CHICKEN WIRE GHOSTS

I thought it might be apropos to mention a very clever All Hallow’s Eve project as we quickly approach the 31st of this month. I wish I would have found this project earlier as I might have been inclined to try this myself. I love how ethereal these ghost sculptures look and I am sure that after a coat of glow-in-the dark paint they are nice and subtly spooky come evening.  A quick scary segue is that radium was the “original” glow-in-the-dark product,  it was marketed as a curative (probably because of its luminescent properties) it was put into almost everything–toothpaste, hair creams even water as a cure-all. We now know that radium is radioactive, extremely dangerous and being exposed to it causes large open sores, hair and tooth loss and diseases such as bone cancer. People were drinking this stuff! If you want to read more on radium (and who doesn’t?) this is a great article by Deborah Blum. If your interest is just getting whetted and you are dying to see more chicken wire in action visit artist Bendetta Mori Ubaldini. To get the how-to’s on making your own ghosts click the photos above. My friend Maria said her neighbors did this project, have any of you tried this or have you seen it in person? I am thinking if you had the skills you could create something that would be beautiful all year round. If I has the skills I would create a life size horse, I think it would look so serene out in our backyard especially when the fog rolled in.
 

PHOTOGRAPHER SUE BRYCE

I feel like I have written about photographer Sue Bryce prior but I couldn’t find the post so it seems it is worth another mention.  I am a HUGE fan of the ‘Before’ & ‘After’ and as you may know already I am a bit of a photography buff, when you put these two together it’s like inspiration manna from heaven for me. Sue Bryce does both exceptionally well, if seeing is believing then you must visit her ‘before & after’ gallery and be prepared to be amazed. I have been a fan of Sue Bryce for awhile, but after recently watching an interview of her telling her story it just resonated with me. I was so inspired and I felt that what she was saying about how she created her success was not just relegated to a photography business but any life goal. I think it’s important especially when you work alone to have a burst of cheerleading that you can do it, but I think that just may be true in general and that everyone can use a good pep talk every now and then. For the record I totally believe in you!  I hope that you visit Sue’s site and are as amazed by the beautiful transformations as I have been, she’s such a positive individual I am hoping you walk away from her site feeling a little more beautiful yourself.

CALLIGRAPHY SECRETS + RESOURCES REVEALED!

This is part II* of the interview with artist, calligrapher and font designer Debi Sementelli where she reveals some of her ‘secrets’ and resources. I linked the resources Debi mentions so you can find them easily. Enjoy! 

  
*You can read part I of her inspiration for her new font family Dom Loves Mary here. 

Q&A WITH DEBI SEMENTELLI 

How long have you been lettering?  

I’ve been lettering, on and off, for over 30 years. I started when I was 2:)
How did you get started?
I took a calligraphy class in art school (at the Cleveland Institute of Art) and found that I had a talent for it. I also found that I could earn some money doing calligraphy jobs to help pay for school so that made it even more attractive! 
Besides practicing, are there any tips you would give to a novice lettering student?
Well practice truly is the key.  But I would suggest joining a local calligraphy guild.  They sponsor a lot of workshops by extremely talented lettering artists and often have some members who do workshops as well. I’ll be doing one for our Dallas guild in January. It also gives you a chance to connect and share with other people who are also into lettering.  And you may find a more experienced calligrapher who is willing to mentor you, which is always helpful.
Have you ever taught classes or would consider doing that one day?
I do teach a 3 hour “Intro to Calligraphy” workshop at the Paper Source in Dallas a few times a year depending on my schedule.  It’s a very basic beginner class.  I have to only use their products so we work with chiseled markers and brush markers.  But I prefer that because I think it’s better to get the strokes and letter forms down before you start working with ink and nibs.  I don’t plan on doing any other teaching since my regular project workload and font designing and keeping my own skills up by going to workshops take up all of my time.
Do you have some favorite nibs, inks, papers? I know this is so subjective but us novice letterers love discovering new tools!

Well, I prefer to work with gouache over ink, with the exception of Sumi Ink.  I’m always trying out new papers and nibs and I love to work with brushes as well.  It really depends on the project as to which I’ll use.  I just attended a workshop with Carl Rohrs who is a well known and  incredibly talented lettering artist.  He had us working with Pentel Color Brushes.  He said it’s what he uses for the  work that is going to digitized. So I’ve been playing with that recently.  My go to nib is a Brause 66 EF. I also like the Nikko G, Hiro 40 (also known as Blue Pumpkin). It’s the one I pull out when I’m working on Crane Lettra envelopes, which are most calligrapher’s nightmare. I have a calligrapher in my guild who has turned me on to some vintage nibs, Esterbrook 956 is one of them. He finds them on E-bay.  When I see him at the meetings I beg him to sell me more. He’s my nib pimp:) In a recent order from John Neal Bookseller, I bought a pad of Clairefontaine paper it’s like butter!  If I am doing an original piece for someone’s home, I make sure to use an archival paper. Arches hot press is one that I use a lot.
 
