Reflections Liner & How to Use One!

As requested by a couple of you fine folks who actually read this blog still (thanks, by the way!! ;)), I’m presenting a video with info on the Phantom Reflections Liner. 

This thing is a bit tricky. If you don’t get it quite right, you’ll have just slightly wonky lines that will make your work look just barely off. We don’t want that, do we?!? 

I mentioned it in my review of the laser square. I mention that the reflections liner is not that great. And it can be quite frustrating to use. But there definitely is a place for it. 

The cons:

  • You need a well-lit area.
  • You have to look through the viewing glass at the right angle in order to really see the angles, so that changes your orientation some. 
  • Looking through the dark viewing glass for hours can strain the eyes. 
  • It can feel bulky to use.

The pros: 

  • It’s old-school technology that doesn’t require batteries!
  • You can break it down for easy storage.
  • You can create guides of any shape, size or angle (for envelopes to full-blown pieces of art!)
  • It’s great for opaque or dark papers.

So without any further ado, check out the video explaining how to set up the phantom reflections liner: 

It’s basically like an analog teleprompter to broadcast your guidelines onto your paper. Brilliant little piece of equipment, right? Check out the above video for the full break-down of how to set it up. 

If you liked this video and others that I share here, consider giving my YouTube channel a subscribe! Check out my online pointed pen class (aka for learning “Modern Calligraphy”) over at calligraphy.org. I teach all sorts of things like how to understand the foundations, push your style so that it’s still readable and how to address envelopes. The class includes images, videos, text and one-on-one feedback from me & my co-instructor Erika. We help you troubleshoot, keep you motivated to continue through the coursework and answer any questions you may have. Feedback includes additional images and videos to help clarify and encourage. 

Register for my online class today. 

Tools used: 

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Pilot Parallel Pen Review & Difference between Broad-Edge & Pointed-Pen

Thanks to Goulet Pen Company for providing us with the Pilot Parallel Pen Handlettering and Calligraphy Set. Both Hayley and I had a lot of fun playing around with these pens. I’ve had a few of these pens for a while, so it was fun to use the full line of pens from the Parallel Pen line.  

Before giving you my thoughts on the Parallel Pens, I thought I would give you a little info about calligraphy in general: Broad-edge calligraphy vs. Pointed-pen calligraphy. 

You’ve got hand-lettering versus calligraphy. Hand-lettering is illustrating letterforms. Often times letterforms take on a more dimensional look with decorative elements and illustrative affectations (above left). Calligraphy is the careful construction of letters with a prescribed set of strokes (see above right). Think of it as carefully writing each stroke, almost drawing each stroke. 

There are two camps within calligraphy itself: broad-edge and pointed-pen. Broad edge materials literally have a broad edge (see marbled holder and pilot parallel pen in the far right). The orientation and angle of the nib gives you the control over thicks and thins. But because of the broad edge, you’ll find that you have lots of thick strokes (see broad-edge styles). The broad-edge styles in the above image there are in no way exhaustive of the kinds of letters you can make with those tools. As a general rule, tools with number measurements like Speedball C-2, C-0, Mitchell 5mm, Pilot Parallel 6.0mm, etc. are all describing the width of the edge. 

Pointed-pen calligraphy, while using angle and orientation in order to work, relies on pressure in order for the thicks and thins to happen. As a result, you’ll find you can easily get sweeping fine lines and hairline flourishes with pointed-pen tools. When it comes to “Modern Calligraphy” that’s oh-so-popular, it’s referring to a pointed-pen script hand that’s based (although sometimes too loosely to be actually readable) on Copperplate/Engrosser’s Script foundations. This style needs pointed-pen tools. If you don’t, you’ll get messed up results like below:

SO…….. 

While the Pilot Parallel Pen Set may not be the right materials for “modern calligraphy”, this set is awesome for exploring a wide range of broad-edge styles in a variety of sizes! Without any further ado, check out the full review video. If you already know the difference, skip to 5:40.

 

Now for the review, we really loved these pens a lot! Here’s the breakdown of the pros and cons.

