Trails for Tatas Cancer Fundraiser | Prescott, AZ

Sylvan Creek was proud to support the recent Trails for Tatas 3rd Annual Fundraiser right here in Prescott, Arizona! Sponsored by Summit 4×4, the event was off-road themed and featured opportunities to adventure! All proceeds from the event are donated to the YRMC BreastCare Center for scanning, education, care and support to patients and families.

We were happy to design and donate two custom Adventure Boards for their silent auction. The boards were a big hit among the jeepers that come out to support the cause! Designed to be durable, splinter-free and custom to you, our adventure boards are your new go-to adventure essential.

The event is presented annually to raise awareness and funds to support patients and their families, and we felt compelled to contribute. Sylvan Creek Designs is committed supporting our local community.

If you are based in the Prescott area, and would like to collaborate for a fundraiser or otherwise local event, visit us at www.sylvancreekdesigns.com

Rustic Decorating for the Holidays | Prescott, AZ

We’re back with more tips on how you can incorporate reclaimed wood into your décor. This time, we are talking about the ways you can get in the rustic holiday spirit with pieces for your home and office! The holidays bring family together, and joy to our homes. This year, bring the warmth and character of reclaimed wood and rustic accents into your holiday décor. With so many ways to incorporate reclaimed wood, we have some favorites to share!

Idea 1: New Spin on the Christmas Star

Have the tried-and-true angel topper or gold star gotten a little old? If you are looking for a way to incorporate a rustic feel to your décor, ornaments are a great way to spice things up. Adding a bit of warmth and intrigue, a copper or rust colored metal star at the top and similar ornaments throughout will bring it all together!

Idea 2: Reclaimed Wood Accents

Get your friends and family into the holiday spirit by incorporating the texture of reclaimed wood this year! Reclaimed wood can be used to create focal points around a room. Maybe you paint stacked layers to resemble Santa Clause by the fireplace or prop a modern tree decoration on the serving table. Little touches like these will give your décor that “lived in” feel.

Idea 3: Focal Points

Bunching a handful of pieces in a space can create a festive focal point. Try stacking chunky wood pieces in the fireplace, or tiered décor in a corner to brighten up a smaller space. Candlelight, wood accents and contrasting tones make for an eye-catching addition to your home!

When you unpack those holiday boxes this year, think about how you can switch up! Maybe ornaments get hung along the fireplace or some faux presents and reindeer create a dazzling entry way! This year, we are loving cabin shabby-chic décor and think you will too!

Looking to get rustic with your holiday décor? Check out our shop to see the festive pieces on offer from the local artisans at Sylvan Creek Designs today!

What Is A Rustic Decorating Style? | Prescott, AZ

What comes to mind when you think of a “rustic interior”? Does it make you think of animal hides and stone walls? Soft lighting and bold wood accents maybe? When I think “rustic”, three words come to mind: texture, earth & warmth. The idea of a rustic interior has evolved from cowboy and gritty to cozy and grounded. There are a ton of ways to bring the outdoors, in – here are a few of our favorites!

            Contemporary

A modern take on this style typically includes white or light color shades mixed with grays, blacks, and wood accents. Think of clean lines, centerpiece stone fireplace, large animal hide rug and reclaimed wood floors. In terms of modern rustic, the colors are subdued while making an impact and every cozy touch counts!

            Indoor/ Outdoor

If you already live in a setting that is rugged, playing around with furniture, lighting and ways to be cozy can blur the line between home and nature. An accent wall against a window that soaks in the view, or a great patio ready to embrace you takes rustic to the next level. Warm lighting and deep wood colors work to highlight your surrounds.

            Bold Accents

Wood beam ceilings, chunky furniture, stone, and fun use of color can really make your interior stand out among the rest. Mixing in navy blue cabinetry to an otherwise nature-inspired palette can enhance the warmth of a space. Another idea is to add a staggered or chunky stone accent wall or fireplace to your space. It will keep the room interesting without being cluttered.

            Neutral Naturals

Natural textures and tones with a neutral palette are another way to go about your rustic transition. A cow hide rug or chairs situated around a bold wood coffee table and maybe a deep leather couch is the living room I imagine when considering “neural naturals”. This style keeps things rich and interesting with a play on texture while staying aesthetically appealing.

