Saturday, December 31, 2011

Card: Personal Poetry


Besides using my personal poetry as bookmarks to share, if the theme of the poem is appropriate I use them for cards as well.

How I Use Them:  The card with the poem entitled "Chattan v'Kallah" I use for Jewish Weddings.  The poem itself is about the traditional Jewish Wedding ceremony.  The card with the poem entitled "Pocahontas" I used for older girl's birthdays or when they first leave for college.  I think of it as a poem about a girl leaving home for the first time.  The card with the poem entitled "Living Dreams" I use for older boy's birthdays or when they first leave for college.  I wrote it for my brother in honor of his becoming a Bar Mitzvah - reflecting on the past and looking towards the future.  The poem entitled "In Your Eyes" I use for anniversaries.  I wrote this in High School and it was used in the booklet for the Prom.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bookmark: Personal Poetry

bkmkp_adream bkmkp_beach bkmkp_chattan bkmkp_dreams bkmkp_flutter bkmkp_ineyes bkmkp_lovelightly

Inspiration: Most of these feature poems I wrote in Jr High and High School, though a few are from college.  I always wanted an easy way to share them with others so I turned them into bookmarks.

How I Make Them: For some, I've created templates and cut-outs that I add to the bookmark.  The artwork is always related to the poem.  Then, I write out the poem using Gel Pens. If I'm going to do any hand-drawing on the bookmark, that comes next.  When I'm finished, I laminate them with my E-Z Laminator.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Craft Project: PomPom Snowman


Inspiration: We made these as the craft project for my daughter's recent 3rd birthday party.  Her party had a Dora & Diego's Winter Adventure theme.

How I Prepped the Craft: Before the party, I put together ziploc bags with all the parts for the craft that included:
  • 1 3" white pompom and 1 2.5" white pompom glued together with Elmer's SchoolGlue (pre-glued to avoid using glue the day of the party)
  • 2 oval googly eyes - each with a large Zots affixed to the back (backing from the Zot still attached)
  • 1 red mouth, cut out from a piece of sticky-backed stiff red felt (backing still attached)
  • 1 orange carrot nose, cut from a piece of pipe-cleaner (the kind that gets thicker and thinner, sorry I can't remember what they're called)
  • 1 black springy hat - I cut 2 different sized circles from a piece of stiff black felt (the smaller one was about 2/3 the size of the larger), then wound a single piece of black pipe-cleaner to match the roundness of the smaller circle.   Before the party, I also sewed the pipe-cleaner to each circle using embroidery floss to make sure it stayed together.
  • 1 scarf - I cut these from fabric scraps I had from another project.  I cut long strips, folded them in half, and cut slits for the end tassles.  I also sewed on a plastic snap so the kids would be able to just snap the scarf around the snowman the day of the party.
How We Finished them at the Party: Each child was assisted by a parent (mostly because these were toddlers between the ages of 3 and 5).  Each child got their ziploc back and boxes of Zots were available for the parents to use to help secure pieces where needed.
  • The backing was removed from the googly eyes so they could be stuck on the snowman.
  • A large Zot was added to the orange nose to help secure it when it was pushed into the snowman's head.
  • The backing was removed from the red mouth so it could be stuck on the snowman.
  • 3-4 Zots were put on the bottom of the hat to help it stick to the snowman's head (glue would probably work better but I was really trying to avoid having to let these dry and the mess that comes with glue)
  • The scarf was wrapped around the snowman and snapped together so it would stay on.

Final Thoughts: Overall I think it was a good project.  I did have to do quite a bit before the party.  I'm sure older kids could have done more.  Maybe one day I'll find a better adhesive to use with this age group.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Card: New Year's - Numeric Year

Inspiration: For Christmas & Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year) every year I try to do similarly styled cards.  In keeping with that, I used the calendar years for this year's cards.

How I Make Them:  I started by making templates for the numbers.  I used a ruler, compass and notecards and only made the numbers I needed.  I used the templates to trace my numbers on different colored paper.  After the numbers were all cut out I glued them onto the card stock - trying not to just glue them in a straight line so they looked a little more artistic.  I also used markers to outline and decorate the numbers to give them some embellishment.  Inside the card I wrote a message about the related holiday.

  • There are plenty of materials to use to embellish this type of card.  In the Rosh Hashana card example below I used stickers.  On my New Year's cards, I used markers.  Glitter is an option I try to avoid since most people don't like getting glitter all over when they open a card.  Confetti pieces relavent to the holiday can also be glued to cards.
  • Using different fonts for the letters can also make an appealing card.
Additional Photo


Monday, October 10, 2011

Sewing: Dolls

Admittedly, I much prefer paper crafts but once in a while I get in the mood to do something else.  While very little sewing uses paper, I do have paper templates I use to make these dolls (so it sort-of counts).


