DIY: Stenciled Pear Tote Bag

Written by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of Alice & Lois

Pears are in season now and we are loving this delicious fall fruit. For this project, we added some personality to a plain ol’ tote with just a little fabric paint. Have you ever used freezer paper to create your own stencil? It’s so easy! Learn how to make your own stencil and add a fun pop of color to a basic farmer’s market tote.

DIY Stenciled Pear Tote Bag | alice and lois for minted

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Very First Digital Invitation Challenge: Special Prize Winners

Minted’s customers have been asking for the same high quality design from you, the Minted Community, in digital form – and we can’t wait to offer this product at the end of October! Customers lean towards digital instead of paper for more casual and short-lead events like dinner parties, smaller holidays, and non-milestone birthday parties. We care a great deal about creating more opportunity for you, and digital invitations will present a chance for your designs to serve many more occasions and reach many more customers. Congratulations to all our special prize winners and runners-up!

For the best design that puts names or customizable 
information on a curvilinear path
Shark Attack Pool Party” by iamtanya

Runners-Up: “Passover This Year” by Laura Bolter Design | “Tippling Bacherlorette” by Shari Margolin | “Congrats, Graduate” by Ann Gardner


 For the best dinner party design
Chalkboard Dinner Party” by Laura Bolter Design

Runners-Up: Fresh Linen” by Pistols | “Red Plate Special” by Morgan Ramberg
Bon Appetit!” by Jennifer Wick 


For the best cocktail party design
Let’s Get Saucy” by The Detroit Card Co.

Runners-Up: Cocktails & Conversation” by Morgan Ramberg | “Glam Cocktail Party” by Kelly Schmidt | “Mod Cocktail” by Keen Peachy


For the best design for bachelorette parties,  
rehearsal dinners, or engagement parties
Engagement Cocktails and Music” by Bonjour Paper

Runners-Up: Hairdo” by Anna Elder | “Truffle” by chocomocacino
Soft Bouquet” by Jessica Williams


For the best design for a grownup birthday party  
Roaring 20s Birthday Bash” by Leah Bisch

Runners-Up: “Big Numbers” by Cheer Up Press | “Sneaky Surprise” by Jessie Steury
Quirky Surprise” by Up Up Creative


For the perfect birthday party invitation for an older boy or girl aged 13-18 
Chic Balloons” by Melanie Severin

Runners-Up: “Sweetest Sixteen” by Phrosne Ras | “Sunset Sweet” by Lindsay Megahed
Age Appropriate” by Kimberly FitzSimons


For the best design for a birthday party invitation for a boy aged 8-12 
Laser Tag” by Lori Wemple

Runners-Up: Wheels” by Bonjour Berry | “Kiddo Campout” by Leah Bisch
All Star” by Peetie Design


For the best birthday party invitation for a girl aged 8-12
Mani Pedi” by Carrie O’Neal

Runners-Up: Scoop” by Carrie O’Neal | “Karate + Cake” by Up Up Creative
Tasty Type” by Jessie Steury


For the best design for a graduation party from 
high school, college, or any other school 
Hats Off Graduation” by Frooted Design

Runners-Up: “Hats Off to the Grad” by Sara Showalter | “Painted Graduate” by Erin Deegan


For the best design for a children’s or grownup’s Valentine’s Day part 
Valentine’s Day Cocktails” by Jessica Ogden

Runners-Up: “Heart Profusion” by Up Up Creative | “Lovestruck Potluck” by Jessica Booth
XO Bites” by SimpleTe Design


 For the best invitation to an Easter Egg hunt, bunch, or other Easter party
Easter Bouquet” by Jennifer Wick

Runners-Up: “Dip Dyed Eggs” by Stacey Meacham | “The Big Hunt” by Peony Papeterie
Easter Parade” by Chris Griffith


For the best invitation to a St. Patrick’s Day party
Pot-O-Luck St. Patricks Feast” by Bask In Design

 Runners-Up: Luck of the Irish” by Carly Reed | “Wear Green” by Leah Bisch
Shamrock Party” by Sarah Brown


For the best invitation to a Mother’s Day brunch 
Garden Burst Mother’s Day Brunch” by Erin McManness

Runners-Up: Mother’s Day Garden Brunch” by Hooray Creative | “Mason Jar Brunch” by Olivia Raufman | “Brunch Leaves” by Katharine Watson


For the best invitation to a Father’s Day brunch 
Father’s Day Cookout” by Dulce Dahlia

 

Runner-Up: World’s Best Dad” by Itsy Belle Studio

 

Images created by: Leah Conroy 

 

Guest Judge Awards will be announced at a later date.

