Tinsel, stickers, and tape

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This is definitely the time of year to break out the metallic tape. Pretty ribbon is not the only way to top a present. Every year I seem to find ways to adorn Christmas wrap other than with ribbon. Here are the results of last years gift wrappings. 

  The winter beanie was a special card I made for my dad last year. I seem to always get him hats for Christmas. Last year I forgot so I made him one with  zentangle.

The winter beanie was a special card I made for my dad last year. I seem to always get him hats for Christmas. Last year I forgot so I made him one with zentangle.

Merry Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and a lot like my Christmas cards will be arriving late in the mail. While my cards were one of the first holiday projects I made this season they're the last to make it out the door. I'm checking my list (and addresses) twice. Soon my holiday greeting and paper tree will belatedly arrive at doorsteps.

When designing this years card I kept in mind the limitations of my small table top letterpress. I also wanted to incorporate my calligraphy to illustrate the card. I knew I wanted to send out a folding Christmas tree so the design of the card evolved from that concept. Of course it should be presents for under the tree. I'm very pleased with how it all printed.

  It was not possible to keep a heavy inking consistent for the green of the packages so I knew I'd be letting the ink naturally fall off as I printed my cards.

It was not possible to keep a heavy inking consistent for the green of the packages so I knew I'd be letting the ink naturally fall off as I printed my cards.

  Put the presents under the tree! To keep things less complicated I drew a pattern   that could be printed back to back without worry of registration. And I cut all these trees out by hand (with x-acto) so I needed the pattern to be forgiving for that as well.

Put the presents under the tree! To keep things less complicated I drew a pattern that could be printed back to back without worry of registration. And I cut all these trees out by hand (with x-acto) so I needed the pattern to be forgiving for that as well.

  I added gold elastic to turn some of my pop-up trees into gift toppers.

I added gold elastic to turn some of my pop-up trees into gift toppers.

Have a wonderful Christmas! I'm hoping to have one more post before taking a little break to enjoy the festivities.

Wintery wrap with Bay Bridge ribbon

How's your wrappin' going? I haven't even begun to wrap gifts for this year. Luckily I dug up some wrap photos from last year that I never had the chance to share with you.

Last year I was clued into a stash of vintage cellophane ribbon being sold at a local art store. According to the penciled note on the spool the ribbon dates to 1938. Perhaps that's why it's printed with the San Francisco Bay Bridge and skyline which would have still been a young landmark. Of course I bought it in a few colors. 

I meet lots of people who are a bit intimidated by gift wrapping especially this time of year. Well I was intimidated by this ribbon! Aged brittle cellophane is not easy to work with! If you're nervous about your xmas wrappings make sure to use supplies you're comfortable with. And remember that it's about the sentiment of giving and not how perfecting crisp your wrapping is. Any extra creative embellishment will add that thoughtfulness. 

Have fun and happy wrapping!

  It's hard to tell in the photos but I used wire to float one of the snow flakes above the package.

It's hard to tell in the photos but I used wire to float one of the snow flakes above the package.

Wrapping paper is from a 2013 print promotion by Hemlock Printers.

Silent ribbon rattles: An easy DIY gift

Over the last couple years many new babies have come into my life. I've been making them these silent ribbon rattles. I use fun colors and intersperse black because babies visual senses are stimulated by high contrast colors.

With the long Thanksgiving holiday ahead of us I wanted to share this easy DIY in case you wanted to start crafting some holiday gifts. It's simple to make a bunch of these at the same time. You can get as fancy or as simple with your ribbon choices. Most fabric stores sell basic ribbon by the yard at a very reasonable price.

These can be a great gift on their own or work great as a gift topper. Because they're made of fabric they're also easy to wash. And with all the noisy baby gadgets out there I'm sure the silence is appreciated.

I wrapped one rattle in an exposed way so it was both decorative while being the actual contents of the gift.

Materials

– 6 yards of ribbon (variety of colors and widths. (I typically don't use ribbon wider than 5/8ths inch.)
– 1.5 inch D ring (Usually sold in multiples of 2)
– Scissors

Make It

— Prep your materials by cutting about 15 lengths of ribbon 15 inches each in length.
— Fold one length of ribbon in half to create a loop and secure to the D ring with a lanyard hitch knot. Then tie an overhand knot to finish securing the ribbon.
— Repeat until your D ring is packed with ribbons. I vary the colors as I go and intersperse with black ribbons.

A little side note. I am wowed by all the knot possibilities out there. There is most likely even a more secure method for tying these ribbons so feel free to experiment!  

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!