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how to camouflage outlet covers with wallpaper

Up in the studio (and throughout the whole house, actually), the outlets, light switches and wall plates are almond colored. I’m assuming this almond color was the standard back in 1992 when the house was built. Not a huge deal except that they look pretty grimy next to all of the white walls.

So on our very lengthy list of house projects is the tedious task of switching out not just the plate covers, but changing the actual outlets and light switches to white throughout the house.

Up in the studio, the outlets/switches/plates are also the almond color and they really do stand out against the walls.

The light switch in the above photo is the goofiest of all because in order to trim the window, we had to notch it out to fit the plate. Since it is right at my eye-level while I’m working, it’s been one of those things that I felt motivated to find a solution to.

Replacing all of the outlets/switches/plates in the studio falls very, very low on the project-totem-pole so an in-between fix was in order.

My answer: decoupage.

I did this same project five years ago in our old house. The issue then was that I had just painted the walls a dark color and the white plates stood out too much. Covering the plates with a pretty scrapbook paper was the prefect solution.

In this case, my goal was to make the plates look meaningful (and hopefully camouflage the almond-toned outlets and switches in the meantime).

This project is truly simple, fairly fool-proof and requires only a few dollars worth of materials.

Here’s how to decoupage outlet and light switch covers:

SUPPLIES

wall plate | pretty paper | Mod Podge (in matte finish) | paintbrush | scissors

A few notes:

  • No need to buy new wall plates – just take them off your wall and reuse them.
  • I prefer matte Mod Podge for this project so that you don’t get a glossy finish.
  • As for paper, the possibilities are endless. In our last house I used thick scrapbook paper. For the studio, I’m using a sample of the most gorgeous wallpaperWhatever you choose, go for something on the thicker side to reduce the puckering that can happen with thin paper.
  • I am not decoupaging the front of the paper for these outlets, but I did in our old house. It just depends on how durable you’re wanting them to be.

Okay, let’s get to it.

STEP ONE

Cut out a piece of your selected paper approximately 1/2″ larger on all sides than your plate.

STEP TWO

Coat the front with Mod Podge, flip it over and press to the center of the paper.

STEP THREE

Cut a notch in each corner.

STEP FOUR

Brush on glue and fold around edges.

If your paper doesn’t hold down, use a small clip to keep it in place while it dries.

Once the Mod Podge is dry, remove the clips and continue on (this only takes a few minutes).

STEP FIVE

Poke a hole in the center of the opening, then make several cuts around the circle.

STEP SIX

Brush on decoupage medium to paper, fold and press firmly to hold. Again, these little clips come in handy to hold it all in place as it dries.

After a few minutes, grab your cover, screw it in place, step back and admire your work.

Now I no longer cringe at the dingy looking outlets! The paper adds a subtle visual interest that looks purposeful.

The outlets are still clearly off-white, but look less out of place with the addition of the wallpaper.

And now I don’t mind looking at that goofy light switch anymore because it is covered in my favorite paper.

#itsthelittlethings

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get your free set of valentine note cards + envelopes

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to share a few freebie love note designs.

What’s not to LOVE about watercolor hearts, arrows, rain clouds raining down hearts?

My illustrations were scanned and formatted into sweet little note cards with matching diy envelopes. Keep reading for the how-to and to download the files!

To make the envelopes, here’s what you’ll need:

free-valentine-and-envelopes templates printed on thick white paper / scissors / adhesive (like this) / washi tape (here’s my favorite source)

STEP ONE / cut template on dashed lines

cut-envelope

cut-out-envelope-template STEP TWO / fold in sides, press firmly to crease

fold-in-sides STEP THREE / fold up bottom, press firmly to crease

fold-up-bottom-flap STEP FOUR / use glue dots (or other adhesive) to attach bottom flap to sides

glue-dots-on-envelope STEP FIVE / write a love note and slip it in

card-in-envelope STEP SIX / fold down top flap and seal with washi tape

plus-envelope-taped Add a name to the front and send to your valentine!