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Meet a Minted Artist: Marta Spendowska

A series where we highlight a member of our Minted artist community. Featured this month: artist and illustrator Marta Spendowska, who is from Poland and currently lives in Green Bay, WI.

Growing up in communist Poland, Marta Spendowska loved the arts but never imagined an artistic career would be possible. After moving to the United States in 2005, however, her dream became reality—she was able to study and work in design, illustration, and fine art. Here, Marta shares a glimpse into her life as a working artist.

Marta Spendowska (VERYMARTA) Artist Profile

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
Actually, I really thought I’d be a writer but after living in the States for some time, I started to feel like an island—my Polish was useless here and my English was OK but not perfect at all. I grew up with an amateur painter (my father) and have painted all my life, and after moving here, I specifically made a commitment to communicate visually. I think the decision came from a point of sadness about losing that special gift of eloquence. If I think about it now, I almost feel that I came back to painting out of unhappiness. But it was my best decision. I studied design and worked at few agencies as a designer and art director, then eventually started my own design business. Two years later, I transitioned into illustration and, finally, fine art.

Where do you currently reside?
I’m in Green Bay, Wisconsin, right now due to my husband’s business, but we’re moving to South Carolina (hopefully Charleston) or North Carolina very soon.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
I love my routines, actually. I get up and work out (HIIT—high intensity interval training) or skip rope for 20 minutes (to sweat off the dreams). Then I drink 20 ounces of water, set my podcasts, boil an egg, boil water and brew organic coffee, eat the egg (with onion, cucumber, and salt), feed my chipmunks, light two incenses, drink coffee while scrolling through Instagram, and I’m all set to go. I check my email and agenda, and divide my work into commission-based and a fine-art time slots. I like to bike for 45 minutes at least every other day and I read a lot to relax in-between working. Dinner at 6 p.m., in bed at midnight. My husband also has his own business so we both have very solitary jobs until 6–7 p.m.

What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
I’ve always loved Björk, whose life, for me, is a perfect blend of incorporating art and work. I’m sure if I were a banker I would be miserable and I’d suffer being separated from my passions. My work spills into my life, my life spills into my work. There is no real life (or at least a fulfilling one) without my work and there is no work without my life—conscious, mindful, sometimes crazy, sometimes melancholic, but always interesting. I craft my life through working: painting, thinking, observing, feeling.

What does art mean to you?
Art is everything to me. I hope every piece I paint makes my collectors feel joyful and inspired every time they see it on their wall. This is the best job in the whole world.

What medium(s) do you most enjoy working with?
I’ve loved watercolor all my life. Oil paint in Poland used to be expensive and hard to get so I reached for watercolors. I’ve always enjoyed it’s fluid nature. I’m currently working in mixed media, making my own pigments and mediums, so my fine art is moving beyond watercolors.

When did you begin painting?
When I was a toddler. I don’t remember ever not painting and drawing. My mom always said she was very glad to have given birth to a girl who was never bored or moody—all I needed was a set of watercolors.

Is there a movement in art history that speaks to you?
It has to be Fauvism for Matisse and Abstract Expressionism for Lee Krasner and few others.

If you could sit down with any artist past or present, who would it be?
Virginia Woolf, Björk, Ewa Kuryluk.

What objects have been most significant to you lately?
I have a table at my home with old family pictures, notes from psychics or tarot readings, crystals, old Polish books. It’s a sacred corner.

Please describe your last month in one word.
Salt. (P.S. I’m writing these answers from Baltyk Sea in Poland where I’m staying until the end of September.)

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
A lot of my illustration work will finally see the light very soon—I work with many companies on their product lines and it always takes a long time to be released into the world. It’s mainly beauty brands hiring me for watercolor work. I’m also taking part in a three-person show this November at a Sacramento gallery, which excites me beyond belief.

What are you serious about?
My fine art career. Part of my focus is commercial illustration (I consider Minted one of my commercial illustration clients) and I love working on commissions for products and marketing campaigns, so this is important for sure. But I’m growing my fine art career right now, painting big and working on a noncommissioned-based work for galleries. I’m happy to say that my trajectory is rising fast.

