Category Archives: Tutorials

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!

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!

Recycled Christmas Cards – Ornaments With Glue-On Bling

When you look at a bunch of greeting cards, you’ll notice that some of the cards with pictures on them have glitter applied to them to enhance the design. In this project, I’ll show you how to take images cut from cards and add metallic paint, glitter, and plastic jewels to make them into sparkly ornaments.

Tools and Materials

Assortment of old greeting cards
An assortment of cardstock and scrap chipboard in different colors
Glue stick
Scissors
Paint water container
Paint well tray or small recycled containers for mixing paint and glitter blends
Clear-drying glue in a bottle with a squeeze tip that will hold a line, such as Diamond Glaze, 3D Crystal Lacquer, Turbo Tacky Glue, or Elmer’s.
Glitter glue pens
Glitter colors
A selection of small paintbrushes
Metallic and pearlescent paint such as Lumiere
Glue-on or press-on plastic jewels
Hole punch
String, cord or thin ribbon for hanging

Instructions

Get out the old greeting cards and look for distinct objects and characters to cut out. Cut them by hand with a scissors, then mount them onto a piece of cardstock for extra thickness and give the cut-out shape a border.

Some examples of pictures I’ve cut from cards – flowers, hearts, birds, gnomes, angels, a cross, a lantern, penguins – what can you find on old cards?

Look for areas on on the image to highlight with glitter. The easiest to start with is probably white, because you can use it to emphasize snow, white highlights and other white areas.

I painted on some highlights in white pearlescent paint to go under the glitter for extra glow. On the dogwood I added a few dabs of pearlescent pink as well.

I found that my effects were more exciting if I painted on some metallic or pearlescent paint in the same color range of the glitter as an intermediate step before applying the glitter. I brushed pearl white Lumiere paint on the white areas and I let them dry.

If you want to, you can highlight other colors in the image, instead of white or in addition to white.

On the lantern on the left, I highlighted the white “snow” portion of the image, and added a gold outline. I painted some pink lines on the heart to enhance the printed design, added glitter and a platic jewel. Then added a border of pink and white glitter.

Decide how many glitter colors you would like on your ornament. I used one, two or three different colors on each of mine depending on the size and design.

Wherever you would like glitter, squeeze out lines or drops of glue. I added an outline of glitter and glue around the edge of each shape. Sprinkle the glitter over the glue, press down very lightly, then shake off. Let dry between colors so you don’t get your glitter color areas mixed up.

This craft is easy enough for a kid to do, as long as they are old enough to safely handle the small pieces. I guess you could say I learned the rudiments from the kits I had as a kid, involving sprinkled flocking, sand or colored stones one color at a time to make a design. Glitter is fun for kids or adults. I experimented with making glitter blends to create more sophisticated colors. Glitter particles of different sizes and some opalescent colors really add interest.

Making a glitter blend on the left, plastic jewels on the right.

If you would like to add flat-back plastic jewels, attach them with tiny drops of glue and let dry.

Plastic jewels in the center of the cross and in the flower centers.

Punch a hole in the top and add cord or thin ribbon for hanging. You’re done!

Here is an angel and two gnomes with hanging loops of thin ribbon attached for hanging.

More paper ornaments from vintage cookie cutters

A celebration of my favorite color – green. Especially lime green!

For the last four years, my husband and I have been doing a conceptual art project called #12daysoftomsbeard. It’s a fun way of combining crafts, installation art, photography, mail art, digital art and conceptual art into a holiday celebration for us and our friends and family and anyone else who wants to join in. From December 25 through January 6th Tom poses for me with different items in his beard. I then apply wacky filter effects then upload the results to Instagram. We invite people to send in pieces to use in the beard. Sometimes Tom is more than just the muse and model and helps make some of the pieces and art direct it.

I make a lot of the pieces for the beard – until we get more participation, if we ever do, I’ll be making the majority of them. Not that I mind. Each year it’s been kind of an endurance contest to keep coming up with ideas for 12 days in a row, though well worth it. The activity is creatively fruitful and yields a lot of ideas I can explore throughout the year in other art and craft projects. This year was different though – at the end I was ready to keep going when it was over! So was Tom. He kept floating ideas to me, and me to him. At the time of this writing I’m still on a roll.

During the second year of the project I was really turned on by colors and made a lot of colorful paper pieces to put on Tom’s beard to accompany collaged paint sample cards that I salvaged and upcycled for my stash back when I worked at Central Hardware in 1989. I still have some left, and I still enjoy them! I decided to try a different color scheme for each day and see how many different ways I could interpret it. Did I develop all the ideas as far as they could go? Not even close, but it was and is a great exercise.

Colorful paper pieces made for #12daysoftomsbeard.
Colorful paper pieces made for #12daysoftomsbeard, inspired by upcycled paint sample cards.

