Friday, March 25, 2011

Cute wedding Clutch

I'm all about free giveaway. I'm even more for it when it is something as adorable as this clutch!

The Knotty Bride is doing a give away of a sweet Etsy designers clutches. Check them out at Mermaidsdream. They are really cute.

Plus, if I blog about it I get another entry in the contest. So win win, you get to look at cute wedding (or other occasion) clutches. And I could possibly win a free one to put all my 'emergency' wedding supplies in. Sweet!

If you want to enter in the contest before April 1st go too

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DIY invitations, table cards and more!

Turn a plain white invitation into a handmade work of art.

I was looking for a stamping art project to do. Creating and using stamps to make art was one of my favorite projects in college. There was even a semester in experimental drawing where I used my own carved stamps to create patterns in pretty much all of my pieces.  I thought wedding invitations was a great excuse to break out those former skills and bring my old linoleum block cutting set into action.

Here is how the process went and how you can do it too!

1.) I purchased a packet of postcard paper from Office Max. This paper was perforated so that all I had to do was layout my invitation text four to a page and run this paper through my home printer and tear apart. I used a matte paper that was textured for a little added detail. It was so easy that I plan on doing my thank you cards and programs with this same paper.

2.) Now for the decoration. I first designed what I wanted the invitations to look like in photoshop. I can't help myself, I use the computer to sketch out all my art work. I'm a graphic designer I think it is just natural for me to sketch on the computer first.

Once I was good with the design, I printed it out and sketched out the two birds sitting on a branch with two flowers above them directly on the linoleum block.

Then I began carving out the reverse of what I wanted the final image to be. I used a Speedball carving tool that I already had, but they are around 10 bucks to purchase from any art store.
I repeated the same process with two smaller rubber block stamps for extra flowers to use.

3.) I used a large flat plastic surface to roll out some yellow and blue printmaking paint. With two rollers I applied both blue and yellow paint to my stamp. The birds blue and the flowers above them yellow.

Make sure you use a water-base printing paint. That will ensure your invitations dry nice and fast so that you can do the other side in the same day. I made the mistake of using an oil base paint and although the colors are very vivid and beautiful I had those puppies hanging up for about a day and a half before I could do the other side. Even then, some of them stuck together.

My helper hard at work. Is that an empty mimosa glass I see? This is an unacceptable work environment. You need a refill!

4.) With a thin layer of paint on the stamp, I then lined up the back of my invitation with the edge of the stamp and applied pressure evenly to the surface to make sure all the paint transferred equally from the stamp to the paper.
(you don't want too much paint or when you stamp it paint will gush out and create a messy image)

I peeled back the invitation and my design was printed on the back!

5.) Then I hung up to dry. With the help of my lovely bridesmaids we repeated the process on a hundred plus invitations ... whew!

6.) Once the back side was dry I flipped the invitation over and using my separate flower stamps that I carved put one blue and one yellow flower on the front of the invitation.

7.) What was great about creating my own stamp for the wedding invitations was that I could now use those stamps on everything. Again with the help of my bridesmaids we stamped blue and yellow flowers on table cards, table numbers, RSVP cards, programs and various other things that will be set up around the reception.

Warning: Not every card is perfect and there are definitely ones with smudges but they are all hand-stamped and made with love! 

This was a time consuming process but it was very fun! 

It is also a good idea to print more then you need just in case you mess up on a few ... which is bound to happen because we are only human and that is why it is called handmade!

Happy stamping!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Coffee Filter Paper Flowers

Coffee filter flower in blue wine bottle with yellow ribbon equals my wedding center piece!

Real flowers can be very expensive so I thought I would attempt an alternative to the real thing by making paper flowers for centerpieces at our wedding. I found this great tutorial on one of my favorite blogs, Design Sponge. It looked pretty simple with really inexpensive supplies (coffee filters are cheap!) so I thought I would give it a whirl. Here is how our experience went.

Once again my lovely bridesmaids (Kacie, Jenna and Allian) helped me a ton. We dyed, cut and assembled these pretty little flower and I think they turned out wonderful!

Step One: Dyeing the coffee filters. I used red, yellow and green watercolor paint. I used a mixture of red and yellow to create the darkest color and just a varied amount of yellow in the two lighter colors. If I had to do again, I would make the colors more vibrant by mixing more color into the water baths before adding the coffee filters. But because I doubled the "recipe" from the tutorial, I wasn't sure exactly how much paint to put in. If you try this tutorial use a lot of watercolor paint for more vibrant colors! Our colors turned out a really beautiful pale color. A nice, light, fluffy, pretty flower!

Looks like I'm wearing a Tutu!

Step Two: After soaking for about an hour, we hung the coffee filters out to dry by rigging up some string in the bath tub and using mini clothes pins to hang them up. We let them dry overnight. 
The bath tub was covered in paint drips but it was very easy to clean up because it was a water base paint.

Different layers for the flowers.

Mimosas for the working women!

Step Three: The next morning, after the filters were dry we sorted them into piles of different color shades, and cut jagged edges on them. 
Note: Mimosas were a necessary part of this step. These flowers will not looks as good if made without a tall glass of champagne and orange juice!

Step Four: Assemble the flower by twisting and then taping the darkest filter to a drinking straw. With a hole in the middle, pull the other lighter filters up around the darker center. Fluff and crinkle appropriately. It took a few flowers to get the hang of it. But they turned out beautiful! Follow the tutorial we followed for more detailed directions and supplies list.

I now have a whole box of wine bottles and paper flowers and they are going to look wonderful as center pieces at our wedding. I think these will make a good replacement for real flowers. 

