Thursday, January 31, 2013

How To: Accordion Photo Book

Project: Valentine's Day Mini Accordion Photo Book (2.5" x 3.5")
Difficulty:  Easy if you are a fellow designer or go the scrap book route.  Slightly more difficult if you are a graphic design novice and/or don't like math.
Time:  We did photos and I designed it, which only took about an hour.  Assembly of 12 books took about 2 hours.
Cost:  $7.50 each  (A savings of $149+)

A few days ago I got an email from Mpix.  They are an excellent online photo lab and I've used them for prints as well as our family Christmas cards in the past.  They do amazing work.  I like getting their emails because they serve as a great inspiration and this one was no different.  

Immediately I liked the accordion photo book and clicked to see what it would take to order a few for Valentine's Day gifts.  Upon seeing they start at 19.99 each, I was a little miffed.  I went through the seven stages of craft irritation:

1.  Intrigue - Hey those look neat.  Let's learn more.
2.  Astonishment - Those are neat!
3.  Disbelief -  Is that the price?!  That can't be the price.  Are they crazy?!  It's a tiny book.
4.  Disappointment - I am disappointed.
5.  Despair - Now I will have to think of something else to send for Valentine's Day!
6.  Acceptance - I will figure something else out......OR
7.  Epiphany Resolution - That's just a little accordion book.  I'm a graphic designer.  I can make one (or three...or a dozen) myself!  You know, because who doesn't want a book full of photos of Mark, Jovie and me?!?  (followed by: I will show my blog readers how to also!) 

So here we go  

Things you will need if you would like to do it exactly like I did:
  • Design Software (I used Adobe Photoshop and InDesign)
  • Professional Printer (This was the ENTIRE cost of these books as I had everything else on hand already).  And while I'm on the subject, professional printers generally do a great job accomodating your printing needs and generally offer great rates.  I'm also all for supporting local businesses so I used a local printer.  If you're in Norman, I highly recommend Action Printing.  If you are not in Norman, you probably have one near you and you can ask for a quote upfront to see if you'd be willing to spend what they can do it for.  In my case, they printed, cut and scored my books, which saved me sooooo much time and headache.
  • Digital Photos 

Things you will need if you go the scrapbook route:
  • Large size heavy cardstock or water color board. You could use regular size if you don't mind seams.
  • Photos of your choice or a color/black and white printer.
  • Paper cutter with both cutting and scoring blades or a hand scoring tool.

Things BOTH versions will need:
  • Colorful scrapbook paper (I had some Valentine theme already)
  • Heavy duty cardboard for the book covers.  I used covers from a water color spiral notebook that I already had.  (I'd disassembled the water color notebook for something else a few weeks ago and kept the covers for something like this.)  Regular cardboard (like from a shipping box) would work also.
  • Xacto Knife
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Hot Glue (low or high temp)
  • Metal Straight Edge Ruler or Wide Quilting Ruler
  • Rubber Cutting Mat
  • Embellishments (optional)
  • Envelopes sized to fit if you are mailing them like I did!
  • Fine grit sand paper

Step 1:  Lay it Out

If using Adobe InDesign like I did, here are the presets you will need:
Number of Pages:  2 (front and back)
Uncheck facing pages (unless you like that sort of thing.  I don't.)
Width:  17.75 in (defaults to 106p6 on its own or you can type 106p6)
Height:  3.75 in  (defaults to 22p6 on its own or you can type 22p6)
Bleed:  .125 in (defaults to 0p9)
New Document Set Up for Accordion Book

When you hit "OK" it will give you two pages that look similar to this:

The bold black line shows the bleed.  You will need to mark where your folds will be.  In this case, every 2.75 inches.

Based on where I had these printed, I could only size mine up to 17 inches (but honestly, you really wouldn't want it any longer than that).  Mpix's book measures 2.5 in x 3.5 in. when closed.  Keep in mind it will be two sided and you will lose two panels where you attach the covers.  They will be the panels on each end on the back if you have this many panels.  Different numbers of panels can change which side the cover goes on.

