What I Love: Small Batch Prints

It’s time to feature another amazing friend with an amazing business. Allie Hasson did this interview with me forever ago, and I am just now getting around to blogging it, but the plus side is that my lazy assness allowed her the time to get a gor-ge-ous Etsy shop up.…go laziness? Let’s also talk about her unbelievably beautiful website. I can’t even with this girl, she’s much too talented.

This is Allie. She's so pretty.

This is Allie. She’s so pretty.

So Allie makes these custom hand lettered signs, stationary pieces, invitations, etc. THEY ARE INCREDIBLE. Buy them. Buy all of them now before she is so famous that you can’t afford her anymore.

Obsessed with gold leaf things right now!

Obsessed with gold leaf things right now!


1) What is your business all about?

I’m a hand letterer and graphic designer making graceful and approachable correspondence and communication for print and for web. I make logos, invitations, maps, monograms, custom paintings, illustrations, and bespoke stationery. After several years of research (working at the National Postal Museum), I use my knowledge of and knack for casual and elegant lettering styles to create work that features letterform design specific to each client.  Custom work is made beginning with a conversation between my client and I where we find out what their vision for the piece is or, if needed, we create a vision for the piece together.  From there, I make work that is both classic and thorough, as well as fresh and well-aligned with its function, purpose, or meaning.  


2) Do you have a day job in addition to your “fun” job? If so, what is it?

Yes!  I’m fortunate to work at Columbia College in Chicago, where I manage a large interactive space in the Art + Design department called the Materials Lab.  There, I curate a collection of materials (of all kinds) for the students to come and take from and be inspired by and use in their projects.  The materials come as donations from all over Chicago, many times they’re material samples from architecture firms, and they vary widely from paint chips to fabrics, resin, stone, glass and paper goods, and are free for students.  It is fascinating to see/touch/smell so many new colors, textures, patterns, and resources on a daily basis.  I think it keeps my aesthetic eye fresh and discerning.
3) Where do you find your inspiration for what you do?

In addition to my work at Columbia and a long-nurtured fascination with handwriting (I took a calligraphy course in elementary school), my paramount source of inspiration for this project was my time at the National Postal Museum.  Prior to moving to Chicago, I was so lucky to work in DC at Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum.  During my time there, I made digital images of thousands of historic stamps and letters from all over the world that were being prepared for exhibition.  For that year and a half I would spend the day at work and getting so jazzed about seeing the amazing hand-lettering or intricate design up close, and then go home and try to develop my own interpretations of those styles.  The stamp layouts and patterns (particularly the ones from the 1940’s) also really stuck with me.  


4) Tell me something about your business that you wish everyone who bought from you knew?
I think I’d like people to know that each piece of my work, and specifically custom pieces, is a labor of love.  One of my favorite parts of this process has been getting to work with people on making pieces that commemorate something important in their lives, whether it’s illustrating words from their love story or crafting an heirloom family crest.  I feel so fortunate to be able to spend time on these projects, and I really enjoy creating work that can exist indefinitely as a reminder of the best moments in life and ideally can be passed down through generations.
Family Crest

What I Love: Fleur De Lune

I am beyond thrilled to have my friend Annie Erbsen guest posting today about her natural cosmetic’s business! She is sharing instructions for easy lotion bars and her AMAZING fairy tale life in Italy! Thank you so much for your guest post, my friend.


Here's Annie selling her products in Italy

Here’s Annie selling her products in Italy

Once upon a time,  a physicist fell in love with an exotic stranger while walking across Spain, and moved to the steepest part of the Alps in Italy to marry the dashing Italian man.  There isn’t much physics to be done in the Italian Alps, so she learned Italian, adopted a giant bunny, and started a handmade natural cosmetics business.

That’s my story in a nutshell.

Where I live in Italy, there aren’t many job prospects for non-natives, so I decided to follow suit of every other foreigner I know in Valle d’Aosta: I opened my own business.  I decided to sell something that I was doing as a hobby already, which were natural cosmetics that I produce.  I’ve always had sensitive, allergic skin, and years ago my mom would whip up calendula balms, lotion bars, and lip balms that made my skin happy.  When I moved to Italy, I started making these things for myself, and I also started making cold process soap, creams, and other body products.  I discovered that my passions for science and cooking united in a lovely way while making cosmetics:  I could be creative, use quality ingredients, create something good for the body , and figure out how to do those things by understanding the biochemical underpinnings of cosmetic science to create the best, most natural products possible.    With this, Fleur de Lune, my natural cosmetics business, was born (www.fleurdelune.it, coming soon!).

Unlike my previous career, making natural cosmetics isn’t exactly rocket science, and it is something anyone can do at home in their kitchen, with ingredients from a local natural foods store.  I wouldn’t recommend making some products, like lotion, shampoo, or soap without a good bit of study, but anhydrous products are easy.  An anhydrous product has no water or water-based ingredients like honey or aloe, so you don’t have to worry about ingredients like preservatives or emulsifiers.  Once you add in water based ingredients, it’s difficult to safely make your product 100% natural, but that’s not a problem for us because there are some great anhydrous products out there!

Today we will be making solid lotion bars.  They are simply fabulous, and really easy to make.  You can find ingredients at health food stores, or online from soapmaking supply companies (the latter is much cheaper!).  I won’t give you a recipe so much as a guideline.  When making body products, I always like to work in percentages, and I weigh all of my ingredients.  Volume just isn’t very accurate, unfortunately, and digital kitchen scales are pretty cheap.  I work in percentages because it is easy to change the amount that I make.

You need to find some kind of a mold to make these in.  You can use things like silicone muffin tin liners or plastic chocolate molds, as long as it is heat resistant.  You want it to be a size that can fit nicely into the palm of your hand.

We need:

25% beeswax

25% liquid-at-room temperature oil (like sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, or sunflower oil)

25% solid-but-soft-at room temperature oil (like coconut oil, shea butter, or mango butter)

25% hard, brittle oil (like cocoa butter)

So your recipe might look something like this:

25 g beeswax

25 g sunflower oil

25 g coconut oil

25 g cocoa butter


If you use virgin coconut oil and food grade cocoa butter, your creation will smell like heaven, if heaven smelled like a tropical sugar cookie.  Just a tip, If you aren’t sure how much to make, 100 g is a good starting amount for a batch, and depending on the size of your mold, will probably produce 2-3 bars.

Now onto the fun part.  You can use a small double boiler, or a pyrex measuring cup set in a saucepan with a little bit of boiling water , and melt your cocoa butter and beeswax together.  They both take a while to melt, so we are melting them first.

Mosaic 2

Once melted, add in remaining ingredients, wait for it to melt, and remove from heat heat.  We don’t want to heat it too much, or we might destroy the lovely natural properties of our ingredients.  Carefully pour the melted mixture into your molds, and wait for it to set up.

Molds 1



At this point, I like to pop them into the freezer for a half hour.  When cool and solidified, pop your bars out of the molds and put in a cute little tin or a baggie!  If you are in the US, you can get lovely 2 oz tins that are perfect for these bars from SKS Bottle Company.  Or you could use an old Altoid tin.


Lotion Bars


It is best to use these bars after a bath or shower, to lock in the moisture.  They also make fabulous massage bars.