When I posted my Adventures in Altered Cards and Books I was asked to provide some “how to”. So here we go.
You know those drug commercials on tv that say “people with addictions may be at risk for abusing this drug”?
I think it is only responsible of me to offer a similar warning: if you have ever looked around your studio (which tends to become your entire home) and thought you were one pallet shy of being a full-fledged hoarder approach the making of altered cards and journals with caution.
They are wildly addictive. They are soooo fun to make, and because there is no template they provide a great opportunity to explore the depth of your creativity.
The best part is the reaction you will get from loved ones. In these days of email, texting and facebook messaging, receiving a card in the mail is special. Receiving a handmade work of art blows people away.
These cards don’t get thrown away once they’ve served their purpose. And that is a good place to start.
I use old cards – of every shape and size. Because I do a lot of these, I need a lot of cards so I ask close friends and family members to give me their cards that would otherwise get chucked. I’ll explain in a minute how to deal with the written messages in used cards.
I keep an old cookie tin on top of my filing cabinet and throw old cards in there until I’m ready to use them. It’s ideal to have a variety of sizes (you may have a piece of fabric or scrapbook paper that you know a particular friend would love and it’s great if you have a card that will fit it. But of course you can also use any cardstock or lightweight cardboard like cereal boxes to make a base card.
I begin by gathering together a bundle of materials I plan to use. Fabric, ribbon, buttons, vintage paper, bits of jewellery & other embellishments.
The last card I made included a fabulous piece of rust that I had been saving for months. Inspiration for a card can come from anywhere. Answer that knocking.
I lay the card out on its back (several cards in a row for large-scale card-giving occasions like Christmas and Valentines).
Then I paint the interior with homemade white or cream chalk paint (2/3 paint, 1/3 plaster of paris). It covers any writing and gives a sumptuous texture to the interior. Allow it to dry completely.
Next I apply a generous coat of modge podge (fabric glue works great, too) to the entire outside of the card, being sure to apply right to the edges and corners.
While the modge podge is still wet lay it onto the fabric you want to use as base. You can see here how I worked with 2 cards – if you have a lot of cards to make, it is most efficient to do them in small batches.
NOTE: lay the card on the backside (i.e. lighter) of the fabric so the best side will be the visible base of your card)
Let it dry thoroughly.
Then I use scissors (the sharper the better) and cut to the edge of each card.
I feel like a hypocrite saying that: I own about 10 pairs of scissors and not one of them is sharp. Inexcusable. I live 2 blocks from a professional blade sharpener. I tell myself I love the ragged edge, but you can see the result of using dull scissors.
Then the real fun begins. I start playing with layers.
I’ve made lovely cards with only 2 layers and those with as many as 9 or 10 layers.
Again, I use a range of adhesives: hot glue, modge podge (commercial and homemade) and fabric glue. They all work pretty much equally on fabric, but you may need something stronger (like E6000) for heavier embellishments.
On this card I have 8 levels including the dried roses (real – from my garden – not silk)
I hope my cousin Alma likes it.
A final caution: if you find you love making altered cards like I do, try to resist the urge to prolong greeting hugs so you can rub your friend’s shirt fabric between your fingers. And most of all, try to resist checking out buttons on your friends’ clothing. You may have to explain if a person you are talking to crosses their arms and gives you a dirty look.