I would love to post all about doing a DIY wedding, and go in to detail about the pieces I made. But for right now I will settle on just focusing on the biggest project: The Wedding Invitation Book!
Here's another spread from the book. Aww, 8th-grade Tim and Chrissy! (c) Lisa Rigby Photography
Well, if you know me, you know that I really like books. I dig ’em as objects that can not only relay information, but also create a personal interactive experience. And I’m wild about the role I have as a designer to help create that experience. Hachi machi, gimme a multiple-page document any day of the week, and I’ll be in design heaven!
I really really wanted to make a book for our wedding invite!! But due to time and budget restrictions, I didn’t know if it could be an option for us. I had to research different ways to produce the book and come up with some price estimates. But in order to do that, I needed to know the specs of the book. To figure out out how many pages the book would be, I created an outline of the content I wanted in story, then designated each piece of info to a page. I came up with 24 pages! Then I looked in to standard USPS mail dimensions as well as standard envelope sizes in order to determine the trim size: I decided that 5 in x 7 in would work nicely.
I then picked the brain of my awesome friend Ginny, who knows everything about book manufacturing. And I quickly realized that there was no way I could afford to have the books professionally manufactured. Looks like I’d have to make them myself! But how would I be able to print it all?? I checked out some recommended copy shops and got a few quotes, but turns out I couldn’t afford that either. I decided that I needed to print them at home. And that the 5 in x 7 in trim size was still doable with my home printer.
The next step was to figure out the binding, and after consulting with a publishing colleague, Karissa (yes the same Karissa who ended up making my dress!), I thought a simple Japanese stab binding would work well (and I increased the trim size of the book to 5.5 in x 7 in to account for the binding, and it would still go through standard mail, woo!). I also continued with the content of the book: checking the flow of the story, writing out the gist of what would be on each page, and sketching thumbnails of the shape of each illustration. Then, I put together a full-size mock-up comp to make sure all the elements were working well.
I don’t have any pics of the legwork, but don’t worry, it’s not anything fancy to look at (the mock-up comp was made out of folded scrap paper and tied together with a piece of yarn, haha!). But you can bet your bottom dollar that I saved every shred of paper used for planning out this project and that it’s currently all sitting in a box in the middle of my dining room!
Once I had the layout figured out, I sketched out all the illustrations. Then I scanned the sketches and placed them in to the book layout, to make sure the illustrations fit in the designated spaces.
Then I traced all the sketches on to watercolor paper. When doing this kind of work, I use my Barbie fashion plate light box from when I was a kid; it still works, but methinks it might be time to upgrade to a professional light box!
Once the sketches were transferred, I did a preliminary ink outline of all the illustrations, then I colored them all with watercolor pencils, then did the final ink work. I was leaving a path of craft destruction around my house wherever I was working, so I soon had to move to the dining room to find a clear spot to paint. And also, yes that's a pair of pants on the table. They're not mine, I don't know why they're there!
During this time, I was also working on the final draft of the story. I’m not a writer by trade, but I had a lot of fun “designing” the writing: figuring out which words to use, what info was important/unimportant to include, and the pace of the story. Tim, who’s a great creative writer, pitched in to punch up the wording here and there. Then my friend Melanie (yes, the very same Melanie who taught me how to knit and crochet!) did a few proofreading rounds, and helped make all the words more sensical.
Then it was time to set up the final text for the book! I wanted something hand-written so it would have the same feel as the illustrations. And I wanted to make sure the leading, tracking, and heck even the letterforms themselves were all optimized for legibility. I was working under the gun at this point, so there was no way I could successfully hand-letter the book legibly. So I set the text digitally, using Adobe Caslon Pro 14/16, then I printed it out at 120% and traced it all.
Cheater cheater pumpkin eater!
This took ages to finish. During this period of time you would have encountered me frantically tracing letters on the bus, in restaurants, even trying to eek out a few letters here and there at work while I was waiting for large, slow files on my computer to open.
Okay, cool, so now we have this awesome book! But it’s also a wedding invitation, and we have to make sure all the guests have all the info they need.
So I stuck a library pocket on the back page of each book, and designed and printed hotel info/directions/etc. to go in the pockets. In this pic, if you look at the back page you'll notice a lot of signatures. I'll explain that in a bit! (c) Lisa Rigby Photography
I also made RSVP post cards. They were going to go in the Library Pockets... brilliant, right? Too bad I overlooked that the pocket interior dimensions is slightly smaller than the outer dimensions advertised. D'oh! So we just stuck them in between the last pages of the book. Also, I am proud to say that the little "interactive food exhibit" line was a genius collaboration between Tim and me!
