A peek inside Ellie Snow’s Studio

Right now, we’re featuring Ellie Snow as our Designer of the Month – that means April is all about Ellie (and all of her designs are on sale!)! We’ve been sharing some of Ellie’s design inspiration, a day in her life, and today, we’re giving you a peek inside her studio — both her former studio and her brand new, under-construction studio in the DIY District of Durham. We’ll let Ellie take it from here!

For the past couple years, the Hello Tenfold studio was in an old, rehabbed textile warehouse turned into artist studios (and before that, at my dining room table!). But this year, when a small space in a busier part of Durham, North Carolina became available, a photographer friend and I jumped on it. Just last month we moved in and are slowly getting settled. The location of the space is perfect — a short distance from my house, and across the street from a dangerously good coffee shop and many great restaurants. It’s a part of town lovingly called the “DIY district,” named for the many start-ups in the area.

Bella Figura + Hello Tenfold Designer Ellie Snow in her studio

Ellie Snow's old studio in Durham, North Carolina

Above: Ellie’s former studio 

Ellie Snow gives us a peek at her new studio - here's a "before" shot

Above is a photo of the new space, which used to be a garage, before it was fixed up for us earlier this year. Our landlords removed the garage doors and replaced them with storefront windows, painted, and cleaned up a bit, but we’ve also had to get creative with ways to hide (or learn to love!) the flaws in an older building. I hired a carpenter to make some inexpensive built-in display shelves in what used to be a doorway, and we’ll cover the rough concrete floors with a variety of rugs.

Ellie Snow gives us a peek inside her new studio - here's a look at some of the progress

Although it’s a small space, we felt strongly about having a couch to make things cozy and comfortable, and a meeting table, so we’ve also had to be careful with how much stuff we brought into the space — for me, that meant filling my basement at home with miscellaneous envelopes, paper, and old invitation samples! It felt great to pare down to the essentials, and sharing a space means I need to be a little neater (I can really make a mess, yikes). I’ve been stocking up on attractive looking storage baskets and boxes, and covered my glass front cabinets with patterned tissue paper and re-purposed table runners to hide the not always organized samples, ribbons, and envelopes inside. We have lots of touch-up painting to do. We’re shooting for early May to have a studio opening party, so there will be more peeks coming over the next month! You can see more images and current projects on my blog, Mint.

Many thanks to Ellie for letting us peek inside her new space! We’ll be back with an update when the studio is complete – stay tuned! And be sure to shop Ellie’s designs – you can save 10% on any order (or 20% if you order 6 printed pieces or more!). Start shopping now. 

A day in the life of Ellie Snow

Ever wonder what it’d be like to be a designer for a day? We asked Ellie Snow, our April Designer of the Month, to take us through a typical day in her life as a designer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina — check it out!

Bella Figura designer Ellie Snow takes us through a day in her life
My day starts at 7:30am, when my 8-month-old Juna decides (like clockwork!) that it’s time to get up. My husband, Juna, and I like to spend a little time cuddling and playing together first thing — Juna is a morning person and we try to soak up every bit! But then we’re running late. I get dressed, pack Juna’s lunch and her bag for the nanny, and change her into a fresh set of clothes while Brendan gives her breakfast (she’s a slooooow eater) and gets ready for work. We all leave the house around 9am; Juna and I head to the nanny’s house, and Brendan heads to his job as an Art Director in Raleigh. 
Bella Figura designer Ellie Snow takes us through a day in her life

After I drop Juna off, I run to the gym for a quick 30 minutes, then head to my studio. I start by answering emails and sending quotes to potential clients. After the inbox is relatively cleared, I work on current projects. Today that means making edits to invitation proofs, shipping out a few sample orders, and packaging up a freshly printed suite for a bride in New York. I have a quick meeting about an upcoming collaboration, tackle my inbox again, and then head out to pick up the baby around 2pm. She goes with me to the mail shop where we ship our packages, and gets lots of “oohs” and “ahs.” When we get home, Juna naps for a couple hours, and I sneak in some more work, maybe more emails or edits, maybe a little time to focus on Hello Tenfold‘s re-brand. 

