What I’ve Been Up To… Sharing Handmade Wedding Touches

Greetings, Friends!

Thanks for coming by.  I didn’t really fall off the planet in recent months, but much of my creative energy was funneled into MOB (“Mother of the Bride”) endeavors. While not directly artsyletters-related, maybe you’ll enjoy a peek behind the wedding-planning curtain into some handmade touches crafted for the Big Day.

[For REAL wedding photos, you might enjoy photographer Sabrina Fields’s blog post about Morgan and Matt’s wedding, which highlights the happy couple, bridal party, and main events of the day.]

Morgan-Matt_SabrinaFaves-225 crop

Sabrina Fields Photography (my crop)

THE BIG DETAILS: Planning started literally the morning after they got engaged – about 10 months from the wedding date.  We snagged Greenville, SC venues (Daniel Chapel at Furman University and The Commerce Club) and began lining up special vendors – flowers, DJ, cake, and the like.  Because it was out of town (Morgan remained in Greenville for two years after college but just moved to Georgia this month), we also reserved a large room block at The Hyatt Regency downtown.  That happens to be where my hubby and I, as Furman students, had our very first date in the hotel restaurant!

Back to the wedding. “The dress” was found Halloween weekend in Charlotte (it takes months for wedding dresses to come in, and a few weeks should be allowed for alterations), with bridesmaids dresses ordered and tuxes picked out soon thereafter.

Then the FUN, SMALLER parts! First, we pretty much had a theme and color scheme handed to us – when the bride’s last name is Black and the groom’s last name is Whyte, the direction is obvious! So, black and white and silver and gray it was, with dashes of fresh color in the gorgeous flowers by Dahlia.

Here are a few examples of things we did ourselves, for your amusement or inspiration.

While we ordered wedding stationery in a pattern of silvery-gray lace from Wedding Paper Divas (to complement the beautiful lace of Morgan’s Kenneth Winston dress from NY Bride and Groom), I was determined to brush up on Copperplate calligraphy and hand address each envelope.  I hadn’t attempted pointed pen calligraphy since those Furman days in art class…. I thought this would take a few days.  It took longer.

photo 3 (4) calligraphy practice

callig practice p

First I had to freshen up supplies, thanks to John Neal Bookseller, and drag out my old resources and references and purchase more.  I finally learned how to use an oblique pen holder!  Copperplate lettering requires a different, and much slower, approach than broad-nib calligraphy – and a pressure/release technique that’s a little tricky. Don’t look too closely at the chicken-scratch above; initial efforts were NOT pretty.

Finally the calendar dictated that I get those 125 envelopes (outer and inner!) addressed, ready or not.  I can’t believe I don’t have pictures of how they took over our dining room and spilled onto living room shelves; I accidentally deleted a couple I snapped on my phone.  But a few recipients were kind enough to send texts with nice notes and photos when their invitations arrived in the mail – here’s a sampling of those envelopes.

Far from perfect, but fun to do and sent with love.  Oh – see the extra stamp required on each envelope up there? Just .1 ounce (POINT 1!) above one ounce, with the RSVP inserts and such, so each envelope required an extra stamp.  I wanted a wedding-friendly image in addition to the custom postage we’d ordered, so another first-class stamp it was.

While in a calligraphy vein, I also wanted to add a wee flourish to the ceremony programs with an “M & M” decoration, since we were employing the letters here and there. We had looked at ordering matching programs from Wedding Paper Divas, but the cost was beyond the budget we’d already exceeded for all of that fancy paper.  My hometown printer here in Beaufort, Murr Printing, saved the day with a simple folded program on a lovely light gray linen cardstock.  For the ornamentation, once again, practice:

decorative initial practice p

then the final result – nowhere near perfect, but a scroll-y, curlicue touch:

Because most attendees were traveling, we made up welcome/goodie bags (one per room) to be handed to our folks at check-in.  I ordered bulk quantities of designs that I could also use for my shop! (These came from Store Supply Warehouse.)

