Baby Starling Adventures

I’m going to add more, but for right now I wanted to embed this to get it out there.

Believe it or not I have another baby starling! No name yet. I guess I am trying not to get too attached in case it doesn’t make it. But I think it’s far too late for that isn’t it! Doesn’t take long to fall in love with these little ones. I got it through my online pet starling rescue group. The finder said it was sneezing and on Monday it was having bad breathing problems so I got it to Family Pet Hospital. They were able to see it on short notice (THANK YOU!) and prescribed antibiotics which I will give for two weeks. It’s doing much better. Please pray that it makes it!

Here is Family Pet Hospital’s FB page https://www.facebook.com/familypetstl They treat birds, chameleons, bats, geckos, snakes, fish, iguanas, o’possums, vultures, bats, scorpions, frogs, aardvarks, eagles, hedgehogs, turkeys, pigs, peafowl, monitors, etc. They have an aviary in there with canaries, finches and keets. My kind of place! Oh yeah dogs and cats too. Check out their patient photos!

My new little one is on antibiotics and is doing better. I still hear the lung crackling sound. Any suggestions for supportive care? I’m making sure it’s warm enough and I have a damp t-shirt partially over the bucket it’s in for humidity and quiet. It’s eating starling baby mix and I’m also giving it bits of apple and blueberry dipped in yogurt and a chamomille/lemon balm tea. Poops look good. I take it out once every 45 minitues to feed and change the paper towel so it’s not sitting in poop. It’s averaging one poop per feeding.

Garden Themed Party Favors

Do you have a summer event coming up that could incorporate a garden theme? If so, here is an idea for combining my last two published projects, Make a Seed Packet Bouquet and Make Gift Tags Into Recycled Greeting Cards. Presented in a terra cotta plant pot, these “bouquets” could be a garden themed gift, party favor or table decoration. I made these samples because I needed Mother’s Day gifts in a hurry, but variations could be made for garden parties, weddings, tea parties, picnics and more.

In my project Make a Seed Packet Bouquet, I experimented with different embellishments for the corners of the seed packet holders. For this group I punched out a whole bunch of circles with a circle craft punch. Then I stamped a flower stamp on many pieces of colorful scrap paper. I cut the flowers out then glued each to a circle.

Flower stamp credt: 7Gypsies.

I then used the circles on the corners of the seed packet holders by punching a hole in the middle and attaching them with metal brads.

Stamp credits: Flower inside circle, realistic butterflies, bird egg, “Crazy Love” by7Gypsies. “Seeds”, brackets, “love” by CarolynHDesign. “Celebrate” by Making Memories. Scribble flowers and butterfly by Fiskars.

I selected two tags for each seed packet assembly, one smaller and decorative and the other larger and functional with “To” and “From” on the back.

I went to Schnarr’s Hardware to buy terra cotta plant pots and packets of lettuce seeds, then to JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts to buy a bag of natural moss. You can buy florists foam to stick the skewers into, but I had some chunks of scrap styrfoam on hand so I cut them apart with a hand miter saw and stuck a piece in each plant pot.

I wrapped each pot with tissue paper gift wrap that I had on hand, then placed some of the moss on top. I pushed each skewer in through the moss and tissue into the foam, then tied the tags around each “stem” with twine.

How did I decide which seeds to include? I chose a lettuce mix because it can be grown in a small container and harvested as micro greens. I bought two packets and divided the seeds up among the five smaller packets that I made. In order that the recipients would know what the seeds are and how to grow them, I scanned information from the back of the packet into the computer and used graphics software to make this graphic, which I then printed out.

These graphics came from the back of the Botanical Interests brand seed packets that I purchased.

After printing the above graphic I cut out the informational graphics out and glued one to the back of each homemade seed packet.

This project is adaptable to many varieties of seeds and many different themes. I hope you enjoy the ideas!

Make Gift Tags From Recycled Greeting Cards

Two ways of making gift tags from paper scraps and free downloadable files that I’ve prepared. Rubber stamp credits for left image: “Love” and tiny heart by CarolynHDesign, butterfly and notebook texture by 7Gypsies, “celebrate” by Making Memories. Right image: “You are loved”, flower and butterfly by Fiskars, decorative border by CarolynHDesign.

Here is another entry in a series of articles I’m working on about things you can make from old greeting cards and paper scraps. Tags are a useful thing to make and keep on hand for gift giving and gift presentation. Great presentation is one of the best parts of getting a gift – some thought and care makes a gift personal and special.

