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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have you ever mixed up several colors of paint and looked for a way to use up the leftovers before they dry out and go to waste?
I’m in that situation today, so I’m going to share with you a few pictures of one of my favorite ways to use up paint – stenciling!
I have a large collection of stencils, both commerical and original hand cut. The stencils in this article were designed by The Crafter’s Workshop and are for sale in my online store. I do a wide variety of art and crafts that involve paper and cardstock, such as greeting cards, collages, book arts, scrapbooks, tag art, mail art, planners, art journals, doodle art and more. Stenciling some cool designs on scraps is a great way to build up a collection of interesting papers for future projects. Paint that is on the verge of drying up is ideal for stenciling – the tackiness helps prevent running or bleeding.
I published a paper ‘zine called the Lime Green News from 1991 to 1998. There were 18 issues. I was burned out on it when I quit, and weirded out (ok, kind of scared) by some of the creepy attention I was getting. At the time I was glad to switch to web sites, e-newsletters and my blog for awhile as a writing outlet. I did a lot of business blogging for clients and employers as well. For about four and a half years I’ve been fantasizing about starting the Lime Green News up again. When it ended it was 24 pages which is a lot of content to get ready all at one time when I haven’t produced a printed ‘zine in so long. I decided to try to bridge the gap with a new mini ‘zine called, what else, Lime Green Mini ‘Zine. I was going for a loose, grungy look for a little 90s nostalgia and hopefully low-tech appeal. I’ll refine the design as I go but I’m pretty excited to get this far. It’s been a long time coming!
I’m going to produce roughly 50 copies of the first issue. While I brainstorm about how to distribute the new ‘zine, here is the Vol 1, No 1 content to explain what I’m doing. I’m also providing a couple of templates for the front and back covers in case you like the format and want to start your own ‘zine. Enjoy!
“Welcome to Volume 1, Number 1 of Lime Green Mini ‘Zine!
Back in the 90s, I used to publish a paper ‘zine called the Lime Green News. If you want to see what it looked like I have some back issues for sale in my Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/CarolynHDesign, look in the Zines and Magazines section). For awhile I didn’t want these old issues to be seen, but they are so old now that it doesn’t matter if they are kind of embarrassing.
The Lime Green News, like my current blog (chasenfratz.com/wp), was about whatever creative projects I was working on or studying at the time. I also published artwork, poetry and articles by other writers and artists. After I learned how to make rudimentary web sites in 1997, my Lime Green News web site (limegreennews.com) gradually replaced my paper ‘zine.
After awhile, the format of the old Lime Green News web site got outdated and embarrassing, just like the paper ‘zine, but I left it online because it had a whole bunch of content on it. Now it’s old enough to be considered “vintage”. Vintage web sites that are still live can serve a valuable function in society. Much of the history and culture of the early Internet years is in danger of being lost. And the World Wide Web is increasingly hostile to any content that is independent and not corporate in origin. One nice thing about a web site made with primitive code is that it still works! While the rest of the web has to keep changing over code to adhere to newer and newer technology, my primitive web site will still run. So instead of being embarrassed that I don’t know the latest ways of coding any more, I’m going to keep doing the primitive code so that the work will hopefully have a long life.
The Lime Green Mini ‘Zine is a little project I’m doing because after years of being away from the ‘zine scene, I want to experiment with getting back into a paper publication I can touch. It’s going to supplement rather than replace my blog. I expect the content will vary according to whatever I’m working on or writing about at the time of publication.
I designed the front cover template to incorporate pockets that I’ll slip little items into. It might be a project or a sample. There are probably some people out there who crave something tangible and tactile to augment all the electronic content we consume. I hope you enjoy it!
You might be asking yourself as you look in the pockets of this issue, what’s up with the Christmas projects? I’m working on projects to submit to magazines, which need seasonal projects far in advance. I got behind on Christmas 2023 because of some personal grief and trouble, so as I get caught up I’m working on next year as well.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
If you would like to add flat-back plastic jewels, attach them with tiny drops of glue and let dry.
Punch a hole in the top and add cord or thin ribbon for hanging. You’re done!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
You’re done! Of course since paper is flammable keep ornaments away from possible ignition sources such as candles or lights.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
If you would like more ideas about how to have a more sustainable holiday season, here are other articles of mine on this topic.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
Here is a quick little “housekeeping” notice. I have a business Facebook page called Carolyn’s Stamp Store that I started back in 2011 to help market my rubber art stamp line. After expanding into other art supplies in addition to the other rubber stamps, I renamed my Etsy shop CarolynHDesign.
The Carolyn’s Stamp Store Facebook page has been getting a lot more traffic lately so I updated some of the info on it this morning so people who visit it don’t get TOO lost and confused. I have a lot of tidying up to do on it as well as on most of my online accounts and web sites.
The month of July 2023 will be my 25th anniversary of launching my first web site, Lime Green Evolution World of Art, later renamed to www.limegreennews.com! Things really change a lot in 25 years don’t they! The Lime Green News site needs a lot of repair and updating but still has a lot of content on it, some of it useful if you ignore the aging infrastructure. I have a very different philosophy of web sites now than when I started. As I repair I will start replacing the infrastructure bit by bit while keeping some things “old fashioned” on purpose.
Back in 2020, my husband Tom and I made a series of videos to help share art with people, which we called Virtual Art Parties. We did 8 or 9 videos before getting overwhelmed with exhaustion and personal crises (mostly affecting me). I had nothing in the tank for awhile to attempt to help other people, I needed everything I had to survive then help myself so I could help others. I attempted to restart the Virtual Art Party series this past spring. Here is the resulting video with special guest my Dad, Don Hasenfratz. This was going to be a lot longer but it got cut off early, maybe by a wifi glitch or something. I didn’t realize until it was over that only the introduction was recorded. After watching it, I am sharing it here because I still like what was conveyed. Check it out if you’re interested.
I have experimented with other video platforms in the meantime, but for now Facebook Live is still the easiest that I know so I’ll likely keep using it for awhile as I gradually restart the video series.