We gave Valentine’s a bit of a twist this year. Instead of doing a traditional card, we created some V-Day artwork; something to last all year. For this project, you will need:
- Water Colors & Water Color Paper
- Picture Frame
- Chalkboard Spray Paint
- Silver (Metallic) Pen
My daughter loves to paint so that was the main inspiration for this project. I love abstract art and find her art very inspiring. My trick to a finished looking piece is after she’s done splattering a highlight color on to unify it.
Step 1. Spray paint the frame. I just picked up a couple of cheap $3 frames from Wal-Mart. The frame + the glass for $3 is quite hard to beat.
Step 2. I used the photo insert paper as a template and marked 2 sets of crop marks on a single 8.5 x 11 sheet of water color paper. Also known as a 2-up template. This way my daughter could paint a whole sheet and then I just trimmed the 2 panels out. When she handed the paper to me and said “Pretty!”, I knew she was done. I splattered my highlight color, wrote “love” with the silver ink pen and then splattered silver ink around to now unify the type with the art.
Step 3. Once the frame is dry, bring on the chalk for a bit of detail. To preserve it, you can us hair spray (the perfect substitute to spray fix).
Put it all together and you have a special little work of art. Enjoy!
This craft accompanies the previous post Super Hero Capes. Part 2 is a Super City. The finale to my daughter’s 3rd birthday was to take pictures of my super heroes; defenders of Metro City. Things you will need:
- Cardboard boxes… and lots of them
- Printer Paper
- Glue (Spray adhesive, Hot glue, Mod Podge)
- Paint and Paint Brushes
- Foil Tape
I don’t have a lot of process pics for this project because it was very messy but it’s pretty straight forward. Step 1 is to work with your cardboard boxes. I messed around with the stacked boxes to get just the right arrangement of “sky scrappers” and then I hot glued the lot! I even glued all their lids together to give them a little extra strength. (Totally worth it.)
Step 2. Covering our buildings. Hod podge… lots of hod podge. To save time, I actually used some spray adhesive to do a basic cover but then all the edge stuff was hod podge. (2 bottles)
Step 3. Painting. This was literally just me dumping a bunch of acrylic paint into a plastic container and mixing it around to get the colors I wanted. I knew my daughter was going to be covered in red head-to-toe so I chose to paint my building with cool tones for contrast.
Step 4. Windows. Adhesive Foil Tape. Who knew right? I just cut a bunch of random strips and had my army of helpers put them on the buildings.
Again, pretty straight forward but so much fun when it all came together!
Our next set of crafts where 2 parters. My daughter’s 3rd birthday party was a super hero themed art party. Yeah I said ART Party! And part 1 was Super Hero Capes! Things you’ll need:
- Felt (Soft and Hard)
- Elastic string
So the soft felt is for the capes themselves while the hard felt is for the masks. The template for the cape is easy to sketch onto the felt and then trim out. Same with letters, badges, lighten bolts, etc. Then just sit back and have the kids arrange all main decorations.
Once they are done you can step in and glue it all together. Then comes the BLING! (My daughter’s favorite part.)
This was the main craft we did for my daughter’s party. We had kids of all ages and everyone had a blast! A must try.
This week’s craft is paper towel roll butterflies! Things you’ll need:
- Paper Towel Roll
- A Few Cardboard Boxes
- Paint / Brushes
- Scrapbooking Wire (Optional)
- Glitter (Optional)
First thing is to paint the paper towel rolls. We painted one with a lighter green for the stripes and one with a darker green for the base. While those were drying, we painted the inside of the cardboard boxes with pink/red/yellow and glitter.
Back to the paper towel rolls we go. For the bodies, cut the darker green in two. For the stripes, split the roll down from top to bottom and then cut it into strips. I had originally hoped that the stripe strips would just kind of clamp on… not so much. You’ll have to tape those bad boys on.
For the wings, I just free handed the shape and trimmed them out. /insert more tape/ The spots where the same way; trim and go. /insert more tape/
Finally, the antenna. I had some scrapbook wire around so I cut 4 pieces, wrapped them around the end of a paintbrush and taped them to the inside of the roll.
There you have it. Paper towel roll butterflies.
A quick intro for 52 Crafts with Your Toddler… I was looking for a way to spend creative time with my 2 beautiful girls who are budding little artists. So, I figured if we set-up a weekly craft time why not use it as my blog inspiration. Pretty simple.
Now for this week’s craft: Monster Boxes. These were fun and pretty simple. All you need is:
- Tissue Boxes
- Construction Paper
- Paint and Paint Brush
- Egg Carton
First, I removed the plastic around the mouth of the tissue boxes. Then I armed my 3-year-old with a paint brush. We used acrylic paint from our local craft store. Nothing fancy. While the boxes dried, I cut the “eyes” out of an egg carton and painted them white. The “eyes” I actually left 2 still connected to each other but then I also cut extra single cups to use as stamps for decorating our monsters. The “teeth” were the construction paper. I just cut them out of 1-2″ strips.
