• Design
  • Illustration
  • M Chen Wears
  • M on the side
  • dad
  • Contact


Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

The Big Day: front & centre, and behind the scenes

December 9th, 2009

We be hitched! Thanks for all the ‘woohoo’s and kind words from y’all!

Here are a few of my favourite shots, taken by Mélanie Rebane and Jon Rennie

Mélanie also put together this wonderful slide show of some of the day’s highlights, coincidentally choosing one of our favourite artists — Jenn Grant (whom I’ve mentioned here before):

The ceremony, dinner, reception and all photos were at the Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Québec (just across the river from Ottawa). You can see that it was darn impossible to take a bad shot at this venue. Lucky for us, the weather was gorgeous (albeit quite chilly) — this time last year, there was already plenty of snow on the ground!

And besides this, everything else exceeded all expectations. I can’t emphasize enough just how much help we got from terrific friends and family — all of whom said “It’s nothing!” but whose cumulative effort came together to make everything happen like clockwork.

For anyone who’s interested in the DIY details, keep on reading… there are lots!

All the beaded pins and clips and leaves that I put in my hair were put together by jewelry-maker Melonie Higashi (featured here before). The main elements were made from skeleton leaves that my sister had picked up for me from The Paper Place in Toronto. Melonie also made the clip-on earrings to match my necklace (which was a gift from my grandmother); since I’ve never had my ears pierced, they were clip-ons.

I made my and my sister’s bouquets and all the boutonnieres out of coffee filters, floral wire and tape, and more of those skeleton leaves; I also painted the petals an off-white so that they weren’t quite so stark bright. I learned how to make these from youtube videos!

Above is one of the three signs I made for the event (left: in full, right: close-up) — to point people to the ceremony. I found the ornate frame and vintage wedding photo by tooling around on flickr, making sure to get photos that were very high-res so that I could print at this size (20″ x 30″). Then I photoshopped John’s and my faces into the picture… how ridiculous is that hair!? I was half-flattered, half-shocked when someone asked if we’d staged that photo — I guess it looks convincing, but hey, I’m only 5 foot 3!

I bought the handbound guestbook from an etsy shop called bookwright. It’s beautifully made and coptic-bound, meaning that it lays flat when opened to any page.

Hanging from the ceiling at both the ceremony and reception were gorgeous paper ornaments, which I got from another etsy shop called PomLove. [Special thanks to Bridgett of Perideau Designs who introduced me to these by featuring them on her blog!]

We had a dessert buffet, which included jars of sweets, plus loot bags so people could pack a snack:

Homemade cookies by my Aunt Mei and Dad:

And cupcakes baked by my dear friend Pascale:
(fixed the polymer clay cupcake topper FAIL posted last week — phew for bunny ears!

For each of the guests’ tables, we put a vase of twigs — some of which we’d gathered ourselves. There were also glass beads and tealights with paper covers:

I made the tealight covers out of a thick natural hemp paper. There are two main panels that I cut the leaf shapes out of, and then a third thin panel I used to hold the sides together with two-sided tape. Here’s how they look from above:

You have to make sure that the tealight you use has glass that is taller than the flame, or else this would obviously be a fire hazard. This was my first time using one of those precision exacto knives, and it was very easy to do. What’s nice is that when you take the covers off the tealight, they fold flat.

Also on the tables were the guests’ namecards — when I wrote people’s names, I put leaves to indicate vegetarian meals:

The cards were made out of plantable seed paper that I got online from Botanical Paperworks; they blew me away with their terrific customer service and gorgeous product. The paper is slightly tough to write on because of the seeds, but after some practice (and a few screw-ups), I got the hang of it.

Some of the most fun photos from the evening came from our Photobooth, which we asked everyone to partake in — as our photographic guestbook:

The chalkboard, which is magnetic and was made with a recycled frame, was purchase from a lovely etsy seller by the name of PoshPilfer.

Other shout-outs and mentions:

  • Alpha Media (Ottawa) provided all the AV equipment and were just stellar in helping set up and get us exactly what we wanted.
  • Pritchard Packaging (Ottawa) was a terrific place to pick up all sorts of handy things — from ribbons to gift boxes, from the candy loot bags to paper.
  • … and I frequented these places a lot during our planning: Wallack’s, Michael’s and The Bulk Barn.

And hugely grateful thanks to the folks who made it all happen. Steve & Eva were the pom-pom crew, Mags was the table decorator, Amanda was AV/MC/DJ specialist, Pascale was the dessert guru, and Dalaila handled details. How lucky we are to be surrounded by such helpful supportive peeps. It all went

If there’s anything here that you’d like to know more about, let me know. I’ve already blabbed a ton and feel self-indulgent enough that I won’t bore you with the details of how to make paper flowers or tealight cut-outs… unless you ask, ha ha!

etsy.com, general rambling, good peeps , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How the Ottawa Business Journal made me into a cover girl

January 20th, 2009

Yes, that is indeed my mug on the front of the January 9th issue of the Ottawa Business Journal (OBJ). No clue how a friendly story about a t-shirt designer edges out the Nortel bankruptcy protection story… but I’ll take it!

