Making Christmas Cards

Hi pals, This update is going to take you behind the scenes at Paper Trails Design Co! There's so much that goes into making each card, and I hope you find it as interesting as I do!

Step One: Design

I start off by coming up with manymany (mostly terrible) ideas and designs that I sketch out in my notebook, or go through random sketches I've done in the past to see if there's anything good there. Once I have a solid base, I go through it all and narrow down the ones I have a 'good feeling' about. Not a lot of science here!

A lot of the cards I've created have been design patterns in a shape. I create a template of the shape, and this is when my good friend tracing paper comes out! I use tracing paper on top of the templates so I can freely create different designs without having to redraw the initial shape.

Now comes the tricky part! When screenprinting cards, only one colour can be printed at a time. So I have to plan out the designs for each colour ahead of time, and I use tracing paper to separate the design into two (or more) colours.

Once the design seems to be ready to go, I usually scan my traced designs into photoshop to clean it up and ensure there aren't any holes in my colouring! Also, I should mention that the design needs to be black in this stage- the colour comes later, with the paint!

Step 2: Prep the Screen

The next step is one I complete at Open Studio. I transfer the designs onto my screen using emulsion, a dark room, and a huge UV light machine. Once that's done, I take my screens back home and set it up to print!

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Step 3: Print!

Mixing inks can be sofun and sofrustrating at the same time. But once I've got a colour ready,I'm good to go! I use newsprint for rough drafts, to test ink, etc. Once I figure out where my card needs to be positioned, I hold it's place with tape so that each card can go in the same spot.

The cards dry pretty quickly, so the process doesn't take too long if I have to apply a layer or two of different colours.

Step 4: Package and Send!

I really look forward to the packaging part of the process! Those who know me can attest to my pretty strong love for wrapping gifts. And that's how I think of every sale- I try to make every order a pretty little package that folks will be delighted to receive in the mail.

Thanks for reading about my process! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below, I would be happy to answer them! I did run through step 2 pretty fast (prepping my screen), but I felt it was too much info! I think I'll leave it for another blog post on a rainy day. :)

If you haven't checked out my Etsy shop yet, please do! My cards will be on sale up until the week before Christmas, but I recommend ordering by the first week of December to receive them on time!

xo and have a great rest of the week!

Pri

 

Accepting change and making decisions

It's hard to believe that February has come, and almost gone. I don't know if it's a good thing (that I've been so immersed in work that I haven't been aware of time) or a bad thing (that I've been so immersed in work that I haven't been aware of ANYTHING ELSE). One thing's for sure, it's been sort of crazy! The juggling between custom orders, creating prints and greeting cards has been tough! It's been hard not to jump to a new thing every fifteen minutes but stay focused on the task at hand.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about how I can manage this new pace of life without going crazy. Organization, of course, is key, and my moleskin planner never leaves my side. No, I will not give up handwriting all my appointments and to do lists!! I've found that the other incredibly important element to sanity for me is a regular routine of yoga and running. Running is great when I'm super stressed and need to physically tire myself out to calm my mind, and yoga really helps with mindfulness and focus. Since I've been working from home and turning into a hermit, I've found a love for doing yoga in my own home space. Something about using my home as a place that I can wind down as well as work feels balanced and encouraging. I use this amazing website for my classes.

Having your own business can be so liberating and constraining at the same time. You can decide on ANY direction for your business, but all decisions feel like they hold so much weight that it's stupefying! I finally did make a decision recently, and that is to offer up my calligraphy and design services for wedding invitations and events. Yay for making the decision! I hand design the invitations and create a digital copy that folks can print themselves, or send to a printer! I'm working on getting some examples on my Etsy shop soon....

Speaking of Etsy, if you haven't already seen, I've added some new screenprinted cards that can be used for many different occasions- the cards are blank and speak the universal language of love. :) Here's my screenprinting process and setup in my home studio:

 

On a personal note, it's been a bit of a challenge understanding where my 'new life' fits in with the world and people around me. There have been stressful, sometimes sad, sometimes guilty, sometimes happy days related to this. I stumbled on this article recently. It was a good reminder that when I feel like I'm 'wasting time' (mostly in relation to my old life), I am probably wrong, and even if I'm not, it's something I shouldn't stress about because it's still leading me down some pretty amazing paths. I am still accomplishing something even if I am not going into an office everyday.  I need a daily reminder of this- we probably all do. :)

xx

Priyanka

The image at the beginning of this post is a little quote I wrote out for my lovely friend's beautiful new baby. Check out my Etsy shop for more pics and purchase options :)

 

 

 

 

reflecting on printmaking

Edvard Munch's The Scream, 1895 (Lithograph) Since I started on my printmaking journey almost two years ago, I've been constantly learning and appreciating the art, artists and medium.I remember being surprised to learn how prevalent it has been over hundreds of years (Picasso! Andy Warhol! Edvard Munch!).

Over this course of time, I have also been asked many, many questions about this new trail I've started on- How did I get into this/Why printmaking/What's printmaking? :) I will be talking about my printmaking journey on this blog, but if you're itching to know more about this super cool art form, you can check out Open Studio's website (I've talked more about them below).

There are a few reasons that printmaking is personally rewarding and fun.....

