Thursday, September 29, 2011

Do I need to add a fake barcode on my cards to make them acceptable ? - Why a handmade card has that personal touch !

On one of my previous post 'Now that I'm bloggin...' the lovely Lindsay Mason left me a comment about her frustration with people who don't get handmade cards. I leave you to pop to that post to see her comment but in a nutshell someone told her 'Why would I make a card if I can just easily buy one from the shop for 1 pound (dear American friends just read 1 buck). 

I totally understand where Lindsay is coming from and I commented that we're losing the appreciation of the slight imperfection yet beautifully crafted and heartfelt outputs artisans and crafters alike have been producing for generations.

I coined this new term of Ikea-ism, where everything is perfectly designed, mass produced and basically even if they make you believe that you're buying a unique 'individual' lifestyle, well we end up owning all the same stuff and our homes are starting to look the same. 

Memories of going to my Italian grandmother's house are still fresh and seeing some objets d'Art she used to buy from local artisans in her various trips around the 'boots'. I use to envy their uniqueness and their extra value because there was also a story or a funny anecdote attached to these mementos which my gran always relished telling at length.

I don't have anything against Ikea but it's obvious that unless the person operating the till was extremely amusing or chatty, you just know you bought that decoration because it might match and that's that...

Now what about card making ? Why is it that some people are so incensed to receive a handmade card believing we are being cheap or we couldn't be bothered to go down the store ? I tend to go for the 'once bitten, twice shy' attitude with them, once I know they don't appreciate they get the cheapo card and I don't even try to explain to them that the material alone I used for my cardmaking is well above what one pays in any of those mass produced cards in stores.

Handmade Stamp from 
One of my relatives who shall remain nameless is like that and doesn't get it. I remember putting a fake barcode on one of my cards a few years back and for a split second this person was pleased as punch I 'bought' the card. It was hilarious when the deceit was uncovered and the praises for the card were actually for me, not an unknown manufacturer.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this short blog post from Heaven 'Store bought cards are ugly anyway'. Obviously I don't mind at all receiving shop bought greeting cards as not everyone is a card maker. 

But please people out there when you receive a card which isn't a folded piece of cardboard which was printed by a press and instead you receive something that is lovingly hand stamped, or layered with different papers, ribbons etc.. Don't turn up your nose at it: someone took the time to give you that extra 'I care about you' spending their time making you a unique, not to be repeated card. And that's worth more than ugly barcodes of shop bought ones...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sorry for your 'Job Loss' greeting card, Is that a bit too much ?

According to this CNN article ' Hallmark is sorry for your loss - your job loss ' the manufacturer feel there's a demand for this type of card. They will start rolling out 'Job Loss' themed greeting cards in most of their stores pretty soon.

I'm in two minds about this type of cards as it can be seen as insensitive if you were to send this sort of greetings, like if it were a joke and it could be taken the wrong way by the recipient. Having said that, if it's a close friend and you want to let them know you're there for them, I guess that could be a nice friendship token.

What worries me is that people seem to need 'pre-fabricated' feelings on cards so that they don't have to deal with the person feelings and avoid the interaction. I'm not saying that people are avoiding some issues just sending off a card for any occasions but I feel there's a tendency of having a plethora of cookie-cut cards that will do the job and that's that.

Sending greeting cards are felt differently and the customs varies between cultures for example being half Italian, I found it very strange being handed a Christmas cards by my colleagues at work as cards are sent when you cannot give the greetings personally to your friends, family or in this instance by your co-workers. In Italy, greeting cards are only used as a last recourse if you know you can't contact your loved ones so it's reminder that you're thinking about them. 

In the UK because of the huge Victorian tradition of sending cards someone just needs to sneeze and they will receive a greeting cards....only joking ! I know I'm exaggerating but I find it really nice that people want to let their loved ones and close friends that you're thinking about them sending a card. 

Now as a cardmaker I can create my own themes to suit any occasions but I wouldn't personally write as a sentiment 'Sorry for your job loss', personally a 'I'm there for you' or 'Thinking of you' would make a more sensitive and sensible card to give to a recently jobless friend or family member.

So what do you think ? Is it a step too far to send greetings about losing one's job ? Do you feel when you go into greeting cards stores that they overwhelm you with too many occasions and not enough variety for the main ones: birthdays, wedding, anniversary etc... ?    

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How do you research a new card making technique, especially with a new medium ?

For those of you who don't already know, I was selected to be part of the new Design Team (DT for short) for Panpastel. My excitement turned into panic when I realised:
  1. I haven't used pastel much in the past (apart from using pastel pencils)
  2. I'm not an artist, I know how to assemble elements and hope that it will look good enough to make a decent card but that's about it.
  3. I didn't have any clue where to look to see what other crafters were using them with...
Now, I thought let me look at the manufacturer in the States and the site was very thorough and lead me to a few videos on youtube. This was great because I tend to forget about youtube and how it's chocoblock full of demos etc. It's kinda a visual smorgasbord of anything from funnies to music videos...and also cardmakers/scrapbookers sharing their love of paper crafting.

I also did a search on Hubpages (where I wrote a few articles about cardmaking myself) I really like that resource site as the quality of the article is usually very high. I wasn't disappointed; a few artists were showing how they were using panpastel and how to go about it.

I finally started to search on Google but as I feared it was full of retailers selling the stuff instead of how to use them etc... Obviously I need to modify my keyword search and this is where you come in helping me. 

  • What are you favourite keywords to find how to use new techniques ? 
  • What are your favourite sites apart from Google and Blog Google to take you to interesting finds ?
  • Do you use only manufacturers website or even online retailers to see how to use some new mediums you never came across before ?
Please leave your thoughts and comments I'd really like to see how you go about it ?