Is there anything I left out that you think a lettering student should know?
I always ask the students that come to my workshop, “What do you want to do with your lettering?” Do you want to just have it as a fun hobby, making gift tags, cards and place cards for friends? Then have fun and don’t worry if it looks perfect.  Most people don’t even write in cursive anymore.  So if you create something with hand lettering, your friends and family will be thrilled.  If you want to be a professional calligrapher, you have to understand the time and dedication it takes to better your skills.  You also have to charge accordingly for the skill level you are at.  But whatever you want to do with it, just start.  Have fun and enjoy.  It’s really a very zen like practice.  When I am lettering for many hours I get into a great place where I feel so happy and relaxed. Whatever your state of mind, it shows up in your lettering.  So enjoy the process.
If you are like me and have a love of lettering + fonts than be on the look-out for the Dom Loves Mary font. To read more of the real and Dom & Mary love story visit Debi’s blog for more of the story and photos, truly delightful! If you have any questions for Debi just leave them in the comments!

PINTEREST CURATOR | JENNIFER HAGLER

While I was pulling together Jennifer Hagler’s pins for this post I was mentally trying to articulate the best way to describe Jennifer’s board style to you. I ran through a myriad of options, some containing the word rustic others the dreaded hipster and then I would come full circle again. I think I can sum it up best as ‘Minimalist Bohemian Hipster Chic’. I know pairing those words together seems a bit contradictory, but so is her style, oh and she has a penchant for geometrics. She’s on trend but not trendy. She has a discerning eye and only pins the most interesting version of a popular item, truly. I only knew her as Jennifer Hagler on Pinterest, the woman that I re-pinned things from like it was going out of style, (we share a love for a lot of the same types of things), but then I found out she also writes a blog with the delightful title, ‘A Merry Mishap’, you may have heard of it, she has quite the following. Some of her boards I am really addicted to are her DIY board which has some of the best sophisticated DIY’s around and her OUTSIDE board which is just brimming with beautiful + modern deck inspiration!  If you want to see some of my recent finds you can visit my boards here.

WISE BUSINESS RESOURCES

A couple of weeks ago I sent out a desperate plea for more podcast suggestions and you were all so generous and helpful (as always).  My taste in podcasts veer more towards the science + history variety, but I did see one from one of my fave letterers Annmarie of Scout’s Honor Co. that peaked my interest. Annmarie suggested ‘After the Jump’ by Grace Bonney (yes, of Design Sponge fame). I wasn’t sure if it would be my thing as it’s neither science nor history related, but I saw that the host had interviewed stylist extraordinaire Sibella Court who I am completely infatuated with so I gave it a go. The show was great, very well produced and the questions that Grace poses are questions that you really want to know answers to not the fluffy, trivial kind. I have listened to nearly all of the episodes now and if you are running a creative business (or thinking of one day doing so) I can’t recommend it enough. For the record, I think Grace needs to have Annemarie on the show as she seems like she would be a really interesting interview!

Annemarie’s suggestion couldn’t have been more well timed as I have been in deep evaluation mode with my little business. I recently just passed the one year anniversary mark (yea me) and was so busy I didn’t even notice. I am not busy with tons of orders mind you (but one day I hope to be!), but more with putting together a smoother infrastructure and trying to get ready for the next step–wholesale. One of the things I did implement early on was a free online bookkeeping software called Outright.  Outright is very intuitive, more behind the scenes, tracking your transactions via your Paypal.  It’s been so effortless. I can see my profit and loss in both table form and pie charts (who doesn’t love a good pie chart?)  It gives me estimates for quarterly taxes and manages my sales tax collected.  It even gives you an idea of what is selling well. This little program has been indispensable to my business. Yesterday afternoon after reviewing my very detailed Outright data for the year- to-date I started crying because of what felt to me was an abysmal financial first year thus far, my husband was happy to point out that I didn’t owe any money and I made a small profit (the operative word here is small). It was nice to have both my husband and Grace’s inspirational podcast to offer a modicum of calm amongst my mental storm. One last resource I will leave you with is another freebie (thank goodness for the generosity of the interwebs), Megan Auman::Designing your MBA.  I am on Megan’s mailing list, something I never do and she always has great advice and tips on building your handcrafted business. I have had many other businesses prior to this one but I think that business models change and you need to be able to adapt, it’s good to have someone on the ‘inside’ that can dole out sage advice in a very simplistic + clear format.
I hope these resources help you and I didn’t bore anyone’s eyeballs off who isn’t interested in these things. I announced a giveaway yesterday (is there a better name for such things? If so lay it on me) and tomorrow I have another fabulous Pin curator to introduce you to!
P.S. I photographed this owl at the Natural Science museum the other day. The museum was quite small and I think my husband was bored to tears, but since it was so minute he didn’t need to be bored for long. The best part is they don’t charge admission, I could go everyday if I wanted to–crazy.