Instructions – Method 1

Gift Tags Set 1

Download and print out the template Gift Tags Set 1. Loosely cut out the tag shapes from the template and with the glue stick glue them down to the backs of parts of old greeting cards. Burnish well with a bone folder for a tight seal. To keep surfaces clean and to prevent ink and toner from getting onto surfaces, place the pieces you burnish between two pieces of clean scrap paper.

Trim around the outer edge of the tags to cut out. Now you have a tag with To: and From: printed on one side and a design or a plain color on the other, depending on what was on the recycled card.

After trimming. Some of the tags are interesting as they are. Most will need some more decoration.

Add strips of decorative paper to the sides of the the tags that need more decoration.

Give the edges of both sides of the tags a decorative treatment, with rubber stamps and/or paint markers.

Now they are done and you can write them out and tie them to the package with ribbon or twine.

Instructions – Method 2

Cut a bunch of tag shapes out of scrap cardstock and greeting card parts. If you think you will make a lot of tags, you might find it helpful to make yourself a set of templates for tracing tag shapes out of scrap chipboard or other thick paper scraps.

Here are tag templates I made for myself. Whenever I want to make tags, I trace around these onto scrap cardstock and old greeting cards. That gives me a supply of bases for adding embellishments.

Download and print out the To and From Labels onto nice paper.

Tear the To and From sections out, using a straight edge like a metal ruler as a guide.

Glue the To and From sections torn from the printed paper onto the backs of the tags.

Add decorative paper scraps around the To and From and trim with a scissors.

Decorate the other side of the tag if needed.

Stamping can be kind of time-consuming. A good shortcut to try when adding visual texture and interest is to stamp the edges of several tags at once by placing them next to each other on the work surface.
If either side of the tags looked too bare, I added rubber stamp markings where I thought they were needed.
Here are some tags with a Christmas theme.

Make a Seed Packet Bouquet – New Version

Here is a new and improved and combined version of a couple of tutorials I wrote in 2016. Enjoy!

Tools and Materials

Seeds, either purchased or home harvested
Template for a 2.5 x 3.5 inch envelope, and Seed packet holder template for 2.5 x 3.5″ packet
Decorative paper
Cardstock
Squeegee tool or bone folder
Glue stick
Scrap cardstock, chipboard, or file folders for backing templates for tracing
Clean scrap paper for gluing surface
Rubber stamps
Stamping ink
Punches, stencils or templates for flower, center hole of flower, and leaf.
Scissors
Cutting mat
X-acto or craft knife
Metal ruler
Pencil
Double-sided tape
Small hole punch
Wood skewers (available in grocery stores)
Tape
Decorative paper flowers
Needle tool or awl – if using brads to attach embellishments
Brads
Adhesive dots
Glue for attaching embellishments
Small floral theme embellishments

Instructions

First make the seed packets.

Template for Seed Packet Small
Template for Seed Packet Envelope Small

Download and print out the Seed Packet Template Small. Cut out the template and glue it to scrap chipboard or cardstock for durability with a glue stick. Trim around it with scissors.

Stamping on plain paper. Stamp credits from left to right: handwrting background stamp by Inkadinkado, newsprint by Posh Impressions, Da Vinci frontispiece might be Stampington, Pennsylvania Dutch Border Rubber Stamp by me, and arts and crafts botanical tile pattern at the far right by me.

Take some plain paper or decorative paper with a subtle pattern on it and stamp some background stamps on it in complementary ink colors to make it more interesting. If your paper is interesting enough without this step you can skip it.

I own a lot of rubber stamping ink pads, but I don’t have one for every re-inker in my studio. If you want to save money and/or space, you can just buy a re-inker instead of a pad and apply the ink to a palette with a brayer. Then you can roll the ink onto the stamp, or for small stamps just press it on the inked palette. This works best when you want to do a lot of stamping with the same color – when you only want to do a little bit of stamping a pad is much more convenient. When you’re done stamping, if there is any ink left on the palette you can sprinkle a little water on it, lay down a piece of plain paper and burnish it. It’s a fun way to make interesting backgrounds. You can even draw or stamp or make marks into the ink to do a form of monoprinting. When I first took printmaking class, I got into what I could do with the palette at least as much as the printing blocks that I carved. The picture shows a piece of plexiglass as a palette, I’ve also used at various time palette paper, waxed paper, and the shiny side of freezer paper.

Place decorative paper back side up on your work surface. Place the Seed Packet Template Small that you printed out on the paper and trace around with pencil. Cut out envelope and fold in tabs. A thin ruler or straight edge is a good helper for making folds. Go over the folds with a squeegee tool or bone folder.

Envelpoes cut out before they are folded

With a glue stick, glue all the tabs on the envelope except the top tab. Leave that one open so you can add seeds later.

