Friday, October 30, 2009

Paper Parade Part 1

So the secret new toy we got?
A Cuttlebug! Hurray!

Bought at 40% off at Michaels, huzzah! But there was one little problem. I didn't like any of the embossing folders they had at the store! And none of Provocraft's current line really worked with our theme.

So I ordered an embossing folder from a different company, Sizzix. To be specific, a Sizzix folder made exclusively for Stampin' Up.

Here's what we're going to do:
First, I cut a sheet of linen paper down to an A2 paper size.

Then, I stuck the paper into the embossing folder!

Stick the embossing folder between the two plexiglass plates, and roll it through the Cuttlebug!

Pop the folder out the other side, and open it up for some sweet relief!

Yeahhh, that's what I'm talking about!

Pretty awesome, much?

Anyway, this will serve as one of the building blocks for the invitation. Much of it is still very conceptual, but it'll look something like the scribbled-ideas below:

Did you have an overall design in mind for your invites? Or did you use the "build-as-you-go" method?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Big Bag Setback

Remember those silly little bags of mine? Well, they made the trip over to Hawaii (along with some Trader Joe's biscotti - did you know TJ's products are precious commodity over there?) to the waiting arms of Auntie-Saka.

She set up an appointment with our venue, and tried the covers on the bags.
Here's Bag #2, the biggest of the three. She said this one fit the best, since it was long enough to cover the entire chair back. I think this would look very nice with a wide satin ribbon tied into a bow around the base. (Bag #1 was too narrow and did not fit at all.)

Bag #3 was also a good fit, but not quite long enough to cover the back.

And not only did she take pictures, she also traced the outline of the chair back for us on cardboard!

But as much as I'd like to say this was a successful mission, Aunty-Sak did voice several concerns.

1) The mon is upside down. Well, I knew this was going to happen, obviously, but I figured a right-side up bag was more important than a right-side up chair. I don't think it looks too silly upside down, do you?

2) The strap just kinda hangs there (you can see this on bag #3). This, also I can deal with. Maybe we'll make it a drawstring type bag instead? or we could always just tape the strap inside the bag.

3) The chair seat. Yes, this would be the biggest problem, and one that I underestimated. Aunty Sak makes it clear that the bright blue/mauve combo on the chair does not go with the black bag. And here I though black goes with everything! I had hoped that this problem would be minimized by the fact that people have their butts on the chair, but due to her strong opinions, I'm wondering if I should do something more. MO'H suggested putting a flap on the bag, that would double as the seat cover, but part of me thinks that I'd be overcomplicating things.

So I don't know what to do now. I still love my original idea, and am 99% sure I will stick by it, but when Aunty-Saka says I should just scrap it and rent covers instead, and mom-penga says I should rent "those cute little bamboo-looking chairs" (chivari) instead...Well, it's kind of disheartening.

Anyone else have a moment where your plans didn't mesh with those of others? Did you end up changing your plans, or stubbornly stick with your gut?

And any of you crafty people out there know how I might take care of that pesky seat?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bustle With Some Muscle

Every train needs a caboose. My train will sit on my caboose. Let's talk bustles!

Us trained-women know that we need a bustle to turn our carpet-sweeping drapery into a manageable second-rump. Okay, maybe not quite a second rump, the focus point of all the extra fabric doesn't have to be one's rear.

There's the American/Over bustle - pull the train up, and pin. Pin at one point or many, doesn't matter. (click images for source, of course!)

There's the French/Under bustle - pull the train under, and pin. As many places as you'd like.

And then there's this beauty - no pulling or pinning involved. Just strap the wire cage around your waist and lay your dress on top!

Now, my dress has pickups all over it - which is already sort of a French bustle. So I'll probably just add more of those to get the train off the floor.

Let's try, shall we?

Time to pick that train up off the floor!

First, Sak helps me figure out where all the points will be, sampling them with safety pins.

Now let's try it on and see what it looks like...
Okay, so it's not the best looking bustle ever, but it'll do for learning purposes.

Time to sew on the ribbons! (they go underneath..for a more detailed explanation, try this tutorial.

All finished, time to tie those ribbons together...

Bustled up and ready for the party!

The Halloween party that is, hello steampunk Penga and Sak!