Want to get inspiration for your new rustic interior but don’t know where to start? Visit our shop to view our selection of rustic pieces brought to you by the local artisans at Sylvan Creek today!

Should You Use Reclaimed Wood for Furniture? | Prescott, AZ

Furniture literally furnishes our lives and yet, we tend to pay little attention to the important role each piece plays. The kitchen table is where we learn about and relate to one another, desks allow a sanctuary for productivity and dressers conceal our chaotic sock collections. Despite their importance, it tends to be when a piece is missing, or when we seek to refresh a space, that furniture garners the attention it deserves.

When updating a space, refreshing worn out furniture or considering a new piece, reclaimed furniture may not be the first option you think of – but it could be.

Typically, the number one consideration for furniture is “will this piece be a functional addition or replacement for my space?” Generally, this question need not be asked, as most pieces on the market are designed to function. The second question tends towards design “will this piece aesthetically compliment or serve to enhance my space?”

Furniture that utilizes reclaimed wood may not immediately illicit the same confidence a piece from Ikea would, right? When we think about reclaimed anything the idea that its inherently damaged is fair; if we are going to spend our time and money on something, it should meet our most basic standards.

Here are some reasons why, when considering a furniture change, we should keep reclaimed pieces in mind.

Durability. It seems counter-intuitive, but reclaimed wood is more durable than new wood pieces. Why? This wood has been lying low for decades, allowing it to have become naturally stronger and climate resistant over time.

Aesthetic. Adding a reclaimed furniture piece, such as a desk or dining table makes an impact. The wood has a natural variance in color, and when pieced together to create a piece of furniture, it creates a completely unique experience.

Impact. Whether you are creating a custom piece from reclaimed lumber or are thrifting for one, inviting reclaimed wood furniture into your home keeps it out of landfills! Want to start incorporating reclaimed wood furniture into your home but don’t know where to start? Visit our shop to view our selection of reclaimed wood pieces brought to you by the local artisans at Sylvan Creek today!

Integrating Reclaimed Wood Into Your Home | Prescott, AZ

Remodeling our homes; love it or not, we all participate. Remodeling a home could incorporate anything from an aesthetic revamp to something drastic like knocking a wall down to create an open concept. Either way, a remodel may be the perfect opportunity to incorporate reclaimed wood into your home!

While we have all heard of reclaimed wood, it typically has a “reservations-only” connotation in our minds. You know, that “you need x-amount of money for this antique 18th century barn door” reservation. Insert eye-roll here. Reclaimed wood can be found a number of ways, utilized in any home and should not be reserved for the ‘ultra-chic’ in our lives. Here are some ways you can incorporate reclaimed wood in your home that will elicit attention without all the expense.

Thrifting. Thrift shopping for wood furniture, décor and scrap pieces is the ultimate way to reduce, reuse and upcycle reclaimed wood. When you purchase from a local thrift store, you support small business and reduce waste in our landfills, allowing you to reuse old wood for your new décor.

Little Hints. Maybe you have a bookshelf that needs a refresh or space on your coffee table for a reclaimed coaster set; these accents can make quite the impact in your space without much hassle or expense. Using reclaimed pieces in this way allows an opportunity to assimilate into your new décor plan. Adding little hints of warmth throughout the home may inspire the use of larger pieces as the vision comes to life!

One Bold Piece. Another way to go about incorporating reclaimed wood into your home is to make it a focal point. Finding one great piece or set to round out your space can bring a touch of eco-chic to your home in a bold, beautiful way. Be it a coffee table, desk or wall décor a reclaimed statement piece is sure to wow!

You are a quick search away from finding local artisans, salvage yards and thrift stores that offer a range of reclaimed wood décor and lumber for your rejuvenated space! Want to start incorporating reclaimed wood into your home but don’t know where to start? Visit our shop to view our selection of reclaimed wood pieces brought to you by the local artisans at Sylvan Creek today!

Introducing Our New Wood Signs | Prescott, AZ

At Sylvan Creek Designs, we are constantly curating home décor that utilizes local, reclaimed, and distressed wood to create unique pieces for any space. We are proud to announce the release of our new line of wood signs that can provide a pop of color or vintage feel to any room.

