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7 Tips for the Perfect Flat Lay

May 26, 2016

Flats lays.  The internet is full of them, especially when it comes to Instagram.  There are entire accounts devoted to flat lays, which are great to follow for inspiration and guidance on how to create your own beautiful, Insta worthy, flat lays( my favorites are @onthetable_project, @onthebed_project, @_justynaniko_, and @blacktable_ ).  I really enjoy the art of the flat lay and don’t mind the time, effort and sometimes looking like an idiot, that is involved in getting a good shot. Most of the ones on the 30th & Weldon account are designed and curated by me. (Using the word ‘curated’ helps make me feel better about spending 15 minutes trying to get a shot of doughnuts at a bachelorette party, while 13 girls stand behind me like ‘Bitch, are you done? Can we eat these now?) When it comes to flat lays, practice really makes perfect. I wasn’t always so proficient at it, and even now I have times where is just doesn’t come together so I have to scrap the idea completely and start fresh.  Today, I’m sharing the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way in my quest for perfect flat lays. Hope they inspire you and help you create your own #instagoals.

I kept this flat lay simple to make sure it didn't get too busy with this beautiful agate backdrop

I kept this flat lay simple to make sure it didn’t get too busy with this beautiful agate backdrop

 

1. Have a clean background – White bedspreads, granite counter tops, hardwood floors, a marble slab, black Ikea table, even a large white poster board, will all help your items pop. If your backdrop has too much going on, you run the risk of losing some of the items in the spread or having it look too busy. Have a favorite flat lay background in your home to utilize regularly (my bed and my floors) but also keep this tip in mind when you go out and take pictures of your food. Not every bar or restaurant has the right table tops for a clean flat lay and you may have to get creative.

Unless you will be in direct sunlight, always take the option to sit outside.

Unless you will be in direct sunlight, always take the option to sit outside.

2. Lighting is everything – Unless you have a tiny professional photo studio you can carry around with you (not out of the realm of possibility), natural lighting is the best for taking flat lays.  Stay out of direct sunlight, being careful of shadows and glares. The early morning, slightly overcast days or a fully shaded area outside are best for taking your pictures so you can get directly over the flat lay without the outline of your arm and iPhone in the shot.

The perfect green tea latte.

The perfect green tea latte.

3. Pick a focus item – Decide what you want to the focus of the shot to be and then commit to it. Since flat lays are usually taken from directly above, there is always going to be something a little off centered (unless you are taking it from very, very high up and have a the kind of camera and lens that will ensure the photo’s resolution is still sharp and crisp – this is not so practical for the average Instagrammer). If I’m highlighting a particular beauty product or tarot card spread or just a cup of coffee, I make sure that is the first thing my eye is drawn to in the shot.

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Coffee, knee caps and flowers – my favorite props.

4. Use extras – Without them, most flat lays would be kind of lack luster and a little boring. You want them to enhance the shot, but not take away from the focus of it. Dried flowers and fresh flowers are my favorite prop of choice so I usually have multiple options on hand.  Books, sunglasses, watches, utensils, magazines, tarot cards, candles, plants, headphones, your legs, your hands – literally anything can be an extra.

The bottom right shoe is being tilted up by a crystal and a box of matches underneath

The bottom right shoe is being tilted up by a crystal and a box of matches underneath.

5. Fake it – Flat lays don’t happen naturally despite the intent to make it look like all these items just “naturally” fell into place here. Sometimes I’ve had to use adhesives (tape, clay) to keep an item from rolling around. I’ve propped shoes up on their sides with little rocks or a box of matches. Sometimes my hand is just out of frame, balancing the item. You do what you gotta do.

Option 1

Option 1

Option 2

Option 2

Option 3

Option 3

6. Try a couple of options – If you have the time and resources, play around with the layout and items in your flat lay. I took a couple different shots of the Baltimore Style Magazine that we were featured in – they all came out great but Danielle, Julie and I each had a favorite. You may find that you can get a better shot if you switch out a prop or move something to a different corner. Adjusting angles, move things slightly out of frame, zooming out, zooming in – all good things to try when you are still figuring out your flat lay groove.

Thankfully I was with a group of bloggers when I took this so they knew the drill

Thankfully I was with a group of bloggers when I took this so they knew the drill and no one gave me a hard time.

