Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Hey everyone! Everyone knows branding is an important part of any business. So it was interesting to hear from calligrapher Ciarra Claire about her own recent journey with rebranding! In addition to creating beautiful calligraphed stationery for events and weddings, Ciarra also now has an online paper shop (including giftable art prints!). Oh, and did we mention that she’s one of the fabulous members of our Designer Rolodex? Yep, we love her work THAT much! Let’s take a peek at all the new things that Ciarra is up to! Jen

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Photo Credits: Live View Studios

In addition to rebranding her calligraphy business, originally named Silver Fox Calligraphy, Ciarra Claire also opened an online paper shop with art prints called Plein Air Paperie. She shares, “I am most excited about recently rebranding and standing on my own as an artist, and being able to offer a fine art paperie online to a wider audience beyond wedding stationery.”

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Ciarra is now dabbling in wax seals, too. “I also have a collaborative seal with Artisaire!” She adds that they carry beautiful wax sealing spoons worth checking out.

Credits: Wax Seals and Artisaire

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Photo Credit: Corey Weber / Styling by Sincerely Ginger /

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Photo Credit: Morning Light Photography / Styling by Lacy Geary

What inspires Ciarra? She finds inspiration in classic calligraphy, such as copperplate. “But I love the casual look of hand writing, such as the little notes you find inside old book covers,” says Ciarra. “And I try to blend historical calligraphy technique with organic movement. I love old hand written letters and the calligraphy notes on vintage botanical prints.” Here’s a peek at one of her art prints:

Inspiring Calligraphers: Ciarra Claire Calligraphy

Ciarra chose the name Plein Aire Paperie because the pieces are inspired by historical artwork and vintage prints. And she notes that they are also designed to be displayed “en plain air” free standing or in a floating frame to show the pretty deckled edges. “They come with a tag about the line and a little black card to write a short note to your loved one and a blind embossed envelope,” she shares.

Thanks to Ciarra for sharing all the many things she’s working on! You can also find her on Instagram and see more of her work in the Designer Rolodex!

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations

Anyone in the mood for bright and colorful modern wedding invitations? Good! We’ve got you covered with these lovely painterly beauties from Ashley at Fine Day Press. These beautiful invitations feature colorful abstract watercolor artwork with a funky angular shape, a bit of gold foil for sparkle, and gorgeous envelopes in complementary colors. Let’s take a look!

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations by Fine Day Press

From Ashley: Molly and Elizabeth share a love of color and are getting married at the Fig House, a modern venue in Los Angeles filled with bold, jewel-toned hues. Molly reached out about creating a custom invitation suite with a painterly, brightly hued feel for their wedding. As soon as I read her email, I knew it was a match made in paper heaven!

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations by Fine Day Press

To start, I created a custom painted design featuring turquoise, bright yellow and hot pink tones that we turned into the invitation’s colorful background. The couple is inspired by hexagons and geometric shapes, also featured in the venue, so we incorporated an angular shape to the invitation design.

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations by Fine Day Press

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations by Fine Day Press

We used bold brush lettering to highlight Molly and Elizabeth’s names, paired with a modern sans serif for the rest of the type. The names are printed in a gorgeous gold foil stamp that adds a super special touch, and to finish it off we printed on our double-thick cotton stock. So dreamy! We chose Euroflap envelopes by Waste Not Paper in the shades Pool and Peacock to complement the design of these bright and colorful modern wedding invitations.

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations by Fine Day Press

Molly told me later that working on the wedding invitations was her absolute favorite part of the wedding planning process, and that Elizabeth’s mom cried when she saw them, because they suited the couple so perfectly. How sweet is that?!? So thrilled I got to be a part of this beautiful couple’s special day!

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations by Fine Day Press

Bright and Colorful Modern Wedding Invitations by Fine Day Press

Thanks Ashley!

Check out the Designer Rolodex for more tal­ented wed­ding invi­ta­tion design­ers and the real invi­ta­tions gallery for more wedding invitation ideas!