Cookie cutters are convenient sources of shapes to trace, and might also be part of what makes this project “conceptual” – #12daysoftomsbeard could not happen in the format I’ve chosen without modern tools such as social media, smartphones, and digital filters. On the other hand, Christmas is nostalgic and comforting in times of uncertainty and technocratic threats, and what symbolizes holiday warmth and low-tech pleasures more than home-baked cookies made with vintage cookie cutters? I’ve decorated my paper “cookies” with craft bling instead of colored sugar, little silver candy balls, sprinkles, and whatever else is shiny and delicious.

Green beard pieces I made a couple of years ago on the left. One of them made a repeat appearance on Day 1, 2023-24.

There are lots of ways to bring in the “color of the day” to my beard photos, if that is the theme I’m on at the time. I use clothing, backgrounds, props and filter effects. I also purpose-make some colorful shapes from decorative paper and craft supplies. Because I have to work fast to complete one photo each day, most of them are really easy to make. In four years I’ve accumulated a lot of pieces. I can’t keep them all, so some of the pieces get sent on to other people, and others I’ve offered for sale as bookmarks in my Etsy shop. I’m going to keep some around, like these green ones, to re-use in temporary assemblages and actual decorations. (Decorations ARE temporary assemblages, aren’t they?)

Following is a simple plan based on circles for decorating paper ornaments cut from the traced outlines of nostalgic cookie cutter shapes.

Paper selection is important for this project because the design is so minimal. I’ve found that a monochromatic color scheme combined with metallic, glitter, and pearlescent surfaces is a pretty easy way to produce a finished result that looks sophisticated. See what paper and packaging is around that you can recycle. Greeting cards and gift packaging often are generously blinged out. Christmas card envelopes frequently are lined around the flap area with metallic paper that is perfect for this look. Then if you need to augment your finds, check out craft suppliers for coordinated special effect craft paper stacks. For this project you only need small paper pieces – take a look at small paper stacks in coordinating metallics, glitter paper, foil printed and more in your chosen colors to help you affordably build a stash of your own.

It’s a lot easier to make these than to explain why I did it, so let’s get to it!

Tools and Materials

Colorful and metallic papers – new or upcycled
Cookie cutters
Pen or pencil
Scissors
Scrap chipboard or card stock
Glue stick
Metallic paint pens
Clean scrap paper
Burnishing tool, such as a
bone folder
Decorative circle punch
Glitter
Clear drying glue suitable for adhering glitter
Bright colored, pearlescent, glittery, or metallic stick-on crafting bling
Hole punch

Instructions

Get out selections of cardstock in the color scheme of your choice. Punch out a bunch of paper circles with the circle punch and glue them down with a glue stick. Burnish well with a bone folder or other burnishing tool for a tight seal, with clean scrap paper in between to protect the paper from rubs and tearing.

Turn over the cardstock pieces and trace outlines from cookie cutters onto the back with a pen or pencil. Cut out the shapes.

Press on plastic jewels, or dimensional stickers onto some of the circles.

Here they are before I added edging.

Add some bling to the edges either by outlining in metallic paint marker, or squeezing out a glue line and sprinkling with glitter. I outlined half my pieces with paint marker, and half with glitter since I think the combination is pleasing.

To make my glitter more interesting, I mixed four colors together – yellow, green, metallic silver, and white opalescent. I had done some experiments with glitter on other pieces and I think a blend way more interesting than just a single color glitter – though the opalescent and variable kinds are pretty good on their own. Yes glitter is messy, and glitter glue pens are easier – I like those a lot too – but what fun it is to make your own blends!

This picture is for the next project, but it’s the same glitter blend I used in this one.

Let the pieces dry, punch a hole, and they are ready to display as you choose. My husband mocked me for writing this in yesterday’s article, but I’m going to say it anyway – since these are just paper, they are flammable. So don’t put them too close to candles or lights.

Enjoy!

Recycled Holiday Papers – Scrap Ornament or Bookmark

Paper bookmarks made from scraps
Paper bookmarks and/or ornaments made from scraps – Star of David, Tree, Mitten, Angel, and Bell.

Christmas 2023 is technically over, according to the calendar. Anyone in the business of holiday merchandising, holiday retailing, selling holiday crafts, writing about making holiday crafts, or selling the supplies for making them can’t only work on these projects during the “correct” season or the projects would never get finished! I’m trying to finish up as many Christmas projects as I can before I put them away, so as I finish them this blog may contain some projects that seem “out of season”. I hope this isn’t too disconcerting! The techniques of course can be adapted to multiple themes and times of year. For those who celebrate Christmas and other holidays in the religious sense as well the secular, the main messages are applicable any day of the year, so I hope these projects are taken in that spirit as well.

Here in Missouri where I live, we are having a warmer than normal winter, so far. It’s still pretty wet and gloomy though, meaning of course that it’s a great time of year for CRAFTS! It’s also a good time for me to upcycle some holiday cards if I’m not saving all of them as is. I have a several projects in progress that make use of recycled cards.

