Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Gift That's Always Ready: Greeting Cards

When I'm not making art and thinking about art and experimenting with new art supplies, I'm at my day job in a very, very busy NYC hospital. I recently had an interview with a major department head for a different position in the hospital. Afterward, my supervisor whipped out a selection of three thank you cards, suggested I choose one, and then had me write a quick thank you note, which I hand-delivered. I was impressed with her quick thinking and advance planning and realized that although I have created lots of beautiful cards over the years, I don't actually have any on hand at home or at work to pull out at a moment's notice. So, I decided to gift my supervisor with a set of handmade cards and envelopes and make a few for myself while I was at it.

Like many artists, I have an ever-increasing pile of gelli prints, scrapbook papers, interesting magazine pages, and painted paper experiments, plus a ton of scraps that are just pretty to throw out.

I decided to mix and match and cut and paste and see what happened. I stamped some appropriate words --happy birthday, congratulations, and thank you-- onto deli paper to add to the cards. Deli paper is great because you can make a bunch of stamps, select the best one, then glue it on to the card. The deli paper is nearly invisible if you use matte medium or heavy gel medium on it.

I started with a big stack of plain white index cards. Once I folded them in half they were just the right size for card making.

Next, I took one of the white index cards and cut a window the size of the half-folded card, then used it to "audition" my papers to see which pieces would make good card backgrounds. I marked the areas I selected with a pencil and cut them using my cutting mat, metal ruler, and an Exacto knife.

I mixed and matched and cut and played with the pieces. Once I found an arrangement I liked, I snapped a quick picture so that I wouldn't forget the placement, then used a glue stick or heavy gel gloss to adhere the pieces. Using words and images stamped onto deli paper avoided having a stamping accident or imperfection ruin the card.

A section of an experimental gelli print made with Seth Apter's StencilClub December 2017 Borderlines and the recent June 2019 June Pfaff Daley StencilClub Aboriginal Design made a cheery birthday card.
Stencils by Gwen Lafluer were used for the yellow and blue print and the strip of blue and white paper.
Here's my process for developing one of the designs:

The yellow paper was made with the StencilClub Aboriginal set, and the floral paper is one of my own fabric designs, printed on paper.
I also opened up an appropriately-sized commercial envelope and used it as a template to cut envelopes from my own painted papers. I didn't match the envelopes to the cards exactly, but mixed and matched them to make it more fun and less "matchy." A few of the papers had prints on both sides, which made an interesting interior for the envelope.

Center: the envelope template; left, the envelope front; right: the folded and glued envelope with an unexpected modern print on the inside. The paper had been gelli-printed on both sides.
One of the envelopes was really pretty, but had some imperfections from the brayer that I had used to spread the paint on my gelli plate. I  loved the print but hated the white lines from the brayer. I put on my thinking cap, auditioned a couple pieces of lace, selected one, cut and glued it to cover the scratch marks. Adding the lace was a happy accident, and that envelope ended up being my favorite.

The left view has track marks from my brayer. In the center photo, I auditioned two different kinds of lace to cover it. On the right, the final envelope with its card.
Here are some of the finished cards with their envelopes:

The envelope on the center top was created from some printed deli paper that was gifted to me in an art trade by Christy Anne Clark, a member of the StencilClub.
Stencils used:

I hope this inspires to save your scraps and your imperfect prints--they might just make the perfect card, and you'll be ready for any card-needing occasion that might arise!


  1. Love this idea of making a bunch of cards to have on hand. I always make mine individually at the last minute. This is a much better option. Also for the gift card holders I use frequently.

  2. Wow, congratulations to the new job - obviously in a great team, too!
    Magazine papers - a great idea!!!
    My Dad used newspaper-pieces for a little "magazine" for my birth - how could I forget about that?! So many ideas!!
    Do you know (stupid qusestion?) The Flow magazine? They also have templates for envelopes (sadly the other contents got too boring for my liking).
    I love your works!

    Thank you for this input!!! And a happy T-Day to you!

  3. P.S.: I really like your blog-banner :-)


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