Fronts and back of assembled envelopes.

Once the envelope is assembled, if the front looks a little plain add some texture stamping along an edge or two. That’s really effective for adding interest.

I added stamping to the edges with some favorite texture stamps. The notebook page border stamp is by 7Gypsies, and the texture at the upper right is by Judikins.

Cut out a narrow strip of paper with a decorative scissors and stamp on it the word “Seeds” surrounded by small brackets. If you don’t have similar stamps in your collection you can use whatever stamps you have that fit the theme. Accent the strip with rubber stamping in lighter colors along the edges.

The Seeds stamp and the brackets are both from my own collection.

Glue the strip across the top of the envelope about a quarter of the way down or whatever looks right to your eye. Trim the ends after gluing if needed.

I glued on the strip that says “Seeds”, trimmed the strips to the edges of the envelopes, and got flower and leaf pieces in place to glue on.

Punch out a flower shaped piece of decorative paper and punch out a paper circle for the middle. Glue circle on flower and glue flower to the front of the envelope. An alternate idea is to cut out a leaf shape and a stem piece to make a leaf design for the front. I used a commercial punch for the flower and a pattern from a paper stack for the leaf. You can use whatever patterns and punches you have that you like if you don’t have these exact designs.

Stamp large brackets around the flower. I used unmounted bracket stamps, so the clear block you see is an acrylic block for temporarily mounting stamps with double sided tape or adhesive bits.

Pictured upper left: bracket stamps on an acrylic block. Upper right: stamping on a seed packet. Even though the clear acrylic block is a bit smudged from use you can still see through it to see where to stamp. The brackets stamps are temporarily attached with adhesive squares. Bottom: Finished seed packets.

Fill the packet with seeds, and write the name of the seeds and if you like growing information on the back of the envelope. You can obtain seeds by buying them in a garden center. This is also a charming way to package seeds you’ve harvested yourself to make a special and personal handmade gift for someone.

Next are holders for the packets

Next make holders so you can suspend the finished seed packets on skewer sticks to display them in a container of some kind. Perhaps a vase as in my example, or maybe a table centerpiece, a gift basket, a plant pot with garden tools or some other special container.

Download the template Seed Packet Holder Template for 2.5″ packet x 3.5″. You might only need to look at it for reference, but if it’s helpful as a cutting guide, cut out and mount the parts on scrap chipboard for durability.

Cut out a piece of card stock of a color that is harmonious with your seed packet, 3.5 x 9 inches. Fold it in half.

Lay the holder piece flat and unfolded on your cutting mat. Cut four diagonal slits through the front of the seed packet holder toward the corners using a craft knife and a metal ruler as a guide.

Punch small holes where indicated on the back of the seed packet.

Push a wooden skewer through the back of the holder so that the blunt end of the skewer ends up inside the holder butted up against the fold. Tape in place.

Slip your seed packet into the front of the holder.

Take four small flower embellishments in colors that go well with your seed packet and attach them to the corners. Depending on what kind of embellishement it is, you could use glue, adhesive dots or brads to attach.

Put double sided tape or adhesive dots along the sides and bottom inside your holder. Fold the front down and press halves together.

Arrange your packets in a vase or other container. You’re done!

Eclipse Doodle

Here is my eclipse doodle art from 4/8/24

Yesterday my Dad and I went to Hawn State Park in southern Missouri to watch the eclipse. I took my drawing and doodling supplies with me to help pass the time while waiting for the main event. We left fairly early because we knew there would be a lot of traffic and we got there about two hours before the sun started to get covered up. The state park had a nice parking area for us in a mowed field. We had a little picnic and I sat on a blanket doing an eclispe inspired piece of doodle art with colored ink pens and markers.

I am very grateful that I was able to do this. I’ve been in physical therapy for the last several weeks for an arm and wrist injury. I’ve been severely limited in my usual activities for the last couple of months but I’m getting better. I’m slowly adding in my normal activities one by one as I do exercises to get stronger. I’ve added back in crafting, gardening, and now drawing. A week ago my wrist hurt so badly that I could barely address an envelope. This is my first drawing since the injury. I did it without pain and my injury doesn’t feel worse this morning. I’m on the mend and I’m very thankful. I think sewing is the last normal activity to re-try.

When I started this doodle, I knew I wanted to do something inspired by the color wheel. I decided to make each color inspired by a stage of the eclipse. I just doodled whatever came into my mind. As we got closer to totality, I started setting the stopwatch on my phone to go off every 10 minutes – then I’d look at the sun through the eclipse glasses and draw something inspired by that phase.

I kind of had a vague image in my mind of a weird foldout from the Voynich Manuscript as I doodled.