Step 2:  Design

The mister and I had a mini photo shoot in the vanity area of my apartment.  Isn't he a great sport to put up with all my shenanigans?!?  I already had the photos of Jovie by herself.  Remeber the giant portrait of her in my office? (you can see it at the bottom of the post HERE.)  After I pulled the new photos on to my computer I edited them using Photoshop with the Paint the Moon Coffee House "Silver Spoon" Action. (See it HERE)  And now you know one of my great, time-saving secrets....photoshop're welcome.  Also, as far as actions go, Paint the Moon has it going on. 
Accordion Book Front
Accordion Book Back (note: the two blank ends are where the covers attach.)
Save and export to pdf (or prefered file type when finished). Every printer is different. Mine accepts pdfs ("press quality") with bleed and crop marks selected. I also used the "document bleed settings."

Step 3:  Print

Here is the information I gave the printer when I requested a quote:

Trim size:  17 in x 3.5 in (landscape)
Qty: 12
100lb Cover (no laminating, no coating)
Black & White (unless you are doing color and then it will be 4-color)
Scored panels

If you are printing yourself, good luck.  Printing is traditionally my nemesis. :)

Step 4:  Cut

The printer did this part for me. 

If you're doing it yourself, just trim down to the desired size using scissors or a paper cutter.

Step 5:  Score

The printer did this for me too!

My paper cutter has a replacement blade that is actually a score blade so if you're scoring it yourself, just pick up a scoring blade.  Place the paper and score.  There are also tools to do this by hand.  Be sure to flip the card over so it scores the right way.

Step 6:  Cut the Covers

I cut mine to a little larger than the accordion paper was when it was folded.

This was the cover off a watercolor notebook.  I could fit nine covers on one of these.  Remember, you will need two covers for each book! 

After cutting the accordion book covers, lightly sand the edges so remove loose snags and smooth edges.

Step 7:  Cover the Covers.

1.  Lay cover on scrapbook paper and outline.  2.  Cover outline.  3.  Roughly sketch a shape similar to that.  Trust me, it does not have to be perfect.  I've just found that notching out the corners makes folding the sides much easier.  Then cut it out.  4 & 5.  I glued the long sized on first.  Just a light bead of hot glue down the side edge will hold.  6.  All edges glued.  And voila:

Covered cover.

Step 8:  Glue the Covers to the Book

I used hot glue on a high setting (I think...I can't tell which is high and which is low on my glue gun).  Either way, it gave a really nice, sturdy bond.  It helps to fold the book when glueing to the cover so you can see all edges and get it centered.


wOd03t on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

My Valentines!
Finished products!
"Do I click with you?  You're my type!" 

Step 9:  Mail (if needed)

My books were a tight fit in the envelopes I got so I decided to make some paper loops to assist in pulling them out.  I cut brown craft paper to the size I needed (slimmer than the width of the book), fancy stitched the ends together, put around the book and then slipped in the envelope.  It worked beautifully for me....I only hope the people I sent these to had luck as well!

Stitching the loops.  Sewing machines are great for paper projects!
Just sew one and then on to the next.  Clip apart when finished.  
It's easy as 1-2-3!  And in this photo you can see the string I used to secure the book closed.
The end!  I hope you enjoyed! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Football according to Candace

Sunday night...made it the whole weekend without watching any sports.  Score for me.  And then two teams with similar colors were playing.  Naturally, I fell asleep because football is my unisom until Mark woke me up so that I would "sleep at night."  Ummmmm, that's what I was doing.  So, of course, now I'm wired and those football players just made a dog pile on the field.  I really hate it when they do that.  I also have it on good authority that when they do that there is a good amount of butt and eye gouging going on.  Mark was more than a little amused at my vast knowledge of football dog piles and the goings on within them.  I'm glad I can help him understand a game of such tight pants.  I'm told the Super Bowl is next weekend.  To help me illustrate how I feel about this, I made some Grumpy Cat memes:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Designs Lately & FREE Printables

These were not work related!  I wanted to create some new pieces for possibly my apartment or office.  Sometimes it's so nice to just design for me....or in this case also for YOU!  A few of these are free printables so you can print it out if you would like to.  

Photo Credit:  Mark Chaney Landscape Photography.  {Free printable HERE.}

The Night Sky.  Photo Credit: Eric Hines [source] {No free printable for this one because I don't know Mr. Hines}
What good shall I do this day?  {Free printable HERE.}

I love typography a lot.  I really do!  If you do too, free printable HERE.

