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First year favourites

Well, it’s been over a year, and over 1000 designs created since I started selling my Word Art as AliChappellUK.


I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the most interesting designs that I have been commissioned over my first year. Below I have collated my Top Ten word art designs.

I can design in many different shapes and with many different colours and details and some of these requests illustrate just how that can be done.

Just arm me with 60-ish words and I will do the rest! I love the puzzle of making everything fit.
The designs are all created using professional software, but don’t be fooled, the software does not place the words in position for me, it just ensures a quality print file at the end.
Each word is manually positioned by eye to fit the empty spaces until I have made the design into your chosen shape.


1.    The fabulous french butterfly


Well, words essentially work the same (in the Latin alphabet), no matter the language. I was approached to design a butterfly in French for a little girl. These words translate into cute words and phrases such as ‘Sing a Rainbow’ and ‘Sugar & Spice’. The design would look fab as a big canvas in a girlie playroom.

2.    Man’s best friend


When I was first asked about designing a word art for a person who absolutely pampers and spoils their dogs I actually imagined a young girl… I later discovered it was for the customer’s father – a real dog lover. For this design I included four dog’s names. The design was printed on heavy textured paper and put in a dark frame.

“You’ll no doubt be pleased to know that people still admire the piece and stand in front of it, turning their head this way and that until they’ve read every word.” – customer quote


3.    Britpop revival


This time the customer was my own husband-to-be! He wanted something really special and unique for his best man and groomsmen – all very close friends that had been with him since school. The year that always had the best memories for them was 1995. I fitted in songs, places, jokes, nicknames –  everything that encapsulated the most memorable time of their life! It was printed on canvas and stretched on a deep frame. Of course Gavin kept a copy for himself which has pride of place between his guitars.

4.    Sports team star


You know who’s the best – us not you! This sporty patriotic star contained the whole sports team, including the coaches and a few favourite phrases. This would look awesome as a banner in the sports hall facing the opposing team’s goal!

5.    Wedding of the year


Well, apart from my own wedding that is 🙂 So many special people are involved in a wedding. Friends and family all chip in and all deserve big thank you’s and unique gifts. But on your big day don’t forget to make your own special memories that last too. This cushion is filled with fun memories of the happy couple.

6.    Extended family


This was a special gift from a family in the U.K. to their family in the U.S. Included in the words were family members, pets, special moments and memories from their holiday visit. Family gifts can be treasured by so many different generations and they can come together in one place in this design. The customer liked the result so much that she bought a second one for herself!

7.    Tennis anyone?


This was a design for a BIG Tennis fan as I’m sure you can see. I was asked to include some tennis related icons so I opted for racket and ball. This is the darkest background I have ever produced a word art in and I must admit – it’s very striking! The customer printed this out as a large poster.

“Omg I totally LOVE this… so much of a tennis statement!” – customer quote

8.    Someone special


Words have so much meaning and can encapsulate a lifetime of memories, fun, jokes and adventures. This design was commisioned for someone who wanted to give a really special and unique present to his wife. Included in it are friends, family, places they have travelled, the pets and funny sayings they share. This just couldn’t be found in the shops.

9.    Love starts at home


In contrast, sometimes you don’t need many words to say something full of meaning. ‘Our love never fails’ was the only phrase apart from the couple’s names. This was printed on textured paper and framed by myself before shipping to the customer.

10.    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder



I was approached by ‘Ginvera’ to design some artwork for their stand at the UK Anti-Ageing show this spring. The words were fitted into the shape of a green tea leaf and their corporate colours were used to create this extra large poster. You can visit the lovely Ginvera website here: I can’t resist the BB cream.


11.    A spot of self-indulgence


I have cheated here. This is number 11 but I wanted to include it. I just had to have my own ‘sample’ of one of these gorgeous cushions… they are so soft and the ink is so bright… ahh, I’m in love….


Hop over to my Etsy shop to check out my latest designs here:


TOP 10 Framing tips for amateurs

I have put together my list of top ten tips for framing using a readymade frame, I hope you find this useful.

This is a practical solution for an everyday gift, using a shop-bought frame. Framing does more than just enhance the look of your picture, it can also help protect it.


