Thing-A-Day 5: Food Stencils

Last night A. made mint chocolate brownies and they were delicious.  I wanted to somehow indicate that they were not just regular brownies, so I thought I’d make a little mint leaf stencil and dust through it with powdered sugar.  Well, the stencil came out looking more like a feather

and I forgot to dust it with sifted powdered sugar, so it didn’t really work, but this is how I learn to remember such things in the future.  “Tuition in the school of life,” as my mother likes to say.  It was still yummy.

Today’s instruction: make a stencil and decorate a piece of food with it.  Your inspiration and tutorial for today come from Jessica at How About Orange, who shows you how to make a reusable (and dishwasher safe) food/coffee stencil.  Enjoy!

Tip: it is easiest to stencil smooth surfaces, so there’s no space for your powder to get under the stencil. In my case that meant stenciling the bottom of the brownie rather than the top, which was quite lumpy.

Thing-A-Day 4: Monograms

I’ve been working on a lot of logos with initials today.  I’ve been working on logo-type monograms of my own initials, and also a logo for a conference.  Here are my favorite examples of each as of right now:

Now, of course, I think I’m going to go in a completely different direction.  Type is definitely my achilles’ heel.

Today’s inspiration and tutorial come from Jessica Hische, who has a great little cheat sheet on ways to get creative with letterforms.

Today’s instruction is: create a monogram or logo out of initials using any material you want to.

Thing-A-Day 3: Drawn and Quartered

Tonight I got back from working in Palo Alto at around 9:30.  I’ve been working or driving non-stop since 7am and I am BEAT.  I only had enough energy to make this piece:

It’s my original tank sketch, cut up into its individual components and arranged in a new formation.  I glued about half the pieces down where they landed when I shook them out of their envelope (so. very. tired.). It looked vaguely like a pirate ship, so I steered the rest of the collage in that general direction. It’s very mechanical looking and a little creepy, like it could live on the Island of Misfit Toys.

So today’s instruction is: Cut up an old drawing and create a collage by rearranging the pieces.

Your own past work is your inspiration today, and this project requires no tutorials.

Thing-A-Day 2: Gift Wrap

I’ve got two good friends with birthdays coming up, and I want to give them each something special.  Unlike my husband, I’m no good at making personalized cards, so I decided to personalize the wrapping instead.  Therefore, today’s instruction is:

Create very personal gift wrap for a loved one using materials you already have lying around the house. If you don’t have a future gift on hand, wrap an empty container you can use later.  Here’s one I made for my friend Christine.  She’s an artist who works a lot with neon colors and giant fields of graphite.  During the day she has an admin job.

Here’s your inspiration:

A round-up of gifts from design*sponge (this shredded pompom was the inspiration for my grass below)

and this round up from Creature Comforts.

And here is your tutorial: How to Create Garden Gift Wrap, like this one I made for my friend Elissa, who has the most wonderful backyard garden ever.

  1. Get a piece of paper that is at least 1.5 times bigger than what you are wrapping.  This will be your sky or your lawn, depending on how you see it.  Fold it in half across the shorter dimension. (I used a piece of 9”x 12” construction paper)
  2. Open the paper back up and place your object inside, sliding it up to the halfway fold (I used a decoy gift for this tutorial so Elissa won’t know what I got her).  Fold the side edges around your gift.
  3. With the edges folded in, place double-stick tape or glue on the bottom half of the paper.
  4. Fold the entire paper in half again to seal it up into a sort of envelope.
  5. Cut three or four strips of a thinner paper like crepe paper or tissue paper that are more than twice the width and height of the exposed portion of your gift.  Layer them on top of one another, about an inch apart.  Fold them in half lengthwise.  (I used the wrinkled green tissue paper that the gift arrived in)
  6. Wrap the entire length around the bottom of the gift and glue or tape the end in place.
  7. Remove this sleeve you just made and cut long snips all the way around it.  Each snip should go about one third of the way down the sleeve.  Snipping really fast will create more haphazard grass-like shapes.  Now snip again, snipping two thirds of the way down.  This will create layers.
  8. Slide your gift back into the sleeve, making sure it is resting inside the folded portion, so it will not fall out through the bottom.  Secure the grass sleeve to the top half of the gift with more tape or glue.  Fluff out the grass with your fingers and add any embellishments you choose.  I used an artificial flower, some rub-on letters and a piece of cotton twine.Enjoy!

