A New Toy!

Did I tell you I bought myself a new toy?! After much deliberation I finally bought a Silhouette Cameo. I chose the Cameo because it allowed for the most flexibility in materials for the price. I can cut anything 12″ wide or smaller, as thick as a light chipboard or felt, and the designs are limited only to my imagination!

Made myself a #superdesigner mug! #silhouettecameo #vinylcrafts

A photo posted by Amy Weiss Design (@amyweissdesign) on


So far I have been impressed. This mug was one of my first projects. It took a few tries to import the file from a png to Silhouette Studio the free version of Silhouette’s software, which will only import limited file types, but it could be done. I recently upgraded to Designer Edition and if you are used to working in Illustrator and plan to cut your own designs it is a must! The price often fluctuates, so set a price watch on camelcamelcamel.com and when it goes down to around $25 go for it!

Here is the first project I made:


The little boy loved it, but wow, I have improved a lot since I decorated that backpack! It was an experiment to see if the permanent vinyl would stick to the backpack. In some areas it was OK, but overall, not a success. Oh well. I am going to have to learn how to use HTV (heat transfer vinyl) or find another solution. Will keep you all posted on how the backpack shapes up.

Stay tuned for a tutorial and some free files in my next post!

Hope for 2017

Wow! It has been a crazy year. Turns out I launched not one, but TWO businesses this year. I have learned a lot about the event industry while expanding my graphic design business (https://www.facebook.com/weissdesignboston/), and what started out as a quest for a new die-cutting machine turned into a product line selling clothing and other items (https://www.facebook.com/superdesignershop/). When I started this blog I said I would just jump in and see where it led me… I am still finding out!

I have a lot of projects to share, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to post weekly and those will have to wait until next time. For now I will leave you with this card that I made with my new Cameo. Happy New Year!

Grown Up Party Favors

A few of our local friends have a friendly competition loosely based on Iron Chef. The secret ingredient is announced by the host (and judge) the week before and the contestants have to come up with a recipe highlighting the ingredient. Judging is “arbitrary and capricious,” and the winner is given an honorary chef hat to hold onto until the next competition, and the honor of  being the next host.

Helping to make sesame nori. #chefintraining

The Super Designer family won the last competition (Battle Sesame) so we were in charge of choosing a new ingredient and hosting the next battle.  In addition to providing salad and few other basic food items, the host is responsible for party favors, usually cooking and theme related. We chose oats! We had no idea what we could hand out…

Given all the cork keychains I have made, I was thinking that maybe I could make a horse out of corks (because Mares eat oats of course!), but my mom suggested Quaker Oat canisters. They are the perfect shape for corks! I struggled for a bit how to create the design because I wanted it to be a classic cover, but finally realized it is teeny tiny and doesn’t have to be perfect. I found a flat image I could use for the wrap, and copied the recipe from the web. The recipe on the back is real, but might be too small to read, so here is the link I grabbed it from, edited slightly for space.

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I used modge podge to glue the printed paper onto the corks and painted the tops white before attaching the eye screws and keychain rings. I used an inkjet printer, so the colors bled a little, but I found a rhythm and managed to keep the bleed to a minimum. If I make something similar again I would love to find a simple water proof finish, but the reviews I have read about outdoor modge podge say it dries tacky.  I will have to post a review once I try it. Check out my Cork Keychains post for more information on the other components.

Readers, if you have done something similar I would love to hear about it!

Cork Keychains (or a good excuse for drinking a lot of wine!)

I have to tell you, I can’t stop making these little keychains!

Can't stop making these #corkkeychain people! #recycledcraft #recycledart

A few months ago, I had a table at the Boston Jewish Food Conference marketplace and wanted to have an easy craft made from recycled materials that would appeal to adults and kids. I saw some cork minions over at A Creative Princess. Minion keychains! Of course I had to try them out myself and I had a 6yo, LittleDesigner (LD), home sick with me, so he needed to try them as well. We moved from minions to Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Dr. Who and I haven’t stopped since.

My 4yo has been humming the Imperial March. He REALLY wants #darthvader I think I might be ready to move on from #starwars #stormtrooper #yoda #lukeskywalker #r2d2 #corkkeychain #partyfavors

LD decided to teach his kindergarten class how to make them, and I wanted to share what he said with you.

“First I had them each choose a cork. Then they decided if we should put designs on them or some of the corks already have pretty designs so they can use those. Then I had them paint the cork white. I showed them the examples that you made and the ones that I made, and they drew on the corks. Then we made puppet shows.”

kindergarten corks

Those are the keychains that the kindergarteners made. Amazing, right?!

Ok, so you want to make your own? I have a secret. Shhh… don’t tell anyone… but I didn’t drink all those bottles of wine. Whole Foods has cork recycling bins in many of their stores, and if you ask nicely, they will let you take as many from the bin as you want. Crazy, right?! So many projects to make with those corks!

