Unique, Handmade Valentine’s Day Card + A Free Printable!

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I realize than many people dislike Valentine’s Day, but I am not one of them. I’m all about the love, the chocolate, the hearts, the flowers, and especially the cards! I think one of the reasons a lot of people don’t like this holiday is because of the perceived pressure to spend, spend, spend. I totally get that, and I’m here to tell you that really, the best Valentine gift for your sweetie is one from the heart. A simple, handmade Valentine with a heartfelt sentiment will no doubt be appreciated beyond an expensive dinner in a restaurant or pricey jewelry. Read on to find out how I made this unique bouquet card for Valentine’s Day

When ProFlowers invited me to participate in their DIY challenge to create a beautiful handmade card, I was definitely up for it! I wanted to put a little bit of a twist on my card, and I have to say — I’m quite pleased with my project!

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

The selection of Valentine’s Day flowers at ProFlowers is full of beautiful choices. It was not easy picking something to work with — my head was spinning with dozens of ideas! But I ultimately hose a bouquet of 18 long-stemmed red roses because I wanted something classic. Because I absolutely love roses anytime of year, but especially on Valentine’s Day, I decided to make the flowers part of my card. ProFlowers has some really cute vases to go with their Valentine bouquets, and I absolutely fell in love with the Rustic Heart vase. Not only does it fit right into my home decor, but I immediately knew how I could personalize it.

The first thing I tackled was the vase. It looks like a heart carved into a birch tree, so it seemed obvious to make sure my husband’s and my initials were on there! I cut them them out of silver vinyl using my Silhouette Cameo, but you could easily use stickers or even a paint pen!

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

Next was to create the card. As I arranged the roses in the vase, Shakespeare popped into my head. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!  There was my inspiration! I made a simple folded card out of cardstock and scrapbooking paper. Then, I lettered the beginning of the sonnet. 

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The rest of the “card” is hanging off the roses themselves. I cut tags out of black cardstock and ran a silver paint marker around the edges.

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

Then I wrote out one through eighteen on one side of the tag. I used my favorite oblique holder, a Zebra G nib, and Dr. P.H. Martin’s Bleedproof White ink, my favorite white!

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

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On the other side I wrote down why I love my husband. I tried to include a mix of silly and sappy reasons. I knew that I would enjoy finding each hand-lettered tag and spending time reading over every one of them.

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Then I looped baker’s twine through the holes and attached each tag to one of the roses.

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

ProFlowers Valentine Card Challenge

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If you’d like to recreate this bouquet card but don’t have calligraphy skills, don’t worry! You can write the numbers in cursive and then thicken the downstrokes to create “faux calligraphy.” Or, you could print out these free tags on cardstock, cut them out, and write your own messages on the back! 

Free Printable Number Tags

Download your free tags here!
Numbers one-nine and numbers ten-eighteen.

I hope you’ll give a homemade card or gift a try. If you do, please make sure to share a photo or a description of your project with me! I want to hear all about how you are going to make it a handmade Valentine’s Day this year!

In order to facilitate this post, ProFlowers provided me with a free floral bouquet and vase. I received no further compensation. All opinions are my own.

My First Calligraphy Workshop

Bmas Calligraphy workshop in NYC

As I have mentioned ad nauseum, thanks to Instagram, I have been able to find a great group of calligraphy enthusiasts who share my love for pen and ink. Back in February, I learned that two of my favorite calligraphers, Joi Hunt (Bien Fait Calligraphy) and David Grimes (Masgrimes), would be hosting a workshop down in SoHo. I knew, instantly, that I had to figure out a way to make this happen.

I hustled to get a little extra copywriting work and excitedly secured my place for “A Foundation in Script Writing with Bmas Calligraphy” (at the early bird price!). Then I just had to wait for March 12 to get here. Being the nut that I am, I started to get nervous about going into the city by myself. I think the last time I went into NYC alone was back in 2004! Yeah, it had been a while. I had maps, I had apps, I had Plans B and C. Luckily for me, absolutely nothing went wrong. The weather was perfect, my timing was great, and I didn’t get lost.

I was also not the first one there (something that usually happens). I immediately recognized two other IG friends. It is always weird and wonderful to meet people in real life that you only know online. Surreal, in a way (but a good way). We made our way up to the workspace upstairs at the Lofts at Prince. David and Joi greeted everyone and both were so warm and welcoming! I felt nervous and awkward meeting these calligraphy rock stars, but they were awesome.

