Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Clear pouches for on the go

Organise anything that can be handy while out and about into clear zippered pouches. Store them near the door so you can grab the relevant bags as you rush out the door and you’ll always be ready for the day’s activities.


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foiled lined paint tray

Painting’s not so bad, it’s the clean-up that’s annoying, right? Well, not any more if you use this nifty trick of lining your paint roller tray with alfoil.

See this and other clever painting hacks at Martha Stewart.

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Today I have an exciting first for Atypical Type A: we have a guest blogger! Without further ado, please welcome Susi from Arcadian Lighting.

Hi, I’m Susi, a writer from Arcadian Lighting, a website and blog about décor and lighting fixture trends. I’m so lucky to be a guest blogger here at Atypical Type A today. I’m writing about unexpected decorative accessories that can add charm and style to any room. Whether the accessory is unexpected or the location is unexpected, unique decorative objects and accessories make a space feel personal. Enjoy!

Home Decor

Framing a single beautiful object, like a feather, can be an unexpected decorative accessory for the wall.

Home Decor

Love the unexpected mix of rustic and contemporary in this stool. The top converts to a deep tray that could work as an ice bucket as well—now that’s unexpected!

Home Decor

Adding natural elements is a popular design tip. A few driftwood votive candle holders that look like bundles of white asparagus would be unexpected replacement for a lamp on a bookshelf or bedside table.

Home Decor

Animals are another big trend in design accessories right now. Look for animals from unexpected materials like driftwood for something more unique and rustic.

Home Decor

Sometimes the accessory is traditional but the placement is unexpected. A vintage portrait in the kitchen or bathroom is charming but atypical.

Home Decor

Wall art that doubles as coat hooks or coat hooks that double as wall art? These leaves are charming for a mudroom or foyer wall.

Home Decor

An unexpected accessory in the kitchen is a large mirror, but it works well in the room. Mirrors expand whatever space they are in, and in a kitchen they add a nice reflective sparkle. Reflected in that mirror is an unexpected kitchen light, a swing arm lamp, attached to the wall above the sink.

Home Decor

Vintage toys and collectibles are unexpected decorative accessories outside a kid’s room or a playroom. They add a bit of whimsy and make for great conversation starters. And this table lamp looks like it’s one-of-a-kind!

Unexpected accessories are the perfect way to give your home an eclectic, personal touch. Discover more interesting design ideas and unique lighting fixtures to add to your home today at Arcadian Lighting! (Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

I almost fell off my chair when I saw how beautiful the first shot is. Thanks, Susi, for inspiring us to look outside the conventional decor ideas.

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Upholstery chart

There’s nothing I hate more than being half-way through a project and running out of materials and having to run to the shops (or worse, order again online and wait for weeks). So instead I’ll buy way more materials than I need, which leaves me with craft boxes full of leftovers and a lighter wallet.

Thanks to this handy chart from Little Green Notebook, you can instantly calculate your fabric yardage required for your next upholstery project. (Use this tool to convert to metres.)

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Akimbo - Mortlock 3
Mortlock flat invitation by Akimbo

Perhaps at first thought it seems like a silly question, but your invitation order is something you don’t want to miscalculate. It can be costly to re-order a small number of invitations because you’ve forgotten to put someone on your guest list (it happens!), want to invite a ‘B-list’, made a mistake addressing or one’s gone AWOL in the post… and don’t forget you’ll want a couple of spares as keepsakes.

With that in mind, how do you go about finding the magic number?

First thing to remember is that you don’t need as many invitations as guests. I often receive quote requests that include 120 invitations and 120 place cards. If you are having 120 guests, your invitation requirements will be closer to half that number. So, add up your number of invited parties (that could be a single person, a couple or a family) then add 10%. If you’re having the invitations or envelopes calligraphed, your calligrapher will usually require extras on top of that (ask her exactly how many).

Expect the unexpected and order a few spares for only a bit extra.

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Show & Tell

Kick-arse wedding stationery e-book ad

In my line of work as a stationery designer, I get a lot of questions from brides who love the idea of having beautiful, unique wedding invitations but have no idea how to go about it. Some of them are intimidated by the printing jargon, confused about how the process works or simply don’t know where to start.

With that in mind, I’ve created a free e-book to guide couples through the process, step-by-step. It’s chock full of expert advice and practical tips, plus worksheets and checklists to keep your planning on track.

Today I’m thrilled to announce that e-book: How to get kick-arse wedding stationery.

Click to get yours now!

Note: the e-book is scheduled to be sent 24 hours after registration, thanks in advance for your patience.

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Judging by the questions I get, a lot of people must be confused as to when they should be sending out their wedding invitations and announcements, so I’ve put together a quick guide. 

