Taking back the world one card at a time

Simple pleasures. Cards we make at home.

Let’s take back the world one card at a time!  When and why did we ever start buying store-bought cards anyway?  How come we’re still spending between $3 and $10 for a factory-produced card penned by some fancy writer who doesn’t even know either the recipient or the sender?  How come?

Starting today–everyone who is reading this–swear you’ll never buy another card again.  (OK, you don’t have to swear never.  You can simply take a vow that you will try to do your part to increase creativity and joy in the world.  Never again need you trot to the store and read what someone else has written or view what someone else has visually produced.  You can write the sentiments yourself!  Or nicely print quotes that you’ve Googled on the Internet.  You can find images to paste or doodle your own drawings.)

 You can do it!  We can do it!  It’s a revolution in the making!  Let’s take back some control from the big corporations.  Let’s have a grassroots movement!  Taking back the world one card at a time!  Let’s stamp it on the back of our homemade cards.  Let’s DO it!

Card of the woods--from the woods.

I’ve been making cards–OK, sporadically–for maybe a decade.  The first batches of cards consisted of dried wildflowers and plants.  Have you tried this?  First you find the most beautiful blooming wildflowers or other pieces of nature which can be flattened between heavy dictionaries or encyclopedias.  Then you let them dry forever–just until you’ve completely forgotten your project.  Then finally one day, maybe six months later, you remember.  You open your dictionary and there are the perfectly dried specimens.

You then buy your card stock and glue.  I used a brand called Mod Podge, painting the backs of the flowers and stems and leaves enough to cover but not too much.  If you paint on too much glue it simply makes a mess.  The entire art of this particular project involves the dynamics of glue.  You had better put newspaper all over your kitchen table.  It’s not fun to clean up wild trailings of glue.

Then you simply send your creations to friends and family across the world.  I didn’t usually bother to write poetry-words or rhyming-words within the card.  You know me.  I just started babbling,  “Hi!  How you doing?  Hope you have a happy birthday this year.  Darn, wish we could be with you…”

I guarantee your recipient will love the personal letter even more than a factory verse that is being shared with 5,000,000 other people around the planet.  I guarantee your words will be more precious to the recipient even if they’re spelled wrong or if you can’t think of what to write.  Just say–“I love you, I’m thinking of you…”

Simple lines, simple images in black & white

These days I’ve abandoned the work of harvesting wildflowers, shame, shame.  These days I opt for the easy way.  What, you ask, is the easy way?

The easy way is to buy a calendar you love every year.  When the year hath ended, cut up the calendar and make cards. 

Gliding through water...

Here’s another way to recycle.  When someone sends you a card you love:  don’t throw it away.  Make it into another card!  That gets a little tricky because you have to remember who sent you the card in the first place.  Unless they are artistic souls who would be overjoyed to receive their card back.  In tiny invisible letters pencil the name of the card-giver.  Erase the letters before affixing to the card stock.

As for affixing images, old cards or even tea bags to card stock–you can use “clear adhesive dots” with names such as ZOTS or double-sided adhesive squares.  Very fancy.  Very easy.  Very nice.

Simple, huh? A teabag card. Someone special gave us the teabags & I've been saving them for a year.

OK, have I convinced you?  Are we taking back the card world?  By next year at this time do you think anyone will still be sending mass-produced cards to express personal loving caring compassionate sentiments? 

Let’s do it!  Move it on over, big corporations.   We’re taking back our words and creativity and independence.  (OK, even if we have to cut out used images made by other folks.  At least it’s a start!)

P.S.  Do any of you make cards already?  What kinds?  Please share!

P.S.S.  Do you remember our motto?  Taking back the world one card at a time.”

P.S.S.  On a personal note, we are all excited.  Our son is flying in tonight at 11:30 p.m. from San Diego for a nine-day visit.  Hurray!

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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61 Responses to Taking back the world one card at a time

  1. K Odell says:

    while we are at it, can we take back the food world? I’d much rather a gift of homemade cookies (even poorly made) than store bought crud.
    I like to rubber stamp and use stickers to make cards- but I took some pictures in Korea and China this year to use instead- and pictures of flowers from my mother’s garden!

