I will admit that I was a bit of a bookish child growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly climbed my share of trees and rode my bike for days on end, but I have always found a good book to be something totally magical. It’s not at all surprising then, that for a good chunk of my life I entertained dreams of being a writer. I outlined plots, sketched characters for my great Canadian novel, and lurked around corners to hone my skills as an investigative reporter. Now I’m all grown up, and even though I may not be a Canadian Lois Lane, a really nice notebook can still make me swoon!
Why would you settle for a plain old boring notebook, when you can have something as fresh and pretty as these?
New Leaf Handmade Goods is the partnership between sisters Maria and Cecilia. Based out of Swift Current Saskatchewan, they have blended their love of paper and fabric with artistic talent and thrift-store sleuthing to create these beautiful books. The paper inside is all reclaimed, recycled or repurposed, so they are lovely to look at and easy on planet earth!
Mixed in among the blank pages in each notebook, you can find reclaimed treasures like sheet music, tracing paper, and map pages that give each book some serious personality. Maria and Cecilia even include a few notes about the origins of “your” paper, so you can truly get a feel for where the pages came from. Then it’s up to you to fill each page with whatever your heart desires.
There are even some childhood favorites that will bring back happy memories. I just read this one to my little girl a few days ago!
Want to see what else the sisters have to offer? Head on over to the Etsy shop where you will find plenty more notebooks to choose from, as well as a whole bunch of great pillow covers like this:
Then, when you are done browsing, stop by their Facebook page or Twitter stream and say Hello, or visit the blog for musings, DIY and even a newsletter. Also, make sure you wish the girls a Happy Birthday because New Leaf turns one year old in just a couple of weeks! Congratulations Ladies, and keep up the great work!
I am a sucker for anything personalized – maybe that was the ulterior motive in naming our girls more common names, since they should never have trouble finding that pencil with their name on it, or the tacky souvenir at our summer holiday destination of choice! Yay!
Through the magic of Twitter, I discovered Penny People (via @clippo) the other day and I’m smitten. Lindsay Stephenson, the artist and designer behind the company, has created a line of personalized art as well as invitations and stationery that are cute and modern. I remember looking for something like these alphabet prints a few years ago for my daughter, and I couldn’t find any Canadian options. Problem solved :)
We’re thinking about the holidays already, and Penny People offers holiday photo cards that are really lovely, as well as return address labels, wedding invitations and more! The designs are lovely, but I also really like the story behind the name of the shop. A self-taught artist, Lindsay started out as a child, making faces using a penny to trace the circle… and Penny People were born! Her style has evolved over the years, but her designs are still bright and colourful.
Lindsay is a busy, busy woman running her business, designing for corporate clients, keeping up a great blog and chatting on Twitter! You can find her at PennyPeople.com (invitations, photo cards etc.) and on her Etsy shop for the personalized prints alpahbet prints above.
Every kid (and adult!) deserves to have something with their name on it – thanks, Penny People!
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Update! Lindsay wrote about us on her blog – thank you! Check it out here!
I have stopped going inside of card stores. I rarely find a card that says exactly what I am feeling or trying to convey. Often I find the “humour” is very generic (really?? a ladies birthday card that cracks a joke about chocolate? or shopping?? how creative!), and I end up leaving disappointed. So instead I have started making my own cards, or finding handmade cards that fit my style and sense of humour. When searching for a card the other day I came across Navy Blue Notes, and honestly started laughing out loud. The inside of the cards are blank, (no horribly corny and painfully forced rhymes here!) so you can compose your own message, and the fronts have a little bit of fun attitude to bring some levity to almost any situation. The Navy Blue Notes tag line says it all: “Simple, social notes to amuse the lighthearted & antagonize the humourless”.
I originally found Navy Blue Notes on Cosa Verde, then discovered that they also have an Etsy shop, Cargoh shop and a blog. Made from eco-friendly 100% post consumer recycled paper, these cards will make both the recipient and the earth feel good! Especially in this digital age, a handwritten note is something special and heartwarming. Taking the time to write a personal note really shows someone you care, and if you can share a laugh while you are at it, what could be better than that?
Wishing you a day filled with smiles,
Today marks the beginning of a new school year for many students across the country. Having been a student for many (many!) years myself, September always feels like a time for new beginnings, a clean start, and getting organized. One of my favorite things about back to school was all the clean, new supplies. Aaaahhh… the bliss of fresh, unmarked notebooks, a set of highlighters with every colour, pens and markers galore, all neatly housed in a new pencil case and backpack.
Within a few weeks I was always down to one blue pen, a random highlighter, a couple of markers with no lids, and my notes were falling out of their once-organized binders. But for a few precious days everything was bright and new, full of possibility and opportunity. So in honour of the first day of school, may I present some school supplies that would definitely have made the cut for my backpack: courtesy of Smackeral of Books.