The artisans and designers at Sylvan Creek are working moms, animal lovers and art lovers; we make the products that speak to us. We have curated signs that will greet your guests with a pop of color, feature hand painted artwork and some that will even hold your coat or dog accessories! When you display a locally made, hand crafted piece of art from Sylvan Creek in your home, you are supporting the environment, small business and get to share a piece of yourself with every guest.

Be it a word that inspires creativity, a religious verse that grounds us or a decorative image, Sylvan Creek Designs has hand crafted our favorite pieces that will accentuate your home and reflect your values. Of course, if you would like to give your space an extra special touch, we offer customized designs. Our team will collaborate with you to understand your wants and create something beautiful for your space.

When you work with the artisans at Sylvan Creek, we take pride in providing you with the unique accessory that will bring your vision to life, whatever your flavor! Our wood pieces are always crafted with locally sourced wood, hand crafted by skilled woodworkers and painted with original pieces by the artist. We take pride in our pieces, and love to create unique décor for the individual, rather than attempt to fit everyone into a seasonal trend.

When you support Sylvan Creek by featuring the artwork of local, small business artisans, you are contributing to the notion that what you buy, matters. That your home deserves to be decorated in the ways that compliment who you are as an individual, rather than a “target audience”. To learn more about our new line of wood signs, visit our website at www.sylvancreekdesigns.

Warm your Home with Custom Wood Tags | Prescott, AZ

At Sylvan Creek, we believe that your home should reflect you. The décor you choose to outfit your home rounds out the experience one has when entering a room. Sylvan Creek Designs has hand crafted wood tag signs that bring that extra bit of character to any space. We have a small team of dedicated craftsmen and designers who collaborate to bring you pieces that add an extra touch.

It would be incredible to have a designer walk into your home and share with you their secret sauce to the perfect home décor, right? Well, for most of us, that just won’t be an option, and while that might be appealing, there are several reasons why incorporating décor pieces that reflect who you are, matters.

            Personality – Do you love a quirky wallpaper? Are your cats running along the walls on custom-built catwalks from room to room? How we incorporate our décor into a space shares a lot about our personality. For instance, that quirky wallpaper may say “I like the 50’s” or “I think this is a fun pop of color!” Either way, décor is a great way to let your personality shine.

            Style – Whether you are a new homeowner or dwell in a family home passed through generations, the ways you decide to outfit each space, speaks to who you are. Maybe you love color and love the way your deep blue cabinets enhance the copper countertop. Or maybe you are in a mountain setting and allow the inside of your home to enhance the natural beauty around you. Either way, these seemingly subtle means of creating a space shows off your style.

            Values – Home décor can also reflect our values. Be it your favorite religious verse or photos of the family, someone can learn a lot about you form the details.

Any interior decorator can create a beautiful space, but only you can make it uniquely yours.

While we prefabricate some of our favorite pieces, our team is happy to collaborate with you, allowing a space to really be yours. Visit our website at www.sylvancreekdesigns today to see the pieces we offer, or to inquire about custom pieces.

Importance of Family Time | Sylvan Creek Designs | Prescott, AZ

In an ever-increasingly tech savvy and interconnected world, it seems we have all fallen victim to our technology. It has become the norm to check our emails throughout the day, play Candy Crush on the bus ride home and scroll through social media in our off time. Then there is the new classic experience of walking into a casual restaurant and a group of people are mindlessly scrolling together; the chips have arrived, but the conversation can’t start until a unanimous agreement is made to be present. When the phones get put away, genuine connection can take place.

Remember when we used to come together to enjoy a meal or play a game? When bored, we used to seek the chest filled with board games, or pull out a deck of cards to play Goldfish; we didn’t always retreat into our personal bubble and stare at miniature computers. So, what has happened to “family time”?

“Family time” seems to have also fallen victim to the world wide web and the interest of everyone to be in-the-know. Carving time to be with one another allows us to understand each other through our verbal and non-verbal cues. The experience of just living alongside the ones we love, actually increases our happiness, mental health, boosts confidence, lengthens life expectancy and many other wonderful things!

When a group of friends or family come together to play Settlers of Catan, or are bonding over giant Jenga while enjoying a beverage I can’t help but feel giddy! They are the cool ones; the cutting edge of what it means to be a modern adult. I am almost surprised every time I observe or get to be part of such an actively present group of people. When we choose to connect with those around us, and really spend the time it requires to cultivate healthy relationships, everyone benefits. Targeted advertisements and easy escapism is always going to be a reach away, but when we pull out a board game to be present, that is when we are really living.