Inspiration:  A discussion had come up on the Geochums website (a forum that I belong to with a bit of a local geocaching flavor) about making dolls like the site's mascots, Lonnie & Lattie.  I figured, why not?  At the time (back in something like 2005 or 2006) I made two really large versions (Lattie in orange and Lonnie in green).  Then I made some smaller ones.  Then I thought, well, Lonnie & Lattie had 4 kids - East, West, South & North, and I made those in other colors (yellow, purple, red & blue).  I eventually just started making them in any scrap material I had around that looked kind of neat and in different sizes.  Just not the really large ones (took too much stuffing).  So I have a medium, a small, and a tiny.  I even once made an itty bitty one but it was too hard to stuff so I'm not doing that again.

How I Make Them:  I made different size templates by taking image files from the website and printing them at different sizes using Word (kind of lazy, but it worked).  For the sizes I like, I eventually copy them onto cardboard so they last a little longer (image).  I trace the templates onto the wrong side of the material (which is folded in half with right sides facing).  I cut them out leaving at least a 1/2 in margin (larger in places that would be a tight cut) (image).  I sew along the traced line leaving the side of one of the legs open to turn the doll out and stuff it.  Then I trim closer to my stitched edge and cut little triangles out around the head to help with the turning (image).  Then I turn it out.  I use a plastic yarn darner to help push the edges as far out as they'll go (image).  Then I stuff the doll and sew it closed it with nice hidden slip stitch.

  • Obviously any material can be used.  I started with solid colors and then moved on to patterns and scraps.  The ones with the flowers in the lead photo are from a table cloth that accidentially got cut in a way that couldn't be fixed.
  • Different sizes - large, medium, small, teeny.  As long as you can successfully turn it and stuff it, it'll work.
  • Ornaments - sometimes I add a ribbon between the right sides before sewing that can be used to hang the doll as an ornament.
  • Embellishments - I've never added a face to these, but I have a friend who drew a face on with a Sharpie for her daughter who couldn't stand it without one.  A face and even clothing items could be embroidered on before or sewn on later with buttons and other accent pieces (hmmm, I may have to do this sometime). 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Project: Sticker Book


Inspiration:  Do you remember having a sticker book as a child?  I know I had several over the years and collected many stickers.  They are long gone now, but as I already have a large selection of stickers saved for my daughter I wanted to find one for her.  Since all the stores I used to go to for them are gone and I couldn't find one I liked online, I experimented to find something that worked.  I also didn't want to use a traditional photo album (I remember using one of those for a while as a kid).  First I tried various types of paper (vellum, etc.), then I tried laminating and finally came up with one that works well.  We've been able to add and remove stickers and still have them stick to the pages.  I even made one for her cousin in Japan.

How I Make Them: I cut 6 half sheets of brightly colored paper so I'd have 12 pages including the front and back cover.  On them I added a few stickers and words using a Sharpee.  On the cover page, I wrote "My Stickers" and used stickers that spelled out the recipient's name.  On the back cover, I put a heart sticker and wrote "Love, Mommy" for the book for my daughter.  For her cousin's book, I used a US Flag sticker and wrote that it was from her cousins in the US.  Then I laminated each page using my Xryon laminator.  After trimming the lamination, I put the pages in order and added two hole punches to the top.  Finally, I used metal key rings to secure the pages together through the holes.

  • You could use any sized or shaped paper since you're laminating it.
  • If you don't have your own laminator (mine's a sticker laminator rather than a heat-based one), you could go to a copy center or Office Max, Staples, etc. and get the pages laminated there.
  • I used key rings to hold the pages together but you could put them a 3-ring binder or use yarn to tie them together or use office rings (I didn't use these because I was worried the small girls might open them).
Additional Photos:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Card: Baby - Pacifiers


Inspiration: This simple card was inspired by a shaped template.  I needed to make a card for a baby shower where no one knew the gender of the baby, so this is what I came up with.

How I Make Them:  As I mentioned, I had the shape in a template of baby-themed shapes.  I cut one in blue and one in pink.  I glue them to the card with ends intertwined.  Then on the inside of the card I write "Sending you wishes and prayers for a happy & healthy new bundle of joy!"

  • You don't have to use pink and blue.  If you know the gender you can stick with gender-based colors.  If you don't, you could also use yellow and green or different shades of purple or even purple and aqua.
Additional Photo:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Card: Valentine's Day - Woven Heart


Inspiration: Just like my woven star card for Rosh Hashana, I got this idea from an old arts and craft book.  Hearts are a simple shape and they look pretty neat when woven.

