DIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.com

How to write with sparklers: An easy photography tutorial

It’s almost July 4, and you know what that means: Sparkler pics are about to light up your social media feeds! Make yours extra-amazing with help from director Mark Morton, straight from Hallmark’s Union Hill Photography Studio. 

DIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.com

For a kid growing up in the ’80s the Fourth of July was a time for mischief. I can remember sneaking away and getting in bottle rocket wars or watching an older kid light M-80s, and leaving my ears ringing. These are things kids could never get away with today. For a low-danger-but-high-fun Fourth activity, write with sparklers. It will keep those mischief-seekers interested…and busy!

Things you will need.

  • A group of people.
  • A LOT of sparklers.
  • A camera.
  • A tripod or steady surface. 

DIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.comDIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.comDIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.comDIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Overall Tips:

  • Use one person per letter. (We used four people for “w-i-s-h”). Or use one person to write words in cursive. (See our “love” and “happy” photos.)
  • Have the group face the camera with the sparklers in front of them.
  • Write the letters backwards so the camera sees the words the correct way. If it’s too hard to write the letters backwards, you can always flip the finished image in a photo editor later. 

Advanced Option:

  • Use a DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera—make sure the shutter speed can be manually adjusted.
  • Place your camera on a tripod or another stable surface.
  • Set the shutter speed to 3 seconds. If your picture is too bright, increase the shutter speed to 2 seconds. If your picture is too dark, slow the shutter speed to 4 seconds. If you are comfortable changing your camera’s settings, adjust your aperture and ISO as needed.
  • Focus on the sparklers. Have someone light a sparkler in its final position to help focus in the dark.
  • Press the shutter button and count out loud so everyone has the same timing, “One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three.”
  • The motion to create the letters should start on “one” and end on “three.”

DIY Sparkler Photos | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Easy Option:

  • Download an app for your smart phone that will let you adjust your shutter speed.
    • Slow Shutter Cam Free, FREE
    • Light Painter, $0.99
    • Slow Shutter!, $1.99
    • Magic Shutter, $2.99
  • Follow the instructions above to create your sparkler photos with your smart phone.

Photos property of Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Tag us in your sure-to-be-incredible sparkler photos: @Think.Make.Share.

Founding Fathers as illustrated by Hallmark artist Charlie Hadley | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Free for the Fourth: Founding Fathers printables

Charlie Hadley is a character artist with a passion for American history. In fact, for the upcoming Independence Day holiday, Charlie and his wife, Lisa, are embarking on a cross-country historical tour of National Parks! Today he shares with us his combined obsession with characters and history.

I love history. Whether it’s sitting on the couch watching the History channel or visiting various historic sites, history always inspires me. Maybe it’s the fact that I was born on the 4th of July or that I was raised in a town called Independence…either way, I can’t get enough.

I also love drawing. As long as I can remember, I have always drawn or painted.  I especially love drawing people. When I was a kid, I had an antique, decorative trashcan featuring all the U.S. presidents. I would look at that trashcan for hours and draw the faces of each figure.

With the 4th coming up, I decided to take my love of drawing and my love of history and combine them to make art prints featuring a few of our founding fathers.  I really like them, and I hope you do too.

These illustrations contain a few fun facts about each of the men featured.
Download ‘em. Print ‘em. Learn a little.

Just don’t throw them away in your decorative trashcan.

Founding Fathers | Benjamin Franklin | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Founding Fathers as illustrated by Hallmark artist Charlie Hadley | thinkmakeshareblog.comFounding Fathers as illustrated by Hallmark artist Charlie Hadley | thinkmakeshareblog.comFounding Fathers as illustrated by Hallmark artist Charlie Hadley | thinkmakeshareblog.comFounding Fathers as illustrated by Hallmark artist Charlie Hadley | thinkmakeshareblog.com

In addition to displaying Charlie’s wonderful illustrations, be sure to show your American pride this Independence Day with these shareable quotes! Hosting a patriotic party this year? Check out our Fourth of July Hallmark.com Ideas section for great recipe and party inspiration!