Without looking at a copy of any of the manuscript pages as I drew, I was just trying to get the feel of it, trying to imagine how someone trying to penetrate deep mysteries without the answers that we take for granted now might have reacted.

EDIT 5/15/24: I’m going to have to come back and revise this section. Now that my water garden has grown in a bit more this spring I can see that the cattails sprouted where the Water Willow was last year and what I identified as Water Willow in this article is Cattails instead.

I was also inspired by some plants in our outdoor water garden. I have a small stream as part of our outdoor pond. It acts as part of our filtration system because I run water through lava rock and plants that are in it. One of the plants I grow is a Missouri native called American Water Willow. The stems have really interesting cross sections. I was also thinking about these stems as I was drawing.

Cross sections of American Water Willow stems in my water garden. I don’t know why it’s called water willow. The flowers seem orchid-like, and the leaves seem iris-like. Oh well, its beautiful and native so what’s not to like?

Sitting in the warm sun on a perfect day in a beautiful park with my Dad was a treat. And I proved I can draw again so I can resume my plein air drawing group activities and watercolor painting classes that I was taking before I got injured. That’s a big weight off my mind! I also have a class coming up that I’m teaching – my first since the COVID pandemic – and I’m relieved to know I’ll be able to do a good job.

I haven’t wanted to talk about the injury unless I absolutely have to because it’s scary and I was embarassed. For example I wasn’t able to brush my hair and it got so tangled I asked my husband to cut part of it off. I have about four hairs in each follicle for every one that most people have, so my hair dresser has told me. It doesn’t take much for it to turn into an inpenetrable mat. So I was looking like a Harpy Eagle or like I was trying to audition to be in Night Ranger until I got it fixed. I’m slowly getting my life back together and resuming normal activities. That is a relief because I’ve been very stressed out by not being able to do what I normally do. It’s easy to feel isolated if you have an injury. If you ask for help you don’t know if you are going to get helped or attacked because people think you should be getting well faster. It’s humbling and it really makes me have additional empathy for other people who are strugging with something similar, whether permanent or temporary. I’m more grateful than I can say that the therapy is working.

Tiny Treat Basket

Here is a tiny treat basket I made for Easter. You can adjust the colors and themes to suit any occasion you want.

Here is an easy basket to make out of paper for handing out small treats or using as party favors. Each basket side is about 1 3/4″ square. I made these samples for Easter. The colors I used could also work for other spring occasions such as Mother’s Day, showers or weddings. Change the colors and design motifs for any occasion of your choice throughout the year.

Tools and Materials

Downloadable image file – Tiny Treat Basket
Scissors
Glue stick
Scrap cardstock, such as old file folders
Clean scrap paper
Bone folder or squeegee
Decorative cardstock and paper
Heart punch or other shape punch of your choice
Decorative paper edging scissors
Adhesive dots and/or double-sided tape
Washi/Design tape

Optional extras: basket “grass”, gift tags, embroidery floss, baker’s twine.

Instructions

Download and print out the template Tiny Treat Basket.

Tiny Envelope Treat Basket Template
Tiny Envelope Treat Basket Template
Gluing parts cut from template printout to leftover file folder cardstock to make templates for tracing.
Gluing parts cut from template printout to leftover file folder cardstock to make templates for tracing.

Loosely cut out the basket, handle, and one of the squares out of the printout. Leave a little paper outside the outline when you cut so that you can trim it closer after gluing. Glue the pieces down on the scrap cardstock with a glue stick, burnishing it well with a bone folder or squeegee to get a good tight seal on the glue. Cut out the pieces.

Fold in the flaps and seams to get a crease the fold back out before you use the basket template. Seeing where the folds are will help you make little pencil marks on the back of the tracing in case you need some to indicate where the folds will go.

Next trace around the shapes you just cut out onto some cardstock with pencil. Only one side is going to show when finished, so if your cardstock is double sided make sure your pencil lines are not on the side you want to show.

Trace squares, the basket, and the handle. Each basket uses two squares as shown, but I made four out of each piece of card stock I was using to have extras for making cards and other things later. Another reason it’s good to have extra squares is that if you use decorative cardstock that doesn’t have the same pattern all over, it’s easier to find combinations that you like with a variety to choose from.

Tracing around basket, handle and square shapes on the back of decorative thin cardstock.

I recommend making several baskets at a time – that’s the easiest way to experiment with colors and patterns to get the look you want. You can make them all match each other, or make them all different like I did.

Cut out the basket piece and handle with a plain scissors, and the squares with a decorative scissors. Punch out a bunch of shapes of your choice.

