarily added for the sake of prototyping. Interestingly, even if the bride is super organized, I’ve been able to help her get a few more to-do items on her list. Examples are creating the wedding websites and securing discounted rates with the hotels.

– Double-Sided Alignment: It took several tries to get the print alignment for the 4.75″ round information page right. All I can say to this is keep trying until you succeed. Adjustments can be made in many places other than the digital file (I.e. Printers paper feeder, size of paper)

Image:

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