How I Make Them: I used another old scrapbooking die cut for the heart shape.  I either cut out one, trace the same die cut on the card and then cut slits in the card using an Xacto knife (version on the left of the above image) or I cut out two in different shades of the same color (version on the right of the above image).  I cut the cut-out hearts into strips and then weave - either on the card or just the two hearts.  I use a little glue to hold down each edge piece.  When I use two different hearts, I trim them when I'm done to neaten it up before gluing it down on a card.  On the inside of the card, I usually write a personal message.

  • I switch off between using this card for Valentine's Day and Anniversaries.
  • There are still plenty of other shapes that could be woven - present (box, just add a ribbon after), circle (add a smiley face), etc.
  • I've toyed with using strips of fabric or ribbon too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Card: Valentine's Day - Arrow Words


Inspiration: I thought I had taken the alphabet I used for this card from Margaret Shepherd's Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy, but I went through the book twice today and couldn't find it.  My best guess then is that I might have been inspired to try to make my own alphabet (each set of pages in the book is set up to be a week's worth of exercises in calligraphy and one of those weeks did have the 7th lesson of the week as a design your own alphabet).  I must have figured doing an alphabet for Valentine's Day would have been easy.  I really like the "art deco" quality to how these turned out.

How I Make Them:  I initially drew out my alphabet for this card in a notebook (see image below).  Since then I always make the lettering part of this card on vellum by tracing that original drawing with the use of a light box (initially I had a home-made one using a long light stick places inside an acrylic cookbook holder). I start with the arrows in gold gel pen.  Next I add all the red hearts on the tips of the arrows in red gel pen.  Finally I add the straight edges of the letters using a small nibbed calligraphy pen and black india ink.  I usually do several of these and let them dry overnight.  Then I cut them out of the vellum, sometimes using fancy edges craft scissors like in the photographed example above.  I secure the vellum to the front of the card using heart shaped seals or stickers that overlap the card and an edge of the vellum.  I usually leave the inside of these cards blank to write a personal message.

  • Simple inspired alphabets could be used for any kind of card.  The more embellished the letters are, the less other decoration is needed so that the alphabet stands out.
  • Some quick ideas I'm thinking of: a snowman shaped or accessorized alphabet for winter holidays, a balloon themed alphabet for birthdays, a flower-shaped alphabet for mothers day, an alphabet made of tools for father's day.  What other themes can you come up with that might be fun to try?
Additional Photo

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Card: Valentine's Day - XO


Inspiration: I received a Valentine's card from my husband one year that was a string of XO's.  While I knew that limitations in the size of my cardstock and the type of cards I make wouldn't let me do the same thing, I wondered if I could at least do something similar and this is what I came up with.

How I Make Them: Instead of my usual white or cream cardstock, I was able to find cardstock in a checked pink/white with the white parts of the checks actually small enough to just look like little dots.  I started by cutting the whole card out to look more O-like - primarily just rounding the corners.  Then I cut out notched V's on the 3 open edges to start to get the X.  On the closed edge, I use an Xacto knife to help me get it out without cutting through the rest of the card.  After I made the first one that I liked, I used it as a template to trace out where to cut the V's for later cards.  When the cutting is done, I use gel pens in red, pink, and silver to write lines of words across the X.  On the photographed examples, I wrote "Hugs and Kisses and Hugs and Kisses...".  I draw very light pencil dots at the inner edge of the V's on the O so that when I write inside my card, it doesn't show through.

  • This card lends itself well for Anniversaries, Weddings, and even Mother's Day.  Just change the repeated words.  For a wedding or anniversary you could use "Love and Marriage and...".
  • It might be neat to make a set of cards with two overlapped alphabet letter shapes as a gift set of thank you notes for someone (as long as the two letters lend themselves to being overlapped like this).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Card: Chanukah - Stove photos


Inspiration: For years I've been trying to think of a way to incorporate potato latkes (pancakes) into a Chanukah card.  I finally came up with a way to do it though not showing latkes directly.  Plus I got to add in photos!  What could be better!

