Second Birthday Invitation Design

Art & Design

My daughter is getting ready to turn 2 this May & I’ve just designed the invitations. For the theme, I chose to celebrate the friendship between our house cat Kiley & Isabelle. She just adores that cat & I think Kiley loves her back – even though Isabelle sits on her & pulls her tail! I thought it would be super cute to focus on their relationship, instead of the theme being about cats in general.

invitation design for Isabelle’s second birthday

For the invitations, I took some cute photos I have of the two of them & photoshopped them together into a filmstrip design. To make it more colorful, I added a rainbow gradient to the text. These will be printed on letter sized card stock, 3 to a page & cut into thirds:

layout for printing on letter size paper – 3 to a page

They can be printed at home on letter sized paper or card stock & will fit into standard letter envelopes. This keeps the printing & mailing costs to a minimum. I’ve also designed a back side of the invitation with the party info that will be printed on the reverse.

I also want to make some custom designs for the party decorations as well – maybe a banner or poster or even draw up cartoon versions of Izzy & Kiley ?? – I’m not sure….but I will work on that at a later date – thank god I still have a few months to pull it all together!


Open House Poster Design

Art & Design

My mom is part of a group of local female artists called “5 Chesapeake Chicks” & she wanted me to create a poster design for an upcoming event they are organizing. They will be promoting their work at an open house/meet & greet at “Artworks @7th” gallery in North Beach, MD. We wanted to use one of her recent paintings of seagulls for the design since the 5 Chesapeake Chicks & the gallery are all beach & Maryland themed. Here is the final design:

poster design for “5 Chesapeake Chicks” open house

Bumper Sticker Designs

Art & Design

Not only is my mom an artist, she also devotes her time to saving animals, specifically cats, in our local area. She is a dedicated member of PAWS, the Patuxent Animal Welfare Society, who help foster strays, nurse sick cats to health & also set up adoption events. She even helped build the local pet clinic Calvert Well Pet Clinic.

PAWS is in need of new volunteers to foster cats until they are adopted, so she came to me to come up with some ads. She wanted something colorful & eye catching in the size of bumper stickers to paste at the shelter, the clinic & at the local PetCo where they do their adoption events.

bumper sticker design for animal rescue organization “PAWS”

Mom sent me some photos she took of some of the cats she has fostered to use in the designs. I decided to go with a very simple, yet very bold & legible design. I also thought that if she would like more made, I could do a series of them with different cat photos & different colors, but in the same style. As of now I have only made two designs, one in blue & one in orange.

bumper sticker design for animal rescue organization “PAWS”

I think they turned out great & mom loved them, but I hope they actually help to bring in more volunteers to foster the many cats in need.

Selfie Graphic Illustration

Art & Design

Selfie Graphic Illustration – Adobe Illustrator Vector Drawing

Business Card Design

Art & Design

My mother has asked me to design new business cards for her to affix to the back of her paintings or next to them when hung in a gallery show. She is a wonderful artist & has been producing fabulous paintings that are now being shown in some of the local galleries. Business cards are an easy & professional way to get her name out there.

For the card design, my mom picked her acrylic painting of an autumn forest with the sunlight streaming through the trees & dappled shadows dancing on the ground. It’s a beautiful piece to represent her work as an artist.

mom’s painting of the forest

The biggest challenge I had making this design was to visually balance the small amount of text with the bold, colorful painting. I inserted the painting to the left on the horizontal card layout. I decided to crop out the beveled edges of the frame to give me more room to enlarge the painting within the layout. My mom doesn’t have a logo, so I decided to create one by using her name, Elaine Davy Strong. I found a beautiful scripted font called “P22 Dearest Script” & staggered each word in her name on top of one another so it would fit perfectly in the space to the right of the painting.

For the color palette, I decided to use various shades of gray. Black text can seem boring & colored text can seem garish, so going with gray is a good choice when you don’t want to clash with your image while not using black. I chose a white background for the card so the painting would look its best. (My mom had initially wanted the cards to be grey, but I talked her out if it!) 

I chose a simple seriffed font called “Centurion Old” for the rest of the text. I used larger type (8pt) in italics for the title/medium text & smaller (7pt) regular type for the contact info. But the design still felt like it needed something, so I decided to add some kind of ornamentation.

business card design for mom – front side

Usually, I look for inspiration on the web, but sometimes I like to use ornamental font types, like “Wingdings” or “Webdings”. Designers are constantly creating new & exciting fonts that you can use for free, so it’s worth the time searching/downloading them (check out if you’re interested!). I scrolled through my fonts in Illustrator & found one called “Floral Ornaments”, which is a perfect fit for my mom because she’s an avid gardener. I ended up combining two ornaments, a flower & leaf, & positioning them to the left of the scripted logo in a lighter grey. Adding this floral motif balanced the composition of the front-side nicely.

