Category Archives: Rubber Stamping

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!

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!

Recycled Christmas Cards – Christmas Mini Cards With Envelopes

Introduction

Front cover and an activity page from “Fun Till Christmas” by Janet and Alex D’Amato, published in 1965.

Pictured just above are the front cover and one of the activity pages from a book that I had when I was young. I bought a barely used or written in copy at the St. Catherine Laboure garage sale this past spring. The copy I had when I was a kid is long gone and by the time I was done with it, it was all cut up and torn up and written in. I obsessed over every inch of that book. It was a huge influence on me. I loved the activities and graphics. Many of the projects involved creative re-use, like making things out of old Christmas cards. I’ve enjoyed upcycling cards for a long time. I’d like to share with you some of the creative re-use projects I’ve been enjoying. Of course if you don’t celebrate Christmas, the theme of this project could be adjusted for any occasion that involves cards.

Today I’ll show you Christmas Mini Cards With Envelopes.

Mini cards and envelopes made from recycled Christmas cards, envelopes, and wrapping paper.

Tools and Materials

Old greeting cards
Christmas and holiday theme papers and images – new or upcycled
Template Valentine Pocket Card
Self-sticking laminating sheets
Pen or pencil
Paper cutter
Scissors
Scrap chipboard
Glue stick
Metallic paint pens
Small rubber stamps
Assorted colors rubber stamping ink
Clean scrap paper
Burnishing tool, such as a bone folder
Optional – stickers

Clockwise starting at top left: paper scraps, mini envelopes before assembly, sentiments cut from greeting cards, Mini Envelope Template, Mini Card Template made from scrap chipboard.

Instructions

First download and print out the template Valentine Pocket Card. Cut out the Mini Envelope Template and for durability, laminate it with self-sticking laminating sheets. Use this template to find and trace around holiday themed papers and envelopes to make cute tiny envelopes. Fold the tabs at the dotted lines, and use a glue stick to glue the bottom flap to the bottom of the side flaps.

Next make a little rectangle out of scrap chipboard to use as a template for finding and tracing around greetings and sayings from old cards. The dimensions for the rectangle are 2 7/8″ x 1 7/8″. Trace with a pen or pencil around sections of cards you want to use for a mini card, then cut out.

After cutting out the greetings and sentiments, outline the edges with a metallic paint marker, and use some small festive rubber stamps to apply holiday related designs around the border. Add stamped accents to the fronts of the envelopes as well. If needed, use clean scrap paper and a bone folder to blot the inks you’re using before handling the cards so that they don’t smear.

Glue colorful festive papers to the backs of the cards with a glue stick. Burnish well, and trim.

Once they are dry enough to handle, the cards are ready to insert into the envelopes. You can seal the top flap of the envelope with the glue stick, or use a festive sticker to close the flap.

Further Reading

If you would like more ideas about how to have a more sustainable holiday season, here are other articles of mine on this topic.

Decorate Gift Packages with Stencils and Chalk

Make a textile out of fabric and thread scraps

Christmas Trees from scrap fabric

Making Greeting Cards From Scrap Papers

Making Holiday Centerpieces From Natural Materials

Upcycle a Metal Tin with Decoupage

Decoupage Gift Box

Christmas Journaling and Icebreaking Activity Cards

Rubber stamping tip: tiny stamps on paper strips

Narrow strips of paper attached to a piece of scrap plexiglass.

I work on a lot of small scale stamping projects and I stamp a lot of tiny stamps, many unmounted. Sometimes I stamp things like little words for collages, mini greetings for tags and cards, or dates or days of the week for planners and journals. I like to stamp a lot of extra paper pieces for future projects when I get my stamps out – it saves a lot of time.

When I stamp a lot of tiny stamps at a time, the task is a lot easier if I tear a bunch of paper strips with a ruler then temporarily attach the ends to a piece of scrap plexiglass with rubber bands or tape. Otherwise the paper strips are kind of hard to keep in place for a clean print since they are so light and the ends tend to curl a bit.