Smackeral of Books (aka: Beth) works from her home in St. Catherines, Ontario. All her notebooks are hand bound and unique. In addition to notebooks, journals, and portfolios, she also has a few pieces of abstract art available. You can see the whole selection at her Etsy shop.
Here’s to all the students and teachers in our lives… have a great year everyone!
Okay, so I didn’t get to be at the beach this long weekend, but my sister does (*jealous*) and I’m going to pretend for a little while… that’s where Art by Daina comes in! I think Daina says it best when she describes her artwork on her Etsy profile page:
My latest series of round-themed surf art paintings pull together all the subjects I’ve loved painting over the years- flowers, landscapes, figures, textures- combined with my connection to the ocean and nature. They resonate a kind of nostalgic vintage art-nouveau twist on the classic pin-up girls and retro cars set against lazy summer beach days.
The bright summer and casual feel of her paintings makes me long for a hot day with nothing but sand between my toes, a good book to read and a bag of salt & vinegar chips by my side (I know that’s weird, but the only time I ever eat salt & vinegar chips is at the beach! Maybe they taste better combined with the smell of sunscreen and the grit of sand?!) The surfer themes, along with her beach blossoms and the beautiful rolling waves make me wish I lived in her daydreams.
Daina hails from Halifax, NS, so it’s easy to understand why her inspiration comes so much from nature and the ocean. My memories of holidays in Nova Scotia nearly all include some aspect of the ocean and being at the mercy of the constantly changing weather. The golden light in her pieces is so warm and comforting, I’d love to decorate a room around these colour themes! Her shop has many original paintings available, as well as a few prints and a variety of art cards. For a smaller space, a collection of framed art cards could be a lovely grouping and make for a sweet themed powder room or entry way.
Cheers to the beach!
I’ve said it before, but I’m a big fan of stationery, and when you combine that with my love of travelling, I’m sold. I spotted this journal last week on Canada Day which seems rather fitting!
Created by Laura of Prairie Peasant, this fun little notebook would be perfect for a summer road trip journal (or just to dream about all those summer road trips you’ll take one day)! The covers are made from vintage atlas pages, handbound to lie flat when open. If you look on her shop, you’ll see that the pages are made from reclaimed computer paper, hand torn and with the tractor feed holes still intact!
Her World Map envelopes also caught my eye – I love these so much, I’d have to make sure that the receiver was going to properly appreciate the fun of getting a little piece of the world in the mail. Our young daughter, who is very curious about other parts of the world, would get a big kick out of getting one of these in the mail! Laura has hand chosen each set of envelopes to include a variety of world geographical features.
Laura hails from Winnipeg, and in a little twist of fate, the funky Cosmic notebook below features paper from Botanical Paperworks, a Winnipeg company that we highlighted last week! Sometimes, Canada really does feel like everyone knows everyone else ;)
This time of year is prime time wedding and event season. That means bridal and baby showers galore, weddings, family reunions and so much more. That means lots of cards and thank you notes to be sent off to the special people in your life. I love the personal touch of a handwritten card or note, but now you can take your message over and above the rest with Botanical Paperworks.
Made of 100% post consumer recycled paper, each piece of paper or card is embedded with wildflower seeds. Simply cover them with a layer of dirt, water, and watch as beautiful wildflowers bloom. Now the people you love can not only read how you feel about them, they can see it too!
Based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba, this mother-daughter team has been creating their plantable stationery since 1996. Their line of products now includes cards for any occasion, plantable confetti, wedding favours, envelopes, invitations, and that’s just getting started!
May your day be filled with beauty and words of love,
Sitting in my family room last night, watching So You Think You Can Dance (don’t you just love Cat Deeley?), I literally gasped out loud when I saw this ring from bstudio.
The artist is Brenda Kee, and her shop is filled with beautiful pieces, all featuring silk ribbon. The ring above has been made by gathering hand-dyed silk ribbon onto an adjustable ring, and also comes in a gorgeous red.
Brenda’s shop is full of a beautiful variety of products – from hand embroidered cards to pillow covers, framed artwork pieces and more lovely jewellery.
The flowers on her pillows are multi-layered, with silk embroidered centers, and the designs on her cards are stitched on silk dupioni fabric with great attention to detail. I just love the ladybug!
Brenda also shares her talent, and has a book available on Chapters.ca (and on that other big American online bookstore but we’re supporting Canada here, right?!) Her Ribbon Art Book & Kit includes instructions for 10 projects, and even supplies to complete one of them. I love it when artists aren’t afraid to let others in on their secrets!
Just one last thing – it was pretty cool and gloomy yesterday in Alberta, but these daffodils would brighten any wall.
Back in high school and university, I indulged in a mild office supply addiction. Living in France for a year, with fountain pens and all the lovely notebooks and papers, didn’t help. Sadly, for the last few years my laptop has taken over and I hardly ever write with pen and paper anymore.
I just discovered these handbound journals, though, and they are so lovely that I’m already dreaming about a trip to the office supply store to stock up on my favourite inks and pens!
