how I make my totes and bags
I first started making totes when I realised I couldn't find a nice swimming tote to buy for myself. I wanted something personalised that was a little bit different but nothing caught my eye, so I thought why not give it a go myself. You can see them all in my shop here.
After a few months making totes I started trying new products and ideas like book totes, backpacks, gym sacks, drawstring bags, pencil cases, pennants and pouches!
I buy them blank, cut my designs in vinyl and apply them using a heat press machine (basically a very big iron).
Even my heat press collection has expanded and I have 3 of them now in different sizes.
The big fella is used for the thick cotton swim totes, the medium guy is used for pouches and pencil cases and the tiny one is used to apply my label to them all.
Vinyl comes in all different shades, tones and textures.
I have plain matte vinyl in all the colours you can think of, as well as gloss, holographic, glittered, metallic and flocked vinyl.
By far the most popular vinyls are Rose Gold and Mint, followed closely by gold glitter.
Some designs are definitely more time consuming than others.
My polkadot gymsacks and totes take a while but I love them too much to stop making them.
The backpacks are the trickiest ones to make as they are very hard to flatten to apply the vinyl, but over time I've learnt a few tricks to help.
Recently I've started working with Sublimation and heat printing and I am beginning to use it in my bag designs too, like with these patterned Initial Gymsacks.
how i make my mugs and bottles
Like my totes, I started making mugs as I wanted an enamel one to use after my swims but had no luck finding one local.
So I bought a mug press, some mugs and the equipment and started making my own.
I love enamel mugs. They heat up when filled with a hot drink and warm your hands after a swim, hike or time outdoors.
They don't smash when you drop them which is always handy when you're a bit of a klutz like me.
I print on the mugs using a process called sublimation which involves special printers, paper, wraps, heat tape, heat presses and ink.
My poor workroom is full to the brim with all the stuff I need for them.
Sublimation was a HUGE learning curve for me and I am still learning every day.
I buy the mugs blank from a great sublimation crowd down in Wicklow, print out my design and transfer it to the mug using sublimation paper and a mug heat press.
I make my designs using 2 different graphics software.
One is fantastic for fonts and the other for handdrawn elements like the ones in these Camping mugs. Sometimes I buy patterns off graphic artists and merge them with my own designs, like in the personalised kids mugs here.
I keep adding new mug designs and have recently added water bottles too.
You can see them all in my online shop here.
HOW i make my papercutting frames
.When I first started Love Letter Arts I made just scrabble frames.
After a few years I got myself a Cricut (google it!) and started to learn all about the process of die cutting, also known as paper cutting.
I knew there were elements of my frames that I couldn't hand cut so I would design the shape in special design software and the Cricut would cut it for me.
Since then I've moved on to a bigger Silhouette die cutter and it is honestly the workhorse of my craft room, every day it's in use. My family are sick to death of the noise of it.
It cuts my vinyl, stickers, sublimation prints and also the card shapes for my frames.
It cuts the flower border in my wooden bunting frames, the balloons in my hot air balloon frames , the cossies in my bathing suit frames, the pints in my 40 Shades of Black frames and the teeny tiny fish in my Fish Frames, just to mention a few.
The fish are the trickiest shape I cut, as I have to use a toothpick to poke out their eyes before applying them to the frame which can take ages.
Over the years I've learnt which paper and card I like to work with most.
There are so many types out there that it was honestly trial and error in the beginning.
My favourite paper is called Canson Mi-teintes and I order it directly from France. It has different textures on both sides which makes it so versatile and it never fades.
The machine can cut lots of different materials and when I have some free time I'd love to learn what it can do with leather, woodchip and acrylic, but for now it earns it's keep.
You can see all my papercutting frames in my online shop here.
HOW I MAKE MY scrabble FRAMES
I love working with Scrabble Letter Tiles, they are so tactile and bring back happy memories of endless Scrabble Games on holidays in (sometimes rainy) West Cork.
I like to use a few different styles of tiles.
The vintage maroon wooden tiles are from sets only ever found in America,
I had to buy them from a thrift store owner!
They come in lots of different shades and the lettering can be white or gold.
The vintage cream tiles are from European sets and come in a few different fonts depending on the year they were made.
I use the best quality Display Mount adhesive to create the hardy backing and a special bookbinding glue to mount the tiles to it.
It took me years to find adhesives I was happy with and that didn't warp the card, so I keep them a closely guarded secret :)
I love to add hearts, stars and other embellishments to the frames.
I keep a constant supply of them in my workroom and handpaint them to suit the colour scheme of the frame.
Blank tiles are handy to make special characters and loveheart tiles with.
My handmade wooden deep box frames are made by a lovely man called Steve in his workshop in County Wicklow.
He also custom cuts my mounts to whatever size I need and I would be lost without him!
You can see all the different styles, shapes and colours of Scrabble frames here &
just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to order a custom frame.