    • Kathy says:

      Excellent idea, K! Let’s take back the food world, too. Only homemade for us from now on! No more store bought…er…oh no. We’re planning on going out to dinner on the way to the airport. Could we make an exception for that? 🙂

      By the way, your photos of Korea and China sound lovely. I cut up an old Zen calendar today.

      • Terri says:

        I love reading your blogs. I wish my brain and fingers would cooperate with each other so I could write also. I wouldn’t even know where or how to start.
        Love the hand made cards.

        Another use I have found for old cards is craft projects that my grandchildren. We’ll cut out the pictures and perhaps decoupage them to old coffee cans or shoe boxes, then use those items to wrap birthday, Mothers Day, Fathers Day Christmas gifts in…Two gifts instead of one. This also gives the kids a sense of pride and accomplishment with little or no expense. It also allows for some great bonding time.

        • Kathy says:

          Terri, it’s such a delight to see you here. (And I think your brain and fingers cooperated quite delightfully in this comment–so I suspect you would do a marvelous job!) What a fun project to do with your grandkids. It is still hard to imagine you with grandchildren. Seems like just the other day we were in our teens and early 20’s, doesn’t it?

  2. holessence says:

    Kathy – What a fun and creative idea! I love the thought of reusing a card I’ve received to make into another card to send to someone else. That is a very tree-friendly idea, my friend — and I’m gonna do it!

    What part of San Diego is your son coming from? My Dad’s in Encinitas and my sister’s in Cardiff by the Sea. Have a wonderful visit! Please share his photo with us in an up-and-coming blog.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Laurie, so glad you like it! The trees are waving their leaf-fingers in the air right now in grand excitement. They are so happy!

      Well now, Christopher is coming from downtown San Diego. He goes to school up in La Jolla at the University of California in SD. Will hopefully be able to lure a few photos of him. He’s coming home for his first high school reunion–10 years.

      Maybe we should travel together out to California one of these days, do you think? I could puddle-hop down to Chicago first. That is where Chris should be landing in about ten minutes before coming up thissa way.

  3. P.j. grath says:

    Uh, how do I put this? I sell blank-inside notecards in my bookstore. Some have my photographs on the front. Others (5 to a pack) have watercolor images by an artist in Leland. My third line is by an Arizona artist, and her images are bright, colorful, zany and happy. It always surprises me how many people are looking for a “birthday card,” though, and can’t seem to imagine writing “Happy birthday!” inside a card themselves. Your plea for creativity is one I applaud, but please don’t paint retailers like me as purveyors of crud. Yes, I make my own cards–and then I put them out for sale in my bookstore! Am I bad?

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Pamela! As an independent bookseller you have a special place in the revolution! We will make an exception for the more homemade/artistic looking mass-produced cards, perhaps. (Actually I have been known to buy Hallmark or American Greeting so I won’t be one of those fundamentalist revolutionaries, oh no.) You are not bad. You are on the cutting edge of the revolution, the edge between factory mass-produced cards and artistic expression. You are good. Honest. 🙂

  4. Martha Bergin says:

    Zounds!!! You have INSPIRED me, dear woman!!! Thank you!!! 🙂

  5. Kathy I, like you, have been making cards for a very long time. I often use my own photographs and sometimes do individual original art cards.

    Right now my world view isn’t an either/or though because I am in that in between place where I have cards I make and also cards I sell to others… Actually, buying cards from an artists or photographer is a great way to support the creation of original work. Every time I sell one of my cards I get this little glow inside. I sort of whisper to myself “someone liked my work enough that they bought a card… I wonder who they are giving it too? I wonder what is the occasion? ” The monetary profit margin on these sales is small but the heart space pleasure is large.

    I also design one of those calendars you speak about recycling but the images would make for a very BIG card. The theme this year is “Sea, Land and Time” to complement my solo exhibit in September. However, I had two calendars leftover from this 2010 year… and I stuck them away in my card making and collage box.

