As the season starts to change, I’m excited to show you a glimpse of Autumn themed decorations that will be launching soon!
What’s the most important thing about your wedding day? Which moments or details will be something you remember forever and which will fade into the mists of time?
Traditionally marked with a gift made from paper, it may not surprise you to hear that a lot of my commissions are for first anniversary presents. I’m always fascinated to hear the story of a couple’s big day and the memories which stand out for them. A recent commission based on a wedding photo got me thinking about whether it’s the little details or the big picture that matter most…
Scrolling through a CD full of wedding photos, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was looking for. I had been asked to create a wedding anniversary papercut based on a wedding photo but the customer had left the choice of image up to me. One photograph stood out. It seemed to tell the whole story…
All those little details will be wonderful reminders of a magical day which happened because this couple only have eyes for each other.
What advice would you give to someone planning a party?
Planning a party should be fun but somehow it often turns into a nightmare. Recently a friend asked for help planning her wedding and it got me thinking. As someone who used to work in the event industry I know how easy it is to get bogged down in tiny details like the colour of the napkins and forget the big picture – it’s meant to be fun.
So today I’d like to share some tips about how to plan a party and still have the energy to enjoy it!
No matter how much we might wish it otherwise, no-one is an expert at everything. Pick the stuff you’re good at and get some help with the rest.
If you’re not a baker, buy a plain iced cake and decorate it yourself.
Haven’t a clue how to cater for 50? Me neither, pop down to your local deli and get them to make some large platters for you instead.
Not sure where to start with decorations? Read on for some great tips!
1.Pick a theme: (and stick with it!)
Choosing a theme will help you to keep focused during your planning and preparation and make sure you end up with decorations, gifts and food that look like they belong together. We’ve all got a bit of magpie in us and it can be all too easy to add a bit of this gorgeous thing and a bit of that because it’s lovely until you end up with a confused mess and none of the lovely things you’ve chosen end up sparkling like you’d hoped they would.
If you fall in love with an idea or decoration which doesn’t fit in with your theme don’t worry, bookmark it for your NEXT party. You can even make it the reason to have another party ( if you really need an excuse).
Choosing a colour as your theme is a great way to give your party a cohesive look. Stick to one colour or choose something like a rainbow or pastel theme. You’ll still have lots of flexibility in how you interpret the theme and if you choose a colour that’s on trend at the time of your event you’re even more likely to find appropriate items easily.
Whether it’s a beautiful buffet table, a photo booth back drop or an activity zone, a focal point helps set the tone for the party and creates a wow factor.
3.Decorations with a difference:
In my former life as an event florist I created decorations out of pretty much everything; glowsticks, toy cars, sweets, fruit the list goes on and on.
A few key pieces such as this garland can easily be added to with less conventional items.
Keep an open mind and you’ll be amazed at how much you already have that can be transformed into a decoration.
Take a look at my Rainbow pinterest board to see how a simple pack of balloons can transform a room in next to no time.
4.Let your guests do the work:
One of the best parties my boys have been to involved them making their own party bag and it’s entire contents! The children had a great time, loved their gifts and the very clever mum who organised the party had saved herself a lot of time and hassle. Whether it’s adding toppings to ice cream, mixing their own cocktails or colouring in the table cloth, guests will enjoy the opportunity to get involved.
Any table can be easily transformed with a table cloth and some coloured paper. If you’ve got a long or square table create a line of decoration down the middle of the table.
As long as you’ve got some coloured paper to hand and a pair of scissors you can quickly and easily create this rainbow effect by cutting random triangle shapes and layering the paper onto the table.
Got a hole punch? Create circular confetti and create a graduated stripe running down the centre of the table. (love the idea but haven’t the time – you can buy my rainbow coloured eco friendly confetti here)
If I was using this idea for a circular table I’d place a jar of smarties in the centre of the table and surround it with a circle of the paper triangles/ confetti.
6.Gorgeous Gift Wrap:
Particularly important at children’s parties, it’s always nice to give your guests a gift to take home. Kraft sandwich bags or boxes can easily be transformed with a simple ribbon. I’ve carried my rainbow theme through to the party gifts by using different ribbons for each box but if you’ve got more time take a look at my rainbow pinterest board for more wrapping ideas.
Want further inspiration? Take a look at my rainbow party themed Pinterest Board
Fallen in love with my rainbow elephant garland? You can buy it here
Need to get your hands on some rainbow confetti? Find it here
Creating bespoke papercuts for wedding presents is a true privilege. I love working with clients to weave together lots of different elements to tell the couple’s story. It is always a journey of discovery as ideas are sent back and forth and the design takes shape.
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this commission with you for a while but as I don’t like spoiling surprises had to keep this under wraps until now.
So much of this papercut design is deeply personal to the wedding couple and yet at face value it’s simply a picture of skiing trip. Everytime the newly weds look at this snowy scene they’ll be able to relive happy memories without feeling like their private love letters are on display. And if people ask about the papercut they can share as much or as little of the story behind the picture as they like.
