Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Working Really Hard at taking better photographs

Here is another attempt with my new camera. Of course, you can't take a bad picture of ranunculus flowers, but there's a lot of room for improvement....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Numbered Gift Wrap

So my daughter turned 11 this weekend. THE ONLY thing she wanted was an iTouch so I crunched some numbers, held my breath and bought one at the apple store. Then I prayed really hard that she wouldn't lose it or break it within the first month.

I wanted the Big Gift to be the last one she opened, so I thought about numbering the packages. Then I thought about making use of my new Silhouette SD. Then I cleaned out and organized my decorative paper stash so that I could find the right paper for the job. 2 hours later, I was ready to create!

I'm mostly pleased with how they turned out. I wish I had a little more time to better style and tweak the photograph since I'm still learning on my new camera. But I'm glad for the project and the weekend that allowed me a little time to put into it. It's the little things, you know...

Friday, March 25, 2011

As you search for your own success, remember this

I don't know if you feel like this, but I find it frustrating when I'm not as good as I think I should be; When I can't get what's in my brain into the computer/onto paper. If I'm completely truthful, the frustrating part for me is that I'm not there fast enough. I, like everyone else in my era, am a Right Now kind of person. Waiting is painful and working through the challenge is a struggle when there are other more pleasant diversions around. Getting "there" takes practice and practice takes time, and lots of it. I saw an inspirational video this week on creativity and this is the phrase that stuck with me. I thought I should immortalize it in print, so I designed the words today on the computer and printed it out to hang in my studio. But most importantly, I finished it to my satisfaction.

It reminded me of a time when I was a young, budding designer. I was struggling through a typography challenge on a piece of food packaging. Finally, I called my boss over and asked what he thought I should do. Literally, with a few clicks of the mouse, he had it looking perfect. I sat there with my mouth open, wondering in awe if I would ever be that good. I'm happy to say that I know I've definitely improved since those days. But every day there are design opportunities that can teach me to twist my creative brain just another turn so I can create something fresh and new. The difficulty now is to stick with it until it's done to my satisfaction instead of putting it aside and running to the next pretty distraction. *cough* the blogosphere *cough*

Anyway, thanks to Greg Conyers (the aforementioned "boss") and Ira Glass, for his inspirational words. He also has a spectacular program on public radio called This American Life which you all should listen to (it's free). Have a great weekend and vacation if you're one of the lucky ones on spring break!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fall color forecast: Bamboo yellow

I know spring has just arrived, but in the event planning world fall is the season we have to think about. Planning does take a lot of time, doesn't it? So some of you brides out there are thinking about colors for your fall wedding. I thought I'd start with Pantone's color forecast for fall and offer up some creative ways to bring a little something special to your event based on these colors.
Today I am offering some event detail inspiration for Pantone 14-0740 Bamboo Yellow. I like this for a fall color because it is kind of overlooked when we think of burnt oranges, deep purples and rusty browns or autumn. Brighter, more summery yellow is toned down with a little green in the mix, and some warmer color mixed in to mute it down. When I think in CMYK terminology, there would be a bit of cyan and magenta and just a touch of black added to the yellow. But I digress.

Here is my collection of bamboo-inspired event goodies. More images are on my Pinterest Bamboo style board, which you can also view here. Links and credits will be listed underneath.
Bamboo inspired event details curated by Margot Madison
1. Amazing chandelier with a chinoiserie flair from Design Manifest.
2. Darling wedding print (great gift, isn't it?) from Smile Blue Eyes
3. Guest Sign-in Box (brilliant idea, eh?) from Cut The Cake Designs
4. Butterfly gift box from Fast Running Fox
5. Lanterns at a reception from Style Me Pretty
6. Custom wine labels from Absinthe Custom Prints
7. Dress from Gina Michele Eco
8. Pocket Mirror (bridesmaid favors, anyone?) from Gamiworks
9. Table decor from Style Me Pretty
10. Yellow invitation from the fabulous designer Margot Madison :o)
11. French Nougat from Kettle Creations. I love the added pops of green and cherry red in those.
12. Parasols from Occasions by Design

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Miracles really do happen...

It's been years since I've started my quest to achieve better photos and most importantly, photos with a short depth of field. You know, the photos with a beautiful blurry background so you can focus on one part of the photo. They are everywhere I see and I've been reading and buying cameras to help me get there to no avail until today...

I'll let you in on the secret.
1. That blurring effect is called "Bokeh" (pronounced "Boke") and it all comes down to a small aperature or opening in your camera measured by the f-stop. You may recall that I have been referring to my dilema as the "Effing f-stop" in past posts.
2. You cannot control this effect with a point-and-shoot, no matter how nice your point-and-shoot is.
3. You need a dSLR camera ($$) with a really nice "prime" lense ($$$) that doesn't come with the camera. ($$$$)
4. Today I bought a Nikon 3100 dSLR camera and opted for the less expensive 55/f1.4 lense because I've already spent enough on cameras this year and couldn't stomach paying for the really good stuff. That will be for later or for Christmas, whichever comes first.