Tim helped trim all the postcards and the book pages. And he helped prep the envelopes to be mailed. I had designed this little thing for our address that I like to use as a return address on envelopes, but the invite envelopes weren't going through the printer. In order to keep a hand-made feel, I went and got a rubber stamp of the design made! Well, I forgot to account for the spread of the ink, so when we used it it kind if looked like a blobby mess. We still used the heck out of it though!
I couldn’t tell ya how many hours it took to do all this. I spent a lot of time making sure the outline and layout worked, and I thought that was going to be the hardest part. Then I started on writing the story, and I thought THAT was going to be the hardest part. Basically every time I moved on to a new task in this process, I thought it was the hardest part! I believe I started this officially in February, and was ready to start production of the book in March. I figured it would take me two weeks to do the sketches, illustrations, text, printing, trimming, and assembling (we were busy at work so I couldn’t take any time off, and weekends were usually filled with other obligations, so I could only work on it after work). Ha…..
I hadn’t attempted anything like this before, so I had no clue how long everything would take. Well, after 6 weeks of close to zero sleep, the production was finally done, and the books finally hit the post office in early May!
*Phew!* If you’d like to see all the pages of the book, I posted little jpegs of each page up here. You are welcome to check it out!
So that picture of the back page of the book, with all the signatures? You’ll notice that it’s a colophon/credits page! I had everyone who helped make the book sign this keepsake copy for me. I’d like to especially point out that under “Assembled by” is listed “The Tim and Chrissy Fan Club.” Lots of folks expressed interest in helping make the books, but when I printed everything, I didn’t know who would actually be able to help out. So now I would like to officially introduce you to…
...The Tim and Chrissy Fan Club! We've got Melanie (knitter/crocheter/proofreader), Karissa (bookbinding guru/wedding dress maker), Kerry (awesome co-worker who's crazy good at hand-binding books) and Anny (mistress of book production)!
My vixen-y sis Amelia is part of the club to, but she wasn't in the group photo, but I still wanna give her props. Thanks sis!
I don't know how these books would have been made if it weren't for the help of "The Club". For two evenings after work, I rented out one of the conference rooms at work, and we had a "Wedding Bee"! In the end, I think we made about 87 books. Here's a bunch of books in progress.
I’m really, really happy that I got to make this book for our wedding invites!! It was worth all of the time and effort, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. But! Now I know how much time something like this takes, I would have definitely started, like, I dunno, a year earlier? The incalculable amount of hours and the sheer amount of mental and physical energy a piece like this requires… this is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime labor of love!
In case you are curious, here are all the materials I used.
Watercolor Paper: Arches Hot Pressed 140 lb 14 x 20 Water Color Paper Block
Watercolor Pencils: Pro-Art Watercolor Pencils (had this set since high school, the colors are so much more fun than traditional watercolor colors!)
Tracing Paper: Canson 9 x 12 25 lb Tracing Paper
Inking Pen: Micron, sizes 5 and 8 – Black
Book Interior Paper: Paper Source 8 1/2 x 11 Luxe Text Paper – Cream
Book Cover Paper: Paper Source 8 1/2 x 11 cover weight paper – “Paper Bag”
Library Pockets: Self Adhesive 5 1/4 in. H x 3 1/2 in. W with a 2 1/2 in. D Book Pockets
Labels for Library Pockets: Paper Source Oval Labels – Superfine White (I bought these in a panic once I discovered that the Library Pockets didn’t go through the printer very well)
Book Mailing Envelopes: Paper Source A9 Envelopes – Pool (“irregular”! They were half-priced, and looked just dandy!)
Custom Rubber Stamp: Rubber Stamp Champ 3/4″ x 2″ Hand Stamp
Printer: Epson Stylus Pro 4800 (We used ours, and our friends Aimee & Carlos let us borrow theirs so we could do twice the printing in half the amount of time. But we ended up just using their ink. Stupid print drivers.)
* Pro Tip: It takes a lot of ink to print 87 24-page full-color-illustrated books. You’re not going to get by with just one set of ink cartridges. So do yourself a favor and buy extra ink ahead of time so you’re not having any late-night panics. Your brain, and wallet [overnighting ink to your house multiple times is $$!], will thank you!)
If you missed it, check out the previous post: Part One: Hand-Made, Heartfelt, & Hitched!
And tune in for the next post: Part Three: Sew Crazy!