Sunday, December 04, 2016

Christmas Countdown Day 4

This year's countdown has got me feeling crafty, hence today's post. I was inspired by the story of Teddy Roosevelt's son hiding a Christmas tree in a closet and thought I'd make a little diorama to channel the feelings Archie Roosevelt must've had when he snuck around decorating the tree 😊.

When I got to thinking about how to construct a little tree, this post from Design Mom stuck out & while I have a die cutter, I remembered I had bits of felt pieces I saved from another project & thought that there must be an easier, faster way to make a similar type of tree with stacked felt. And thanks to the internet, I found an example of one nearly identical to one I imagined in my head :) (PS: you should check out her other holiday crafts too. So many cute things!) Mine is smaller, though, as I got lazy & didn't bother with the largest set of squares but I like my tree's diminutive size at 2.75". I didn't have any brown felt so I just tightly rolled up a strip of brown paper for the trunk. But with no star beads around for the topper, I made a star out of paper and painted it gold with some Finetec gold. Folded paper stars were probably the first craft I ever made growing up: does anyone else remember folding them up and filling a wishing jar? Here's a tutorial on how to make the stars. I decided to add a few beads for decoration since Archie's tree was decorated :)


The little tree could be made of any colored felt if you want it to have more contrast against your tree as an ornament. I happened to have scraps of this avocado-green felt so that's what I used. The possibilities are endless!

For my little diorama, I made a "closet" with some cardstock folded according to these instructions and inserted it through another piece of cardstock so it appeared to be a closet along a wall. I stuck one bulb from a string of lights inside the closet to give it a glow.


Lego-Marty-McFly is standing in as Archie here.




Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas Cracker recap 18 through 25

A few thoughts that hang over me before the 2016 countdown begins: Will I be able to top my last project? Where will I get more clever and fun ideas like these?? Why did I go and commit myself to another countdown series?? These thoughts or similar ones are always nagging at me when I work, but doing work is how I keep those nagging feelings at bay! Oh, the cyclical madness!

Before I carry on panicking about this year's series, which, for the record, I am still conceptualizing (!), let's see how I rounded off last year's countdown, shall we?

#christmascracker day 19! This turned out to be an exercise in tedium :p hope you enjoy! #backtonaturefoods

A video posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on


#christmascracker day 20! Hope everyone had a productive weekend with holiday prep :) #backtonaturefoods

A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on



#christmascracker day 22 (a day late) :p lookout for day 23 later today :) #backtonaturefoods

A video posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on



#christmascracker day 24! Season's Eatings everyone! #backtonaturefoods

A video posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Cracker recap 9 through 18

Today we're looking at days 9 through 18 of my 2015 Christmas Cracker Countdown. I had never created a gif before this project but I was feeling so inspired and motivated to try something new that I ended up becoming a bit obsessed about them towards the second half! I definitely wished I spent a touch more time on some of them to avoid awkward-looking mistakes, but alas: I needed to maintain the timeliness of this project. Lessons learned for next time though :)
A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on

A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on



A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on

A video posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on

A video posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on


A video posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on

Monday, November 28, 2016

Christmas Crackers recap 1 through 8

Late last year I was stuck in a creative rut and I needed a way out. Having read many articles/posts and listened to many podcasts about how to get out of a creative rut, I knew I needed a daily creative project of some sort. As it happened, through my snack du jour of cheese + crackers, I stumbled into one of my favorite little personal projects ever, which I titled the Christmas Cracker Countdown. It was the perfect project because a) it was small (canvas size was a 2" cracker) and created the day-of or the day before I shared it so there was no time for my inner-perfectionist to fuss b) it was promptly gobbled up after its creation so there was no waste c) I learned something new! Though what I thought was a low-commitment project turned out to be a very intensive affair because of point c); hA! But I am so glad I followed it through and finished the series because it was so much fun!

Before we get into the countdown for 2016, I'll be rounding up the 2015 series over the next few days here to help refresh your memory or in case you missed some. Curious about what's in store this year? I can tell you will not involve cheese & crackers this time but I promise to keep it as light and fun as possible :)



A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on


A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on

A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on

A photo posted by Ling Wang (@lingismyname) on


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Good Things Take Time

*Disclosure: As part of an affiliate program, I make a small commission on purchases made through various links posted on this site.*

Earlier this month I was excited to announce that my Bright Starburst design made the cut for Minted's 2016 letterpress holiday card assortment. And it was just announced that it won the best Faux Full Bleed award! Now that my Bright Starburst design is available for sale, I thought it would be fun to look back at where this design began :)

Over a year ago I came up with the idea of a graphic starburst to highlight a holiday greeting and I remember at the time how proud I was of the design. I learned how to create a uniform starburst shape and played around with the lettering. But it didn't make the cut and frankly rated poorly.



