Saturday, February 28, 2009

Handwrite Your Own Font

Despite warnings that neatness counted and penmanship was graded alongside academic subjects in school, the best handwriting from my pen or pencil ended up closer to chicken scratch. Now I've revisited my sloppy curves and uneven squiggles in an attempt to tidy up my handwriting to create a legible font.

YourFonts is a web-based tool that transformed my combo print/italic scribble-scrabble into a TrueType font free of charge. The process is simple and easily accomplished with a printer and scanner nearby. First, download the pdf template. Second, neatly fill in each box, staying clearly inside the designated boundaries. Third, scan the completed template and upload to YourFonts. Fourth, preview and download your new personalized font.

No more excuses for not writing a personal note!

Thank You

Welcome to our clever crafting friends joining us from One Pretty Thing and Rachel's treasure trove of enticing projects at Daily DIY.

From the traditional craft of quilling papers into beautiful letters to the more immediate gratification of making your own handwriting into a font, the limits of lettering, typography, and design continue to intrigue us at this address.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Illuminated Letters

Lettering by hand with serifs and flourishes embellishes your message with beauty, creativity, and thoughtfulness. But you do not have to be an accomplished calligrapher to put together a monogram or a mini missive in a quilled alphabet as illustrated above and below.

The art of quilling or paper filigree is versatile and forgiving for the beginner. For starters, quilling is easy to learn and doesn't require a large investment in tools. Click here for more details on basic quilling instructions.

Shaping letters works best if you curl your paper strips first to condition them. Enlarge your alphabet pattern to the desired size and cut your strips to the approximate length needed for each part of the letter. Shape your strips over the pattern to match the curves of the letters. Glue together the strips as needed to form a single letter. When dry, glue the edges onto your card stock to finish.

For many more great ideas on this paper craft I recommend checking out The New Paper Quilling by Molly Smith Christensen.

Images courtesy of Molly Smith Christensen and Lark Books

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Diminutive Designs in Cork

The Annual Champagne Chair Contest by Design Within Reach poses the challenge to create an original miniature chair using only the foil, label, cage and cork from no more than two Champagne bottles. The contest rolls around just before New Year's when you might be planning to enjoy a little bubbly. If you are not big on Champagne, they will also accept the recycled cork and foil set-up from any sparkling wine.
Three top winners were selected from the 2009 entries. The Kub Armchair (top) by Jesse Menayan was named as the Judges’ Pick. The Grape Divine Chair (just above) by Tony Nemyer was selected as the DWR Staff Pick, and Spring 2009 (below) by Gavri Slasky won the Popular Vote.
For more information on the contest and where to view a traveling exhibit of the top 50 winning designs, click over to DWR.

Images courtesy of Design Within Reach

Sunday, February 15, 2009

George Washington Sat Here

Great Presidents are remembered for their brilliant leadership and their unconditional loyalty and service to this country. Their papers are studied and preserved for their wisdom and successes. They are copied and reproduced for libraries and textbooks. Great Presidents are also remembered for their everyday domestic objects. These objects are sometimes copied or reproduced, too.

This handsome late 18th century easy chair belonged to George Washington. We are told that Washington sat in this armchair in his bedchamber at Mount Vernon shortly before he died in 1799. Of course, he probably sat in it many times before that.

Photograph of Chair from George Washington's bedroom at Mount Vernon, 1760s-90s,
courtesy of the National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

Photograph of George Washington's Camp Chest courtesy of the National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

Of course, George Washington is not the only President so honored:

Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat is one of the most treasured objects at the Smithsonian Institution. The hat includes a black silk mourning band Lincoln had added in memory of his son Willie. Lincoln was wearing this hat when he went to Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. After his assassination, the War Department preserved his hat and other material left at Ford’s Theatre. Courtesy of the National Museum of American History, Washington, DC.

My Valentine

My Valentine's Day surprise.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

British Design Classics by Mail

Royal Mail of Britain has introduced a set of stamps celebrating ten British Design Classics. We weren't surprised to see the English things we love as the Mini, the Routemaster and the red telephone kiosk, K2, among the juried selections. And we were glad to learn our fashion staple, the Mini Skirt, was invented by our fab fave, the very mod designer Mary Quant, who named the skirt after her favorite car. It's a set of stamps we could easily rename Our English Favorites.

