Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Card Peep Show

So, as promised here's a look at some of the spring and Easter Cards that I've whipped up recently. I'll start the picture show with my favorite hands down...

"Yellow Zinnia" note card by Birdcage Cards

Okay, so I'm a bit obsessed with this yellow and grey card. It was made with spring in mind but I think I might use this style year round as a stationery set.

"Dandelion Fields" by Birdcage Cards. Available in assorted colors with and without the little cotton tailed bunny.

This little hopping bunny was made with my, soon to be 4 year-old, niece in mind. The perfect card for an Easter basket. But, I think hers will have to be on a pink card!

I'll be sure to share some more spring styles tomorrow and at the end of this week I'll reveal another stationery set from our new line. This one is sure to be a favorite. I guarantee it.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Roarin' Good Card

I recently had a request to make a custom birthday card for a little boy who loves animals. All the client knew was that it had to be yellow and blue and fun. We exchanged a few emails and I sent her some rough sample pictures to pick just the right little animal. In the end this is what I whipped up for her little nephew. I think I'll call it a Roarin' Good Birthday Card.

I was sure to add a lot of dimension, and quite securely I might add, as it was for a pre-schooler.

So just remember no request is too small. Custom is the name of the game here at Birdcage Cards. Next week I'll share some pictures of our new spring and Easter cards so stayed tuned.
Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Take a Seat Stationery

Okay, ladies and gents time for another sneak peek at Birdcage Cards' new stationery line. Still, working out a few details for this set of quirky chairs - like which color envelope to use. So, I thought you might be able to help me out. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Take a Seat Stationery Set by Birdcage Cards

So, what do you think - process red (which is really a deeper pink)
or chartreuse?

All Birdcage Cards' stationery sets are made using a heavy medium-weight 80 lb card stock. I picked this weight specifically because it's not too stiff and it's not too flimsy. This way each stationery set can be used either as note cards or as writing paper; making each set completely customizable. I want you to be able to decide how you want to use it. {Check out this post for more details.}

Each set comes with 8 sheets of writing paper and 8 envelopes.

Each sheet in this set measures 5 1/8" x 7 3/8" unfolded.

I spent forever trying to find the perfect color for the seats of these fancy chairs. I felt they needed a color that was just as quirky as they were and was sold when I found this fun chartreuse. The set is also available with one pink and one blue chair which makes a perfect his and hers thank you set. A great shower gift for any couple!

Anyhow, I really hope you all love this new Take a Seat Stationery Set. Don't forget to let me know which color envelope you'd rather see. They're both so cute I can't make up my mind and could really use an outsider's perspective. Thanks guys and have a happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Stationery Line

I'm so excited because I've been developing a new line of stationery and am loving how things have turned out so far. Today I want to give you a sneak peek and share one of my favorite sets from the new line. I hope you like it as much as I do- no scratch that - I hope you love it!

Plumage Stationery Set by Birdcage Cards

Birdcage Cards' stationery sets are completely versatile and like no other on the market. I don't use just any old flimsy writing paper. All of the images are hand printed on a heavy medium-weight card stock. Which means that when you are done writing your note its up to you how you want present it. Our writing paper, when folded a certain way, becomes a note card. It's like getting two sets of stationery in one! You decide how and when you want to use it; writing paper one day and folded notecards the next.

A set consists of 8 5" x 7" writing sheets and 8 Bar4 envelopes.

By writing on the blank side you can turn your stationery paper into a folded note card.

Or simply write your message on top of the stamped image and use your paper like a traditional stationery set.

I hope you enjoyed checking out Birdcage Cards' new Plumage Stationery Set. Stay tuned for more sneak peeks to come.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Write a Great Letter

Letter writing is an under-used and under-appreciated art form. So in an effort to help revive a dying art I want to share 6 key elements that make for a great letter.

1. Engage your recipient. You want them to write back. Ask about what is new at their end and share any info that you may have heard about them. For example, "I heard you got a new job. I hope you are fitting in well there. I'd love to hear about the transition." A letter shouldn't just be about sharing your news. You send a letter because you have been thinking about that person; let them know that.