Rhonda, at Etsy’s My Handbound Books, lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with her family. She discovered book binding while she was still at library school and immediately felt a connection to the art. Rhonda’s collection of handbound journals and notebooks are often covered in leather or suede, with straps, buttons or twine to help keep them closed and tidy.
I have a bit of an affinity for the Medieval era, and this notebook made in the style of the 1600’s struck my fancy immediately:
I love the different straps and wraps that she uses to keep the notebook together in your bag or on your desk – this mini journal looks very elegant, and I think it would be perfect to use as a small travel journal or idea book!
All of the notebooks have torn-edge paper, many with recycled papers, and the combination of the rough paper and the leathers and suedes make these notebooks very special.
You can find Rhonda’s books at her shop on Etsy, or visit her at her blog (check out this post, where she makes notebooks out of the boxes from “As Advertised on TV” products like the SlapChop and the Snuggie!). You can also follow her on Twitter (@myhandboundbook) or on Facebook! Rhonda is everywhere!
As I mentioned on Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting Nikki Kelly at the Make It Edmonton show at the end of May. I hadn’t planned on going to the show, since we were supposed to be camping… but this is Edmonton, and we were chased out of the campground by an impending blizzard. Yes, really.
The silver lining to our aborted camping trip was a trip to Make It! I met many great crafters and designers, and was pleased to see some familiar faces and companies.
Nikki agreed, on the spot, to be our first “Feature Friday” interview candidate – as we discover the amazing talent in Canada, we wanted to learn a little more about the people behind the products, and so we’ll be asking a few of the artists to answer our C+H questionnaire! With no further ado, allow me to introduce Nikki:
C+H: What started the creative fire burning for you? Do you remember a particular moment, a favourite childhood activity, something you saw and wanted to recreate or improve upon?
Nikki: Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved drawing and if you look at my illustrations now, it’s pretty obvious my style hasn’t developed much over the years. Of course that’s all part of my shtick though… My cards intentionally look sweet, but have a very vulgar edge. As for how I came about designing greeting cards, I was reading cards in a local gift shop one day and it occurred to me how awesome it would be if there was a really sweet looking birthday card that said something really crude and unexpected on the inside. Since I had diplomas in both Journalism and Design I figured I’d start creating cards like that myself!
C+H: Where do you look for inspiration?
Nikki: Inspiration comes from everywhere for me. Sometimes I hear a word on tv that will inspire a card idea, other times it’s thinking about a certain friend or family member and developing a card around a certain personality trait they have. Though ideas really occur anytime and anywhere so I’m almost always carrying a notebook with me so I can jot them down as they arrive.
C+H: What part of creating your pieces gives you the most joy and satisfaction?
Nikki: The most joy I get in creating my cards is seeing how people react to the finished product. Since most of my sales are through retailers and online orders, I only get to see my customer reactions a few times a year at various craft shows. It’s reassuring to me to see that I’m not the only one with a twisted sense of humour.
C+H: What is it about your creations that sets you apart?
Nikki: Hug and Kiss cards are different from other cards lines because we look so sweet, but have such a sassy, sarcastic, sinister sense of humour. Sure there are other vulgar greeting cards out there, but you can usually tell what sense of humour they have because of the illustrations on the front. Having ours looking like they were drawn by a child really throws the reader off when they see all the swearing inside.
C+H: Why do you choose to work in this medium or format?
Nikki: Greeting cards were a medium that I just sort of fell into, but I think there’s room for my company to expand into other formats. I’ve already expanded to magnets, t-shirts and paintings, but I’m hoping to branch out even more in the next few years.
C+H: How long does it take to create one of your pieces?
Nikki: A card can take anywhere from five minutes to a few weeks to create. The copywriting has never been the hard part for me, it’s coming up with the illustrations that can take time.
C+H: Do you feel that living in Canada has influenced your work?
Nikki: I think in general Canadians have a really great sense of humour, which has made my cards really well-received. It helps that we can laugh at ourselves too, which is almost needed as the receipiant of one of my cards. Also, it seems we really like to support local talent, so people are happy to learn that my cards are all 100% hand-made here in Canada.
C+H: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out? Who has provided you with inspiration or mentorship on your journey?
Nikki: When you’re just starting out, you have to take risks. Sometimes they can be really scary, but you have to get out there and give it a try. I’ve been really lucky in having a very supportive family that has encouraged me not only to start this business, but to take it to the next level. My husband helped me out a lot when I decided to devote myself to the company 100% by quitting my part-time job. Hug and Kiss Designs certainly wouldn’t be where it is without him.
C+H: Where can we find you online? (webpage, twitter, facebook, etc)
Nikki: My entire catalogue is available online at www.hugandkissdesigns.com You can also find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=22701847512&ref=ts
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Thanks so much, Nikki! We look forward to seeing you at many more shows, and to seeing where you take Hug + Kiss Designs in the years to come!
~Sarah and Jennifer