Tis The Season

No matter what tradition you choose to celebrate this time of the year there is always something so enjoyable about wrapping up and special gift for a friend of loved one.  One of my first jobs in high school was at a small local clothing boutique and while I wasn’t so much into the fashion I loved when a customer wanted their purchase gift wrapped.  Whenever I was in the shop I was the go-to for wrapping presents.  I loved making the corners crisp and the ribbon and ties impeccable.  It was all about the process.

This fall as I was thinking ahead to what specialty items I could offer for the holidays I decided that custom wrapping paper would do the trick.  Using Photoshop Elements I scanned in several fun illustrations and worked with them to create repeating patters via the “quarter and draw” method. (See my post, “Repeating Patterns” for more on this method.)  The maximum size that I chose to create is 11 x 17 inches and you can easily have paper this size printed at your local copy shop for a reasonable price.

Not only can you wrap small to medium gifts with an 11 x 17 sheet but try using it to cover a frequently used cook cook, for scrap-booking, laminated as a place mat or even a drawer liner…the possibilities are endless!  As one of the major December holidays is only about 10 days away the task of designing your own paper might be a it daunting, so below are two free download for this holiday season!  Both “Candy Canes” & “Winter Woolies” are free for personal  use only- simply save the images to your desktop and print away.  Head over to my Etsy shop for more selections of digital paper downloads and stationery gifts.  Happy Holidays!


candy cane




hats and mittens


Is November Really Almost Over?

So here’s a truth, I really like being on time, and I’m closely related to other people whom really enjoy being on time too. So I am completely surprised every time it seems to get away from me.  Hello November, good-bye November, it’s been nice seeing you again. Now I must begin to wrap my mind around the  holiday season ahead and the start of another new year.

This fall I had the opportunity to spend more quality time working on a few different ideas for drawings that I just couldn’t seem to put down.  The majority of the drawings are drawn with an Inc. R2 Roller Ball otherwise I used an unknown old fine tip pen that was floating around the house.   The wide colorful piece is  drawn with the R2 and a rainbow of Sharpie markers.  I started it about 2 years ago and worked on it off and on for a few weeks before rolling it up and forgetting about it.  Finally this fall I finished it up.

Repeating Patterns

If you have ever attempted creating a repeating design for textile or paper goods, today’s post is for you!  When I first attempted to manipulate an image into a repeating pattern I became so frustrated at the results that I ended up consulting my dear friend Google.  There must be a simpler way I thought!  Within minutes I came across an article by artist Julia Rothman on Design Sponge in which she gives a wonderful tutorial on the process.  You can find her article over here.

Julia uses a simple “draw and quarter” method which has become one of my go-to trick for designing all over patterns for fabric, stationery, and wallpaper.  The example  below shows a before and after of a repeating block inspired by early season wildflowers.  A version of this design for fabric can be seen by clicking here.

Another simple technique that I find helpful is to scan the images for your pattern and use Photoshop or a similar program to create a repeating pattern for a small area.  A block is not used for this process.as it is very straight forward. Instead create a new document at the size you wish to cover with a pattern.  Simply copy and paste the image/images being used and play around with the size and position on the page.  Continue pasting the image until you have covered the area and are happy with the results.  Try rotating the images or varying the size for a different perspective you might surprise yourself!  The apples and daisy pattern were created using this simple technique.

Two of a Kind

I love finding similar patterns and shapes in nature.  For me it’s like playing a matching game on a much larger field.  Here are a few recent fungi I have come across paired with another natural object that I felt referenced the other in the shape, texture, or color.

1. wasp nest via Wasp and Sting Prevention  2, 3 & 5 fungi by Borealchick  4. Ocean spirit shell  6. Oak wasp gall

You can see more photographs of my recent finds in nature by heading to my post over at Dearest Nature.

Folding Paper on a Rainy Day

Just about my entire life I have been “creating things.”  As a child, if you left me in a room alone with a package of construction paper, glue and scissors I would make a slew of objects & art only emerging to eat.  Not much has changed.  Given the cold & raw weather we have been experiencing the past couple of days I am completely content feeling cozy inside with my collection of paper.