How I Make Them: First I cut out black circles of about 1 inch in diameter (4 for each card) and circles in another much lighter color (white, silver, yellow - the color really doesn't matter) also about 1 inch in diameter (4 for each card).  I also cut out little strips of paper from the scrips (about 1 inch long).  I glued one strip with about 1/2 of it sticking out between a black and a lighter colored circle (4 of these for each card, I hope you're getting the idea).  I used a hole punch to get small black circles from the black scrips (6 for each card).  I placed 4 of the larger black circles on the card to get approximate placement before using a ruler to decide where I wanted to draw 2 horizontal lines to represent the upper part of my stove top (the part with the knobs).  I made sure the 2 lines were far enough apart to fit the hole-punch black circles between them.  On the larger black circles (after they were glued with the strips and the lighter colored circles), I drew the swirl of the burners using a silver Sharpie.  I bent the strips and glued down the 4 circles by the thin strip only so these circles could flip up.  I glued down 4 of my hole-punched black circles to make knobs.  I then used a black gel pen to draw a rectangle for the clock/timer, write a time in red gel pen (I had to make sure it was a time other than 8:00, you'll read why in a bit) and glued 2 more hole-punched black circles as the oven knobs for temp and time.  Near the top of the card, I wrote "Chanukah is here! Who will make the latkes?"  I cut out small photos of myself, my husband, my then almost 2-year old daughter and one of our cats.  I used photo mounts (those little square ones) to secure the photos onto the card under the larger flip-up circles so they were over the strip but not visible when the larger circles are flat against the card.  I added labels on the burners (just in case someone didn't recognize any of the photos) and on the underside of the burners I added short comments that basically said "not me".  The comments included "No!!!!!", "Oy Vey", "Sure!", and "Mew?"

For the inside of the card, I cut out a large oval out of shiny silver paper (you can use aluminum foil for this if needed).  I glued this to the center area of the card inside.  I then wrote about it, "You will!?!?!?!?! Great! We'll see you at 8!"  Then signed the card from all of us.

  • For a few people, I swapped out the photo of one of our cats with something more meaningful (another relative that we'd seen recently but that they don't see often or in one case an image of Elvis).
  • It might have been cool to actually show a pan with some latkes cooking, but I'm just not that talented.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Card: Christmas - Ornament Photo


Inspiration: This is the card I used last year (Christmas 2010) so I could include a photo of my daughter.  Sorry, but I covered over her image on purpose.  Basically, it was the first idea I had for being able to integrate a smaller photo frame into the card and I went with it.

How I Made Them:  I used a scrapbooking circle template that had about a 3" diameter and cut out circles in bright colored paper for the overall ornaments.  I measured and cut out a 1.5" square near the bottom of the cut out circles, rounding the corners as I cut it out.  I glued the circles to the folded cardstock using basically only 3 small drops of glue (at the bottom and each of the 2 sides) so that the photo area and the top would be open to add the photo later.  I cut out the top of the ornament by making a quick template and then using a shiny silver cardstock.  When I was ready to add the photo, I trimmed it to be just larger than the opening and slid it into place.  I used a little glue on the back of the photo so it would slip around and a little glue near the top of the ornament to "close" the frame.  Then I glued on the silvery top of the ornamet and drew the ornament's hanging string using a gold gel pen and having it include "Merry Christmas" in cursive (kind of like on my lightbulb cards from the previous post).  When I remembers, I wrote my daughter's name and her age on the ornament under her photo.  Inside I added the following verse:

"Happy family memories
   both old and new
Friends gathered near
   a lot or a few
All share good cheer
With the holidays here
As we send our love
   this season to you!"

  • The photo could even be of a beloved pet, the whole family, or even more special, one of you along with the person you're sending the card to.  Be sure to add a label on the ornament so no one will forget what or who is in the photo.
  • If you don't have shiny silver cardstock or paper, you could always cover a small piece of cardboard with aluminum foil.
Additional Photo:
This shows you the ornament before the photo was added.  I just placed the top of the ornament in position for this photo without gluing it but I did add the hand-drawn ornament hanging string before adding the photo to save time later.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Card: Christmas - Lightbulb

This card has to be my all time favorite (so far) of the different Christmas cards I've made.  It's fun to look at them when they're done and I have a lot of fun making them.

Inspiration:  I had made the candle card from the previous post the year before and still wanted to do something within the realm of light.  I had also started playing with alphabets and was doing more calligraphy again.  I thought about doing a string of lights (a concept I might still come back to) but didn't want to create or cut out really small pieces.  Most modern Christmas tree lights are pretty small, but I remember helping a neighbor decorate his family's tree with larger (and more fragile) lights kind of the like the one I used in this card.

How I Make Them:  I did this one a little different.  I actually made my first card with this idea and then took it apart to make templates out of cardstock so I could make a bunch of them.  I started with the oval (skinny egg) shaped light bulb (the image above shows it in a light green, I did the first one in neon yellow).  Then I cut out something that I hoped looked like the socket part of a lightbulb (originally in a shiny silver but I later opted to do this in black).  I had glued those down to the card and then drew a cord with black gel pen (initially single strand) that spellout out Merry Christmas (missing the dot on the letter "i") in cursive.  I went back and added the second strand before and after the words (which does make it look a little more realistic).  Then I cut out a plug (originally in shiny silver again but later opted to do part in black with the prongs in shiny silver) and glued that to the end of the cord.  I thought it would look more electrifying if I made the dot on the letter "i" look like a flame or a spark using gel glitter pens.  I leave the inside of this card blank so I can personalize the message for each recipient.