    Happy card making everyone:) Terrill

    Oh!… and just in case you can’t find the time, you can get my cards and calendars at http://www.redbubble.com/people/terrillwelch and be directly supporting an artist in her creativity.

    • Kathy says:

      I love it that we have revolutionaries who aren’t either/or! The best kind! Then the movement can’t get all crazy and fundamentalist. Perfect! I wasn’t thinking that the revolution is necessarily about sellling/buying…it feels to me that it’s more about reclaiming our individual spirit and self-expression.

      In the spirit of the wonderful creativity and self-expression that you promote so beautifully: all you in-betweeners who are moving in the direction of self-expression but aren’t quite there: head overand peek at Terrill’s cards & calendars. They look awesome!

  6. barb says:

    Oh, yes, I’ve been taking back the World a long time now. My current favorite cards are old photos of friends I make into cards with a snappy line or 2 – so funny to remember what we looked like and did 15-20 years ago. Believe me – the saying you’re not getting older just better is sometimes true!

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, another long-time member of our growing revolution! Excellent! I haven’t experimented much with making cards with photos yet. That sounds like an excellent idea. One of the regular readers/commenters of this blog–fountainpen–has sent me a couple batches of cards made from my photographs. They are so awesome I haven’t had to make cards in a long time. Love your idea of using older photographs. That would be cool!

  7. Gerry says:

    One of my sisters loves, loves, loves greeting cards. She loves to select them, and inscribe them, and send them. She loves to receive them. Any kind. Commercial cards marketed by Big Corporations, cards made by local artists and sold in independent bookstores, photocards made by her big sister and printed out on a cranky Epson printer, construction paper cards with cutout snowflakes made by her niece and nephew when they were little kids.

    I think it’s wonderful fun to make cards, and wonderful fun to receive handmade or recycled or cleverly repurposed cards–or big, glittery commercial cards with satin hearts. It’s all good. Send a loved one a tangible message. (Note to self: Send Sister a card in the morning. Happy Fourth of July would be good.)

    You ought to see the cards Betty Beeby, Eastport’s beloved author and children’s book illustrator, makes. For that matter, you ought to see the thank you notes schoolchildren send her after they’ve been to her studio. Betty would agree that there’s nothing like a handmade card. But I’m pretty sure she’d rather have ANY card than no card at all. (Note to self: Send Betty a card in the morning. Enclose a copy of the post about her drawers. She hasn’t seen the post–she’s allergic to the internet!)

    • Kathy says:

      Gerry, I think that love is key! Your sister sounds like her heart is wide open–she’s unbiased toward any cards. She will make an excellent representative for our movement, don’t you think? Love that thought: ANY card is better than no card at all. Well said. A card-less world would be a dry and empty world indeed…

  8. Carol says:

    I have been making my cards for at least a dozen years. I use photos I’ve taken for the most part and sometimes add some digital scrapbooking paper and elements. I have my own “logo” for my CarolCards. My Epson printers are happy with Staples Premium double-sided matte paper, and the cost is reasonable.

    Now I just need to get myself better organized and do cards more often. I get lazy.

    As for food – well, I do almost everything from scratch, but do occasionally buy store cookies and sweets. I’m trying not to bake so much to keep us on our low-fat regimen. But I’m happy to accept baked things from my Kat.

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, sounds like you will be another perfect representative for the revolution. I would love to see how you’ve created your cards with the digital scrapbooking paper and elements. Very cool! (And I know what you mean about lazy. Oh yes. Know that one well. It took me one and a half months to make the cards that I promised would be done by June 30th. Yesterday, finally, sat down and did ’em.) And you’re on a low-fat regimen too? We are too! Good for us!

  9. kathusitalo says:

    Kathy, I’m with you on this. I also use my photos and recycled cards. Also funny postcards.
    A favorite: use a photo of the recipient. I just gave my brother a birthday card featuring a square, B&W photo of us when we were 4 and 5 years old—an original and personal card is just a simple scan away!