How did you first hear about Minted? And when did you join?
I’m a Minted newbie. I joined during the last Domino challenge in October. I saw the call for submissions and noticed that a few of my colleagues were a part of Minted. Because Domino has always been one of my favorite magazines, I knew it was a perfect opportunity.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the Minted community?
The community! Since I joined I’ve connected with a lot of artists with similar careers, and we’ve created a sort of advisory group where we can discuss work with and outside of Minted. We share the ups and downs of the artistic career and it’s been amazingly fun and helpful.

Artist Profile: Marta Spendowska of VERYMARTA
Marta’s Favorite Things
We asked Marta to share her current favorite art, style, home décor inspirations.

Inspiration
Who inspires you: Currently Katarzyna Kobro (I’m reading her biography right now)
Favorite recent discovery: That I’m blessed—it’s a daily discovery.
Favorite city: Hopefully soon Charleston, SC  [ 1 ]
Favorite charity: Room to Read
Favorite movie: The sad and dark film The Hours directed by Stephen Daldry
Favorite colors: Fluorescent pink and orange. Maybe violet. But then also black and white.
Fashion idol: After watching the documentary Advanced Style, Debra Rapoport and Sarah-Jane Adams  [ 2 ]
Favorite place in the world: Baltyk Sea/Poland  [ 3 ]
Daily website read: I think it’s Instagram
Song in your head: Sia’s “Chandelier”
Favorite Instagram account: @themuseumofmodernart

Art
Favorite art supply store: Jerry’s Artarama
Favorite watercolor paints: Winsor & Newton or M. Grahams
Favorite brushes: From Poland  [ 4 ]
Favorite artist: Henri Matisse and Jenny Saville
Favorite works of art: Right before my trip to Poland I saw Modern Rebels exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum and I loved seeing Lee Krasner’s “Milkweed” [ 5 ]. I have to say, nothing compares to seeing works in a museum instead of on a laptop screen.

Home
Favorite pieces of art in your home: Old Catholic crosses from Lwòw—my grandfather gave them to my father, who gave them to me.
Stationery: I create my own line of greeting cards and I must say—I love them!  [ 6 ]
Pets: My dachshund Tapsiu and very soon my father’s Maltese CoCo
Favorite flowers: Wild plants
Favorite gadgets: My iPhone. Always and forever.
Favorite neighborhood restaurant: Z Harvest Cafe in Green Bay
Favorite drink: Chocolate smoothies made by my husband or red wine
Coffee-table book: My own—I made a book interspersed family pictures with my illustrations and gave them to family members as gifts.
Favorite snack: 1 chopped tomato, 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped avocado, olive oil, lots of balsamic vinegar, salt, and cracked pepper.
What’s in your Netflix queue? I cannot wait for the new season of Bates Motel! Also, these are awaiting me in my queue: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Still Alice, and a lot of old French movies.

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“For Art’s Sake” Challenge: Special Prize Winners

We are continuously impressed with the high quality of artwork and photography that our Minted community has created. As our art business continues to grow, we can’t wait to launch a more diverse and unique assortment of art. We turned to you to submit your most interesting and creative pieces. You wowed us once again! Congratulations to all the winners!

Curator’s Choice Award: For the artwork that most captures
the attention of the Minted curatorial team
The Mountains Before Us” by Mande


Newbie Award: For the best work of art by a first-time entrant
Sable Song” by Juniper Briggs


Color Award: For the best bold and colorful art piece
Green Garden” by Tae Lee


Nursery award: For the most charming print for a little one
Blue Fish Wish” by Maja Cunningham


Avant-Garde Award: For the best edgy print that pushes boundaries
Star Child” by Tolani Lightfoot


Abstract Award: For the best abstract painting, illustration, or graphic
Melt” by Adrienne Jackson


 Photography Award: For the best photographic art print
Red Rock and Sky” by Compass Rose Photography


 Seasonal Award: For the best piece of artwork inspired by the fall or winter months
Blue Mountain” by Jenny Partrite


Landscape Orientation Award: For the art piece that best utilizes the landscape orientation
Linger Longer III” by Lindsay Megahed


Square Award: For the most interesting square-shaped composition
Sombras” by Lulaloo

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“Joy to the Work” Holiday Challenge: Special Prize Winners

This holiday season, businesses across the country will search for the perfect card to send customers and partners. We asked you, our talented Minted community, to significantly update our corporate holiday card assortment with fresh, original designs. We were overjoyed with the incredible submissions to this challenge. A huge congrats to all the winners and runners-up!

