DIY: Herb and Spice Gift Wrap

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about my lettering, and a few poor souls have even asked if I teach a class (HA!). I tell everyone the same thing– my lettering has improved over the past year because I’ve been practicing. I know, that sounds like a cop-out, but it’s true! I’ve been making signs and chalkboards for the store, lettering in my prints, and wearing through Prismacolors like nobody’s business.

The key, for me, if to cut myself some slack while I’m practicing. Doodling letters is swell, and I take any opportunity to write words in weird ways.

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This wrapping paper is a perfect example. I wanted to come up with a simple way to wrap a couple of small gifts, and went to the (very soggy) garden for inspiration. The remaining herbs were so pungent and gorgeous that I decided to use them as accents on a basic brown paper wrapping.

The whole thing’s pretty simple, and I’m sure you could come up with something even more special. The point is, I was able to mess around with letters and words without feeling too self-conscious. It’s just wrapping paper, and the herbs take center stage.

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For the second gift, I made a tall bag with a few materials, and I thought I’d share my process.

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Supplies I Used

• Plain brown kraft paper – you could also repurpose a grocery bag.
• Fresh herbs from the garden
• White Prismacolor Pencil
• Flour & water to form a paste. You can also use glue, of course!
• Scissors
• Pencil
• A can of spray paint as a base form

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First I traced the base of the can to form the bottom of my bag…

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and cut out the circle, about 1/4 inch inside my line.

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I then measured the can and cut out a piece of paper for the main part of the bag, leaving myself about 2 inches of extra height to wrap along the bottom and enough width to cover the whole can with a little overlap.

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I made a fold at that 2 inch mark, and cut a little fringe into that end (the bottom.) You’ll see why in a second.

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I used my trusty white pencil to doodle words all over the paper.

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I’ve started using a flour paste for a lot of paper projects, lately. Here I used about equal parts water and flour, mixed well, and applied with a cheap paintbrush.

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I wrapped the paper around my spray paint can and painted both edges with my paste…

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then began folding the fringe pieces down. Once those were down I painted them, and the round bottom piece with paste…

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applied like so, and left to dry.

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After it was completely dry (a few hours later) I trimmed the top of the bag, and filled it with my gift, and a little tissue paper.

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Simple directions for a unique bag- and a great way to work on those lettering skills.

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Are you inspired by herbs, like I am? Don’t forget to share you spice & herb work with us for our November DIY Challenge! We’d love to see what you think up.

(You know, keep life spicy.)

TOOLBOX: Alison’s Essential Drawing Supplies

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

My favorite supplies have changed a lot over the years. Right now I have a loose-leaf system that works great for me, and along with my travel kit, it’s incredibly portable. (Portable tools mean you’ll get more done, more places!)

Since I have a tendency to do things a little differently, I thought I’d share a little about my process and supplies; then let you decide if you think I’m crazy- or a crazy genius.

I’ve included links to many of the supplies, in case you’d like to try them yourself*.

Paper and Stuff

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

I like to work on 8.5 x 11 inch loose-leaf pages because I can carry them around easily. From time-to-time I’ll cut pages down so I can have an even more portable set- but I keep the same selection of papers.

A. Papers

I use Smooth White Cardstock  for early sketches and drawing. Cardstock handles a lot of erasing a redrawing.
When I can’t erase any more, I’ll do additional edits on  cheap tracing paper.

I use higher quality Canson Marker Paper for final drawings, and for inking. I tried a bunch of different papers, and this was the best with my Uni-ball pens. It doesn’t bleed too much, and dries quickly enough that I’m less likely to drag my left hand through wet ink.

Graph Paper and Miscellaneous Guide Sheets  I’ve found it’s handy to keep guide sheets that I can use with tracing paper. I usually have sheets of graph paper, script slant guides, and other handy shapes I use a lot.

B. Clipboard

I love this low profile aluminum clipboard. It’s lightweight and means I can draw anywhere.

C. Project Filing

I keep each project I’m working on in a clear page protector. When I’m done, I can discard the pieces of my process I no longer need, and retire the whole protector to a binder or other file for safekeeping.

 

Tool Kit

TOOLBOX: Alison's Essential Supplies #drawing #tools

I do as much work at the store as I do in my studio, so I’ve come up with a very extensive travel kit to carry. (I like to be prepared for everything.)

A. Pencils

I love using Woodless Graphite Pencils  for shading, thick lines, and because they are awesome. I use BIC Mechanical Pencils  a lot in my early sketching phases. Blackwing Pencils are my newest obsession. The erasers are especially useful, and replaceable! I prefer the harder “Pearl Pencils”.

B. Pencil Sharpener

This small metal pencil sharpener is essential if you want to use anything other than a mechanical pencil.

C. Erasers

I use a Mars Plastic Eraser for heavy duty changes and a narrow eraser for getting into tight spots

D. White Pencil

I often us a white Prismacolor Pencil to correct mistakes that can’t be erased, I also like to be able to draw on surfaces that aren’t white. (See the pictures of my work table.)

E. Ruler

This 6″ Ruler was one of the best things I added to my kit. You can’t eye-ball every line.

F. Compass

For years I used a cheap school compass, and when I upgraded to this guy, suddenly my life got so much better. Perfect for making curves, and circles.

G. Inking Pens

Uni-ball Pens are my preferred pen for inking on marker paper.