Photo Credits: Fine Day Press

Behind the Stationery: Katharine Watson

Today’s installment of Behind the Stationery is a very special one, as we sit down with printmaker and business owner Katharine Watson! Katharine carves and prints each linoleum block entirely by hand to produce all kinds goods from stationery to textiles. Today she’s sharing her carving process with us, along with how local shows helped launch her full-time business and why she doesn’t believe in creative block. She’s a longtime favorite here on the OSBP and wrote our guide to block printing if you want more details on that! Take it away, Katharine! —Megan Soh


Photo by Maika Lindsay

From Katharine: My name is Katharine Watson and I run my namesake business from my studio in Portland, Maine. I started my business in 2009 after graduating from college and wanting to make the jump into being an artist. I started out doing linocuts on paper and stationery, and have since expanded to working with home goods, doing licensing for other companies, and doing custom design based on my linocuts.

I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but in college it seemed like being a fine art painter was the only real career path. Once I graduated I started working at a stationery store, continued printmaking in my free time, and began to do some small shows where I sold prints and hand-printed stationery. It started going well and I realized that there was a market for printmaking. I was surprised because I didn’t see being an artist as a full-time career option, but after about a year of working like crazy on the side, I was able to quit my other jobs and pursue printmaking and art full-time. I definitely credit doing all those local shows at first for some of my success: it was so helpful to get feedback in the early stages (whether it was vocalized or through what people purchased). It really helped me to figure out what would sell, and seeing people get excited about my work and style in the beginning was an amazing push to get started.

Katharine Watson Studio and Printing Press

When I started my business I lived in Washington, D.C., and have since lived in rural Vermont and am now settled in Portland, Maine. My studio is in a converted barn behind my house, and that was our main requirement when we were house-hunting. I briefly considered getting a studio a little more separate from our house, but I love being able to work so close from home or run in quickly when I think of a good idea (and the commute is pretty great when it’s snowing).

Katharine Watson Linoleum Block Printing

All of my stationery starts with hand-carved linoleum blocks, and we also offer block printed art prints, home goods, textiles, and custom work. I love stationery and printmaking, and it made sense to me when I was starting out to put the two together. When I first started, I didn’t know of anyone else who was working with linocuts, and that definitely helped me stand out in the beginning. Now, thanks to social media, I know of so many other artists working with linoleum. It’s so great to see other people’s work be more visible thanks to the internet, and also to see the resurgence in interest in printmaking that’s happened in the last few years.

Katharine Watson Inventory

My day usually starts with me working on email and social media messages, and taking care of the less glamorous business tasks like submitting files, tweaking designs, and putting invoices together. Those parts aren’t as Instagram-friendly as some of the other work I do, but I actually love doing it because it’s what allows me to work full-time for myself. I always appreciate every new inquiry or order because it keeps my business going, and I love getting requests that are a little outside of my comfort zone as they help me develop new ideas and styles. One of the nice things about being self-employed is that I don’t really have a set schedule. Some parts of the year I am working twelve hour days and rushing to get shipments out and meet deadlines, and other times I get to be more creative, try new styles, and work a little less. I’ve really gotten used to that balance, but it was one of the harder adjustments to running a business. At first I thought that slower times were a sign that things weren’t going well, and now I am able to recognize them as a necessary time to reset and keep pushing new ideas. I definitely wouldn’t be able to come up with new work if every month were as busy as December.

Katharine Watson Block Printing and Paper

When I’m thinking of a new design or product, I’ll start with a thumbnail sketch, and then draw the design out on linoleum and start carving. One of my favorite things to do is experiment with new patterns and see what I can do with them: after a new block is printed, I might scan it and move it into Photoshop to turn it into a repeat pattern, or use a piece of the design on a new wedding invitation. Usually one new idea will snowball into lots of new ones, and that’s my favorite thing about having a little extra time to create vs. being on a tight deadline. People often ask me about creative block and it’s not something I really believe in: if I don’t have any ideas, I’ll just start doodling or look through old work, get something down on paper and see what happens. I don’t think that a lack of creative block means that you’re consistently doing good work, just that you’re getting ideas out of your head and onto paper, even if they are terrible. I usually find that there is something there worth exploring, and if not I can just keep getting shapes down on paper.