In spite of that, I persisted with the design in the following holiday challenge. I knew my concept was solid and with some distance from the design, I could see that it needed far more refinement than I initially thought. I saw that the starburst rays were messy around the lettering and looked like it was hiding behind the lettering rather than shining as intended. Also, the greeting on top wasn't feeling balanced with the word "bright" and the starburst design. I worked on expanding the rays out further & changed to a different script style type with more curvy flourishes to balance out the harsh lines in the starburst. Again, I was feeling great about my design and was *sure* it would make the cut.
Unfortunately it did not and again I was devastated! How could I put in so much effort and not get anywhere?? I thought. But again, I believed in my concept and was determined to get a win out of it! Looking back I can now see the awkwardness of the starburst rays competing with the harsh edge of the dark photo.

When the letterpress challenge came around, I was immediately inspired by the faux full-bleed award in the challenge brief and felt even more confident in my concept than when this first started. (Full bleed photo means the photo is printed to all the edges but here it is an illusion of that effect with a white gradient to fade into the background behind the letterpress element). I obviously had that effect going on in the first iteration, but the actual design still needed more work. The photo I ended up using had the most perfect subtle burst of sunshine in the background to complement my design. I also changed the top greeting to a condensed serif so it would compete even less with the rest of the design and I lightened up the starburst rays to give the word "bright" even more pop.


As a self-taught designer, all those little incremental changes took time for me to see but at last it worked out and I learned so much more. There were definitely times when I questioned if I should take the second loss as a clue to just move on to something else but my heart was set on seeing this on Minted so I trusted my gut.

If the process has taught me anything, it's that I can't grow complacent in my work, I need to keep pushing myself, and that sometimes good things just take a bit more time. It also taught me how much manual work it can take to make something look random! If you'd like to see the rest of the pieces that I designed to match this card, click on through. There's a matching envelope liner & free recipient address printing! Even a matching postage stamp! And more starbursts! (Hint: all those little dashes & lines in all the starbursts you see were hand-drawn & placed by me.)

I hope everyone had a happy thanksgiving! On the holiday and outside of the holiday I am always always grateful for my family and friends who continue to support my creative endeavors, including the culinary ones that don't quite turn out ;) Thank you.


PS: Get 20% off holiday card, gift, and art orders over $150 or 15% off any order with code BF2016 until Sunday, November 27 at 11:59 PM PT! 

If you don't have your photo ready, just go through the personalization steps and at the end when they give you an overview of your customized card, click on "Buy no, personalize later." (example below)
This way you can take advantage of the sale price but you don't have to finalize anything until you're ready :)

Friday, May 06, 2016

Holiday Spirit?



Hi blog-world! It's been a while, but I'm back today to share with you some holiday card designs I've been working on. As a stationer, I am forced to be in the holiday spirit despite the beautiful spring weather. But at least Colorado weather is unpredictable enough that we can still get snow in early spring :)

I had a lot of other work on my plate in the midst of Minted's holiday photo card challenge so I didn't have enough time to execute any designs from scratch. But I had some designs from last year that didn't make the cut so I decided to re-work those instead.

Truthfully, I was heartbroken nothing made the cut last year. I felt SO good about them all! But guess what? What I think is good is always improving & changing as I am continually learning & growing in this field :) The year-break from those designs was good for me to gain some perspective and I *truly* believe they are much stronger pieces now than they were last year. Whether they're good enough to make the cut is another question but I feel good about them and my place with my business in general that if they don't make it, I am prepared to launch them myself. So keep a look-out for when they are available for purchase later this year!

First up is last year's "Geo Frost" design that I turned into Geo Knit this year. I built out the pattern some more and the intent was to echo the idea of a geometric abstraction of a knit sweater pattern. I also went with a bolder serif-type to balance out the thick lines in the pattern and decided on a kraft-paper background to add some warmth to the geometric pattern.



