Archive for the ‘handmade’ Category

#the100dayproject: What it is, Thoughts, Encouragement & more

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If you want to sign up for mine & Natalie Malan’s combined art retreat CLICK HERE!! Use code “doubleheader” for 10% off. :) Hope to see you there!

This April 3rd, I started my first 100 day project. It’s a global art-focused (but not exclusive to art) community project of your choosing. In the past I’ve started a passion project at the beginning of the year (#calligraphynameoftheday #calligraphyquoteoftheday), but  this year I decided to do something different and do it in 100 days and with the art community at large. This is not my own idea. I’m not the organizer. The 100 day project originated from senior design critic at Yale University: Michael Beirut. He challenged his students to come up with a project to do for 100 days. Then Elle Luna & Lindsay Jeane Thompson took the concept to a more global format on Instagram. You can read more about their mission right here on the100dayproject.org.

Check out a process/tutorial video of this week’s marigolds right here: 

My project this year is 100 watercolor floral paintings in 100 days. I’m not sticking to doing 1 painting every day format. I’m painting at least 3 every 3 days. So I’m allowing myself the freedom to batch my efforts. But your project could look completely different. The global 100 day project started on April 3, so you’ve got some catching up to do ;), but anyone is welcome to join and start at any time! And you can do whatever strikes your fancy!! 

Here are some tips to make your project successful: 

  • Give yourself constraints
  • Make it simple
  • Keep it specific
  • Do something you’re genuinely excited about
  • Start with tools you already have
  • Use pre-generated content wherever applicable
  • Be nice to yourself

Use constraints: basically make up fake rules to follow. Whether you’re doing art on a specific size canvas or you’re only allowing yourself 10 minutes to do the project each day, keep those things consistent. For me, I’m sticking to the same size paper. 

Make it simple: this art effort isn’t the endit’s the beginning. Don’t look at making each piece or project so crazy and lengthy or complicated. Use constraints to simplify your process. 

Keep it specific: this project is a chance to become an expert in something. If you want to become better at cooking an egg, explore 100 different ways to cook an egg. You’re not exploring any other ingredient, just the egg specifically. 

Use your excitement: I’ve heard, (this is my first time doing 100 consecutive days for a passion project) that day 30-35 are the hardest. If you’re not genuinely interested or excited you’re going to quit. Simple as that. 

Use what you’ve got: this goes with keeping it simple. No need to buy and have to learn to use all new equipment for this project. And chances are, you’ve got supplies or tools that are collecting dust that could use a little love. 

Use pre-generated content: Reducing the amount of decisions you have to make every time you sit down to create is key. It helps simplify. For me, I’ve written down 150 different flowers to choose from. I just go down the list and start from there. I don’t have to research flowers every time I sit down to paint. 

Be nice to yourself: chances are, you may not initially see what you have envisioned in your head when you start this project. But the whole point of the 100 day project is to get better or more comfortable with something. There are some flower paintings that I’ve done (like Cleome and Chrysanthemum) that I wasn’t too excited about. That’s okay. I got it done!! DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. Learning to be kind to yourself through this whole project is benefit enough to get started, don’t you think? 

So, there you go. It can be as easy as making eggs for 100 days. Making your bed for 100 days. Painting flowers for 100 days. It’s entirely up to you! 

Artists I love doing it too…

I hope you follow along and perhaps get in on the project, too!! 

 

 

Mondays? Mon-YAY!!

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Sometimes I feel so lonely in a world of Monday-haters. I LOVE Mondays! It’s a fresh week. I get so much done. My motivation is fresh. My ideas are fresh. I’m refreshed from a day of rest. They’re the best. 

I did this little real-time calligraphy showing you the stylistic differences between one nib and another. It’s HUGE, right? I didn’t change anything about my style, grip, materials; just the nib. Think about that the next time you’re in a calligraphy rut. If you’re still in a rut after that? Try taking one of my classes!! I’ve been teaching for 8 years, I’m encouraging, thorough and helpful. If you’re in the Utah area, check out April’s local workshops below! If you’re not, the online class is the next best thing with one-on-one feedback and encouragement in each class. Check it out here.

APRIL 6 | 5-8PM | DRAPER, UT

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Learn the foundations of pointed pen and how to apply your own modern personality to your letters in this 3 hour intensive! It’s perfect for beginners or if you’re looking to brush up on your skills. Seats are very limited so we have a small, intimate group. You’ll get lots of one-on-one attention and feedback as we go through the lowercase letters and forming words together. Time allowing, we’ll work through numbers and capitals. I’ll give you the skills necessary to take your practice home with confidence. Materials and snacks included. 