Cut out a bunch of squares with a decorative paper edging scissors and punch out a lot of hearts so you have a lot of choices to work with.

Take a basket cutout, and fold the flaps and basket sides in and out again to make creases. It’s best to fold toward the outside of the basket first before folding inward. The reason for this is that some colored papers have a white core which can show through if there is tearing along the fold. This shows far less if you fold toward the outside first.

Having creases at this stage makes centering the squares and the punched out shapes in the middle of each side of the basket much easier. Glue a square onto two sides of the basket, and a punched shape on the other two. Then glue a punch shape over each square. Place clean scrap paper over all and burnish well.

Here are some of the resulting color and texture combinations.

One layer of card stock is a bit flimsy for this project in my opinion. To make the basket and handle sturdier, I picked a complementary color of solid cardstock and glued it to the reverse side of the basket and handle pieces to make double thickness laminated cardstock. Then I trimmed around the baskets and handles with a scissors.

Now you can assemble the baskets. Place double sided tape on the flaps and fold in and press the basket together like a little box.

Reinforce each basket corner with design tape, also known as washi tape. Florals and butterflies worked really well with my spring theme.

Put adhesive dots or double sided tape on the top side of each end of the handle, then bend and position it in place. Press with your fingers where the adhesive dots are to firmly attach the handle to the insides. If you think the handle needs a bit more support, a piece of design tape over the join on the inside looks nice and makes the handle attachment stronger.

Here are more examples of Tiny Treat Baskets I made for Easter using different color combinations. I used paper scraps from making them to make little tags which I tied on with bakers twine and embroidery thread.

You’re done! Now you can fill the basket and tie on a gift tag if you want to.

Explosion Card

“From the heart” – finished Christmas themed explosion cards. Pictured closed at the top of the picture, open at the bottom.

What is an Explosion Card? It’s a card that allows the recipient to open a folding portion of it and see something come out or appear. Sometimes people put in confetti or glitter. I’m only putting in a dozen punched-out paper hearts in each – they won’t make TOO much of a mess when opened!

This project is the result of old paper crafting templates I downloaded long ago, combined with brainstoming for ways to re-use old greeting cards, Christmas cards in this case. The folding assembly on the front of the card is very simple as far as explosion cards go, but since this card has a lot of parts and uses a lot of different materials, I didn’t want to make it too complicated. When you’re using upcycled paper scraps in a project, a simple design is a good foil for a potpourri of designs and motifs that might otherwise be too busy visually.

Tools and Materials

Templates: Explosion Card Page 1, Explosion Card Page 2, and if you want to make an envelope, Envelope Template Square.
Cardstock
Assorted decorative papers, new or upcycled, in coordinating colors and themes
Bone folder or squeegee tool
Ruler
Pencil
Clean scrap paper for work surface
Scrap cardstock or chipboard for making templates for tracing
Embossing fluid or metallic slow-drying pigment ink
Heat tool
Gold embossing powder
Optional – large opalescent glitter
Long thin plain rectangle rubber stamp or cut down piece of a white plastic eraser
Old food lid to use as a palette for ink and paint
Paper cutter
Scissors
Glue sticks
Adhesive dots
Old greeting cards
Heart punch
Eraser with flat sides, dedicated for printing
Paint pens
Acrylic paint and acrylic medium
Permanent black or dark color rubber stamping ink
Rubber stamps with a sentiment and small words

Instructions

Download and print out the templates Explosion Card Page 1 and Explosion Card Page 2. Keep Page 1 intact for reference. The diagram on Page 1 will tell you what size cardstock to cut out to make the card, and show you where to adhere items to the front of the card. Take Page 2 and cut out the three shapes. Glue them to scrap cardstock or chipboard with a glue stick and trim to make re-usable shapes for tracing.

Here are the three shapes from Page 2, mounted and cut out on old manila file folder scraps.

Next choose cardstock to make the card body. Cut out an 8.5 inch by 4.25 inch piece and fold it in half.

Place the tracing template 3″ x 3″ square in the middle of the front of the card and trace around it with pencil.

Here is a green piece of cardstock, 8.5 inch by 4.25 inch, folded in half. I used the 3 inch square template I just made to trace a square in pencil onto the front of the card as a guide to where to stamp the embossing ink.
Rubber stamping a thin strip of gold pigment ink then applying embossing powder to make a nice gold frame for the front of the card.

Stamp on top of the pencil line with either embossing ink or metallic pigment ink that stays wet. As shown in my example I had had some leftover gold pigment rubber stamping ink so I used that instead of embossing ink. Embossing ink is made to dry slowly on purpose so that embossing powder will adhere to it until melted with a heat tool. Pigment rubber stamping ink will also stay wet for a long time so if the application is juicy enough you can use it for embossing.

