Edie Allen – Alphabet Animals
I’ve been making my Alphabet Animals name signs for over 20 years. The concept has always been the same: each animal has something that illustrates a letter in a name. The animals have evolved, along with the tools and materials that I use to create them.
This is one of my earliest name signs. Mice were the only animals that I made. I cut out everything by hand, including their eyes. One of my mother’s friends said it had the perfect CQ (Cuteness Quotient). I appreciated the compliment but knew that there was room for improvement.
Customers offered many suggestions. Could I do other animals? Use other colors? Make something besides apples for the A’s and nightgowns for the N’s in a name like Anna? Could I make the names easier to read? The answer to all these questions was YES!
Old books of wallpaper samples provided a treasure trove of material for the animals’ clothing. When wallpaper lost its popularity, I purchased scrapbook paper. When it was hard to find bright stripes in primary colors and other patterns that customers requested, I designed my own with markers (an unforgiving medium).
I acquired many craft punches: circles, stars, leaves, anchors and tiny little cars. To make the letters, I bought an Ellison die-cut machine. I ordered custom dies, based on my drawings of my animals. This spared me a lot of repetitive work, such as cutting out mouse’s tails.
Then one of my tools broke: a hand-held punch with cassettes of little letters and numbers. Nobody made them anymore and I really needed numbers to illustrate the letter N. It turned out to be a lucky break because it pushed me to buy a Silhouette cutting machine, which could do a lot more than just cutting out numbers.
By scanning my drawings, it let me make patterns of all my animals, vary their sizes and increase their CQ in many ways. Now my elephants could raise their trunks! I could cut out objects like the guitar, the oar, the valentine, the Earth and the recycling bin with a degree of precision that was impossible before. I could print Milo’s name on an envelope and make a tiny stamp for it. When a customer requested blues, greens and purples for Vera, I could download a splash pattern from the Silhouette store and create designer clothing for the rabbits. It has helped me raise my own CQ (Creativity Quotient).
The name signs are not just for babies. Over the years I’ve done signs for a 92-year old grandmother who collected mice, a hamster, a pet rabbit and a dog named Lilly. My reward is knowing that I may be creating a work of art that a family will always cherish.