Printing Terms for the Bride-to-Be, Part I

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Back when I first got married, you went to a card shop or similar and flipped through a massive book of wedding invitations. If you had a lot of money you might look at engraving, but most of the invitations were thermographed: printed in a raised ink so they looked engraved without the high cost.

Growing up around a print shop, I used to love looking through those ginormous books at all the different invitation styles and color and font choices.

And back then, unless you were using pre-printed cards where you filled in the details by hand, there wasn’t much happening on the DIY invitation front. Considering it was the mid-90s, even those who had computers at home probably had a dot matrix printer, maybe an inkjet, but only offices had the impressive laser printers (and even those weren’t as impressive as they are now).

I refuse to call those the “good ‘ol days” for obvious reasons.

So, 2 things have now been established:

  1. I’m old enough to remember when not everyone had a computer around, much less knew how to use it by age 3.
  2. Times have changed.

When I charged back into the wedding world in 2011, I was pleasantly surprised at how many brides and grooms now take a more active, diy approach to their paper goods. I was, of course, planning to do the same for us since I like to diy anything and everything I can (always have), but now it was more common which meant no longer needing to reinvent the wheel!

But what I was most surprised at was that brides were using PowerPoint to design their invitations!

PowerPoint was never meant to be a desktop publishing software. This is definitely a case of just because it’s there and kinda-sorta works doesn’t mean you should. And reading further I saw plenty of instances where knowing a little bit more about how printing is done away from you home computer set-up would prevent a lot of reprints and frustration when the order comes back from the printer–be it local or online.

So I’ve put together this basic guide to printing terminology and a few tips on designing for you non-graphic design majors. (Though, really, with the number of issues we have with recent grads not knowing these things, even graphic designers might pick up a thing or two from the below.)

As I was writing this all down it started to get very long. Instead of chopping it down to bare bones, I’ve decided to break it up into 3 parts. If you have no interest in diy-ing your paper goods, feel free to skip this and my next 2 posts. For the curious, read on!

Pages, and Parameters

First things first, a sheet of paper is a piece of paper. We’re starting out simple on purpose, here. A sheet of paper has two sides and, therefore, at least 2 pages.


At least? Oh, yes, follow along carefully because this is where we lose some folks at the office.

Take a standard sheet of 8.5″x11″ copy paper. On it’s own it has a front and a back, so 2 pages*. Now, give that sheet of paper a quarter turn and fold the right side over to the left (like you would if you were folding your wedding programs), and suddenly that 1 sheet of paper has turned into 4 pages, each page 5.5″ wide and 8.5″. And, yes, you should always know your page size–that’s what the printer is going to be concerned with. Just because you fit 4 RSVP cards on 1 sheet of copy paper, that doesn’t mean that’s how he’s going to run it!

When you folded this sheet to make your booklet, you also created a spine where the pages meet and fold.

ProTip: the size of paper goods is always described as W x L, so measure across the top, first, for the width and then down one side for the length. For envelopes, the width is whatever side the flap is on.

Okay, take another sheet of paper and fold it the same way, slipping the first sheet inside (again, think like a program). Now those 2 sheets have become an 8-page booklet with a spine that needs to be secured somehow. Unless they specialize in weddings and charge an arm and a leg for hand-finishing, chances are your only option is going to be to saddle-stitch (i.e. stapled down the middle of the sheets along the spine). If you want to add ribbon or do some decorative stitching, you can request that they just fold and collate (marry together) the pieces and you can finish the binding (what holds the separate sheets together) on your own.

Incidentally, when you folded the one sheet into four pages, you created a signature. Now, if you started with, say, an 11″x17″ piece of paper and folded it in half and then half again, you’d have created an 8-page signature. After trimming the folded edges that aren’t the spine, you’d have your entire 8-page program done on a single sheet of paper if you could print that big. Multiple signatures can be nested inside of each other to make bigger booklets, but that’s probably outside the needs of your average wedding, so we’ll move on.

One more thing before we end for this post–if there is a folded spine on your booklet, then your page number must be divisible by 4. If you are stapling a stack of sheets together, then you can have a page count divisible by 2 (front and back of 1 sheet, remember), but if it has a spine it needs to be in sets of 4 pages to work. That’s just all there is to it.