Save the dates
These should be sent out no later than five months before the wedding day, otherwise they will arrive too close to the invitations. There’s no such thing as too soon with the save the dates, however if you’re sending them out a year or so in advance, you’ll need to think carefully about who should receive one because circumstances can change. Once they’ve gone out you can’t later turn around and decide you’d prefer an intimate family affair or find that you’ve changed jobs and don’t want to invite your former colleagues.

Eight weeks is a good rule of thumb for when to post your wedding invitations, but there are exceptions. If you are having a small or casual celebration with local guests who have been made aware of the date, you could get away with six weeks. Aim for 10 weeks if you are having a destination wedding, have lots of out-of-town guests, it falls on a holiday weekend or if you didn’t send out save the dates. 

Thank you notes
Try to have all of your thank you notes sent out within three months (of course your guests will offer a little more grace if you had a two-month honeymoon). With a little planning you’ll be able to have them done in no time: make sure you have ordered, addressed and stamped them in advance.

So that has all the important sending dates covered, but what about receiving?

RSVP date
Your venue will need to know final numbers for catering purposes a few days before the wedding and (trust me) there will be people who don’t respond on time. Setting an RSVP date of 10 days prior will give you enough time to chase up the stragglers. This won’t affect ordering your personalised place cards: simply order one for everyone and only use the ones that are coming. However if you plan on having a custom printed seating chart you will need to set a response date that allows enough time for design, printing and shipping.

I hope that’s cleared things up a little.

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When I was a graphic design graduate a few years ago, the single hardest thing to get my head around was the ins and outs of printing. Of course I’m on top of it now but I still remember how overwhelming it was at first, so I totally get how confusing it must be to people not in the industry.

Many wedding websites confuse the issue more, by telling you that engraving, thermography and letterpress are the only available options and everyone uses them. I’m in my mid-twenties so I’ve been to quite a few weddings in recent years – all of them classy affairs – and not one of them used any of these printing types for their invitations. Now, perhaps in some parts of the world these are the still most popular, but even if that’s the case they are certaily not the only options.

If you’re having stationery printed for your wedding or other occasion it can be really helpful to understand the basic differences between the most common printing methods. Ready to know more? Let’s go!

EngravedLouella Press

Engraving is the most traditional invitation method. It involves the design being etched in reverse into a copper plate, which is coated with ink, then wiped clean so that the ink remains only in the carved lines. Paper is then pressed against the plate and into the inked indentation.

Appearance: Sharp, raised lettering with an indent on the back of the paper.
Stock: Thick, soft paper is required to achieve the indents. May be used on dark colours.
Colours: Usually single colour, but can be more.
Tip: You can tell true engraving from thermography by the bruise on the back of the paper.
Cost: $$$$$

Blush Paperie

Thermography was invented as a more affordable alternative to engraving. Ink and resin powder are fused onto the paper by heat, resulting in raised text similar to engraving, but without the bruise on the indentation of the paper. Has a waxy look and doesn’t show metallic inks as well as engraving.

Appearance: Raised, shiny text that’s not as crisp as engraving.
Stock: The ink takes on the colour of the paper, so it’s suitable against light colours only.
Colours: Single colour.
Tip: If you’re keen on silver or gold, opt for engraving instead.
Cost: $$$$

Foil stamping
Foil stamped
Benign Objects

Similar to engraving, the design is etched in reverse into a copper plate. A sheet of foil (actually a plastic not metal) is laid over the sheet of paper, then the heated plate is stamped onto it, causing the foil to adhere to the paper.

Appearance: Shiny finish with slight intendation from the stamp.
Stock: The best finish will be achieved on smooth paper. Can be used on dark paper.
Colours: Usually single colour foil.
Tip: Try silver foil on black stock for a look that’s totally glam and will have your guests wanting to party all night.
Cost: $$$$$

Bella Figura

Letterpress is the earliest printing press method but has recently experienced a revival. Originally the design could only be made up from the typesetter’s existing individual letters and flourishes, and the inked letters would only ‘kiss’ the paper (indentation was considered a sign of poor printing). These days a raised polymer plate is used so the design is not limited to the movable type, and a deep impression is sought after. May be printed ‘blind’, that is, without ink.

Appearance: Highly tactile, pillowy look.
Stock: Soft, thick paper, often made from cotton.
Colours: No limit, but usually 1-2 as each additional colour requires another plate and another pass through the press, which adds cost.
Tip: Not just for formal designs, it will add the ‘wow’ factor to a variety of styles.
Cost: $$$$


Blind embossAya Ikegaya / Studio on Fire

Traditionally, embossing has been reserved for small motifs, borders, monograms or return addresses but there’s no reason why it can’t be used for a full invitation (as above). A raised impression is created by passing paper through two metal sheets. Like letterpress, it’s called ‘blind’ embossing if no ink is used. Some specialist printers will be able to do this, but small hand-held embossers are also available to DIY your own embellishments such as return addresses.