Recipe | Patriotic Mini Pies | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Make your own 4th of July mini pies

She showed us how to sweeten Mother’s Day, and today Hallmark innovation leader Stephanie Young is back to tell us about her favorite holiday and how she chooses to celebrate…with pie, naturally.

Recipe | Patriotic Mini Pies | thinkmakeshareblog.com

July 4th is my secret favorite holiday. Why? What other holiday instantly turns your backyard into a living room? Getting to watch fireworks fly across the biggest, most beautiful screen in the world is a little piece of summer heaven.

And don’t forget the simple bliss of a picnic blanket.

Ours is a fading, ragged quilt held together with 50-year-old threads and endless cicada songs. So many full plates have been cradled in laps, passed around, and practically licked clean on our blanket. Honestly, I can’t imagine the 4th of July without it. In a way this holiday is like a quilt, celebrating how individuals can come together to bring hope, to endure and relish in the sparkle of happiness.

I can’t wait to lose my shoes in the grass, stretch out on our blanket of memories and dig fork-first into tasty good times. Deviled eggs, potato salad, watermelon, homemade ice cream, and pies, pies, and mini pies—these are what my 4th of July dreams are made of.

Fill up your plates, my friends and enjoy every satisfying moment.

Recipe | Patriotic Mini Pies | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Stars and Stripes Mini Pies

by S. Young

Makes six total pies: Three stars and three stripes.

Ingredients for three Blueberry Stars mini pies:

  • 3 6-inch pie pans
  • Pie dough for 9-in. double-crust pie, and one single 9 in. crust (If frozen, thaw according to packaging, but keep your thawed dough in the refrigerator while creating the filling.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 heaping tablespoons flour for filling
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 cups of blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1  tablespoon milk for brushing
  • Extra flour for work surface

Fourth of July Mini Blueberry Pies | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Blueberry Stars Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 400 ̊ F.

In a large saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir until the berries are coated with sugary goodness. Add the water, the almond extract then squeeze the lemon juice all over the berries. Watch out for lemon seeds! Stir it all up again and turn the burner on low. Stir often until the berry mixture barely bubbles. Don’t let it boil! When the mixture has thickened to a syrupy consistency, remove from the heat and set aside.

Sprinkle flour on a clean counter or work surface. Roll out enough dough for three individual bottom piecrusts. Once the bottom dough is in the pans, roll out the rest of the dough for the top crust decorations. Cut stars, at least one for each pie.

Add the filling. Cut the unsalted butter into four chunks and place the chunks in different sections of the pie. Decorate the top of each pie with stars.

Once decorated, brush a little milk onto each crust.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 ̊ F. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Cool before serving.

There may be some leftover dough. Cut piecrust cookies for an extra treat! Brush them with milk and bake them at 375 ̊ F until puffy and slightly golden—around 10-15 minutes.

Ingredients for three Cherry Stripes mini pies:

  • 3 6-inch pie pans
  • Pie dough for 9-in. double-crust pie, and one single 9 in. crust (If frozen, thaw according to packaging, but keep your thawed dough in the refrigerator while creating the filling.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cans cherry pie filling (20-21 oz. each)
  • 1 tablespoon milk for brushing
  • Extra flour for work surface

Fourth of July Mini Cherry Pies | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Cherry Stripes instructions: 

Preheat oven to 400 ̊ F.

In a large bowl, combine the cherries, sugar, flour, almond extract and cinnamon.

Sprinkle flour on a clean counter or work surface. Roll out enough dough for three individual bottom piecrusts. Once the bottom dough is in the pans, roll out the rest of the dough for the top crust decorations. Cut stripes. It helps to use a clean, washed ruler. Wide stripes hold up better in the oven than thin! Cut at least three stripes per pie.

Add the filling. Decorate the top of each pie with stripes.

Once decorated, brush with a little milk.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 ̊ F. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Cool before serving.

Just like the Blueberry Stars pies, there may be some leftover dough. Just cut some more cookies. They go great with ice cream!

Can’t get enough 4th of July pie? Check out more holiday pie recipes (including the full size version of Stephanie’s pie masterpieces) at Hallmark.com. And you can find more of Stephanie’s kitchen escapades on her blog!