APRIL 21 | 9-5 | BLUFFDALE, UT

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

I’ve teamed up with Natalie Malan & Cents of Style for this day-long retreat! We’ll be covering flourished brush lettering and watercolor florals! The florals will be gorgeous, vibrant loose and modern (like we are all obsessing over these days). And the calligraphy will be with waterproof brushes so that we can create dynamic pieces with our watercolors. Workshop includes lunch, materials and snacks. 

REVIEW: Laser Square & Mat by WRM

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I had the pleasure to check out the latest Laser Square & Mat by We R Memory Keepers. It’s the hottest thing to hit the shelves for calligraphers. It’s basically a replacement for the slider writer (which I have). Now you can’t find the Slider Writer anywhere. Not that you were missing out on much, because the laser never sat still, the apparatus was bulky and only right-handed users really could ever take advantage of the set-up. 

See above for the full video. Hayley & I got to play around with it (thanks to WRM for providing us with product). Check it out to see it in action. Some of the video we took was completely blown out, so there’s not a ton of footage of us using it. :( And speaking of technical difficulties, the mic (we decided to use a new mic) didn’t end up recording, so you get to hear my tinny room instead. #sorrynotsorry I’m not going to fix it. Next video will be better. We’re having fun figuring out this whole film production thing. 

 

TOOLS USED: 

PROS

  • You can take it apart. It’s a little hard to take the square part apart, but you can take the mat off easily and store it in a tight spot. 
  • No erasing! No need for drawing in lines on dark or opaque paper!
  • The laser is a little bit above the surface of the paper so it’s not so harsh on the eyes. 
  • You can set it up easily for lefties or for righties. 
  • The bottom has a grid, so you can easily keep your papers aligned!
  • The gridded mat is self-healing material!
  • The lasers don’t fall out of alignment easily. They stay in place until you want to move them. 
  • The work area is 12×12, allowing you to work on a wide variety of sized papers.

 

CONS: 

  • Each laser requires a 9v battery. 9v batteries aren’t very common, you can find rechargable 9v batteries, and I would definitely recommend getting some because replacing 9v batteries often is expensive!! 
  • The lasers weren’t perfectly aligned with the grid out of the box. I could do some minor 1/2 mm adjustments before using the laser, but ultimately it’s just a little off. But it stays the same degree off no matter where on the ruler you position the laser, so it’s consistent. 

 

WISHLIST: 

  • I wish the laser angles could be repositioned so that I could align with the grid but also so the vertical laser could serve as an angle line. 
  • Hayley brought it up that it would be so cool if there were two lasers per axis point. Then you could set up x-heights or cap heights. 

 

Perfect for house drawings, right? Hayley did the cutest little house drawings using the laser lines as guides. 

This is great for dark envelopes. I really liked the flow. I could easily hold the paper down with my non-writing hand and reposition the envelope OR the laser to get new baselines for each line of text. 

 

VERDICT: I’d put this one in the win column. I think it’s a great tool, especially for envelopes and quotes. I felt like I could quickly and effortlessly write out envelopes and quotes without a ton of planning ahead (you know how lazy I am). Click here to purchase.

 

What do you think? Will you be using one in your future? 

 

Product was provided for free from WRM, but all thoughts and opinions are our own. Affiliate links used help support the continuation of the blog and YouTube videos. Thank you for your support!

2017 Thank You Printable

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The time of year has come where it’s time for the annual Thank You freebie! I love doing this because it gives me a chance to work on styles and techniques I don’t always get to do on a regular basis. For this year, it meant I got to put the watercolor floral classes I’ve taken from Natalie Malan to use. I wanted to go for a slightly muted palette, but it only worked slightly. It’s like a bright, muted palette. ;)

Also, I feel like I must mention that this month completes the 10th year I’ve been blogging! I can’t believe it’s been that long. So much has changed: 6 moves, 3 children and a few career changes to say the least. I didn’t know I would be blogging this long. But here we are! ‘Tis the season for gratitude, so I may as well express that I’m so grateful for the opportunities that blogging and social media has given me. I’ve made dear friends, I’ve traveled, I’ve learned so much and I’ve felt the creative inspiration through the connections that I’ve made. It’s been pretty awesome. Will I still be here, writing in another 10? We shall see! 


Check out the a video of my process here:

This year’s Thank you takes on two forms. One is a plain, 5.5×4.25 rectangle with cut lines for you to follow, the above is a suggestion. You can download the JPG and use Silhouette’s print & cut feature to make a gorgeous full-bleed card with a scalloped edge. See below for the tutorial! 

You certainly don’t have to have a Silhouette in order to take advantage of this printable. Just click The download link below with the description “hand cut”. :) Just giving you some fun options.

