Showing posts from February, 2010

My new purchases from ArtE {Handmade}

Last week I encouraged people to check out one of my new favorites shops on Etsy- ArtE {Handmade}. I also encouraged myself to buy something! ArtE's felt pieces are seriously affordable - I paid about $10 for two cute items - a "panda" bookmark and a little change purse. I was pleasantly surprised by the pretty packaging and handmade felt tags that came attached to my items.  Because of this, I've learned a great tip for Etsy sellers - include a little freebie to warm the hearts and returning wallets of your customers.

Is This Really Your Book? (my latest book design)

I'm excited to announce the publication of a crazy funny book - Is This Really Your Book? It's a collection of 93 hilarious gag covers to flip through and place in an appropriate spot for an inappropriate joke. Written by Jack Marino and Gary Gotberg, designed by me, printed at Tiger Press, Inc. in Northampton, MA. These guys are self-publishing this book and, based on the list of the stores on their site, are having some great success at the start! Right now they're offering FREE SHIPPING and you can order the book right from their site More information and photos are also on the site. I've included some of my favorites below.

Creating color palletes with Adobe Kuler

Understanding color theory just got a whole lot easier! Thanks to, I discovered an amazing tool for creating color palletes — Adobe Kuler. It's an easy-to-use web site (no software download) that allows you to create color themes based on one color, a photo, and even a mood. Love it! *Update - I just found out that I can make these color palletes within Adobe CS. The only thing I can't do is create a pallete from a photo. I just tried Adobe Kuler online with my blog banner image and I think I've got some great new logo colors. Stay tuned!

New cards for sale: "Think Lovely Thoughts" (a la Peter Pan)

My mom's birthday is coming up and I wanted to make her a special set of notecards. Inspired by her love for Mary Martin, I came up with this versatile notecard concept. Think Lovely Thoughts can be used for sending happy birthday wishes, sharing your congratulations, or just letting someone know you're thinking about them. I was also excited that I was able to use 100% recycled paper stock. Fireball Printing in Philadelphia helped me pick out some great recycled papers for my cards. This darker paper is milled by Neenah Paper, Inc. I especially like the speckles and flecks of the fibers throughout each sheet. These cards are now for sale in my Etsy shop.

Overcoming Creative Block

I've been in a creative rut lately and it's nice to know that I am not alone. I not only found comfort in this post at ISO50 but also ideas and inspiration to get out of this "creative obstruction."

Favorite Book Cover of the Week - Byron's Poems

We're stepping back in time with my favorite book cover of the week—a beautiful hard cover edition of Byron's Poems. The intricate Italianate pattern was a trendy design treatment during the Victorian era. Because this artwork is no longer under copyright law, I'm thinking I might use it in one of my card designs.

We acquired this book when our good family friends, the Crossans, gave us a wonderful collection of old books that they no longer had room for. I think the books look very nice on on our shelves and highlight the historic feel of our home. Another thing I love about old books is the occasional personalized inscription. How romantic that this was a gift to a spouse on Christmas Day, 1881.

Handmade Philly: Sewing Tutorial

In addition to my articles at The Lettered Set, I'm also doing some writing for I will be posting new arts and crafts tutorials every other week. For my first entry, I interviewed New Hope-based artist MaryJo Rosania.

Sewing Tutorial #1: Threading Your Machine
I'm excited about this tutorial by New Hope-based artist, MaryJo Rosania. In her video below, MaryJo takes us through our first lesson in sewing: threading your sewing machine. As someone who once cheated on a timed sewing test in Mrs.Weller's 6th grade home economics class, I am relieved to find MaryJo's tutorial easy to follow and much more pleasant to listen to than a lesson from Mrs. Weller. Continue reading after the video for my interview with MaryJo.

Click "continue reading" for my interview with MaryJo. 

Create your own watercolor masterpiece with clip art and masking tape

I believe that everyone has the ability to create a really cool piece of art with their own two hands. The great thing about this watercolor project is that you can't mess it up! The end result will be amazing no matter where the paint splatters. I created this painting of a bull as my Valentine gift for Ran. You may recall his story about the Banditos JalapeƱos. One of the beloved characters is a bull and this is my artistic interpretation of his appearance. I didn't have a whole lot of time so I used a stencil printed from a free online clip art source. Read on for the instructions and photos.

Computer with internet access (to download the free clip art)
Scissors or Exacto knife
Paint Brush
Cup of water
Watercolor paper
Masking tape

1. Print the clip art image at the size you want it for your painting.
2. Cut the image out of the paper to create a stencil from which you can trace.

3. Using a light touch, trace your image with a pencil …

Working on a new brand design for The Lettered Set

This long weekend has been great for my creative brainstorming. I've decided that I'd like to create a true brand for The Lettered Set. As I have done for my other clients, I need a logo, business card, letterhead, and blog header design. I'm not sure if it's just me, but I tend to put my creative efforts toward projects other than my own. I think it might be the fact that once I start designing something for myself, it's hard to know when to stop.

I decided to start with a new blog header because that seemed to be the fun and easy piece to tackle first. I might change it up a bit over time but I'm pretty happy with it right now. I love Photoshop collage art. I also like the fact that this blog header says a little something about me. For instance, those pieces you see are my own tools - not some boring stock art purchases. The items in the left corner are the bookmark Ran and I gave away at our wedding and the letterpress plate used to make them. The ribbon on…

Happy Valentine's Day

Sending a little heart day hug to all of my readers. If you've waited until the last minute to pick up some cards or have been stuck in the snow, this little gift will help you out. Sign up to "Follow my blog" (see the column on the right) and I'll send you the link to my printable "candy heart" download. Once you have clicked "follow" (and it needs to be set to "public") let me know by leaving a comment on this post. The file is set up to print 6 cards on a page. They can be used as gift tags or mini cards. Print, cut, and share. Happy weekend!

