Monday, January 20, 2014

My favorite time of year has come and gone, but during those few weeks of holiday cheer, I was crafting away on DIY Christmas presents for family, friends, and coworkers. Nate and I are for sure homebodies--we are perfectly content spending evenings and weekends at home without leaving the house and eating home-cooked meals three times a day. 

Yet, on the first weekend of December, we decided to go out on a limb and take a day trip out to San Francisco. At Fort Mason, we stumbled upon a holiday craft fair full of local vendors selling their artisan products. One vendor was selling kraft notebooks embossed with custom travel stamps. I looked up at Nate and said, "Hey, I could totally do this too." And from that trip, a sketch of a San Francisco Victorian house was born into a stamp, and in turn, became fifteen-some custom kraft notebooks. I guess it's good to get out once in a while and feel inspired, right? 

The kraft notebooks were very affordable and bought on Amazon. Although not shown here, each notebook was personalized with a name stamped below the row of houses.

My light tracer has become one of my favorite tools. I use it to outline, sketch, and reiterate. First I drew the first draft in pencil, then ink and then transferred it onto Photoshop to clean up and enhance the drawing. 

I have to give another plug to my go-to stamp store, Berkeley Stamp. It's a very small local stamp store in Downtown Berkeley. I have ordered numerous custom stamps there (as have my 'clients') and they have really nice people working there.

From powder to raised ink!

Stamping the kraft notebooks took a lot of trial and error (and frustration... Nate can account for the stamping tantrum I had one night). I had to figure out a working methodology of how to align the stamp so that it was straight and center on the cover, how to get the right amount of ink onto a notebook without it bleeding all over the place and achieving thin crisp lines, and how to emboss the stamp without the notebook cover curling.

I'm thinking next time I will tackle the Boston brownstone.

  JANET posted at 11:26 AM | 7 comments

Sunday, July 7, 2013

It has been a long time coming, but I am super excited to finally present the last post to this three-part saga of blogging about my wedding invitations! I wanted these invitations to showcase color, texture, and dimension--and in order to achieve that, a lot of time, thought, craft, and care was invested to bring it to life. I hope you enjoy!

The covers of all the invitations were laser cut from chipboard (a cheap material that I became very familiar with to make millions of sketch models during my days of getting an architecture degree). The logo of our names are displayed in the center, with a pattern of honeycomb surrounding all around. Because of the intensive heat of the laser cutter, all the invitations ended up smelling like burnt wood, which I guess you could say added another sensory level to the invitation opening experience.

After untying the ribbon, the interior reveals a palette of peaches, pinks, and soft blues.

The background of the main body of the invitation was extremely labor intensive (refer to the previous post!). Every stamp was carefully placed for a "wallpaper effect" and embossed.

I love maps that show the relationship between land and water. Our wedding was located inland from the California coast, so the map was designed to help guests understand where the venue was relative to popular destinations such as Carmel and Monterey.

Garden roses are one of my favorite kinds of floral and I wanted them to be an essential design element of my wedding day. This custom garden rose stamp was used throughout the invitation and the programs.

I also designed another more geometrical stamp that was used to "seal" the flaps of all the invitation envelopes.

All in all, designing and assembling my own wedding invitations was a fun and creative-intensive experience. With every design project, I hope that the invitation can be representative of the couple and the theme and style of their wedding, which I think these invitations did achieve! They are Nate & Janet on paper.

  JANET posted at 4:13 PM | 2 comments

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I know it has been seven months since my last post, but today I had the perfect opportunity to post about the next step in this three-part saga of making my wedding invitations. Excuse the horrible lighting of these pictures. Our work carried on from sunrise to sundown.

STEP 1: Popping out the excess. Can you guess what these are? My awesome now-husband then-fiance poked each and every one of these hexagon shapes out of our invitations with a pair of chopsticks (for maximum efficiency). The laser cutter that we used was not the strongest and thus these little buggers remained on the covers of our invitations.

Here are our invitation covers--lasercut chipboard with a honeycomb hexagonal pattern consistent with the logo that was created (refer to the last post!).

STEP 2: Stamping like there's no tomorrow. Using a custom stamp ordered from a local stamp shop, I stamped the RSVP cards as well as the peach cardstock inside the invitation, which acted as a backdrop to the main body of text. I used a light tracer so that the placement of the stamp would be precise and consistent for each invitation.

STEP 3: Making it rain. I like using clear embossing powder because it allows me to use it for other future projects. If I want to create embossing in a different color, all I need to switch up is the color of the stamp pad. Alternatively, you can use a clear stamp with colored embossing powder, but after experimenting, I feel the color is bolder when you have the color come from the stamp, rather than the powder. It's also less expensive that way! After pouring the powder on top of the stamp, the ink of the stamp holds the powder in the stamp's shape. Make sure to give the paper a flick or two so that the excess powder is dusted off.