And I'm very happy to say that I have finally ARRIVED! It took a virtual village of photographer friends and lots of on-line research but I am today the proud owner of a camera that will allow me to take photographs with a blur. In natural lighting. On a digital format. If it wasn't lent, I'd say "Hallelujah".

So to illustrate (or shall we say, add photographs to) my journey, here is a photo with my really nice point-and-shoot camera and one with my effing new camera. :o) Amen. And thanks to everyone who helped me through this process.
An example of an invitation photographed with my new camera
A photograph taken with my point-and-shoot camera

Friday, March 18, 2011

DIY FRIDAY Tools of the Trade: Tape Gun


If there ever was the best piece of invitation assembly awesomeness, it would be this little baby here. The 3M ATG Tape Glider (we in the industry call them by their older and less marketing-friendly name "Tape Gun") is a handy piece of low-tech equipment will have your paper stuck tight with an easy sweep of the arm. I recommend that anyone entering into their own invitation production have one of these. Many of my clients get the smaller scrapbooking tape dispensers, but this is the really much better.

Why? It uses a roll of adhesive that is dispensed easily by pressing a trigger and drawing your arm down the paper. The adhesive roll is 36 yards long, which means you can go through a long time before replacing it. The adhesive is very sticky and will hold the bond securely. Really, I can't say enough about it. And it works really well on gift wrapping because the tape is hidden under the paper (not on top!).

The very best news is that this tape gun used to cost about $60 retail, and since it was an industry focused product was not widely available. While browsing Michaels Craft store yesterday, I spotted their new and very bright pink 1/4" dispenser for under $30. Since mine was feeling it's age (I've been using it daily for about 6 years now) I bought that thing lickety-split! There are some on-line stores selling them as well such as Scrapbook.com but you can do your own research and get the best price.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Will You Be My Bridesmaid Card-Free printable!

A Bridesmaid card designed by Margot Madison

I know that brides often are interested in sending cards to their future wedding party but good ones are sometimes hard to come by. I just designed this card for a client and thought I would share it with you. The bouquet is a bright bunch of pink flowers, and the inside says "Will you be my bridesmaid at our wedding?". You can download the file and add your wedding date and place, then print and fold (final folded size is 5x7, which fits an A7 envelope). I added the pretty bow to the bouquet to add a little softness.

And today, my kids and I had a great morning crafting these shamrock cootie catchers. Tonight, it's green spaghetti (made with pesto) and broccoli for dinner. I've not always gotten so involved with St. Patrick's Day but this year I'm feeling my Irish McConnaughey roots. Happy Green Fun to all!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rainbow Color Inspiration

With a dull rainy day outside, I need some color and fast! Here is a spectrum of products and photos that brightened my day today.
Kudos to the following rainbow makers:
1. Crafty flowers by Scrapbooks Etc.
2. Rainbow yarn gift packaging by {4.bp.blogspot.com--this link doesn't work and I can't find one that does. That's the best I can do. If anyone can send me a proper link, please do so I can update this}
3. Monogram Cookies from Sugar And Flour
4. Flower arrangement from Johner RM, photographed by Peter Carlsson
5. Tableware from Huset
6. Yarn bangles from Mystic Fibers
7. Felt balls from Craftastic Parties
8. Vintage Floral fancies from Isabella's Collections
9. Balloon topiary from P Is For Party
10. Pixel inspired cake stand from A Subtle Revelry
11. Felt circle pillow from Dede Etsy Shop
12. Paint swatch notepads from Crabapple Design

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm inspired by this text design

I saw this lovely gem by Vanessa Sorensen back in February and I just can't stop thinking about it! It was a valentine she made for her husband (view her mother's valentine here). I think Vanessa has such an different way of viewing graphic design. Look how clever she balanced the letters (note that the letters in "George" are even, not odd, thus making balance a bigger challenge. And see how the design appears symmetrical but it is actually composed of different ornaments and fonts? It seems to evoke her personality: Quiet and understated at first but with a decorative flair. I can just see her thoughtfully designing creations quietly at her computer, cat sleeping somewhere in the studio. Vanessa is an illustrator of bird and cat books and a lover of dutch folk design (as am I). Anyway, I'm channeling my inner Vanessa today as I work up some new designs for some clients.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Luck of the Irish Cootie Catcher

Too cute! A craft from A Subtle Revelry (formerly City Cradle) that I think my wee ones would love from their part English-Scots-Irish (and a little bit of German) mama. They'll be so pleased that I've moved on from the Kokeshi Dolls. ;o)

Since I don't think kids should have all the fun, I think this would also make a fun table favor for a dinner party or Irish themed wedding, don't you think?

Now then, back to work!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Make Kokeshi Dolls with this free printable!

