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.