Home Sweet OklaHOME. {Free printable HERE.}

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January Favorite Things

No. 1: Borden & Riley #840 Brown Kraft Paper Pad
It's no secret I've been on a bit of a brown paper kick lately.  Recently I used this paper (the 9x12 size) for a special project and loved it.  I ordered from Dick Blick art supply and if you haven't been to this site, I definitely suggest it.  They have the best prices I've seen on all kinds of art supplies.  They also have resources broken into groups like, for educators or for artists.

No. 2:  Moroccan Oil
This is for your hair if you were wondering.  Obviously this isn't a beauty blog.  (Reminder HERE)  However, my mom started using this and then got me and my sister some for Christmas "because it really is good for your hair, Candace."  We all know that what our moms say is law and she was right.  It really is good stuff.  Especially if your hair gets really dry and breaks off in the winter (like mine).  It's helped my hair immensely, tames frizz, speeds drying time and makes it sleek, silky and shiny without it making my roots look oily or weighing it down.  And it smells nice!  There's also a "light" version if you have super fine hair.

No. 3:  Anthropologie Magnetic Kitchen Timer
My brother got me one of these in blue for Christmas.  It's so handy and cute.  Jovie, of course, is afraid of it but that's all part of its charm.  I'm actually using it now while I make Mark some banana nut bread!!!

No. 4:  Shirt Dickeys
Ahahahahahahaha.  Now that we have a good laugh out of the way, these are truly amazing inventions.  Just ask ole Harriet Carter.  She's been doling out "distinctive gifts since 1958."  I saw some on sale in Dillard's while I was with Mark, who was truly horrified by these.  Little does he know, I've been making my own for years.   Just ask my friend Jeannie.  The thing is, I like to wear sweaters with button up shirts underneath but if I wear the whole button up shirt, it makes me feel like I can't move and then I get really hot and irritated and turn into the Hulk.  This is a much better, simpler solution.  It looks like a whole shirt but it is not and no one ever has to know!  People will just see you and think, "Hey!  Look at that very fashionable woman wearing two shirts as if she were only wearing 1.25!"

No. 5:  AeroLatte Handheld Milk Frother
If you're like me and enjoy the foamy milk top of a latte more than the latte itself, then this is the gadget for you!  Mark got me a Keurig for Christmas and with this, I can make a Starbucks-esque drinks at home.  You just heat the milk (any kind of milk) and then give it a swirl for 15-20 seconds and BOOM!  Gloriously delicious frothed milk for your coffee or ho cho.  Mark's mom got me this little treasure for Christmas.  Incidentally, I think I was with her in Williams Sonoma when she was purchasing it but I didn't notice because I was stalking the girl at the front of the store handing out peppermint bark samples.  Which brings me to....

No.  6:  Ghirardelli Chocolate Limited Edition Peppermint Bark
This is a special treat my mom and I share each Christmas.  This is my favorite kind of chocolate of all time.  Notice the "limited edition" part?  They are only around certain times of the year, no doubt increasing the demand.  Ghirardelli, you evil genius.

No.  7:  Just My Type:  A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield
I realize not everyone will be as into this one as I am but this book is sooooo good.  Btw, this is a book about typography...not a book about men.  It's insightful and funny and informative all at the same time.  Mark's sister got me this for Christmas and it's been one of the best books I've read in a while.  It's thoroughly entertaining and I think the LA Times put it best when they said, "Whether you're a graphic designer or a layperson with no background in this area, reading what Garfield has to say will change the way you perceive the written word forever."

(These are my thoughts and opinions.  I did not receive any type of compensation for these statements.  These items are simply things I like, enjoy and/or find useful.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

For If/When You're Having a Bad Day

Candace circa 1996

Whew!  Where to begin?!?  This is the one of only two existing photos from my sixth grade year...because I destroyed all the others.

