A very dear family friend of mine (I've known her since 1977, when she was 11 years old!!) is getting married this October. She and her partner have insisted that this is a "no gifts" wedding event, since they both have had established households.
However, for her brother's wedding, I made the happy couple a Star Book which commemorated the event, held in Ireland. (You can see the Star Book here.) So I couldn't possibly not give a gift to this set of soon-to-be newly-weds! Thus, I offered to make their wedding invitations, and they delighted me by accepting. They live in the midwest, and I am on the East coast, so all of the planning happened via email. But it worked, and the end result is shown below. This is a long post, with lots of helpful hints, so go grab a cuppa, and settle in!
In this post I go through all of the steps to make the invitations, which included;
- Heat embossing
- Gold leaf
- Dry embossing (with the Big Shot)
- Using the Stamp-A-Ma-Jig
- and of course, plain old rubber stamping!
A framed copy of the wedding invitation, shown above.
We started the process with my sending along pictures of potential designs - some were my own and some were made by the wonderfully talented people who share their work on SplitCoastStampers. They chose the overall design, and a few other design elements, from those photos, and gave me an idea of the colors they wanted to use. So I made up a handful of samples, and mailed them off for their input. They made some selections from the options I sent (what color brown; heat embossed or not; gold edging or not, etc), and very emphatically indicated that there were to be no bows on these invitations. :)
I made a second set of samples for their final choices, and as soon as I heard from them, we were off and running! The most challenging part of the selection process was not the long geographic distance, but the availability of enough brown cardstock! Their first choice was a Stampin' UP! color which retired as part of the SU "Color Renovation". In and of itself this wasn't so bad, except that Stampin' UP! ran out of that brown even before the official date of the transition. So I had to turn to another manufacturer for another brown. And wouldn't you know it: once my friends made their choice, it turned out I could only get half of the number of sheets that I needed in that particular shade!!!! Yikes. Fortunately, my friends are fairly easy going, and we did have a second choice color that they were happy with. In fact, I ended up with one half of the invitations using one shade of brown, and the other half using a second shade of brown. (Since guests only get one invitation apiece, who will know? :) )
Lesson learned? Start your design process early, and be ready for surprises! AND, the more flexible you can be, the better off you will be. I also knew that I created a bit of a monster, in that there are a TON of steps required to make this invitation. I hired a young friend of mine to help where she could, scoring and taping and using the heat gun. But I also made sure I set aside many evenings to accomplish things in small bites so the project did not overwhelm me. (BTW- in case you were wondering, I made 67 invitations. Only 5 of which were "seconds.")
The body of the invitation is a full 8-1/2" X 11" piece of textured brown cardstock. But it required one additional piece of the same cardstock, because we wanted to create a pocket to hold the RSVP card, and other cards with additional information for the wedding guests.
This is how the invitation will arrive. It is a 8-1/2" X 11" sheet, folded in thirds. The leading edge is shaped: I made a template from a piece of cardboard (leftover from a used-up pad of paper), and cut each piece of cardstock by hand with my hobby knife.
Yes, it was tedious. But I put on a movie and just got in a groove...
This is a close-up of the flourish and the gold foil on the leading edge. The flourish (Victorine Originals) was stamped with SU's Chocolate Chip Craft ink, and heat embossed with clear embossing powder. When I get in production mode with embossing, I have the best luck if I stamp, sprinkle on the powder, dust off the excess, and then set it aside. When all the pieces are covered with embossing powder, then I turn on my heat gun and hit them all at the same time.
For the gold foil, I opted NOT to use the Krylon gold leaf pen. I find that you cannot count 100% on it staying put in every single situation. So, instead of risking a smudge, I used leafing adhesive (Duo Embellishing Adhesive) and gold leaf (Mona Lisa Products, Houston Art, Inc). I had the best luck using a Fine Line Calligraphy Pen from US ArtQuest.
This pen works by capillary action: you fill the tiny reservoir with adhesive or thinned paint, and can draw very fine lines. I found it the most reliable way to apply the leafing adhesive. Once it dried tacky, I applied by gold leaf and burnished it down until no more leaf flaked off.
I found that the adhesive remains tacky until you attach something to it, so there was no need to rush through these steps. I could apply the adhesive to all of the pieces, and then go back and apply the leaf to all the pieces.
Tedious? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.
The couple also wanted their initials on the lower corner of the invitation, so I stamped "K & K" using Monogram Sweet from Stampin' UP! (their choice). Again, this simple step ended up being quite the process, because I used my Stamp-A-Ma-Jig to make sure each character was correctly placed. But when doing that, you have to make certain each character is dry, or you risk smudging with the image sheet from your Stamp-A-Ma-Jig. So, as with the flourish, I stamped, sprinkled, and dusted off the excess for the first letter, and set it aside. When all invitations had the first letter, I heat embossed. Then I started the process all over again.
Next came the inside, with the actual language for the invitation. They provided me with the language and chose the font. I laid it out, and printed on Very Vanilla cardstock on my home HP printer, using the CMYK codes for Chocolate Chip ink color. Three invitations fit nicely on one sheet of cardstock. I used my guillotine-style paper cutter to then trim them to size.
You may have noticed in the photo at the top that the left side of the invitation is dry embossed. This is the step that came next, after printing and trimming to size. I used the ProvoCraft "D'Vine Swirl" embossing folder and practiced a lot before I started on the printed invitations. Practicing on scrap cardstock first allowed me to discover the best way to position the cardstock, and only emboss part-way on the invitation. I also discovered that I could emboss two at a time, which saved me about thirty passes through the Big Shot machine...
I finished the inside portion by stamping twice in Old Olive ink with a small flourish stamp (Hero Arts), and adding a piece of 1/4" Old Olive grosgrain ribbon at the interface of the embossed and non-embossed portions of the invitation. For the framed invitation, this whole piece was then mounted on Old Olive cardstock (which was edged with the Krylon Gold Leaf pen), and then again on a piece of More Mustard cardstock.
The actual invitation, opened, is shown at left. The pocket on the bottom had to be added as a separate piece because the entire length was greater than 12", so I could not even use scrapbook-sized cardstock. The pocket was attached using Sticky Strip, to help assure that it would hold together.
The three cards in the pocket include the RSVP card, information about hotel accommodations, and addresses for the church and the reception. Again, the couple chose the colors in keeping with their autumn wedding: More Mustard, Old Olive and Really Rust (now retired). I laid the text out for each card using Microsoft Publisher, used the same font as the invitation, and added a narrow line along each edge in the color of the cardstock. My printer will not print on the colored cardstock, so I took the electronic files to Kinko's, together with my cardstock, and had them print the cards. My guillotine cutter came in handy again at home, saving me at least from having to pay Kinko's to cut them!
Closer view of the whole invitation.
And of course I could not resist framing one invitation as a small additional gift to them. The photo is at the top of the post. Given the way the invitation was designed, it did not lend itself to framing. So I took the vanilla portion of the invitation, mounted it on the colors of the additional information cards, placed all of these on brown cardstock, and added some embossed flourishes like those on the outside of the invitation.
Finally, I found the perfect sized frame, but it was in a black metal finish. Because it was the perfect size (and the perfect price!) I decided to make it suit my needs by gold-leafing the entire frame.
This time I used some decorative gold leaf that had a variety of colors in it, and I was able to brush on the leafing adhesive.
And there we have it! Truly a labor of love all the way around, and not something I would do for just any body. But my friends have something special, and I have the warm fuzzies knowing that I made it for them!