Star Gazing in Arizona

 
 
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"You do not have to sit outside in the dark.

If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary but the stars neither require nor demand it."

// Annie Dillard

 
 

Picture a flat, desert landscape, up on an elevation close to 5000 ft. You step outside of your tent, into the darkness, and there is an eerie stillness. Not even a single breeze to break up the silence. You feel slightly uneasy as you imagine desert critters creeping up on you at this very moment. As your eyes try to adjust to the darkness, you look gaze forward and see a splattering of stars starting so low to the ground, you almost want to run across the landscape to see if you can touch them. As you tilt your head back, you are met with an explosion of stars. Stars like you've never seen before, at least, not in person. The milky way is visible, creating a blurry arc across the sky. And layers upon layers of shiny orbs reminding you that we are all living on a planet suspended in a single galaxy, one of billions in our universe. 

How small, yet how amazing, is our earth?

The above quote by Annie Dillard really resonated with me during my explorations in Page. Not only because the star gazing was phenomenal but because I felt this quote can relate to so many experiences you can have in the great outdoors. Nature, in all of its unconstrained, raw beauty, is out there, always, just waiting for you to take the road less traveled.

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I received many messages about the camera equipment and settings I used to take these photos. I am not at all an expert when it comes to astrophotography. This is actually only my third attempt at it, and the first two times didn't turn out so well. While I did not go out and buy anything specifically for taking photographs of stars, I did do some research to find the best settings using equipment I already owned. 

Based on my limited experience, here are a few tips: First, the necessary camera equipment: a wide angle lens with a wide maximal aperture (4 or wider), a sturdy tripod and a remote trigger. Second, you need to be in a location with zero light pollution, and preferably, at a time when the moon is in a new moon phase. This location had zero visible light pollution, but I still captured some yellowish glow from the moon which had just been a full moon a few days prior. Third, try to compose your photo with a bit of the landscape in the frame. Otherwise, it is hard to visualize the scale of the stars. The images where I pointed straight up at the sky are a lot less interesting than the ones I shot with a bit of the landscape at the bottom of my frame. Finally, tinker with some settings on an editing program, like Lightroom, to reduce the light pollution/noise, and to adjust the temperature/contrast, in order to really make the stars and milky way pop. Below, I listed the settings I used for my camera: 

Camera: Canon EOS 6D

Lens: I used my Wide Angle to Telephoto Zoom lens at the widest angle, 24 mm, focused to infinity || Aperture: 4, which was the widest I could go with my lens || Shutter Speed: 30 secs || ISO: 1500 to 3200 || White Balance: Daylight

Hope this helps! Share photos with me, I would love to see them!

Yours truly,

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Entering a New Season

 
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Hello, friends!

As I bid adieu to my first business name and identity as Yours Truly Calligraphy, I really felt the urge to share the story of how Yours Truly Calligraphy came to be.

Calligraphy entered my life right when I needed it the most. I was reaching a point where work induced stress was breaking me down physically and mentally, and interfering with my quality of life. Everyday, I prayed the same desperate prayer for change, and if change was not in my future, for peace. Little did I know that God's plan for me was beyond what my little mind could have ever imagined.

Calligraphy gave me the outlet I needed to deal with the overwhelming anxiety and pangs of hopelessness I felt as I tried to imagine a lifetime of doing something that I knew, in my heart, was not my calling. Calligraphy reminded me of how much I loved creating things with my hands ever since I was young and reignited a passion that I thought was stomped out a long time ago.

I started a calligraphy account on Instagram in November of 2014 with zero expectations. My main motivation was to keep track of my progress as I created things, usually after a long and incredibly stressful day at work. I was going onto my third year as an attorney and this was the first time in a long time that I made space in my life for creativity to flourish. My original Instagram handle was @simpleecalligraphy, which I thought was a pretty clever combination of my nickname, plee, with calligraphy. I was extremely shy about the account and kept it a secret from my family and friends. Only my sister knew about it.

Soon after I started the account, I got encouraging feedback and inquiries for custom orders. It was then that the idea of possibly turning this therapeutic hobby into a business was planted into my heart. And I decided to change my Instagram name into something that was more meaningful to me and appropriate as a business name in the future. 

