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The Graduates

June 23rd, 2015

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It seems like only yesterday I was writing about “Wedding Season”. “Wedding Season” soon turned into “Prom Season” which very quickly turned into “Graduation Season”. And a busy “Graduation Season” it was. It still blows my mind that my friends have kids graduating from high school. How did that happen? I still remember when they were babies traumatized by 4th of July Fireworks and tag-along little brothers who always knew exactly what we adults were talking about because “I have ears you know.” Noted, from then on we were a little more careful about what we said around Jordan.

Ah Jordan, (a.k.a. George, a name given to him by my niece Saylor who couldn’t pronounce Jordan at the time) that’s him up above. He was my first graduation gig of the season. His mom Connie asked if I would design and make his graduation announcements. Well, of course I would, it was George after all. She brought over two disks packed with senior photos and said “Here you go. Do what you want.” Those are the best clients.

I found my favorite picture right away and whipped up a design. That one was easy,

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but now I needed to come up with a few more options. Ideas two and three are always harder. Idea No.2 was my second favorite photo…

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he likes to play baseball by the way. And finally option No. 3…

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the “dressier” option. Well, “dressy” for this day and age. Gone are the days of posing in a three piece suit next to a wicker chair while staring off into the distance longingly.

Mom picked option No. 1, like I knew she would. George said No. 1 or No. 2 were fine by him. So Connie and I decided to go with No. 1 and then it was pointed out that you couldn’t actually see his face in Option No. 1. This left mom perplexed. Should she do half of them with one design and half with another? I suggested we make them double sided and throw the photo form Option No. 2 on the back. Aha! A compromise. That would work. Off to the printer they went.

Next up my friend Dani asked me to make a canvas for her front porch, and not just any old canvas, a huuuggge canvas. Her son Colton would be graduating (the baby terrified by fireworks) and he and his best friend Paige, who lives across the street, were having their graduation party together. They planned to shut down the street between their two houses and have a street party. So Dani wanted something to hang on her porch in celebration of the occasion. She had seen one of my rainbow striped “Oh Happy Day” canvases and asked if I could do a larger version. “No problem, I can handle that.” And then she brought the canvas over. “Oh holy cow, this will definitely be a “larger version.” I thought. The biggest canvas I had worked with was 24×36 and I this baby was closer to 36×48.

I measured it and plotted out the stripes on my computer. You see, I have learned from some of my mistakes. The last time I tried to stripe a big canvas I could never get it to come out even. I didn’t plan on going through yet another role of painters tape with this canvas so I went with technology. Once I had the measurements figured out I put down the first set of stripes…

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I kind of liked it like that but we were only getting started. After the stripes had dried I laid down a second coat on each. I then gave them close to 24 hours of drying time in order to make sure they were completely dry since I would be putting tape down on the stripes in order to paint the final two layers…

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look at that rainbow-y goodness! This was quickly turning into a favorite project. All that was left to do was the words. I ended up using my computer for that as well. I don’t generally trust myself to free-hand something that size, and I sure didn’t want to have to buy a second canvas after screwing up.

I drew the words out “normal size” took a picture of them with my phone, sent the photo to my computer and then enlarged the photo to fit the dimensions of the canvas and printed out a template (on several tabloid size sheets of paper which then had to be fit together like a giant puzzle and taped up). Who needs a copy machine when you have a smart phone? In the old days I would have driven 15 minutes to the News-Times and used their copy machine to make those kind of enlargements. I love technology.

The next step was as old school as you can get. I laid the template out on the canvas and then got out my trusty old carbon paper and proceeded to use it to trace the design onto the canvas. Next up, the easy part, painting the words. Luckily Dani showed up at my Willow Station sale the day I planned to start in on the words and said she would prefer them in black instead of white. Whew, good thing I saw her, I had planned to paint them white. Black would be so much easier, only one coat would be needed. In the end it turned out like this…

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I’ll definitely be making more of those. Fun, fun project.