Once everything was dry, I taped the teeth inside the box opening and the eyes on top, colored the pupils black and there you go. Monster Boxes! Easy, fast and my daughter had a blast. This project is a definite must!
Like leaving a sentence with no punctuation, there is just something wrong about not identifying content with a p tag. It feels unnatural… even though it doesn’t really matter to an email client.
But, each email client renders that p tag a little differently. While most respect your formatting, other flip you the bird and I got tired of fighting with them. Even with stripping formatting down to it’s essence, if the design doesn’t accommodate for variable content height or flow then it simply looks broken. What to do what to do?
“ah-ha!” I say to myself. “What if there wasn’t a p tag at all?”And in marches SPAN to save the day!
The only time it would really matter is if the content is getting hung up on your website and how hard is it to do a find/replace for “span”. Finally, success!
I can’t tell you how much details like this bother me. I want the user experience to be consistent across all channels and it’s simply unacceptable to accept it as ‘good enough’. Perfection is priceless.
Now, I know what you’re going to say… “it’s a bloody html email” and “who gives a $#!&?” Well the answer to both those is, me. 🙂 And for all those templates you can get online for your emails with email client specific hacks in them, you still don’t get a consistent presentation across the board. The truth is you can’t approach it like you would a standard html project because it’s not. It’s a bloody email.
While UX has been the industry buzz word for the last couple of years, its definition and effective implementation are still hard to pin point. I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked to explain what it is and it always seems to find different meaning with difference people. Now, when I’m asked what I do for a living, I find it easier to just sum it all up into “web designer.”
So what is user experience design? Well, it’s really a new mind set and not really about “design” at all… at least not in the traditional sense. It’s not all about the pretty colors or the cool interactivity. The “experience” isn’t wrapped up in the graphical environment you attempt to create for the user.
UX recognizes that the web is a product; like your car or coffee maker. And if you’re going to have a successful product in the market place, you design and test… and design and test… and design and test. You test out all the bugs. You design to create an emotional connection with the user. UX in the sense of how I’ve been involved with it is all about this transition in thinking.
The “experience” is founded in the goal; the action we want the user to take. All design must support that goal. That is the key element right there; identify and support… design and test.
I started out as a standard print designer and as I’ve moved into the digital space, one sad truth I’ve learned to embrace is that details matter but maybe not exactly the same details I’m obsessing over. The average user doesn’t really care about the font I’ve selected as long as it’s legible. The average user doesn’t know what kerning is, so that 10 min. I spent perfecting that graphic… I’ll never get it back.
Web users are becoming more and more sophisticated and they want to accomplish what they’ve come to do and leave. They want things fast and easy. Don’t make them decipher you’re custom navigation; meet them on their level and work with tools they are accustom to utilizing. Now THAT is smart UX.
There are several blogs out there about user experience and I’d like to share some of my favorite resources:
A new tool for kick ass information graphics for the masses! Check out visual.ly and get inspired!
I find there are a lot of short cut approaches to html emails. A lot of “how to” blog entries and template shortcuts thrown all over the web by people who have obviously not spent much time down in the email trenches. Well, I’m here to set the record straight… there is no html email genie!
There, it’s out in the open for the whole world to know. The best thing I can recommend is hard work and practice. (I know, I kind of felt a little dirty using the “p” word.) The truth is, html emails are more a recipe than a template. A dash of this, a pinch of that… and it all depends on the content.
Recipe for perfect email cookies:
1. Content. We all know that content is king when it comes to SEO; the same is true for html emails.
2. Text only versions. This is the most overlooked nugget of awesomeness that will ensure deliverable. Never ever forget to have a text only version.
3. Subject line. Be short, be concise and stay away from words like free, win and viagra. Our subject lines not need a virile treatment.
4. Image to text ration. This one is for my fellow designers… emails are not a website, you doofus! Learn the medium you’re designing in for goodness sakes.
5. Unsubscribe link / SPAM Law Compliance. Be smart. I mean, it’s the law to NOT send mail to people that don’t want it… so suck it up and to your homework.
There it is… the simple recipes for a successful start to your html email. One of my favorite resources is actually mailchimp.com. They have some really fun documentation that make for a quite entertaining read. Enjoy.
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/22407250 w=400&h=225]
The Doula Foundation of Mid America from The Canopy Collective on Vimeo.
When my co-workers first approached me with the opportunity to be involved with this video for the Doula Foundation of Mid America, I was so excited to be part of the cause. But, when the decision came to use the newest member of my family as “cutest baby ever,” I was one proud ma’ma.
The love child of Canopy Collective and The Alchemedia Project, this video for the Doula Foundation will touch your hearts. Let us never forget the value of children.