  • I switched for a silvery socket and an all silvery plug to using black with just a little silver for the plug's prongs, mostly because I thought the lightbulb color stood out better than way.
  • There's still the idea of spelling out Merry Christmas using a strand of more modern looking Christmas tree lights (though I think I've seen that on commercially sold cards before).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Card: Christmas - Candle


Inspiration:  I had a friend who always kept very decorative candles in each of the upstairs bedroom windows during the holidays.  They usually sat on bases covered with ivy or holly and the candles smelled of cinnamon or other spices.  However, at night, if she wanted them lit, she put out these plastic plug-in candles instead.  Since that time, we often see candlelight (of the plug-in variety) in houses of windows in our neighborhood (though it isn't always limited to just yuletime).

How I Make Them:  I started by making my own templates:  a candle and a piece of holly.  I cut out the candle usually using a darker color solid paper, in the image above I used a dark mulberry, but I've also used navy and a dark purple as well.  I cut out 2 leaves of holly for each card in different colors of greens.  I glue the candle to the card so that it touches the bottom edge.  I glue the pieces of holly overlapping but so the bulk of them are on either side of the candle near the bottom.  I draw a wick with black gel pen and then color a flame onto it using red, orange, and yellow colored pencils.  I write "Merry Christmas" on top with a gold gel pen.  I don't know if you can see my notes on the above image or not, but inside I write the verse below in gel pen in a color that matches the candle as closely as possible.

"May the glow
   of warmth and love
from family and friends
   surround your home
this holiday season."

  • I could also do the flame out of paper, though I saw some interesting looking fabric the other day at Joann's that could almost look like flames (I might try this soon).
  • If it's available I'll use solid colored paper that has a texture to it for this card.  I'm not sure why, but I think it looks better.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Card: Christmas - Candy Cane


Inspiration: When I came up with the card, I was still on my shaped-card streak.  Other than doing a Christmas tree, which I'd used as a card design in an earlier year, this one the shape I came up with.   I also wanted to do something other than just coloring the stripes on the card and remembered I still had quite a bit of ribbon left over from the prior Christmas.

How I Make Them:  The first time I used some green cardstock and created the overall shape of the card (the green in the photo above).  I now use this as a template, making sure the long edge of the candy cane is on the fold.  I cut out the whole card.  Then out I cut out pieces of red ribbon pretty close to the final length.  I've used mostly a fabric-based plain red ribbon with a little bit of shine with a width of anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 inches.  I glue down the ribbon (for some reason rubber cement tends to work better with the ribbon than glue) into angles stripes.  Once the ribbon dries, I trim the edges to match the edges of the card.  Inside the card, I write "Have a sweet holiday season!"

  • As mentioned above I could just color the stripes, but I've always thought the ribbon makes it look a little nicer.
  • I've considered using magazine cutouts of images that are predominately red or red patterned fabric just to try to give them a slightly different look.
  • The use of ribbon and/or fabric could also lead to a pretty cute looking gingerbread man.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Card: Rosh Hashana - Wings of Shekinah


Inspiration:  Almost 10 years ago, I took a short Hebrew Calligraphy course at the local synogague.  At the end of the course, we were supposed to come up with a project using calligraphy.  I'd always liked "B'ruchot Habaot" from Debbie Friedman's And You Shall Be a Blessing album.  While the imagery of the Shekinah is often a bird or a floating bride, I decided to use a butterfly.

How I Make Them:  I made a small circle template with slots that I use to get the earth centered and to space out the hebrew words for peace (Shalom) and love (Ahava) around it.  I do all the calligraphy first, starting with peace and love around the earth and then the feminine (on the right side) and masculine (on the left side) versions of the prayer on either side of the wings.  I usually do the prayer in a brown or gold ink color and peace/love around the earth in black.  Then I use colored pencils to color in the earth (free-hand style on the continents though sometimes they don't always look like we know them to be).  Then I finish by drawing the outline of the butterfly with colored pencils and then color in the body and wings.  I typically use the yellow and orange for the wings shown here.  I also color some sky blue in the areas that would otherwise be white on the card.  On the inside of the card, I write the English translation "May be you blessed beneath the wings of Shechina."

  • I've used this card for much more than Rosh Hashana.  It's sentiment is very appropriate as a condolence or get well card too.
  • I've also made larger versions that I've framed. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Card: Rosh Hashana - Woven Star


Inspiration:  I actually found something like this a long time ago in a book of crafts and decided to try it out.  I think I made them with hearts first (for anniversary cards and I'll post some of those later since I'm making more now).  I decided to use it with stars one year to see how they would turn out.