Here are some of my tiny stamps next to the acrylic blocks I use for mounting them temporarily with double-sided tape.

I use the fronts and the sides of small acrylic stamping blocks to temporarily mount my tiny stamps with double-sided tape. I’m not that fussy about keeping the blocks clean since I usually stamp in black. But every once in awhile I’ll scrub them with stamp cleaner or Simple Green cleaner when they get too inked up to see what I’m doing. One of the reasons to use clear acrylic blocks is to see where you are stamping! If it’s not that critical to be precise you can use any small object that you can tape a stamp to and don’t mind getting inky as a temporary mount, for example I often use the lids of pill bottles or the edges of Tic-Tac containers.

Have fun with your stamping!

Paper Crafting Fun With Tag Art

Make your own decorated paper tags for a variety of craft projects! This is a good project for using up a lot of paper scraps.

Tools and Materials

Tag Art Template (scroll up and alt-click to download or get PDF – PDF Tag Art Template)
Ball point pen
Medium weight black marker
Black rubber stamping ink
Rubber stamps with sentiments
Light colored, light weight paper
Assorted paper scraps in a selected color scheme – I used neutrals in this demo
Clean scrap paper
Ruler
Bone folder or squeegee
Scissors
Glue sticks
Hole punch
String, twine, or embroidery floss

Instructions:

  1. Download my .jpeg graphic Tag Art Template above. If you prefer a PDF file here is a link – PDF Tag Art Template. Print it out onto cardstock if you can, or print it on regular paper and glue it to cardstock for stiffness and durability. Cut around the tags and punch the holes. Now you have a set of tag templates ready to use.
Here is a selection of tag templates I made for myself out of various scrap card stock and chipboard. Besides my pattern, other good sources of potential tag shapes are cookie cutters, commercial stencils, and tags from gifts you get than you can trace. There are also clear and colored plastic tags for sale where craft supplies are sold. Those could be traced and also used as the covers for tag books.

2. Trace the tag shapes onto assorted cardstock pieces. If you have scraps this is a good way to use some up. Cut out the tags close to the lines you drew, but a little outside. That will help you cut a clean edge later.

3. Pick out some light-colored paper that complements your chosen color scheme. Use a ruler as a straight edge to tear the paper into strips. Stamp greetings and sentiments onto the paper pieces with black stamping ink.

I stamped neutral pastel color strips of paper with assorted sentiments in black rubber stamping ink. Most of the stamps you see here are from my unmounted stamp set Assorted Greetings and Sentiments. You could use any sentiment stamps that you have around or tear words out of found papers or old cards.

4. Place the tags on your work surface with the outlined sides down on clean scrap paper. Glue a sentiment on the front of each tag. Fill in the rest of the tag with paper scraps. Tear them into narrow strips with the ruler if you need to.

Adding stamped sentiments and strips of decorative paper scraps to my cut out tags.

5. Trim the tags following the pen line on the back and punch out the holes.

6. Outline the tags with a black sharpie marker

What they call a Sharpie Fine Point I think of as a medium point marker because they make much finer ones. Any black marker will do if it gives you the kind of line you want around the edge. If you like, experiment on scrap cardstock or chipboard before you outline a finished tag.

7. Select two or three strands of string, twine or embroidery floss and thread through the holes with a lark’s head knot.

Once you have made the tags, what can you do with them?

  • Put one on the front of a greeting card.
  • Decorate a gift package.
  • Use as a bookmark.
  • Make a tag book.
  • Enhance a shadow box.
  • Incorporate into scrapbook or journal pages.
  • Make a decorative seasonal garland.
  • Make motivational notes for yourself.
  • Create decorative door hangers.
  • Label bottles or jars.

What else can you think of? Have fun with your tag art!