We were gratified to see the Concorde, whose design was an English/French collaboration; the Underground map by Harry Beck which resembles beautiful circuitry; the Polypropylene chair we've all sat upon; the Anglepoise lamp which inspired the task lights that illuminate our worktable; and the easily identifiable orange book jacket from Penguin Books.

For more information on this collection of British Design Classics and other philatelic matters click over to Royal Mail.

All images courtesy of

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Gift: Homemade Marshmallows

Once or twice a year I pull out my marshmallow recipe and make up a batch to give as gifts. I am always pleasantly surprised to remember that it takes only a few ingredients and is relatively straightforward, albeit sticky. The result is so delicious and remarkably light and fluffy. If you've never tasted a homemade marshmallow you must try it. This confection is probably closer to its mid-nineteenth century French origins than the more commonly known genus that comes in a cello bag.

There are plenty of recipes available to make your own marshmallows. Some call for corn syrup, which I use, others don't. I also like to add the vanilla flavoring early on for a mellower effect. Rather than waiting to add it at the end, I add it to the pan when I dissolve the sugar and salt into the corn syrup and water.

It's just a matter of taste. Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quilling for Love

Valentine's Day is a holiday opportunity you won't want to miss to bring out the crafting supplies and make your own card. No more excuses: not enough time, never exchanged cards before, not your style, out of doilies, and on and on.

A homemade card with an expression of love (or like) is a lovely gift in itself. With a little daring inspiration and nimble fingers you can create an amazingly beautiful card just in time for Valentine's Day. The quilled cards above and below are from the archives of Martha Stewart's website, where you will find an excellent tutorial on quilling and many more inspirations for your Valentine's Day expressions.

Using a paper cutter, I trimmed colored paper stock for quilling paper and substituted a round toothpick for a quilling tool. Hearts are easy to start with. Your card design doesn't have to be elaborate or overly decorative to get your message across. A simple heart looks very elegant on a pink or white card.

Make somebody happy with a gift of a card on Valentine's Day!

Photos courtesy of

Thursday, February 5, 2009

When Art Sparkles & Spins

Unquestionably, Paul Rand (1914-1996) was one of the most influential graphic designers of the 20th century. Among his most famous works are the corporate identities he created for ABC, IBM, UPS and Westinghouse.

But I am also fond of some of his lesser known design projects. Rand worked his graphic magic for young audiences on four children's books elegantly written by his wife, Ann Rand, an architect, and published between 1956 and 1970.

In Sparkle and Spin, his cut-and-paste style art leads the readers around a newspaper trifold hat, up a perch of letters to a bird spouting punctuation, across a chalkboard, past a strip of candy dots and a lollipop man eating a lollipop, under a mound of sand, near an elevated train, behind a chair, through a sampler of borders and fonts, across a breakfast table and onto the dial of a phone (circa 1957). Sparkle and Spin and Little 1 have been republished by Chronicle Books.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Green Under Sunny Skies

On a trip last month to a beautiful resort in sunny Florida I was delighted with the vision of palm trees in groves, luscious landscaping and exotic flowers in bloom. But I was especially impressed to see an established recycling program in full view.

Fortunately, they weren't boasting about being green or self-pronouncing it as an eco-hotel, it was done quite simply as part of their operations. Out-of-doors and around the three or four pools, the free-standing climbing wall, the lawns and the marina there were pairs of teak receptacles. One designated for glass and plastic only while the second was for trash.

A discreet card in the bathroom reminded one of the hotel's laundry conservation program. The hotel will replace bath towels daily upon request, but in an effort to conserve water, energy and reduce pollution they otherwise replace towels and linens every 3rd day for guests in residence. But the most endearing effort was the inclusion of a recycling basket in addition to a trash basket in every guest room. I enjoyed the freedom to recycle in my own room while away from home.

Photographs taken at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs, Florida.