Illumination for the Lord’s Prayer

I was asked by the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, a lovely gem of a church in Doylestown, to create an ‘illumination’ around the Lord’s Prayer, which a friend had scripted in calligraphy for him. (I was happy not to have to letter it, that’s not my forte!) The illuminated piece was to be given as a gift to a retiring churchwarden.

illuminated_manuscriptTraditional illumination uses symbols and design elements to decoratively frame a piece of writing, like this one from the 1400s. Many illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages onward were created by monks copying the Bible, and so contain many examples of religious imagery, as well as animals and plants from nature. Since the printing press was not in general use then, hand-copying was the only method of reproducing the Bible.

To design my illumination I placed a print out of the calligraphy on 11″x 14″ paper, which was the size requested, and since there was a good bit of room near the bottom of the page, I drew a decorative border of lilies on the sides, leading to an illustration at the bottom of the page. I reread Matthew:6 and thought a Sermon on the Mount illustration would fit well, so I penciled in a drawing of Jesus speaking to a gathering crowd on a mountainside.

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This design was approved with minor changes by the priest and others in the parish he consulted.  I filled in a quick color version using colored pencils –

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I had my local printer, Cortineo Creative, print the calligraphy file on 4 different types of paper, to see which would best take the color washes I planned to use. Once I decided on a linen-weave paper, they printed the prayer centered on the 11 x 14″ sheet, and I transferred my drawing using a lightbox, and drew and painted the finished art.

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The framed art made a beautiful and meaningful gift for the churchwarden, and I am thrilled to use my God-given talent to memorialize this beautiful prayer.

Our Award-winning Invitation Design

1artdecoinv7I am pleased to say that my daughter’s wedding invitation, printed and assembled by Cortineo Creative’s Wedding Studio in Doylestown, and in which I had a hand in designing, has received the Neographics award for Best Invitation in the category ‘Small Press 1, 2 or 3 Color’ this year. Neographics is a graphic communications contest for the PA, NJ and Delaware area in which graphic arts, packaging, design and publishing excellence is selected and showcased.

My daughter, multimedia writer and videographer Julie Achilles Benns, chose her wedding decor to fit her themes of Art Deco and New Year’s Eve, the date her wedding was celebrated. The invitation was truly a collaboration in design and execution between The Wedding Studio and us.

1ppboxphotoJulie and I worked out a basic design in black and white for the front of the wedding invitation; Julie wanted to incorporate the idea offered to us by Lori at The Wedding Studio, of a lasercut paper overlay to be hand-applied once the invitations were printed. We designed an original custom overlay. Julie created the vector file and we used Paper Presentation in NYC to lasercut an elegant, very Deco style frame in burnished gold paper.

Kelly, our designer at The Wedding Studio, chose handsome fonts and designed the rest of the invitation package, with a coordinating gold pocket to hold the waterfall-cut insert cards. The final invitation was printed on white stock with black and metallic gold ink, with a white envelope and a gold liner.

Cortineo Creative did a stellar job of printing and assembling the invitations, which was evidently noticed by the judges at Neographics! I wrote in more detail on the entire process on my previous post here, and Cortineo announced the honor on their blog here.

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Art Deco Wedding Invitation

My daughter was just married on New Year’s Eve (thank you, she married a wonderful guy who is also a very lucky man) and she admires the clean and classy look of Art Deco design, so this became the theme for her wedding invitation and much of her wedding decor.

My printer is Cortineo Creative of Doylestown, PA, and I met with Lori of their Wedding Studio early on to discuss the look we wanted for my daughter’s invitation. Of many beautiful designs Lori showed me, the most exquisite I saw were those with laser-cut paper overlays.

Cortineo has created many unique designs with pre-cut laser-cut designs – some are pictured below – but of the samples I saw, all were floral and lacy – very pretty, but none had the sleek Art Deco look that I knew my daughter Julie prized.

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We decided to create our own. I found PaperPresentation in NYC online, and submitting our own design to them for laser-cutting seemed fairly easy and affordable. I asked Cortineo if they were ok printing and assembling the invitations if we provided a 1artdecowedinv3custom-designed laser piece and they were completely amenable to it.

We wanted the laser-cut overlay to be metallic gold and the invitation base to be simple black and white.  I made a rough Art Deco frame design in black for the laser-cut paper so we could also design the type, and Julie tweaked it, adding an arch at the top which fit perfectly with the deco look. I initially used a default Art Deco font for the rough invitation text, knowing Cortineo had many more stylish fonts in their catalog that they would suggest.

Since Julie works in NYC it was easy for her to visit PaperPresentation’s showroom and choose the exact paper she wanted for her overlay – she tells me I must visit there sometime too, they have so many gorgeous papers and envelopes for designing printed pieces! She chose a lovely deep burnished gold paper.

1artdecoinvitation4The designer at Cortineo, Kelly, found two beautiful deco typefaces to use – a bold one for the couple’s names and a more refined one for the body copy. Julie and I also came up with a gold and black deco-style monogram with their initials to put at the top, and by experimenting we decided to put some black triangles in the corners, which would show up the gold overlay even more. Kelly also deftly matched the gold ink color of the couple’s names to the gold of the laser-cut paper.

When submitting a design to PP you must create an extremely fine-lined electronic file, because the laser will cut exactly on the center of the lines you provide. Julie traced her design into Adobe Illustrator, and to be sure it was correct I asked my friend, designer and illustrator Glenn Zimmer, to check it and clean it up. I submitted the file to PP and they accepted it.  Within a week their box was delivered to me with 100 perfectly cut overlays.

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We think that when the invitation was finally assembled, it achieved a rich and lustrous, yet clean art deco look.

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1artdecoinv5In addition to the attractive front of this card, Cortineo coordinated and assembled the other components of the wedding invitation into a pocket on the reverse side.

It was a wonderful experience putting together a custom-made wedding invitation with my daughter, and she really enjoyed inserting her taste and details into it. I highly recommend Cortineo Creative for their incredibly courteous and professional service, and their excellent designer. They even stamped the return envelopes for the invitation responses, then hand-delivered all 85 invitations to our post office, to be sure the clerk hand-stamped the outer envelope to prevent any damage from putting them through a machine. And PaperPresentation also deserves high praise, for efficiency, professionalism and the wonderful range of papers and services they offer.