Paper Art and Crafting Technique – Making Templates From Chipboard

Directly above is a faux postage stamp sheet collage I started almost a year ago. Here is how it began. I was sorting through some old papers and I found two computer printouts that another artist, nonlocal variable, had sent to me as mail art a long time ago. The printouts were of faux postage designs featuring computer manipulated photos of Ray Johnson – an artist who is considered by many to have been the founder of the modern mail art movement. Ray Johnson is the subject of a lot of mail art projects. I participated in one such project myself in the fall of 2019. I also featured some pictures of Ray Johnson in my #12daysoftomsbeard art project because when my husband Tom is clean shaven, he looks so much like Ray Johnson that when I was working on the mail art project, Tom thought at first glance that I was using pictures of him!

In the same stack of old papers, I found an advertising booklet that had black and white portraits similar in size to the Ray Johnson portraits in the old printouts. At least they were close enough in size to possibly be used together in a faux postage design. I took a faux postage base I made a long time ago and use a lot and started laying down the portrait pictures on it to get ideas.

I originally had the idea to put the smaller portraits inside silhouettes of the Ray Johnson images and alternate the two on the stamp sheets. I made templates from scrap chipboard to help me cut multiple silhouettes and negatives of silhouettes from colorful paper scraps to play around with. I ended up saving the smaller black and white portraits for a future project and I kept the Ray Johnson images for this set of stamp sheets.

When I make chipboard templates for a collage or other project, I keep them in folders named after the project they were made for so if I want to I can use them over and over for related art projects. If I’m really turned on by the designs, I am likely to use the templates many times. I also made a bunch of rectangle templates to go with my faux postage stamp background, using tracing paper as an aid to finding which piece goes where on the collage. I numbered the chipboard pieces and their position on the tracing paper to help me get organized the next time I use the templates.

I arranged the different colored small rectangles on my collage sheets where I wanted them. I glued on the Ray Johnson images, some miscellaneous found images, and used black permanent Sharpie markers and stencils to draw on some bold designs in black marker. I printed out postage stamp related words, phrases and images with black permanent stamping ink onto white blank sticker paper, cut them out and stuck them on my collages to make them look even more like sheets of imaginary stamps.

I thought they needed more texture to look finished so I used freehand drawing plus stencils again to apply marks with paint markers and colored pencils. The final marks I applied were a bit of colored pencil outlining the white sticker pieces to make them look more integrated with the whole.

Here are the commercial stencils I used in the project. They were designed by the Crafter’s Workshop company:

Mini Patterns

Mini Shape Landscape

Mini X Trail

Mini Rows of Lines

I probably will display the resulting “stamp” sheets as framed collages some time in the future. I’ve scanned them into the computer where they will be reduced to a smaller size so that they look more like real postage stamps. Then I’ll print out and distribute the finished stamp sheets to some other mail artists. Many mail artists collect faux postage as art or use the resulting stamps as part of another piece of mail artwork.

Easy Thank You Cards

Rubber stamps by Rubber Stampede (Thank You), Hero Arts (flowers) and unknown (passport stamp collage).

My Dad and I are making Thank You cards following the funerals of my uncle Dave and brother Larry. Tom helped a lot too with the gluing. I’m feeling the effects that a lot of people feel after serious grief and trauma: disrupted sleep, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, muscle pain, etc. These symptoms are normal for some people after trauma and severe stress, apparently, but of course make everyday functioning relatively difficult for a time. A bike ride on Sunday with friends helped a lot. I asked Tom to be my coach and help encourage me to do the ride. He pumped up the bike tires and pumped me up emotionally and took a hot epsom salt bath with me before we got dressed for the ride to help loosen up my stiff and sore body. With that I didn’t need any pain meds like ibuprofen which I had taken from time to time the previous week. He helped me break through a big barrier and function better. I was really discouraged and scared by how sore I was and how bad I felt. I’m very grateful to have a loving husband to help me get over some rough spots and build on little victories to gradually improve over time. This is extremely hard even with help. I hope and pray that people out there who need support can get it from somewhere. As I find grieving and mental health resources online I’ll keep adding them to my self care Pinterest board.