2. Remember an email is not a letter. Turn off the computer, the printer, pack up the typewriter and take out some nice stationery, your favorite pen, sit down at your desk or dining room table and get to it. No one cares about your handwriting; you're not trying to win a penmanship award. The best part of getting a letter in the mail is that its personal, so keep it that way by hand writing it.

3. Check your spelling. You don't need a computer to spell check. You know the words that trip you up a lot so jot 'em down on scrap paper and look them up in a dictionary before you write them down.

4. Be genuine; stay true to your own voice. If you talk in contractions you should write in them too! Don't stress about how it sounds just be clear in what you're saying.

5. Don't get caught up in length; you're not writing a novel. It's okay to write a quick hello in 5 or 6 sentences. If you feel like you have to fill the space then choose a smaller sized stationery.

6. Keep the overall tone upbeat. It's one thing to mention an upcoming surgery or that a family member has had the flu all week. It's quite another to complain about your bad day. If you want to share a series of unfortunate circumstances be sure to present it in a humorous and lighthearted way.

You know, my mom always told me that relationships aren't for free. They require effort and cultivation. You have to groom them and sending a handwritten hello is a great way to do so. Think of someone you haven't heard from in a while and write them a note today. They'll feel good about it and so will you. Overall, remember to have fun with it. Letter writing is not a chore. It's an art form.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Custom Process Revealed

Today I want to talk about what really goes into making a custom invitation order. I won't get into the steps involved in both placing an order and designing an invitation. What this post will cover is the steps of assembly, from picking out the right paper weight all the way to packaging for hand delivery. I think it's important for each customer to know exactly what goes into making their invitations in terms of time, cost, creativity and most importantly - love. Because, for a handmade artist, it is all a labor of love.

First Things First: Once the paper weight and color is determined its time to measure and cut. Remember, this is a handmade establishment. There are no machines programmed to cut out each piece of paper (at least there are no machines other than me).

For this order two sheets of paper were used to achieve the desired look which means twice the cutting. A mint green 80lb cover weight paper (medium weight cardstock) served as the background while the text was printed on a white 80lb cover weight paper. The text sheets were all cut slightly smaller than the green to create an even border of color around the invitation, but that comes later.

Here you see at the left the paper I start out with measures 8 1/2" x 11". It must be cut on the sides to measure 4" in width. The length is not yet cut.

Each piece is carefully inspected. Only crisp smooth edges are allowed. See where its frayed? This whole step can be very very time consuming.

Second: Once all the background paper has been cut and inspected its time to create the detailed lace work edging for the top of the invitation. Now you can see things taking shape.

Third: I measure the width I'd like the top flap to be and use the groove from my Fiskar's paper trimmer to help me achieve an even line when I score the paper. Now that the top of the invite has been detailed and scored its safe to cut the length of the paper to 9 1/4".

It's important to make sure that each piece of paper is measured exactly the same when scoring the top flap.

Fourth Up: After printing a test sheet on scrap paper and checking the layout its time to print the text. I chose an 8 1/2" x 11" size paper so its printer ready. Since a sheet of paper tends to have a smooth side and a slightly textured side its important to be sure to print on the same side each time when feeding the paper through the printer. This way all invitations are made using the same format.

I find that feeding one sheet of paper at a time ensures that each one is printed evenly. Yes, I use a ruler to make sure. Precision is crucial.

Fifth: More measuring and cutting; length and width wise. I pick a line of text and measure the margin from the first letter and then the last in order to assure that the text on each sheet is centered perfectly. As for the leftovers, the widest strips of paper are saved and used to bundle invitation and stationery sets. Anything else that can't be re-purposed is recycled.

Sixth: Now that all text has been printed and cut its time to add the images, in this case two little bunnies. On the scrap sheet of text that was printed earlier I experiment with the best placement of these little friends. They need to be perfectly centered. It helps to pick a specific letter from the line above and each time I'm about to stamp an image I look to align it with that particular letter.

First I stamped the boy bunny on all the invites then I went back and stamped the girl. I needed them to look like they were holding hands and stamping them separately was the only way to achieve the look.