These are the RSVP cards pre-heat. To be super efficient, I laid out all the cards first and then mass-blew them with the heat gun. The only con would be that you have to be super careful for the powder to not rub off when handling them a bunch at a time.

STEP 4: Melting the powder away. What am I holding in my hand? I gave my brother a wedding errand to buy me a heat gun. What I expected was a cute little craft heat gun from Michaels and what I got was a large utility heat gun from Home Depot. Oh well, whatever gets the job done. What the heat gun essentially does is melt the powder in its held form of the stamp. The melted powder gives the stamp a raised (or embossed) look. What am I watching? Well, that would be Celebrity Apprentice.

FINISHED PRODUCT: Okay, I know I skipped a bunch of steps... In between Step 4 and this picture was a lot of cutting of paper (which I got done at Kinko's), cutting by myself with more complicated shapes like the oval that had the main text (using an oval cutter that I bought at JoAnn), cutting and attaching ribbon, and a lot of gluing. I think I was very focused and rushed on time that I didn't think to take more pictures, but when we were finally done I had to document the fruit of our labor!

Next up.... Part III showing the final product. Let's hope it doesn't take another half a year for me to post.

  JANET posted at 12:52 PM | 1 comments

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
MY WEDDING INVITATIONS PART I: It started with a vision

I think life has finally become familiar. 2012 was and still is a huge year for me. Nate and I recently celebrated our one month anniversary--oh yes, I am a wife! It's been so fun being married to my best friend and I look forward to the rest of our life together. I'm also SO happy and dare I say, relieved, that our wedding is over. Planning up to the day was fun, but incredibly exhausting. I finally decided to get back on this blog as a time for me to reflect and look back on the very beginning of this creative process. Are you ready for this 3-post saga?

Early on in my dating relationship with Nate, I discovered that "N-A-T-E" was in my name "J-A-N-E-T." Imagine my excitement when I realized this... thinking of cheesy things that we were "better together" and that we "completed each other." After we got engaged, I wanted to incorporate this into some sort of design element that would run through this entire theme of "better together." At first, I thought that I could maybe do a play on jigsaw puzzle pieces with the letters of our names on each puzzle piece. Ultimately, I trashed that idea because frankly... we're not into puzzles. I even tried to force the idea by getting Nate a custom puzzle for our anniversary, but I knew it was all a sham. HAHA.

I knew then that I had to take a more abstract direction with our wedding designs. That is when the birth of a logo came about one day when I was doodling during a church sermon. Divine intervention?

I'm not sure how exactly I thought of the interplay of hexagonal shapes, but I like it because it reminds me of a honeycomb and honey has always had ties to romance. By the way, after this logo was created, I started noticing, and will probably always notice for the rest of my life, hexagon shapes EVERYWHERE.

Invite Iteration 1.
This was a VERY rough first draft of our wedding invitation. I was really just playing around with colors, shapes, and fonts. I wasn't exactly sure how much or how little I wanted to incorporate the hexagonal honeycomb shapes. This was also when I thought I was going to get married on August 18th, but that's a whole different and complicated story in itself.


Invite Iteration 2.
After the initial brainstorming session, ideas started to become more concrete. I introduced more layout structure and knew that I wanted the text to be on some sort of round interface.


Invite Iteration 3.
I call this the belly band iteration. I was crazy and bought a Silhouette Studio paper cutter just for this project thinking I would use it for many other crafty endeavors (and surprisingly, I have!). I had the (not so) genius idea of cutting out awesome belly bands for every invitation. Little did I know that it took about 10 minutes to cut each band. Scratched that idea! This was also the iteration phase when I designed one of my favorite elements of the invitation suite: the garden rose graphic. I later turned this into a custom stamp and used it throughout my wedding designs.

Invite Iteration 4.
Voila! Here is the final iteration! Although the belly band idea was a fail, it conjured up another, again, (not so) brilliant idea of how to give the honeycomb idea texture and material contrast. I decided that I wanted to lasercut chipboard and layer it on top of peach cardstock. Again, little did I know that this decision would consume many hours of my life. Yes, even more time than with the belly bands.

I hope you enjoyed the evolution of our wedding invitation and you were able to get a glimpse of what goes on in my head as I design and translate ideas onto paper and the computer.
Part II will come soon about the actual execution of the invitation... Stay tuned!

  JANET posted at 10:28 PM | 2 comments

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sincerest apologies. It looks like I have been absent since January, but trust me, I have been VERY busy. This includes writing a 135-page Master's thesis and planning a DIY-overload wedding. I officially graduated from planning school two weeks ago and am all moved back to California. Well, the countdown is officially 40 more days until I become a Misses. We finally passed out wedding invitations a couple months ago, but preparing and making the invitations themselves took a long long process. My creative heart and soul went into the making of this wedding invitation so I thought it would be fun to make a series of both the creative and labor process.

