Category: Process


Prune Restaurant – Website!

July 6th, 2014 — 8:59pm


Today, I am overjoyed to make a long awaited announcement…..
PRUNE Restaurant’s new website is LIVE!!

Sometime ago I was contacted by Tyla Fowler, assistant to Gabrielle Hamilton, and asked whether I’d be interested in redesigning Prune’s website. Of course, my response was “Absolutely!”. I remember when I first heard Gabrielle Hamilton on the radio, speaking about her book Blood, Bones & Butter, I was immediately so taken by her…. and after reading her book, even more enamored. So, now, here I am being contacted to design her restaurant’s new website?!  I wondered if maybe my connections to the restaurant world (Chez Panisse, Camino, Pizzaiolo, etc.) had somehow lead her to me, but it turns out, Tyla came across my work in an interview I did with Design Sponge! Thank you Design Sponge!

I knew that this was a substantial project, one that I didn’t want to take on alone, so I asked my dear friend and talented colleague, Tracy Lenihan, to work with me. Tracy and I had worked together before, but nothing of this scale. It was wonderful to tackle such an exciting and challenging project with a trusted collaborator. I’d also like to give great thanks to Andrew Venell for all of his amazing hard work programming the site.


I was fortunate enough to dine at PRUNE twice during this project. It was wonderful to meet Gabrielle face-to-face, experience the delicious food, the generous hospitality, and really get a sense of the place – first hand.  The restaurant is charmingly small, I truly felt as if I was in Europe. I love how the French doors open onto the street (as shown in the above photograph, courtesy of Eric Wolfinger, thank you Eric!). The tables are nestled so close to one another that it feels more like a dinner party at a friend’s house. It has a lovely intimate feel, the quintessential neighborhood restaurant. It was this warm, welcoming, and inviting experience that we wanted to capture in the design of the website.


When Gabrielle told me that, for a long time, she used to write each daily menu by hand, I knew she was my hero! A true fellow Luddite! (the above menu is an old sample in Gabrielle’s distinctive hand). This year is PRUNE’s 15th anniversary and it was only a few years ago that they stopped using handwritten tickets. We wanted to retain this lo-fi and handcrafted feel throughout the new site.


Working closely with Gabrielle has been an incredible experience. She is an amazing person; wicked smart, insanely hardworking, dedicated, full of grace and great humor.
I am thrilled to see this project come to fruition, and to use a phrase from Gabrielle,
I am “struttingly proud” of the results!

2 comments » | Identity & Packaging, Process, website Design

Happy New Year!

January 8th, 2014 — 8:39pm

Wow. I can’t believe the holidays are already over and it’s back to work in 2014! Life just seems to get faster and busier as each year passes, and with that said, my new year’s resolution.. or hope… or mission is to make time to do creative projects purely for myself, for the simple joy of it, to inspire myself, and sometimes to collaborate and connect with the people I love.


When Marc, my boyfriend, asked me what I wanted for Christmas I replied “Time working together in my studio on a fun creative project!”. And that’s exactly what we did to welcome in the New Year. I have been collecting security envelopes (from random mail and bills) for about 3 years now and I’ve been dying to do a project with them. I’ve always wanted to tile/shingle a wall with pieces of paper and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.


When I brought out all the envelopes I had collected we were amazed by the wide variety of patterns and colors… more than 75 different patterns! Marc, who is very mechanically minded, helped me map out the overall layout and calculate the size that our oval needed to be… thank goodness for handy boyfriends! I had a custom cutting die made for the oval (for those of you who are unfamiliar, a cutting die is like an extra sharp cookie cutter). While Marc fished through the piles of envelopes and found the interesting ones I cut away on my tabletop die-cutter.


We started our first row with halves and set up our grid so that the ovals were laid out like wood shingles. We attached them to the wall with a neutral pH white crafting glue. They looked like little Easter eggs sitting on top of the wainscot.


Fast forward many hours, and episodes of This American Life podcasts, and we had a complete shingled wall! So beautiful and inspiring!


Here’s to moments of joy, a renewal of hope, the love and support of family and friends… and to spending time being playful and creative in 2014!