Looking for a stylish way to reintroduce family time into your home? Check out our selection of hand crafted games!

Benefits of Using Reclaimed Wood | Prescott, AZ

Reclaimed wood versus new – what is the difference? Well, there are a few notable differences that may make the difference in your home décor decisions. To start, reclaimed wood tends to be denser, making it a durable option for your home’s flooring or if you are crafting a table. Reclaimed wood also has a lot of character, making it versatile; home décor accessories are immediately elevated when made from this reusable material.

Entertain for a moment the notion that this material is reusable, notice how we didn’t call it recyclable? While it may seem like semantics, there is a difference between the two. Reclaimed wood is carefully removed from the demolition site to be utilized in a different fashion as is. Recycled wood has been repurposed into a new material; adjusted as needed to become something else.

Deforestation is a huge issue for the modern world. Our “need” for wood has become a two-fold issue. On one hand, we cut trees and utilize wood for a variety of purposes, everything from paper to the structure of our homes; it has become essential to the modern human to have access to products made of wood. On the other, this mass destruction of our forests and realization of the scale to which we have depleted this natural resource is what has sparked the upcycle revolution.

When we decided to utilize local, reclaimed wood for our décor products, we did so for the environment. Not only does the reclaimed wood give our products a special character, we help local businesses by allowing them to share their unclaimed pieces with us, rather than paying a premium to dispose of it.

We can all recognize the importance of trees; they feed and shelter wildlife of all kinds, provide oxygen, recycle carbon dioxide and are, of course, gorgeous. When we make the decision to buy reclaimed wood for our homes, we are voting for what we believe in.

Distressed Wood Accent Décor | Sylvan Creek Designs | Prescott, AZ

There are two foundational rules of home décor. The first is that accessories should be places in threes. The other is that a range of texture and color in a set palette can add a dynamic touch to a room. How boring would our homes become if big box stores decided the range of décor colors, textures and breadth of décor we could place into our homes that are so uniquely us? It would begin to deteriorate the notion of a family home; the idea that we are all unique in the things we use to tell our stories or navigate our lives.

Distressing wood is the process of enhancing the natural wood grain to give prominence to the natural beauty of a given object. This can be done in a variety of ways, here are some of the most popular ways interior design studios and DIY champions add character to their home accessories.

  1. Rough it up – taking a wire brush or hammer to the wood will serve to enhance the grain or create indentions to five new wood pieces a lived-in feel.
  2.  Dry Brushing – many DIYers will take a dry paintbrush and dip the end of it into their desired paint color and lightly brush it across the wood to give a weathered look
  3. Paint & Scrape – a mix of each method, one can paint their wood piece and take a scrapper to the fresh coat in random places to distress the piece.

When the craftsmen and designers at Sylvan Creek considered expanding the range of pieces they offered, they decided to bring an elegance to distressed wood accent décor.

The designers at Sylvan Creek Designs  wanted to provide an opportunity to reclaim the spaces we live in and one again fill them with décor that enhances the aesthetic of our lives.

 

Farmhouse Style Home Accessories | Sylvan Creek Designs | Prescott. AZ

There has been a cultural shift recently towards the notion of getting back to our roots. For many in home and interior design, this means the farmhouse and cabin aesthetics have become a focal point. With good reason, too, as the modern farmhouse is inviting, cozy, bright and filled with wood accents to bring in warmth, depth, and the idea of family.

Sylvan Creek is based in Prescott, Arizona where the historical cowboy vibe of the area has met the modern homeowner. Our team has seen a rise in farmhouse chic aesthetic pieces not just in the nation, but in the homes of our neighbors seeking to modernize the southwest. All of the accessories offered by Sylvan Creek are designed and handmade individually by our creative team.

Some of our favorite pieces that will enhance the farmhouse aesthetic in any home are our wood tags and artwork. These pieces are created with reclaimed or distressed wood and finished with hand painted signage or flowers that give that lived-in feel. If you have a space that is in need of something special, our range of décor accessories is sure to offer something to fit your needs.