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heart-card-and-plus-envelope

plus-envelope There are four designs with matching note cards + envelopes, but feel free to mix & match!

These cards and envelopes can be found in THE ARCHIVE along with all of our best free prints, templates and fonts.  If you are not an Archive member, simply add your email to the list and you’re in!

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE ARCHIVE

enjoy!

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When you can’t find the table lamp you want, you improvise

After all the back and forth and option-weighing, I decided the desk in the studio will stay as originally planned. We’ll adjust the chairs to raise them up a bit and call it good.

I actually feel very happy with the decision and can continue on with putting the studio together …

Next up is adding in more ambient light in the form of table lamps. The light of table lamps is nice to work by and will also anchor either side of the desk.

In my initial design board, I planned on using these white textured lamps from Target. I liked the simple shape, but when I went to order, there was only one available (what?!).

As a second option, I came across this handsome ceramic lamp from West Elm, which I also really liked. I just couldn’t justify spending $300 on lamps for my office.

While out shopping the other day, I saw a pair of these column table lamps on clearance in the kid section and snatched up both of them for $45.

The shape is great, I love the wood base, the color was definitely not right for my studio, but I had an idea of how to fix that.

Enter the good ole days of DIY-Emily.

(Side note: I have not done a DIY project in almost a year. Crazy for a crafty girl who loves a DIY project! I’m glad to be back, friends. Glad to be back).

By altering these lamps, I hoped to create a hybrid of the two inspiration lamps – combining the shape of the first with the chalky gray color of the second. And because I didn’t spend much, I figured it was worth the DIY risk.

After taping off the base and neck, I painted on two coats of basic black chalk paint.

As chalk paint does, it dried a nice matte gray-black.

I could have left the paint as is, but went with the next step of ‘seasoning’ the chalk surface.

Typically, you season a freshly painted chalkboard to cure the surface and allow for full erasing once you start writing on it. These lamps won’t function as writable chalk surfaces, but I still wanted that pretty mottled look that seasoning creates.

After rubbing chalk all over the lamp, I wiped it in with a dry cloth and blew off the remaining dust.

The finished color is just the chalky black I was hoping for.

The lamps are now flanking the desk and look so nice!

Even though I initially wanted a pair of white lamps, these lamps remind me that bringing a touch of black into a room is always a good idea.

This was about as simple of a DIY as could be and I’m happy to be back in the crafty game.

Have you created anything lately that you’re particularly proud of? I’d love to hear!

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5 favorite tricks & techniques in Illustrator AND details of the new class

Here we are on day five of a graphic-design-y week! I hope you’ve found beauty and inspiration in the posts so far.

In case you missed any, first I shared a handful of designs from my custom stationery designing days. Lots of cute projects and many examples of great print-at-home invitations, christmas cards and announcements. Next, I shared this adorable set of free clip art for you to download and use in your designs. For those who want more control over color and size of clip art, this video shows just how easy it is to turn a regular image into a vector graphic.  Then we talked about selecting the best printer for you and discovering thousands of fonts (can you ever have enough?!).

To wrap this week up, I made another video for you … this time sharing my top five favorite tricks and techniques in Adobe Illustrator. I didn’t begin designing using such a fancy program, but as I have spent the past several years learning and practicing, finding new tools and little tricks to make designing easier, I completely love it. I think you will, too.

So obviously I kinda enjoy designing. I never set out to be a graphic designer (my degree is in child & family psychology!) and even though I am self-taught and often do things the wrong way (did you see how I draw in the video?!) I feel so grateful for the creative outlet it has become.  I just adore what I do, am constantly learning and practicing and am so excited to share my knowledge with others.

About seven months ago, I began putting together a graphic design course that would focus on the basics I use for every day designing.  No techy language and super-advanced skills because honestly, I don’t think most of us are looking for that. I wanted the class to feel like it would if you came over to my house and I explained in regular terms and simple steps how to design your daughter’s birthday invitations yourself.  A friendly approach to learning a slightly intimidating program.  Well, after seven months, it’s finally ready.