Katharine Watson Linoleum Block Carving

My process starts with a plain piece of linoleum, and I draw the border for the size of the piece I want to make. I always carve on linoleum from Blick, but I always recommend that people try out different types of linoleum to find which one works best for them. Every type has a different feel and a different texture when printed, and it took lots of experimenting for me to figure out what worked best with my style. I carve with Speedball carving tools, and again, different people have different preferences for tools but these are the ones I’ve always liked most.

Katharine Watson Sketch

I start by sketching out my design with a ballpoint pen, usually just drawing freehand and sketching out the lines as I go. Once I have the pattern laid out, I’ll go over it with Sharpie so I can see exactly which lines need to be carved out. From there, I start by carving away the smallest details and work out to carving away the larger background pieces. I then use a wide marker to draw over what I’ve carved so I can see what still needs to be worked on.

Katharine Watson Printing Press

Once a block is finished (which can take anywhere from 2 to 20+ hours depending on the size of the block, but most A2-sized blocks take about three hours) I’ll print it on one of our two presses. We have a C&P that we use to print smaller blocks and all our block printed cards (or anything smaller than 8×10), and a Challenge Proof Press that I use for larger blocks and art prints. I mostly use rubber-based VanSon inks, but I also like Speedball oil-based inks.

Katharine Watson Printing Process

I love the carving process because I just turn on a TV show or podcast and get in the zone of carving. It’s very meditative and sometimes I can carve for hours without really noticing (until my hand cramps up and I have to take a break). People always ask what happens if I make a mistake and carve out the wrong part, but that’s not usually an issue unless I’m carving text. If I make a mistake on a pattern I’ll just incorporate it into the design and hide it by moving things around a bit, but if it’s text I’ll have to start over. Because of that I always carve the text first, because it’s heartbreaking to get to the end of a carving and then accidentally cut the T off of “Thank You”!

Katharine Watson Printing

Photo by Maika Lindsay

My favorite thing about the whole process is doing the first test print, when you finally get to see the carving time pay off and see how everything looks. It’s always kind of a surprise because you never know exactly what it’s going to look like, and that makes the process worth it for me!

Katharine Watson Carving + Print

Photos by Katharine Watson unless noted otherwise.

Want to be featured in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com for more details.

Spring Style Update with J.Jill

Happy Monday everyone! Today I’m teaming up with J.Jill to talk about bringing inspiration into your everyday routine – and highlighting a few of my favorites from their new April collection! One of my goals for 2018 is to invest a bit more time into myself. I’ve started carving a day out of my week to meet a friend (or someone new!) at a coffee shop or café, explore different shops and neighborhoods in DC. The new April collection from J.Jill is full of beautiful, comfortable pieces that can travel with me throughout my day!

It can be so easy to fall into a style rut as a mom. My fellow moms will know the drill: Get the kids up, dressed, and fed in the morning. Get them to school or daycare. Try to get as much work and/or errands done during the day before it’s time to pick the kids up from school. Get home and make dinner. Bath and bedtime. Maybe a little bit more work before sleep. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Other things fell down to the bottom of the priority list. Things like getting together with friends, exploring this amazing city that I live in, connecting with fellow creatives here in DC, or taking care of myself and making sure I look and feel my best. All really important, but super easy to set aside when life gets busy. The J.Jill April collection is the perfect combination of chic and easy style—all of which are easy for me to keep up with in my busy day-to-day.

When I worked at the State Department, I wore a typical professional wardrobe of suits and separates. Now that I’m a mom and I work from home running a creative business, I need a wardrobe that is comfortable and flexible, but still cute and well-designed. Design is definitely the one thing I won’t sacrifice when it comes to my wardrobe! I need pieces that work for the entire day, from school drop off in the morning through a lunch date with a friend and afternoon errands. I also prefer classic pieces in quality fabric that I know will work in multiple seasons, then I add color and texture through accessories and jewelry. Here’s what I chose from the J.Jill April Collection, and how I styled the different pieces!