The pros:

  • Instruction packet for easy assembly
  • Variety of colored inks & black inks
  • Plastic nib/plate cleaner
  • Pens are juicy and synthesize dip pen beautifully
  • They travel well
  • They feel great

The cons: 

  • The artwork on the packaging is a little deceptive (you canNOT do brush lettering with these pens)
  • The “ductus” pages are made from fonts, not calligraphic hands*
  • You can’t put the caps on the ends of the pens while in use

*A “font” is a programmed set of letters used on the computer, a “hand” is a calligraphic style. The fonts in the ductus pages aren’t a bad place to start, but they don’t give you much information on pen angle/orientation or pen manipulation or stroke order. 

Overall, I’d say this set is a win. If you’re interested in trying broad-edge or bolder styles these pens are a must-have! They’re a great tool to take with you for practice on the go or even when attending workshops, meet-ups or guild meetings with limited space. 

Want to learn more about calligraphy? Check out my classes over at Calligraphy.org! 

Product provided by Goulet Pens. All thoughts are our own. 

Freebie: Mother’s Day Printable 2018

Coming at you super duper late, but late is better than never! I’ve been recently working on the 100 days project (follow along on Instagram right here), so I figured I’d rise to the occasion and add a watercolor floral element to this year’s card. Boy was it harder than I thought it would be! Maybe I’m just in a little bit of a slump (even though I’m only 1/4th of the way done). But I did it. And it’s done. And you can download it for FREEEEEEEEEE. Just for you. Or your mom. Or for you to give to your significant other to then write a note in and give to you. 

 

I don’t necessarily go for gifts on Mother’s Day, but I must get a note from Chris. When I don’t, I get a bit sour about it. A little heart-felt thanks goes such a long way; afterall, momming is so freaking hard!!

And if you or your loved one isn’t in the motherhood way, this holiday can be oh-so-tough. Send her a you-are-an-amazing-woman card, see printable here. Seriously. DO IT NOW. 

I thought I’d take a different approach and walk you through the process of making this card. I made a few minor tweaks in Illustrator with the text and layout, but basically I scanned in the image and brightened the background for printing. Inspirations for this layout came from Natalie Malan & Esther Peck.

I really hope you’ll use this download! Check out even more Mother’s Day printables below: 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

This freebie is for personal use only, redistribution, remixing, or reselling is prohibited. If you’d like to use this for commercial purposes, please email me at melissa@melissaesplin.com.

How to “Custom Frame” on an IKEA Budget

This may be a silly post, but I often get asked about where I get the artwork I’ve collected in my home and where I get them framed. Sure I’ve had some special pieces (investment pieces) custom framed. And it was worth every penny. But I personally love a mixture of high-low. Also, custom framing every. single. piece of art gets expensive!! Especially if the piece has more seasonality to it. 

Back in my college days, I took a framing class down in the basement of the BYU Museum of Art. It was a thrilling experience to be in the same room as original Van Goghs and Monets and Picassos and Maxxes. Brigham Young University has one of the largest private art collections in the United states. IT’S AMAZING!!! But that’s beside the point. I had the awesome chance to learn how to properly frame pieces myself to add to my home. During this experience I learned the “right way”, but also that there’s a “good enough” way. So I’m going to share with you the “good enough” way to do a floating frame with artwork with a deckled edge. And how to create a deckled edge on any of your prints or pieces. As long as it’s paper, it can deckle!

Here’s what you’ll need:

I strongly recommend just watching the video above for the step-by-step. But if you’re the speed-reading type see below for directions: 

  • Get your frame and artwork and measure how much you need to reduce the size of your artwork to fit it into the frame nicely. I would personally recommend making the artwork around 1/2 inch smaller than the mat opening on each side (if you’re using a frame without a mat, make it 1/2 inch smaller than the frame opening on each side. Depending upon what sizes your art and frame are, this may take some math. You may notice in the video above, I just eyeballed it. You can eyeball your measurements a little bit with deckled edges because it adds to the charm of the deckle. That said, I’m also pretty darn good at eyeballing square measurements (humble brag ;)).
  • Lay your metal ruler over the artwork just shy of what you want to remove. 
  • Press down on the ruler to keep it secure, you don’t want it wiggling around!!
  • Starting from the top, slowly rip off the excess paper all the way down the side. 
  • Repeat on all 4 sides. You don’t want to remove less than 1/2 inch of paper for a deckle, mostly because it’s a pain in the fingers to do that!! (see video)
  • Lay the mat over the backer paper and trace over the exterior perimeter with pencil. 
  • Cut excess paper with scissors (these lines don’t have to be perfect). If you’re not using a mat in your frame, cut the backer paper down to fit the full size of the frame. 
  • Place the mat back on the backer paper, lining the corners up nicely.
  • Put Tombow Sticky Tabs on the backside of the artwork along the corners and sides. Remove the double sided covers of the sticky tape
  • Gently center the artwork within the mat area and press into place. 
  • Place all pieces (mat, art with backer and frame backer board) back into the frame and hang! 