There is no product on my naturally curly hair, I have a face full of acne and I'm squinting because this is right before I picked out some rockin' giant round tiger print glasses frames.  You can't see my teeth too clearly but I can tell you.......jank!  My arms practically hang down to my knees.  And even though I'd skip that jean skirt and pink shirt, if I had it, I'd still wear that sweet vest my mom made me.  This photo was taken at church.  I think I look happy because people there loved me...because they had to according to Jesus.

If this photo had a name, it would be "Character Building" because, well, kids are cruel and you don't look like that and get away with it!  Of course, if I hadn't looked like that then I wouldn't have near the personality (or the thick skin) I do now and then where would we be?  Plus that look was totally low maintenance.  It's amazing how much time you have when you don't worry with fixing your hair, putting on makeup or plucking your eyebrows.

So if/when you are having a bad day, just look at this photo and could always be worse.

Hahahappy Wednesday!  :)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Hotties

I think when they took this little gem they were probably thinking that somewhere around 30 years from then their daughter would post it to her blog for all the world to see.  And if that's what they were thinking, they were RIGHT!  I love this photo and my parents are awesome...not to mention have a couple of sets of pretty sweet stems (legs, duh!).

This little walk down memory lane is brought to you by their 29th wedding anniversary.

See those bags they're holding?  I can only imagine they are full of shells and rocks and this is where I get my shell/rock obsession from.      

I love you mom and dad!  (Even if you did have a mullet at one time, mom.  Way to work it, girl!)    

Friday, January 4, 2013

7 Confessions

1.  If I never have to see anything about baseball for the rest of my life I'm more than ok with that.

2.  When I was in lower elementary school, I went to get breakfast of toast for my teacher.  The wind caught the plate on the way out of the cafeteria and the toast hit the ground.  I guiltily went and requested another two slices from the stereotypical lunch lady and went on my way.  The wind caught them again.  Repeat with an even more aggravated lunch lady. The wind thing happened a third time.  I scooped the toast off the ground, put it back on the plate and ran as the lunch lady yelled at me.  I gave my teacher floor toast and she ate it.

3.  The activity I am worst at: waiting in line.

4.  Velvet makes my skin crawl.

5.  High heels give me super powers.

6.  I automatically stop listening when people say "I seen _(fill in the blank with whatever they say they've seen:  a movie, a dog, a grammar book {not likely})__."  Example:  "I seen a kite." [cringe]

7.  I have an unhealthy number of pens and flash drives in my purse at all times.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to: Office Chair Revamp

When I got my new job, I was put in an office with these chairs:

A real yawn, right???
They were perfectly good, utilitarian office chairs but they lacked inspiration and, well, kind of made me sad.  In search of a new project, I found the chair below left at an antique store  in my home town ($15) while antiquing with my friend Amy and the chair below on the right on craigslist ($25).  The lady I bought it from also had a coffee table in her back seat with a sonic cup sitting on it.  It was decided these would be my new office chairs....after a lot of work because those seat covers were especially yucky.

I wanted chairs that coordinated but did not match and chairs that were not so precious they would be destroyed by refinishing.  These two share the cane back and rounded tops-though one is large round and the other much smaller.  I love how they look together.  Also, they are the same seat and back heights, which helps pull them together.

The first step was to remove the seat cushions.  It's very easy.  There are screws in each corner on the undercarriage of the chair.  Remove those screws and the seat comes off.

Then, I guess you can sand them.  I didn't really do this step.  Instead I got some Kilz primer and gave them several good, thin coatings of that.  Sanding details is one of my least favorite things.

After one coat of Kilz Primer.
After the primer has dried, it's time to paint!  Yellow is not really my go to color, but my office is decorated in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black...the four key colors of design that make all other colors).  I thought yellow was a good option for the chairs out of those colors so that's what I went with.  Also, I used spray paint and couldn't really find the right cyan or magenta and thought black was a little boring.   (I used Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Gloss in Sun Yellow)
After one coat of yellow.
While letting the paint dry in a well-ventilated area, I began working on recovering the seats in between coats of paint.

The seats along with things you will need.  You might also want a little crowbar if the bottom of your seat looks anything like mind did.

I'd love to know what the person was thinking who stapled this to the bottom of the chair.  Clearly they wanted it to survive any type of natural disaster as well as the end of the world.  It took a long time to remove all of these.  They would break and that's where the needlenose pliers came in handy.  The other cushion had a much more reasonable number of staples and they all came out easier.

