Hockey players, (hiccups…), and Heather’s wedding stationery

Another week, another frolic oop north to the Pollard ancestral seat (hah!) – and another 30th birthday to ‘recognise’, in the time-honoured fashion…

"Sorry - who are you calling 30...?!"

Yes, last Saturday was the turn of my youngest cousin (I have but two *violins, if you’d be so kind…*), and an occasion he’d indicated he was none too thrilled to be marking when our paths last crossed, in April. Deliberating over precisely what the traditional paper-based greeting artefact should feature (why, pray, would I surrender a prime and juicy opportunity to dodge neatly past tedious administrative tasks and to studiously ignore the burgeoning piles of household laundry [I fear Magic Porridge Pot Syndrome…] by purchasing a commercially-produced card, when I could so easily fritter away my own time…?!), I kept returning to the abiding sense of consternation that the ageing process should apply universally, and that the seminal 30th birthday is indiscriminate – and utterly undeterred – in its choice of (exactly 30-year-old) victims. Happily, I was able to harness the fact that aforementioned-cousin is a keen hockey player to the cause – I’m not certain whether he is as peculiarly aggressive on the pitch as depicted in the illustration but, for the purposes of the caption, a little gurning and combative eyebrow action felt appropriate. Incidentally, the character featured really doesn’t bear even the most diaphanous of passing resemblances to my cousin – and, in my haste to finish the drawing before leaving to catch our northbound train, I seem to have omitted an ear, on the left (!) – but a little light Facebook stalkerage allowed him to be identified, at least to his team, by virtue of sporting their new kit…

The ‘hiccups’ component of the post title has been trapped within parentheses to indicate that no actual hiccups featured in the weekend (that I was aware of) but have been employed here to perform their traditional, vaguely-comic function of representing the consumption of alcoholic beverage(s) in a celebratory capacity. Mention of 30th birthday revels should, I would’ve thought, rendered this element of the weekend somewhat self-evident, but I’m also a sucker for alliterative quality, hence its inclusion-despite-superfluity.

While in Lancaster, I was also scheduled to meet with a friend and her Mexican fiance who are due to be married in October; I have been fashioning place cards for the wedding reception tables and, in the interests of avoiding some convoluted and potentially high-risk postage/couriering scenario, had arranged to hand over the ‘goods’ while both she and I were, remarkably, within the same postcode simultaneously. All the discussions about design requirements, etc., had been conducted – necessarily – via email while Heather was still engaged at her new job in Guadalajara, so I was a little apprehensive that she had not seen any of the samples ‘in the flesh’ before the final cards were to be delivered. However, a sequence of photos at the prototype stages – taken in a variety of lights and against various backdrops in an effort to capture the truest representation – had been pretty well received, and, on sight, the happy couple seemed pleased with the results.

An excuse to dabble in the practice of wedding stationery manufacture I always find something of an indulgent pleasure – and the painstaking nail-scissor extraction of the flower images was finger-achingly reminiscent of creating the stationery for my own wedding last year – and designing these place cards to accommodate the additional requirement that they not be snatched away on a Mexican sea breeze (before wedding guests had taken their seats at the beach dinner tables) added extra interest to the prototyping stage:

I tried a number of options - luggage label style tags; flat cards to be weighted down by, e.g., beach pebbles; placecard-come-thankyou-letter envelopes; and, finally, a prism design, to be weighted from the inside

The design also had to be luggage-friendly, i.e. flat-pack-able, as it would need to make the journey back over to Mexico with Heather in her suitcase (and, as such, should not occupy any more valuable make-up- and Marmite-packing space than absolutely necessary!). The only other influence on the design mentioned in the initial stages was that the colour scheme, broadly, was going to be blue-ish (and white) and, when pressed for a more specific shade, Heather provided a photo of the utterly gorgeous bouquet she’s to carry, positively bristling with luxuriant amethyst-and-indigo orchids – ultimately, the inspiration for the place cards:

A selection of potential orchid illustrations to 'decorate' the place cards

I mocked up a few samples from the design sheet with an assortment of cards that I had either sourced from the wonderful Pullingers ( or plundered my own motley collection of card oddments for:

The pyramid option, though, was the winner; reduced a little in size, and rendered in 220gsm, laid, royal-blue card, it seemed like a pretty neat solution for satisfying the given criteria. Heather had already purchased some ‘Just Married’ Blackpool-esque rock, which she had decided to lay inside each place-card pyramid by way of (topical and edible) anchoring device, and – once assembled, cut and written – I prepared each flat-format card with a strip of double-sided tape so that, on arrival in Central America, they could just be folded into being and instantly secured (assuming the heat/humidity doesn’t do terrible things to the stickiness of the tape…):

(A goodly extra consignment of blank place cards was also provided to cater for late ‘respondees’ – the Mexican approach to the injunction to RSVP, as reported by my friend, seemed sufficient to drive any future bride to distraction – and, as the trend for 30th birthday event attendance seems set to continue over the summer, we’ve arranged a further rendezvous in August, before she flies back out, to add any hitherto undeclared guests’ names to the [currently blank] cards…)

Well, having resigned myself to failure and oblivion on the ‘Picture This’ contest score, I have another competition entry to be working on – the SCBWI’s Undiscovered Voices initiative (an annual anthology of unpublished member authors’ work) is inviting illustrators to submit a black & white illustration, taking either or both words of the title as inspiration, by 20 August for possible inclusion in this publication. Hurray for submission-fee-free competitions!

Have a glorious, if slightly soggy (if the BBC meteorologists are to be believed…), weekend, and I hope to ‘see’ you here next week!

AP x.

About illustratedbyamanda

Illustrator and time-fritterer extraordinaire
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