Sylvan Creek saw this surge in desire for the farmhouse aesthetic and expanded our products to a line that is sure to take your décor to the next level of farmhouse chic. To view our line of products, we invite you to visit us online at sylvancreekdesigns.com.

Reclaimed Wood Desk Accessories | Sylvan Creek Designs | Prescott, AZ

Reclaimed wood accessories seem to have this magic about them where they bring warmth and interest to a space. Our desks have become less and less personal; picture frames, if they linger, are the final frontier of desk accessories. When did our desks go from being the space where we view our children’s art to cluttered with plastic décor?

We love reclaimed wood and want to share a bit of what we have come to know about how this highly sought after material has made its way into our homes. Wood has been a widely popular building material since the industrial revolution quickly out pacing brick for construction. Old growth wood started becoming increasingly rare, and sought after for its durability. Due to many factors, old growth forests are rapidly fading meaning cutting down “fresh” wood has become increasingly difficult. The solution? Salvaging wood from buildings whose structure was originally crafted from the old growth trees. Today, reclaimed wood pieces add an artisanal touch to any space and is a great way to respect and recycle this material.

Sylvan Creek strives to bring that unique charm of our workspaces back with our line of reclaimed wood accessories. An easy swap from a store-bought calendar or pencil holder for a hand crafted, reclaimed desk accessory will make a difference in your décor and your mood. These one of a kind pieces have been carefully considered and crafted with you in mind, because we believe your desk is more than a place where you work, it should be a reflection of your achievements.

Visit our website today to view the variety of products Sylvan Creek has to offer.

Personalized Wood Calendars | Sylvan Creek Designs | Prescott, AZ

Personalized pieces add that little something extra for a gift to another or in your home. The skilled designers and craftsmen at Sylvan Creek know you want your gift or home accessory to stand out, that is why we offer a personal touch. When you gift a wood calendar from Sylvan Creek, you get to decide the color, what it says and even the font you would like to see printed on your piece. A unique and personal touch to a classic staple will liven any space!

Some benefits of these calendars are that they are not printed with the year, so they are a reusable alternative to paper calendars. Whether they will be displayed on a desk or shelf, they are compact as to not take too much space and sure to bring a pop of color and fun to the décor!

Reclaimed Wood Signs | Sylvan Creek Designs | Prescott, AZ

Let’s talk about reclaimed wood; most of us think about a retired building with beautiful flooring that is carefully removed and sold at a premium.  The thought is that these wood pieces can never be bought with that kind of character from even the best home stores. With that, reclaimed wood has climbed into the upper echelon of exclusive home décor, so how can anyone integrate that character into a home without spending the time and resources to acquire it?

Sylvan Creek Designs is proud to have taken that step for you to offer customized reclaimed wood signs so anyone can enjoy the beauty of these wooden finds without the hassle or price. We wanted to make a positive impact on the way materials are utilized and discovered they could be given new life by upcycling them into something unique for your home. Each sign has been carefully pieced together and designed by a skilled craftsman from locally sourced reclaimed wood allowing it to transition into your décor, rather than contribute to our landfills.

We are proud to be contributing to the environment by offering these highly sought after finds to you, and you can feel good knowing your new décor piece is reducing waste while adding that special something to your space.

If you would like to add that something special to your home or office, shop our gorgeous reclaimed wood signs at Sylvan Creek Designs, you local interior design artisans.

Natural Wood Gifts & Designs | Sylvan Creek Designs | Prescott, AZ

In an ever-increasingly globalized world, plastic has intercepted just about every facet of our lives. From our running shoes and office supplies to children’s toys and even books, the bounty of our natural world is being lost from our homes. While we don’t need to seek out the Amish to build our homes and furniture, there are ways to give our environment a break and your home a refresh with natural wood accents. Here are some reasons why going natural with your next gift or décor purchase is a good idea:

Style – A home is as unique as those who live within it. If the style of your home reads more “cabin” than “Ikea” then it may be time to ditch the Amazon’s best seller list for something more personal. Incorporating natural wood to your décor can add that extra touch to your space and any gift you may send.

Texture & Shape – Inspired by and gifted from nature, bringing home a handmade wood décor piece means that no two will be quite the same as everything, from the wood itself to the craftsmanship has been fine-tuned to each item. This gives a unique flare to what has increasingly become a prefabricated, one-size-fits-most world of décor.

