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October 2008

Mushrooms

Live shrooms Soon, on this site that is supposed to be mainly about lettering and illustration, I'll get back to displaying these things! But bear with me a little longer, as I continue to play and design for my son Eli's and Amy's wedding. I just cannot help myself.

This morning I crouched under a cedar tree in the corner of my back yard, and photographed these vigorous mushrooms. I love surprises in the garden. Mushrooms are always a surprise.

It so happens that I have a large supply of freshly made marzipan in my fridge. Why? Because I am doing what I did for my own wedding cake 33 years ago. I am making marzipan vegetables and fruits to decorate the young couple's wedding cake. The appearance of the natural mushrooms inspired me to pull out the untinted ball of marzipan and the red marzipan and go to work on creating some little edible fungi. These will join the pumpkins, corn, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes, and lettuces that are ready to be placed on the cake. It will look like Saturday morning at the Pike Place Market when it's all done.


Marzipan shroomsAbove is my finished little mushroom forest. In the foreground are the ones modeled on the real specimens in my yard. The stems are a little stout because the slim ones I first made drooped sadly. Eli, a long-time 'shroom hunter, will enjoy having fungi on his cake rather than white roses. Especially when the 'shrooms are completely edible.


A Vintage Label: A Custom Thank You Note

SOME years ago, my husband and our daughter found some of the most beautiful American crate labels I've ever seen in an antique store in Poulsbo, a small town on the Olympic Peninsula. These richly colored, lively-patterned ephemera have been stashed away in my envelope marked "Misc. Art Prints." While coming up with ideas for wedding invitation graphics for our son and his fiancee, I decided to play around with these labels. Today I finished customizing a label as artwork for a thank you note they'll use for wedding gifts. Below you can see the original label, two samples of the lettering I created to replace the original, and the finished label.
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Here is the original label with its curving lines of hand-lettered words. Because Eli and Amy (our son & his fiancee) live on their small farm, using these labels as the basis for some of their graphic design needs makes sense.

Bloghamlinasher To the right and below are thumbnails of my inked lettering I scanned and colorized in PhotoShop before superimposing it onto the label. I first digitally erased OLNEY & FLOYD and GOLDEN WAX. This is done with the clone stamp tool.

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Blogfruitlabelea_2 To keep the new lettering authentic looking, I followed closely the chunky serifs and rustic, imperfect look of the original letters. I used my pen tablet to digitally color and shape the letters. The finished cards will be 3.75" x 5.5".


A Tribute to Dahlias

Dahliacomp_2 I wonder if it's because I was born in Seattle, where dahlias are to be found blooming ecstatically in nearly every garden, that I used to take them for granted? And, is it because they are extensively hybridized that they are often looked down upon, even, by the gardening elite? This morning I took a walk in my neighborhood, my camera tucked into my small cotton backpack. I was on a hunt for hot autumn color in the trees, but what I found instead were dahlias. Yes, there was one maple with brilliant red leaves, but the symmetry and vivid colors of these blossoms won out as the natural spectacles du jour. Most of these examples were clustered in one deep bed close to the curving road on the crest of a rise, their faces looking brightly toward the east. Today, the grey skies allowed my lens to capture the colors accurately.

After returning home, I remembered that about 20 years ago I did some careful pen, ink & watercolor drawings of dahlias in a sketchbook. I pulled that sketchbook from the shelf, scanned the page (I recalled how long it took to draw those petals so that they were true to the form), added notes and I have included it here.

Blogdahliapiece_6 Please click on the images for larger views.

By the breath of flowers thou callest us from city throngs and cares, back to the woods, the birds, the mountain streams that sing of thee~back to free childhood's heart, fresh with the dews of tenderness.

~Mrs. Hemans, as quoted by Lady Wilkinson, 1858


In Good Taste: Designing for Chocolate

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What role can a calligrapher's work play in modern packaging design if lettering is not required? Calligraphic line used as ornament has elegant, illustrative character. For this packaging design project done for Seattle Chocolates Truffles, I was asked to provide an overall pattern of calligraphic swirls that would be printed on the bag and also on the box. Here you can see the artwork before it was applied in the printing process, and the final package. The result is a timeless design that has kept this product a bestseller. To view this product on the Seattle Chocolates website, click here.

Please visit the gallery of additional Seattle Chocolates packaging images in the column to the left of this post.