As I was growing up, the best part of any holiday was crafting. This is still the case for me. DIY, crafting and creative re-use were things both my parents showed me all my life by example. My Mom for example would trace cookie cutters around images from used Christmas cards to make tags and other decorations. She may have read this as a tip in a magazine, or maybe it just occurred to her. My Mom started her crafting well before Christmas, and it was very exciting for me every year to watch her get out last year’s saved ribbon, paper and cards and start making things with it. My Mom and I crafted together and separately all season long. We made multiple trips to the Lee Wards store to supplement our stash with whatever new supplies we needed. By second grade I was having a friend over and leading her in a Christmas-themed gift-making session for a boy we both had a crush on and agreed to share between us! I still remember working on it, and how much fun it was to make together and give. Then after each Christmas, I worked on all the kits I got as gifts during the gray winter. Although other aspects of the holidays are also important, for me I can’t conceive of Christmas without crafts. Snow is not required – here in Missouri we might get it or we might not – however there MUST be fabric, ribbon, felt, glue, thread, sequins, glitter, rickrack, paint, beads and more or things just aren’t right! One of the greatest gifts I could give to anyone of any age is just a little bit of this joy.

Vintage metal cookie cutters and tin
Vintage metal cookie cutters and tin. It was very exciting to me when this vintage tin came out of the cupboard, because that is where we stored the Christmas cookie cutters. Now my collection has grown too large to fit in one tin.

In this new project, Scrap Ornament or Bookmark, I’ll show you one way to make a decorated paper ornament or bookmark inspired by cookie cutters, several of which were actually my Mom’s. This is a very easy project you can make from leftover holiday paper ephemeral such as cards, gift wrap, ribbon, twine, packaging and envelopes. Then stay tuned for a couple of variations later. Enjoy!

Tools and Materials

Christmas and holiday theme and color papers and images – new or upcycled
Christmas and holiday shaped cookie cutters
Pen or pencil
Scissors
Scrap chipboard or card stock
Glue stick
Metallic paint pens
Clean scrap paper
Burnishing tool, such as a bone folder
Ruler or straightedge for tearing paper
Hole punch
String, twine or ribbon
Ornament hooks

Instructions

Start out by tracing shapes from cookie cutters onto scrap cardstock or chipboard. Chipboard is the type of thin cardboard that is used to make product packaging such as cereal boxes and gift boxes. Cut out the shapes.

Cut out the traced shapes and cover with strips of scrap paper.
Cut out the traced shapes and cover with strips of scrap paper.

Apply strips of torn or cut paper to the front of the shapes with glue sticks. Burnish well with a bone folder, using clean scrap paper between to protect your work. You can use a thin metal ruler or straightedge as a tearing tool for the paper. Sometimes a mixture of torn and cut edges adds a pleasing variety.

Trim around the shapes with a scissors for a smooth edge. If you don’t like the look of the back of your shape, you can cover it with more strips or a piece of suitable paper.

After trimming, punch a hole toward the top of your ornament or bookmark.

Use a metallic paint marker to outline the edges. Just a bit of metallic can do wonders for a craft item!

Tom wearing decorated shapes in his beard.
Husband Tom wearing decorated shapes in his beard during our #12daysoftomsbeard annual project.

If using your shape as a bookmark, loop cord and thread through the hole, pull through and trim. If using as an ornament, you can attach an ornament hook or loop of ribbon.

Handmade paper mitten-shaped bookmark.
Handmade paper mitten-shaped bookmark.

You’re done! Of course since paper is flammable keep ornaments away from possible ignition sources such as candles or lights.

Available in my Etsy Shop

Some of the bookmarks I made while writing this tutorial are available in my Etsy shop here – Hand Decorated Bookmarks – Christmas and Hanukkah

Further Reading

In the past I have taught a card making class that uses strips of scrap paper in a similar way. You can read my tutorial here – Making Greeting Cards From Scrap Papers.

If you would like to learn how to make your own stencils out of cookie cutters and other shapes, read my tutorial Decorate Gift Packages with Stencils and Chalk.

If you would like more ideas about how to have a more sustainable holiday season, recent editions of the Ladue News had articles on this topic, one in the e-version, and one in the printed version. They cover some of the same territory but are different and by different authors. Take a look!

How to reduce holiday waste this gifting season

Eco-Friendly Holiday Cheer – starts on page 31 in December 3, 2023 issue.

Speaking of cookie cutters, my Mom and I did a lot of crafts in the kitchen and sometimes we used some of the same tools and implements in both crafts and cooking. We also both enjoyed collecting and using vintage cookbooks, food pamphlets and kitchen ware. I haven’t updated my Fun With Food web page for awhile, but the information should still be good. I wrote it to help me keep track of favorite recipes and as a tribute to all the fun Mom and I had in the kitchen. Here is the link – Fun With Food.

My Melt and Pour Soap Making web page needs considerable repair right now, but here is a link anyway – Melt and Pour Soap Recipes. I added a lot to my vintage cookie cutter and mold collection while I was obsessed with this hobby. I still like it, but I’m not obsessed like I used to be! I worked out a way to make multicolored flat soap sheets thin enough to cut with metal cutters and embed into clear soap bars. I also made some salt dough fragrance pastilles which was a fun throwback to another activity I was really into when I was young.

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