Holly & Pine was one of my favorites because it incorporated some watercolors I painted. But looking back, my critiques of it now would be that the graphic is too small and does not do much for the overall card. As a result, this year I decided to blow it up and really feature the type & watercolors. I also picked a full-bleed photo to help achieve that effect. And I changed out a sprig of holly for some pine cones I had painted at the time but never used.

I remember when I first designed "Bright Starburst" I was so proud of the starbursts I created and that was the only thing I obsessed about. But looking back, my critiques would be the mess of lines within the type as well as the tight-vertical feel of the type. Also, the starburst is kind of hiding when it really should've been the star. So this year, I changed the type to one with more horizontal lines, cleaned up the starburst within the type, and really expanded the starburst. I hand-placed a lot of those lines to get that "random" effect. With some input from other Minted designers, I also scaled back the stroke weight on the lines to make the starburst feel lighter and more delicate. 


...and that's a wrap! You can rate the designs by clicking on the images and selecting the score you would like to give it. It will automatically advance to a random design after you rate one. As a reminder, 1 is for MEH and 5 is for YES, that is awesome! :) Please also spread the love and check out the other 3000+ amazing designs! There is also a separate voting group for designs with foil-pressed elements here. A quick way to rate designs is directly from the challenge link by hovering your mouse over the "rate it" box and choosing your rating or else go and click "vote" at the very top of the Minted page and it will take you to the blind-voting system that hides designer information so as to not bias you in any way. The more you rate the more fair the system is, helping to preserve the meritocracy at Minted! 

Cheers :)




Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day

Since it's Earth Day, some of you might be wondering how we can tread a little more lightly on this lovely planet of ours. So today I would like to talk to all the menstruating women out there or anyone else who's curious about the one thing that has significantly reduced my impact on this planet: the menstrual cup. I'd also like to talk about it in an effort to end any stigma that's still associated with periods and/or talking about them :)

(Disclaimer: The following is for informational purposes only and is not offered as medical advice, nor does it substitute for consultation with your physician. If you have any gynecological/medical concerns or conditions regarding the use of internal feminine hygiene products, I encourage you to consult your physician.)


I've been using one for 9+ years now and have not looked back. Tampons never worked for my flow for the same reason pads were really gross-feeling for me so switching to a menstrual cup has felt revolutionary for my periods! Most menstrual cups are made out of non-absorbent medical grade silicone that collects your flow until you're ready to empty it. Instead of dealing with changing tampons or pads every couple hours or when you accidentally leak, the menstrual cup can cut down those emergency bathroom runs to virtually none! For example: I empty/re-insert the cup once in the morning & once at night. On my most heavy day(s), I will empty once or twice midday just to ensure no leaks. Instead of letting my period control my day with tampon or pad changes (sometimes the flow comes in spurts and overloads your disposable product: ladies, you know what I mean), I can plan for when and where to manage my period stuff because the menstrual cup just keeps collecting until I'm ready! Silicone menstrual cups can be disinfected by boiling in water for a few minutes, in case you're wondering.

Full-disclosure: I do use a reusable & washable pad for my heaviest day(s) because sometimes I get so into my work that I forget to empty midday and leak a bit and also for when when I was first learning how to properly use my cup. But I have been considering trying out THINX period-proof panties as the pad can get uncomfortable when I'm active. Washable pads and absorbent panties are also great Earth-friendly alternatives for women who cannot use the menstrual cup for whatever reason.