For the most innovative corporate holiday card
that you wouldn’t find on other sites
Abstract Tree” by Erica Krystek

Runners-Up: Stateside” by Jessie Steury | “Christmas Birds” by Ana de Sousa


For the best simple (but still interesting!), masculine design
Holidays Stamp” by Erin L. Wilson

Runners-Up: “Big Joy” by iamtanya | “Joy All Around” by Alston Wise


For the card that best communicates gratitude to customers
lettered thanks”  by Dawn Jasper

Runners-Up: “Thanks for being Awesome” by Genna Cowsert  | “Shimmering Snow” by
Pistols | “Simple Script” by Misa


For the best design incorporating stats & 
data from the year in a fun way
Infographic Joy” by Bonjour Berry

Runners-Up: Holiday Pie Chart” by Hooray Creative | Watercolor Stats” by Smudge Design


For the best design that incorporates a company logo
From Our City” by Frooted Design

Runners-Up: Delivering Holiday Cheer” by Itsy Belle Studio 
Winter in our City” by Shelly Gerritsma


For the most clever, witty card that makes you smile
Loading” by Elly

Runner-Up: Tools of the Trade” by Cheer Up Press


For the best design showcasing the company’s office location
nickname city” by Aspacia Kusulas

Runners-Up: Joy From Our State” by Sarah Brown | “West Coast Greetings” by Erica Krystek | “Location Location” by Hooray Creative


For the best new year’s corporate card design
A Complete 2016” by fatfatin

Runners-Up: Bright New Year” by Kaydi Bishop | “Bright Ideas” by Elly


For the design that best showcases one of Minted’s die-cut shapes
Wreath of Prosperity” by Qing Ji

Runners-Up:  Joyful Garland” by Katherine Moynagh | “Watercolor Laurel” by Baumbirdy


For the best design that puts text on a curvilinear path
Watercolor Pine Wreath” by Gakemi Art + Design

Runners-Up: holiday streamers” by peetie design 
Good Cheer is Good Business” by Chelsey Scott


For the best design from a first-time entrant:
Vintage Snow Globe” by Lisa Assenmacher

Runners-Up: Winter Sprigs”  by Claudia Bianchi | “Merry & Bright, You Were the Highlight” by Chelsea Voorhees

Images: Leah Conroy
Ed. note: “The Most Wonderful Type Award” will be announced at a later date.

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Wedding Thank-You Card Etiquette

Thanking friends and family members not only for their thoughtful wedding gifts but for also being part of your special day is an absolutely essential pre- and post-wedding task (yes, engagement party and shower gifts require a thank-you card, too!). While a gracious note seems simple enough, there are some key things you need to keep in mind. To help you get it right, here are the answers to the most frequently asked wedding thank-you questions.

Wedding Thank You Card Etiquette and IdeasFrom top: “Woodland Initials” by Lehan Veenker; “Olive Branches” by
Carolyn Nicks; “Dahlia Bouquet” by Alethea and Ruth; “Woodland
Romance
” by Hooray Creative; and “Bookbinder” by Jennifer Wick

Who gets a thank-you note?
Everyone who has given you a gift at any of the wedding festivities (the engagement party, bridal shower, wedding).

How long do I have to write them?
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have a year’s grace period (sorry!). For gifts received during the engagement party and shower, send a thank you within two to three weeks of the festivities; for gifts sent before the wedding date, send a card as soon as possible but definitely before the wedding; for gifts given on the wedding day itself, mail a thank-you note within three months; and for gifts received after your wedding, send one within two to three weeks.

I want to feature a wedding portrait on the card but we haven’t gotten photos from our photographer yet. Can we wait until we’ve received them?
Your thank-you notes are a great opportunity to show off your first pictures together as husband and wife; however, if personalizing your thank-you cards with a wedding photo means missing your deadline, use an engagement photo instead.

What should we write?
Make sure your thank-you note feels warm and genuine (definitely avoid generic phrases and wording!). Address the gift giver by name and mention the present and what you’ll do with it, along with a personal detail. For example: “Thank you so much for the juicer, we’ve been wanting one for a while and have already come up with some new recipes! We’ll have to have you over for brunch soon so you can see it in action. And thank you for coming to our weddingwe loved dancing with you at the reception!”

Do text messages or in-person thank yous count?
While a face-to-face thank you is always important, a proper thank you must be on paper; texts and emails don’t count. Also, even though typing them out might be easier, wedding thank-you notes should always be hand-written.