In the meantime, Dad and I are extending the effort to make cards because we have abundant supplies on hand we enjoy using and we find the activity healing and therapeutic. But with not feeling terribly well I had to come up with a card design that was relatively simple so that we would not tax ourselves beyond our current abilities to make them. They are just challenging enough to force us to concentrate a bit but not so hard we want to give up in frustration. I have to take a lot of breaks, but I’m not giving up! Of course if you want to make your own similar cards you could use any suitable sentiment in place of “Thank You” to fit any message you want to send.

Supplies You’ll Need

Blank cards with envelopes – Dad had a whole bunch of envelopes in different sizes already on hand, so we cut plain white paper to the envelope width and folded the pieces in half to fit. If you prefer, you can buy blank cards with matching envelopes at craft stores.

Assorted papers in light, neutral colors for the two largest areas on the card, with subtle patterns on them. The design on the paper should be light enough to stamp on in medium to dark colors.

Assorted papers in more contrasting neutral colors and patterns for the narrow stripe on the front of each card.

Rubber stamping ink in a “harvest gold” color, a taupe color, and black.

Clean scrap paper to help with gluing

Optional – interesting die cuts, design tape (also known a paper tape or washi tape) and stickers for extra interest

Tools You’ll Need

Paper trimmer

Metal ruler for tearing paper

Scissors

Glue sticks

Squeegee, bone folder or burnishing tool

Rubber stamps. My friend Kate recently gave me a large collection of pre-owned stamps. I will gradually be offering some for sale in my online shop as I have time to get them listed. I did set aside some of my favorites to keep for my own collection (of course). To start out my Dad and I selected for these cards two Thank You stamps, two postage related designs, and three wildflower silhouette stamps. Unfortunately I’m not selling the exact stamps I used in this card because I really love them and there were no duplicates in the pre-owned collection Kate gave me, but you can use similar stamps in their place.

Instructions

  1. Glue a narrow strip of paper that is from the higher-contrast selections about 1/3 from either the left or right from the side of the card.

2. Cut and tear out pieces of paper in light neutral colors with subtle background patterns and glue them to the fronts of the cards on either side of the strip you glued down previously. I tore the edges that overlap the central stripes for visual interest. On some of the cards I added some stickers and design tape for a little extra interest if I thought it was needed. As you’ll see in the final graphic featuring variations on the original design, I added some hexagon die cuts I had made some time ago. When I was designing the prototype card, I asked Dad to pick out stamps he liked from my collection, and he also took out these hexagons, so I looked for ways to use a few and I liked them on some of the cards. Trim the paper to the edges of the card front when done gluing.

3. Stamp three flower stamps on the wider background side of the card in harvest gold or similar ink color. My Dad switched to a red-brown ink later in the process which also looked very good.

4. Stamp a Thank You stamp in black, and if you think the card needs a little more interest, stamp postage related designs or some other accent stamps of your choice in a taupe ink color as in my example at the top of this article. You might decide your card needs more or less done to it depending on what background papers you choose. See the graphic below for a bunch of variations that we made.

Here is a collage of some of the cards we made showing how many different ways you can use the same stamps. The additional lower case thank you stamp you see here is by Tim Holtz. Dad did most of the stamping and decided some of the cards didn’t need so much on them which is a fine design choice you can make when the papers are interesting. If you would like to download a high-res version of the above graphic (with more designs on it) to use in projects like stickers or faux postage sheets here is a link:
Printable Thank You Graphics

Additional Resources:

My Pinterest board for Greeting Card Idea and Sketches

My Facebook album for free coloring and paper crafting downloads

With more time and energy, I probably would have created a card that uses stamps that I actually sell, some of which I designed. For now the important thing was to make something nice that is also fast and easy. But if you want to browse my collection of stamps in my Etsy shop here it is: Stamping

Making self-care cards out of Project Life cards

I know several people who could use some encouragement right about now, including myself. I decided this week to get out my paper craft supplies to have a bit of creative fun and make supportive cards to use and more to give to people I know.