Now that’s what I call a wedding present! If you’d like to commission me to create a special papercut for you simply drop me a line at email@example.com
Whether it’s showering the happy couple with confetti on their wedding day or a ticker tape parade in New York, there is something about those tiny bits of paper fluttering down from the sky that makes them an essential part of a celebration.
Confetti is fun! But it’s not always the most environmentally friendly way to celebrate.
So here’s how you can have your confetti cake and eat it too!
Whenever I create a papercut I generate hundreds of teeny tiny scraps of paper like this (pretty aren’t they). Until relatively recently I had just swept them up into the recycling but then my husband brought home a new product from work and I realised that perhaps I could give these tiny scraps a happier more useful life.
Now the proud owner of a heart shaped die-punch I could transform these scraps into frivolous, joyful, romantic and environmentally friendly confetti! I’m delighted to say I also found a supplier of biodegradable glassine bags and biodegradable stickers so the packaging is eco-friendly too!
Because they are created from high quality art paper, this confetti is not only coloured on both sides, its also deliciously thick and the range of papers means I have created some rather luscious colour combinations. Raspberry Ripple, seas greens, summer pastels etc.
At the minute the quantities of confetti are rather small but with each papercut stocks will grow. If you’ve got a wedding or event coming up later in the year and would like me to stock pile certain colours for you feel free to get in touch.
To take a look at the current range of eco-friendly confetti click here
As a papercut artist it might not surprise you that I’m not really a believer in a paperless society. But using a product that results in millions of trees being chopped down each year doesn’t exactly scream environmentally friendly does it? So how do I justify my obsession with paper?
Don’t stop using paper – use it better!
Earlier this year we committed to making Rosie and the Boys as eco-friendly as we could without giving up on using paper (you can read about it here). So here are the some of the ways we are trying to put our new maxim into practice:
Reduce how much we use
Sounds a bit obvious doesn’t it? But this isn’t just about no printing things when we don’t really need to, it’s about getting the most out of each piece of paper.
- Similar to the concept of no-wastage pattern cutting I try hard to position cutting templates to make the most effective use of a piece of art paper. High quality art papers are now the only paper resource we use that are allowed to hold single use status.
- Challenging myself to reduce how much art paper I use has also meant I now actively look try to create designs to utilise the larger offcuts from commission pieces.
- And what about the teeny tiny scraps of paper? Well I’ve even come up with a use for those!( Find out more in the next blog post.)
Reuse what we have
- I find myself writing endless lists; jobs to do, people to contact, which photos I’m going to use.
- A sheet of blank paper can be daunting, somehow using the blank side of an envelope or scrap piece of paper takes away some of the pressure and you can get straight down to sketching.
- Even though I use Illustrator to create a lot of my commission work it helps to block out a draft design on paper first. Drawing takes practice, practice, practice. Not all the designs I come up with are “keepers”, sometimes I’ll redraw something over and over to get it right. Sometimes I walk away from an idea. By using scrap paper to practice first, I make better use of “The Sketchbook” or Illustrator to develop promising ideas.
Recycle what we can’t reuse
And what happens to all those to-do lists once they’ve been completed and the practice designs drawn on the back of envelopes? What about the teeny tiny offcuts from papercuts that are so tiny they can’t be used? Well, this cardboard box now has pride of place under my desk ready to catch even the tiniest scrap allowing it to be recycled.
So here’s to changing the world: one envelope at a time!
If you’ve got any suggestions for how we could use paper even more efficiently then we’d love to hear them. Just add a comment below.
Recently I was commissioned to create a papercut as a wedding present. As I talked with the client about the design it became obvious that this gift would celebrate not only the love between the wedding couple but also the deep friendship between the customer and bride-to-be. A catalyst sparking off memories for the couple and for their friends and family who had watch the relationship blossom.
As part of planning the design I try to discover not only the details a client would like to include but also the story behind them. In this instance, I learnt about a couple who born thousands of miles apart had met in London and been drawn together by a shared interest. My client told of holidays together, shared passions and special nicknames, a romantic proposal and plans for the big day.
With pages of notes, my task was to now create a design that would tell this couple’s wonderful story in a way that was beautiful as well as meaningful.
They had travelled the world and yet so many of the key moments in their relationship took place in just one city. The idea of an illustrated map began to form…and so here is how I chose to draw a love story:
Have you ever received an email asking you to think before you print? Perhaps a cheery email at Christmas from Uncle Joe saying that in consideration for the environment etc he won’t be sending any actual Christmas cards this year but replacing them with a cheery E-card instead.
How do those emails make you feel? Guilty – because you’ve just printed 10 pages? Disappointed because you like displaying cards from family and friends at Christmas?
Going green can be tricky. Rosie and the Boys wouldn’t exist without paper and ink but how does that fit with saving the rainforest? This year I’m trying to make sure that my work is as kind to the environment as possible. It’s an important issue to a lot of people and I’m sure it’s important to many of you. But rather than present a big publicity spiel about how green we are I’d like to share with you some of the reasons behind choices Amy and I have made as well as the action we have already taken.