Seventh: After each invite has been hand printed (stamped) its time to use my watercolor pencils and add some color. Once I pick up a colored pencil I use that color on each invite. For example, with the pink pencil in hand I color the dress and tint the inner ears of the bunnies on each invite, then I use the green and color the boy's shirt and the girl's flower on each invitation and so on until all is colored. It's easier than coloring one invitation at a time and picking up and setting down the pencils over and over.

Without any color these little bunnies look like nudies to me!

Eighth: After the water has been painted on and the paper dries (it shouldn't be that damp or you've used too much water) its time to assemble the invitations.

Ninth: This step involves tying lots and lots of pretty bows. Once they are all tied its time to glue them to the top of each invite and set aside to dry overnight.

So many pretty little bows!

After a good night's sleep I went to check on the invitations. The morning sun had cast such a pretty shadow on them that I had to capture it.

Tenth: My favorite part of every order is stacking all the pretty invitations, counting out the envelopes and bundling them together. There is nothing more satisfying than completing an order and getting it ready for its recipient. I always make sure to tuck a little handwritten note inside to let each client know how truly grateful I am to have been picked for the job.

Bundled with a thank you note written on my new Birdcage Cards stationery!

This little cotton tailed bunny hopped on over and went home with the invitations as a small token of thanks to a wonderful client. Hopefully it will pair perfectly with her gift to give to her friends at the bunny themed couple's baby shower she and her husband are throwing for them.

Since, this order was being hand delivered I was able to present it like a gift. Of course the wrappings had to match the invitations!

It's a Wrap:
So there you have it - a peek into the making of a set of invitations. I hope you have a better sense of what goes into completing an order. There are a lot of time consuming details, that's true, but each ensures that every invite put together is done so with precision every step of the way. This small order took two days and one night (for the adhesive on the bows to dry) to assemble and I loved every second of it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Silver Elephants On the Run

Yesterday was spent finishing up 2 different stationery sets for a close friend. I had made her baby shower invitations using this cute little elephant. So, when it came time for her thank you notes we knew that we would use this little guy (or gal) again so that everything would coordinate. After showing her a variety of samples she couldn't make up her mind between these two versions. No problem - I split up the order into 25 folded notecards and 25 flat notecards. Now if only all my problems were that simple.

grey and creme folded notecards

a close-up of our little silver friend

one stationery set bundled up and ready to go

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Once Upon a Time Locket

I just got my lovely new locket from birdzNbees (go to my etsy store, click on favorites and you'll find birdzNbees' shop link). They make incredibly interesting pieces using recycled watch movements. They're the neatest things and I'm in love with them. I've got my eye on a few other pieces that I think will make great gifts for some of my friends.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Birdcage Cards' Mascot

Today I took my beloved adorable dog Max to the local pet store to buy him a new leash and a few treats of course. This windy winter took a toll on our backyard gate and somehow broke the latch. Without a bungee cord I used Max's shorter nylon leash to rope the gate to the wooden fence post before the wind could rip it off. Anyhow, I shamefully used the leash for far too long and the frigid temperatures broke apart its metal latch leaving me to use his retractable leash full time. Now, while Max I'm sure loves the longer lead to romp around in I find it a pain. It can't just hook on your wrist like the nylon ones. It has a handle that you have to grip on to the whole time. Plus, any dog owner knows there are times when you just don't want your dog wandering off the sidewalk on to the edge of someone's lawn; it's either too muddy or its a house that unfortunately uses pesticides and/or chemical fertilizers.

So, anyhow after a few quick errands I took Max into the pet store to pick out a new leash. They must have just waxed their floors because he was slipping and sliding all over the place. Once he gained his footing he sniffed around a bit, played it cool for the ladies oouu'ing and ahh'ing at his cuteness and was ready for his walk.

Here's Max patiently waiting to go on his walk in his new leash. Isn't he adorable! He is such a good dog for me sitting so nicely when all he wants to do is go running.

And here he is sitting still for another picture wondering why his crazy mom is stopping his nice walk yet again.