Brookline Street Studio is now Birch Paper and Home!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Now at Antiques, Etc., in Exeter

I'm so excited to be setting up shop in my new home town, Exeter, NH.  I've rented space in a recently opened multi-dealer shop right on main street, called Antiques, Etc.  The shop is owned and managed by Andrea of Willowby Wood, who also sells at Sage Farm.  It's a great location, just a few steps from Stillwells Ice Cream and a short walk from the farmer's market, river walk and boathouse!

I have the first space on the left as you walk into the shop.  It's next to the window, so it feels light and happy!  I filled the space with tulips and daisies, so that helps give it that springtime feel:-)

It looks like I'll be working Mondays and Fridays, 10-1:30.  I'd love to see some of my old clients and meet some new ones!  I've had such fun meeting the people who've strolled in to check out the new shop!  One step closer to having my own storefront!!!!!!

Have a happy day!

Michelle Graham

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Nature Study

I have a serious case of cabin fever.  One beautiful day followed by snow and frigid temperatures here in New Hampshire didn't help.  I figured if I can't get outside (without freezing), then I'll create a bit of nature inside.

As you may have noticed, I am a big book lover!  My favorite books by far are my Natural History collection.  Ornithology.  Entomology.  Botany.  Geology.  Okay, so I am a science geek at heart.  I was a biology major.  Science is cool.

My wonderful husband recently took me to the Harvard Natural History Museum.  IT WAS AWESOME!!!!  He had to drag me out.  I was taken by their collections of insect specimens.  I've always loved butterfly specimen displays, but never wanted to make one with real butterflies.  This week, I made one with paper!

Looks pretty real, right?  I'm not going to say this was an easy project, but it was well worth the time. Here's how I did it:

Paper Butterfly Specimen Tutorial

First, find some butterfly or other insect illustrations online.  I used scanned images from my own collection, but you can find plenty of great ones on Pinterest, like this one.  Next, grab yourself a glass of wine.  You will need a steady hand and lots of patience!

Print your images using the highest quality setting on your printer.  I printed mine on cotton paper.  Light card stock would work just as well.  Now, find your sharpest, pointiest, tiniest scissors and start cutting.

Stay as close to the edge of the image as you can.  The trick is to turn the paper, not the scissors.  Be extra careful around thin parts, like the antennae.  I left those for last so I wouldn't accidentally rip one off while cutting around a wing, like I did.  But if that happens, no worries!  You can glue it back on, like I did!

Eventually you will have a bunch of pretty insects just waiting to be mounted!  For my first specimen box, I mounted the butterflies to a scrap piece of mat board.  I didn't happen to have a shadow box around, so I just removed the glass from and Ikea frame.

This is not the best picture, but you can see that I used a glue pen to apply glue to the back of the specimen.  Be sure to add a few dots to the antennae (if the exist) or legs (as in the dragonflies, below).  I also put a few dots of glue on the wings, just outside the center of the body.  This gave the specimens a bit more structure.  When the glue was completely dry, I used my fingers to put a gentle curve in the wings, to create the shadow effect.  And, voila!  I have my very own butterfly specimen box!  I did a second one using dragonfly images!

What do you think?  Let me know if you try this!  I'd love to see what you create!

Have a happy day!


(disclaimer:  no insects were hurt in the making of this blog post!)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Upcycled Style!

Have you seen Matthew Mead's new magazine, Upcycled Style?  If not, run right out and get a copy! It's hitting shelves everywhere!!!  Matthew is an incredibly talented photographer, designer and stylist.  I absolutely love everything he does!  And this is why I am so very honored to be featured in his article, Book Smart!  Take a look...

For those of you who have already seen the article, I have a confession to make.  My studio only looks this tidy when I'm NOT WORKING.  My creative process is messy.  I have a tendency to have several projects going at once, filling every surface in the room with "stuff."  But I'm getting better at reigning in my clutter because a cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind.  Plus, my studio is such a happy place when it's in order:-)

(Can you believe I scored this piece for $40?)

That's just a little taste of the article.  I don't want to spoil it for those of you who haven't picked up the magazine yet!  You can find a copy at major bookstore chains and grocery stores in the US and Canada, as well as Target, Walmart, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens.  I'd love to hear your feedback!

Have a happy day!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Snowed in? Try something new!

Nope.  I won't be lying in the warm sun anytime soon.  In fact, another 16 inches of snow has fallen since I took this photo.  And right now a new storm is moving in that promises to drop 12 or more inches of fluff on top!  It's beautiful, but enough is enough!

To make the most of my time indoors, I decided to join Skillshare, an online learning center for creative souls.  Two classes got me hooked:  Crafting a Brand Identity and Basics of Photoshop.  Both were short, chock full of great tips and tricks, and fun! Each course includes a participant project component.  You get feedback from other students and get to follow what your classmates create!  What did I create?  Well, first, here is a moodboard created in Photoshop:

I've always wondered how designers create those amazing moodboards I see all over Pinterest!  This was a perfect project for my Photoshop class, because one of the first things I needed to do in "Crafting a Brand Identity" was to create a moodboard for my brand!  Done!

Next, I learned to combine color, typography and graphics into a logo and packaging suite that expresses my brand perfectly!  I started with the fantastic birch branch logo that my step-daughter, Jessica Graham, designed for me.  I pulled colors from the moodboard and played with some new fonts.  Here is the result:

What do you think?  Clockwise, from top left:  hang tags, business card front and back, post card, and labels.  I am especially fond of the hang tags!

So if you find yourself stuck inside because the snow is piled up past your windows, why not try taking a class on Skillshare?  It's a fun and inexpensive way to learn a new skill.

Have a happy day!