1 comment » | Process, Uncategorized

Northern California Fall Wedding

November 30th, 2013 — 8:26pm


I just got home from a beautiful hike with a friend in Redwood Regional Park. I always love Thanksgiving weekend as it seems to be one of the rare times that life truly slows down. Being out in the woods on this crisp sunny day inspired me to share this autumnal wedding in Hopland, California. This is the same wedding that I spoke of in last month’s post – Fall Wedding Feast.
This project drew inspiration from Northern California’s natural landscape, John Muir’s botanical collection, and early American folk art. Lady’s slipper orchids were especially significant to the bride and groom, and therefore, became a main feature on their invitation (above & below).


I letterpress printed my hand-lettering and the line work of the Lady’s slipper botanical illustration. I then hand-painted each invitation with watercolor and gouache, a lot of work but it really made the imagery come to life.


Here is the invitation for the rehearsal/welcome dinner held the night before the wedding. For this invitation I looked to early American folk art, especially Pennsylvania Dutch and the paper-cut crafts of the time. The event was held in the hop barn, at Campovida, and so I thought it would be fun to have the invitation wording displayed within the silhouette shape of the barn. My hand-lettering is inspired by old Shaker alphabets and painted signs.

I silkscreen printed my illustrations in bright ‘barn red’ and letterpress printed the wording. Campovida is a working family run farm so it seemed fitting to include the farm animals in my design. I love the mixture of traditional folk art symbols, the rooster weather vane, and the firework-like stars in the sky.

The invitations were packaged in these beautiful envelopes. I printed a pressed plant image of a violet, with heart shaped leaves that draped over the front. The bride and groom found the perfect vintage postage stamps which added such autumnal color and personality to the presentation. The stunning calligraphy of the addresses was done by Adrienne Keats.
I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving holiday, staying warm and cozy, and finding time for a little walk in the woods.

4 comments » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Vive Bastille Day! Vive Chez Panisse!

July 24th, 2013 — 7:02pm

It seems impossible that we are already deep into July, where does the time go?
Although I’m a little late, I thought I’d post another one of my Bastille Day menus designed for Chez Panisse Restaurant. I’ve created many special menus for Chez Panisse over the years and they continue to be some of my favorite projects of my career. Alice (the owner and guiding light of the restaurant) found this festive image in an old book of hers, it felt perfect for a delicious celebration of Bastille Day. My hand-lettering of the menu was inspired by beautiful old typefaces from the 1500-1700s and I found a gorgeous ream of vintage paper to print onto (the warm patina on the edges of the paper is so appealing to me!). I put on some playful French music by the Baguette Quartette and proceeded to hand-paint each French flag. Vive la France! Vive Chez Panisse!

Comment » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Wedding In Rio De Janeiro

June 30th, 2013 — 7:26pm


With the glorious weather in the Bay Area right now, and the dwindling days of June, I thought it perfect timing to share this unbelievable June wedding in Brazil! This project is, by far, one of my favorite projects of all time.
Mariana and Saul were an absolute dream to work with. Mariana, originally from Rio de Janeiro (where the wedding was to take place), had so much inspiration for me to draw from; photographs and wonderful stories. The process of working so closely with her was very special, I almost feel as if I’ve been to Rio!

photograph by Daniel Rocha

The inspiration for the invitations was based on Parque Lage as this was where the wedding would take place! This magnificent mansion, built in 1849, was originally the home of Henrique Lage and his wife, Gabriela Bezanzoni (an Italian opera singer). This open interior courtyard, shown above, has two facing balconies that had been specifically designed for Gabriella’s performances. Nowadays, it is the home of the Visual Arts School and it’s surrounding gardens and subtropical forest lands are open to the public.
I think it is the most powerful and magical wedding venue I have ever seen!
The illustration I created for the invitation was inspired by the architecture of this mansion along with decorative bookplates/title-pages from the 1500-1700s.


I designed the response card with the same look and feel but my illustrations focused instead on the surrounding romantic gardens and fountains at Parque Lage. I love how the spray of water from the fountain becomes the line to fill in your name.

photograph by Pablo Bianchi

Another wonderful view of Parque Lage.


I printed my design for the return address in both olive green and espresso brown to complement the suite.