What type of bustle did you use? (If any..) Did anyone else make their own?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Fresh Page to Turn

Before I post about my secret new toy, I think we should spend a moment to discuss a detail so minute that probably no one but an obsessive planner would care about: paper.

After seeing all the luscious, rich papery goodness Paper-Source had to offer, I decided to get some testing-paper of my own. Sak dutifully steered me away from luxe paper stores and towards the local Michaels and Office Depot.

Browsing the scrapbook paper selections can be drool-inducing, but all-in-all too expensive to use for mass productions. I left the craft store with four sheets of shiny pearl-white card stock, four for a dollar.

Next was the office supply store.

Sak: "Now, don't get your hopes up. Remember they didn't have that red paper you wanted last time."

Mic: "Ohh. Re-Entry Red..." *cringes*

Luckily, however, their selection of normal, bleached papers was much better. They had a little booklet attached to the shelf, with samples of the different paper types. I stood there rubbing the little things with my mouth hanging open.

Mic: "Ohh, this one feels nice. Sak, come feel this."

Sak did his best to ignore me as a store clerk looked over at the crazy lady feeling up the paper samples.

I grabbed a ream of the 67 pound white bristol vellum card stock. Now to be honest, I didn't know what the whole poundage thing was about. It was good that I didn't order online, cause I probably would have ended up with something a lot flimsier or thicker than needed. Sak gave me a basic rundown - the poundage is how much a specified number of sheets of a certain size weigh. So 500 8.5 x 11" printer sheets will have a lower poundage than 500 8.5 x 11" card stock sheets. This turns out to be a really simplified explanation though - so for more depth you can check out the crowd favorite Wikipedia (here).

Next we walked to the resume paper aisle. I remember the first batch of resume paper I bought, a beautiful stony cream color. That paper helped me get my job, so I have a fondness for the stuff. After once again touching all the samples, I grabbed a stack of 65 pound white linen paper. Not as durable as the card stock, but the texture is to die for.

Now that I have some materials to play with, time to crank up the idea-o-meter!

What kind of paper are you using? Do you have a favorite?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Photography: Normalizing the Differences

"But you know, he can't carry you across the threshold.."

"Shaddduppp, Dad."

Love comes in all shapes and sizes. I know that firsthand, seeing as I am both two inches taller and several inches wider than my husband-to-be.

When we first started dating, I was extremely self-conscious. We didn't look like the ideal "couple" (taller, larger man and smaller woman), and it was hard to break from my depressing self-image. But time wore on, and I stopped thinking about our spatial differences. Sak was Sak and Penga was Penga and silly things like weight and size didn't matter.

Until this:

Our first engagement shots (courtesy of my mother), taken the day after the proposal (at gorgeous Mount Hermon in Santa Cruz).

Suddenly, I swam back to the shallow end. The giant arm, the large pink-purple body, the fact that poor Sak can't even get his arm across my waist...

"Omigoooshhhh I CANNOT be the giant white whale in all our wedding pictures!" I start groaning and squealing about several thousand dollars worth of lifetime whale reminders, while Sak pokes at one of the rolls on my stummy. Not helpful!

Well, a few things happened after that initial freak-out:

1) I calmed down. I am not a whale, I just look like one compared to Sak. If he were the standard of normal-sized, well, I'd have to weigh less than 90 pounds.
2) I decided to start a wellness-regimen. Diet and exercise, but nothing too extreme.
3) I researched.

Truly, honestly, folks. Cameras can make you look bigger than you actually are. And they can also make you smaller, if you play your cards right.

And to pictorially prove my point:

A) High-in-the-Sky (for bigger bottoms)
For more emphasis on your top half, and less on the stomach and bottom. Also works like a charm for removing any hint of a bloated look. And I just love shots of the bride and groom looking up towards the glorious future!

B) Down-to-the-Low (for bigger tops)
This one is a bit riskier, but if you are triangle shaped like I am, it could help make the hips look larger and the shoulders look smaller.

B) Model-Arm
You've all seen it done on red-carpets and cat-walks - lift that arm! Any arm pressed flat against the skin is going to appear larger, no matter how muscular they might be before hand.

C) Groom-Blocker
Got something to hide? Whether it be extra width, or the dreaded wedding-dress stain, use your man to cover it up!