1 – Choose the perfect frame

If it’s for a gift, pick a neutral colour that will match most decors. You can get some really beautiful and ornate frames, but if you have bought a nice print you should be showing it off – buy something complimentary that will protect the print and not compete with it.

You can pick a frame with a mount (called a mat in U.S.) to enhance and lift your image – different colours will give different effects.


(Thanks to ‘Marie’ for supplying the above pictures of her framing results).

2 – Set up your workspace

Before even getting your print ready, make sure you have a clean dust-free, flat space to work in. Have enough space to take apart the frame and remove the glass safely. I suggest putting a cloth down to rest the front of the frame on to avoid any scratching.

3 – Clean the glass and frame

Make sure everything is grease and dust-free by using a glass cleaner and a clean cloth.

Work in a brightly lit space so you can spot any stray bits of dust and fibres on the glass and use a paintbrush to remove – do not blow with your mouth or brush dust off with your fingers as you will end up transferring more dirt back onto the glass.


Handle the glass with a cloth or fabric gloves and be careful of sharp edges.


Make sure that the glass cleaner does not come into contact with your print.

3 – Use acid-free materials

Choose acid-free matting, paper, tape and any other materials wherever possible.

There is acid present in cardboard and other papers. Acid can cause your artwork turn yellow over time.

4 – Trim your print

Put down a clean flat wooden board (that you don’t mind marking with a knife) or a cutting mat on a flat clear surface.

If you are using a mounting (matting), place the mount over your print and get your print into position, then mark your print lightly with a pencil at each corner as your cutting guide.


Trim the print using a sharp craft knife or scalpel and a metal ruler. Only use a knife if you are a confident and responsible adult! Or alternatively a guillotine.


5 – Secure your print

Use acid-free hinging tape to attach your print to either the top of the backing board or mount (mat). Your print will be less likely to slip out of position, and being attached only at the top will prevent it bowing or crinkling if it expands in varying atmospheric conditions.

Do not use glue or stick tape – the glue will soak through your print and cause damage.

6 – Never have the print touching the glass

Always use a mount (mat). If the glass touches your print it will in time, damage the ink and your print as a result.

Tip – if you want the image to be full-size in the frame, then cut the existing mounting (matting) to leave just enough edge to hide behind the frame, which will keep your image from touching the glass


7 – Seal the back

The last thing you want is a bunch of thunder bugs crawling about and getting stuck inside the frame and against your print. You can buy sealing tape online or from any good art or craft store.

After sealing, trim the edges of the tape flush with your frame.


9 – Protect it from the elements

Try not to hang it in direct sunlight, steamy damp rooms such as bathrooms, or smoky greasy rooms such as a kitchen. Give it the best chance of standing the test of time.

10 – If in doubt – ask the professionals!

The above framing method is NOT recommended if you have an original piece of art, or a limited edition Giclée print – it is a practical solution for an everyday gift around the home.  If you want something to be protected for several lifetimes then a store bought frame may not help to protect your art – you should really consider getting your piece framed professionally.

Thanks for stopping by! Visit my shop here for gorgeous personalised Word Art designs:

Giclee Printing – what is it?

Giclée (“g-clay”) prints are professional fine art digital prints. These are the prints which artists use for selling limited edition ‘reproductions’ of their original works.

Photographers can also use Giclée to produce the best quality prints.

It is occasionally the printing process used by digital artists and illustrators to produce prints from digital images where colour balance and accuracy are vital.

Everyday printing techniques seen in magazines, leaflets and posters are NOT Giclée.

The Devil is in the detail

In Giclée printing, Colours are calibrated to accurately match the tonalities and hues of the original painting, details are fine – there is no visible dot screen pattern, and the ink is fade resistant.

To protect your Giclée prints I would recommended that if your print is not covered by glass, a varnish is used to hold full protection against water and light damage. Although inks should be ‘water-fast’ and ‘light-fast’, it may not be enough to protect your print from prolonged or major exposure to the elements.

Giclee printers can produce very small images, right up to an extremely wide format – the only limit on length is the length of the paper or the life of the ink supply!

The correct combination of archival quality pigment inks and papers will ensure the print will stand the test of time, at least 25 years – as long as 100 years in good environmental conditions.

