Monthly Archives: August 2015

Tips for New Card Makers

Eleven card designs using just one 12x12 sheet of pattern paper. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Eleven card designs using just one 12×12 sheet of pattern paper. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

For the first time in a long time, I really enjoyed card making this past weekend.  I took my time, relaxed, and am pleased with the results.  Over the course of two days, I made 22 cards – using just 2 sheets of 12×12 Stampin’ Up! Designer Series Paper, in addition to 6 sheets of Stampin’ Up! Whisper White 8-1/2 x 11 card stock and about 14 sheets of various other colors of Stampin’ Up! card stock (also 8-1/2 x 11).   Now that may seem like a lot of paper for 22 cards, but 11 of them are needed for the card bases, which means I used 7 sheets (plus the Designer Series Paper) for card covers, frames, etc.  More about that later.

There were several things that felt different about the weekend’s card making.  First, my goal wasn’t to make cards to sell or to give or send to family or friends.  Instead, I was making these cards to give to the residents of two local nursing homes.  I decided a few week ago that I needed another outlet for my cards – a charitable one.  So I contacted the activities departments of the nursing homes (having read online that nursing homes often accept handmade cards for their residents to use) and was very happy when my offers were met with great enthusiasm.  Second, I found a great sketch on Pinterest for the eleven card designs and was determined that for once I was going to stick to a sketch.  I was pleasantly surprised at how useful it was and at the results.  Third, I was patient and forgiving of myself – something that it’s often hard for this Aries girl to do.  But rather than Ram-like rushing through things, I took my time and enjoyed the process.

Along the way, I kept in mind my comments from my last post — about having accumulated too much stamping “stuff” too quickly.  Not only did slowing down allow me the time to think more about which tools and products – among all the ones that I have – did I want to use, it also gave me time to think about what I’d do differently if I were to start all over, and what advice I’d give to those just starting out in this great hobby.  Here are some of them:

Tip #1:  Set a budget and stick to it.   Do whatever works for you.  Let yourself spend $20 a week, each and every week.  Or put $10 in an envelope each week and then every month go spend your $40.  Whatever works, but figure out how much you are going to let yourself spend on this hobby and work within those means.  It took me a while to do that, but now I have it down to a science.   I keep a spreadsheet with my “wish list” on it.   Every couple of months when I put in a new Stampin’ Up! order, I know exactly how much I’m allowing myself to spend so I pull up my wish list (which is an ever-evolving document) and tweak my order to come within a dollar or two or my spending limit.

Tip #2: Be realistic about your budget.  Yes, this does somewhat contradict Tip #1, but if you want to be a card maker, there will be some initial start-up costs, and some on-going ones as well, that you need to be able to invest in.  For example, you’ll need a paper trimmer and a good pair of craft paper scissors to start out.  And don’t forget storage containers / systems of some sort.  Maybe you already own some things that can be repurposed, but you may need to buy some new ones.  Paper and other supplies will need to be stored somewhere.  In terms of on-going costs, your adhesives will probably be the items you most frequently need to replace.  I buy mine in bulk on-line; I’ve found that to be the most cost-effective option.  But it’s still an expense you need to take into consideration and allow funds for.

Tip #3: Speaking of adhesives….make sure your adhesive runner isn’t permanent the moment you stick it down — find one that is temporarily removable and then becomes permanent.   Nothing ruins a card quicker than putting something down crooked and not being able to quickly peel it back up again to readjust it.

Tip #4: Always keep a spare cutting blade for your paper trimmer.  Crisp cut lines vs. ragged, dull cut lines can really affect the quality of a finished card.

Tip #5 Watch out for the copyright mark on patterned paper.  There’s nothing like finishing your masterpiece only to realize that someone’s copyright is standing front and center.   Been there, done that.  Either cut off that edge of the paper, or strategically cover it.

Tip #6 Measure twice, cut once.  This is particularly true if you are working with patterned paper that has a design that goes in only one direction.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been rushing and cut patterned paper for a horizontal card in the vertical direction – or vice versa – and then the dimensions are all wrong – and paper is wasted.  Well, not quite; I end up doing some sort of work around, but it never feels as nice as it would have if I’d just been paying more attention to begin with.