J.Jill Style Board / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Tab-sleeve asymmetric top // 5-Pocket Denim Leggings // Linen buttoned-back sleeveless top // Long & light 2-pocket cardi // Linen tie-waist dress // Denim fringe-trim jacket // Necklace

This linen button-back tank is so comfortable – it also comes in a beautiful pale pink! It’s the perfect top that can be dressed up or down!

I’m loving the asymmetrical hem on this flowy tab-sleeve top. The moss green color is definitely having a moment this season, and it’s so cute paired with a chunky necklace.

This linen tie-waist dress has a super flattering fit and made of a beautiful lightweight linen. I love the idea of layering it with a cardigan or denim jacket (which should be a staple in every wardrobe) in the spring, then just wearing it on its own in the summer. I love the fringe trim on this denim jacket — I will definitely live in this piece for seasons to come!

I don’t know about you, but when I get into a rut, I also tend to feel really uninspired. And inspiration is kind of critical when you run a creative business! Like any business, a large chunk of my work involves staring at a computer screen – writing emails, writing blog posts, the dreaded bookkeeping – so it’s really important for me to get outside and recharge my creative energy! Here are a few of my favorite ways to get inspired:

1. Dedicate time for brainstorming

When you work from home, it can be super easy to get distracted by everyday tasks. I’ve started going to a different coffee shop in DC at least once a week to just clear my mind and jot a few ideas down in a notebook. I don’t bring my laptop and I try not to look at my phone, I just focus on all the ideas floating around in my head and put them down on paper!

2. Grab lunch or coffee with a friend

When I first moved to DC fifteen years ago, it wasn’t known for being a super creative town. Luckily, that has changed a lot in the last few years, and we have more creative people living in DC than ever before! I make an effort to schedule lunch dates with friends at least once a month, which with two small kids is easier than meeting for dinner or drinks in the evening. I’ve also been trying to reach out to creative people in the area that I follow on Instagram but haven’t yet had the chance to meet in real life. I always come away from these in-person get togethers feeling so inspired!

3. Enjoy nature

It’s no secret that I love flowers, and I love to garden. My backyard is my happy place, especially in the spring and summer when everything is blooming! And spring in DC is a glorious thing, with cherry blossoms, daffodils, tulips, lilacs, and peonies later in the season. I always feel so inspired by nature and flowers. I love visiting the outdoor public gardens in the DC area, like Dumbarton Oaks Garden, the Arboretum, Green Spring Garden, and Meadowlark Botanical Garden. I also spend quite a bit of time at our local nurseries picking out annuals for my flower beds and containers. Plant shopping is my favorite special treat at the end of a busy week.

How do you find inspiration in your everyday routine? And fellow moms, how do you find time for yourself in a busy week? I’d love your tips! Let me know in the comments!

This post was created in partnership with J.Jill. All content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!

Photos by Anna Meyer Photography for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday everyone! It’s peak cherry blossom bloom here in DC, and it’s pretty glorious. Even after living in DC for more than fifteen years, I still get excited about the cherry blossoms! For my DC-area friends, just a reminder to sign up for two events happening this weekend at Common Room Studio: our Saturday morning letter writing social with Penny Post, and our Sunday afternoon paper marbling workshop! You can read more about both events right here! But in the meantime…

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC

…a few links for your weekend!

The oldest millennials in the world. Including me! Ha!

These hand painted wood earrings are so CUTE

Speaking of cute: these DIY wrapped wood bangles

Four bucket list train trips (I LOVE traveling by train!)

I neeeeed this striped chambray skirt in my life, paired with this tie-front t-shirt (and you can currently get up to 30% off with code FOLLOWURCART)

This woven clutch is my everything right now

MAKE: Fried Haloumi nuggets!

Card of the week from McBitterson’s


Have a great weekend everyone! I’ll see you back here on Monday! xoxo