Appearance: Raised graphic.
Stock: The embossing will stand out and be most readable on smooth stock.
Colours: Single colour.
Tip: Worth the extra cost for the beautiful three-dimensional effect.
Cost: $$$$

Brighten My Day Studio / Press Charming

This is the method used to print your favourite glossy. Some stationers will call it ‘lithography’ (from the older printing method of that name that uses the same basic principles) and others call it ‘flat’ printing (generally they just mean as opposed to letterpress) but they are all referring to the same thing. In most cases the printer will use what’s called CMYK (cyan/magenta/yellow/black) or four-colour process, which layer to produce virtually unlimited colours. You can also use ‘spot colours’, which are the pure inks rather than a layering of other colours so you’ll get a richer, more crisp result (despite having fewer colours, this is more expensive as the printer will need to order or mix the exact colours and clean the press thoroughly before and after your job). The method is the same regardless of the ink type: the image is transferred from an inked plate to a rubber blanket, over which the paper is passed.

Appearance: Flat, rich colour. The finish will depend on the paper type.
Stock: Suits a wide variety of paper stocks as long as they are light-coloured as the ink is transparent.
Colours: Limitless shades and colours with no extra cost if using CMYK. Spot colours would generally be kept to two or so, to avoid extra cost.
Tip: Add depth to flat printing by using metallic inks or spot varnishes.
Cost: $$


Digital printing sometimes gets a bad name for sub-standard quality. But I’m here to tell you that the technology has come a long way in recent years, and the best results are indistinguishable from four-colour offset. There remains, however, a huge difference in quality. Instead of using a plate like all the other methods we’ve discussed, digital printing uses native computer files, resulting in no loss of image quality. In leading printing houses this will be printed on a huge press using real inks to achieve the same professional quality as offset printing. Your local while-you-wait office copy shop or budget printer, on the other hand, will use toner instead of ink on what’s basically a glorified photocopier. The result will be shiny toner ‘sitting’ on top of the page rather than soaking in to the paper to provide flat, even coverage. It might be fine for that internal report you have to do for your boss, but it’s definitely not the look you’re after for your wedding invitations, so before you order any digital printing make sure you ask whether they use ink or toner.

Appearance: Flat colour, with the finish dependent on paper type.
Stock: A wide range of light-coloured stocks.
Colours: It makes no difference to the price, so go nuts!
Tip: Unlike all the other methods, digitally printed invitations can be customised with your guests’ names if desired.
Cost: $

ScreenprintedCurious Doodles / The Pull

Also known as silkscreening, screenprinting involves exposing a mesh screen with an image; ink is then passed over the screen and goes through to the paper only where the image area is. The process is repeated for multiple colours. It doesn’t get a lot of airtime as a printing method for invitations: it’s used mostly on applications such as signage and promotional items. It’s a fabulous technique for printing solid, opaque colours on dark paper (such as black or kraft) and can also be used on a variety of substrates such as fabric, plastic or wood.

Appearance: Solid, opaque colour. May appear a tiny bit raised, depending on the porosity of the surface and thickness of ink used.
Stock: Use your imagination!
Colours: No limit, but each colour is printed separately which adds cost so most people would only have 1-2 colours.
Tip: Make your invitations stand out from the crowd with an unconventional surface choice.
Cost: $$$

Laser engraving
Laser engraved
Oslo Press

Not to be confused with regular engraving, laser engraving is a new technique where the design is etched or burnt into a surface such as wood.

Appearance: Dark lines etched into surface.
Stock: Usually wood veneer. 
Colours: Single colour (the colour comes from the etched wood itself).
Tips: Perfect for a rustic celebration.
Cost: $$$$

While researching this article, I came across a lot of advice that must have been written in the fifties or something, because these ‘experts’ were telling you that if you are having a formal wedding then of course you must have an engraved invitation only in black, darling, or else no one will attend your completely tacky affair and your mother will be completely ostracised from the community and eventually die of shame. What bollocks! Any designer worth her salt will be able to use any number of printing methods to achieve a invitation that suits the occasion, even the most traditional and formal one.

Another point to keep in mind is that these methods are not all mutually exclusive: for example, you can have a blind embossed pattern with offset printing text, or digitally printed design with your names foil-stamped.

I’m dying to know: what methods are most popular where you live? If you have any questions please leave them in the comments, I’d love to help.