Tip #7 Don’t be afraid to admit you made a mistake.  It happens.  At least when I make cards it does.  I think I’ve come up with a GREAT idea, but then I step back, look at it and think, yeah, that’s just a little too loud, or too “out there” for anyone but me to like (or even me to like).  So I pull apart the pieces, salvage what I can of the card stock I used, and start over.

Tip #8 Find a Brand and Stick with it.  As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on my blog, I’m an independent demonstrator with Stampin’ Up!     I started card making with their products and have stuck with them because of the high quality – and the wonderful coordination of product lines and colors.  I’ve tried getting random paper stacks from the brick and mortar retailers, but find it difficult to use them because it’s so hard to match colors.  Sticking with just Stampin’ Up! paper means I can buy a package of their designer series paper and it will coordinate with five or six of their solid color card stocks that I already have.   This year they’ve started selling solid color card stock assortments to match the designer series paper.  It’s a great, economical way to stock up on the coordinating colors.

Tip #9 Copy and Share Everything (CASE).  CASE is a very familiar acronym in the paper-crafting world.  There are so many talented card makers and they share their gift with others through blogs, on Pinterest, and with videos demonstrating how they achieved that perfect design.  Set up your own Pinterest page and save those card designs you like and would like to copy either directly or use as inspiration for your own design.  But remember, it doesn’t take much to make a design your own — turn the design 90 degrees; add a frame of coordinating colored card stock around every piece of patterned paper (this simple technique really boosts the look of a card); when a sketch shows a solid line, remember it can be a ribbon, card stock, a row of buttons or punched flowers – anything you choose to represent a “line”, etc., etc.  So keep a separate Pinterest board just of sketches, here’s mine and stretch and challenge yourself often.

Tip #10 Don’t Save Every Scrap, But Organize the Ones You Do.  The tag line for Best Friends Animal Society, one of the country’s largest animal rescue organizations which runs an animal sanctuary in Kanab, Utah (I hope to visit someday), is “Save Them All”.  So true for homeless pets.  Not so true for paper scraps.  Too many and too small ones can be a burden if you feel you “have” to use them.  Then the scraps are forcing your design and it is not a good thing.  True, I’ve seen some beautiful cards that take advantage of scraps, but not all the 1×1 inch ones I seem to accumulate!  So be judicial and throw out anything that is really too small to do anything with.  And sort the other pieces in some logical manner so you’ll know you’ll be able to find them to use again.  I sort mine into plastic bags by color group.  So when I need to find a scrap of a particular shade of green, I go to the green bag.  I’ve seen other demonstrators who have more sophisticated storage systems do the same thing except with file folders by specific color name.

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I hope you’ve found these tips useful.  I’ll add more in another post as I think of them.  I’ve included below the sketch I used this past weekend and a few close ups of some of the cards I created.

 

Sketch for Making Eleven Cards from One 12 x 12 sheet of patterned paper

Sketch for Making Eleven Cards from One 12 x 12 sheet of patterned paper; from Sylvie Drauer Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Cards by Certain Smiles Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

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Filed under Card Designs, Card Making, Card Sketches

Still Stamping the Blues

Any one who knows me or has seen my desk at work or craft space at home knows that neatness is not my greatest attribute.  Nor am I one to quickly straighten up after working on a project.  So, needless to say, after my venture with Hanukkah cards two weeks ago, my craft table is still full of blue card stock of every design and hue that I own.  The only difference is that last weekend I shifted gears and put away my one set of Hanukkah stamps and pulled out my many and varied Christmas stamps.  I’ve got penguins, snowflakes, snowmen, the three wise men, the shepherds watching their flock, holiday ornaments, Christmas trees, pine branches, reindeer, etc.

You name it, I probably have a stamp for it.  Except Santa Claus.  I’m not sure why.  Well, that’s not true.  I do know.  I just don’t like the way the holly, jolly fellow has been commercialized.  Instead, I tend towards the more traditional symbols and sayings of the season and prefer to use them for my Christmas cards.  Here are a few that I came up with last weekend:

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Three Wise Men by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Three Wise Men by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Shepherds in the Field by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Christmas Card with Silhouette of the Shepherds in the Field by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Snowman and Snowflake Card by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Snowman and Snowflake Card by Certain Smiles. Image (c) Stampin’ Up!