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So here are the details:

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Simplified Graphic Design is a course created for the beginner graphic designer who is new to Adobe Illustrator.  Illustrator enables you to create professional vector artwork (images that can be scaled to any size without losing quality) for both print and web graphics. While the program can be intimidating upon first glance, this course will walk you through the most essential and helpful tools showing you how to create your own designs and leaving you with a comfortable understanding and confidence in working in Illustrator.

This is a great class for those who love graphic design and want to learn how to create their own graphics. Whether you have no experience in Illustrator or a basic knowledge of the program, you will finish the course a more proficient designer with a handful of shortcuts that will make the process simple and enjoyable.  If you are well-acquainted with Illustrator, a professional graphic designer or looking for tips for creating a graphic design business, this course will not be a good fit for you.

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Because most of us learn best by watching a task being done, this course is a series of eleven in-depth videos that cover all of the basic functions, most helpful tools and many tips and tricks in Adobe Illustrator useful for everyday designing.  You can watch and re-watch to learn new techniques and then pause the video to practice on your own.

The course covers:

  • familiarizing ourselves with Adobe Illustrator
  • using the most common functions for every day designing
  • how to create, transform and design with text
  • using clipping masks and digital paper to create art
  • turning hand drawn doodles into vector graphics
  • altering images using the live trace & paint functions
  • how to create shapes, templates and tags
  • printing and saving your work
  • the work flow of a start-to-finish invitation
  • the work flow of a start-to-finish web graphic
  • resources for tools, design elements and inspiration

The course and all its content takes place online in a password protected classroom.  Go at your own pace, moving from section to section as quickly or slowly as needed. You will have unlimited access to the class so you can always refer back to it as needed.

All questions can be asked in the comment section of each topic. This will act as our forum and helpful troubleshooting for all students.

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free Seaside clipart and how to use it

masonsea630 Can one ever have enough clipart? I think not. Especially of the hand-drawn variety.

Add a little drawing to a gift tag or invitation, use one in your logo or in an ad – nothing overboard (ha!), but just enough to make a visual impact. Fun, fun, fun.

underthesea-clipart I have summer on my brain and with that comes the beach. So I doodled a few favorites from the sea – shells, sea creatures, waves and a few beachy words.

To make these clipart drawings, I first sketched with pencil, then over each one with my favorite fine-tip pen (this one), erasing the pencil marks with a good eraser (like this). I then scanned the drawings (with this scanner) and saved each one individually as a .png file with a transparent background.  You can totally use the clipart just in black and white (download it HERE).

Or for a great extra step, I gave the clipart color and texture which you can also download here.

Free Under The Sea Clipart / jones design company

I made a short video showing you a few of the techniques I used for turning the black and white clipart into colored artwork. All of this was done using Adobe Illustrator.

So fun, right?! If you’re totally lost OR if you loved it and want to learn in much more detail all about how I create in Adobe Illustrator, I’d love to have you join my class!

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I walk you through Illustrator from the very beginning steps of setting up your artboard and using the tools all the way to creating custom graphics using the best features and functions. Learn more about what you’ll learn, what past students are saying and for another great sample of the class by CLICKING HERE.

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To download the clip art, CLICK HERE to join or log in to The Archive. This is our library of all of our best freebies – artwork, templates, fonts and clipart.

Let me know if you have any questions or ideas for what you’ll do with this Under The Sea inspired clipart collection!

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The Making of the Illustrated Recipe (a video!)

You guys! I recovered the video!

(If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I tell the whole video saga at the end of this post).

Anytime I see a video – whether it’s a makeup tutorial, lettering sample, photo editing – I tune in. I love watching the creative process of an artist doing his/her thing. I look for tips that I can use and find I’m much more confident trying the technique out after I’ve watched someone else do it.