I convinced my mom to get double-sided cards, with the backs printed in black & white. VistaPrint only charges an extra $7 for the backs, so she thought it was a great idea.

first design idea for back side of the card

My first idea was to use a faded black & white image of the painting on the front, but mom said that she didn’t want the back of the cards to be so dark that she couldn’t write a note on them when giving the cards out.

So, I went back to the floral motif for inspiration. I pulled a few more floral elements from the “Floral Ornaments” typeface & created this simple design for the back. I used all light gray tones for the graphics, but included lots of white space in the center. Now she can handwrite a note on the back, but still have a two-sided card.

finished design – front & back

We both love how it turned out & I can’t wait to see them printed & displayed next to my mom’s paintings in the next show.

VistaPrint preview of the final design – front & back

Wind Vane Suncatcher – Update

Art & Design, Interior Design

A few months ago, I took an old wind vane that was my grandfather’s & created a beautiful sun catcher that incorporated all my old jewelry. The best part about this whole idea is that more pieces can be added or removed at any time.

original design

About a month ago, I added 2 intertwined, spiraling wires adorned with glass beads that wrap around the top wind vane. I had intended to add this feature when I first created it, but I didn’t have the time. I think this further ties the wind vane into the overall composition.

intertwined decorative wire adorned with glass beads

intertwined beaded wires wrapping around wind vane on reverse side

After adding the wires, I attached 2 more chains – 1 necklace & 1 bracelet, to the part of the wind vane that would have slipped over its vertical support rod. It allows these 2 to hang at the same horizontal place on the wind vane, but across from each other, adding another dimension to the design.

Then last night, I added another curling wire with glass beads around the tail of the wind vane so I could attach another pendant & I had the perfect necklace to add.

close up of wire wrapped around tail on reverse side

At the end of the curled wire, I made an eyelet for the cord of the new pendant to hang from.

close up of decorative wire wrapped around tail

A few years ago, I made a huge, solid silver sharks tooth pendant for Jon out of PMC (precious metal clay). We had found a huge sharks tooth on our beach of the Chesapeake Bay that I thought would make an amazing piece of jewelry. I pressed it into a lump of sculpy modeling clay to make a negative mold of the tooth. After firing the sculpy mold in the oven, I pressed the PMC clay into the mold & then carefully peeled it out. I cleaned up the edges & poked a hole in the top for a cord. Finally, I fired the dried PMC clay tooth with a propane torch. This burns everything but the silver in the PMC clay, leaving a perfect (but slightly smaller) replica of the real sharks tooth.

close up of home made silver sharks tooth pendant & sea glass

This last addition to the piece acts as a counterbalance, both visually as well as physically, but also brings the tail of the wind vane into the composition for a more finished look.

New Lamp

Art & Design, Interior Design

I’ve had this amazing rustic green pot for years that I’ve always wanted to turn into a lamp – it’s finally been done.

Green Rustic Pot

I decided to take apart an old lamp that I wasn’t using anymore to see if I could salvage its parts. It had a brass collar & wood stand that I thought may fit the green pot – and sure enough they did.

Vase from Orignal Lamp

vase from original lamp without parts

Jon used a ceramic drill bit to carefully drill a hole in the bottom of the pot so the power cord can go through. He inserted the old internal support rod into the top of the vase & our through the bottom hole. Then he guided the cut end of the power cord up through the bottom of the pot through the rod out the top. He then screwed the wood base to the bottom of the rod, securing it with a nut, but leaving the power cord to plug into the wall.

Finished Lamp

completed lamp made with old rustic pot

To complete the top assembly, he slid the brass collar over the top of the internal rod so it sits on top of the pot & then stacked the harp on top. Finally, he took the exposed wires at the end of the power cord & connected them to the socket, then secured it to the rod above harp. To finish the look, I bought a round shade at Walmart. Incredibly, I only spent $12 on the shade – the rest was free.

Handmade Mosaic Stepping Stones

Art & Design, My Life

Each year for Christmas, I always like to get creative & make some of my gifts. This year, Jon & I chose to make concrete stepping stones.

