I’ve been making an extra effort this year to be happy.
Not just sitting on the sofa, liking memes on Facebook that implore you to Choose Happy or Make your Own Sunshine.
Actually doing it.
Somewhere, I’m not exactly sure where, I came across the concept (and I’m paraphrasing here) that to be happy, you should spend more time creating, and less time consuming. So I dove in. Deactivated my Facebook account. Stopped following Twitter accounts that were angry or hateful. Added an Instagram that only shows me crafts.
For me, this works well – crafting makes me straight up happy. As a bonus, when I’m crafting, I’m not dwelling on any unhappiness around me. It’s second nature to see the silver lining in a crafting accident. It’s harder to be pleasant about something going wrong in life or at work, or in the world (as in, things I can’t fix anyway).
It’s even more fun to double down on this concept and craft a banner than inspires happiness.
In Adobe Illustrator
Big bumble bees are an easy cartoon object. It wasn’t hard to find a couple of examples of clip art to merge together with my own details to make a happy character for a banner.
I wanted this banner to be double sided (I do hope my neighbors behind me appreciate my efforts). But I didn’t want to just double side print them in the printer, since I’m kind of a master at that – I’ve done footballs and Black Capped Chickadees with that method. So instead, I duplicated the bee and flipped him upside down and right over left so it was a double mirror.
That way, when printed and cut, I can fold it over in half and have a double sided print. But no need to stand at the printer trying to remember which way needs to be up. Other bonus of this method – you can use thinner paper since it will be double thick when finished.
To make this work, the top of the bees need to line up exactly – that’s where the score goes.
After I had the double bees lined up, I used the Path < Offset Path to create an outline for cutting. I usually go with about .125″ offset.
I exported the bee image parts as a PNG file, and I exported my cutlines as a DXF, since the basic version of Silhouette Studio® doesn’t support SVG files, but it does work with DXF files.
In Silhouette Studio
I set up my Design Page settings for an 8.5 x 11 sheet since this is going to be a print & cut project. I turned the registration marks on and brought in both parts of my artwork, and centered them to each other. I selected the line I wanted to be a score line and set it to a dashed line in the Line Settings Window.
And then using the print icon in the left corner, I sent this job to the printer. Be sure to print at 100% size, as the print & cut will fail if both files aren’t the same size.
I printed several sheets. The bummer of this setup is you only get one bee per sheet (instead of two).
Once they were printed, I placed a sheet on my Silhouette Cameo mat, being sure to have the little square in the upper left corner. In the cut settings window I verified the red lines were what I wanted to cut, and then setup for the paper stock they were printed on.
Once the bees were cut and weeded, I cut a length of yarn the width of my window plus a little extra, and then put that on the floor all spread out. I played with the placement and positioning of the bees until I was happy, and then used a piece of double stick tape on the blank inside portion up at the top near the fold spot to secure the bees over the yarn.
I stood back to admire my creation, and realized I wasn’t really done.
Back in Adobe Illustrator, I set the phrase “BEE HAPPY” in a big bold font, and then added loops for hanging. The loops are a quick trick – you need two circles, one larger than the other, centered to each other. The inner loop becomes the cutout part for the yarn. The outside part gets welded to the letter shape (Pathfinder Palette > Combine).
You’ll want two loops per letter to keep them from spinning. And you’ll want to place them on the level parts of the letters so they don’t hang crooked.
I exported this file as a DXF and brought it into Silhouette Studio. I set up the Design page as 8.5 x 11, and then moved all the letters off to the side, and then brought them in as groups of two since two fit on a sheet.
I cut them from some cute yellow polka dot paper, weeded them and strung them on twine. That length of twine needs to be longer than the first so it will dip below the bees on the window. Or you could reverse the positions – I already had the bee part assembled so I didn’t want to undo that.
It’s hard to not smile when I look at this in my window.
If you’d like to make your own Bee Happy Banner, click the link below to download both sets of files (the print and cut bees and the phrase with the loops already attached). The files are for personal use only, and if you do make something with them, I’d love for you to tag me on Instagram so I can see it.