H. Scissors

A tiny pair of scissors like this comes in handy often.

I. Permanent Marker

I love the twin tipped Sharpie Markers. Sometimes I want to go nuts and make a permanent drawing impact (ie. leave my tag somewhere.) I don’t usually do that, but a permanent marker is great to have on hand.

J. X-acto Knife

I think everyone should have a quality X-acto Knife. I use this one from Martha Stewart Crafts because the lid stays on well, which is important in a tool that travels around with me. I also like to keep a few extra blades on hand; this box set does just that, and has a place to store the old blades.

K. Glue

It’s important to keep glue around for when you want to add something to your drawings. A glue stick works well, and leaves less mess in your bag. I also carry around a small roll of scotch tape.

L. Miscellaneous Tools

You probably need a Bone folder. I also try to keep something that will poke, but isn’t sharp, like this embossing tool, or a small wooden skewer. Think of other miscellaneous tools you might need – a needle and thread?

M. Pencil Bag

A gorgeous pencil bag will inspire your work. Check out this lovely one from Slide Sideways (now Year End Co.)


Well, now you’ve seen what I’ve been working with lately. It’s not your usual collection of art supplies, but life is all about trying unusual things!

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TOOLBOX: Rachel’s Favorite Drawing Supplies

TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing
After a recent trip to my local art supply store to stock up on supplies, I realized how much I love getting new pens, tubes of watercolor paint, and finding the perfect paper. Even as a kid growing up, I always looked forward to a new school year and fresh new pencils and notebooks. Since I’ve taken up illustration and making art for Camp Smartypants, I’ve found some favorite tools I use again and again. I’m always on the look out for new materials to try out, but I rely on these essentials for most of my drawing.

For Sketching + Drawing

TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing

1. Spiral Bound Sketchbook

I prefer the spiral binding for my sketchbooks because my pages are able to lay flat at as draw and it’s easy to curl up on the couch with. You just have to be careful not to crush or bend a metal spiral, or you’ll be annoyed while working in it.

2. Crayola Light-Up Tracing Pad

The perfect tracing pad you carry in your bag along with your sketchbook. Read more about how great this thing is in this post.

3. Mechanical Pencil

Mechanical pencils are my go-to sketching tool. I prefer these over a normal pencil because I don’t have to worry about sharpening, and I can get a consistent line weight as I use it. I don’t worry about using anything fancy, any mechanical pencil will do the trick.

4. Blackwing Pencils

I picked up a sampler set of Blackwing Pencils after taking a lettering class from Mary Kate McDevitt on Skillshare. I learned a lot about the drawing process from taking her course and now use a blackwing to draw over my sketches, making for a nice clean drawing.

5. Metal Pencil Sharpener

A good pencil sharpener is an essential tool. I use a Mobius & Ruppert Brass Pencil Sharpener. It’s something I picked up in college and have used ever since.

6. Staedtler Eraser

The Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser works great.

For Inking


TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing

1. Translucent Marker Paper

Another material I picked up in art school, this marker paper is great for ink drawings. You can achieve the smoothest lines with little bleed from your pen.

2. Ink Pens

I use Copic Multiliner pens. It’s one of many good brands (Fiber-Castell is another good one) and comes in variety of sizes. 0.3 and 0.5 are the two sizes I use most often.

For Watercolor

TOOLBOX: My Favorite Drawing Supplies #art #materials #drawing

1. Arches Watercolor Paper

A high quality watercolor paper. I use hot-press for watercolor and ink, and cold-press for watercoloring only. The difference is cold-press paper has a nice texture while hot-press paper is smooth.

2. Shmincke Watercolors

I first learned of Shmincke watercolors from Geninne Zlatkis. They were a big investment, but totally worth it. The pigment is bright, saturated and beautiful.

3. Paint Brushes

I use fairly cheap paint brushes. The brand shown are Princeton Snap and Loew-Cornell.

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TOOLBOX: Sharpie Pencil Review

TOOLBOX: Sharpie Pencil Review #productreview #sharpie #review

When I first read about the Sharpie Liquid Pencil on the Sharpie Blog I was pretty stoked. I am a fan of using pencils for my doodles- but I hate that they rub and fade over time. Sharpie’s Liquid pencil promises to write and erase like a pencil, and to be permanent after 24 hours (or more?).

Since I am also a Sharpie-aholic, I went ahead and bought a set at the office store to try out.

TOOLBOX: Sharpie Pencil Review #productreview #sharpie #review

Overall it’s a disappointment. The pen[cil] does not write smoothly, more like a cheap ballpoint. When you do write with it, it leaves a relatively deep impression in the paper that makes it virtually impossible to erase completely. At the same time, the “liquid graphite” is very easy to smear, or “erase” with your finger or hand.

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The uneven quality means that it is not any good at the things I love doing with a pencil- shading, varying stroke weight, messing around. I’m really not sure that it is good at anything. I will check it out to see how permanent it is tomorrow.

Guess I’m stuck with my mechanical pencil fallbacks, and all my Sharpie pens (which I heart) and markers.

(If you want an even more thorough review, check out this one.)

Note: I did not receive any kind of compensation for this product review. At Adventures in Making we love sharing information about our favorite tools and resources because we believe knowledge should be shared and that we can all learn from each other’s experiences.