Today I’d like to tell you a story to help explain why I do what I do and why we think paper gifts still have a place in an environmentally friendly society:
My Auntie Hilda was an amazing lady who taught me a valuable lesson that is at the heart of Rosie and the Boys. Great Auntie Hilda had a terrific sense of fun and made no secret of the fact that she was clearly besotted with us. A few years ago when she passed away, we discovered just how much she loved us.
Whilst clearing her house we discovered boxes full of letters, pictures and cards. She had kept everything we had ever sent her. From clumsily written thank you notes to carefully coloured in pictures we had proudly presented as gifts when we visited. She treasured them all.
Auntie Hilda recognised that people are special. She made sure we knew she loved us and I hope the many cards I made for my aunt showed her that the feeling was mutual.
I’m not sure an E card would have conveyed the message quite as effectively. Whenever I create something, whether it’s a printed card or an intricate papercut I hope that it will be treasured for a long time. It’s why I choose to use quality materials and work with skilled printers and crafts people. Yes I’m using paper that came from a tree but I hope the way in which it is used shows respect for the resource it came from as well as the person who will receive the gift.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing more about our journey towards being green. If you’ve got comments or questions about our choices, we’d love to hear them!
People open shops for all sorts of reasons. Making money is an obvious one, but in my experience this is not the main motivational factor for independent retailers.
During my research for this blog series I have been privileged to be given an insight into what really motivates some of the independent retailers in Brighton and Hove. Today’s feature focuses on those motivations and how they feed into the very soul of an independent business.
Susannah of DOWSE is a great example of someone who puts their money where their mouth is. Unashamedly supportive of buying local, giving ethical principles higher priority than pure profit in her purchasing decisions. This is a design business which recognises that no matter how beautiful something is, purchasing an item made at the expense of another person’s well being leaves rather a sour taste in the mouth.
This might lead you to the conclusion that in imposing such strict purchasing criteria Susannah has had to make compromises on the quality of her product offering. Far from it. In fact her Brighton based shop offers a richness and diversity of products that will have customers beating a path to her door.
I love the statement that DOWSE is “Part of a movement across the country that appreciates the value of well made and distinctive products made by individuals over chain shops and mass manufacturing, DOWSE makes it easy to make the world look better and be better.”
Keen to know more I asked Susannah why source locally and why a high street in Brighton? I’m sure you’ll agree her answers are fascinating….
Susannah’s goal for DOWSE is “to enhance people’s belief in and value of British design and manufacturing and show that it can be affordable, that buying locally is good in the creative industries as well produce such as food.”
“I’d always thought a destination to find special things was important in every town. Brighton has lots of amazing shops but mainly sourcing from elsewhere, i.e. China. I wanted a shop that was supporting local and British designers and manufacturers. Choosing the best from what’s made locally. I believe that quality affordable design is being made in this country and we should support the people making it. Often these designers are the ones copied by the high street and the items then manufactured in China. The money should be in the designers pockets not some factory owner of conglomerate’s share holders.
I believe we need to keep manufacturing in this country alive and the skills continued to be passed down. Our importing from China won’t last for ever, their economy will become so strong they will end up mainly producing for their own market. Then we’ll be at a loss and have lost our ability to create for our needs.
So to compete with Chinese imports we need to keep creating and making. It is hard to compete online as people are mainly motivated by price in their purchases. We can’t compete with that. So I think to be able to offer diversity and directional design people should be able to see and touch it. And doing that in a great environment is an experience not replicated on the internet. I want my shop to showcase what’s great about what’s going on here and in Europe, things being made by hard working creative individuals and small businesses that make things you fall in love with. It’s hard to do that online.”
Which leads us nicely to Susannah’s second motivation for opening a shop on the high street and why she chose to base it in Brighton.
“I think it’s important to keep our high streets interesting…we need nice environments to stimulate us.”
“Selling jewellery, mid century British furniture, prints, homewards, cards, stationery and more. DOWSE have collaborated with noted local designers Baines & Fricker to create a unique installation for the shop, making the whole experience of shopping much more like a dream and a stroll than a soulless troll through the internet.”
“I think the pace of life in Brighton here is really conductive for creativity, though admittedly maybe a little too laid back sometimes. It’s a different environment to London of course which has a hugely dynamic creative force. But that doesn’t suit everyone. Brighton offers an alternative, near to London and with all the good aspects of London, i.e. access to culture and and a metropolitan feel, but with a more gentle pace and for some that’s necessary. I’ve lived in Brighton since art school and have worked a lot in London, but I’d stick with Brighton always.
I chose to open the shop on this stretch of Western road instead of the Laines, which is probably where you’d expect to see this kind of shop. I live in the Brunswick area and appreciate the diverse independent businesses there. I wanted to be a part of that neighbourhood. I wanted to provide a destination shop for good design, but also serve as a good neighbourhood shop where people needn’t go all the way in to town to get a gift for someone last minute, but could just pop round the corner.”
The shop is also the studio for DOWSE. You’ll find Susannah there designing and making the jewellery and dreaming up new product lines. Current opening hours are 10 – 6 Tuesday – Saturday 11 – 4 Sundays. 133 Western Road Hove BN3 1DA near Norfolk square.
But if you can’t make it to Brighton don’t worry you can also purchase online, simply visit http://dowsedesign.co.uk/