Thing-A-Day: Ramping it Up

I have already written a couple of posts about making one thing every day, but I think it’s time to ramp things up a bit. As I begin this learning experience, you readers will be my proctors. OR optionally, you will be my classmates.

Starting today I will make something NEW every day for one year. If you wish to join me on this adventure, I will be posting the instruction for the day on this blog and on my “lvenell” twitter account. I will post a photo of my completed project along with the instruction, and links to other people’s finished projects when I can find them.  Since I’m sort of a night owl, this project will also hopefully force me to learn to take better photos at night.

I will still post indie business news and tips, but now this blog will also have tutorials and/or inspiration on it every single day. Your inspiration for today comes from Brock Davis’ “Make Something Cool Every Day” project (via Ally Trigg’s blog). I will likely pull from his web site more than once for a future daily instruction.

Today’s instruction comes from this tutorial from The Creative Place (via How About Orange): Create a radial 3-D paper shape like these paper lanterns from A Creative Place:

Here are my successes (I experimented a lot with shape):

And here are some of my failures (one of them is actually pretty rad):

Tip: Use paper that is as thin and as smooth as possible.  I used construction paper for these, which was a terrible idea.  The paper did not like to turn, tore easily, and was almost too thick to put the brads through.

Happy 2010!

On New Year’s Eve I drank more spirits than was comfortable, all in the wrong order.  Then I piled about a pound of shellfish and butter on top. It was delicious at the time, and I felt delightfully “spinny,” but later I felt uncomfortable enough that I woke up early on New Year’s Day.  Needless to say I did not leave the couch, or my pajamas.

I wasn’t in a state to do much more than recover, but I’m trying to ramp up the Thing-A-Day commitment in 2010.  Most of the rules remain the same with a few exceptions (in red).

  1. I can make anything.  It doesn’t have to be “crafted.”  I can make a ten-second drawing or write a two-line poem.
  2. I can copy someone else’s work for practice and new ideas.
  3. I can make a project from someone else’s instructions or from a book.
  4. I can substitute half an hour’s work on an existing project, but not if rule #3 also applies.
  5. Craft/design work for clients counts.
  6. I can make something I’ve already made before, but not two days in a row.
  7. I cannot make two things one day in order to skip the next day.
  8. I do not have to post the results of any day’s work if I don’t like it.
  9. A project is finished when I am done working on it.  It doesn’t have to be complete.
  10. At least once a week I need to make something that can be posted in my shop or in my portfolio, or at the very least, on this blog.

Since it had to be something I could do on the couch, Friday’s hangover thing was a new sticker mandala.  Both festive and confusing.  Seems about right.

I hope all of you had a relaxing and happy holiday season.  Happy 2010 everyone!

Thing-A-Day: No Frills Meat Indentity Branding

This weekend I re-organized my studio.  I never realized how much my half-finished projects were stressing me out until I finally tackled my bin of cut but un-sewn plush pieces.  I thought that perhaps I could turn them into kits, like the ones I have for making mini hams, but it wasn’t worth the time to make detailed instruction booklets. Could I somehow turn them into simple, no-frills kits?



Inspired by the recession, the Helvetica movie, and the joy of removing physical and mental clutter, my thing-a-day was some quick and dirty identity packaging.  The design takes a (huge) page from the no frills supermarket packaging I used to see growing up.  Sure, the kerning could be better but what you you want?  It’s no frills.

nofrillssteak nofrillspork

nofrillsbacon nofrillsminis

Thing-A-Day: Plastic Leaves

Inspired by this epic post at CrookedBrains (via DudeCraft) of things made out of credit cards (and these rat pins, specifically) I decided to see if I could cut complex shapes out of plastic gift/rewards cards.  Turns out that it’s not too difficult, as long as you only cut in towards the center of the card and don’t try to curve your lines too much — perfect for making leaf shapes for holiday wreaths.  Last year I made this wreath and it took forever.  Each leaf was constructed by tying together seven separate plastic triangles with wire.  Each leaf was then tied onto the wreath form one by one.  Oy.


This year, I’m thinking of making some mini-wreaths, but with just one piece of plastic making up each leaf.  Yesterday I practiced a few different leaf forms to see which ones were easiest to cut.  Here are some of the more successful examples, which only took a minute or two each to make.  I’ve got a maple in there, a couple of oakey/hollyish ones, and some toothed leaves.  I tried a few really simple shapes as well, but they didn’t seem as autumnal as these.


Do you have any other ideas for iconic leaf shapes?  What have you made from plastic cards or other recycled materials?