Wedding Guest Maps

As we reflect on this years season, we can’t help but think about the MANY cities we were in…well not really in person, BUT we designed a great selection of Wedding Guest Maps.

Chicago, New York, San Antonio (Tony and Axelle Parker #9), Atlanta, Palm Springs, Minneapolis and many more.  We are currently working on our Paris Fold-Out Wedding Guest Map to reveal soon. Sometimes we forget that our name is not Rand McNally, the details that go into the wedding guest maps and it’s unique icons is at times over the top. Details like changing the roses to yellow for our Texas client and adding in bridal flowers that the bride will be carrying in her color theme for Georgia we LOVE details!

Our Wedding Guest Maps include up to 12 destination icons in the art fee. Clients can pick from anything…their wedding locations, guest hotels to their favorite coffee shop or restaurant. We encourage them to get as personal as they want, much like our invitations that we design…our goal is for the guests to “see” a piece of our clients in them, make them stand apart from just “an invite”

1045180_860536110626189_1342242393737446934_nchicago and new york guest map

wedding guest map Tony Parker

FUN FACT about our maps is along with my signature, I always include (hidden, like Where’s Waldo) the number 821 in part of the boat numbers, taxi number or even in the row team boat. EIGHT21 Studios is a “sister” company that was started when my dad passed away (August 21st) and my sister moved here from California. She is a Graphic Designer, and Carol Woldhuis Designs ruler gal, “grid-girl” and does most all the research and maps grids for our Wedding Guest Maps, then I take over with PAINT.

eight21 studios

Happy Derby Day!

horse 2

Once a year many gather in Kentucky for that one BIG race…This year it is the 140th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and I am jealous for those that are there. As a kid I would spend summers in New York and my aunt and uncle would take me to the race track. No big beats, just a lot of fun and excitement. Recently we have made a traditional to go to the Arlington Race Track on Mother’s Day….not sure we will be able to go this year with the kids and their schedules but we will make it a Rain Day for another date. Good family fun! and who knows you might win a bit of the “green”.

Mother's Day Race Track

Happy Mother’s Day 2012 #821 Miss You Dad-




Chicago Custom Artwork

Chicagoans LOVE their city, why wouldn’t you love it? We have drawn and designed many locations of Chicago Custom Artwork for our clients over the years. Why not bring the Chicago places you love into your wedding stationery. Use the Chicago Custom Artwork as… Save the Dates, Table Designations, and even complete Guest Maps. Our Guest Maps can be drawn including up to 12 locations (for any city) not just Chicago, it makes a great way for your “out-of-towners” to navigate the BIG, windy city.

What Chicago location holds a special meaning in your life?

Chicago watercolor Guest Map

Chicago Custom Artwork Wrigley Field

Chicago custom artwork Cultural Center



Staying on track with your wedding Stationery




Bridal Show season is here…it is the time for staying on track with your wedding Stationery. Our custom book markers are a great way to keep the “stationery” ball rolling- We have given our clients tips on what to do and when to do it. Where are you on the “stationery” timeline? (based on a perfect world of a 12 month engagement)

12-9 months: Congrats you are Engaged!

SAVE the DATES can be sent

Start getting that guest list together. Make sure you check with all the important people, so you don’t forget anyone on the list.

6-8 months: Lets talk INVITES…Custom Invites can take a bit longer, so we want to begin the dreaming, creating, and designing stage with you. We love to make a great FIRST IMPRESSION with our invitations!

What about the envelopes? Do you have nice handwriting?…Calligrapher? Digital addressing? Just NO WHITE LABELS please-…sorry just NO

Other items to think about and ponder….Will you be my Bridesmaids cards, Thank You Notes, Rehearsal Invites, Day After Brunch, Custom Guest Bag Maps

Lets get those INVITATIONS ordered…time is a-wastin’ your guest are excited when they arrive in their mailboxes.

6-8 weeks: Time to mail the invites. (10-12 for destination)

POSTAGE TIP: Don’t get too excited to run off and buy your postage…Please wait until you have a completed invitation suite and make sure you have the whole piece weighed. Hand Cancel is the best way to go with your paper investment.