Picture: © Eleanor Winter – CC 3.0

Printing from digital files

Of course a digital print is only as good as the digital file. Ensure your files stand the best chance of making a perfect print:


Scan small items or professionally photograph larger items at the highest possible resolution. If you have a scanned or photographed an image I would advise that you get it digitally enhanced and colour corrected to remove dust and marks and to ensure that the colours are converted for CMYK printing.

Digital art, designs and illustrations

In theory, digital originals are ready to go! If they have been designed to be printed, the images should be clean and crisp, and the colours will have been selected and defined on the computer software whilst creating the artwork.

Once you have your digital files ready, you can print ‘on demand’ any time – any size, any shape, any quantity.


Papers and materials

There are a number of materials and fine art paper that Giclée is compatible with.

They range from photo paper, canvas, fibrous paper such as ‘watercolour’ cotton rag and baryta, vinyl, glass, metal, wood, and much more.

You can experiment with textures and surfaces which can add additional effects and beauty to the finished piece.


Where can I get a Giclée print made?

It can be useful, though not necessary to use a local printer.

If you are regularly producing several prints then it may be more practical to have a local printer where you can call in. It could only be to your advantage to build a relationship or even a partnership with your printer, taking your time to get to know who is reproducing your artwork and being able to get a feel for the quality and care put into the business. You could also potentially save postal costs by collecting your own pieces.

I suggest searching local directories and online for a local printer who specialises in ‘fine art’ Giclée prints.

If you are unable to find somewhere locally then there are lots of very reputable printing companies found on the internet. They will send a proof before printing and can send samples of materials on request.


Picture: © Eleanor Winter – CC3.0

Giclée at home?

This isn’t something I have had the luxury to try at home.  The technology is basically the same as a standard inkjet but Giclée printers use pigments which are more light-fast and water-fast.

They usually use 8-12 colour cartridges instead of 4 – this is how it produces a much better and more accurate range of colours. But this will of course come at a price, as we all know how expensive ink cartridges can be and how often they need replacing!

You can print onto many formats of art paper and card. Most home printers print at 300 DPI, while Giclée printers can print up to 2800 DPI therefore you don’t get the visible ‘dot’ pattern on your print.


Quality comes at a cost. Gorgeous materials and professional services are expensive to buy.  Giclée printers are few and far between. These prints are for special, desirable pieces which hold value. They make good long term investments.

The alternative

If Giclée seems a bit excessive for a simple gift or personal print, then you can get some great deals online from an enormous choice of printing services – there are more details of this here.

Printing artwork for a personal gift

So, you have a beautiful piece of art, design or a photo saved as a high resolution file on your computer, and you’d like to be able to produce a nice gift from it. All you need to do is print it! But what is the best option for you?

Start at home!

Inkjet Printers

Most modern inkjet printers can produce surprisingly good results. If you set the print quality to the highest (photo setting is good) and use some good quality paper, inkjet printing can be very detailed and accurate, especially with photographs.

You will perhaps need to experiment to get things such as the size right. You can adjust the percentage of your image in the ‘printer settings’ or ‘properties’ to make it bigger or smaller. If you plan to frame your artwork and already have a frame, I suggest you print the image at a size which will allow a little white space around all sides, so that it will give it a nice balance in the frame without looking cramped. You can always use scrap paper and print in black and white to save costs at this stage.

For your final print, use a good quality paper which is designed for inkjet printing. I like ‘linen’ and ‘hammer embossed’ papers which are often used for wedding stationery. They have a nice quality texture which adds to the effect. If you use a coloured paper it may affect the colour of your print so you may want to test it first. Inkjet ink will take on the finish of the paper, so will appear matte on matte paper and glossy on photo paper. On some shiny papers you will need to allow some time for drying but they do tend to print with a sharper detail.

Printing at home is a great way to add a further ‘handmade’ feeling to the creation of your unique gift – choosing your own frame and paper means you can personalise every element of the final piece.

I would certainly encourage you to try printing at home if you can. It is fun, rewarding and you can experiment over and over again with a whole variety of papers.

Professional fine art prints are produced using high quality lightfast inkjet inks and papers. These produce superior photographic images. This process is often referred to as ‘Giclée’.