 

I really love the effect of the rich-colored backer paper. White would have looked fine, but I like how the deckled edge becomes more pronounced with the accent color of the backer paper. 

For very little time and very little money, you’ll have a framed piece that looks like a million bucks! Let me know if you end up using this tutorial. I hope it was helpful. Tag me on instagram @melissapher if you use this technique!

This tutorial and accompanying printable is free for personal use. Feel free to share, but link with love. 

Affiliate links are used to help support my crafting addiction. Your support and purchasing through these links doesn’t affect your final price, but helps me make more content like this. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

#the100dayproject: What it is, Thoughts, Encouragement & more

 

This April 3rd, I started my first 100 day project. It’s a global art-focused (but not exclusive to art) community project of your choosing. In the past I’ve started a passion project at the beginning of the year (#calligraphynameoftheday #calligraphyquoteoftheday), but  this year I decided to do something different and do it in 100 days and with the art community at large. This is not my own idea. I’m not the organizer. The 100 day project originated from senior design critic at Yale University: Michael Beirut. He challenged his students to come up with a project to do for 100 days. Then Elle Luna & Lindsay Jeane Thompson took the concept to a more global format on Instagram. You can read more about their mission right here on the100dayproject.org.

Check out a process/tutorial video of this week’s marigolds right here: 

My project this year is 100 watercolor floral paintings in 100 days. I’m not sticking to doing 1 painting every day format. I’m painting at least 3 every 3 days. So I’m allowing myself the freedom to batch my efforts. But your project could look completely different. The global 100 day project started on April 3, so you’ve got some catching up to do ;), but anyone is welcome to join and start at any time! And you can do whatever strikes your fancy!! 

Here are some tips to make your project successful: 

  • Give yourself constraints
  • Make it simple
  • Keep it specific
  • Do something you’re genuinely excited about
  • Start with tools you already have
  • Use pre-generated content wherever applicable
  • Be nice to yourself

Use constraints: basically make up fake rules to follow. Whether you’re doing art on a specific size canvas or you’re only allowing yourself 10 minutes to do the project each day, keep those things consistent. For me, I’m sticking to the same size paper. 

Make it simple: this art effort isn’t the endit’s the beginning. Don’t look at making each piece or project so crazy and lengthy or complicated. Use constraints to simplify your process. 

Keep it specific: this project is a chance to become an expert in something. If you want to become better at cooking an egg, explore 100 different ways to cook an egg. You’re not exploring any other ingredient, just the egg specifically. 

Use your excitement: I’ve heard, (this is my first time doing 100 consecutive days for a passion project) that day 30-35 are the hardest. If you’re not genuinely interested or excited you’re going to quit. Simple as that. 

Use what you’ve got: this goes with keeping it simple. No need to buy and have to learn to use all new equipment for this project. And chances are, you’ve got supplies or tools that are collecting dust that could use a little love. 

Use pre-generated content: Reducing the amount of decisions you have to make every time you sit down to create is key. It helps simplify. For me, I’ve written down 150 different flowers to choose from. I just go down the list and start from there. I don’t have to research flowers every time I sit down to paint. 

Be nice to yourself: chances are, you may not initially see what you have envisioned in your head when you start this project. But the whole point of the 100 day project is to get better or more comfortable with something. There are some flower paintings that I’ve done (like Cleome and Chrysanthemum) that I wasn’t too excited about. That’s okay. I got it done!! DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. Learning to be kind to yourself through this whole project is benefit enough to get started, don’t you think? 

So, there you go. It can be as easy as making eggs for 100 days. Making your bed for 100 days. Painting flowers for 100 days. It’s entirely up to you! 

Artists I love doing it too…

I hope you follow along and perhaps get in on the project, too!! 

 

 

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