Mariana and Saul threw a Sunset Samba Party to welcome their guests to Rio. The party took place on the rooftop of a beautiful hotel overlooking the city. They served Brazilian barbeque and Caipirinha cocktails and had professional dancers both performing and teaching the basic Samba steps. Mariana wanted this invitation to be playful and fun with her personal favorite Caipirinha recipe on the back… for this reason I thought it would be great to print the invitation on a drink coaster! I also found an old dance book from the 60s that had ‘his’ and ‘her’ instructional Samba steps, perfect.


Here is the back side with Mariana’s recipe, the addition of passion fruit is her signature touch… delicious.


The next evening, they threw a rehearsal dinner at a famous club, Rio Scenarium, in the old city. Again, Mariana wanted this invitation to be fun and personal. We decided to make the invitation a handwritten-looking postcard. I found a few vintage Brazilian postcards and Mariana was especially drawn to this image (above) of Pedra da Gavea as it held great significance to her family.


I made the back side look like a hand-written note sent from Mariana and Saul. I added fun touches like the Scenarium logo, a gorgeous Brazilian postage stamp, and a hand-drawn postmark with the date of the event. Mariana also had some wonderful sayings that she asked me to integrate into the designs; the one above “reculer pour mieux sauter” is a French saying roughly translating to “take a step back before you make the big leap”… perfect sentiment for a “flashback dinner” on the eve of your wedding day.


In the end, there were approximately 600 guests who attended this magnificent event! Really quite unbelievable. There were no printed menus or seating cards but I was able to create a lovely wedding program. Again, I looked to the architecture of Parque Lage and vintage title pages as inspiration for the illustrations. I added personal touches like their initials, a “huppa” in the archway (Saul is Jewish and they were to be married under a traditional huppa), and another of Mariana’s sayings “Qui regna amore!” = Love reigns here!


Here is the inside spread of the wedding program. I created the graphic pattern in the corners to echo the actual pattern of the handmade lace for their huppa. I loved writing in both English and Portuguese.


Saul had the creative idea of adding a riddle to the back page of the program, a little something to amuse the guests while they waited for the bride to walk down the aisle. Both Saul and Mariana were pursuing their PhD’s at Columbia University so it seemed quite fitting for Saul to request adding a little mind game ;) ….. I still don’t know the correct answer!

After completing such a special project, Mariana and Saul generously invited me to attend their wedding! Unfortunately I was unable able to go due to previous work commitments, so sad. However, on the night of their wedding my boyfriend and I made Mariana’s Caipirinhas, played Brazilian music, and made a toast to Mari and Saul. It wasn’t Rio but it was delicious.

2 comments » | Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Outdoor Wedding In Mendocino

May 3rd, 2013 — 4:51pm


With May Day just a few days ago, I feel like I’ve been hearing mention of maypoles everywhere. Fittingly, it has inspired me to create this post about a very special outdoor wedding in Mendocino, California.
Andie, the bride, was such a delight to work with. She had wonderful ideas, lots of inspiration, and a fun and playful spirit.
I was so inspired by her thoughtful descriptions of what she envisioned for her wedding day…  a whimsical garden wedding with vintage (circa 1915) English country fair decor, the venue – a quaint inn overlooking the ocean, a tent decorated with tissue pom-poms and bunting, garlands and flags, yellow and white old fashioned flowers (cottage roses, daffodils, peonies) displayed in old tarnished mismatched silver teapots, the entire wedding party dressed in period-appropriate vintage-inspired attire with Andie wearing a mantilla style antique lace veil, a family style feast in the pasture for the reception, ducks and chickens roaming the lawns, …. and a maypole! (Or as Andie put it “er… Junepole, I guess, technically speaking”…as their wedding day was the 4th of June).


The moment I heard it, I knew I wanted to incorporate the image of a maypole into the invitation design. I love how the two strands of silk ribbon join the bride and groom (in 1915 appropriate dress!) and create a canopy over the invitation wording. The colors that Andie chose for her wedding really added to the whole look as well: buttercup yellow and white florals, pale robin’s egg blue and an accent of black and white stripes (like grosgrain striped ribbon). She wanted the invitation to be “old fashioned, elegant & stately but not overly perfect… with an element of whimsey”, a description of a dream project for me! I silkscreen printed the yellow cottage roses and robin’s egg blue and letterpress printed in black. I then wove the silk ribbon onto the invitations, doing some in pale yellow, the other half in pale blue.