bags on bed p

Each featured a circle tag from Wedding Paper Divas attached with a silver ribbon. tag from wedding paper divas pInside were:  A printed weekend itinerary (with a couple of more inclusive get-together options beyond wedding party events), a map, a new colorful guide to Greenville, a guide to the Swamp Rabbit Trail for those needing a fitness break, chamomile tea, some festive napkins, a little bag of silver Hershey Kisses & Hugs, and – of course – another bag with those yummy bakery black and white cookies, plus a few Keebler Danish Wedding Cookies thrown in for good measure.goodie bag contents wedding welcome c

cookies wedding c

The most special thing I made for the wedding were earrings for the bridesmaids.  Morgan and I had been looking at options on Etsy (where her lovely earrings came from – who could resist a shop with a name like Poetry Bridal?), but couldn’t find exactly what she wanted.  When I realized she was drawn to simple designs – no stone setting or metalsmithing! – I knew I wanted to have a go.  I love each one of those lovely young women who stood with Morgan and wanted to give them a little gift myself.

I’d found the Avon necklace I wore at my own wedding, um, 32 years ago. The gold-tone was definitely more tone than gold, and the iridescence uneven on the little pearl beads. But I knew I could use those small beads in earrings. I found some lovely 1940s Japanese glass beads (also “cheap” but with such a pretty patina) from another Etsy shop, House of Twinkle. Perfect color to complement the dove gray dresses. DSC02280 robyn necklace wedding and glass beads pThen it was time to experiment, trying a couple of different styles of rondelle beads from The Paris Carousel, adding a tiny 100-year-old steel bead from ohmymilky to each, and dangling all from findings from UnkamenSupplies. (Yep – all Etsy.)

DSC02286 earring construction zone p

DSC02293 trying out earring options 2 p

Here’s how they turned out:

bridesmaids earrings c(I made Morgan and myself a pair too, just for fun!)

bridsemaids earrings bunch p r c

Sabrina Fields

Sabrina Fields

I certainly come by my “maker” tendencies naturally.  My mother, Nita, made Morgan’s garters (one to keep and one to throw).  For the keepsake one, she used a little snip of lace from my wedding dress (taken unobtrusively) – a dress that SHE had made ME all those years ago.  For Morgan, she even made a couple of sets to choose from:

photo (31) garters p

Morgan-Matt_SabrinaFaves-106 garter p

Sabrina Fields

Speaking of lace, I wanted to incorporate it somehow into the seating chart for the reception.  Be forewarned – making a seating chart (even if just to assign table numbers as we did) is not for the faint of heart!  It’s like putting together a big puzzle, assuring that guests will at least have someone they know at their table.  :0)

After figuring out all those rounds of ten, the fun can begin.  I started with a 20 X 30 framed magnetic board from our local T.J. Maxx. I covered the canvas surface with black lace fabric I ordered on eBay from paylessfabric, tucking and gluing the edges inside the frame. Also on eBay, I found some great paper doilies from Sea Starr Emporium. I grabbed some metallic silver cardstock from my studio and with my new favorite tool, an EK circle cutter,  cut out circles slightly smaller than the doilies.  Are you still with me?  I printed off the names for each table on good white paper and cut circles of these as well (slightly smaller than the silver circles), experimenting…seating chart in progress p

magnets for seating chart p


At the top, I used a rectangle for the bridal party’s head table, playing with layers of doilies behind that and accenting with a cut out lace design from an extra wedding invitation.

In a final burst of overkill, I covered magnets with lace designs from the invitation, too – another excuse to play with the circle-cutter. I glued the layers of the circle together, then used a magnet to hold each “table” to the board.

Here’s how it turned out:

Morgan-Matt_SabrinaFaves-232 seating chart crop p

Sabrina Fields Photography

photo 1 (3)

Morgan-Matt_SabrinaFaves-236 seating chart detail p

Sabrina Fields Photography


[And the bride and groom get some fun refrigerator magnets to remind them of their celebration.]

For good measure, I also printed out the names for each table and put them in small frames.  First names only – to encourage conversation, and so they’d fit!

These were placed with the round table numbers (ordered on eBay from Green Ridge Designs, along with tiny stands) – see below.  I ordered two sets so the numbers would be visible from each side.
small framed table names p

Sabrina Fields Photography

Sabrina Fields Photography

Morgan also made a darling sign with their “hashtag” – one of several new wedding norms that didn’t exist back when I got married!morgan black to whyte sign p

Also, in addition to a traditional guestbook, Morgan and Matt bought a new bible and set it our for guests to highlight their favorite verse and sign.  We supplied small not-too-sticky sticky notes for them to mark the spot so they could be found later.