Next up, I got a call from Carol. Her son and his family had hosted a foreign exchange student over the past year and she was looking for something to give her that would commemorate her year abroad. Carol had seen my ealier “Ike-isms” post and wondered if we could do something similar to that but smaller. And voila… the “Exchange” print was born.

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Carol sent me a list of the things Anna had enjoyed the most while living in Nebraska as well as a few things she didn’t like. We included all of her American family members, the populations of her hometowns in both the U.S. and Norway, a favorite Bible verse and a few phrases in her native language. I was told it was a big hit at her graduation party so all you future exchange parents reading this out there keep it in mind for the next “Graduation Season’.

Another new print perfect for “Graduation Season”, is the “Stats” print…

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I can’t remember if I’ve posted about this or not. I made my first “Stats” print many months ago but things are starting to blur together. This print is in a 10×20 frame with double 5×7 openings.

One of the openings is reserved for that one super cool photo of your favorite athlete “doing their thing”. The other opening contains one of my typographic prints which includes things like their name, jersey number, sport, team name and all of their “Stats” and accomplishments from the previous season or even their high school career…

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I filled a few orders for my “Stats” prints and in the back of my mind was hoping I would have time to throw some of them together as graduation gifts, but that meant a “Stats” print times seven. The first order of business was to dispatch sister Kelli on a frame shopping expedition. You see, she is a professional shopper so I knew she could handle the assignment. Then I had to figure out how to get ahold of everybody’s “stats”. A couple of my grads were stand out athletes so I was able to take advantage of my job at the newspaper and get their info from our All-Area Team write-ups.

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The others required a text to their mothers. I started out by apologizing for bothering them while they were in the midst of graduation plans and then asked if they could quickly come up with a list of all the activities their grads were involved in during their high school careers…

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and then I had to scramble to come up with the proper photos. After a few more texts to friends and relatives I was able to find a photo for everybody…

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unfortunately at least one girlfriend didn’t really appreciate my photo choice…

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whoops.

Graduation season wouldn’t be complete without a couple of cupcake topper orders. Stac requested three different styles for one of her cupcake orders…

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“Congrats” with a stick figure grad in blue and gold, the grad’s school colors. A gold and red design, Iowa State’s school colors, where she will be running cross country next year. And finally a “Woo Hoo!” with some sparkle just for fun.

And speaking of “sparkle” Stac also had an order for a “Coco Chanel” themed graduation party… those toppers ended up looking like this…

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She ordered 5 dozen of those sparkly numbers.

Next up was a sign for a return client. I had made a few chalkboards and a wedding reception sign for her daughters wedding last summer and she called asking if a could make a similar sign that would point guests in the right direction for her daughters graduation reception.

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She brought me part of a wood door she had found in her barn and I painted her daughter’s name on it, oh, and I ended up making her a chalkboard as well…

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Way back when…. before all of these random jobs started popping up… my friend Ang had sent me a “graduation-y” quote and asked if I could “tush it up”.  She needed three 8×10 prints so she could give them as gifts to her friends with graduating seniors. With only a day to spare I suddenly remembered my earlier promise and flew to my computer and came up with this…

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who couldn’t use a Dr. Seuss quote in their life?

Finally the only thing left to do was party. The busy graduation weekend started off with the street party…

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the weather wasn’t completely cooperative so the tent moved from the street to the driveway but it all turned out amazing…

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I mean they brought in a band and everything! It was an awesome performance, very entertaining, but the cherry on top of the night was when Colton got up and sang with the band…

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that kid is a natural, born to perform. Made me get a little misty eyed.

Graduation is always a strange mixture of tears and joy isn’t it? Life changes for all those involved but at the end of the day the sign said it all…

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oh what a happy day it was.

One Response to “The Graduates”

  1. Ang Says:

    So much awesome-ness. I even had to choke back the tears thinking about everything you’ll be making for clay!!

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