Bella Figura designer Ellie Snow also designs for her own invitation line, Hello Tenfold

Wedding invitations from Ellie Snow's invitation line, Hello Tenfold

When Juna wakes up, we meet a friend for a walk, and when Brendan gets home we tackle dinner and tuck Juna in to bed by 7:30pm. Our evenings vary — I’ve started taking a clay class once a week, we try to see friends, or sometimes catch up on work projects. Some nights we watch something romantic and relaxing on TV, like Dexter or The Walking Dead (we have a penchant for dark shows, it seems!). I fall into bed with a good book but only get a few pages in…

Many thanks to Ellie for taking us through a typical day! Be sure to shop Ellie’s Bella Figura collection – all of her designs are on sale through the month of April!

by Erica Henriksen on April 2nd, 2014. Category: Our Designers | No comments

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Kelle McCarter launches third issue of Paperswell Magazine!

Today we’re proud to share the latest edition of Paperswell magazine, a beautiful publication designed and published by Bella Figura calligrapher and designer Kelle McCarter! This Flowers/Ladies/Art issue features flower-themed projects from seventeen of Kelle’s favorite designers, publishers, letterpress lovelies, bookmakers, shop owners, stationers and mixed media artists. Not only does this beautiful publication provide a pretty spread of beautiful art, it’s also helping a good cause: all of the proceeds from Paperswell are donated to the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies, which is an organization in Golden Colorado whose mission is to rescue and find loving homes for abused and abandoned Golden Retrievers. Purchase your issue of Paperswell today! 

Bella Figura designer + calligrapher Kelle McCarter recently launched the 3rd issue of her magazine, Paperswell


Calligraphy Addressing with Kelle McCarter

Ever wonder how long it takes a calligrapher to hand address a set of envelopes? Curious which ink color is used most often when it comes to calligraphy addressing? We sat down with Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter to learn about the ins and out of her business, how she got her start, and her favorite way to dress up an envelope.

How did you get into calligraphy? I fell in love with calligraphy and lettering art when I discovered the fabulous work of French artist Francois Gervais. When I moved to Denver seven years ago, I joined the Colorado Calligraphers’ Guild, with the goal of incorporating calligraphy into my graphic design business. I was fortunate to study with renowned artist and calligrapher Laurie Doctor, who was president of the CCG at the time.

Where do you do your addressing?  I am blessed with a beautiful space in which to do my work. I have a window view of the Rocky Mountains from my Denver studio. And, having two Golden Retrievers always by my side makes it the most pleasant of work environments.

Kelle McCarter at home with her girls, Garner & Gibson
Inside the studio with Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

Take a peek inside the studio of Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

How long does it take to address an envelope or a set of envelopes?  It takes about one hour to complete eight to ten envelopes because I rule pencil lines and erase them after I hand letter each envelope. I call the process “painting lettering” because each envelope is a miniature piece of art that can not be rushed.

What’s your favorite way to dress up an envelope?  I adore envelope liners. They are a simple, yet beautiful, way to incorporate another layer of design, color and texture into the presentation of an invitation. Wax seals can be beautiful and modern with a bright colored wax and a simple calligraphy monogram or initial. Also, vintage or themed postage stamps can add character and interest to any envelope.

For my own wedding, I placed Marvel Comics postage stamps on the envelopes to match the commissioned comic strip wedding announcements that my husband and I sent to friends and family after our wedding.
Hand calligraphed envelopes from Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter
How many ink colors do you offer? Because I work with gouaches (opaque watercolors), I can offer a beautiful array of color options- from opera pink to leaf green, two of my favorites.
What are your most popular ink colors for envelope addressing?  Black is the most popular, as it should be. It is classic and elegant always, regardless of the invitation color. A rich antique gray and sepia brown are popular, too. For save the date envelopes that are less formal than the invitation envelopes, white ink on a colored envelope is striking.

Hand calligraphed envelopes from Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

What’s your most popular style?  “Maura” is the most popular calligraphy that I do. I think it is because it is a blend of modern and classic lettering.