7. Be prepared to be “that person” – Y’know, the person who stands on chairs in restaurants, who moves all the drinks and plates around on a table to get the right spacial proportions, who makes everyone wait to eat so they can take a picture first…that person. Well that’s me on a regular basis but as annoying as it can be, it is what needs to be done if you actually want to get the best photo possible. At this point I have embraced it (and fortunately my friends all recognize that there is value and necessity in this for me as a blogger). So own it, get the best shot and then watch as all your friends who were rolling their eyes ask you to send them that picture.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Have any tips and tricks of your own? Take a sweet flat lay with the help of this post?  Tag your best work with #weldonflatlay for a chance to be featured on our Instagram!

Make Stuff

DIY: Simple Wood Round Clock

March 19, 2016

My younger brother has a habit of Snapchatting me late at night, anywhere from midnight to 2/3 am.  My old ass normally doesn’t see them until the next morning but they usually consist of him studying – he is in medical school) and making pop culture jokes about his medical school notes/research/textbooks/science. I love it because it give me a little glimpse into his world, that I very much do not understand, and makes it relatable or at least filters it in a manner that I can appreciate…. Damn, he is gonna make a good doctor and bring great honor to the family.

My love for my affectionately known “Bro Bear” aside, the other day he snapped me this wooden clock he made which I immediately jumped on and told him I needed to make one and blog about it.  So that’s what we did.  He came home for Spring Break this week and we spent a day catching up, having dinner at Woodberry Kitchen (yum) and making this clock.  It was super simple and easy to do – I was so impressed at how little steps it took to make this rustically elegant clock. We complicated it a bit by buying the wrong depth basswood piece and had to saw it in half, so don’t make the same mistakes we did, especially if you don’t have a twenty-one year old man to strong arm a piece of wood in half with a hand saw.

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What You Need:

Power drill

5/16 inch twist drill bit

1 small Basswood Round (1/4 inch deep)

1 quartz clock movement kit

1 AA battery

Decide where you want your clock hands to sit on your wood round.  You can place it in the middle like my brother did or get funky with it and off center it.  I chose to place mine where the center of the rings met, making my clock hands off center.

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Using the drill and a 5/10″ drill bit, gently drill through your wood round.  I say gently so you don’t accidentally break your wood round in half while trying to drill through.  Once you have broken through, drill counter clockwise back through the hole to even it out and ensure you have a clean circumference to insert your clock kit through.

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Disassemble the quartz clock movement kit.  There is a small nut at the top of your battery pack piece and then a large nut and guard that need to be removed before you can insert the battery pack into the back of your clock.

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Once you have inserted the battery pack you can restack the guard and larger nut on the front of the clock. Add the hour hand – this needs to click in around the white plastic piece on the clock mechanism. I had to push it down gently to make sure i didn’t bend it when pressing it on.  Add the minute hand and then screw the smallest nut on.  Push the seconds hand into the top.

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Pop the AA battery into the back and set your time! I hung mine up in the wall collage I shared last week in my home decorating post.

Thanks Bro Bear for your help and guidance with this one!

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Make Stuff

(Last-Minute) Printable Valentine’s Day Cards

February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day! Hopefully, you’re able to spend some time with a few people you love, whether its brunch with a good friend, dinner with bae, or Netflix with your cat. You may have been running around, trying to find the perfect box of chocolates or dinner reservations or Netflix show to binge and you haven’t had a lot of time to think of one important detail: the card. That is where printable Valentine’s Day cards come in handy, but there are so many, and a LOT of them aren’t that good…

Lucky for me, my Valentine hates cards and I’ve decided to give him a break this holiday and not give him one anyway like I usually do. But if you’ve forgotten the card and need one for your Valentine (or Galentine. or Brolentine) before dinner tonight, I’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best printable Valentine’s Day cards the internet has to offer. Click links for downloads—some are free but none will break the bank.

Simple Valentines 

pair of pears

A Pair of Pears brings three simple Valentine’s Day cards that get the point across with plenty of room to write your own note.

Valentines for Everyone

16 songs GQ Five printable cards from GQ for all of the different Valentines in your life (including yourself).

Funny Valentines ($3)

valentines butt

The Little Piper has some funny printable Valentine’s Day cards on Etsy, perfect for the person who gives you a ‘heart on’ and the person you fart in front of. Only $3, each PDF has blank space to write a lil note.

Doge Valentines ($3.50)

V such valentine

Wow. Such printable. Very Heart. Much Valentine. So Amaze.

Mean Girls Valentines

v mean girls

If the one you love also loves Mean Girls. Not pictured: there is a card that reads “You are the Glen to my Coco”.