It is during this time we can chat about Menus, Table Numbers, Favor Tags and any Food Signage that might be needed. FOOD TIP: Make sure to have labeled food tags for passed trays or buffet stations. Guests will not have to ask what is in everything if they have dietary restrictions.

3-4 Weeks: You got Mail! woo-hoo…it is so exciting to get mail that is not a BILL! Don’t stop now-

2-3 Weeks: We are back in your life looking for the names to set up your ESCORT CARDS and Seating CHARTS

Phew, this has been a long and meaningful relationship that we have built over our timeline…we love to see the pictures so please share when you have a moment!

Best of Luck on a long and happy marriage…remember us when you hear a friend has gotten engaged, we LOVE referrals!

Happy Paper!




Thanksgiving at our home

sunflower for thanksgiving

Thanksgiving at our home comes at different times every year. Multiple families, college kids (adopted and blood), blended families, and now two in the medical field….we find ourselves taking polls on what days are good for everyone. Although traditionally Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November every year, we have our own traditions at the holidays. Thanksgiving at our home is this Sunday, I agree we often believe the day has changed so much we forget that everyone else is not on the same calendar as us! This year we will entertain only 15-20 but we have been known to have well over 30 at times. I look forward to seeing everyone and spending family time…we will miss a few- My Dad (aka Papa) would come early with his digital thermometer in his pocket and check on the bird throughout the day. He bought me one but somehow it is always left ON and the battery is dead…guess I better check that today. The kids fight over who has to “roll the dates” and who has to peel the potatoes…fight over meaning avoid it at all cost, …somehow needing to take a shower of find something in their rooms, looks like it’s you this year Danielle (aka daughter) unless you can bribe Paige (aka niece that attends college in Chicago/4th child). This year though I am excited to have Jean (aka my favorite sister…well only sister lol) here, she moved from California this past May to be closer to the family and my mom. I think we will make her “roll the dates”…my brother will keep the tradition of  my Grandmommy and Papa and bring the Chianti and cream soda like he always does. But as I said in the beginning, not everyone will be able to attend…my two boys (aka TJ and Nick) will be working and care-giving for others, Caitlin (aka niece/Jean’s daughter) and Chad will be in Texas, Jon (aka Dee’s boyfriend) will be working, Sydney (aka TJ’s girlfriend) went home to Texas for the week and many of our family will celebrate in Arizona, Germany or California on Thursday. In mind and heart we will all be together what every day it is- Thanksgiving at our home holds special memories regardless of what day and whom attends….what are some of your memories and traditions? I guess I better get to the the store and buy the turkeys soon!

TRENDing Cardinals Beauties

Cardinal artwork has made the 2013-2014 TRENDing for the Holidays.

Add unexpected whimsy to your home this holiday season with cardinal decor accessories.

As seen in the Style at Home Magazine.

DSC_0320 Carol Woldhuis Designs

TRENDing CARDINAL beauties, these Christmas cards have made a big hit with many that have seen them for the Holidays. Here in Illinois, the CARDINAL is the state bird. There is nothing like seeing that BRIGHT RED bird in the trees that have been dusted with the morning snow. Sometimes you take these “beauties” for granted, as just another bird. My sister moved here from Northern California this year and she is awestruck at the sight of these RED beauties every time they fly by. It makes me think that it is true what they say about seeing things through the “eyes” of others…. Enjoy the COLOR this winter in the mix of the whiteness, it will surely put a SMILE on your face!