Supporting Local – A lot of the time, items that are crafted to emphasize the natural features of the material they are crafted from, are made by local artisans. Not only does buying something natural look good on your desk or shelf, but you can also feel good knowing its supporting the craft of an inspired creative.

Incorporating natural wood into your home or gifting it to another will inspire a sense of warmth and thoughtfulness. It is a sustainable, original and unique way to break away from the “norms” of modern décor. Bringing it back from the straight lines and angles of a clean modern look, natural wood gifts and décor provide that lived-in feel to any space.

Your Perfect Medium

A medium refers to the materials used to create a work of art. Oil paint, bronze, crayons, paper, wood, marble; these are all media that can be used to create various forms of art. As we grow in our experience and expand in our understanding of art we may come to discover different things about our abilities; namely the media through which we feel most comfortable expressing ourselves.

If you are like me, interested in art and sometimes skilled at painting with acrylics, you don’t really understand your potential and that is okay! Here is a breakdown of different media you can pursue at home, what they are most commonly used for and tips for starting out!

Clay

Working with clay is more than simply a great activity at summer camp; with so many colors and endless possibility, clay is a wonderful medium! Most commonly, individuals paint on ceramic which is made from materials like clay, yet anyone can create their own piece using a technique called handbuilding. Handbuilding is the use of only clay, water and ones’ hands to create whatever her or she desires, and placed in a fire to harden.

The most common use for clay historically has been pitchers for water, plates and bowls. Fired clay takes on a stone-like nature in that the once malleable dinner plate is now strong, sealed and much more difficult to break or wear over time.

While we cannot all have a studio in our homes and a brick fireplace, we can visit our local craft store and pick up a few packs of clay! Craft stores offer a variety of colors and amounts of clay and sometimes even have handy booklets to draw inspiration from. If you want to dive into the art of pottery, there are kits one can purchase with a spinning table and sometimes a local ceramic shop will be happy to help cure your creation in their ovens!

Colored Pencil

We all remember school projects that involved a lot of coloring and while they were never the most difficult assignments, some people would give their project finesse with colored pencils. Colored pencils are a great medium for anyone looking for a wide color palette and wishing to incorporate any amount of detail into their work. Colored pencils can be used to create art on any paper-like surface and are always nice to have on hand whenever creativity strikes.

There are so many techniques artists practiced in this medium utilize to create the illusion of texture, depth, or even manipulate color. Colored pencils can really be used to draw anything the artist desires, as long as the pencils are used on a supportive medium.

When wandering through your local craft store, you might be confronted by several types of pencil options such as artist grade, student grade, mechanical, watercolor and pastel. While similar, there are some differences to note; breakage, pigmentation and ability to withstand UV rays are the major differences between artist and student grade pencils. Mechanical colored pencils potentially offer the ability to refill them, but the color palette is limited. Watercolor pencils are more diverse, they can be used dry as a common colored pencil and left alone, or the artist can apply water with a wet paintbrush to activate the pencil’s water soliable quality. Pick up a set that interests you and get creative!

Pastel

Pastels are a medium in the form of a stick that is made of pure powder pigment and binder. Pastels are somewhat the consistency of crayons; not as soft a medium as one might expect at first sight. Pastel can be used on a lot of different surfaces; anything from paper to canvas will hold the color! Greatest use of pastel goes towards canvas paintings, yet I personally use pastels for passion projects in old books or notebooks; the color once on the page is likely not to fade but it can be smeared, made into a gradient and used as a member of a mixed media project.

When visiting your local craft store, you will be presented with varying ranges of colors and amount of pastels; my tip is to buy a decent quality pack of pastels with a broad range of colors because it is not very expensive but leaves a lot of room for creativity!

Paint

Acrylic paint is likely the most commonly associated means of painting something due to its versatility. Acrylic will work on anything from a smooth wood surface to paper to canvas and almost anything in between. Painting is an incredible way to relax the mind and create works of art one might enjoy for years to come! Unlike other paints, acrylic is water-based, not oil-based and the water suspends acrylic polymer, the binder.