I stamp long thin rectangles on a lot of my projects to make edging, frames, or lines of various widths. I keep erasers and scrap rubber strips around for this purpose to apply various inks and paints. You can also use strips cut from foam, or as shown in the photo above you can use a rubber shape stamp. The one shown is from my set Faux Postage Shapes. Some commerical stamps that are just plain shapes are sold for when you need solid colors or background colors. Sometimes they are called shadow stamps. It’s also easy to make your own shadow stamps from foam or sheets of rubber you can buy in the plumbing department at the hardware store, normally used for cutting gaskets. Here is a link to an article I wrote that involves printing with foam – a fun pursuit in itself!

Sprinkle gold embossing powder over the wet ink, shake off the excess, and melt with a heat tool. Here is a tip – if you have large-grained opalescent glitter, mix in a little bit of that into the gold embossing powder before you sprinkle it on. As long as you don’t overheat the embossing powder, the glitter won’t melt and it adds extra texture and interest to the gold area.

The first batch of these cards I made used all tints and shades of green. I decided that the green was a little flat looking and needed more interest. I looked through my rubber stamp collection to see if there was a border stamp that might make a translucent texture but none of them grabbed me at the moment so I decided to mix some matte acrylic medium with a bit of yellow acrylic paint and stamp it along the edges of the card with an eraser. The texture of the stamped paint was just what I was looking for. It made the green more interesting without giving it a flat look that was too opaque.

You can let the paint dry naturally or hurry it along with a heat tool, making sure not to re-melt the embossing powder. Now you have a subtle but interesting ground for stamping some words and phrases around the edges. I picked a Tim Holtz stamp “from the heart” for the bottom edge of my cards, and the words “hope”, “peace” and “joy” from my set Christmas Card Making Kit. You can use any stamps in your collection that fit the space and your theme. I used permanent ink so it would stamp ok on the paint, but if you skip the paint you can use any ink you have that suits your cardstock surface.

After embossing, stamp paint along the edges if needed, and words and phrases with permanent rubber stamping ink such as StazOn.

The next step is to go looking for parts of greeting cards to cut out and make into parts of new cards. To make these samples I was looking for three things – first a sentiment to cut out and glue into the inside of the card, where the sentiment usually is. Second, a piece to use as the inside front, which is a square with rounded corners. Third I looked for colorful card pieces to punch hearts from to fill the “exploding” container at the front of the card.

Every card I made didn’t need this, but there were a few pieces of cardstock I used which turned out to be too flimsy to fully support the finished card so I backed the cardstock where needed with portions of cards with nice designs on them, laminated together with a glue stick.

I used parts of cut up cards to line the inside front of some of the cards, and each card had a sentiment inside that I got from an upcycled card.

I used a lot of cut-out sentiments from from the insides of cards to glue in the traditional spots inside my new cards, leaving room underneath for signing the cards.

Then I selected parts of cards to put inside the front folded in assembly that you’ll see how to make soon. I traced around the “inside front” template with pencil or pen then I cut them out. I used both words and images, whatever looked right and fit the theme.

In the middle is the tracing template I made from the download Explosion Card Page 2. Selections both before and after cutting show what might work glued down inside the “explosion” front of the card. Here are some images that I might use for Easter, a new house card, or a Valentine.

With what scraps were left over from cutting parts out of the cards, I used a heart punch by Marvy Uchida to punch hearts out. I supplemented these scraps with other found papers and cardstock to make sure I had enough hearts for all the cards I made. I put the hearts aside for later.

Punching out some hearts from parts of old cards.

The next step is to make the “Assembly for front” as labeled on the template you made. Take the template and trace it in pencil on a piece of solid color card stock that fits your chosen color scheme. Cut it out and fold the semicircle tabs in. A ruler and bone folder are good aids to making nice crisp folds.

When the “exploding” part is folded shut, the decorative paper on the outsides of the flaps will show.

Now on the outside of each tab, the side that will show when the tabs are folded in, glue a piece of patterned or decorative paper. Gift wrap and decorative scrapbooking papers are great choices for this part. After gluing down the decorative paper, trim with a scissors.

Next use adhesive dots to fasten the folding assembly to the front middle of each card, right in the middle of the gold embossed outlined square. Adhesive dots are stronger than double sided tape and less messy than glue, though you could also try those if you don’t have adhesive dots. Burnish well with a bone folder so they really stick.

Outline your rounded rectangle pieces for the inside fronts with a coordinating paint marker. When the marker is dry, adhere to the inside front with adhesive dots.