I used  acrylic paint from Blick for the base on the corks I painted. You can draw right on the cork, but the colors are much less vibrant and you have to work around the lettering and designs already there.

After much searching I found these eye screws at Home Depot, and I bought 100 Pack Keychain Rings on Amazon.

The markers are a combination of Bic Metallic Permanent Markers and Sharpie Colored Markers (these are the ones that I bought, but there were a few listings, so I would check and see which are cheapest at the time of your purchase). The Bic markers went on a lot smoother, but the sharpies have a finer point.

Have fun! I hope you will post photos of your finished projects.

Lightning McQueen was a very fast race car…

Sitting in Cardboard McQueen
Happy Birthday Boy

We watched Cars a few months ago, and since then my little one has been obsessed! So, when I asked the almost 4 year old what he wanted for his birthday party I was not at all surprised when he said he wanted a Lightning McQueen party.

I decided to try and keep purchases to a minimum and work with recycled materials to make a sustainable party. I started with an idea board on pinterest and got down to planning.

I like to begin with an open play activity so that our guests will have something to do while waiting for their friends to arrive. An old diaper box, a box from Costco, and a few Amazon boxes were turned into McQueen, Mater, and a gas station.

Refueling Time

Once all the guests arrived we moved onto crafts. They decorated toilet paper roll race cars with markers and stickers, and then the older brothers supervised race track construction back in the other room for the cars to race on.

Race Car Craft

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On to story time. Grandma read them a Cars board book and an old family favorite, Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand.

Then it was time for lunch and cake.

Food Table

Everyone went home happy and McQueen and Mater have been staying on as our guests. The birthday boy has been racing to school every morning because he IS Lightning McQueen, who is a very fast race car. I would call that a successful party.

For more photos check out the rest of the album on flickr:

Lightning McQueen Party

Letting Go

I have been working on my new website and brand for what seems like forever, and it is in that final stage where it is just about there, but there are always a few more tweaks that I can do. I have launched a website before, but somehow this seems bigger, different. I guess it is always like that, whether it is a blog post, a web page, a painting, or a sculpture. How do you know when it is really done?

Well, a few more photographs and it will be live. I can’t wait to share it with you!

A Wild Forest Grew in the Kitchen

Birthday Tree

This Sunday was my son’s 6th birthday. He said he wanted a tree party, and upon further prompting it turned out he meant a forest theme craft party and was going to invite his friends’ stuffed animals. He said his bear, Teki was going to take them on a hay ride. I thought, “Great! I will make him a super cute little cart to put the animals in.” I was already thinking about how to make hay that isn’t too messy, but N had other plans. He made a ride out of cardboard boxes with 2 levels and ladders so everyone could get in and out. He even made a seatbelt for Teki, the bear driver! It was a bit of an exercise in letting go, but well worth it. It is amazing and I had plenty of other things to do.

My goal was to create a perfect forest using recycled materials. I made a tree out of cardboard and cut out leaves with N’s help for the tree and counter. As soon as the acorns started falling from the trees N and I started collecting them. I am pretty sure we will still be finding acorns in the house this time next year. I never knew how many different colors and shapes acorns came in! The cleaned acorns went into glass jars and vases that I had collected in my studio with some branches. They were joined by little friends from our toy box.

Rabbit

The guests made adorable pom pom bears, birds, bugs, trees, and caves.

Bear CaveI read them two books, Happy Birthday, Moon, by Frank Asch and Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson. They sat quietly, and when I asked them to roar like a bear who was just woken up, they were so cute I wanted to eat them up. After that it was time for snacks and cake.

buffetBear Birthday Cake

I know the birthday boy had a great time and I am pretty sure his friends and the woodland creatures did as well. I learned a few things: Let N do his own decorating. It will be perfect, just like he is, even if it is not the way I would do it; table coverings are key and need to be planned in advance; and if you need to know which tree has the best acorns in the neighborhood, just ask me!

Happy Birthday

superdesignerHello world. My first blog post on a new blog.

Yesterday was my birthday, and so it seems like a good time for new beginnings. I am moving in a new direction and creating this blog to document where it leads me.

A former boss once called me a “Super Designer.” I suspect that most graphic designers are asked to do superhuman tasks everyday, and I am not so unique in this line of work, but I still love the idea of being a masked crusader saving the world through graphic design.

I went to graduate school to make sculptures, but spent the last 15 years or so working as a graphic designer, raising 2 kids, and just generally not making as much art as I would like to, but now those kids are in school, we have a house, and I have a studio space. No more excuses. I am casting a wide net and seeing where it takes me. I figure, hey, I’m the super designer, I can design anything.

I hope you will join me in my journey to figure out what that will be.

No cape, just a computer, an exacto, and a lot of fun.