While creating the illustration for the Blueberry Muffin recipe art print, I video screen-captured while I worked. I did this once before with the Christmas Essentials print to show how I turn watercolor paintings into a digital print and this time I wanted to show how I create the drawings straight from the computer.

I use Adobe Illustrator – which I love so much that I teach two different classes on it (more below). Some graphic artists prefer a tablet to sketch with; I just use my regular wireless mouse. My drawing style is a little on the cartoony/not-realistic side, so precision is not a huge concern. If I needed to be more detailed, I would use my wacom tablet + stylus.

Okay! Ready to see how the Blueberry Muffin illustration was made?

 

Wasn’t that fun?!

Let me remind you of a few things:

  1. While art/drawing/creating has always been my thing, I really don’t think it takes special talent to illustrate using this technique. You can do it!
  2. I sped the video up by 900%. So basically, what looks like it happened really quickly actually took me over an hour. Slow and steady wins the race.
  3. There is so much more to share with you about designing using Adobe Illustrator. I want to teach you all the things to encourage and empower you to try it! If you’ve ever had the desire (or need) to make graphics, illustrations, logos, collages, art prints, invitations, (the list goes on), you’ll love the Simplified Graphic Design classes.  allthree

 Registration for the Spring 2016 session closes TONIGHT at 10pm pst.

You don’t have to start right away and there is no expiration for the class, so really, once you join you can begin when it works for your schedule.

I’d love to answer any questions you have about the classes or the illustration process or anything else graphic design related in the comments. Ask away!

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18 ways to use Adobe Illustrator in your everyday

If you’re not familiar with Illustrator, you may think (based on it’s name, alone) that it is used primarily for illustrating.  And maybe to the professional user, that might be true. But for all of us who just need a program we can use to create for our everyday needs, Illustrator is the absolute best, too (read more of my illustrator love story here)

To show you just how versatile the program is and all the ways I use it on a regular basis, I’ve come up with 18 ways to use Adobe Illustrator in your everyday creating.

Here they are, in no particular order:

18 ways to use Adobe Illustrator in your everyday / jones design company

digitize lettering

Turn your handwriting, calligraphy or fancy lettering into a digital image you can use for print with Illustrator’s Image Trace tool.

(Serve One Another in Love print available to download here)

You can also turn your hand-lettering into a digital file you can overlay on photos.

shebelievedwindow

(see the full step-by-step process here)

   

make your own invitations

Save money and get exactly what you have in mind by creating your own invitations for parties, weddings, baby announcements and more. I spent the first 5 years of Jones Design Company creating custom invitations using programs other than Illustrator and I wish I had known the program then to streamline the process and open up more design options.

(Audrey’s 4th birthday invitations. See more here)

   

make your own holiday cards

Along the same line as making your own invitations is creating your annual holiday card. Give a simple photo an extra bit of personality with a printed greeting or be more elaborate with a folded, double-sided or accordion design.

   

create color inspiration boards

When you are looking for colors that look great together, grab a favorite photo and use the Eyedropper tool to pick colors. You’ll end up with a set of beautifully coordinated colors. I love using this technique when creating artwork or a logo and wanting a concise color palette, but it is also great for coming up with a color scheme for a room you’re decorating in your house.

colors-from-flowers

   

create design boards

This is great for those who are in the interior design business, but even if you’re just wanting to get a good idea of how a room will look put together (or what components you need to add), using Illustrator to compile design ideas on one board helps immensely.  I use a combo of Photoshop (for removing backgrounds from photos) and Illustrator to put the whole thing together.

nursery design board for the little lady / jones design company

See more inspiration boards: boys’ room | dream bathroom | Audrey’s room | happy entry

This method works great for putting together a visual source guide, too!

(living room source graphic as seen on this post)

Design Blog Graphics

I use Illustrator in nearly every blog post I publish. Adding arrows, creating collages, making title images (like the one above) that are good for pinning, numbering or just adding a simple illustration.

   

make collages

Grab a handful of photos and turn them into a basic collage.

You can also cut out photos into shapes (below) or even words (like this).