Colette, a Bella Figura letterpress wedding invitation featuring Kelle McCarter's Maura hand calligraphy accents

Many thanks to Kelle for giving us a behind the scenes look at her studio! Visit her website to learn more and to work with Kelle for your wedding calligraphy! Be sure to shop Kelle’s collection, too – her designs are currently on sale for 10% off!

 Studio & envelope images courtesy of Zorn Photography

Meet the Designer: Ian Koenig

Today we’re going behind the scenes and chatting with one of our designers, Ian Koenig. Ian is the designer of Neo Luna, our February design of the month (on sale through 2/28 for up to 20% off!), and was kind enough to share a little inspiration behind this design, how he got started and where he’s drawing inspiration from these days.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.
I currently live in Chicago with my wife Melinda and our four-year old son Lukas. I work at VSA Partners and teach design at the Chicago Portfolio School.

Ian Koenig

What was your inspiration behind the Neo Luna design?
Neo Luna was a continuation of an idea I had in an earlier design called Anais which was to try to get as much color into a design through an array of rules. With Neo Luna, I wanted to have a bit more fun than I did with Anais so I made the language and typography a bit more playful and introduced the Cupid idea through the arrow and heart elements.

Neo Luna (right) was a continuation of an idea Bella Figura designer Ian Koenig had for an earlier design, called Anais (pictured on left)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still having Friday night movie nights with my family, still working at VSA, still teaching and still designing invitations for you guys!

Who are you inspired by?
My current design loves: A Montreal-based firm named PaprikaThe Book Cover Archive; the art direction of John Gall’s Nabokov book cover series; Designspiration; the illustrator Jonas Bergstrand; the designer Paul Sahre, the album All Day by Girl Talk.

How did you get into design? Was there a defining point in your life that helped shape you as a designer?
During my last semester in college, I took my first art studio class. With two weeks to go before graduation, I was on my way to class and saw the graphic design student’s work on the walls. I knew instantly I could do this type of work and was then a bit bummed that I had not made that walk four years earlier!

I rediscovered design a little while later after I quit my first real job. A friend of a friend was opening a children’s restaurant and I offered to draw him a logo. He liked it and gave me the opportunity to design the uniforms, menus, signage and the business cards. That small introduction to design was all I needed. I am still hooked.


by Erica Henriksen on February 19th, 2013. Category: News + Updates,Our Designers | No comments

Behind the design: Amy Graham Stigler’s inspiration for Boardwalk

In case you haven’t heard, Amy Graham Stigler’s Boardwalk design is the January design of the month (and on sale for 10% off through 1/31/13!). Amy gave us the details on the inspiration behind this invitation design.
“The colors of this suite were inspired by anemones – one of my favorite flowers. I love the contrast of the pale pink petals & black center. The style is sweet meets modern.  I wanted a design that was pretty and playful but had a chic edge (so it didn’t get too saccharine!).  This wedding is perfect for a vibrant, fun-loving couple with lots of style.” 

 The colors of the Boardwalk suite were inspired by anemone's - one of Amy's favorite flowers.

Image credits, clockwise from right: cake | bow-tie | macarons | bouquet 

by admin on January 24th, 2013. Category: Our Designers | No comments

Bella Figura designer Kelle McCarter launches Paperswell Magazine

Today we’re excited to share photos of the premier issue of paperswell: modern design ideas for paper goods & weddings, a brand new magazine celebrating beautiful invitations, letterpress, stationery, paper goods, weddings and more. Bella Figura calligrapher and designer Kelle McCarter teamed up with photographer Laura Dombrowski to put this beautiful magazine together, and we were completely blown away by all of the lovely features (including lots of Bella Figura invitations and an artist profile on fellow Bella Figura designer Maura Gauthier)! One of the best parts? A portion of the proceeds for this magazine will be donated to the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies, which is an organization in Golden Colorado whose mission is to rescue and find loving homes for abused and abandoned Golden Retrievers. We’ve got a sneak peek at this gorgeous new publication for you, but be sure to pick up your copy today at paperswell.com!