A flexible outline of what is included in this series:
1. Theme and logo idea
2. Lasercut invite pockets
3.  Assembling of the invitations
4. Final invitation suite

  JANET posted at 10:51 PM | 0 comments

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One of the things a girl often knows even before she knows who her groom will be is who her bridesmaids will be at her wedding. Not only did they play major roles in the bride's pre-engaged life, but they also become the background cheerleaders for the journey from engagement to the wedding day. My bridesmaids have been super supportive and have never once expressed any frustration with my bridezilla antics. For example, every time I decided to return and choose another bridesmaid dress option (and I did this THREE times), they always showered me with understanding and grace.

So here they are... my lovely bridesmaids: from childhood elementary school friends to old church friend to college roommate. I think I've covered my best girls from all stages of life.

Asking your girlfriends to be your bridesmaids is more of a formality because who really says "no"? Still, it's fun to receive an official gesture asking to be a part of the wedding party. I also know the feeling because when my maid of honor recently asked me to be her maid of honor, I felt like I was just asked to prom by the coolest guy at school.

With her wedding only a month after mine, that means I'll be in wedding mode double time for the rest of the year. That means double the showers, double the bachelorette parties, and of course double the papered goods.

In other news, Nate and I have been busy making decorations and other miscellaneous items for our wedding. We both signed up for membership at TechShop and have been over-killing their lasercutters. Some of the things I've lasercut include the following: fronts and backs of invitations, table numbers, photobooth props, and monograms. We're also using TechShop's other awesome tools like the drill press and a variety of machine saws. It has been tiring, but we've been having lots and lots of fun. Nate and I both smell like burnt wood every day. My mom smelled my hair and asked me what I've been up to and I told her I picked up smoking. I don't think she believes me.

  JANET posted at 8:43 PM | 7 comments

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's been a very long time. Strange to be in the whimsical thumb world once again! I've been productive in school and I can't believe that my third semester is almost over. I think because we're entering the holiday season, I really don't want to do work and all I can think about is family and turkey. A couple weeks ago, the fiance and I traveled to Washington DC to pay a visit to our dear friends Jennifer and Andrew (my most recent whimsical thumb clients). Seeing them reminded me that I ought to post about their beautiful wedding! Photos taken by Jeret Slack.

Over the summer, I have been diligently planning my own wedding. I took a huge hiatus when I entered back into school and haven't really touched wedding planning until recently. It all started when I spent a ridiculous amount of time planning my engagement shoot with the awesome Grace Baek. She was a trooper in putting up with my anal requests and shooting with Nate and me for two very full days. I never knew I could get so obsessed with planning my own outfits, Nate's outfits, and each and every one of the ten locations we went to, but was a ton of fun and was a collab effort with Grace Baek Photography, Veronica Shin Makeup, and my wonderful and oh-so helpful assistant friends Hannah and Gina. :)

Also, in the recent week I had a major paper inspirational breakthrough with my wedding invitations. Oh man, what am I getting myself into?? As I was explaining my design concept to Nate, he assured me that I don't have to prove anything to the world and that I didn't need to go so crazy. But I'm doing it, guys. It's going to involve so much labor, but I think it'll be worth it. A very small sneak peak of what I'll be up to with my own invitations at the end of this post!

Onto Jen and Andrew!

In addition to designing the paper elements for this wedding, I was also asked to be one of the wedding day-of coordinator (a first!). It began with setting up the entrance of the church and a small table where people could write love notes to the bride and groom on custom postcards.

At the reception at the Rococo, guests were greeted with luggage tag escort cards.

The saxophonist was generous enough to lend me his case to indulge my idea of hanging up the bridal party's escort cards in a special spot apart from the rest of the guests.

Each place setting had a magnet favor and a reception program. Sad that there's no photos of the passport-like programs! All in all, it was an exhausting day, but also a day filled with such love and joy. :)

Last but not least, here's a teeny preview of what is to come... After my paper revelation, I had to experiment immediately. I asked my good friend John to help me set up one of MIT's laser cutter and we successfully cut six invitations. It took half an hour to cut (shows you how detailed the design is). I'm going to tweak it some more so that it won't be as time consuming and then get on crafting hopefully at the end of winter time.

This is the aftermath of the laser cutter. I think John thinks I'm ridiculous to go through so much trouble just for wedding invitations.

  JANET posted at 1:08 PM | 5 comments



I'm obsessed with the customization of anything and everything because I believe a one-of-a-kind item reveals the self and transforms ownership into something special. For now, graphic design is only a hobby of mine that I picked up from architecture school, but some days I tickle the thought of making it into a part-time career.