Fill the container with as many hearts as you like and fold in the tabs in order, one by one until it’s closed. Now when the recipient opens it the hearts will fall out.

If you want to make an envelope to match, you can use the template Envelope Template Square as a guide.

You’re done!

Upcycle the front of a used greeting card

Finished cards made by cutting up old Christmas cards

I’ve been working on a series of projects designed to challenge myself to see how many different ways I could upcycle old holiday cards. Usually there is a nice picture on the front, and a sentiment on the inside. Here is how to make a new card out of an old one by recycling the re-usable parts and adding a bit of your own creativity with a little metallic paint, glitter, and rubber stamping ink.

Tools and Materials

Old holiday cards
Templates – Small Rectangular Card #1 or Small Rectangular Card #2
Paper cutter
Scissors
Utility knife
Self-healing cutting mat
Metal ruler
Solid color card stock
Old food lid
Eraser with sharp corners designated for stamping
Clean scrap paper
Metallic acrylic paint
Acrylic medium
Glitter
Glue for glitter
Glue stick
Rubber stamps for corner decoration
Black permanent rubber stamp ink
Optional – heat tool

Instructions

Templates for two sizes of rectangular greeting cards. This image is smaller than actual size. To download the originals, click on Small Rectangular Card #1 (5.25 x 4 inches) or Small Rectangular Card #2 (3.5 x 2.75 inches).

Download and print out one or both the two card templates, Small Rectangular Card #1 or Small Rectangular Card #2. They will help you visualize what size parts to prepare and how to put them together.

Go through some old holiday cards and cut the pictures out of the front of the card, either the 3.5 x 4.75 inch size or the 3.5 x 2.75 inch size. It’s very efficient to make several at a time.

I added metallic paint to the edges of some of my cut out images, and glitter to others. An easy way to apply paint to a straight edge is to squirt some paint onto an old food lid, or other temporary palette. Cover your work surface with scrap paper. Take an eraser with flat sides and sharp edges and dip it in the paint. Stamp a straight line of paint onto the edges of the images. I reserve an eraser for this use because I use this manner of application a lot for acrylic paint and various inks.

While the paint is drying, you might like to edge more of the images with glitter. Squeeze or brush glue around the edge, then apply the glitter and let dry. I made selections from my own glitter stash more interesting by mixing sizes and shapes of glitter particles and adding at least one opalescent color to each blend.

Glitter blends that I mixed up for a variety of Christmas projects.

If you ever need to speed up the drying of paint or glue at any stage for easier handling, you can dry the pieces with a crafting heat tool.

Cut out images edged with metallic paint and glitter.

For each image, cut a piece of cardstock in the size of an unfolded card, and fold it in half. Using a self-healing cutting mat, a utility knife, and a metal ruler, cut a slit in each corner as indicated on the template. It isn’t necessary to draw the lines on the card before cutting – as long as the cuts are close to the right size and placement they should work.

Next insert the images into the fronts of the folded cards by tucking the corners into the slits.

Stamping the corners.

I thought the corners needed to have a bit more interest to them, so I stamped each corner in a mix of acrylic medium with a touch of metallic paint and glitter to add a little shimmer. Then when that addition was dry, I over stamped some decorative stamp dessigns in black permanent ink.

Gluing a sentiment into the inside of each card that I cut from another card.

The last step to finish the cards was to glue a sentiment that I cut from another card into the inside of the card with a glue stick.

You’re done!

What to do with leftover paint?

Pieces of paper that I stenciled on with paint that was about to dry up.

Have you ever mixed up several colors of paint and looked for a way to use up the leftovers before they dry out and go to waste?

I’m in that situation today, so I’m going to share with you a few pictures of one of my favorite ways to use up paint – stenciling!

Stencil designs by The Crafter’s Workshop. Clockwise, from upper left: Cosmic Music, Rainbow Montage, Dash V, Bubble Scribble.

I have a large collection of stencils, both commerical and original hand cut. The stencils in this article were designed by The Crafter’s Workshop and are for sale in my online store. I do a wide variety of art and crafts that involve paper and cardstock, such as greeting cards, collages, book arts, scrapbooks, tag art, mail art, planners, art journals, doodle art and more. Stenciling some cool designs on scraps is a great way to build up a collection of interesting papers for future projects. Paint that is on the verge of drying up is ideal for stenciling – the tackiness helps prevent running or bleeding.

