22nd April 2013
Ever since I can remember I’ve loved beautiful handwritten notes, so you’ll understand my excitement when typography guru and self confessed font fanatic Gemma O’Brien (aka Mrs Eaves), offered to give us a lesson in hand lettering. Gemma rocketed to fame 5 years ago as a uni student with her viral youtube video Write Here, Write Now and has built, in just a few short years, an impressive body of work including hand drawn pieces for Canon (a favorite of mine) and Woolworths as well as a huge number of other creative projects such as developing the masthead for Peppermint Magazine, refreshing the title sequence for children’s tv show Playschool and designing 80th birthday invitations for ex-aussie Prime Minister Bob Hawke (see more of her work here). Today she’s going to show us the basics of hand lettering by making an exquisite hand drawn card – perfect for a friend or lover. Take it away Gemma!
Cast your mind back to primary school cursive practice and the quest to acquire your pen licence. Unless it’s a shopping list or a quick scribble… the hand written word seems to be a dying art these days. Lettering is different to calligraphy – it’s more like “drawing” letters – as opposed to creating them through the strokes of a nib or quill. For this reason, it’s quite accessible to all. You don’t need special tools … just a little practice. Once you’ve mastered your own style you’ll be beautifying the labels on your storage boxes and making hand lettered cards for every occasion.
Today, we are going to create a small card to accompany a bunch of flowers…with hand lettering that will read “Happy Days!”.
Step 1. Make a trip to your local art store or newsagency and gather a few supplies. You will need some nice paper with a bit of texture (watercolour paper can be quite good or Mi Tentes has a beautiful selection of cream and pastel papers available in A4 sheets), a 2B pencil, rubber, ruler and a variety of thicknesses of fine black markers… and of course some flowers.
Step 2. Select the size of card you wish to work with. My card is going to be A5 folded in half.
Step 3. Let’s start by drawing some guidelines just to help give our lettering a bit of loose structure. Eventually, after practice, you can draw the lettering freely without guidelines but initially its a good way to maintain consistency and balance to your work.
We are going to draw a baseline (this is the line upon which the letters sit), an x-height(this is the height of the body of the lowercase letters) , a cap height (the height of the capitals) and a stress guide line (this is an angled guide that you can use to give your lettering a certain degree of slant.) If you wish to do a little more background research into the anatomy of letters you can find a great source here. Make sure these guidelines you are drawing are quite faint so you can easily rub them off later.
Step 4. Once you have your guidelines in pencil you can roughly sketch you your letter shapes. Do not be disheartened if they don’t look great immediately. I think for this particular tutorial I wrote out “Happy Days” at least 20 times before I felt happy with it! Let the rhythm of your hand dictate the flow and start by simply drawing the “skeleton” of the lettering. It’s often helpful to look at existing examples of cursive and scripts. They can vary quite dramatically. Sometimes you can luck out and find some old books about scripts in second hand stores otherwise online font foundries have a wealth of reference and inspiration – check out this one.
05. After you are happy with the shape of you pencil skeleton you can start to add width with the strokes. This is where looking at reference comes in handy. Because you are “drawing” in the stroke width (rather than letting pressure or a brush stroke define it) it is helpful to look at examples of calligraphy and fonts to see where the contrasting thick and thins exist. While it’s important to keep the thicknesses relatively consistent across all letters, the nature of hand lettering is that there is always an element of human error… sometimes little mistakes can add character and interest. Once again … practice…practice … practice.
06. Lastly, trace over your sketch with one of the fine black pens and rub away the pencil with an eraser. If you’re working at a small scale like this it’s good to have 0.05 – 0.8 pens on hand. If working at large sizes using a brush pen or brush and ink is more appropriate. Now punch a hole in your card, and tie it to your flowers with a piece of twine…. Happy Days!
15th April 2013
Any previous satisfaction I’ve gleaned from my DIY projects (you know the type I’m talking about – making and wearing your own clothes, and the moment when people ask you where you bought your bag and you say – trying to hide any smugness you feel – ‘I made it’) was completely blown out of the water last week when I had the unbelievable experience of creating transparent accessories for Jamie Ashkar‘s runway show at Sydney Fashion Week. It was so surreal to see my pieces walking down the runway on the models, the mirror like surface of transparent ankle cuffs creating the perfect accessory for a minimal yet sexy collection – aptly titled ‘Reflection’.
I had a great time in Jamie’s studio earlier in the week crafting the ankle cuffs from transparent pvc, made a little nerve racking by the fact that we were being filmed for The Today Show. We decided not to have any leather or plastic attaching the straps to the back of the shoe so they would appear to be floating, much more minimalist than my original design and perfect for the pieces they were paired with.
Although admittedly I’m quite biased when it comes to it, I think the end result looked amazing on the models, adding that tiny bit of detail that caught your eye and brought the gorgeous looks together.
In the process of collaborating on this project I learnt so much – how designers are just a few steps removed from DIYers (dependent of course on the skills of both DIYer and designer), how manic it gets when you’re styling backstage at a show, and most of all, how satisfying it is to go to fashion week with a purpose of more than just hanging with blogger friends (although admittedly that was the second best part of the week) and being photographed in overly thought out outfits. For me, seeing my designs on the runway was one of those awe inspiring moments that reminded me of why I started this blog in the first place – to create and share projects that aren’t out of place amongst designer collections – even super simple ones like this that anyone could do. Thanks Jamie for having me on board and the ladies of Bespoke for helping me with the prep!
Images: myself and Sophia Phan
2nd April 2013
With a litany of summer festivals around the corner, Coachella being just the first of many, it’s time to start planning our festival ensembles. I’m super happy to be provisionally booked in for Glastonbury again this year (although a freelancer can never plan too far ahead) and I’m going to be making the most of the opportunity to wear my silliest kit – fringe, frills and capes included. I recently had a crack at upgrading a simple knitted sweater to a festival essential – the fringed knit. Perfect for throwing over the top of a pair of denim cut offs when the sun goes down. This technique for fringing can also be used on a number of other items too – you could add it to the bottom of a skirt or around the neckline of a dress – winner!
- A loose weave knit
- Leather/rope or wool (I used leather)
1. Start by cutting the leather (or other material you are using) into pieces around 1 meter/yard long. I cut about 50 pieces.
2. To start your fringing, fold a piece of your chosen fringe material in half.
3. Loop it through the wool at the top middle near the neckline. Pull tight to secure.
4. Continue with this down the side of the sweater in a triangle shape – mine was great because it had the triangle in the pattern already – if yours doesn’t you can always use chalk to mark it. This is the point at which you may need some good (or bad) tv to watch as doing the fringe can take some time, but it’s definitely worth it!
5. Finish by doing the other side, making sure to mirror the pattern and angle. Voila!
I recently worked with one of my favourite brands to bring you a super cool festival inspired DIY (*cough sequins cough*) which I’ll be showing you in the next month so stay tuned.