Once everyone arrived, we did introductions and then got into the meat of the workshop. As the title would indicate, we focussed on foundations. That is, we studied five strokes and how to manipulate the tines on our nibs to form these strokes correctly.

Bmasfamily Calligraphy Workshop, NYC

It is not as easy as you’d think. It was seriously a whole lot of study and work (that I am still continuing). David did a fabulous job diagramming the strokes and explaining everything. Joi and David were more than happy to answer our questions, as well as spend time with each student in the class. This one-on-one time was, in my opinion, what really made this workshop stand out. To be able to watch an expert calligrapher (though both are so modest, I’m sure neither would want me to use the word “expert” — but yeah they are!) show you how to make a V-stroke, and have their work on you practice paper? Pretty damn cool.

Bmasfamily Calligraphy workshop in NYC

The information I left with was so worth the price of the workshop. (And beyond that, I made new calligrafriends — and how can you put a value on that?!) I have been thinking about my letters in a whole new way: not as letters, but as a series of strokes. What cemented this type of thinking a was group exercise we did towards the end. David wrote a word and then, in groups, we wrote the word one stroke at a time. Each person drew a single stroke and we passed the sheet along until one by one, the word was finished. You can see my group’s work on one of the sheets in the photo above. (Allegory is like 26 or 27 strokes!.)

We also discussed Copperplate vs. Engrosser’s Script vs. Roundhand. We talked about nibs, about vintage nibs (and Joi gave everyone their very own vintage nib — I love this Blanzy 2552 below!), about paper, about pen holders, about ink… So much material was covered!

Bmasfamily Calligraphy workshop in NYC

My only regret was hastily leaving without getting a photo with Joi and David. Studying with these two lovely people was such an honor and I am feeling so encouraged and inspired to continue honing my calligraphy skills and look critically at my work to find out where I need to focus so I can improve. I hope the Dynamic Duo find their way back to New York for another workshop in the future. I would definitely attend! 

You have to start somewhere

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: I do not have awesome self-esteem. Like I wrote in my last post, I’m always comparing myself to others, seeking perfection (which, really, can almost never be obtained). In this age of social media, it’s so easy to let yourself feel down about whatever particular interest is important to you at the moment. Trying to lose weight? Someone will always work out harder, weigh less, eat better. Into decorating your planner? Someone is always going to have more money to buy nicer embellisments, have neater handwriting, be more organized. It doesn’t end, does it?

So when I really started practicing Copperplate, I was caught off-guard by how incredibly welcoming, helpful, and encouraging the online calligraphy community is (especially on Instagram). Artists freely share information on Periscope, they answer your questions, they will demonstrate a stroke or a letter multiple times so you understand. It is so very cool and so refreshing! And I think that’s what’s kept me working on it even though I am far from great. As the saying goes, “Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.” We all have to start somewhere and keep plugging along.

Since I’ll be spending all day at a workshop tomorrow studying the fundamentals of Engrosser’s Script, I thought it was a good time to compare where I am right now to where I was a few months ago. When I first brought home my dad’s old dip pens, I fooled around a little bit, wrote out a Richard Brautigan quote, and then got frustrated and put them away for quite a while. That’s the example on the top. Underneath is an example that I wrote in December 2015. Markedly better, but no shade and a lot of improper letter forms.

Calligraphy practice

And here’s the sample I wrote out this morning. Still so far from where it needs to be, but much better than just a few months ago!

Calligraphy practice

It is definitely encouraging and a good way to remind myself that I’m making improvements every time I pick up that pen. I know that having instruction from two incredibly talented calligraphers (David Grimes and Joi Hunt) is going to make a big difference in my work. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

Hello March

Hello March

I must sound like a broken record, talking about how fast time flies, how busy the days are, and how I can’t believe (yet again), I haven’t updated with a decent post. So I’ll promise (yet again) that I’m vowing to get back to it, LOL! Must be a first-of-the-month thing, right? Spring is just around the corner, and it’s a great time to start and re-start good habits.

As for me, I’m coming off of some kind of cold or virus. Saturday afternoon, all of sudden, it hit me. It was weird, I can almost pinpoint the time I started feeling sick! Body aches, a headache, and I just could not stay warm. I cozied up in my rocking chair next to the roaring wood stove wearing a long-sleeve tee, a heavy hoodie, my bathroom, and a fleece blanket and I was still shivering. A cough decided to show up as well. Ugh. Sunday I just took it easy and started to feel better. Yesterday morning I was well enough to run a few errands, but in the evening the achiness returned. Still, nothing like Saturday.

