DIY: Fabric Coasters

Get creative this holiday season and pair your holiday cocktails with these simple no-sew fabric coasters. They’re a festive and budget-friendly way to add some personality to your party (they make great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers, too). Choose your favorite pattern from Minted’s collection of fabrics and then whip up these fun coasters in 10 minutes, flat (I promise!).

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Throw a Hot Cocoa-Themed Party this Holiday Season

Whether you’re planning to host a holiday tree-trimming party, kid’s birthday celebration, or even a wintry-themed bridal or baby shower, we love the idea of a cozy hot cocoa theme. The party-throwing geniuses over at Happy Wish Company were so inspired by Minted’s “Hot Cocoa Bar” holiday invitation that they created this very merry hot chocolate party. Keep reading for their tips on how to recreate it at home.

Holiday Party Idea: Hot Cocoa

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DIY: Thanksgiving Pie Topper

Written by Kathleen Ballos of  Snowdrop & Co

Whenever I bake a cake or pie, I can’t help but want to top it with some cute decorations. Since Thanksgiving dinner is all about the pie (well, for me it is!) I thought this simple laurel-wreath topper would be just perfect. Use whatever color crepe paper you like, or use neutrals to keep the look simple and modern.

Thanksgiving Pie Topper

Click through for the step-by-step instructions …

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Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: painter Natalie Groves, who lives with her husband and daughter in Exira, Iowa. 

Self-taught artist Natalie Groves (who got her start as a chalk artist at Trader Joe’s!) began painting with watercolors after she moved from Southern California to the rolling countryside of Exira, Iowa. Here, she shares a glimpse into her life in the country and opens up about juggling art, life, and motherhood.

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I have loved drawing since childhood. When I was in my early 20s I worked for Trader Joe’s as their chalk artist. I received incredibly valuable on-the-job training: how to find my own personal style, how to consistently meet deadlines, how to listen, catch vision, and crank out artwork. When I moved from Santa Barbara, CA to Exira, IA with my husband, I started experimenting with watercolor. Eventually I met Meg Gleason of Moglea and started working in her letterpress studio. She encouraged me to enter a Minted art challenge! I am so glad she did.

Did you study art formally in school?
I am self taught, but I would love to study children’s book illustration someday.

Where do you currently reside? 
I live in the rolling countryside of Exira, IA. The city is an hour from us, but I love almost everything about living in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful views, lots of space, quiet, gardening, horses in the pasture, kittens on the deck, deer in the timber, simplicity. It’s quite perfect out here!

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
I am a new mother—our daughter Navine (rhymes with ‘pine’) is 11 months old—so my day consists of caring for my family, home, and property. I think the only constant is that my husband and I always go to bed at the same time together, and he reads Scandinavian folk and fairytales to me until I fall asleep.

What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I only paint when the house is clean and my daughter is sleeping… so not very often!

What was the best recent conversation you’ve had?
Any conversation with my little sister. She is a wise and incredibly funny young lady.

Please describe your last month in a word.
Mama

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
I just started painting pet portraits! (Ed. note: See a recent cat portrait in the collage above.)  You can watch the process unfold on Instagram (@meadowtogrove).

What are you serious about?
Loving my husband and daughter.

How do you balance work and family time?
I am still experiencing the new struggle of self-sacrifice for my daughter. There are days when I get overwhelmed because I want to accomplish something, but we do baby stuff all day instead. When she snuggles me or I get to see her do something new I forget about my crashing art career. That is a dramatic way of saying I am so grateful to stay home with her. She tips the balancing scale.

How do you encourage creativity in your own child?
Navine already enjoys making noise on several different instruments. We read piles of books, explore outside and share new experiences. I can’t wait for her to be able to hold a crayon! Then we can make art together.

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
A micron pen, a brown color pencil, and watercolor on hotpress watercolor paper. I also love working with Nupastel chalk.

When did you begin drawing and painting?
As soon as I could hold a pencil.

Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
Golden Age illustration. The line work is remarkable!

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be and where?
Beatrix Potter, in her home.

How do you approach your art?
Very quietly with a paintbrush. I like to sneak up on it.

How would your describe your artistic style?
Illustrative, scientific.

What do you do when you encounter artist’s block?
Clean the house or weed the garden.

