Calligraphy chalk for Chiotras

I recently had the opportunity to take my first stab at chalk pho-calligraphy for Chiotras Grocery. They're my neighborhood corner store and sandwich shop (note they're not actually on a corner). They had a huuuuuge chalkboard perfect for making a menu board. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen some of my progress images. I'm happy to say it's complete! Well except for a couple sandwiches being added to the menu. How could I forget one of my favs; eggplant, pesto, mozzarella!?

I'm really excited to see how this helps out the business. Before the sign was even put up on the wall one of my neighbors remarked "Lox bagel! I want that!" I told him it's always been on the menu. This highlighted perfectly why I wanted to work on this project. I love my little market. It's always a great experience being a customer but I wanted it to be even better for everyone.

Because this chalkboard is so huge it actually wasn't made of slate. That would be hella heavy. That made it a little more difficult to erase mistakes but for the most part windex helped do the trick. In this process I discovered a new tool. Bistro Chalk Markers are just like paint pens but with chalk ink! Erasable! Mind blown. 

Before starting in on the big menu I did some color tests on a mini chalkboard I had and then created the above specials board to start. For the larger menu I sketched the bigger words with pencil along with the dividing lines. You can see some of the pencil marks in the pics below but when looking from a distance you don't see them. The graphite can be removed with windex as well but involved more elbow grease than I had available. 

If you're ever in Potrero Hill and in need of a sandwich take a visit to Chiotras! A great store and great neighbors with yelp reviews to prove it.

Thank you Gritchelle Fallesgon for getting a couple pics of me working on the sign early in the process.

Design trends. Why handmade?

Yup, I'm back to blogging! While on my blog break I had the pleasure of being on a panel discussion for AIGA SF's D.Talks series along with Everett Katigbak and Damon Styer. Josh Levine was our fearless moderator who integrated the audience into the conversation. The theme of the night was the trend of handmade in design. Since the event I've been thinking a lot about our discussion and thought it worth a share here. 

The question of the night quickly evolved into answering; Why handmade? My personal theory is that with screens and perfectly uniform type being ever present in our every day we're left with a longing for imperfection and for something personal. I once wrote about the calligraphy trend after I'd taken my first classes. At the time I wondered; Is it a trend? Now over a year since writing that post it still gets weekly hits and shows up first (at least for me) in search. This tells me at the very least the googleverse thinks it's a trend. Maybe trend is the wrong word for it. It has again become popular and valued. 

Sign painting is a good example of hand crafted coming in and out of fashion. Damon owns New Bohemia Signs. For the unfamiliar, New Bohemia Signs practices the art of hand lettering with quill brush and paint. When Damon bought the shop it was because its original owners were ready to shut it down. The ability to cut perfect vinyl letters for signs had fragmented the sign industry winnowing the artists down to very few. Hand lettering hasn't suddenly won over the goliath of vinyl lettering but the craft is once again being elevated. Now New Bohemia finds itself painting the signs for the interiors of many tech startups and holds monthly classes to share the art with interested students. 

Everett shared how handmade directly impacted those creating some of our social infrastructure. Before joining Pinterest Everett helped to found The Analog Research Lab at Facebook. One of the missions they took on was to pose open ended questions. They found the quickest way to communicate with impact was to use wood type to letterpress print posters and wheat paste them around the FB campus. They created an instant dialog as people started handwriting responses on the posters.   

The thread that started to expose itself in the discussion is that when beginning a creative process computer software sometimes adds an unnecessary layer between inspiration and execution. For prototyping sometimes the quickest tool is pen, paper, scissors or any number of mediums. That thought brings to mind that software companies are recognizing the desire for physical connection to creation. One of Adobe's latest offerings is software and accompanying hardware that allows you to draw with your iPad. It's called Ink and Slide (ruler).

It would be easy to think tech is tech and handmade is handmade but this thought exercise indicates they are very intertwined. As you know I make a lot of stuff by hand but the computer definitely is a tool that shows up either to help me complete my vision or simply for sharing here on the blog.

Pinterest which is full of imagery of crochet pet costumes and oasis like backyard projects is a piece of tech which is influencing handmade AND it's exposure. It provides inspiration for someone to take on a new project or new skill. It provides a platform for sharing creations and interestingly creates a feedback loop. It shines a light on imagery in the zeitgeist. With fall about to arrive the pineapple trend is about out the door. I joked about it on the panel but for a moment I had a pineapple filled Pinterest feed.

One last item about handmade I'd like to mention is that it can provide a quick feeling of accomplishment. As a graphic designer I spend most of my day in front of a computer and most of my projects have many steps before completion. Making something by hand creates balance in my life. 

But what about this gift wrap?

This is a gift for close friends getting married so of course I needed wrap with a really personal touch. I wasn't finding any inspiration in my wrap stash so I made some wrap just for them. Their invitations incorporated a purple and orange gradient. The easiest thing to do was to use a big foam brush to wash gouache over a sheet of paper I had previously decorated. No computer necessary. The purple gods eye has been waiting to top a package and was perfect for my purple loving friend. In the span of a half hour I had my idea and had executed it. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic of handcraft if design. Lets keep the conversation going in the comments!

Gift of time

My birthday is at the end of the month so I've decided to give a little gift to myself. The gift of time! I'm going to be taking a blogging break until mid September. I haven't had as much time for the handcrafting part of this blog so I'll be focusing on that. I'm sure I'll be sharing some makings on my Instagram and if you're worried you'll miss my return please sign up for my monthly updates. 