Those crisscross staples were the worst...and absolutely unnecessary.
So once you've gotten all the staples out, lay your new fabric top-side down and the old yucky cushion covers on it.  As you can see, my new fabric is black and white chevron.

The old cushions are already cut to the right size so it's not necessary to cut any bigger.  I just cut square-ish shapes.  They don't need to be shaped like the old seat covers were.

See what I mean?  I doesn't have to be perfect.  I did, however, want the chevron to be straight so I lined up one edge and went from there.  And by line it up, I mean I eyeballed it.  

Once your fabric is cut to the size-ish you need, lay the upholstery foam and board on it.  The upholstery foam on these seats was still in good shape so I reused it.  If the foam is gross or crumbly or has a funny smell, just pick up some new foam at a fabric store or Hobby Lobby and cut to the size of the board.

Now it's time to staple.  Don't go staple crazy on this part.  You will want to because the staple gun is really fun, but don't.  Btw, my staple gun is a cheap-o from Home Depot.  Not like the cheapest but the cheapest "heavy duty" they had and it works great.  I think it was around $15 and I just used the staples that came with it.

To staple, I started with the bottom edge (like in the photo above), lined it up and then stapled a row of about 3-4 staples across.  On this part, don't pull it really tight because nothing else is stapled and there's nothing to pull against.

Then fold over the top and staple a row.  You will want to pull this a little to make sure it's taunt and smooth on the seat surface.  No one likes a wrinkly seat.

And then I did the sides.  The sides are longer so there was no chance of getting a staple over the screw holes so there's not an issue when you try to screw the seats back on the chair frame.  And I didn't get fancy on the corners.  Mostly just make sure they're wrapped and secure.  No one likes a show off.

All stapled!

Finished seat.
Jovie testing it out.  She approves.
So then when the chair frames are dry, attach the newly covered seats and voila!  New chairs!  You can see mine are done a little "shabby chic" on the left edge of the chair on the right.  Crackle optional.

Here they are in my office with my giant portrait of Jovie.
Also, my desk had dull brown panels.  I covered them with grey and white chevron fabric using my trusty staple gun.  Now, if I should ever leave this office, I can pull the fabric off or leave it for the next person.

Brown desk panels.
Covered desk panels!
One more before and after!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So Long, 2012

I does not seem like it was one year ago I was writing new year's resolutions for 2012.  It seems like a much shorter time than that.  But as you get older, the years seem shorter because of the ratio of a year compared to the number of them you have lived.  Neat, huh?  Let's see how I did (and to see the original post from one year ago, click HERE):

Mission accomplished.  This one came naturally and is one I will continue.  Creativity is to me what sports are to athletes.  It's what I enjoy most and my great passion.  And come to find out, I don't really like sports.

This one was also ok.  There's still room for improvement but isn't there always?!

Slight hiccup here....I missed the grad school deadline to apply.  Though I may have failed this one, I know it worked out the way it was supposed to.  I was only at OU half the year and would not have been there when the master's program began in the fall.  I do not know if I want to pursue a master's at this time.  Maybe later on.  I'm going to wait and see how a few things pan out before I decide for sure.

Yes, I did!  Firstly, I make it a goal to continue life-long learning in the design world.  It's an ever-changing field and if you don't continue to learn, you become obsolete.  Also, I completed the concealed carry class with Mark and my brother.

Another yes.  And I have to say I really enjoyed the chair in my living room actually being a chair.

I did design a blog revamp with a totally new address.  I'm just not sure I want to part with Violet and Grey just yet.  We've been through so much together.  Not that I can't take everything to the new site...I'm just happy here for now.  Call it loyalty or detachment issues, but I'll know when the time is right to change, if ever.  

Now, as for 2013:

I'm not going to make a list.  The list was good for 2012.  I kept it tucked away in the hidden part of my mind and thought of it often.  This list kept me focused and that is what I needed in 2012.  Not that I won't be focused without a list, I just also don't want a list hanging over my head for the year. 

I do, however, vow to make good choices, give my best to the people I love and live my happy little life.  Because when you stop and look around, life is pretty great.