Laser Printers

If you work in an office your employer may allow you to use the company’s laser printer for a small charge, or possibly for free if they are particularly generous! Alternatively, you can use a local copy centre like Kinko’s (US), Staples, or a local printing company who can also produce a laser print for you.

They print superior quality text. Laser ink is formed by heating a powder and the finished printed areas will have a subtly shiny appearance. Laser printers are cost effective for large scale printing (although the outlay for the toner is high, it lasts a very long time) and it is fast.

Most colour laser printer toners use pigment, which suggests a better fade resistance than the average inkjet print.

Online print services

Important notes – When uploading files online, be sure that if there is an option to upload ‘fast or ‘slow’, that you use the ‘slow’ setting – some fast uploads will reduce the size and quality of your file, resulting in a disappointingly poor quality blurry print.
Every website is different – you may need to crop, zoom or rotate in order to get the best fit of your design in the printed area. Make sure you check the preview or proof carefully before committing to buy.


If your home printer isn’t up to scratch, Poster prints can be very cost effective if you are looking for a decent sized print. Places such as Snapfish, Tesco (UK)/FedEx, Costco (US) only cost a few pounds/dollars.

Here is a customer photo of a poster print in a frame:


Photo prints can also be very cheap. Try printing design or artwork onto a matt finish – glossy finishes perhaps won’t give the appropriate effect. Photos however will look gorgeous on glossy paper!

Canvas, mugs and much more

If you have a slightly higher budget then why not get a canvas print. These can be really striking and make a real focal point in a room. They are also hard-wearing and easy to hang.

There are so many print choices online – mouse mats, cushion covers, tea towels, tote bags, canvases, mugs, t-shirts, i-phone cases, key rings; the list seems endless.

Review of US online store  –

Canvas prices start from approx. $30 unframed, $49 framed*.

Very simple ordering and upload process. The advantage to using this service is that there is no need to worry about cropping or aspect ratios. The experienced designers will send you a proof and intelligently crop the image for you so your image looks great at no extra charge. Canvaspop will let you upload a jpeg yourself, but they will also accept a pdf file via email which I would recommend you do, in order to allow for the highest print quality.

The difference in ease of ordering, price, quality and customer service can differ a lot. I cannot recommend who will be the best for your personal requirements but here is a list of other suggestions to try – Walmart, Costco, Cafepress, Smartpress, Shutterfly, Staples and Kinkos.

Review of UK online store  –

Canvas prices start from approx. £20* but keep your eye out for regular sale prices.

The good thing about Vistaprint is that it will accept most file types including pdfs, which usually contain a much higher print quality than a jpeg.

What I like here is the upload process, it’s very easy, and includes a very flexible tool where you can crop, rotate, enlarge, and reduce your image until it is perfectly placed. The tool is accessible without the need to login so you can give it a try and get a visual example without committing to buy anything.


The difference in ease of ordering, price, quality and customer service can differ a lot. I cannot recommend who will be the best for your personal requirements but here is a list of other suggestions to try – Canvasdezign, Tescophoto, Snapfish, Cafepress and Orbitprint.

*prices correct at time of writing this blog.

Remember – All inks, printers and papers will add different variables to your final print!


Want to learn more about fine art quality (Giclée) printing? Click here.

Home Sweet Home: personalised word art

Friends recently bought and moved into a new home and I wanted to give them a really special personalised present.

I love typography and colour and so decided to make some ‘word art’.

I gathered words related to home life, relationship, names, addresses, anything personal that I knew about my friend.

Fitting the words around the doors and windows of a simple house shape took some time!


I chose a nice homely colour scheme of warm browns, reds and creams.

My friend’s favourite things include cats, gardening, ladybirds and bees and so I also incorporated images of these all into the shape.

sun-wordart   ladybird-wordart  bee-wordart2

I printed the design myself on my home printer. I used ‘woven’ effect paper in a cream colour as it gave some additional warmth and texture.

I found a nice deep frame with a small aperture.


She was very pleased with her present, who wouldn’t like a totally unique and personalised gift?

Due to the positive response of my friend,  I decided to create a product for others who are looking for a unique housewarming gift. The design can be personalised for anybody.

Take quick look, click here and let me know what you think!



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