What are you working on now?
Drawing the Belgian draft horse that currently resides in our pasture.

What are some of your favorite Minted pieces?
“All is Quiet” by Jenni Kupelian: I love the color palette and the subject. The Icelandic pony is so sweet and the landscape is serene.

“Landscape of Triangles and Dots” by Yao Cheng: I like the texture of Yao’s painting. To me, it looks like a forest of triangles. Every person who visits our home comments on how much they like her piece.

What does Minted mean to you as a working artist?
I am so thankful that Minted allows me to make a small living so that I can stay at home with our daughter and take care of our home and property. I spend about four hours a week painting! Barely anything! But because Minted does all the hard work, promotion, printing, shipping, and record keeping, I am able to paint and then sit back and enjoy my family and responsibilities.

Meet a Minted Artist: Natalie Groves

Natalie’s Favorite Things
We asked Natalie’s to share her current favorite art, style, home décor inspirations.

Inspiration
Who inspires you: My husband
Favorite place in the world: Home
Favorite color: Light ochre
Fashion idol: I wish I knew how to dress!
Favorite city: Santa Barbara, CA
Last stamp on your passport: Italy
Song in your head: “White Foxes” by Susanne Sundfør

Home
Favorite pieces of art in your home: “Cetti Warbler” and “The Night Bird Sings His Lullaby,” both commissioned pieces by UK-based artist Natasha Newton.
Stationery: Moglea
Pets: Cat
Favorite flowers: Hollyhocks, dahlias, zinnias, lilacs, peonies, and ranunculus
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Chad and Meg Gleason’s house
Favorite drink: Mulled wine
Favorite snack: Frozen banana, peanut butter, milk smoothie


More from Natalie Groves:
• Natalie’s Minted Store
• Natalie’s Blog
Natalie’s Instagram
• Recent Julep post featuring Natalie: “Has anything ever scared you so much it inspired you?”

Photos: Some Kinda Golden; cat portrait is courtesy of Natalie Groves

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Design to Impress Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Just in time for the holidays, Minted pioneered a new printing technique that combines the unmistakable feel and luxury of letterpress with a digitally-printed photo card. We looked to you, our talented Minted community, to create modern designs in bold, vibrant colors that have never been seen before. We were blown away with how many imaginative and fun designs we received! They’re almost too beautiful to mail. Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up!

For the best design using bright, non-traditional colors
Chunky Type” by Aspacia Kusulas

Runner-Up: Bright & Jolly! by Oma N. Ramkhelawan


For the best design featuring bold text or 
thick lines or design elements 
Floral Joy” by Katharine Watson


For the design that best gives the impression of a full bleed photo
Pressed Pine” by Jessica Williams

Runner-Up: “Much Joy” by Paper Dahlia


For the most unconventional, unique design in the
challenge that you couldn’t find on any other site

Pressed for Joy” by Phrosne Ras

Runner-Up: Merry Graffiti by Lehan Veenker

Click through to see more special prize winners from our invitation challenge

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DIY: Thanksgiving Place-Card Snacks

Written by Sharon Garofalow of  Cupcakes & Cutlery

Oh no! Your guests have arrived but the turkey isn’t done yet! Have no fear: These DIY place-card snacks not only point guests to their seats but also give them something to munch on while they wait. Because everyone will appreciate a little pre-game snack before the main course!

DIY Thanksgiving Snack Place CardsSet out these individual snack trays to keep your guests in good spirits
as they wait for dinner to be served.

Click through for instructions on how to make these DIY Thanksgiving Snack Place Cards…

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Meet a Minted Artist: Susie Allen

“Nothing is too pedestrian or too weird to experiment with,” says Susie Allen, the Eastman, Georgia, designer and illustrator who uses a variety of materials and a mashup approach to creating her playful, eclectic stationery and art.

A graphic designer for a small printing company by day and a freelance illustrator by night, Allen shares how watercolors, list-making, and even vegetables inspire her work.

Newspaper Sailboat” is Susie Allen’s first-place winner on Minted. “I really love combining type and illustration, and I’m happy with the way this one integrated the two,” she says.

Portraits of Susie Allen by Stephanie Shadden

When did you begin painting and drawing?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember, and I had a creative mom who supported me from the start. As a kid, I didn’t know what graphic design was, but I often gravitated toward projects that combined visual art and lettering. I made my own illustrated books and elaborate, crayon greeting cards for family members, with my own “logo” on the back with my initials, “LSA Greetings.”