OK, the last one is more whimsical than traditional.  I like making those kinds of cards too.   As I said, I’m still in blue mode.  I’ll break out the reds and greens in a few weeks.  I’m excited for that, but also dreading it.  You see, I’ve come to realize I made a rookie mistake when I started card making – I bought WAY too much in terms of papers, stamps, ribbons, buttons, punches, etc.  I kept thinking “oh, just think what I could make with that” whenever I saw a new stamp set or new paper design that caught my eye…. And I still think that!  But when I sit down to make cards I’m overwhelmed with the options in front of me – which set do I want to use? Which color combination? Which patterned paper?  It doesn’t help that I keep every little scrap of paper so I’m sometimes stuck trying to create a design around mismatched odds and ends!  No wonder I feel exasperated and frustrated rather than exhilarated and fulfilled.

But the good news is that I think I’ve learned my lesson.  And I’ll share some tips in my next post.

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Filed under About Me, Card Making, Christmas Cards

Hanukkah Hubris

It is early August and my craft table is awash in a sea of blue and white card stock.  No, I’m not scrapbooking about a recent vacation at the beach.   What I am doing is working on this year’s crop of Hanukkah cards.  Although Hanukkah is still 4 months away, I want to get them up on my Etsy store now so shoppers will have a chance to see them before the actual holiday.

Blue is one of my favorite colors, so I am enjoying this project.  But as someone who does not celebrate Hanukkah, I am challenged to know whether or not the end results are anything those who do celebrate the holiday would want to share with others.    I guess only time will tell.  As I search online for suggested sayings for Hanukkah cards I find it interesting that many sayings sound suspiciously like the generic phrases that might go into Christmas cards, including: “good tidings at Hanukkah.”  Seriously?

These others seem much more thematically appropriate:

  • Wishing for the festival of lights to shine down on you and your family
  • Happy Hanukkah from all of us to your beautiful family.  May these eight days of celebration bring peace and joy to your household
  • May the Menorah candles shine bright in your life.  Remember the miracle they represent. Best wishes.
  • May this Hanukkah fill your home with faith, light, freedom and love.
  • May your home grow brighter, your faith grow stronger, and your hearts be warm with each candle you light.

Perhaps this is why on the second page of my search results there was a link to a blog post about whether Hanukkah cards were simply the further corruption of that minor holiday into something it’s not: a card-worthy end of the year holiday – i.e. Christmas as well as the New Year (as opposed to the Jewish New Year which occurs in the fall).

Am I assisting in this co-oping process by adding my own cards to the mix?  Probably, but if so, I am hardly the first – commercial card makers, major retailers and advertisers have been at it long before me — and I doubt I will be the last.  But as I ponder the issue it does put a damper on my Hanukkah card making enthusiasm and I wonder if it’s even worth it.

Just as I wonder any time I put a card up on my Etsy site — if I’m ever going to make a difference with them.  I’d like to think, major or minor holiday, birthday or just because, there is always a reason to send a card to someone.  Just to let them know they are on your mind.  There are few things better (at least to me) than to open the mailbox at the end of the day and find amongst all the catalogs and advertising flyers an envelope with familiar handwriting on it – from a friend or a family member and to discover it’s a card or letter from them.  [Of course as I write this I realize I don’t necessarily practice what I preach and am rather negligent in my own reaching out, except for the two most important people in my life.  The others I connect to by e-mail or phone, if that.]

When I first started making cards, I had grand plans; I was going to change the world with my cards; people were going to use them to write things of great import and with great impact on those who received them.  Um….yeah, right.  I’ve often heard that the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans.   He obviously has not agreed that this is my grand purpose in life.   I wonder what is.

 

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles.  Images (c) by Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) by Stampin’ Up!

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Filed under About Me, Card Making, Card Sayings, Hanukkah Cards