*A page is a page no matter how blank–yes, you count the blank pages, too, because they definitely exist. Anyone else remember manuals or bills with “this page intentionally left blank” on them, just so the reader wouldn’t freak out about potentially missing information?

How To | Joined Name Banner

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

It was the Wednesday night before our Saturday engagement shoot and I get the hare-brained idea to make us a banner to use as a photo prop.

Now, before we go any further, I want to assure you this story has a happy ending, as evidenced by this awesome shot from the day of:

Photo by Pink Shutterbug Photography, cropping by me (mostly to remove our kissy-faces)

Photo by Pink Shutterbug Photography, cropping by me (mostly to remove our kissy-faces)

But it wasn’t guaranteed when I went to start.

You see, just after Christmas I treated myself to an addition to my craft room: an eCraft electronic die cutter. I’d just gotten it, and barely used it so far, but I figured I should be able to have it cut out the letters and leaves with no problem.

Yeah… Not so much. When you’re learning a new tool it helps to be smarter than the machine and the software that powers it. I know, now, what I did that made the first night so tough on myself, but it wasn’t much consolation when I spent 3 hours and I don’t even know how many sheets of card stock trying to cut out 2 sets of 9 letters. In the end, the cutter did save me a lot of time, once I got out of my own way.

Eventually I did get my letters cut out–one set of slightly larger, silhouetted dark shapes for the backgrounds and a set of speckled ivory card stock letters for the fronts. The lighter card stock just wasn’t doing it for me, plain, though, so I set them out and spritzed them with some Glimmer Mist in Burlap and Gold. At that point it was late and they had to dry, so I called it for part 1.

Adding a little dimension and sparkle never hurts.

Adding a little dimension and sparkle never hurts.

The next night it was time to dress up the letters and finish the cutting. I found a free cutting file from that had just what I was looking for: a grape leaf, and it was layered, too! Thankfully this night’s cutting went much smoother (a few hiccups, but I got the hang of it) and before long I had plenty of layered leaves cut out, assembled, and put together with the letter sets and let them dry for the night.

The leaves got scattered among the letters.

The leaves got scattered among the letters.

I also cut out the rounded squares for the letters and leaves to rest on. I found this coppery, embossed paper with grapes and leaves on it in my stash–no telling how long it had been there, but I was happy I’d hoarded it.

My canvas was thin enough where I could fold it double and still cut through with ease. I cut some extras just in case I screwed one up.

My canvas was thin enough where I could fold it double and still cut through with ease. I cut some extras just in case I screwed one up.

With this much done, though, I could finally decide how big each of my pennants needed to be and what shape would work best. Sure, the inverted triangle is pretty standard, but I’m still on a square kick so wanted something blockier. Plain squares weren’t quite right, either, so we went with a pentagon that looks like a little house upside down. I cut those shapes out of some lightweight canvas I had lying around (again, being a craft-supply-hoarder pays off) with pinking shears so I wouldn’t have to hem anything. The pentagons are 5 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches long from top edge to point.

Laid-out banner bits.

Laid-out banner bits.

Now, usually I’d spell out our names my name-his name, ladies first and all that, but I knew that with us standing to hold the banner, I’d need to be on the left if my engagement ring was to show (something I knew our photographer would prefer, if nothing else). I could have held his name and he mine, but it would have bugged me to no end, so I put his name first so it’d look right in the pictures. It works well that we have names of equal length, too, but that’s  just luck.

Mr. Road Trip was actually okay with the banner as-is, but I couldn’t leave it that plain. It just went against every decorative fiber of my being, so to the stash I went.

The grapes and leaves also got a touch of metallic watercolors for a little highlighting sparkle.

The grapes and leaves also got a touch of metallic watercolors for a little highlighting sparkle.

I started by adding some strips of lace along the top edge and added another rounded square in a darker color behind the copper to make it pop more. The other edges were still awfully bare and I was nearly out of time for night 2, and I knew there was no way I’d have time to do any stitching on Friday night. Then I remembered my beloved fabric paints and pens. A few quick swoops around the edges with green and some purple grape clusters and my edges finally looked finished.

