Design miscellanea and everyday musings by Nathanael C. Saldana

Category: Portfolio

Graduation Party Invitation

My little brother requested Superboy-themed graduation invitations. I ran with it.

I’m Popular on Dribbble!

Thanks to my friend Mela for spotting my work on Dribbble’s “Popular” page last week! In case you’ve never experienced dribbble.com, it’s an invitation-only show and tell site just for designers, where you can share shots of your work in progress to receive feedback, or even final printed work. This is my first “popular” shot, and my most-liked shot to date. What an honor!!! See the original shot here.


Okay, so William and Arely weren’t actually getting engaged–just officially announcing their courtship to close friends and family–but it was so important to me I wanted to make some flower arrangements to add to the celebration. I experimented with different combinations and styles instead of doing all the same. After doing three I realized I had so much baby’s breath left I decided to make an arrangement of all baby’s breath. Interesting!

Cavities of the World: Beware!

This project was so much fun! Of course, a friend like Kristen deserves the best graduation party ever, or at least the most well-designed if I have anything to say about it. We celebrated her finishing the dental assisting program with a great party! The invitation design sparked the theme for the entire party. I created all the flower arrangements, cupcakes, and paper crafting to match! Helpful DIY tip: buy giant 20″ paper doilies in bulk from a restaurant supply website, and spray-paint them ahead of time in the color of the party! They are so useful and practical, and spruce up generic plastic tablecloths by a mile.

Congrats Kristen!

Photos 1, 12 and 14 courtesy of Melissa Mercado of MJM Photography

20th Anniversary Party Design

It was such a pleasure to design this party, and I had an opportunity to put my aesthetic hand in many aspects of the production and organization process. Jennifer’s favorite color is pink and she loves Victorian themed design, so we made a neo-spring-Victorian design for the whole party. Turned out a great success!

What I learned:

• Visit the space at least once, if not multiple times before the actual set-up day.

• Keep a detailed journal, including lists, measurements, quotes, prices and contact info. That way if you forget how big the round tables are or how many they have, you will know exactly where to look.

• In many halls, the dance floor works better in the center of the space, with all the tables around it. That way everyone is close to the action, no matter where their table is situated. Also, that way the people sitting in front won’t have to squeeze their way through twenty tables to get to the food or bathroom.

• Investigate renting a helium tank instead of buying a disposable one. Our options eventually dictated the most logical purchase: Buy a disposable helium tank at $35 for 50 balloons, or rent one at $49 for 125 balloons. Easy decision. Oh, and keeping all the balloons in the same color palate or hue is usually a good way to go.

• When vendors mess up, DON’T SETTLE. Even if it’s the last minute. When the cake arrived, the design was all wrong, and we were about to just use it to avoid more hassle. But we decided to call anyway, and they immediately sent a new cake with the correct design and gave us our money back. Long story short – two sheet cakes for free. Win!

• Use as many disposable items as possible (paper doilies, disposable table cloths, etc). That way the clean up will be easier and you’ll be packing up much less than you brought.

• For the day-of set up, organize your helpers and give each person their assignment beforehand. Our set up crew included an eight-and-a-half-week pregnant woman, one other girl and myself. Many people bailed, probably because they thought we’d have enough help. People will appreciate the seriousness if they are given assignments ahead of time. Also on the subject of setting up, dedicate some time the night before to drawing up a time line. Obviously the cloths/centerpieces can’t be arranged before the tables are set up. The band can’t come in with equipment until you know where the dance floor is going to be. The food can’t arrive until you know where you’re going to put it and the tables are arranged. Knowing these things ahead of time will help determine in what order you set things up.

And lastly,

• Save all your boxes and plastic bags. You’ll need them to pack everything up.

Beautiful DIY Cake Stands

I might be addicted to Google Reader. Well, maybe not addicted but I sure love it. Especially when I learn how to do cool new things like make cake stands out of plates and candle holders! Almost everything cost less than a dollar, I shopped at various dollar stores for the candle holders and the Christmas Tree Shoppe for the plates. So economical and pretty! The gluing and spray-painting was difficult however. I will have to keep experimenting on the best types of adhesive and paint to use. Any ideas?

Thanks so much to Alicia Parsons for her awesome blogpost. I am using these stands as part of centerpieces for a party I’m co-hosting in a few weeks… More photos to come!! See Alicia’s full DIY instructions here.


Here are some of the books I made inspired from my college bookmaking class. Wish I had more time to experiment!! Each style is completely unique and takes different production time and processes. It was so much fun and very rewarding.

DIY Gifts

My absolute favorite class at the University was bookmaking. Maybe I just had a knack for it, maybe it was just a sudden outlet for my natural love of papercrafting. All I know is that after that class I went crazy, covering every book I could find with a custom cover, and making gifts of all kinds for friends and special occasions. I made this green book set for a friend who decided to move to Italy and serve in a congregation in need of missionary help. So I packed her various notebooks, both blank and subject-filled (including an address book and a planner). Also I covered a small Bible that could fit in her purse. Practical things. The tag read “Some things a traveling pioneer needs in her bag.” The final touch was a cardboard box-bottom that I custom covered to match, and a cellophane cover tucked in to hold the pleated tissue.  I think I enjoyed shopping for all the matching green paper, ribbon, and accouterments just as much as I enjoyed putting it all together!!

This second set I constructed as part of a graduation gift for a friend (who loves pink). It turned out very pretty:

Fall Wedding Invitations

These were a blast to design and create. My brother and his then-fiancée were married at a golf resort, so we carried the color green through the invitations. I experimented with a different pocket style (you’ll notice the left pocket is adhered at the top and bottom, but the right pocket is adhered only at the bottom, and tapered at the top), and I spent a lot of time with the flourish graphics, making each piece unique and fitting each flourish to the shape of each item. It took me a while to photograph them, but here they are! Enjoy!