When starting out at home, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the multitude of colors to choose from, so my suggestion would be to visit your local craft store with an idea of what you would like to paint so that way you only purchase the colors you need. This allows you to not only get familiar with acrylics, but you save a lot of money if it ends up not being the medium for you; or I it is, you can always stock up on more colors!

 

Alex, Contributing Editor

Photo by amaranth photography

Calligraphy as Creative Expression

Creative expression refers to participation in a range of activities that allow for creative and imaginative expression such as music, art, creative movement and drama. To say that words on a page cannot be considered within this category is to denounce the power of the written word. A handwritten note has fallen victim to the rise of technological communication. In a globalized civilization where ‘snail mail’ as a concept has replaced the intimacy of a written note, I make it a point to continue the art.

It has become far too easy to categorize art into its many constructs and defining features. The bold outer curve that comes together with a fine stroke to create an ‘e’ is just as dramatic as the uniform, all capital letter spelling of any word or phrase. Dramatic, dainty, bold, capitalized, miscellaneous; the boundaries of our creative expression are limited only by our mentality.

What is calligraphy without the handwritten note? What significance would the handwritten note have if technology did not prevail as it does? To be surprised by a letter in the mail is a wonderful moment in which we subconsciously and intimately connect with the sender. At one point the personalized note was a staple of each birthday; the kids wrote letters to each guest and thanked him or her for their generosity yet today this is lost due to the convenience of social media pages.

If we had the ability to look at letters written from hundreds of people when it was still common practice, the diversity in style, bold accents, thin lettering and so many other elements of writing would come alive! In a way, we are all calligraphers; each of us has a unique style of communicating the same message with a different flair. Writing is the oldest means through which humans have communicated and calligraphy is arguably how we have always expressed emotion.

Some Tips

If it has been a while since sending a note to someone in your life, go ahead and take some time to send an update of your life or even a friendly hello. It might just make someone’s day!

Before writing in a notecard write your message on piece of paper, this way you can clearly communicate! You might even think of a fun way to write it out or add a small drawing to make it more personalized and use all the space on the card.

Calligraphy has no rules, so allow your pen to navigate the page in any way you choose!

 

I thoroughly enjoy the call I receive once a friend or relative has opened my note, it is always a welcome and wonderful conversation! -Alex, contributing editor

Expression of Watercolor

Watercolor as a medium of expression, as well as an art, is a fascinating opportunity to explore the emotion behind artistic creation. Traditionally, watercolor was simply pigment that would be ground with gum and require a brush and water to apply. To find an artist who creates his or her own watercolors is exceedingly rare. While acrylic is completely opaque, watercolor can be as dense or translucent as the artist desires. To make the application of a particular color translucent, one must keep more water saturation on the brush from initial dip to the color and onto the page. For a more opaque expression of color, an artist has options and may use less water or layer a color between drying.

A simple palette of pigment may elaborate into an array of colors as endless as the artistic imagination will allow it to expand. There is arguably a learning curve to the ways in which watercolor can be manipulated on a page. Every piece holds an opportunity for the artist to explore the opportunities the plasticity of watercolor allows. Watercolor is one of the most versatile forms of art anyone from novice to professional might explore. Endless color variations, gradations, intensity, saturation and other factors seemingly unique to watercolor make it appear that the notion of ‘correct art’ is but a distant opinion. It can be a tool through which to explore a new-found interest or challenge existing skills. To be deemed proficient or skilled in one medium does not guarantee a translation of skill through another; each form of expression carries with it a unique learning curve.

The Art of Delicacy

As a child, painting on my easel with only the primary colors to highlight my creative expression, I would stare. I would ponder at my art and think it to be worth its weight in gold, yet as I grew in my artistic understanding and age I began to doubt. I would ask myself how I might express my most delicate of messages or whether it was even possible. As the range of artistic mediums expanded, the ways in which I could harness a moment followed. A realization came as well that the ways in which one may choose to express delicacy or the rawness of exaggeration may not be similar to that of others; and that in-and-of itself is beautiful.

To be traditionally delicate is to act with an air of intricacy among calculated passion. Delicacy in art, as in nature, can be what allows one’s message and expression captivate the onlooker. As with most subjective forms of expression, there is no inherently right or wrong way to approach or display a delicate tone. To be delicate with watercolor may not translate similarly to other mediums of expression. In delicacy, there is a desire to portray something of simplicity, elegance, or even display emotion. In contrast is exaggeration; those bold, excitable lines and contrasts generate the relation of feeling from artist to admirer.