Just hanging out, like banners do.

Just hanging out, like banners do.

Finally, Friday night, between pin-curling my hair and grabbing the rest of our props, I glued down the lace bits (something I only did for time’s sake–I’m usually quite adamant about sewing fabric to fabric) and the letter clusters and set the 1/4-inch eyelets in each corner. I had a surplus of 1″ binder rings so used those to link the individual pennants together. Turns out they stretched perfectly from one end of our mantle to the other, so that’s where they’re hanging out when not being used for wedding props.

Not counting the cutter (because it’s not strictly a wedding purchase, I plan to use it for lots of things well after the wedding crafting has passed), I spent a grand total of nothing on this project–I had all the supplies in my stash. Can’t beat that when you’re on a budget, right?

Cool Tools

64 Arts

So, what do you use when you draw?

Contrary to some thoughts on the matter, you can create some awesome art with very simple tools. We’re talking crayons and copy paper. For real. And even if you’re not into creating the next Mona Lisa, the point is to loosen up and have some fun while being creative which is why I wholly support the simple joys of a coloring book!

Of course, it wouldn’t quite work for what I’m trying to do with my comics to use crayons (more’s the pity some days) so, for the curious, here’s what I use

  • Strathmore Bristol, Smooth–a very nice sheet of heavy paper with a smooth surface that accepts pencil, ink and brushes with equal ease
  • Mars Technico Pencil Lead holder and Staedler 2H leads–this is a fairly hard lead so it makes fairly light lines on the paper, perfect for inking over and dropping out the pencils in Photoshop without having to spend time erasing (which sometimes rubs off the ink, as well–not good!)
  • Zig Writer Pens in black–yes, the scrapbooking pens! I love the larger barrel compared to those skinny-minny Microns (which, yes, I also use for one of the comics) and the plastic nib puts up with a little more abuse that felt tips or brush tips
  • Occasionally I’ll also use India ink and some small brushes to ink instead.
  • Canson 7×10 spiral-bound sketchbook–nice creamy paper with a good tooth that accepts pencils and pens easily, plus it’s small enough to fit in most of my purses without need to draw micro-small
  • Crayola (yes, really) colored pencils for loose sketching and Prismacolor colored pencils for more detailed work–the latter are a bit of a splurge and I still wonder if I’m putting them to their best use
  • General’s Charcoal pencils–so fun to get big thick lines and shading, if a bit messy
  • Photoshop CS4 for the occasional digital color job (really want to get more proficient here!)

Of course, I write all this and realize that I’ve haven’t played with my coloring books lately. Maybe I’ll be able to fit some in tomorrow now that I’m thinking about them again (and just rearranged the bookcase they are stored on).

Now, looking at this list it seems a bit long–I don’t use every tool every day. Usually it’s just one or two at a time, but they’ve all been used in the last month. The point is, each has it’s own uses and it’s up to me to know when and where to employ each tool. It’s not always about having the best tool for the job (as in most expensive, most popular or most hyped) but having the right tool for each. And it’s not just limited to art supplies 🙂

* * *

Daily Doodles 3.1.2010

Here’s my doodles for Monday, the 1st. I was a busy doodler last night but 2 of the items aren’t really doodles–the Short Ogre Cook (top right) is actually an inked piece getting ready to be digi-colored for a wallpaper design for the cookbook project and the food icons on the bottom right are for the same project, just a different application. Still, they were all worked on tonight so I decided to collage them in with the real doodle.

That, of course, is my tablescape on the left. Now, this is just a quickie sketch I did of what happened to be in front of me. The lampshade was a little skewed and I exaggerated it in the sketch.

Even though this was not a staged still life (the candles are usually on the entry table but were moved to make way for wedding shower door prizes, the same shower with a beach theme that yeilded the shells and sea glass that are clustered on cheesecloth at the base of the lamp) there are some good bones here for a future study. There are 5 elements–odd numbers are always good! It’s asymetrical, another plus, and the lamp leads the eye down to the candles and the cluster at the bottom which adds movement.

Granted, doodles are like brainstorming: no editing allowed! Show me yours!