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skirt and bedspread

As I lay out my outfit on the bed the other day, it became obvious that I lean towards the same style when buying homewares or fashion.

I’m sure I’m not the only one, so if you’re having trouble deciding on a style for your home, visit your wardrobe for inspiration. Chances are, if you like to wear it, you’ll be happy living with it.

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This may seem like a self-destructive article seeing as I’m an invitation designer. But truth is, I would rather see couples use their budget wisely to get the best possible stationery rather than have them think it’s out of their reach and automatically go for some seemingly cheaper sub-standard option. I see plenty of couples who value beautiful wedding stationery but have a limited budget and I always really want to help them make the most of it. If this sounds like you, read on!

Akimbo Precious wedding invitation

Precious wedding invitation by Akimbo

Order early
Some stationery companies will charge a rush rate if you leave your ordering too late. Avoid the rush fee by placing your order no later than four months before the day.

Order everything at once
Some printing processes will be much more efficient when printing numerous simliar items together, especially if we’re talking about custom ink colours or specially-ordered stock. Print your day-of stationery and thank you notes at the same time and you could save some dough. Moreover (wow, haven’t cracked out that word since writing my last design history essay six years ago) if you’re ordering online, you’ll definitely save on shipping costs.

Order plenty
Increasing your order by a handful will cost you a few beans, but re-ordering the same handful will be a significant extra cost since the printing process is more cost-effective when producing larger quantities. So if you’re umming and ahing about a few guests, err on the side of caution and order invitations for them anyway. Similarly, if you’re having any items hand-calligraphed, order a few extra in case your calligrapher makes a spelling mistake. It’s not a waste if you have a bunch leftover, ask around and you’ll probably find a few guests who would appreciate an extra invitation for their scrapbook or as a keepsake (my father-in-law has added a spare of ours to the family history collection).

Stick to the standard
As much as I love creating unique invitations specifically for a couple, there is absolutely nothing wrong with off-the-shelf styles. Do your research and you might find something that suits you perfectly as is, which will save you having to pay for the design work. Your stationer also might be willing (I know I am!) to tweak an existing design for a small fee rather than starting from scratch, which would be much pricier.

Be selective with colours
If your invitations will be printed digitally, you can go nuts with as many colours as you like since it doesn’t affect the price. With most other processes, however, each colour needs to be printed individually so additional colours will add cost. If you have your heart set on a two- or three-colour invitation, you can still trim the cost by printing the coordinating items in single colour or in digital.

Limit the guest personalisation
With printing methods that use plates (such as letterpress) it’s not possible to add the guest’s name to the invitation. It’s an option with digital, however it will cost a bit more, so consider whether you really need it.

Plan and check carefully
Most designers won’t let you make infinite changes without charge; in my case I supply two rounds of proofs and any further revisions will be billed. To avoid additional cost, think carefully about your needs and wording and check your proofs thoroughly (better yet, have a second pair of eyes proof-read).

Skip the extra envelopes
Postcards are an increasingly popular format for save the dates and RSVP cards as it eliminates the need for an envelope. From what I can tell, outer envelopes (a second, slighter larger envelope to keep the inner envelope pristine) seem to be commonplace in the US, however they do add unecessary cost in the form of an additional envelope and calligraphy or labelling. In Australia, this decision is made easy by the fact that no-one sells them!

Reduce the postage
Ask your invitation designer to keep the size and weight to within standard postage to avoid extra costs – or worse, a pile of returned invitations covered in ‘insufficient postage’ stamps. I have received invitations where the RSVP envelope came pre-stamped, which is a nice gesture, but if funds are tight let guests pay their own 60c.

Lose the liners
I love envelope liners but even I admit they are definitely a bonus not a requirement. Or you could have the best of both worlds and go the DIY route like I did.

Limit the calligraphy
Anything done by hand will add significant cost, so consider having printed mailing labels instead of calligraphed addresses or trying your hand using this cheat’s technique. If you still want to incorporate calligraphy but don’t have the budget for the individual addressing, have your stationer work with a calligrapher to design the invitation wording, monogram or return address that can then be affordably reproduced with printing or rubber stamping.

Take advantage of printable extras
All the little extras to complement an invitation suite (think favour tags, mailing labels, place tags etc) can add up. Once I’ve designed the main suite, designing these is light work and the print quality is not as important so I like to give these away as free downloads for customers to print at home. When you’re considering stationers, compare the price of all the items you need not just the invitations, to make sure you’re making an accurate comparison.

Be open with your stationer about your budget so she can help you make the most of it. You may have to make the odd compromise here or there, but you don’t have to cancel the honeymoon just to pay for top quality wedding stationery.

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A collection of pretty meets practical ideas to inspire a happier home

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