The Anti-Valentine ($2.50) 

valentine pizza

(I mean they’re not wrong…)

Breaking Bad Valentines

valentine breaking bad

Adorable hand-drawn Valentine’s Day cards, bitch.

Drake, Fetty, & Khaled, Oh My! ($4.50)

valentine fetty

valentine major key

valentines drake

Make sure your Valentine knows they’re major key.

Hand-Drawn Couples 

valentine hans-leia

Not pictured: Bert & Ernie, Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love, Forrest & Jenny, Hugh Heffner & Playboy Bunnies (2).

Parks & Rec

valentines tom haverford

The folks from Parks & Recreation have set up a Pinterest board of some great printable cards. Because who doesn’t love Parks & Rec in 2016.

90’s Heartthrob Valentines

valentines 90s heartthrob

Including: Ryan Phillipe, Leo, John Stamos, Zack Morris, Jordan Catalano, JTT, and Sean from Boy Meets World. *Swoon*.

Golden Girls!

valentines golden girls

Perfect for gay men & grandmas. Pls bea mine.

Literary Valentines

valentine orwell

Because who doesn’t like a good literary pun?

Millenial Valentine

valentine millenial

For the person you don’t hate (yet).

Ryan Gosling + Valentine’s Day = Ryantine’s Day

valentines ryan gossling

For the girl who wishes you started every sentence with ‘Hey Girl’.

This Shit I Found on Tumblr

valentine tumblr

Who did this.

Jersey Shore

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 4.12.04 PM

It just felt wrong to end this post any other way.

Again, Happy Valentine’s Day! Print one of these bad boys out quick and get back to your regularly scheduled dinner plans/flower shopping/eating ice cream with your cat.

 

 

Make Stuff

DIY Holiday Gift Toppers

December 17, 2015

Remember the holiday shopping you were running behind on, because, well you procrastinated on it just like us? But since you used our Holiday Gift Guide to finish it up without having to put on pants you now can get started on one of my favorites parts of the holidays – gift wrapping. Maybe I’m a little crazy but I find the repetitive folding of paper and curling of ribbon to be rather relaxing. Throw some of Julie’s Glühwein (mulled wine) on the stove top and put on my Not So Average Christmas playlist and make some of these cute holiday gift toppers!

What You Need:

1 small Christmas wreath (currently 60% off at Michael’s)
Red yarn
Decorative floral branches
Bakers twine
Canvas
Wire cutters
Needle nose pliers
Scissors
Hot glue gun

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DIY Holiday Gift Toppers 

With the wire clippers cut the wreath open. Most wreaths have small rings keeping the garland on the wreath frame – you will have to pull those off with the pliers but it’s easier to do that once you have cut the garland and started unravelling the garland sections off. Pull the small pieces of garland out of the wire and cut more off as necessary.

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Cut the canvas into 1″ by 4″ strips. Using the wire cutters clip off pieces of your decorative branches.  Set aside, within reach, to grab once you have formed the base of your gift topper.  The base of the topper is three pieces of garland on top and one facing the opposite direction on the bottom.

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Layer in your decorative pieces on top of the garland.  They should all overlap a bit in the middle. I chose to do two of the red berry branches on the top and one of silver ball branches, facing the opposite direction, on the bottom.  This is the fun part because you can get creative with how you want to design your holiday gift topper. Do just one branch, do four, layer in other pieces like tiny bells on wire or bits of tinsel. Go wild.  Get crazy.  It’s gonna look freaking cute no matter what.

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Cut a small piece of red yarn and tie it around the middle of your topper to secure all the pieces together.  Then take a canvas strip and wrap it around the middle, covering the red yarn.  Use the hot glue gun to secure the canvas strip.  Ta-da!! Topper complete!

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Now, wrap up all those sweet local gifts you got from our gift guide. I like to use plain brown paper 1. because it will make the holiday gift topper pop, 2. it’s more cost effective than festive paper, 3. it’s sturdier, doesn’t tear as quickly and therefore is easier to wrap with.

Tie the bakers twine around your wrapped gifts.  Take a second piece of red yarn and wrap it around your topper.  Pass it under the bakers twine on the present so it doesn’t fall off and tie in a bow around the top. Or you can just hot glue it to the top of the present.  Your call. Either way….told you it would be cute. Happy Holidays, y’all!