DSC_0323 Carol Woldhuis Designs



CURRENT thoughts: Pondering a bit of what was said at the #TossTheBouquet workshop on Monday about branding and staying true to it. My BRAND is COLOR, my days don’t pass without using COLOR. Watercolors, acrylics, papers, inks… COLOR. I dug up this old post and am sticking to it! While a lot of tweaks have been done on my blog and website, my PASSION of how I design and why, has not changed. I LLLLLOVVVVE color and creating! When you choose Carol Woldhuis Designs, we don’t start the “painting” until you start the “talking”…With a BLANK “canvas”, we listen carefully and feel your emotions all the while “reading” YOUR visions. We want your invitations to be YOU- Not Beth, not Susan, not even Carol…YOU!  So the “THUMBPRINT” I use on my business cards is the very “STORY” behind who we are and the blending of our clients visions mixed and stirred up with our creative comprehension. Side NOTE: The mixing of three primary colors (red, yellow and blue) can get you ANY COLOR on the color wheel.  As humans, our vision is derived from three cone cells (called trichromats) The combination of those three cone cells, let’s us see in FULL color. So can we take that rose and make it peach, or yellow..or David’s Bridal Sangria… YES! We can customize our artwork for your color theme and vision. FUN FACT: The answer to the question – “Are black and white colors?”  – is one of the most debated issues about color. Ask a scientist and you’ll get a reply based on physics: “Black is not a color, white is a color.” Ask an ARTIST or a child with crayons and you’ll get another: “Black is a color, white is not a color.” (Maybe!) . I like to use both…so to me they are in my “paint-box”. custom artwork carol woldhuis designs REPOST: Recently I have taken sometime to tweak our “brand”.  I am so excited about our new business cards! Using the thumbprint swirl on the front has always been my logo of choice. To me the swirl is  “the STORY” …where ART meets Stationery. When a client comes to us, we start with a blank canvas, mix all their ideas and visions together to get just the right color palette and end result. Our designers then collaborate to create the perfect invitation suite possible. The back of the business card shows 8 different sketched images, (that part might have been for me)…so I don’t get bored with the artwork (haha). Branding our business has been a great challenge at times, my most important point I always try to feature is we are truly “CUSTOM”. The sky is the limit when it comes to your dream invitation. Our PASSION for our art and designs in embedded into YOUR stationery, you are getting more than just an invitation when you choose Carol Woldhuis Designs. Lets chat soon, we would be proud to work with you on your event! –Carol

Hand Painted Calendars – Ranunculus

In creating some products for #NSS aka National Stationery Show. I decided to create a complete 12 image collection showing the color mood of each month, while using the already hand painted image concept that was used for the Starry Night artwork that will be featured in the new 2013-2014 issue of ChicagoStyle Weddings magazine. These Hand Painted Calendars -Ranunculus are a slim line calendar that is great for inside a cabinet or cubicle. Fun and colorful, just something to make you smile when you look at it, or a great gift!

One of the flowers that keeps coming up in wedding floral work is RANUNCULUS, known to some as buttercup. The name Ranunculus is Late Latin for “little frog,” from rana “frog” and a diminutive ending. This probably refers to many species being found near water, like frogs. The name buttercup may derive from a false belief that the plants give butter its characteristic yellow hue (in fact it is poisonous to cows and other livestock). A popular children’s game involves holding a buttercup up to the chin; a yellow reflection is supposed to indicate fondness for butter.They are soft and delicate, feminine and colorful all at the same time.

The movement that occurs in the swirls is visually pleasing. Much like in the inspiration piece for Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh… the swirls and movement keeps a viewers eyes interested and engaged in the painting. Looking and the depth and color dimension of each circle and swirl. Moving from one to another and back, essentially keeping them focused on your image for awhile. (the whole idea) Case and point of why people stare at ART and why one person may see one thing and another may view it differently.

The hand painted calendars are printed on a glossy white 4″x10″ stock that is notched out at the top with a white wire calendar hanger for space saving hang ability.


Check out our Etsy storefront to purchase these calendars.

Birds of Paradise Wedding Invitations

Catching up on posting a few of your past jobs. Today we are featuring the vivid Birds of Paradise wedding invitations that we created for Stephanie and Rich who planned a very quaint ceremony back in March in Kona, Hawaii and now are planning a fun and tropical reception slash after party. When they came to Carol Woldhuis Designs back in October, Stephanie had already tried to put together some invitations, but just wasn’t what her “dream” was.

The original wedding was to all take place in Hawaii but later the couple changed a few details and we made some shifts ourselves. The idea of the boarding pass fit perfect for a tropical, destination celebration and we all felt it would serve as a great invitation still when planning the celebration. After talking more with the couple in the design stages, (like most consultations)…a relationship is built. We discuss all sorts of things, and listening to Stephanie talk about her son and how they will be a family of three. I found it fitting to use the birds of paradise flower.