And here is the sweet hand-drawn map I created. Most of the guests were staying in the town of Mendocino and being escorted by shuttle to the wedding venue, Glendeven Inn. The property of Glendeven is surrounded by beautiful pastures, holds a llama farm, has chickens, guinea fowl, ducks (and sometimes wild turkeys!) roaming the land, and an organic vegetable garden…. just perfect for a country fair themed wedding, don’t you agree?


With Andie’s lovely sense of humor, we just had to put a llama on the rsvp card. The return address design for the envelopes was kept simple and elegant with swallows and garlands of roses.


And here is an example of what the envelopes looked like. Andie selected the most beautiful vintage stamps, such perfect colors. The gorgeous calligraphy of the addresses was done by Adrienne Keats. Andie had wanted a particular style captured, “elegant but with some element of whimsey and eccentricity”…. Adrienne’s execution was perfect.

Comment » | Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Belated Valentine

February 28th, 2013 — 6:08pm

This year, for the first time ever, I did not celebrate Valentine’s Day…. so sad!
Marc and I had caught the most horrible flu, it truly knocked us down for over a week. Neither of us had ever been so sick. Needless to say, Valentine’s Day came and went. Now that we’ve recovered I wanted to do a little something fun to mark the holiday…
always a good excuse!
Yesterday we went to Ethnic Arts to pick out our annual “Valentine” milagro, we’ve been collecting them for years and have fun displaying them on the walls of our kitchen nook (a.k.a. The Frida Room).

Here is The Frida Room, our ever-evolving shrine room to Frida Kahlo.
And here is a closeup of a wonderful saying that I hand-painted on the wall, the rough translation is “Be Fearless, Choose Love!”.
And here is today’s project, created in the Valentine spirit!
Marc and I went to Oaxaca, Mexico for Day of the Dead in 2011. While we were there we fulfilled a longtime wish of mine; to dress up, have our faces painted, and get a professional photograph taken to look like an old portrait! Our photo session was hilarious, the photographer was so fun to work with. Above is my favorite photograph that I have painted over with encaustic medium (beeswax and resin), the encaustic gives it such a perfect ghostly look.
Today, I finally hung the photograph and hand-painted our names, place and year on the wall.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day, full of love, appreciation, and playfulness.

1 comment » | Hand-lettering & Typography, Process, Uncategorized

Two Hands Paperie

November 11th, 2012 — 8:47pm

As a perfect follow up to my previous post on Day of the Dead, I thought I’d share a fun project that I did as a surprise for Two Hands Paperie. This gorgeous store is in historic downtown Boulder, Colorado and it is owned by one of my dearest friends, Mia Semingson, and her husband Gerald Trainor.
Two Hands Paperie is such a magical place, full to the brim with decorative papers, journals, fine pens, cards, stationary, art supplies, books…. the list goes on and on!

photos by Fran Meneley
Mia is an incredible artist as well and her talents and enthusiasm are evident in every room, corner, and display area. I especially love how she decorates and celebrates
Day of the Dead in the store.
Here is a wonderful decorative sign on the front door made out of contact paper!
So clever!                              (photo by Fran Meneley)
Every year Mia builds a beautiful altar in the store and encourages anyone and everyone to contribute to it. You can see another fantastic design, cut out of contact paper, on the window behind the shrine.

And here are the beautiful women of Two Hands Paperie in true celebratory spirit!
Mia, on the far left, has started a wonderful tradition of having everyone’s faces painted for the occasion. The very talented Jessica Quintanilla does the amazing face painting.
I so wish I lived closer so I could join in the fun!
I’ve always wanted to go and visit Mia for Day of the Dead, this year I was determined to at least be there in spirit. I created this papel picado design as a festive surprise for the store. I had fun incorporating her logo (the two hands). I silkscreen printed banners to decorate the store and merchandise bags to give out to customers.

The bags were too large and flimsy to fit in my drying racks so I had to spread them out on every inch of my studio floor to dry, they looked so beautiful!
Here’s a lovely promotional piece that Mia put together for the store.
So, if you find yourself near Boulder, Two Hands Paperie is really worth a visit….
for Day of the Dead or anytime of year.

Comment » | Process, Uncategorized

Laser Cutting Bliss!