Paperswell, a new magazine by Bella Figura designer and calligrapher Kelle McCarterA sneak peek from Bella Figura designer Kelle McCarter's new magazine, Paperswell

 Photography provided by Laura Dombrowski

by Erica Henriksen on April 10th, 2012. Category: Our Designers | No comments

December Design of the Month – Ikaty (20% off Custom Letterpress Orders!)

Today we’re excited to share the inspiration behind Ikaty, Bella Figura’s December design of the month {the entire suite is on sale for 20% off through 12/31!}. We chatted with Kamal, the talented designer who created this fashion forward, fabric-inspired invitation, and she filled us in on the background of the gorgeous design that we just can’t get enough of.

Ikaty, designed by Kamal for Bella Figura, is on sale for 20% off through 12/31/11

The Inspiration Behind Ikaty

“Ikaty” is a modern tribute of my love and fascination for the IKAT pattern, the trend, and how it mirrors a promise of commitment. To see its progression in the past couple of years is compelling to me. It’s been a part of my home since childhood – on pillows, rugs and clothing growing up, but not on paper. “Ikat” is an Indonesian language word, which depending on context, can be the nouns: cord, thread, knot and the finished ikat fabric as well as the verbs “to tie” or “to bind”(ref: Wikpedia). Sounds a little like marriage…


…and I am. I also have 3 wonderful children and try to balance it out as a working mom. This process of dyes and interwoven, complex patterns reflects my work, my marriage, my kids and what’s to come. Each distinct weave can take you into a different path in your life, growing and multiplying until you have created a pattern, a routine, or hopefully a touch of surprise in your life.

Bella Figura Designer Kamal with her family

Creative from the start: I’ve always been creative and needed an outlet. My mother is a choreographer, and I’ve danced my entire life, performing throughout the US. I went off to Pratt and decided I wanted to do something that still communicated with an audience. Something which told a story, whether it was through photography, graphic arts or advertising. After taking a risk at the NY Stationery show in 2009 with 42 letterpressed cards and 16 coaster sets, opportunities came through my door. Ever since then, the experience has been truly organic. It feels as though there is something unexpected and new everyday.

Read the rest of this page »

by Erica Henriksen on December 13th, 2011. Category: Inspiration,Our Designers,Promotions + Giveaways | 1 comment

Bella Figura Calligrapher Spotlight: Debi Zeinert of The Blooming Quill

Bella Figura calligrapher Debi Zeinert shared this close up look at her amazing work, a video that features her various calligraphy styles. Her elegant calligraphy can be found in her wedding invitation designs, and her calligraphy accents can also be found in other popular Bella designs (such as Loretta Formal and Calligraphy Monogram). In addition to beautiful, hand-calligraphed letterpress stationery and invitations through Bella Figura, Debi is also available for calligraphy addressing through her business, The Blooming Quill. Your envelopes, escort cards, and other wedding day stationery pieces can all be hand-done to match your letterpress printed suite! Check out this video to see Debi in action, and for more details on working with her, visit her website.

by Erica Henriksen on November 23rd, 2011. Category: About Us,Our Designers,Wedding Tips and Advice | No comments

Bella Figura — In the Press

We just love when magazines and blogs decide to showcase the beautiful letterpress printing we get to do every day, so today we’re sharing some of the amazing features Bella Figura has been spotted in over the past few months. One of the most recent spotlights was found in the fall 2011 issue of Inside Weddings, where Kamal‘s majestic Bejeweled design sparkled.

A few months back, Brides magazine highlighted our Nouvina design by Heidi, which features modern, whimsical flowers and fun, bold colors.

Stationery Trends also decided to feature one of our invitations this fall — the ever popular Irving invitation (designed by Ben Whitla).

We were also thrilled to see one of our calligraphers, Patricia Mumau of Primele, featured in Martha Stewart Weddings a few months back!

We’d also like to thank Oh So Beautiful Paper, Once Wed, Modernly Wed, Chic Vintage Brides, Wed Haute, If I Must Say So, and I Love You Too for highlighting our work — thank you, thank you!

by Erica Henriksen on October 6th, 2011. Category: About Us,News + Updates,Our Designers,Press | No comments