Well, Mama was a little obsessed this weekend. When my husband asked what was on the agenda for Saturday, I believe my actual words were "I don't know about you, but I'm going to be making Kokeshi dolls all day!" And I did, along with anyone who happened to pass by my dining room table, including our dinner guests on Saturday night. (It just happened to come up in conversation *wink-wink*):
Here are the after-dinner crafters

It all started with my daughter J wanting a Japanese themed birthday party. We were poking around on Google and discovered these adorable folk dolls from Japan called Kokeshi Dolls. They looked way fun, so I scurried down to my computer and made a doll template on Illustrator. J put in her 2 cents on  some Kimono adjustments, hairstyles and lo! we had templates for 2 different forms of the doll; one to create with cut paper and one to trace and color on my favorite medium Shrinky Dink plastic. Yes, I said Shrinky Dink. And because craftiness like this should be shared, I'll include both templates at the end of this post so you can make your own. This is a craft project dynamo that people of any age can enjoy (you'll see my 6-year-old son's below--it's the one with the bloody death scene on the bottom hem) because no matter how simple or complex the design is, each one looks better than the last!

Here is a sample of the cut paper style. What I loved about this kind was that I got to use some of my beautiful Chiogami paper (you only need a little bit!) and made use of some beautiful origami papers too. Choosing coordinating papers and obis (that's a crossword favorite, folks. It's the official name of the belt worn on the Kimono) and adding accessories to each doll's hair was a delightful challenge. Scrapbookers would really like this one since it makes excellent use of the smaller scraps of paper.
Here are some of the Shrinky Dink variety, which turned out to be everyone's favorite. I started with the frosted plastic and used my colored pencils. Those were nice, but since I was obsessed, I went to 2 craft stores and bought the Shrinky Dink variety pack at 8 pm on Friday night. The almond and white opaque plastic was a great medium and requires a permanent ink or paint pen. I used that as an excuse to buy the big pack of Sharpie markers that always calls out to me at the craft stores. Here are some more photos of the craft rampage...
Coloring a design with Sharpie markers on Almond Shrinky Dink Plastic
Ready to bake!
Just a few of our creations...
Paper Cutting template

The paper Kokeshi doll template should print on a standard size cardstock. Then trim out the pieces and trace onto your decorative paper.

This Kokeshi doll template is so you can trace the different dolls (differentiated by their hairstyles) onto the Shrinky Dink plastic and color your designs. Print to a standard white piece of paper.

If you end up using these templates, please send me pictures of your tiny works of art! I'd love to hear your stories!

Friday, March 4, 2011

DIY Friday: Pretty Pencils made with Washi Tape

Pretty Washi Pencils.
Here's a fun little project that adds a little something extra to your event. Make pretty pencils with the colorful patterns from the washi tape (found at places like Pretty Tape, or Happy Tape etc.) I created these to add a coordinated and practical touch to a baby shower game that needed a writing utensil.
The pencils ready for action at the baby shower game station.

It's pretty easy. First, find yourself some pencils. I searched high and low for white ones, but they are hard to come by apparently. I puchased a pack of yellow number 10 pencils and spray painted them white. It's important to have a white "canvas" because the washi tape is translucent.
Tape off the barrel at the top to protect it from the paint spray.
I used a handy-dandy egg carton as my prop.
Starting at the eraser side, wrap the tape at a diagonal to cover the entire pencil barrel. Trim off the excess at the top and bottom, sharpen the pencil and--Bob's Your Uncle--you've got yourself a snazzy pencil.

I think these would make cute teacher gifts or party favors for your kids' birthday parties too!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winter Bat Mitzvah with Blue and Green color scheme

Man, I've been on the busy side here in the studio. That's good for me, but not so good for the blog posting schedule.

Today I thought I would share an inspiration board I created for a client whose Bat Mitzvah invitations I'm creating.

The party celebration is taking place at a winter club this fall. It's a rustic "apr├ęs ski" kind of place with ice skating for the teenagers and a nice dinner for the adults on a separate floor. The venue has dark wood interior, so I suggested winter white as the neutral background, using different textures to compliment the rustic feel of the venue. Then I added some bright blue and green as accents (these were not your typical pink and purple twin girls), and created patterns to enhance the accent colors. I must say that I love the mittens--twin girls, winter theme--perfect!

Now, I created this a few months ago (before I started including the blog/artist in the name of the image), so I hope I can credit the photos properly. If you see an error, please let me know and I'll change it immediately.

Top left section is original artwork created by me, Margot Madison. Fonts are LaPortenia, Freebooter Script, Evangel, Eccentric and Terracotta regular, available from either Fonts.com or Dafont.com. Photo on top right is from Once Wed. Wood tag blanks from The Hickory Tree (logo customization is by me), Pom-pom trim from May Arts Ribbon, Cookie by Queen City Cookies, votive glasses from Cultural Intrigue, Blue pops picture from Once Wed, Wooden table number (similar) from Bragging Tags, Wood candle centerpieces (similar) from This Fine Day, Wood sign (similar) from Bragging Tags.

Here is also a good dessert table in similar colors from Whipperberry.

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