One last note about reception decor – For each table, I framed a 5 X 7-ish picture of Morgan and Matt through the years.  (These went back to eighth grade, though the two didn’t really stick as a couple until their senior year of high school!) And for the head table, these found treasures from the past, placed in T.J. Maxx frames, marked their seats:

little matt and morgan frames p

These days, couples often make their grand exit through sparklers (rather than bird seed, or, in the even older days, rice.) We found good ones at a good price from Wedding Sparklers Outlet.  (I ordered the 20-inch sparklers rather than the 30-inch, after another recent family wedding involved 30-inch sparklers and quite a little light show as the bride and groom made their escape exit…)

And one more wedding vendor – I don’t yet have pictures of it in action, but to keep our swanky affair grounded, we arranged a surprise gift for the bride and groom in the form of a custom monogrammed cornhole set!  Etsy sellers Zubky added some floor-protection to the bottom, and the Commerce Club staff kindly set it up in the bar area.  It was a hit with the younger guests, for sure, and we hope will foster fun for years to come.

Finally – favors!  We offered a couple.  Morgan found some great Koozies from Rook Design Co. on Etsy: kooziesYes – members of our immediate and extended family can quote every line of “The Princess Bride” movie.

And, because we HAD to…m and ms hearts p

Black and white M&Ms!  Kind of pricey but we had no choice. (At least we didn’t need any custom printing – the M’s were just right.)  I drafted hubby Jeff and son Seth to help with the assembly.  jeff m & msseth m & msm and ms in process p

The plastic hearts (perfect to hold a couple dozen candies) came from Papermart. I also ordered some of their ribbon and was pleased with the quality!

M & Ms and program p We hope everyone, the bride and groom most of all, left with full hearts.  (Sorry – couldn’t help myself.)

When we get family pictures back, I’ll follow up with a much shorter peek into how I used some vintage Etsy finds to decorate myself for the big day.

And I promise to post more artsyletters art soon, now that the flower petals have settled and I can get back into the studio…

Happy July!  And if you’re planning a wedding, best wishes!

Merry Christmas!

divine love door open close up use

(Click for more pictures of this piece on Etsy.)


This altered book collage was made with heart and features Vol. 8 of MASTERPIECES OF THE WORLD’S BEST LITERATURE, compiled by Jeannette L. Gilder and published in 1910 by Classic Publishing Company, NY. Gently open the door, and the page block has been altered to reveal a found poem and new message from these words within by Gerhard Tersteegen, translated from German :


Love of God


beauteous light

finds rest in Thee.

Wishing you and yours a holiday and new year filled with light!

Artsyletter Elves Say Order Soon for Christmas!


mini framed rustic letters gift wrap with c adj ps crazy crop with holly order soon

It’s almost mid-December!

The artsyletters elves say they’ll need orders by the end of the week (Dec. 18) to get them shipped in the US in time for Christmas, according to USPS posted estimates.

Readers, writers, or letter lovers on your list?  Find the perfect gift or stocking stuffer to bring a smile to their literary lips.  Use Coupon Code TAKE5 at checkout for 5 percent off your order.

Thanks for coming by, and wishing you and yours a warm & wonderful holiday. :0)

Holiday Open House on Saturday! Downtown will be Hopping…


artsyletters holiday open house 2015 for blog FB etc collage

If you’re in Beaufort this busy holiday weekend, come on up to the Studio on Saturday afternoon between 2 pm and 4:30 pm! Browse handmade gifts for the bookish folks on your gift list and enjoy some refreshments.

An elf has told me Santa will be at the Clock on Bay Street from 11 to 2, and you’ll want to enjoy the Light Up the Night Boat Parade at 5:30. (The Parris Island Marine Corps Band concludes the festivities at 7 p.m.) What to do in the afternoon? Visit downtown’s shops and galleries, and come say hello! We are at 811 Bay Street, above Modern Jewelers. The stairs are steep, but the welcome is warm.  (Note – we won’t be open during Night on the Town this year, but do come by Saturday afternoon!) See you then!

Happy Black Friday Weekend Shopping – Free shipping on US orders of $25 or more with code!