First I’ll explain what both self-care cards and Project Life cards are. Self care could be considered the practice of maintaining your physical and mental health in order to prevent burnout and breakdowns. While looking for some resources for my Self Care Pinterest board that I use for reference, I found some specifically aimed at caregivers of different kinds. Even if one chooses from their own free will to be a caregiver, it’s still a tough job. As these resources I found mention, one should not feel guilty for practicing self care even if you are naturally inclined to be giving – a burned out or broken down person is not in a good position to help others. We are able to be of much better service when we are strong. We are often socially engineered by individuals and institutions to sacrifice our own agency to serve interests not our own or of our own choice. I think it’s a beautiful thing to voluntarily share but not to be manipulated or coerced into it. The latter is just being a victim of people who choose to live a parasitic lifestyle.

So what are self-care cards and where do they fit in? There are many types of cards with different information that people have used over the years as reminders or teaching tools. Small cards are portable and fit in a wallet, a planner, a journal, a pocket or wherever so that you can access reminders on the go or wherever it’s convenient. When learning new life habits we might need a touchstone of sorts to keep us on track. Self care cards are just cards with self-care content. They can be purchased, downloaded for printing, or handmade. I often like to use a combination of desktop printing and paper crafting methods to make or decorate self care cards for myself.

What are Project Life cards? Project Life is a commercial product developed by designer Becky Higgins intended to make scrapbooking and related memory crafts easier and less time consuming, and to relate the activity to living well and positive personal goals. Pocket scrapbooking is a generic term for using clear pocket album pages to organize cards and various paper items. Like a lot of people, I picked up the modern form of the hobby of scrapbooking in the 1990s. When I first heard of pocket scrapbooking I was intrigued and purchased some cards to use in conjunction with with my “conventional” scrapbook pages and also in other paper crafts.

Several years ago I purchased the Project Life Cinnamon Core Kit and the Road Trip Theme Pack. These sets featured lots of colors I used a lot, and graphic themes that were complementary to a number of products I already owned.

I’ve used a lot of the cards in scrapbooks and other paper projects over the years but still have a good quantity left. Because some of the Project Life cards feature positive messages and others contain grids or lines to help with journaling or record keeping of various kinds, they are well-suited to use as a base to make self care cards. If you want to make these of course the bases of your cards don’t have to be specifically from Project Life – a variety of products could be used.

One activity that I learned a few years back from a depression support group web page is the acronym G.R.A.P.E.S. It stands for:

  • Being Gentle with yourself
  • Relaxation
  • Achievement
  • Pleasure
  • Exercise
  • Social

The idea behind using this acronym is to try to do one activity on the list from each category every day. From my own experience and from what others have told me who have tried it, even if it isn’t possible to do each category each and every day, striving to do it and tracking the activities each day to make sure one is continually improving does result in better mood and health. It helps you “social engineer” yourself into having a better life. This is anecdotal information of course, but if you delve into scientific research on mental health you will find out why it’s effective. In this project, I’ll show how I made self care cards track the use of activities from the G.R.A.P.E.S. categories. I put more “decoration” on these cards than is strictly needed but it’s fun to use up paper scraps while making cards that fit my own personality. And paper crafting itself is a great way to get the Pleasure “task” checked off for the day!

paper crafting materials

Tools and Materials

Project Life or other cards
Scrap papers in harmonious colors
Scissors
Paper cutter
Glue sticks
Thin markers in black and colors harmonious with chosen color scheme
Small letter stencils
Small letter stickers
Assorted encouraging stickers, die cuts, paper scraps featuring helpful sayings or sentiments, or other appropriate embellishments
Rubber stamping ink – black and harmonious colors
Rubber stamps
Hole punch
Cord or string to loop through hole

First I added paper scraps to the existing Project Life cards I had whenever I wanted to make the existing designs more to my taste. Mostly this consisted of adding paper scrap strips to the borders on some of the cards, leaving the grids or lines in view. Some of the cards were fine the way they were.