D) Run Away
A simple rule of perspective - things further away look smaller. Why not stand a foot or so behind everyone else? But be careful with this one. Too much difference and you might become too small for it to look natural!

E) Tilt-a-Bride

Turn sideways a little. Again, a catwalk and red-carpet pose. Don't face the camera head-on. And don't slouch.

F) Lover-of-Levels
Use some stairs to fix a height difference. Or sit down, where you're more likely to be eye-to-eye. And if that fails, try the down-on-the-floor shot. (only in a clean place, don't ruin the dress!)

G) Post-Op
When all else fails, photoshop! Creative cropping can cut a flabby arm straight out of the picture. Or if you're really good, you can blur or paint unwanted areas away for good! Though unfortunately, I think this particular picture may be a bit more work than its worth.

Now, I know I'll be happy even if I do end up looking a bit whalish, but it doesn't hurt to have the camera work in my favor, right? That said, now on the list of things to ask potential photgraphers -

"What techniques do you use to minimize size differences between bride and groom?"

Anyone else getting the picture-squeamies? What's your tips and tricks for getting the best possible shot?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Table "Numbers"

Instead of doing something simple and straight-forward, like numbering our reception tables...

...We're going to use places instead!

What places, you ask?

Oh, distant cities and foreign lands that Sak and I have spent many, many days exploring and living in.

I'm talking about MapleStory, of course. This is an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), that we spent more than a year playing together in college (and still go back to from time to time). As cheesey as it sounds, we have many, many fond memories from Victoria Island, Orbis and beyond, so it's fitting we incorporate it into our increasingly pop-culture infused wedding.

Here's a mock-up:

I created the image using BannedStory, which is a avatar simulator commonly used for making forum signatures and such. Each table will represent a different town within the game. The picture above is Amoria, which is the "love" town that you can get married in. Sadly, Sak and I never got "married" in-game, since it cost about $30! That's just silly for a game. So we'll just do that IRL (in real life!).

We'll have to double the image for the front and back of the table number stand...Or maybe use two different images from each town. One can be "sweet&cute" and the other can be "ridiculous", like us fighting slimes or lupins or zombies!


What are you using for table identification?

{As always, click images for their sources!}

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Program Power! Part 2

Ahh, back to the grind...
The face of bridezilla, angrily shading away on my first love - a Wacom Graphire (now called Bamboo I think?).

I'm not so fond of shading, so toning the first page took for-evvv-errr. And in the end I'm still not sure if I like it or not.
I wish I could make the backgrounds more dynamic, but I'm too much of a 2-dimensional person I guess. *sigh*

And a sneak-peek at page 2:

I'm definitely not looking to do any more toning for a while. Maybe I'll contract it out to M'OH...

Anyone else face a design-setback? Did you barrel through or cry for help?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thinking Outside the Label

Creativity is kind of like the force. And for those creative-jedi out there, the wedding day is like the final moments before Luke blows up the death star. You need to be awfully strong in the force to hit those 'womprats'. It's the one day where all our creative endeavors are showcased all at once.

Wedding inspiration websites, then, are our Jedi academy. The place we learn techniques and ideas to best put our powers to use. And there are many, many fine establishments for doing just that.

One thing that may be overlooked though - the best training doesn't always have to come from "wedding" labeled websites.

Here's a few from my own "training":

-Deviant Art. My instant go-to for artistic inspiration. Anything you can think of, someone has made. I can spend days here looking through amazingly talented creations. (click image for the link!)

-Instructables. I love step-by-step pictures. LOVE love love. Not to mention this is where I found all those great fabric flower patterns.

-Threadbangers. For those with sewing-power, and for those that want it. Check out these awesome feather headpieces:

What's your non-wedding specific muse?

May the force be with you, fellow craft-jedi.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Miss Manners

I never really thought the marriage process would change me much as a person. Sak and I have been together nearly six years now, what's one day going to change?

A lot.

There's a ton of changes that come with being engaged. There's a whole new vocabulary to learn, a new internet niche to explore, and expectations and relatives I never even knew existed.

One positive change, however, is the introduction of manners. Etiquette, prompt thank you cards - once a nuisance to my spare time, now something I kind of enjoy.

Take these for example:
Way-Cute Hallmark thank you cards! I bought them to send out to the lovely, generous friends and family that have been helping me out with planning bits and pieces so far. And sadly, had the wedding gurus out there not pounded in the importance of plentiful thank you's, this is something I would not have done.