I pulled out some papers to stencil on from the following sources: old planner divider pages, reclaimed shipping tags, product packaging, scrap cardstock, scrap chipboard and cardboard, interesting backgrounds accidentally made on waste paper that covered my work surface, assorted unfinished project pieces that could become art journal or doodle art pages.
I use dry sponges and tools for each color. If any water gets in the paint, it usually causes running or bleeding of the design, so I avoid that by having enough dry tools ready when I start to work.
After I’m done with each color and stencil, the tools go in a container of water until I’m ready for the final cleanup. I start the next color with a dry sponge and dry tools.
Some of the paint was too far gone to stencil the normal way – full of lumps. Feeling playful, I decided to see if I could mix in some water putty and make my own dimensional paste. I answered my question – yes I can! No it’s not smooth like commerical dimensional paste – but it was fun to see what happened and it’s a surface I can play with some more later. Tip – if you want to make your own chalk paint, you can mix in a little water putty or tile grout to acrylic paint. The stencil shown in the photo above is called Splash Whoosh.

I’m a ‘zine publisher again!

I published a paper ‘zine called the Lime Green News from 1991 to 1998. There were 18 issues. I was burned out on it when I quit, and weirded out (ok, kind of scared) by some of the creepy attention I was getting. At the time I was glad to switch to web sites, e-newsletters and my blog for awhile as a writing outlet. I did a lot of business blogging for clients and employers as well. For about four and a half years I’ve been fantasizing about starting the Lime Green News up again. When it ended it was 24 pages which is a lot of content to get ready all at one time when I haven’t produced a printed ‘zine in so long. I decided to try to bridge the gap with a new mini ‘zine called, what else, Lime Green Mini ‘Zine. I was going for a loose, grungy look for a little 90s nostalgia and hopefully low-tech appeal. I’ll refine the design as I go but I’m pretty excited to get this far. It’s been a long time coming!

I’m going to produce roughly 50 copies of the first issue. While I brainstorm about how to distribute the new ‘zine, here is the Vol 1, No 1 content to explain what I’m doing. I’m also providing a couple of templates for the front and back covers in case you like the format and want to start your own ‘zine. Enjoy!

Click for .jpg template for covers

Click for .jpg template for inner pages

Welcome to Volume 1, Number 1 of Lime Green Mini ‘Zine!

Back in the 90s, I used to publish a paper ‘zine called the Lime Green News. If you want to see what it looked like I have some back issues for sale in my Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/CarolynHDesign, look in the Zines and Magazines section). For awhile I didn’t want these old issues to be seen, but they are so old now that it doesn’t matter if they are kind of embarrassing.

The Lime Green News, like my current blog (chasenfratz.com/wp), was about whatever creative projects I was working on or studying at the time. I also published artwork, poetry and articles by other writers and artists. After I learned how to make rudimentary web sites in 1997, my Lime Green News web site (limegreennews.com) gradually replaced my paper ‘zine.

After awhile, the format of the old Lime Green News web site got outdated and embarrassing, just like the paper ‘zine, but I left it online because it had a whole bunch of content on it. Now it’s old enough to be considered “vintage”. Vintage web sites that are still live can serve a valuable function in society. Much of the history and culture of the early Internet years is in danger of being lost. And the World Wide Web is increasingly hostile to any content that is independent and not corporate in origin. One nice thing about a web site made with primitive code is that it still works! While the rest of the web has to keep changing over code to adhere to newer and newer technology, my primitive web site will still run. So instead of being embarrassed that I don’t know the latest ways of coding any more, I’m going to keep doing the primitive code so that the work will hopefully have a long life.

The Lime Green Mini ‘Zine is a little project I’m doing because after years of being away from the ‘zine scene, I want to experiment with getting back into a paper publication I can touch. It’s going to supplement rather than replace my blog. I expect the content will vary according to whatever I’m working on or writing about at the time of publication.

I designed the front cover template to incorporate pockets that I’ll slip little items into. It might be a project or a sample. There are probably some people out there who crave something tangible and tactile to augment all the electronic content we consume. I hope you enjoy it!

The QR code above leads to this web page on this blog –
http://www.chasenfratz.com/wp/my-former-zine-and-mail-art-days/

End Notes:

You might be asking yourself as you look in the pockets of this issue, what’s up with the Christmas projects? I’m working on projects to submit to magazines, which need seasonal projects far in advance. I got behind on Christmas 2023 because of some personal grief and trouble, so as I get caught up I’m working on next year as well.


Have a great 2024!”

I printed out the first six issues actually on my desktop! Here they are with little projects in the pockets and QR codes to scan to find out how to make them. After a bit of refinement to my originals, I’m going to get the rest of the copies done at the office supply store to save on printer toner. I added a touch of design tape to fix a mistake I made when assembling the first copy, but I liked the effect so I’m going to keep using it for awhile. I own a long-arm stapler, but these ‘zines are so small I don’t even need it!