New blog post theme - favorite book covers

Our house is filled with books. Beautiful books. This is in part due to the years we worked at Random House and the wonderful "free book" perks. Starting today, I will post a beautiful book cover every Thursday. Each choice will be scanned from one of our very own collection. I believe that real books with covers and pages and that wonderful paper smell will never go out of style. Today's pick is X Out of Wonderland by David Allen Cates. Cover design by Chad Roberts. Published by Steerforth Press in 2005.

New thank you cards are for sale at my shop - just for kids!

At the suggestion of my sister Sarah, I have been working on fill-in-the-blank thank you cards just for kids. Because I wanted to create a really unique look for my version of this popular kid-friendly card design, I put my all into sketching some adorable baby animals. My heart melted when I was done with the elephant. Ran's favorite is the lion cub. My original line drawings are below, followed by a photo of the card. More photos of the finished cards can be viewed at my Etsy store. I'm selling these in packs of 10 with matching bright blue envelopes.

DIY Felt Valentine Card with Estefi of ArtE {Handmade}

My sister-in-law and talented felt crafter, Estefi, sent me a really cute DIY Valentine project that is fun and easy for both kids and adults. Follow her instructions after the jump below to make your own felt Valentine card. Estefi also just opened her Etsy shop, ArtE {handmade}. Check it out for affordable and adorable handmade gifts for you and your friends. Click "continue reading" below for Estefi's DIY project. 

A tropical break in the middle of winter

As winter trudges along, I have begun to crave a tropical escape. Unfortunately, my private jet is in the shop. I'm stuck in a snow drift and my imagination will have to do. Here is a little story to tide us all over until the warm weather returns.

The Many Contradictions of Puerto Vallarta by Ran Holeman
Nestled on the pacific Coast of Mexico, only a non-stop flight away from Middle America, you’ll find Hollywood hills rising out of the sea and a South Beach strip dotted with small restaurants and bars. You’ll find statues that Salvador Dali might have crafted had he fallen asleep listening to Jimmy Buffett and sunsets that show you just why Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with Puerto Vallarta nearly forty years ago. You’ll also find a Hooters and a Sam’s Club and one hundred and seventy thousand people who are trying to sell you something.

The moment you arrive you can feel the equatorial sun scrape that wintry rust from your body. You can hear waves crashing in th…

Snow day for Luna and Soli

It is so cute to see how cats react to snowfall. I couldn't resist documenting some of the adorableness from this morning.

Luna and Soli are mesmerized by the snow. 

The excitement is exhausting for little Soli. 
Time for some snow day snuggles.

Food and Art Come Together at "Cake as Canvas"

My two favorite topics, sugar and art, have finally found each other in the hands of the talented Huma of Cake as Canvas. A banker turned cake artist and pastry chef, Huma has definitely found her calling. I heard about Huma's work through her friend and my coworker, Carolyn. Carolyn and I often talk about food at work and, let me tell you, she has the best food tips. Go-to weekly recipes, how to hide onions in food for picky eaters, what produce to buy from organic farms, eating for your blood type, and now, a super talented and affordable local pastry artist. Happy weekend indeed! I posted two of my favorite cake designs here but definitely check out Huma's web site and blog.

The Letters of Old City Philadelphia

I am constantly on the look out for pretty type treatments in my daily life. I took these photos while on a recent Saturday morning brunch excursion in Old City. By the way, brunch at Cuba Libre gets an A+ for the amazing pastries and the best bloody mary I've ever tasted. Nothing to do with type treatments but equally important.

Origami Note Cards

Check out this gorgeous origami note card that came in the mail this week. I love the delicate details in the paper patterns and folds. The hand drawn ribbon at the top is the perfect finishing touch to this hand-crafted paper gift. The card was made by a friend, Katherine Piedra. I hope she's thinking about setting up a shop to sell her creations - I'll share the link as soon as she does! In the meantime you can contact her via email at Her origami portfolio includes cranes, doves, fish, frogs, reindeer, Christmas trees, Santa Clauses, flowers, giraffes, and cicadas. She also makes origami mobiles, flower arrangements, and ornaments.

Budget Tip Alert! Dover Sampler FREE (quality) Clip Art

Budget tip alert! Sign up at to receive a weekly link to really nice FREE clip art. Below are some of my recent dowloads:

A cold but productive weekend

In addition to us being sans car for a couple weeks, the temperature decided to drop to a brisk 15 degrees this weekend. It was so hard to get out from under the covers but I made a compromise to work while staying in my pajamas for most of the days. Ran and I caught up on some episodes of Fawlty Towers, and I finished printing "save the date" cards for Ran's cousin, Anna. I had already created the illustration for the cards (a line drawing of the church) so this weekend I put everything together in InDesign. I used Feel Script for the display font and Mrs Eaves for the smaller text. I printed the design on vellum paper (Soli loved playing with the paper scraps!). I will layer the vellum print on top of a metallic "quartz" paper and use a sheer white ribbon to tie the two pieces together. All of the parts are ready for assembly and now I just need to recruit Ran for some ribbon tying. I'll wait for Anna sends these out before I post the finished pictures.