Greetings, Black Friday – Small Business Saturday – Cyber Monday art shoppers!   To thank you for your business, I’m offering a special Coupon Code this long weekend in my Etsy shop. (Click the pic above to visit.) Spend a minimum of $25, and I’ll ship your order anywhere in the US for free! Be sure to enter this code at check-out:  FREESHIP25

Many thanks for visiting. Jingle jingle!

Got Stocking Stuffers?

stocking stuffers 2 2015 c

I hear them in the distance… jingle bells!  Do you hear them, too?

The artsyletters elves (okay, I wish I had some elves!) are busy, busy adding new items in ye olde Etsy shop.  I’ve matting the fronts of some of the note cards to make great little ready-to-frame mini prints – just $4.75! And I’m always adding new vintage typewriter key jewelry and such.

Keep checking back as we steer the sleigh toward Black Friday and Cyber Monday and beyond.  And if you need some stocking stuffers before we all stuff ourselves on Thanksgiving… :0)

stocking stuffers 2015 1 c

If you’re in the Beaufort area, I’ll be hosting a Holiday Open House in my studio on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. – stop by before the boat parade!

Ahoy! Sea-themed artworks coming to shore…


sailors angle c

February winds have made for a blustery bay this week, but that hasn’t stopped visitors from coming to our fair little coastal town.  I’ve been busy conjuring up some “sea-themed” items to offer through artsyletters, especially at my kiosk over in Fordham Market. I wrote a wee bit about this in my author blog post for Poetry Friday last week.

In that post I showed the elements in progress, but above is one of the finished pieces.  These are miniatures, made from cradled wood boards into small shadow boxes.  I painted them black and covered them with acrylic gloss, then antiqued a self-leveling hanger and attached it to the back.

The featured text came directly from

    Crown Jewels
Gems of Literature, Art,
and Music
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times

compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., and published in 1888.

It’s actually a refrain to a song, “The Tar for all Weathers,” by Charles Dibdin (1745-1814).  Lucky for me, the refrain appeared a few times, so I made three of these. (I was able to find the author’s name in three spots in the book as well.)  I’ve put two of these at Fordham and listed the third in my Etsy shop.

three sailor shadow boxes c

Here are the words:

But sailors were born for all weathers,
Great guns let it blow high or low,
Our duty keeps us to our tethers,
And where the gale drives we must go.

(That line, “Great guns let it blow high or low” has been rattling around in my head since I read it!)

The text is placed atop an original mini-woodcut.  I hadn’t done any printmaking in the months since my neck/nerves injury in the fall, and it felt wonderful last week to carve a block or two and roll out the ink (love that smell) and print some images! The ship’s wheel hanging above the text is hand cast from blackened pewter, from a wonderful Etsy shop specializing in antiqued brass.

Here’s another 4″ by 4″ piece with text from a different poem, “At Sea” by John Townsend Trowerbridge:

DSC04696 trowerbridge poem shadow box c

The text reads:

A heavenly trust my spirit calms,

                my soul is filled with light:

The Ocean sings his solemn psalms,

The wild winds chant: I cross my palms

                Happy as if to-night

Under the cottage roof again

I heard the soothing summer rain.

This little piece features tiny vintage watch parts – a watch hand and a wheel, as well as a lovely vintage brass decorative element.  It was described as a flying mermaid; I’m not sure, but it is some kind of fantastical winged human creature! Fortunately I was able to purchase a few of these, so they will appear in other work, too.

Finally, here is a 6″ by 6″ shadow box/mixed media piece.  Again, I made the background by creating a wave-themed woodcut, printing the black image over a block print of mottled blue and green inks.  It’s from the same book, CROWN JEWELS, and features a poem by Thomas Lovell Beddoes, “To Sea.”  (I’m including a close-up below so you can read the entire poem.)  More vintage watch parts on this one – an ornate golden watch hand from France and a tiny wheel which perfectly shows off the decorative illuminated initial “T.”  The seahorse is a vintage pin, found by an Etsy dealer in eastern Europe!

DSC04703 to sea shadow box 6 X 6 c

TO SEA close up c

Thanks for taking a look.  Wishing you smooth sailing the rest of the week and right out of winter into spring…!