Last week when I was working on my weekly post (which you'll notice I never published) I had the revelation that I needed a break from the computer screen and some of the steps that it takes to put out a weekly post. I was hoping to get in that one last post as I scheduled some time off on my calendar. That didn't happen because just after I made that decision I saw this article on white space breaks from fellow blogger Sage Greyson. It was clearly a sign! I decided I'd finish that post later and focused on having a fun weekend (past) in LA instead. So as Sage asked, I'll ask to. Do you need a white space break?

Pip pip hurray! DIY paper flower stamen.

You know those little fake pollen bits you see used in paper flower making... Anatomically they're called stamen but in paper flower world they're called pips. And they're not so cheap for something called a pip! You'd think they'd just cost pip cents each. Well some are reasonably priced but I've become enamored with the vintage glass variety. I figured I could make something a little more similar. So I did. Pip! Pip! Hurray! You can to!

Supplies
— Cotton String
— Bees Wax
— Nail Polish (multiple colors)
— Aluminum dish (for making a double boiler)
— Wax Paper
— Tape
— Lidded Jar
— Crayons (optional)

Making your pips

The second pan has a purple crayon added to the bees wax.

The second pan has a purple crayon added to the bees wax.

1. Get your wax melting in a double boiler while you're setting up the rest of your materials and work area. I used a pan on my stove filled with water and set to simmer. I put my wax in a disposable aluminum container and floated it in the water.

2. Lay out a sheet of wax paper on your work surface.

3. Cut several lengths of string roughly 18 inches each. Each string will make 6 pips.

4. When your wax is liquid begin to dip strings one at a time. I dipped the string making a spiral pattern and then pulled the string straight out of the wax. It will dry nearly instantly when it hits the air. Lay your waxed strings flat on your work surface.

5. Cut off the end of the un-waxed string where you were holding it. Cut each string into thirds.

6. Dip the ends of each smaller string back in the wax 2-3 times. Alternate sides to allow for cooling. A ball of wax will be created on each end forming the pip!

7. Lay the pips on top of a jar to finish cooling so the waxed orb shape doesn't get a flat side.

8. Fold each pip in half and dip the each pip in nail polish of your choosing.

9. Tape the ends of the pips to a jar or ledge to allow to completely dry. (I tested a lot of ways to dry the pips without letting them touch each other and this was the best I found).

Pip pip hurray! You can easily vary your pips with color of nail polish or by adding a crayon to your melted wax. I also tried out using alcohol inks. They worked out great but I preferred using up some of my nail polish. There's only so many times you can paint your nails yellow. 

After you've made your pips and made some paper flowers bury your nose in them and you'll discover it smells like honey! How perfect.

 

Show and Tell: Summer Renegade SF 2014

A couple Sundays ago all of San Francisco was drenched in fog. A little winter like made it perfect for going inside to the summer edition of the Renegade Craft Fair. Held at Fort Mason it's also a good reason to walk by the bay and hear the clickety clang of all the sail boats in their berths. Renegade is one of my favorite fairs and there was so much good stuff this time around. One of the stand outs was all the variety of ceramics. Each vendor had their own twist on the medium. I could have done a whole post on that. 

If you missed the fair or don't live near one of the host cities it's worth checking out the vendor list. Especially if you're in the market for some handmade goodies. If you want even more handmade to look at I wrote about summer Renegade last year also.

Below are some of my favorites and unique finds. I've been pretty wordy lately in my posts so I'll keep things brief and fill this one with pics.

Jo Boyer

At first glance I thought these were crazy shells I hadn't seen before. Nope just porcelain with lots of details. 

At first glance I thought these were crazy shells I hadn't seen before. Nope just porcelain with lots of details. 

I had recently bought some earrings by Nikki at a local shop called Gather which features hand made goods here in SF. I've been getting lots of compliments on them so I was excited to stumble upon her booth.

I had recently bought some earrings by Nikki at a local shop called Gather which features hand made goods here in SF. I've been getting lots of compliments on them so I was excited to stumble upon her booth.

Of course I found some adorable cat goodies.

Of course I found some adorable cat goodies.

These would make a very unique gift. And bonus they're made from recycled liquor bottles.

These would make a very unique gift. And bonus they're made from recycled liquor bottles.

These kits are adorable. A great way to learn about embroidery.

These kits are adorable. A great way to learn about embroidery.

Great modern rustic pieces. Is modern rustic a thing?

Great modern rustic pieces. Is modern rustic a thing?

I loved Madeline's cake display! Also I know Madeline but I didn't know she was going to be there so it was a fun surprise to run into her booth.

I loved Madeline's cake display! Also I know Madeline but I didn't know she was going to be there so it was a fun surprise to run into her booth.

I'll let you figure these out. They are really beautiful on their own as an object. I was told they could also be used for incense.

I'll let you figure these out. They are really beautiful on their own as an object. I was told they could also be used for incense.

I'm friends of the Weekend Press and knew they've been diligently printing goods for the last couple months. So proud to see it all together!

I'm friends of the Weekend Press and knew they've been diligently printing goods for the last couple months. So proud to see it all together!

For an easy five bucks I got my membership (complete with membership card) to the Letter Writing Alliance. Check it out and get yourself a pen pal!

For an easy five bucks I got my membership (complete with membership card) to the Letter Writing Alliance. Check it out and get yourself a pen pal!

Here's the cumulative list and links to all these fabulous makers.

Jo Boyer 
Nikki Montoya 
Trelabela 
Reclamation Etchworks 
Kiriki Press 
Salt and Pipper 
Miwak Junior, Ceramic Connectors 
The Weekend Press 
Letter Writing Alliance

Now I'm getting excited for all the Christmas fairs!