October 24th, 2012 — 4:31pm

I recently completed a custom wedding invitation suite that incorporated laser cutting! I’ve been completely intrigued by laser cutting ever since my trip to New York for the National Stationary Show in May. There were several vendors at the show who specialized in laser cutting and all the samples I saw were very impressive. However, there was one vendor that really struck me, Scott Vogel of Papel Couture, based in Columbus Ohio.
I was first drawn in by their gorgeous booth, decorated with very large intricately cut wall hanging pieces, but after speaking with Scott I knew I was truly hooked. I returned home to the Bay Area with Scott’s card and various samples eager to include the technique on one of my projects.

In June, that perfect project appeared, Gabrielle and Zachary’s wedding invitations! I’ve known Gabrielle for years and it was wonderful to work with a bride that I knew and adored. She wanted something simple and elegant with a nature element, she also suggested trying to bring in some subtle Japanese touches, as Zachary is half Japanese.
This is the front of their invitation! I knew the moment Gabrielle told me that she and Zack would be married under an enormous California Buckeye that the tree would be the central part of the design…. and perfect for laser cutting! It was still a challenge creating/designing an image for a technique I had no experience with. The approach was so different than creating a traditional illustration. And this is where I need to thank Scott Vogel, Scott is not only very experienced in laser cutting, he is also a graphic designer. It was wonderful and educational to work into someone who understood where I was coming from and spoke my language.
This is the traditional Japanese paper that Gabrielle picked out to back the laser cut invitations with. The palette was perfect for her outdoor fall wedding in Bolinas, California. I love the delicate gold line work, it adds such elegance.
Here is the back of the invitation. I found some beautiful handmade Japanese paper to letterpress print the wording onto. I hand-lettered the wording in a graceful style reminiscent of the 20′s. I love the playful, reaching curls on the “R”s.
Here is the RSVP card and envelope, along with an information card. These secondary cards were kept simple with a single Buckeye leaf laser cut in the corner. I designed a simple chop/seal using a “G” and “Z” and had a rubber stamp made. The seal was hand-stamped on several of the pieces which added another subtle Japanese touch.
I found these first class Bonsai stamps online, so perfect for mailing this project!
Along with the rubber stamp, we also had a custom wax seal made in the same design. The envelopes looked so beautiful sealed with such a personal touch.
Now that I’ve seen my illustrations and designs laser cut my mind races with the possibilities for future projects! I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to use this technique and I can’t wait to experiment with it again.

4 comments » | Process, Uncategorized, Weddings & Events

Shrine To Lola

August 26th, 2012 — 9:54am

Today I’ve decided to write a very personal post. I realize this may be a bit inappropriate for a blog about my design projects and the way I work, however, I would feel uncomfortably strange to not mention the great loss I have recently suffered.
On August 13th I made the decision to put Lola, my dog, down. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. Lola was my first… I had dogs growing up, but this was different.
I adopted her, at 4 months old, from the San Francisco SPCA. I was 27, single, and self employed. I had just purchased my house, an empowering and overwhelming  experience, and was converting my garage into a studio. The following 14 years were full of ups and downs, big changes, many adventures, and lots and lots of learning, Lola was there every step of the way. In a sense I feel Lola and I grew up together. She was my constant,
my first true love, the child I will never have, the best companion one could wish for.

As part of my healing process I’ve started building a little shrine to her. It hangs on the wall in my studio, next to where I work every day. I haven’t had much time yet to work on it… I’m still trying to catch up on my projects, but I look forward to continuing working on it. For now, I’ve temporarily placed an old photo of the two of us inside, along with a silver dish of liver treats and a little glassine envelope containing some of her fur
(odd maybe, but I wanted to keep some of her beautiful fur). I’ve attached little Mexican dog milagros, dangling from the bottom edge, and crowned the shrine with one of her beloved tennis balls…. mud and all! The dried flowers and pine cones were collected on my first hike without her…. it felt good to bring something back from our favorite trail in the Berkeley hills.

My home and studio feel so different, and even a little foreign, without her comforting presence. Losing her has been very painful, but it has also reminded me of the consoling and healing qualities that come from creating artwork that is from the heart.
Today would have been her 14th birthday. I plan to take a walk in the hills with my boyfriend, Marc. I’m sure we will find something beautiful to add to her shrine.

4 comments » | Process, Uncategorized

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