    • Kathy says:

      That is such a good idea, Kath. Note to self: must learn how to use scanner one of these days. Glad to hear you are another revolutionary. And I’ll bet your brother loved that photo!

      • kathusitalo says:

        It’s an extension of something I started years ago: as a Christmas gift to each sibling I scan and frame an old photo, true to the original square size.
        These are treasured little pieces of the past.
        Do you know how hard it is to find small square frames?
        hmmmm….I may have to start making them. oh no, another project ;=)

  10. Reggie says:

    Oh! I am so with you on this, Kathy! I’ve very often made my own cards, using pictures from calendars, postcards, photographs, dried flowers, scraps of coloured and textured papers, feathers, seed pods, my own drawings, etc. It brings such joy to give and to receive a homemade, handmade, unique card. My desk drawers are filled with so many ingredients for cards, but I just can’t seem to find the time!

    The problem is when one has to make a card NOW to put in the post or to give at a birthday party or whatever – there’s not always enough time to play and be creative. Sometimes it’s just easier and quicker to buy a card. Sorry, Kathy! 😦

    I do, however, try to buy unique or at least handmade cards, like from art and craft markets, because I figure that this way I am at least acknowledging and supporting someone else’s creativity.

    • Kathy says:

      Reggie, I would love to see your cards. Seed pods! Scraps of colored and textured paper! These cards sound awesome. I love receiving cards like that.

      Know what you mean about the time crunch. That’s why I try to make a whole bunch in advance. Just to be prepared. But then comes the time when you’re out…and you have to go to the store. Like you, I’ve done it. And will probably do it again.

      (And honoring another artist’s creativity is definitely the way to go when we “slip” out of our revolutionary zeal.)

  11. jeffstroud says:

    It is a great and wondrous idea, it is creative, as well a recycled idea. Of course I use my photography as cards, and you can buy my photos as cards, post cards, calenders, and any form of framed art your heart desires.
    Yet I do like the idea of make our own, choosing a photograph as well as a quote or finding the essence of your own words to express yourself. I did it for Mother’s day just this year. Mom showed the card to everyone!

    How do we think the card business started? People being creative, giving poems attached in cards with drawings, cut outs, etc.

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Kathy says:

      Jeff…I am really interested to know if photographers like you imprint your photographs on card stock? Scan them? Or do you use the actual photographs?

      I do not consider yours–or any other artist’s cards–to be in the same category as, say, Hallmark or American Greetings. Oh, heck, pretty soon I am going to be saying that the artists who work for Hallmark are wonderful people and…pretty soon the revolution is going to go down the drain.

      So much for revolutions. (But it was fun while it lasted!) tee hee…

      Bet your mom was OVER THE MOON by the gift of your card!

      • jeffstroud says:

        So far Kathy I have glued Photographs to card stock!

        I don’t think you have to give up the revolution just yet or by saying artist that work for Hallmark etc are nice people! They may be but heck are they selling out their creativity?

        Enjoy your son being home!!! I had a thought when you commented to Laurie, that I have never heard my Mom gush over me coming home. I wonder what your son’s response would be if he read these post?

        Enjoy your day!

        • Kathy says:

          Jeff, you are really inspiring me to print some photos and glue them on to stock. Thank you. OK, won’t give up on the revolution yet! (See how easily I’m re-inspired?)

          Oh we mothers can’t let on too much all our inner gushing. Then our sons would probably get right back on the next plane back home. And he does read ALL my posts–or so he says. But not comments. So he’ll never know that we’re all talking about him. See what people miss when they refuse to read the comments?

          You enjoy your day, too!

  12. Jennifer Lynn says:

    Wonderful thoughts! What about, like with taking back food, ‘loca-voring’. Even the quick easy suggestions can takes time, Espespecially when setting up. Can’t purchasing from local artists also fit this moto?