1. It's a source of constant inspiration and learning. I have only just scratched the surface (pun intended) with linocuts, woodcuts and screenprints- there is so much more to learn, and so many awesome ways to create an image- it's going to keep my entertained for years :) Not to mention the variety of gorgeous handmade paper I get to experiment with! A linocut/woodcut/screenprint adds a new element to the process of drawing and painting, and has it's own effect to the image (the way you carve, the amount of paint you push through the screen...etc)- it's so exciting to see!!

2. As a small business owner, it provided me a way of reproducing my work but also staying true to selling genuine handmade products. This was a big struggle of mine, when I knew I wanted to make greeting cards or art that I could sell. The idea of scanning and digitally printing the work just didn't seem to fit. I love that I can be a part of the process from beginning to end.

3. It's a wonderful community. I've been primarily involved with the awesome community at Open Studio. This amazing not for profit studio was where I first took my introductory classes in printmaking, and now I'm hooked! I use the studio occassionally, and volunteer on their board as treasurer. If you're ever in Toronto (at Richmond St. and Spadina Ave, to be exact), I highly recommend a visit to this beautiful place- they have galleries that showcase exhibitions from print artists, and a huge studio space in the 401 Richmond building. You can also peruse their print sales gallery, which has some amazing (and affordable!) artworks.

Printmaking and calligraphy is a funny art combo, but I love switching gears between carving tools and nibs. :) I'm working on getting my first linocut print up in my shop, as well as a bunch of screenprinted cards-- stay tuned!

Here's a peek into my process of creating a linocut print at home.....

 

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

xx

Priyanka

 

 

 

 

 

Practicing Calligraphy

I've spent the past week trying to buckle down and just create. It started with the best intentions and lots of determination. But then I realized that I should probably first organize my studio and supplies better, and I bought a bookshelf and tidied all of Sunday. And then, I thought that C & I should build a fort in our living room (oh, yes, this happened, and it was glorious). And THEN, I thought I should get in touch with everyone I know for a catch up. Phew. It's been a busy week. practice sheets

Hard to believe, but I actually also ended up doing a lot of carving for a linocut I'm working on, some custom orders for calligraphy, and a lot of calligraphy practising and learning. I've been hooked on Eleanor Winters' 'Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy' ever since I got it for Christmas. Every time I pick up the book, I'm itching to get my nibs and inks out to try all her amazing suggestions! She makes it all look so darn easy!

If you're thinking of starting up a new hobby (once you've got the basics covered, calligraphy can be incredibly meditative and relaxing! really!), this book is a great starter with lots of helpful tips.

I had previously mostly relied on free online tutorials on the IAMPETH website (explained more below), which are also amazing! There's tons of great stuff - practice sheets, lesson plans, tips. I also stumbled upon Skillshare, which was a godsend! It's an membership site with online classes that you can take at your own pace. The site covers so many different topics (design, photography, calligraphy, entrepreneaurship....)- I learned all my basic knowledge of photoshop, illustrator, and lightroom from here. I also took some calligraphy classes on there, which was great! I need to treat myself to a class on there soon.....

As with every hobby/new obsession, I wondered how many other calligraphers were out there and if there was some sort of 'group' I could join (this might have been another attempt at procrastination...yes, likely). There aren't a lot of resources in Toronto. So I had to dig a little deeper- and found a lot of international organizations based out of the US. IAMPETH ("The international association of master penmen, engrossers, and teachers of handwriting"...that's a mouthful!) feels to me like the harvard of calligraphy associations, but hey, there's no prereq to join! They have an annual convention with calligraphy classes and talks (which feels like summer camp to me!!)- I hope I make it this year! I also started following a bunch of calligraphers on instagram, which then led me to a forum for calligraphers. It's called 'Flourish Forum', and it's seriously amazing, filled with really really talented folks who share ideas, tips and encouragement.

I wasn't sure where my creative journey over the past two years would lead me, but I'm pretty happy that it includes a lot of calligraphy. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that it worked out this way since I've been dabbling at it and lettering (like an amateur, now I know) for years. Still, it's a nice feeling to be able to finally produce work that I've only previously dreamed about. :)

Peek at two custom works I did this month:

Happy Thursday!

-Priyanka

I bought new drinking glasses today

Hello again!

Blog post #2! hurrah! (I really didn't think I'd make it past post #1)

I couldn't decide on a title for this blog post, because I have so many topics to share (not really)....so I thought I would let you in on today's exciting purchase of new drinking glasses from Zara home! I don't know why I've never ventured in their stores before. Here's a picture of my purchase (I'm also not sure why they were so ridiculously cheap.... maybe they're disposable and I haven't found out yet).

On to the real reason for my post today- I've updated my Etsy shop! Hurrah again! I've added three new listings for custom calligraphy quotes. If you're wondering what that is, here are some picture examples:

So if you have a favourite quote or song lyrics (or anything really), I could write it out in the size and font of your choosing, and can even add some pretty awesome watercolour detail, if you wish. :) They make fantastic (and affordable!) gifts!

Agenda for the rest of the week (Yes I know it's Thursday, but technically I don't have weekends ;)): I'm going to section off a couple of hours to work on my first linocut print in a long time. Can't wait! Also, people seemed pretty excited about the patterns on my christmas cards- I'm toying with the idea of doing more 'pattern-y' cards, for everyday use. What do you think? I'm also going to be putting up an Etsy listing for envelope calligraphy soon- I just have to get more product pictures done- who knew they take so long to do!

Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or new project ideas! As always, I would welcome any feedback on my website, etsy shop, etc etc- it's really helpful to know what people are interested in (like I'm sure you were in my glass purchase).

Have a good weekend friends!

xo