Click through to learn more about Minted artist Susie Allen

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DIY: Portrait Place Cards

Sometimes place cards feel a bit stuffy, but if you take this fun “floating head” approach for your Thanksgiving table, guests will have a good laugh instead of grumbling that they’re not sitting in front of the rolls.

thanksgiving table ideas
place cards

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Design to Dish: Spiced-Apple Pumpkin Bread

A few weeks ago, someone I follow on Instagram posted pictures of a harvest party they hosted, and it sounded like the dreamiest thing! My husband and I always say we need to start throwing an annual Fall party, but we just haven’t gotten around to kicking off the tradition. When we do, however, it will undoubtedly include all of the quintessential autumnal things a harvest party should have: hay bales, pumpkins, apple cider, crisp weather, cute invitations, and lots and lots of sweet and spicy baked goods. This yummy quick-bake bread combines my two favorite fall flavors—apple and pumpkin—plus an irresistible cinnamon sugar topping. Whether you’re hosting a delightful harvest party or just in the mood to bake, this spiced-apple pumpkin bread is a treat!

spiced cinnamon apple pumpkin bread recipeVintage Pumpkin Seeds Holiday Party Invitations by Karidy Walker | Spiced-Apple
Pumpkin Bread (recipe below)

spiced cinnamon apple pumpkin bread recipe

Keep reading for this sweet and spicy fall recipe…

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Does routine inspire or stifle your creativity?

When it comes to cultivating creative inspiration, it seems like there are two schools of thought: One, freeing the mind to let creativity happen when it happens, and two, scheduling yourself “creative thinking time” in order to make it happen.

Of course, there’s no “right” way to inspire creativity—it’s different for everyone—but there may be a best route for you. For this edition of #WhatInspiresMe, busy Minted artists Alexandra Nazari and Sarah Curry share how scheduling works for them.

Alexandra Nazari
Los Angeles
Minted Artist Store • alexnazari.xyz • Instagram: @AlexandraNazari

I think it’s a very romantic idea to think that artists don’t need some sort of routine. In practice, however, I’ve found that scheduling blocks of time is the best way for me to develop my work. I try to spend at least a few hours every other day at my studio. If I can’t make it there because I’m tired or unmotivated after a long day at my day job, I try to at least tackle some retouching or printing tasks. It’s sort of like working out—even if you can’t make it to the gym every day, there are still ample little ways to maintain your fitness.

If I’m on deadline and creatively stuck, I like to go for a long drive to clear my head. Also, turning off my cell phone is another great way to stay on task.

California Dreams” by Alexandra Nazari

Upside” by Alexandra Naziri


Sarah Curry
Santa Cruz, California
Minted Artist Store • Instagram: @sarahcurrydesign • Twitter: @pinksuitcase
Portraits of Sarah Curry by Blue Lace Photography 

I work full time as an art director, so I have to block out chunks of time during evenings and weekends to design stationery and work on other creative projects. My routine really depends on my available time and deadlines I have to meet.

On weekday evenings, after spending a good part of the day working on a computer, it really helps me to get outside to refocus and refuel my creative energy. On weekends when I have a little more time, I love experimenting with painting and photography, or grabbing my sketchbook and heading to the beach or a coffee shop. I feel like I get more ideas when I work on art that is tactile and exercises different parts of the brain. My Stamped Seashells fabric was the result of an experiment with seashells, sumi ink and kraft paper. Other experiments haven’t turned out as well but I always learn something in the process.

When time is limited or I’m trying to meet a deadline, it’s not uncommon for me to go straight to the computer to start designing or to work late into the night. These times can make for long days and lost sleep, but in the end I think it’s all worth it to do something I love.

Gilded Brush” Foil-Pressed Holiday Card by Sarah Curry

Stamped Seashell” Table Runner by Sarah Curry


How about you—does a scheduled routine inspire or stifle your creativity? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe. We feature some of our favorite social shares in our Minted Fine Arts newsletter.

READ MORE #WHATINSPIRESME
Has anything ever scared you so much it’s inspired you?
Who’s your biggest creative influence?
When you need a quick creative pick-me-up, what do you do?

Published November 9, 2015 • Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

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