    • Kathy says:

      Jennifer Lynn, I am OVER THE MOON to see you here! Yes! Purchasing from local artists will have to fit in this revolutionary scheme. I can see that I didn’t think this over clearly enough. Thank goodness you guys came around and set me straight. Gosh it’s hard being a revolutionary. 🙂

  13. holessence says:

    Kathy – Did Christopher arrive safe and sound? Did you laugh, cry, maybe both, when you saw him? Are you over the moon?

    • Kathy says:

      Hi, Laurie!! Good morning. Yep! Our beb (I mean grown son) arrived safe & sound last night. It is SO delightful to see him again! He’s still sleeping–I’m sure his body thinks it’s before 6 a.m. now. Can’t wait til he gets up and we can have coffee. Hurray, hurray! It’s good when the birds fly home to the nest!

  14. holessence says:

    I’m soooooo glad! I feel your excitement ripples all the way down here in Crystal Lake. Have a great chat-fest over coffee this morning. I’ll be turning off the internet part of my laptop shortly to go into focused writing mode. I’ll catch up with your blog this evening. Have a WONDEROUS day!

  15. Kathy your cards are beautiful and congratulations for getting these beauties ready for showing by the end of June. You are one amazing woman who demonstrates the power of public commitment while maintaining their creative fluidity. Yaaaaaaaaaahooooooo! Their goes my Canada hat spinning high up in the sky catching the light between the trees and singing off a robin’s wing as I celebrate your success with you…. and Happy Canada Day:)

    • Kathy says:

      Thank you so much, Terrill, for your kind words. I do like to follow through on my word, although sometimes it’s harder than other times. I hope you had a wonderful wonderful Canada Day! I can feel your joy!

  16. Pingback: Perspective Canada Day « Creativepotager's Blog

  17. flandrumhill says:

    I love making cards. I don’t know why more people don’t. Maybe their standards are too high. Anything handmade makes up in warmth for what it may possibly lack in perfection.

    • Kathy says:

      Yes, yes, Amy, I suspect you have it right. Too high of standards. You kind of have to be willing to send out some less-than-perfect cards. The heart energy adds the perfection. (Kind of like these last few sentences. They kind of said it, but kinda didn’t. You have to be willing to let people read between the lines.)

  18. Cindy says:

    Nice idea Kath! I like the idea, my daughter and her friend used to even make their own envelopes out of cool magazine pictures and collage them.

  19. Robin says:

    Oh good. This is an easy vow to take as I have been making my own cards for a while now. I love all of your ideas and those I haven’t tried yet, I’ll be trying soon. Thank you!

    • Kathy says:

      Doesn’t it sound like an easy vow to take, Robin? Much easier than going outside every day for a year. LOL! I am glad to hear you are already a revolutionary. This movement may actually already be on its way.

  20. Loved this post and the ideas in it.
    I pledge to mostly make my own cards and only buy if I’m being really, really lazy!

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Saving Mom, oh good! Glad to hear you’re on board. I know what you mean about being really, really lazy, though. We all have those moments, don’t we? We must be forgiving of ourselves. 🙂

  21. absurdoldbird says:

    Definitely stop buying cards from stores, but no no no – please don’t stop buying all cards or else the ones I, and other artists like me, are trying to sell of our own artwork and printed by a separate company, won’t make us any cash! (Not that mine are making me any cash at the moment anyway, but that’s probably more to do with my not having bothered to publicise them. Un-go me!)

    I used to hand-make cards, for myself and also to sell. My husband did too – but it was very hard work once word got out, and we gave up. What I do nowadays (and telling people this isn’t going to help me sell my artwork either, but oh – what the heck!) and have been doing for a while is, when I receive a card that’s the folded type, providing the sender hasn’t written on the other side of the image (this is a definite no no – they can’t be recycled then without putting a horrid messy label over it), I open it out and neatly cut along the fold (well, actually, I avoid cutting on the fold, I cut to the side of it so that it’s not part of the thing). Next I find an envelope that it’ll fit and, if I’ve something transparent I can put it in (the cellophane bags for displaying individual cards can be very inexpensive if bought in bulk), I pop it in a transparent bag and on the outside place a post-it onto which I’ve written who sent me the card so that they don’t get it sent to them.