Next I assembled a variety of letter stickers from my collection that spelled G.R.A.P.E.S. For more variety, I drew some letters with marker through alphabet stencils and cut those pieces of paper out. I added the letters G.R.A.P.E.S. along the side on on side of the card. Since these cards came with designs on both sides, I used the other sides for spaces to take notes, or for making a mini encouraging collage with stickers and paper ephemera.

When necessary to make a grid to keep track of activities, I added vertical lines with thin markers.

I punched a hole at the top and added some string with a lark’s head knot so that I can use these cards as bookmarks also.

I thought some of the cards needed just a little bit more added to make them looked finished, so I stamped here and there with assorted rubber stamps and added a few more stickers.

As I complete daily activities that fit one of the G.R.A.P.E.S. categories, I’ll put a checkmark in the proper spot on the grid.

Additional Resources:

My article "Self-help Techniques for depression"

Link to a PDF file I made with motivational quotes and graphics with the letters G.R.A.P.E.S. for printing out

My Self Care Pinterest board

Art Journaling Pinterest board

Pinterest board of Planners, Journals, Albums, Scrapbooks and Handmade Books

Scrapbooking Page Sketches Pinterest board - includes a section on pocket scrapbooking

Low tech transitional collage from the ’90s

Collage made from computer printouts and clip art.
Collage homage to the Beatles Anthology, from Lime Green News #16.

My current class in graduate school and other projects are pretty demanding right now, so I don’t have a lot of time to make new art. I do still enjoy looking at some of my old art from time to time. Here is a collage I made for my old ‘zine the Lime Green News #16, circa 1996-1997. It’s a tribute to the Beatles Anthology album covers, designed by Klaus Voorman. I was inspired by the use of torn images and how they can strategically reveal what’s underneath. On the Anthology 1 album cover, Voorman ripped out the head of Pete Best to reveal Ringo’s face underneath to “replace” him. This was a mean but clever technique so I did the same thing in my collage in approximately the same spot to enhance my “homage”, only I replaced John with John. If you want to see the Anthology 1 cover and the clever use of the torn out part on a Pete Best album cover, here is a link to an analysis – “The Beatles Anthology 1 Album Cover Cropped Out Original Drummer Pete Best”.

I made the above collage in the year between getting a computer with a black and white laser printer that would print up to 300 ppi, and taking my first class in Adobe Photoshop. At the time I was enjoying the novelty of being able to print out pictures to use in collages instead of just finding images. I printed out pictures of the Beatles that I found online, and printed out a bunch of clip art that I liked, and used those printouts to build the collage. A lot of the clip art came from my Corel Draw clip art library. How I used to love to pore over the printed book that came with it to get ideas!

The covers of Lime Green News 16, 17 and 18. I think those are the last three I published. The middle cover is an altered piece of art by Bill Whorrall. I don’t remember if I asked permission from him or not to do that. I might have, even though it’s very common in Mail Art and ‘zine culture to “remix” other people’s art work. I tried to get something lime green on each cover, so I used to carve a rubber stamp and hand-print it in lime green in a designated spot.

The black and white laser printer was a major step forward in the production quality of my ‘zine, even though by today’s standards it was still very primitive. It wasn’t until much later than I learned software like Publisher and InDesign to help me produce professional quality booklets. At the time of this image I was still following my old practice of printing out text on a printer and cutting and pasting the text among collaged elements. With the text coming from a laser printer instead of a Commodore 64 with a dot-matrix printer, it looked better and was a lot easier to read.

With access to what seemed like unlimited clip art and display fonts, I had tons of fun transitioning from low to high tech. For my ‘zine and collages, I printed elements for headers and body text along with images. Then in 1997, I learned Photoshop and how to make web pages, and that changed everything! But I still enjoy the old methods too and I like to make collages out of whatever is there, whenever I get a chance.