Other than saving you an estimated ~$2k in disposables over your lifetime, (I've spent ~$130 over the last NINE years between 2 menstrual cups and a week's worth of washable pads), here are another set of reasons to try out a menstrual cup:
  • You don't need to travel with a suitcase full of disposables or worse: finding a pharmacy in a foreign land.
  • If you're an outdoorsy person: same as above but you also get to skip packing out used pads or tampons! Just be prepared with hand sanitizer and extra toilet paper and/or a bit more drinking water for rinsing and/or wipes. 
  • You're saving the planet! According to this article from Slate, the average woman throws away 250-300 pounds of sanitary products in her lifetime. A menstrual cup could reduce that to ZERO! 
  • You may never worry of leaking overnight ever again. Everyone's body is different and some have reported leaking overnight even with the cup, but I, personally, have never had an overnight leak using a menstrual cup. No more emergency laundry situations
  • You get to learn more about your own body and take charge of your menstrual health! You might learn about an irregularity in your flow. You might learn that you have a tilted uterus. And, if you're trying to have a baby, knowing about what your flow is like can give you a glimpse into your fertility. If you are seeing an acupuncturist or fertility doctor, they will almost definitely want to know details about your flow that you've discovered from using a menstrual cup. Being able to quantify your flow and any changes in it is, in general, a very useful thing to know when discussing your menstrual health. 
There is a bit of a learning curve when first trying it out, but that's where you learn about the intricacies of your body and flow :) Also, different brands have different shapes so you might need to try out a couple before you find one that suits you. I used a Diva Cup for many years and always had leak issues, so recently I bought a Moon Cup and found the thicker rim provides a much better seal for me and thus far FAR less leak issues. They do cost more up-front compared to a small pack of tampons or pads, but they are WORTH IT: it's equivalent to roughly four or five packs of tampons or pads but lasts FAR longer than 4 or 5 cycles!

Have I convinced you yet? I'm going to assume I have, so YAY! You can find them for purchase online or places like Whole Foods or check your local holistic health shop, which is where I found the Diva Cup 9 years ago. When I first looked up menstrual cups, I was digging for information in discreet online forums and the only other reference was the product website. Menstrual cups have definitely become way more accessible and mainstream, which makes me so happy to see :) I'm sure our planet appreciates it too!

If you have any questions about menstrual cups, feel free to write me at "my blog name" [a] gmail.com 

Happy Earth day :)




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Birth Announcements

It's been a while since I last participated in a Minted challenge but for the latest birth announcement challenge I thought I'd at least re-submit the few from the letterpress challenge last summer that I felt really good about but didn't make the cut. Of course I couldn't just re-submit without reworking things, since they obviously could use room for improvement if they didn't get picked originally! Links to the designs you can vote for are the images themselves. You know what to do once you've clicked through ;) Thanks in advance!

Watercolor butterflies was my favorite from the last challenge that I was really sad about not getting picked. But now that I've had some distance (time) away from it, I do see that the white cutouts (which were necessary for letterpress constraints) were clunky and took away from the softness of the design. Also, it was a real challenge getting the background to blend with the photo and thus wouldn't be very accommodating to any photo without a smooth neutral background. On the left we have my re-design for this current challenge! I used a rose gold foil for the butterflies and framed the photo with the watercolor instead of trying to blend it together. I think I like this iteration much better: hopefully the votes reflect my perceived improvements :)

        

Framed dewdrops was another design that I was really hopeful for, but didn't make the cut. Looking back at it, I can see the dewdrops could use more refinement around the text so that is what I focused on in the update on the second one below.

I also re-worked it to fit one of the die-cut card shapes just in case it scores better ;)

The falling sakura design scored really great! Best score I've ever seen, I think, but alas: they were only picking 50 and there were hundreds of designs. 

And while I probably should've left a good thing alone, I thought I'd punch up the design with richer colors so it would pop more during voting. If anything, I am very curious to see how this coloring will score. 



Hello Sunshine was my favorite cutesy design, but I don't think many people understood my intentions for the blind debossed clouds. 
So for the redesign I went with the blue color I had scrapped in favor of the white. I punched it up with a bit more texture too. 

I loved my little lamb design and I didn't think I would ever touch this again but I resolved to rework it since it obviously didn't resonate with voters as much as it did for me. 
I ended up simplifying the elements down to the stars and moon because maybe the sheep and the fence were just too much fluff on top of a cute pattern as is. Less is more or something like that? And I turned it into a multiples announcement. I'll be sure to bring the sheep back some other way though! I love them too much :) 

This last design, No Bounds, was inspired by the idea of all the ways families can grow. "Love knows no bounds" came to mind when I thought of the parents and children that are flown all over the world to meet their forever families and so sky-writing was a natural progression in my thought process. I was reluctant to let this one out into the world because something feels unfinished about it, but I thought it'd be better to put it out there and see how it scores before coming back to it. I feel like I simply need more time to mull this one over. I want to turn this into so many other things though! Like a wedding invitation, or elopement announcement. So I might secretly be rooting for it to flop :P Ahh, I know: I'm weird!


Don't forget to click through the images to vote :D Voting closes on the 29th.

Thank you to all the eyeballs out there who gave me feedback as I worked on the redesigns < 3

xoxo

Ling