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Artist Mary Hamilton celebrates her 60th Hallmark anniversary

Craig Lueck is a distinguished Hallmark artist in his own right, but today, he’s celebrating one of his famous co-workers. Craig introduces us to the peerless Mary Hamilton, who has graced Hallmark with her artistic presence for six decades. 

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years | thinkmakeshareblog.comPhoto by Geoff Greenleaf

For Hallmark Master Artist Mary Hamilton, art making is her life. This month we are celebrating Mary’s 60 years as an artist at Hallmark. This is a remarkable accomplishment, but Mary’s love of art began much earlier, at age 6.

“My mother used to tell me that I was always running around the house with crayons, coloring on things,” Mary says. “Drawing is something I’ve always loved.”

As a teenager, a scholarship took her to the Kansas City Art Institute. At age 19, Hallmark was quick to see her talent for telling charming visual stories and bringing beauty to everyday objects. So they gave her a job.

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years | thinkmakeshareblog.com

In the years that followed, consumers have loved her many cute characters and flowers, but none more than “Mary’s Bears.” She began receiving fan letters about these whimsical little teddy bears almost as soon as they went on the market over 20 years ago. As an artist who cares deeply for the people who buy her products, her fan letters have given her a great deal of insight and inspiration.

Mary is a quiet, serious artist and is seen as the “grand master” of a style we call “cutes.”

“They’re sweet little things,” Mary says.  “They convey lots of love and emotions, and I never get tired of painting them.  I just love it.”

Perhaps it’s this ability to visually capture the language of the heart that makes Mary’s appeal so universal. Her artwork has appeared on thousands of products that span the globe and are printed in many languages.

Many of her illustrations have a sketchbook look, appearing almost unfinished as if Mary had just begun to create them. Other styles look wet, as though the watercolors are still drying. Regardless of her approach, Mary is known as one of the few watercolorists who can judge wisely when to stop working on a painting, before it gets overworked.

Mary never actually planned her many illustration styles. “They just were discovered as I painted”, she says. She has mentored many others to do the same.

In addition to her own little bears, Mary collects Hummel figurines, decorative teapots and enjoys her flower garden. Her primary inspirational artists are Tasha Tudor, Cicely Mary Barker and Bessie Pease Gutmann

Mary has no intention to ever retire from making art, but will forever keep her hands in the paints as well as the crayons.

As Jeannette Lee, a former creative leader from Hallmark, has said, “Mary can do it all. She can draw. She can paint. She can use color in very lovely ways. When an artist loves what she is doing as much as Mary does, it shows.”

     

Hallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop 1 | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Words and art come together for a Hallmark Signature workshop

Tina Neidlein has taught us where to find writing ideas, how to stock your writing toolbox and to un-mush-ify your Valentine’s Day. Today, she’s letting us behind the scenes of a fast and furious(ly stylish) Hallmark Signature workshop. 

When you’re a Hallmark artist, you get to participate in all sorts of hands-on workshops. But when you’re a writer here, workshops aren’t quite nearly as frequent. (And that’s okay with us—have you ever tried writing on the spot, in a group setting? I mean, yikes.)

We do love collaborating with artists, though, so when the opportunity came up recently to work side-by-side with them, we jumped at the chance. A small group of us came together with several of our talented lettering artists to brainstorm short phrases (“nuggets,” as we referred to them) for use in our Signature line. We know that our Signature fans are comfortable writing their own words, often only needing that little bit of goodness to get started. So we decided to get a small group together to build a collection of Signature-ready nuggets.

Working from a list of card-sending occasions (i.e., new baby, birthday, love), we came up with phrases one by one, while the artists lettered those same nuggets alongside us. It was so inspiring to watch them turn our scrawled two- or three-word phrases into beautiful pieces of art in no time at all. Proof that sometimes creating on the spot is just the thing you need—no time to overthink or fuss too much.

Hallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop 1 | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop | thinkmakeshareblog.com

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find one of our quick little nuggets on a Hallmark Signature card sometime very soon.

Give our fashionable friends some Insta-love over at @HallmarkSignature, wouldya?