    Then when it’s all done, I put them in a drawer so that Bruce and I can pick one whenever anyone has a birthday or whatever. I’ve done the same with Christmas and other greetings cards, all separately sorted and labelled. It’s so much easier and the results still look nice.

    But… I do sometimes send other artists’ cards. Not my own yet…. though I expect I should!


  22. absurdoldbird says:

    Actually, not, that’s not true. I do send my own art cards, but mostly postcards and mostly to family and mostly printed by me. My own printer is currently being a total b*gg*r at the moment.

    • Kathy says:

      Dear Ms. Bird, all you artists types told it to me straight. Be distinguishing, you said. Be discerning. Support the artist, not the corporate culture.

      And I agree with all of you. Totally!

      It must be so challenging to be a small struggling artist. We ought to all open our hearts & pocketbooks to help… that is when we’re not up to our elbows in glue and ZOTS creating our own! 😉

  23. Cindy Lou says:

    I still have the red leaf card you sent me on my desk! I bought card stock way back in March and have plans to put my nature photos on them…..have them all ready in a folder labeled “Snapfish Order” but seem to run out of money before I can get them ordered!?!? Soon!

    I ran into your Chris at Larry’s the other day as he was shopping for reunion stuff….didn’t get to chat much as he was in a hurry, but it was good to see him. Holy wah – 10 years already?!?! How come I don’t feel any older? OK – maybe a bit older as I roll my achy, gardening bones out of bed but other than that…. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, good luck on getting the ambition/money to follow through on your card project. That is always the challenge for me…forcing myself to take the time to do it. Once I force myself to get all the card-stuff all over the kitchen table, then it seems easy. It seems awfully hard up to that point.

      You ran into my Chris! That must have been yesterday? I miss him already. He’s only been gone from the house since yesterday at 11 a.m. but I am anxious for him to come home–he spent the night at Jurmu’s and I think also connected with Adam. Can’t wait to hear all the reunion stories!

  24. Pingback: Green Gardening: The Scrounger’s Garden « Life in the Bogs

  25. Kel says:

    coming in from the link love of Robin at Life in the Bogs

    love your senitments in this post
    and funnily enough, I just did a snail mail swap from from australia to canada with cards we made ourselves

    i didn’t take a photo of it before sending, if she puts it on her blog, i’ll let you know

    and i’ve just been reminded that I have an envelope making template in the bottom drawer – might give that another go too as it’s been awhile

  26. Kathy says:

    Kel, so glad to hear you’re another fan of making cards! Do let me know, indeed, if Robin puts it on her blog. Good luck with your new projects! We’re starting a homemade card revolution!

  27. Kathy I love this! I haven’t made my own cards before,but now the time has come. You’ve inspired me!

    I do save old calendars and have pressed flowers many times over the years. With Christmas just over four months away (can you believe it!) now would be a great time to get recyling and get crafty. 🙂

  28. sonali says:

    Hi Kathy,

    Firstly, I like the title of the post, “Taking back the world one card at a time”, how thoughtful! I used to make cards during my school time. I remember one of my teachers had told us this same thing not to spend money on cards, some 10 yrs back. After school, I got busy with my higher studies and now with my work at office, that I had forgotten this completely. I’d like to thank you very much for bringing this thought and sharing it here. definitely, here as well, Im too late to read this post 😦 but still, its better late than never, is’nt it?

    luv ya,

    • Kathy says:

      Always glad to inspire fellow crafters, Sonali. I still love making cards. Turns out my mother-in-law is SAVING all of them, bless her heart. You will have to start making your own cards, right away. Let me know how it goes!

  29. sonali says:

    Kathy, The cards are very pretty!!! 🙂

  30. These cards are great! I have used old cards, or at least, elements of them to create new cards, too. It is more environmentally friendly to up-cycle store-bought cards. The tea-bag card is very inventive and the green is very pretty! 🙂

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