How I Make Them:  I use an old scrapbooking die-cut and trace the star shape on the card and on blue colored paper.  I use my Xacto knife to cut out lines on my card going just beyong the edge of the shape's lines.  I cut my blue shape into strips with scissors and then weave the pieces onto the card.  The card in the photo above had lines cut on the card at a diagonal and the blue shape was cut horizontally (or maybe it was vice versa - hard to tell from the photo).  I glue down the ends.  After it dries I outline the shape with marker (silver Sharpie and blue gel pens for the one above).  In this version, I calligraphied L'Shana Tovah in Hebrew letters.  On the inside, I wrote "May your family and friends bring you many blessings in the new year!"

  • As mentioned in the previous post, cards with Stars of David can be used for any Jewish Holiday or Occasion.
  • It might be fun to try different materials for the weaving like ribbon or fabric.  Just make sure the material is sturdy enough (tissue paper would probably rip too easily).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Card: Rosh Hashana - Cut out Star


Inspiration:  I had purchased some tissue paper for another project and had lots leftover.  I'd also been toying with the idea of stained glass and how to incorporate that into a card.  I decided to cut out a Star of David shape but make it a little less typical (thus the resulting skinny star) and use the tissue paper to fill in it.

How I Make Them:  I actually ended up making a template of the front of the card for this one so I could get the star shape the same (or pretty close to the same every time).  I trace my star cut it out using an Xacto knife.  I trim the edges with scissors to make them rounded.  I choose 2-4 colors of tissue paper and cut small thin rectangles.  I put some glue on the inside of the card (while it's open) around the edge of the star and then slightly overlap the tissue paper (if I need it, I add a little glue to help hold down the overlapped parts).  On the version pictured above, I wrote "L'Shana Tovah" (a good year) with a silver Sharpie and then outlined it with a gel pen.  Sometimes I use my calligraphy nibs and ink for this.  For Rosh Hashana, I write "May you have a year filled with beautiful blessings" on the inside of the card.

  • These stained glass stars also work well for Chanukah and any other Jewish occasion like a Bar or Bat Mitzvah (especially thoughtful if you match the tissue paper to the colors on the invitation), Confirmation, Pesach (Passover), Jewish Wedding, and others.
  • Just like with my faux-stained glass decorations, you could also use crayon shavings trapped in wax paper (don't forget the cloth when you use the iron).
  • Small silk painted pieces could be used too.
  • If the star was large enough, it could be a photo-frame card.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Card: Rosh Hashana - Shofar


Inspiration:  Rabbi Enid Lader's song "The Sound of the Shofar" always pops into my head whenever I think about Rosh Hashana.  It's simple and fun.  This card was designed with this song in mind.

How I Make Them:  I use a scrapbooking template to make the music notes and and I usually just cut out the shofar by hand (no template, though it would be easy to make one).  I usually make the shofar in a dark yellow.  I glue on the shofar with the notes above it and then using different colored gel pens, I write in the sounds that the shofar makes as described in the song - "Te'kiah!", "She-varim!", and "Te'ruah!"  On the inside of the card, I write "May the sound of the shofar usher in a year of peace for you and all those you hold dear"

  • A musical staff could come out of the shofar and the words could be written like notes on it.
  • Just a large, more ornate Shofar could be used as the image.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Card: Rosh Hashana - Open Book


Inspiration:  It is a very traditional belief in Judaism that during the time between Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), you need to be on your best behavior so that your are included in this year's "Book of Life".  As a greeting, many Jews wish each other that they be inscribed in the book.  I've drawn this open book shape since elementary school and thought it would be a good way to incorporate it.

How I Make Them:  I made a template of the book pages which I usually cut out of parchment paper (or paper made to look like parchment paper).  I draw lines in pencil and then use india ink and a thinner calligraphy pen nib for the words, "On Rosh Hashana, it is written." and "On Yom Kippur, it is sealed."  After the ink dries, I erase my pencil lines.  I cut out a rectangle in colored paper, glue it to the card and then add the book.  I draw a dark line using a gel pen to mark the binding in the middle of the book.  On the inside of the card I write, "May you be inscribed for a year of peace, health, and happiness."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Card: Rosh Hashana - Apple


Since we're already on apples...

Inspiration:  I wanted to do a shaped card with the apple and ended up with this.

How I Make Them: I ended up making my own template for the apple, stem & leaf.  I store them in the computer keyboard themed envelope you see in the photo above.  The apple template actually has the whole overall shape and I use that to trim my card first.  Then I cut out my shapes - red for the apple, green for the leaf and a dark brown for the stem.  I glue on the stem, leaf and then the apple.  I don't write anything on the apple but inside I write "Wishes for a sweet new year!"