Today I’ve just been catching up on things around the house, and not trying to do too much because I need to shake this. I caught up on the family’s laundry, and got things tidied up. I’m already itching to start some spring cleaning and switch into spring decor, but I need the temperatures to warm up a bit first. I’m growing weary of the cold and so very ready for some spring temperatures.

I also snuck in some calligraphy practice before the kids got home from school. I’m trying to be more deliberate and critical, and working on my letterforms (today I practiced full-pressure strokes) instead of just writing out pretty words.

 

A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

It’s really the only way to improve. Think of it like barre exercises for ballet dancers — unless you fully understand each pose, you can’t exactly put everything together and expect it to be beautiful. Does that make sense? Next weekend I’m attending a workshop down in the city and I am really looking forward to working with two talented teachers and really diving in and studying Engrosser’s Script. I already know it’s going to make a big difference in the quality of my work.

Well, I think I’ll wrap this up and get to work on some crochet. I didn’t exactly keep up with the Mood Scarf I started last month, so now I’m just finishing it up using a stripe pattern. I love how it’s coming out — very simple, but sometimes that’s OK.

Striped scarf

Think I may just have to make a cup of tea and have a slice of berry pie for dessert, too!

Berry pie

Hope you all have a great evening!

 

Handlettered Alphabet

Handlettered ABCs

Well, time just got away from me today and by the time I had a chance to take a photo of the yarn I’m using for my scarf, the light wasn’t any good. So that will have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m just sharing today’s photo from the extended #handletteredABCs challenge on IG — writing the entire alphabet. This was probably my fourth or fifth attempt, and right around the letter “v” I realized that my dinner was starting to burn. That explains the funky-looking w, x, y, and z!

Still, any practice is good practice, and a blog post is still a blog post, right? I just wanted to keep my word.

For now, I’m calling it a night. I have tea and a donut and my cozy bed calling my name! Crochet stuff tomorrow, I promise!

Taking a Break

 We love tea.

No, no! Not from the blog, don’t worry. It’s just that I have been going all day so I decided to take a break and check in on blogs, Facebook, etc. and pop in and update here since it’s been a while. I’ve been keeping up with my #HandletteredABCs over in IG, but I probably won’t get to post them here today. But here’s one of this week’s letters.

 

A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

Honestly, I’m just wiped out! I’ve been cooking, cleaning, doing laundry… Drew and I brought in wood for the wood stove stove and stacked it. I poached chicken, made peppermint brownies, made turkey tacos for lunch, then cleaned up all the dishes from that. Might not seem like much but as many of you know, all those little things add up.

Finally, I’ve decided it to call it quits for the day. I made a fire, made a cup of tea, and that’s about it! Let’s see… what else has been going on? Drew was in Boston for work this week, and I admit I was a little jealous. It was funny — he texted me that he drove through the same intersection we went through all the time when we were dating and he’d drive me home from his apartment in Framingham to mine in Somerville. A lot of stuff has changed; it’s been almost 18 years, after all!

So, he got home around lunchtime on Friday and then Friday night was Cub Scouts. Aside from Blue & Gold Banquet in a couple weeks, it was the last pack meeting we will ever have to do. While we have certainly enjoyed our time as Cub Scout leadership, I have to say that I’m ready for it to be over and let someone else take the reins. Noah will be bridging over to Boy Scouts, and we will be taking a back seat. Drew is still very involved because he has a lot of fun, but it will be nice to relinquish the responsibility, you know?

On a completely different note, I’ve been having fun playing around with the Silhouette Cameo I got for Christmas. I am still learning, and there’s a lot of trial and error, but I’m figuring things out. I bought some vinyl the other day, so I am looking forward to making a custom travel mug for myself. The hardest part is deciding on a design! Mostly, I’ve just been making stickers for my planner. It is really cool to have the machine make the detailed cuts. Using an X-acto knife or small scissors is so much work. This speeds things up considerably!

A photo posted by Carol Bancroft (@carolwrites) on

And while I haven’t actually done any crochet, I’ve been organizing my yarn and patterns with the intention of getting back into so projects this week. I bought a lidded basket to keep my current project stashed away, safe from playful cats. And I’ve been putting my patterns into a binder so they’re all in one place. 

Well, I guess that’s about all for today! Hope you are having a great weekend!