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Make Stuff

DIY Masquerade Masks (Three Ways)

October 26, 2015

From Halloween to New Years to Mardi Gras, the colder months herald a popular party theme: the Masquerade. Masquerades originated as parties for the upper class and wealthy but fell in and out of public favor over the centuries. Due to the veiled identities of those attending, these masked balls gave people the opportunity for behaviors that deviated from the social norms at the time. In time, these nights of revelry and lewd behavior gave way to a more PG version of fun, often being presented as a game to guess the identity of the mask-wearer. Since highly formal dress and dances are no longer a common occurrence, a present day masquerade party gives us an excuse to buy a new outfit, dress up, and (sort of) be someone else for the evening.

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When the three of us were invited to a masquerade, we knew this would be a fun DIY that could showcase our three very different personalities. We all started with the same plastic masquerade mask from Michaels and went from there. We made sure to cater to a variety of craftiness levels – from someone who has anxiety just thinking about going to a craft store to someone who could probably open up their own craft store with their collection of supplies. 

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We are very happy with how these turned out and are excited to share them with you! They are a great alternative to buying a cheap-ass mask at the dollar store or an extremely expensive mask on Etsy.

DIY MASQUERADE MASKS – 3 WAYS
masquerade DIY

 

GRECIAN GOLD MASK

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Danielle knows her way around a glue gun and thus was the most ambitious. Her Grecian- inspired mask uses unique and unexpected materials for visual interest.

Materials:
Plastic masquerade mask
Black acrylic paint
Gold acrylic paint
Gold adhesive leaves (found in scrapbooking section)
Gold poinsettias
Black rhinestones
Gold ribbon

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Start by penciling out the desired design. Danielle shaped out the eyes and straight down the nose, taking it all the way to the edges of the mask. Then use the acrylic black paint for the shape around the eyes and metallic gold paint for the rest. This took several coats, so Danielle recommends using a primer first. Remove the adhesive from the back of the gold leaves and hot glue them along the top of the mask and layering them from the inside. (Stick the next leaf under the one in front of it.) Then place three in a formation in the center. The second row of leaves (the glittery ones) were the Christmas poinsettias – cut the petals off and use the same layering technique, using small leaves in the center and bigger ones toward the outside. Finally, use a small paintbrush to line the inside of the eye holes with glitter glue and  add self adhesive rhinestones to accent the inner eye area and outer corners. Thread gold (or black) ribbon through the slots on each side of the mask and secure each end with hot glue for a clean, finished look.

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GLAM BLACK MATTE  MASK

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Shae is the middle ground of the group – in both patience level and crafting prowess. She wanted something that matched her outfit for the evening and that was simple, elegant and haunting.

Materials:
Plastic masquerade mask
Black acrylic paint
Half hackle plate
Black and deep teal rhinestones
Silver glitter
Glue gun
Black ribbon

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First, paint mask with flat black acrylic paint. Wait for it to dry. Glue half hackle plate (yes that black feathery thing on top is called a ‘hackle plate’ – it’s good to learn new things) to the top of the mask using a hot glue gun. Shae chose to leave the extra piece at the top of the mask to give the hackle plate a sturdy base. Decorate with jeweled-tone rhinestones. Shae put a small black rhinestone in the inner corner of each eye, added black and teal rhinestones around the left eye starting from the corner out to the brow, and a few more around base of the hackle plate. Hot glue them down, so you don’t lose one to the bathroom sink like Shae did during the party. Using a small paint brush,  paint two tear shapes below the left eye using the same black paint. Before the paint dries, sprinkle silver glitter onto the tear drops. Shake off excess glitter. Thread black ribbon through the slots on each side of the mask and secure each end with hot glue for a clean, finished look.

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BLACK & GOLD FEATHER MASK

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Julie is the least crafty and most impatient of the bunch and ultimately decided to go for a Black Swan inspired feathered mask accented with gold to make it a bit more festive.

Materials:
Plastic masquerade mask
Black acrylic paint
Black feathers
Gold glitter glue
Glue gun
Gold ribbon

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Julie cut off the excess embellishment up top, she wasn’t planing on it being super tall and didn’t want it to show. Paint the mask with black acrylic paint. After (reluctantly) letting it dry, glue black feathers onto the mask using a hot glue gun, moving from the outsides of the mask towards the nose. Continue to add feathers until mask is covered. After letting mask dry (again, ugh) line the eye holes with gold glitter glue. Using a paint brush, lightly brush gold glitter glue to the edges of the feathers and around nose. Add some gold ribbon to tie mask. IMG_1818

If you DIY a mask for an upcoming masquerade, tag us in the photo on Instagram! Enjoy masquerade season and get creative!

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