Thank you wedding-gurus, whoever you may be!

But on that note, what would the perfect thank you cards look like? Would they match the invitations? A cute picture of the two of us on our wedding day? Another comic? A pre-made card? Like these pretty cherry blossom cards at Target:
I'm sure there's plenty more out there. Chalk this one up under the "needs more research" category. But even if I haven't had that "a-ha!" moment on this detail yet, it's still fun to think about!

How are you thanking your guests post-wedding? Did you decide on a card beforehand, or leave it as a much-needed post-wedding project?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Raised Paper Riot!

On our journey Sak and I also walked into a store called Paper-Source. Mostly on a whim, to see what kind of paper options we'd have for invites and such.

We were blown away! The paper was so pretty, and they had idea books laid out with samples. Now, I kind of already had an idea of what how we'd make our invites, but there was one thing we saw that completely threw me for a loop:

(click image for source)

Embossed paper! Isn't it amazing?! So pretty!

We had to have it. But, the price is a little steep! $18.50 for 20 sheets? eep!

So in order to solve any problem, we must first lay out our options:

1) Pay $18.50/20sheets. At about 100 invites, that would be $92.50
2) Buy a cuttlebug and make my own embossed paper with preset templates. This would be about $50 plus the cost of store-bought cardstock. They don't make a cherry blossom template.

3)Heat Embossing. Would have to pay for cardstock, a rubber stamp, embossing powder and heat tool(~$25).

They all look like fun to me! We'll have to sit on this one for a while, I think!'

Anyone else in love with embossed invites? Did you make your own, or buy them pre-made?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Dream "Dress"

Three of the last four weddings I have attended have involved Asian brides. And you know what that means, right? Dress changes!

Though I may only be half-Asian, I fully look forward to and embrace the tradition of changing one's dress several times throughout the reception. Indeed, I had it all planned out. In addition to my traditional white gown and Chinese cheongsam, I would also wear a uchikake - the Japanese wedding kimono.

Ohh how I shivered in pure delight just thinking about it. It was (and still is) more exciting to me than wearing the traditional wedding dress. And imagining my Sak in his own mon-studded kimono was..well, drool-inducing (for me, anyway)!

(However, I don't think I could wear the hat, as it symbolizes the "hiding of one's horns", a.k.a. the stubborn jealousy and ego of the single woman. It, in a sense, represents her obedience to her husband. I'm not very obedient. I guess I could work on it, but Saka knows my "horns" aren't going away anytime soon..)

So since mom-saka and dad-saka just so happen to be living in Japan at the moment, I called them up via Skype excitedly. His mom answered, and I told her my grand-master-plan involving hundreds of pounds of brocaded white silk.

She laughed.

No way, she said. Wedding kimono are just way too expensive. Even more expensive than western gowns. And besides, they take hours to put on, when would I have time for that at the reception?

Perhaps noting my crest-fallen face through the webcam, she gave me the name of a rental store on Oahu, suggesting that we might be able to rent for pictures before the wedding.

So all was not lost.

I looked the rental store up, fell quickly in love with their options, and then looked at the prices.

Seven-hundred-and-fifty dollars. Over seven times the cost of my home-made gown. For a rental. That you don't even get to take out of the store. $750 for both bride and groom to be dressed up, traditionally styled, and taken pictures of in their photo studio. That means I wouldn't get pictures in front of here:

The beautiful Byodo-in temple. (Brother-Sak and Sak pose in the foreground)

I whined for a few days, but the Japan-phile in me is far from giving up. If I can't wear the uchikake, I can at least wear some other type of kimono, right?

My second option is the furisode - it still has the beautiful brocade silk, but minus the bridal "umph".

And the third choice, which Sak has already asked his parents to look into sending, is the yukata. No pretty silk, but rather a summery cotton. It will work for engagment photos, but I wouldn't wear it in the reception dress-changing fest. We can, however, reuse them after for all those summer obon festivals!

So will I find something to wear for the reception? Or will I be stuck as a two-dress bride? I guess only mom-saka has the answer to that.

Anyone else wearing multiple dresses during your reception? (Or, does anyone have an extra uchikake lying around that I can borrow? *sigh!*)

**As always, click the images for the source!**