In no way is it impossible to find one’s own creative means through which to project an air of deliberate delicacy, and there should be no shame in learning from the efforts of seasoned artists. Nature shares with us the ease with which it may project both a bold statement and retain elegant simplicity. Skills are learned and for an artist to creatively express thoughts, feelings or beliefs in a delicate form, or lack-there-of is truly an unappreciated phenomenon.

Art is representative of the artist; allowing another to dictate your personal expression destroys the sanctity of individuality and difference in opinion. Create with a stroke of pen, pencil, brush or pastel that speaks to your message despite whether it is ‘traditionally delicate’. -A, contributing editor

Photograph courtesy of Amaranth Photography

The Power of the Handwritten Note

Handwritten-Note-Photo-583x3861Getting Back to Basics

Every year I get a card from my grandmother with a handwritten one-page note.  She is catching me up on what is going on and throws in a little guilt trip as well.  No matter what it says, I find myself finding a chair to sit in and really spend a few minutes reading what she wrote.  For me, I look forward to these few minutes every year.  Why?  because it’s different and that makes it special.

Having a business for over 15 years, you start to look for new ways to connect with clients.  Having a business for over 15 years that manages online marketing you look for new ways to connect with clients that get their attention.  Everyone is doing the same thing with social media and electronic e-blasts, nothing stands out anymore.

Handwritten notes do stand out and more often than not when ever I send a client a handwritten note, I get a call from them.  That tells you something.

Here is an article I found: Handwritten Notes: The Most Powerful Follow Up by Susan Ward.  Well worth the time.

Those that follow up can not only get the customers/clients that other less conscientious sales people have left behind, but beat competitors in attracting new business.

To reap the benefits of follow up, though, you have to do it, and have to do it right. It continually astounds me that so few businesses that I am personally aware of can’t seem to be bothered to follow up. My guess is that they are assuming that people will contact them if they’re interested – a faulty assumption that can cost you a lot of business. Customers and/or clients have busy lives and unless there’s some special reason not to forget about you, they will.

What’s the best way to follow up? The phone call? The text message? The email? No – none of these. The best way to follow up is still the handwritten note.

Now don’t take that to mean that you should just dash off one handwritten note to a client or customer and your follow up is done. If you are trying to make a sale, chances are good you are going to follow up anywhere from two to seven times (I remember reading that 80 percent of new sales are made after the fifth contact.)  And that doesn’t mean that you have to write a handwritten note each time. Phone calls, emails, and even text messages can certainly help keep you and your products and/or services in the forefront of your client or customer’s brain.

But the handwritten note, because of its apparent personal nature, has a power that other follow up techniques lack, so it should be the fulcrum of your follow up efforts.

Properly done, the handwritten note is a real relationship builder because it says to your client or customer that you have taken the time to recognize them as an individual and that their business is important to you.

It’s also a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition because so few people bother to follow up at all, let alone follow up in ways that will impress customers.

For instance, right now several financial investment firms are courting me. One of them dropped an obviously mass-produced flyer into my mailbox asking me for my business (and a poorly printed flyer at that). He never bothered to follow up.

Another dropped by the house, introduced himself, and we had a pleasant chat about what my financial investment needs might be. The next day I found a handwritten note in my mailbox thanking me for taking the time to talk to him and asking me to let him know if he could be of future service.

Guess which one of these firms I would choose to do business with? Who wouldn’t? The first investment firm may be fine, but the representative of the second firm has impressed me; it’s his name that is lodged in my mind.

Besides being a great way to get prospective new customers and/or clients to think of you favourably, handwritten notes are also a great way to thank people for their patronage. After we got new flooring installed in our house by a local firm, the owner of the business sent us a handwritten note thanking us for choosing their firm and hoping that we were enjoying the look of our new floors (which we are)! This sort of personalized attention is one reason that I recommend this firm to anyone local.

Don’t be afraid of being old-fashioned; when it comes to follow up, sometimes the old ways are the best. Take the time to write handwritten notes thanking your customers and/or clients; the time you spend writing them will be well worth it in terms of return business and increased positive word-of-mouth.