While I  can’t recall the first time I played around with origami I do know that I have always found it to be a soothing activity.  I can make a paper crane when waiting for my morning coffee to brew- even before my eyes have lost their sleepiness .  I recently checked out a book from the library, The Art of Origami, by Gay Merrill Gross, and in it found not only a variety of new projects to experience, but a history of the art and its emergence in Western Culture.  The first book in English which depicted origami as a “creative art” was published in England in 1956 by Robert Harbin.  He had studied with a Japanese origami master, Akira Yoshizawa helping to bring the ceremonial art form to another level and audience.

The paper wallet/card holder design was created by a professor of physics, Humiaki Huzita.  I was drawn to this project because of its simplicity and function.  While this paper creation is a clever way to hold business cards or money, it is also a pleasant way to present a gift, which after all is a tradition of origami in Japan.  A folded ornament called a noshi, is a way to signify that a package is intended as a gift.  Why not merge the past & present and use this holder to present a gift of money or a gift card?

The examples I have made were created using a variety of papers and weights.  When using a stiffer paper it might be helpful to tie a string or ribbon around it when using for a gift.  Light weight paper might require adding an additional support.  Here I have used 3 1/2 x 5 inch paint color samples (which you can pick up for free) at any home improvement store.  Head to your local library for more information, or simply do a web search for “origami wallet instructions” to find this pattern as well as a variety of creative examples.


Head on over to How About Orange’s post “Practical Origami book” to see some beautiful images of modern and practical paper folding techniques.  The last photograph features a similar folded paper wallet seen here!

All photographs were taken by the Borealchick.

Drawing Inspiration

There are many things which inspire me & the common thread tying them all together is the urge to literally draw them.  Today I thought I would share a couple of the recent sketches & drawings of my recent inspired finds.  In addition are some reference photos I have taken of some wonderful natural objects I found recently & cannot wait to start exploring with my pen.

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Etsy items

Hitting Reset for the Season…

It’s amazing how the start of each new season is almost like hitting reset.  Spring cleaning, trips to the transfer station, more song birds arriving, and more time for designing!  With each new season there are new possibilities and new goals to work towards.  One of my goals this spring has been to overhaul my online presence with a fresh new line of products in the Etsy shop and a brand new look (and domain) for my website!  While I am still in the process of developing my new site you can still check out Borealchick Designs archives when you click here.

While I often seem to have these great pie-in-the-sky ideas of what I would love to accomplish, I’m trying to stay reasonable this spring.  I’ll be content with crossing off even just a few.  Here are some of the items that I have already accomplished & a few more I’d like to give a whirl ~ What have you put on your spring reset list?

Spring Reset List…So Far:

~ Add new items to my shop (Done!)

~ Switch over to new site (Done!)

~ Clean out my closet and get rid of old clothes (Done!)

~ Write up a more structured program plan for nature journal programs with kids

~ Clean & organize my studio which has unfortunately become a mass dumping ground

~ Rake out the area for this years potato garden

~ Complete a few knitting projects that have suffered sue to cold finger tips in cold weather :(

~ Shower (I always put this on to-do lists so that everyday I can at least cross something off!)

Here are a few images of what an organized studio may look like…I only wish I believed in fairies or elves as maybe they would just come and do it for me.

Before & After: Art Studio Transformation via Design Sponge

Artist Nathalie Lete's Paris studio via Angelina*A Style

A view of Denise Sharp's studio I found looking through Apartment Therapy's site. I think I just want to go work there instead of cleaning!

Another organized shot from Denise's studio. I do love when all my pencils an markers are in one place like this since I constantly seem to be misplacing them!

Hello Spring…You are EVERYWHERE !

Well I guess we made it through another winter….right?  When spring arrived last week it felt a bit more like summer in our valley up in the mountains.  Even MY daffodils are coming up!

Several weeks back I discovered a great site called Discover Paper and as I dug deeper found out the creator, Donaville Herrick, was working on launching a new site, Dearest Nature.  While Dearest Nature is still in the finishing stages, Donaville has already been packing the Dearest Nature blog with a variety of natural & handmade items to inspire, from fine arts, to handcrafted pottery, typography, fashion and more.

This week Dearest Nature introduced a project called Spring Pickin’s  and the idea is to photograph the beauty of nature that one might happen to see through out spring.  I decided I had to participate because this is a “project” that I impose on myself year round!  Here are some great images I have taken in the past few weeks during life and travels.  The first few are from my trip to Brooksville, Florida where spring was already settling in, but the last is my favorite.  Amazing to believe I am normally still skiing on the trail where I captured this unexpected shot on the first day of spring.  Enjoy!

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