  • I still want to do one of the inside of the apple one day - looking down on the apple and seeing it's seeds make a star shape, but that might not be enough.  Though I guess if I did a bird's eye view of the apple on the front of the card and then the seeds inside the card it might work.
  • The apple shaped card might make a nice Thank You card for a teacher.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Card: Rosh Hashana - Apples & Honey


Although Rosh Hashana isn't until the fall, this is the time of year that I start working on my cards for that season.  So I'll share a few designs I've used over the past years in the hope that they inspire an idea of this year.

Inspiration:  Apples and honey are a traditional snack to wish one a sweet new year.  This is actually one of the first card designs I came up with when I first started making my own cards.

How I Make Them:  I made a little apple template the first time and I always cut them out of a smooth red paper.  I also made a template for the jar and it's lid.  I try to keep the jar to a golden yellow color but switch between brown, gold and shiny silver for the lid.  After gluing on the pieces, I hand-draw the word (or at least part of the word) "Honey" on the jar and add "L'Shana Tovah" which means A Good Year.  On the inside I write "May your new year be sweet!"

  • Sometimes I write a little rhyme instead on the inside but I can't remember the exact wording right now.
  • I'm thinking about doing a card and adding the little honey dipper too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


After reviewing a product and a resource I use, I figured it was time to show you some of my supplies for card making.  The above picture is most of what I keep in my pen box of crafting supplies (except the colored pencils because they don't fit).  I'll give a short description of each item in order clockwise from the left.

Colored Pencils:  These are a 24 pack by Koh-i-noor.  I like these because they aren't wood coated and they color very smoothly.

Purple Plastic Ruler: This is a pretty cheap little ruler that I use - I think I took it off of a plastic clipboard that I got.  The size is good for working on my cards, but I have cut it a few times with my eXactO knife so I doubt the lines are super straight anymore.

Pencil Sharpener: I use this one mostly for my colored pencils since all of my lead writing pencils are mechanical.

Scissors: I actually keep 2-3 different sizes of scissors in this case, but took the others out so the picture wouldn't be too cluttered (though it probably is anyway).  I do make sure that I use my crafting scissors only on paper (and my sewing scissors never touch my paper!).

Eraser: This is the little smiley face - I bought a big container of like 200 of these years ago and am still working my way through it.  I like the small size for getting in close to inks and colored spots with less likelihood of smearing (though sometimes I still do).

Metal clip:  the loop shaped clip that I use for folding my card stock to make a nice strong & clean crease.

Small paint brush: I use this for quickly brushing away eraser residue when I need to erase reference lines I made for lettering on cards.

Hole Punch: I use this for creating very small circles for cards or to make holes to attach paper inside a card (like I did for my daughter's birth announcements - 2 holes and then ribbon strung through the holes on the inside of the card and the paper with the text)

Glue: see my note about Glue from 3/18/2011.

Pens, Markers, Mechanical Pencils:  This includes small Sharpies, various mechanical or tip changing pencils, gel pens and Crayola markers for writing text and some coloring/decorating on the cards.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Resource Review: Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy

This short review is of Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy by Margaret Shepherd.  I bought this book because I thought it would be neat to try out different styles/fonts of alphabets for practicing my calligraphy.  I've actually gotten quite a bit of use out of it for finding interesting fonts to use for my cards.

The example letters are fairly clear and the book has a very nice variety of alphabets.  It does give little arrows around the letters to show the strokes (sometimes numbered with the order) but most often I just use it as an overall visual and try to re-create the letters my own way.

The pages above give an example of what the alphabets look like in the book.  This pair of pages actually shows more traditional alphabets (many within the book are not).  I used the camellia alphabet shown on the right for the anniversary cards I made in this post.  I've also used other ideas from this book (like a font for Valentine's Day that uses arrows in the letters which I'll post about later).

So if you're looking for a good reference book for alphabets/fonts, I highly recommend this book!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Product Review: Xyron ezLaminator

I've mentioned my ezLaminator in several posts now so I thought I should write a short Product Review about it.  So here goes...

I got my ezLaminator as a gift from my mom.  I'd been thinking about getting a laminator but I was looking at heated/electric ones and at the time they were way out of my budget.  At the time (this is probably close to 8 years ago), I think my mom paid around $50 for it (I'll post some links to ones on Amazon so you can get an idea of current prices).  As you can tell from some of my previous posts, I still use it quite a bit.  I laminate most of the bookmarks I make, flashcards, and the decorations I make from old calendar pages for our Sukkah in the fall.

The Xyron ezLaminator is a cold seal laminator.  It doesn't use electricity to run - it's a hand crank.  And it doesn't use heat, which is nice if you want to laminate something that already has a little bit of coating on it so it doesn't melt it and distort the image.  The cold seal is basically a very strong adhesive (at least to itself and to paper). 