Last week, I was contacted by Elizabeth Howell from the paper, and then a photoshoot and a phone interview later… ta-daaaa! All this came about because of a friendly family I met at a craft fair I did in November; the Dad of the fam is Jeff Pappone (motorsport correspondent for the Globe & Mail), and he very kindly suggested my t-shirts as a story to Elizabeth. Many many thanks, Jeff :)

I’m writing about this so soon after the journal hit the stands because neither “m chen wears” nor my website was printed with the story… so I’m hoping that if there are any souls out there who read the article and were intrigued, a simple google search will bring them to this blog post.

Another point of note… the photo credit for the shot of sweet Logann on page 11 goes to my partner-in-crime, John Bagnell. Here’s the original pic — lurrrvely:

As an aside (though still related) — my facebook group hit 412 members last week. For being member #400, Bonnie Homewood is getting an m chen wear of her choice. Congrats, Bonnie!

Oh, and one more thing… I thank my stars constantly and deeply appreciate all the support, attention, encouragement, interest and help I’ve gotten from friends, family, new acquaintances and strangers. Merci merci!!! I might be the luckiest person I know.

good peeps, horn tootin', m chen wears , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The life is the pink wagon

December 18th, 2008

This past summer, I participated in my first round of craft and art shows as a vendor — and boy, was there a ton to learn. Just knowing what shows there were in town, which were worth applying to, how best to apply, yadda yadda yadda. My second show was a big’un — Art in the Park, a massive annual outdoor Glebe event that features 250 artists from the vicinity.

Somehow, amidst the chaos, I managed to make the acquaintance of Andrea Stokes — the lovely and talented force behind Pink Wagon. Ain’t she fine?

I’d heard Andrea’s name before, as well as that of Pink Wagon, and had already done some moderate to shameful drooling over the stuffs on her website. At Art in the Park, we did a swap — she snagged one of my gunneling rhino tees (in raspberry, of course) and I got one of her super cute birdie hats.

Since then, she’s been a wealth of knowledge for me as a newcomer on the local DIY scene, and we’ve found we have more in common than our love of making stuff (not the least of which is our obsession in the 90’s with the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir). This is one wing I’m happy to be taken under.

Post-script pics…



Post-post-script… Anyone catch the Jane Siberry nod?

One more very regretful and sad post-script, added on Saturday, December 20th…

Andrea and I had a lovely back and forth late on Thursday evening, just after I posted the above note. She told me that her company name was indeed named after the Jane Siberry song “The Life is the Red Wagon” — her and husband’s marriage song; the lyrics (see below) were read at their wedding. When it came time to name her company, “Red Wagon” was already taken, so she snagged Pink instead.

And then, a ton of bricks hit yesterday. Andrea’s husband died of a sudden heart attack in the early hours of Friday morning. I can’t begin to express the sadness or shock that has hit me… and this coming from someone so peripheral in Andrea’s life. I met Barry on the day of the Ladyfest event earlier this month; he helped Andrea set up her stall, brought her coffee, and then came back at the end of the day to help take everything down. From everything I can see and tell, he was an amazingly supportive partner and father, and this just all seems to unbelievable.

Andrea asked that I let all her facebook contacts know of the news, but as I got to the “C’s” in her list, facebook stopped me because my behaviour triggered a spamming warning… so I couldn’t continue. Since then, she has joined the fb group in memory of Barry, and posted related notes — this may help let people know of her circumstances.

It is clear, Andrea, from the folks on Barry’s group and from what I know of you, that you have a strong vibrant and compassionate support system all around you, and I am certain that they are all ready for you to lean hard on them at this incredibly trying time. Lean hard, and let us pull for you.


Lyrics for ‘The Life is the Red Wagon’ by Jane Siberry

you watch the slow train moving
through the city late at night
adjusting back and forth
against the darkness and street lights
I know that you’re feeling bad
but I’m glad you didn’t lie
easy to get caught up…but you know
you can always you can always
you can always walk away

the life is the red wagon rolling along
the life is the red wagon simple and strong
the life is the red…is the red…
oh, it’s no big deal
but when the feet are draggin’

you pull me
and I pull for you
you pull me
and I pull for you

past the teeming marketplace
and the blur of faces there
past the silent dockyards
and the darkness looming there
maybe it won’t work this time
but that’s the risk you take
(and you want to take it)
and just as long as it feels right
doesn’t matter just as long as…
doesn’t matter …gotta feel good
even though you don’t know why

the life is the red wagon rolling along
the life is the red wagon simple and strong
the life is the red…is the red…
oh, it’s no big deal
but when the feet are draggin’

you pull me
and i pull for you
you pull me
and i pull for you

the life is the red wagon
simple and strong.


For anyone who would like to join, there is a facebook group, in loving memory of Barry Doyle.

good peeps, m chen wears , , ,

© 2010 Emily Chen Design & Illustration. All Rights Reserved.