18 Letterers to follow on Instagram / jones design company

 

When I published this post about my favorite letterers, several people asked if I used a template to create the graphic. Nope. I just used the shape tool in Illustrator and cut out the image using a clipping mask. It looks complicated, but I assure you, this type of graphic is quite easy.

design logos + branding

Illustrator is a perfect program for creating logos + branding collateral (like business cards, postcards, stickers, shipping labels, packaging, invoices, etc).

JDC business card / jones design company

   

make infographics look good

Need an infographic for a project for school or work or on your blog? You can use Illustrator to create consistent, great looking graphics.

(Infographic from the 2013 Blogger Survey. I need to do another one soon!)

   

turn doodles into artwork

If you create a cute little drawing you want turned into artwork, Illustrator is the perfect place to do that. You’ll end up with a vector graphic that can be enlarged without losing its resolution.  This is also great for preserving sweet drawings your kids/grandkids/friends’ kids make. I’ve even turned one of my son’s pictures of our family into notecards (I wish I had a picture to show you. Maybe I’ll take one and post to instagram. They are the sweetest notecards).

In this post, I show you the steps for turning your doodles into artwork in illustrator. This post is fun with a video of the process.

   

customize pre-made clipart

If you find cute clipart that you want to put your own personal touch on (like changing the colors or altering it slightly), you can do that by turning it into a vector and then adding digital papers or fills with the Live Paint Bucket. I walk you through the whole process in this video post.

customizing-clipart

(Easter Clipart found here)

   

design paper, fabric + repeat patterns

Illustrator makes it super easy to create patterns, borders, and even seamless repeat patterns you can use for blog backgrounds, digital paper and fabric. Someday soon, I’d love to create a pattern and have it printed on fabric or wallpaper from Spoonflower. Fun, right?!

(Tags created with patterns I designed)

   

create pdf worksheets, calendars + charts

You’ve likely seen our Paper Works monthly product … well, everything you see there was created in Illustrator. Calendars, art prints, notecards, and charts can be designed and then saved as PDF files that make it easy for users to download and print.

packaged

   

access the extra glyphs and symbols in fonts

Did you know that many nicely designed fonts have extra characters, symbols, swashes and alternates that you can access from the Glyph panel in Illustrator? It truly opens up hundreds of new options with fonts you may already have on your computer. I show you how to find them in this video post.

   

create wallpapers + backgrounds

If you like to change out your computer wallpaper or phone screens, Illustrator is a great place to create pretty backgrounds for your digital needs. These make great freebies, too! So if you have a blog and make a few wallpapers for yourself, feel free to share them with your readers. When creating wallpapers, just set your artboard to your phone screen size (google will tell you what it is) and save as a jpg. Email or airdrop the image to your phone, save the image and set as your wallpaper. You can do the same on your computer desktop or ipad.

ipadbike

   

create silhouettes

There are a handful of ways to create silhouettes, but I’ve found Illustrator to be a convenient place to outline photos and turn them quickly into great looking silhouettes. Here is a video showing you how I make them in Illustrator.

(framed silhouettes up the stairway)

   

make templates, stencils + patterns

When I initially did my painted wallpaper in my office, I used Illustrator to take my rough, hand-drawn pattern and make it symmetrical.  It’s also great for creating envelope templates, sewing patterns and outlines of letters (for banners or monograms).

   

illustrating

And, of course, we can’t leave out illustrating. Drawing with Illustrator’s pen tool, pencil tool and blob brush tools make it enjoyable to make simple (or complex) illustrations. You can be fancy and use a wacom tablet, or just use your mouse.

download-ingredients

(Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe found here)

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Phew! See how amazing Adobe Illustrator is?! There are so many uses for the program and the more comfortable your get creating in it, the more times you’ll find uses for it.

   

If you’d like to learn all the basics – seriously, even if you are a very beginning beginner – you will love the online Simplified Graphic Design classes.

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I’d love to know if you create with Illustrator and what your favorite uses are. Let’s chat in the comments!

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