We kept the budget small, so I scrounged around to use what I had available – a frisbee, 2 old plant pot trays, & various broken glasses, plates & pottery. I then bought a few $1 bags of glass marbles at the Dollar Tree, while I sent my husband to the local hardware store to buy a bag of concrete (if you get one of their broken bags, they’ll only charge you a $1!)

made with broken glass & porcelain shards, marbles & concrete

After Jon mixed the concrete, he poured it into the makeshift molds. For the designs, I really just began adding the largest pieces of broken glass first, then filled in the surrounding space with smaller shards & marbles. After we let them set up for 24 hours, I took a scrub brush & brushed away the cement that had been pushed up over some parts of the design. It’s best to do it at this point because the concrete is crumbly & easily removed with a brush. We let them set up for about a week before we finally turned the molds over & popped the finished stones out. As a final touch, we “sanded” the edges of the stones on the pavement just to get a smoother outer edge.

made with broken glass & porcelain shards, marbles & concrete

I’ve already bought more marbles & broken (accidentally) more china – so I’m ready to make more (but for myself!)


Small Square Table

Art & Design, Interior Design

After seeing what an amazing job we did on the stenciled dresser (see my previous post), I decided to paint & upholster my tiny square table that sits at the foot of our bed.

finished table with shelf paper upholstered top

Originally, this little table was blue, but then I had painted it ivory (of course I never took pics before I redid it). I wanted to use some floral shelf paper that I had bought at the Dollar Tree to cover the table top. The pattern did not match the ivory color, so the legs needed to be changed to match the paper. I decided to use the left over brown & metallic acrylic paints that I got for the floral stencil on the dresser drawers. To seal the acrylic paint, I sprayed it with the frosted glass clear coat – also used on the dresser drawers. It helped hide the brush strokes & other imperfections.

used brown & metallic brown acrylic paint for legs with frosted glass clear coat

The roll of shelf paper (which is actually a rubbery plastic material – not paper) wasn’t very big – I am glad that I unrolled it all before began. This meant I had to piece it together by wrapping the corners first, then wrapping two sides, & using the rest of the roll to fill in the center. I used hot glue to tack it into place.

close up of the floral shelf paper used to cover the table top

The shelf paper material is beautiful & cost me $1 at the Dollar Tree. Not a bad investment! Especially for this beautiful table – which took maybe 3 hours total to create (that even includes drying time!)

Small Bedroom Dresser

Art & Design, Interior Design

A few weeks ago, Jon & I made some improvements to the small chest of drawers we use as a tv stand in our bedroom.

It had 3 drawers with woven wicker front panels that Isabelle was tearing apart (sorry I didn’t take any “before” photos). To stop her from destroying it, Jon & I decided to rip out the wicker & insert new panels which we would have to make – but we needed to find a way to make the panels look intentionally different from the rest of the original piece since I knew I couldn’t match the original off-white paint color.

original oiled bronze knob

drawers missing original wicker front panels

We had a piece of white MDF laying around in the shed, so I had Jon cut the MDF to size, then sand & spray paint it off-white with spray paint – it was the only one that was closest to the original color that I could find at Walmart. To enhance the look of the panels, I bought a beautiful floral stencil, some acrylic brown & copper metallic paints with stencil brushes.

After the off-white paint dried, I stenciled the floral pattern onto the panels using multiple colors of browns, coppers & golds. The trick to getting a perfect pattern is to place the flowers as randomly as possible – making sure none of them are dead center. I lined up the 3 pieces of MDF & stenciled them onto the panels as if they were all one piece. This way the flowers would match up from drawer to drawer, running off the edge of one panel & onto the next. It was much easier to plan the floral pattern this way. If I had done each panel separately, I would have had to design 3 separate compositions. This way, I only had to do it once, as a whole.

finished stenciling floral pattern on all 3 front panels

Acrylic paint will just peel off if you don’t seal it with an oil based clear coat. Instead of the using the usual glossy clear coat, I found a frosted glass spray paint that gave the panels an antique feel with a matte finish. It also crackled in places that added a nice effect.

finished panels & new hardware installed

We needed to add new handle hardware because when I ripped out the original wicker panels, the handles were also removed because they were part of the the wicker fronts. The new handles are angelic. All 4 pieces cost less than $9. To tie the whole new look together, I replaced the knob on the top drawer to match the new handles on the bottom drawers.

finished dresser

I actually like it better now than when I bought it. Amazingly, this took less than 24 hours to plan, shop for supplies & then execute. We are getting pretty good at this! Now Isabelle can’t tear up the drawers & I have a beautiful new piece of furniture for the bedroom. It’s a Win-Win.