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DIY: Painted Favor Boxes

I love sending party guests home with an edible treat. These small, round boxes can be found at any craft store and are the perfect container for said treat. And all it takes is a bit of paint to make them truly presentable.

party favor boxes

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Design to Dish: Cheddar Scallion Biscuits

We’re going through a biscuit phase in our family right now, and I just discovered a new favorite flavor combo: cheddar and scallions. I’ve known the two tasted good together, but I hadn’t tried them in my go-to buttermilk biscuit recipe until recently, and the result was kind of mind blowing!

cheddar scallion biscuits

I was worried they wouldn’t taste good topped with butter and honey—our usual biscuit-eating method!—but they were excellent. On their own, they were savory and just salty enough, and adding a drizzle of honey to the fresh-out-of-the-oven biscuits added a delicious sweetness. These easy-to-make biscuits are perfect with barbecue or a Sunday pot roast. And they’d be amazing topped with homemade sausage gravy for a hearty weekend breakfast.

cheddar scallion biscuits and new throw pillows by Minted Home I’m loving Minted Home’s new line of throw pillows, especially this pretty green design
(left; “Summer Fun” by Simona Cavallaro), which inspired me to make something
with scallions. || Cheddar Scallion Biscuits (right; recipe below)

Keep reading for this easy, savory biscuit recipe…

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When you need a quick creative pick-me-up, what do you do?

Creative funks happen to the best of us, but overcoming them oftentimes inspires a whole new direction. Here, Minted artists Joni Tyrrell, Andi Pahl, and Jennifer Postorino share their most reliable creative pick-me-ups.

Joni Tyrrell with her son, Kingston

Joni Tyrrell
North Liberty, Iowa

Take a break! It’s so easy as a creative business owner to get caught up in working all the time and forgetting to find balance between work and family life. I’m just starting to figure out a balance, and I find that when I turn to the two most important people in my life—my husband and son—that downtime can really trigger a creative thought or idea and I can come back to “work” feeling refreshed and excited about new things.

Joni with her dog, Maverick (“A female with a boy name,” she says.)

Pining for Pineapple by Joni Tyrrell


Andi Pahl
Columbus, Ohio

Music—from show tunes to ’80s pop to Jenny Lewis and everything in between—is a great creative pick-me-up. I also enjoy taking ballet classes, so whether it’s an hour-long class or a short plié relevé combination in my living room to get the blood pumping, working out can be very helpful.

One of my favorite creative pick-me-ups is coffee and collaborating with a creative friend, like Alaina from Cheer Up Press. Since inspiration seems to hit me at the most random times, I keep several journals. When I’m at a total loss for ideas, I consult one of my journals for creative inspiration. There’s always a surprising idea that I wrote down at some earlier point and forgot about later. When all else fails, I just start painting or sketching without any prior plan or expectations.

I’m Frond Of You No. 2” by Andi Pahl

Reflections Watercolor by Andi Pahl


Jenny Postorino and her daughter, Quinn. Photo by Ashley Mauro Photography

Jennifer Postorino
Dayton, Ohio

It’s pretty simple for me. I just walk away from whatever I am doing and see what’s going on in the world around me. I’ll run to grab an iced coffee from Starbucks or a sweet treat from our local bakery—I’m a total sucker for iced sugar cookies and cupcakes! Lately I’ve been hitting the gym for a butt-kicking crossfit session every day (which is my newest obsession, or necessity, based on my love of cookies).

But, honestly, most of the time I find myself just hanging out with my two kiddos, being a typical mom. The things that come out of their little mouths crack me up, and I find inspiration in them every day. It could be anything from hearing my 3-year-old sing Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in the car at the top of her lungs to playing outside and listening to my son ramble on about how he thinks he has a huge head while shooting hoops. Oddly enough, it’s in those little moments when creativity strikes, and I feel recharged again and ready to work.

Glimmer” by Jennifer Postorino

Bundle of Joy” by Jennifer Postorino


What do you do when you need a quick creative pick-me-up? Share your answer in Comments below and on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #WhatInspiresMe.

How does education—formal and informal—shape your creative work? Read about Minted artists’ experiences here.

Learn how to become a Minted artist here.

Published September 14, 2015

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DIY: Birthday Candle Garland

Written by Sara Albers and Melissa Fenlon of  alice & lois

Birthday candles are a must if you’re celebrating a birthday, which is why we created this whimsical garland of cardstock candles. It’s guaranteed to become a decoration staple at all your birthday celebrations. We used bright neon cardstock to make ours, but you could, of course, choose any color scheme you like.

A great DIY birthday candle garland to make for your next party.A great DIY birthday candle garland

Click through for the full tutorial

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