  • Quick & convenient
  • No electric & no heat
  • Easy to use
  • Sticker based so it leaves my scissors with sticky goo to remove
  • Refill cartridges are often difficult to find in retail stores or a little pricier (haven't done the cost comparison but it might actually be less expensive to just take my lamination pieces to OfficeMax and have them done there)
  • Size limitation (sometimes old calendar images are larger than what I can feed through the machine)


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Card: Birthday - Dinosaur


Inspiration:  I needed a card for a little boy who loves dinosaurs.  I'm not the best artist in the world but with the help of looking at some images on-line I came up with this one.

How I Made Them:  As with many of my cards, I made templates so I can make this one as many times as I need.  I started with the main body and legs.  I also created small templates for the plates on the dinosaur's back and tail.  I glue the body down first and leave a small part of the tail unglued so one of the spikes can sit under it.  Then I glue on the plates and then the 2 spikes.  I draw in a little eye and write "Happy Birthday" on the card.  On the inside, I wrote "This dinosaur joins us in wishing you a special day!"

  • An invitation for a dinosaur-themed party and/or a thank you card after the party.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Card: Birthday - Planets in the Sky


Inspiration:  My inspiration for this card actually came from the paper I used as the background.  It's origami paper that's a dark blue with lots of little gold stars on it.  I thought it looked like outer space.

How I Make Them:  I trimmed a piece of the origami paper to fit the front of the card.  I cut out circles in different sizes for the planets - at least 2 smaller and 1 larger.  I cut the ring around the one planet out of silver reflective paper.  I glued down the planets and ring after laying them out.  I wrote "Happy Birthday" on one of the planets.  On the inside, I wrote "May your birthday be out of this world!"

  • I imagine when I'm out of my origimi paper I can either find similar scrapbooking paper or just use a darker cardstock and draw on gold/silver stars with gel pens or Sharpies.
  • The planets and rings can be in any color.
  • If I was a better artist I could even add a space ship or satellite.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Card: Birthday - City at Night


Inspiration: I had a lot of small darker scraps of paper and wanted to find a way to use them.  I came up with this idea of doing buildings.  Since they were dark, I figured a city skyline at night was the way to do.

How I Make Them:  I start by gluing a darker blue piece of paper to my card.  I cut out various sized rectangles from scraps of dark paper and glue those on to look like buildings of different sizes.  I have a hole-punch that creates small 6 small rectangles in a row that I used with yellow paper.  I glue these onto the rectangles to look like windows with lights on. I draw on stars using a silver Sharpie and wrote "Happy Birthday".  Inside I write, "Hope you have a fun birth day that continues with a starry night!"

  • The city skyline could be used for an invitation for a night out on the town, a girl's night, a bachelorette party, or whatever else you can think of.
  • It would make a nice image for a Thank You card for someone who hosted you during a recent visit to their town.
  • If you really want to embellish with details, you could draw in antennaes on the tops of the buildings or have some that aren't quite so rectangular.
  • A new home card could have tall buildings on the sides in silhouette and then a small little house in the middle in silhouette with a message along the lines of "Welcome to the neighborhood..." on the outside and on the inside, "we hope you'll grow to love it like we do!"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Learning Aid: Flashcards - Hebrew Letters


Inspiration: I just made these a little over a week ago and I'm super excited about them.  We had a small party to celebrate our daughter's first haircut (similar to the traditional Upsherin held for Jewish boys at age 3).  Part of the tradition for the first haircut is that Jewish children start learning about their culture and more specifically, the Hebrew language.  I thought this would be a great time to start teaching her the Hebrew Aleph-Bet (letters), so I made some flashcards.

How I Made Them:  I used old business cards that I had from a previous job and calligraphied each letter onto a card.  I used a Coit 3/8" calligraphy pen and black India Ink.  I took a 2nd card (since I couldn't use both sides) and wrote the name of the letter, it's sound as related to English, and a word that begins with that letter in Hebrew (I didn't take a photo of the back because they don't look nearly as good!).  I taped the two cards together to hide my old business card and then laminated them using my Xyron ez-Laminator.

  • I know I can get business card sized paper at Hollo's Papercraft.  That would have worked better with the laminator as the double-thickness of traditional business cards might not hold up as long as I'd like.
  • I could have colored the letters with gel pen after doing the calligraphy with the black just so that it might hold her attention longer.
  • Flashcards can be made of just about anything.  My daughter is almost 2 1/2 so letters, numbers, colors, and shapes would all be great things to start with.  For preschools, cards about weather, common objects, animals, etc. would also be good.  Of course, vocabulary words are always great for school-age children to practice with.  I'm even toying with making a set for creating words when she's ready - with a blank followed by a-t (e.g. _at) and then smaller letter sets to match in front (e.g., c, b, f, h, th, ch, m, gn, s, wh, etc.).