DOWNLOAD SILHOUETTE FILES HERE

DOWNLOAD HAND CUT FILES HERE

But I’ve got TONS MORE ‘Thank You’s. Check out the whole list of past years’ printables below!

Want to learn calligraphy? Like the brush lettering I use here? Check out my class on Calligraphy.org. I’ll give you one-on-one instruction to help you get there. We start from the very basics, but because of the personal nature of the instruction we offer off-script learning for the more advanced letterer. Use code BRUSHLETTERING for a 10% discount on the class. :)

Materials used for this DIY: 

This printable is free for personal use only. Any redistribution or commercial use of this printable without written consent is prohibited. © Melissa Esplin 2017. Affiliate links used, by purchasing through an affiliate link, you support MelissaEsplin.com and the free content provided here. Thank you for your support! 

 

Easy Suminigashi Tutorial

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Iron provided by CHI® and Bed Bath & Beyond. Whether taking the wrinkles out of a new bedspread or curtains as the finishing touch on a home décor project, ironing your favorite outfit for a special occasion or flattening paper for artwork the CHI® Electronic Retractable Clothing Iron is the bee’s knees. 

 

SUMINIGASHI!! This marbling technique is so super awesome. It’s one of those projects that doesn’t really require a whole lot of space or preparation. I had everything on-hand for this project, so there was little barrier to entry here. 

HOWEVER, there was a little bit of a learning curve. Check out this little video Hayley and I made about our discoveries through trouble-shooting (the tutorial is at the end if you want to skip to the end there, too). 

In a nutshell, here’s what we found: 

  • Cold water works best
  • You can use soap to help disperse the ink, but you need a large water bath in order to keep the ink from dropping from the surface
  • Use only sumi ink if you plan on using a smaller water bath (we used a kitchen dish for note cards and envelopes)
  • Not all sumi inks work well. Of the sumi inks I have, Yasutomo worked the best
  • We read elsewhere that these colored inks work well, if you want to add color
  • The first paper you pull is often the “first pancake”, don’t stress if it doesn’t work well
  • You can get 3-7 pulls off of one ink application, the ghost images are subtle like Carrara marble

 

Don’t feel like watching the video for the tutorial? Here’s the cliff’s notes version: 

SUPPLIES:

  • sumi ink
  • paper (we loved the crisp results of bristol paper, but anything works!)
  • cold water
  • water container
  • diluted soapy water (only if using a larger container)
  • brush
  • tooth pick or eye dropper
  • the bestest iron ever (yes, a clothing iron)

If you’re doing this project with little people, you may want to add aprons, rubber gloves and a drop cloth to the mix (especially if you’re doing larger ink baths). 

Fill your container with cold water. I chose to use a small container for the video, but I’m on Studio 5 on Tuesday sharing how you can do it with soap and a larger container. So either can be done. 

Get your ink brush wet and load it up with sumi ink. Barely tap the surface of the water and watch the water disperse along the surface. 

Add more dots along the surface, spacing them randomly apart. the longer your brush touches the surface, the larger the dot. 

Get as many dots as you want, until you feel happy with the blank space to ink ratio. 

With a toothpick or eye dropper, drag the tool along the surface to pull and move the ink around. You’ll get little swirls all over. 

Grab your paper and submerse the first paper entirely. 

Pull your print and place on a cookie sheet to dry. If you’re doing envelopes, touch only the surface of the water to the front of the envelope. Hold the envelope by the flap so it doesn’t get wet (otherwise it will seal shut as it dries). 

Now what do you do when the paper dries?? It’s so annoying when papers dry all curly and whatnot. And they will. So iron them! A huge shout out to CHI Heat tools and Bed Bath and Beyond for providing me with a brand-new iron for my sewing and paper crafting. 

I’ve been a Rowenta gal for a long time, but it wasn’t hard to make the switch. It’s light-weight, yet substantial, the plate is silky smooth, the heat time is short, the reservoir for steaming is twice the size of my old one and it has a retractable cord. All wins in my book. If you’re in the market for a new iron, this is it. 

For ironing paper, get a cutting board (something smooth, yet will take heat) and a piece of quilting cotton. Set the iron to COTTON with NO STEAM. Place the cotton over the paper you’re about to iron and press for 15-20 seconds, moving the iron as you go. Flip the paper around  and repeat. The paper may want to curl in the direction of its grain, but it will relax once it cools back down. 

Pretty fun, right? I would recommend doing this in batches to save time. The print or write your desired phrases overtop! 

This post is sponsored by CHI® and Bed Bath & Beyond. All opinions are my own.

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