To me, calligraphy is combination of nostalgia, romance and art. It requires a lot of forethought and patience, but the result is so meaningful and sentimental, especially for the recipient. I wanted my new name to reflect how I felt about calligraphy. I always loved Yours Truly at the end of correspondence letters (I even used it to end my correspondence letters at work) and it seemed appropriate to incorporate it into my business name. And thus, Yours Truly Calligraphy was born. 

So why the change?

As creatives, we are constantly changing and evolving. I realized early this year that my business was taking on a new form. I launched Yours Truly Calligraphy with the intent of becoming a full service design studio, with a primary focus on wedding paper goods. Over time, it became pretty clear to me that my focus had shifted from calligraphy to watercolor and away from weddings. While calligraphy is my first love, it is only a part of who I am as a creative. I wanted to give myself space to grow and Yours Truly Calligraphy as a business name seemed too narrow to encompass the changing creative energy of my business.

I am putting a lot of thought into my business as it gets a major update in the next few months and would love your feedback as to what you would like to see/read/learn from me. Your support and encouragement over the past few years has been a constant source of inspiration to me and I cannot wait to show you what I have planned in the months to come!

If you have any questions, comments or stories about your own creative journey you want to share, please reach out to me at hello@yourstrulycalligraphy.com. I would love to hear from you! And if you made it this far, thank you for reading :)

Yours truly,

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Terracotta Catch All: a summer DIY craft idea

 
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Today, I am sharing a fun DIY craft project using terracotta saucers. You can find them at the planter aisle in most gardening and hardware stores. I get mine from Home Depot.

 
 
 
 

Material List: terracotta saucers | acrylic craft paint | paint brushes | tablecloth | white charcoal pencil or Fons & Porter pencil | paper plate or disposable palette paper

Optional: clear acrylic coating spray

 
 
 
 

Make sure you give the terracotta saucers a nice wash with warm water and soap. Once dry, use the charcoal pencil or the Fons & Porter pencil to draw an outline of the illustration you want to paint. 

 
 
 

If you paint a background color, you can use a regular pencil to sketch out your design.

 
 
 
 
 

Before you begin painting, make sure you cover the surface of your table with a cloth to prevent painting spills from causing any damage. Select your colors and squeeze them out into a paper plate or palette, and paint away!

 
 
 
 

Once you are finished painting, set the saucers out to dry. For additional protection, you can spray a coat or two of clear acrylic. I kept mine au naturel but an acrylic coat is recommended if you plan on placing items on these saucers that can scratch the paint (i.e. house keys).

 
 
 
 

Once the paint and/or acrylic coat is completely dry, you can place them around the house. I use mine as a jewelry dish but they can also be a catch all container for your keys and random change in your pocket.

I first tried this craft idea with a group of ladies during my sister's Palm Springs bachelorette and everyone had a blast. Check out some of their creations below! 

 
 
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Be sure to tag me @yourstrulycalligraphy if you end up trying this DIY so I can see your creations!

 

Estate Garden Wedding Inspiration

One of the greatest joys of working in the creative industry is connecting with talented individuals from all over the country (and the world). When Elizabeth of Elizabeth Moore Photography reached out to me and shared her vision for a wedding inspiration shoot at Venue Chilton in Pennsylvania, I was thrilled to participate. This styled shoot was featured on Glamour & Grace and is filled with beautiful inspiration for an outdoor, garden wedding. 

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For the calligraphy details, I wanted to incorporate soft, organic textures that would seamlessly blend in with the outdoor venue without feeling too rustic. I used my favorite Silk and Willow handmade paper and painted a delicate leaf garland motif to soften the contrast of the black ink on paper.

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You can see more stunning images from this styled shoot on Glamour & Grace here.

Venue - Venue Chilton

Photography - Elizabeth Moore Photography

Cake - Bella Manse

Furniture Rentals - Swoon Vintage Rentals

Linens and Tabletop Rentals - Events by Eagle

Floral Design - Sandra L. Porterfield

Bride's Attire - Posh Bridal

Groom's Attire - Central Pa. Tuxedo

Hair & Makeup - The Bonafide Ginger

Ceremony Draping - The Gala Event

Calligraphy - Yours Truly Calligraphy