I was thinking about having paper flowers or pinwheels for bridal bouquets too. But, I do still love real flowers, so I think I will stick with the real deal for the bouquets. Now I just have to get started on my garden so I can grow all those flowers myself! Or, more like it, purchase the already grown flowers from a local nursery. By growing them in my garden, I can enjoy those flowers all spring and summer as well as when I'm walking down the aisle. 

Thanks again for all the help from my bridesmaids Kacie, Jenna and Allian! You guys are the best!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Handmade Wood Wedding Altar

I assigned my fiance and his best man the task of building us a wedding altar made from sticks found in the area. I thought this would make a great alter but mostly I needed the boys out of the house for a weekend so I could do wedding crafts with my girlfriends. I don't know what I expected but I have to say I am really really happy with the way it turned out! Best of all it was free and handmade with love by my husband to be :)

Wedding alter made of fallen logs and branches from the Virginia woods!

The guys headed out for a hike in the morning equip with empty hiking backpacks, saws and a hatchet. They went to Pandapas pond, a popular hiking, biking and picnicking place near Blacksburg, Virginia. They came back a few hours later with a subaru station wagon of fallen logs and branches.

Sides of altar: They laid down four large logs and sawed off the ends so that they would stand flat and were all about the same length. Then taking two and placing them about a foot away from each other they nailed diagonally some smaller branches into the logs to hold them in place. Then tied string around each log end to give the illusion that this was all just tied together. (But these boy are engineers and couldn't have something that structurally unsound!)
Top of Altar: Three smaller logs with crossing branches nailed in, similar too the sides of altar.
Note: These three sides are all separate from each other to make transporting them to the wedding site easy. Once at the wedding site we will tie the top to the sides.

Getting the altar to stand up straight: Once the top is tied on the whole thing it is actually pretty sturdy, but just to ensure that not even a strong breeze or a tripping bride could knock it over they drilled holes in the bottom of each log and stuck a 1/2 inch piece of rebar in the bottom. Half of the rebar is stuck up in the wood and half sticks out the bottom to stick into the ground. This thing won't blow over that is for sure. (sorry no photo of rebar and drilled hole)

Now I just need to decorate it with some wild flowers and maybe some pretty fabric and we have a terrific altar to get married in front of!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Edible Cakes, Pops and Nests

The wedding cake can be a very intimidating part of the wedding. Everyone has a cake ... or at least some sort of dessert. Some cakes are huge and beautiful and become a focal point of the decorations. Some cakes are so overly decorated an aesthetically pleasing that they end up not tasting all that good in the end. But they sure are pretty ... expensive. I think my style and budget call for something a little less extravagant.

Here is the plan.

Originally, my mom and I (plus other family and whoever was around two days before the wedding) were going to bake and frost about 150 cupcakes for the wedding. Nothing fancy, just frosting and maybe sprinkles, but we wanted to try to save on costs by making them ourselves. I thought "Making cupcakes is easy and this will be fun! Right?".

I think it was about two weeks ago when I had a mini freak out that I had too many things to hand make and assemble for the wedding. I realized that I would much rather visit with friends and family two days before the wedding then bake and frost 150 cupcakes! I'm sure my sanity will be pushed to the limits those few days anyways, why add extra tasks.

Bollo's Bakery in downtown Blacksburg will be baking our cupcakes for the reasonable price of $1.25 per cake. They have great cakes to choose from, they are a local business that I enjoy and like to support. Bollo's can mix and match any flavors I want and even have a vegan option! Plus they only need four days advanced notice so I can wait for all my invites to come back before I place the order. That's one sweet deal!

To spice things up a bit and add a decorative element to the cake table we got a three-tiered staggered cake stand and I ordered fun yellow and blue cupcake liners from an Etsy shop.

Since I am obsessed with having a personal touch to all things for the wedding there will be some hand made things gracing the cake table as well, don't worry. :)


While looking up cake alternatives I discovered "cake pops" and they are so adorable that I had to include them! We will be hand making these but since you can freeze them before dipping them in chocolate we can make them well ahead of time. Expect little yellow and blue mugs of cake pops arrangements on the cake table.


I didn't want a huge cake but I still liked the idea of having a cake to cut into with my new hubby. So on the top tier of our cake stand we will have a small 8" two layer cake. (Bollo's will also be making this).

We have sort of a bird theme going on so I thought two birds and a bird's nest would be a great cake topper. (Our theme is really just "things we like". I like birds. They are going on the cake.)

The two birds will be handmade by Alice Strand a friend of my mom's in Northern Minnesota who makes adorable little sewn animals.

The nest will be made out of sugar cookie and fondant. I found a recipe online and tried it out with my mother the last time I visited.

Here is how our trial baking day went.
Once again please excuse my shabby appearance. Apparently, I like to do crafts in my pajamas.

Using brown food dye we rolled out sugar cookie sticks, baked them and then stacked them to form a nest. I used frosting colored with brown food dye to secure the sticks. (The next time we make this we will roll the sticks a little thinner and add more texture. They puffed up a bit in the oven.)

Again using brown food coloring we dyed the fondant and rolled it out flat. Then we cut into thin strips and laid them out on upside down spoons to give them a little shape. Once dry, we flipped over the spoons and dumped the fondant in the middle of the nest.

We added some colored MnM's for the eggs. With Easter coming up I'm sure I can find some more realistic looking eggs in yellow and blue to use for the final nest.

Mavis and I packed up the nest in a box so I could bring it home to show Dan. He ate up the whole thing. I guess that means he liked it! (don't we look cute in our robes?)