Birds of Paradise: Strelitzia /strɛˈlɪtsiə/ is a genus of five species of perennial plants, native to South Africa, also known as the crane flower. Most often the bright orange spokes that pop out come in a grouping of three…two usually pop first and then the last. What a great concept for blending a family of three. At least that is how my “artist mind” thinks sometimes.

We had fun with the wording, keeping the etiquette proper but making the wording about the couple’s personality.

perforated Reply card

Vibrant hand painted Birds of Paradise Wedding Invitation
Using the rich gold shimmer tones on the boarding pass cover gave a balance to the vibrant watercolor image. Not stopping there, the design team added the extra “shimmer” to the flower which gave it that finishing touch! The clients were great to work with and were overjoyed with the end result.

Birds of Paradise Wedding Invitations
As we say at Carol Woldhuis Designs…where ART meets Stationery. Interested in creating that special one of a kind invitation for your next event? Let’s Chat and dream up a perfect one-

Stephanie and Rich found us in Wedding Guide Chicago magazine, check out our featured watercolor Chicago Guest Map in the latest issue!


Peonies Wedding Invitations Custom ARTWORK

A vendor friend and event florist posted this picture of a peony from her garden on FaceBook. The picture came across and I knew I wanted to create and paint custom peonies wedding invitations from Alexandra Jusino of Exquisite Designs Chicago. With most of our wedding and event invitations it is that easy…have a favorite flower or image you want to incorporate into your wedding invitation suite? We can do that!

Our designers start with the inspirational photo or piece, this is where the sketching and doodling begins. Once we are happy with the overall artwork design we take it to the next stage…paint. Acrylic or Watercolor? Carol often prefers watercolor as the blending and delicate touch is enhanced more when working with florals such as peonies.

Carol Woldhuis Designs often finds  inspiration and artwork from all sorts of things and places. ART is everywhere if you can just train your eye to see it. Look at the HEART that appears naturally in the petals, what a perfect flower for a wedding and custom invitation ….

LOOK for more ART and INSPIRATION this weekend- Enjoy!

Peonies Wedding Invitations
Hand Painted Peony

“Here comes the Bride/Just Married” sign…

How FUN is this to send in your Ringbearer for your ceremony?

Check out our new “hand painted” Here comes the Bride/Just Married sign. We painted this for a client to have her Ringbearer carry down the aisle. Added a fun factor on the other side for him to carry to announce the bride with “Here comes the Bride”. Cute idea to even personalize it with the Brides name or Look out Uncle Andy…here she comes. Give us your custom colors and we can create one for your ceremony!

Get this painted in your bridal colors and flowers. Wooden sign measures 24″ x 8″

$50 plus S&H Find this on our Etsy store soon-



To all my Stationery friends….

I know I have posted on this topic before….BUT here you go again, in a video format ha!
This clip from CBS news is why we do what we do! Writing Thank You Notes do make a difference-
It doesn’t have to be a novel, but people LOVE to get a written note of “thanks”
So keep up the good work, it is a valued profession.Cheers my “Stationery Companions”!



This quote is so true! It brings me back to my soap box days of hand journaling in scrapbooks. The delight one gets when they head to the mailbox and among the bills and junk mail there is a letter so perfectly addressed with love and care. Upon opening it you already recognized the hand writing and sender…a beautiful arrangement of words from this special person who thought enough of YOU to send a hand written note. Do not let this ART become extinct, pick up a little note card and jot a few lines to someone special in your life today! It will be a gift to BOTH of you…a treasured one that can be saved for years, not left in some “inbox” or “e-card”.

eight21 studios, carol woldhuis, carol massa, custom wedding stationery, chicago stationer, watercolor artist, hand painted wedding invitations

my Graffiti obsession….

At the Flower and Garden Show there was an area display of Floral Photography…the outside of the display was true and true GRAFFTI. Love the idea and the details these artists can get with spray paint cans.

Hidden secret….I LOVE to get stopped by trains so that I can watch the amazing ART pass by on the train cars…when I am NOT in a rush :)….and I know, I know…graffiti is illegal.

Posted in art