    Monday, September 26, 2011

    Now that I'm blogging (writing more about myself) what's this blog 'mission statement' ? (how grown up!!!)

    On my previous post I explained how I'm going to use this blog as my sounding board and express myself as a crafter with mental health issues. It might not be everyone's cup of tea but as I said there are 7 other blogs of mine if you only want to see cards without my 'dross'. I almost had an epiphany when I read this blog post from Christie 'Getting passionate about your blog'. She talks about a mission statement for your own blog.

    Now to me it sounds all grown up and very corporate but I do understand where she's coming from (she mentions a few resources about blogging that seem very interesting so do check out her blog). I believe what Christie means is the personal mission statement or in my case: what's this all about, Fab ?

    And it suddenly dawned on me that it's all about sharing my personal experience as a paper crafters: the many self-doubts, moments of 'I'm going to pack it all in' extremes, the daily quest of sorting the paper craft stash in a practical way ( I started to tidy up my corner and it's still work in progress after a week).

    So be prepared this is about card making, papers (and cuts) ...hopefully with less despair. I hope I'll make your smile more than cower thinking that I'm totally nuts ! LOL So fasten your seat-belts because it's going to be me warts and all. I started this blog back in 2007 just to share my cards that I've made but now I feel confident enough to share a little of me for posterity.

    I came across these bloggers' posts who have read the same post from Christie and decided to give it a go at explaining to their readership and themselves what their blog's direction might be:
    So what's your own 'mission statement', in a nutshell why have you started a blog (if any) ?

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    'Riding the wave' distracting myself with card making, how I cope with my depressive phases

    You're probably wondering why I write more about myself and how I feel recently. Well it's because I thought this blog of mine needed a new direction. I have 7 other blogs (listed on the right hand side) about different niche of card making, although I'm still featuring cards on this one too it's going to be also about me and how I feel about the card making process and my daily life. I won't write everyday but when I feel like I need to express myself and use this blog as a sounding board I will do so.

    Something spurred this soul searching I discovered a blog through seededbuzz (google it, wink) and I felt like that post was talking to me.

    Ginger (The Seamstress of Avalon) is sharing how her mother's depression affected and how she has to cope with it now. In her own words '... I had always felt that being in any kind of pain and letting it show was a sign of weakness that others would despise me for '... and it's kinda how it felt in my own family too. I had to look inward and show total indifference as a coping mechanism during my teenage years. Music was my saviour then and discovered years later when I was diagnosed with bi-polarism that most manic-depressive need something to distract them (some of those distractions are disruptives, I'm glad I picked music).

    I've been card making for a few years now and I noticed that most crafters use this hobby as coping/healing distraction to their disabilities either physical or mental. I also realise that most of them are very vulnerable to criticism (me included) and we tend to kinda jump the gun. I guess in my case when I have one of those 'foggy' days I need just to craft and ignore what happens around me. 

    It's no easy and I don't have a magic solution, some days I'm capable to cope with some know downs and not being able to craft, others I feel super sensitive yet I can craft for England so to speak. I'm sure that makes an interesting individual albeit very erratic.

    Ruth Weal has a five steps resource for dealing with depression on her blog and as she mentions that's what works for her. As for directing your energies and dealing with your own creative depression, Melissa Shell opens up with her own view about it.

    I hope you can ride through the wave as I like to call it when I feel well enough to paper craft !

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Are you a hoarder of your leftover bits when paper crafting ? Confession of a card maker !

    So the big questions is... What do you do with your leftovers bits when paper crafting ?

    I, personally, can't bear to part with even the most minuscule leftovers ( I know 'sad' ) but there's a method in my madness: I always believe that they can be useful for Artist Trading Cards (commonly referred as ATC). As you can see from the pictures I use small plastic containers to store them or plastic bags even worse I stuff them into cellophane bags meant for the cards I make. It's an illness !

    Are you ruthless (and if so can you 'cure' me ? lol ) with your bits and offcuts ? How do you manage your ever mounting stash of papers ? And the most difficult question to answer is what is the smallest allowable size of paper you can keep: 2X2 square inch can always be used for a topper as a mat...but then 1 inch is also good for an 'inchie' (minuscule art form  for the very patient). I despair of my sorting indecisions so when in doubt I keep everything. I need serious help !

    I need your input, how do you cope are you like me saving every single piece ? Or once you've taken your scissors to a nice 12X12 sheet of paper, you just trash/bin what's left (oh the agony) ?

    What's your practical side telling you that isn't working with me ?

    Please help ! 

    A hopeless hoarder (who's still tidying up his craft corner after 4 days of moving stash from A to B) LOL

    Panpastels are cool and I made it into the Design Team ! Hurray !

    I'm very excited to tell you that I'm part of a very talented team of crafters for Panpastel. Their weekly challenge for the UK market is starting tomorrow (Sunday Sept 25th) and this is my contribution for this weeks' challenge. You can see more infos on their blog :
    You can also purchase the panpastel in the UK at 'Your Creativity Store'
    Now I've been playing with them and will make a full demo live in one of my future craft webcasts on please check the fanpage on Facebook for when this will happen. Papermood on Facebook

    Here's another picture where I've started to play with these panpastels, they're very light and high in pigment they have almost no binders and a little goes a long way. Also they have almost no dust residue when using them.  The clever tools that you should use with them are sponges specifically created for a velvety application. I simply love them.

    I received a 9 colours and the applicators from the lovely Berni at Panpastel UK but I was so persuaded by their practicality and ease of use that I purchased 3 more colours to expand my palette.

    I've been trying with a few techniques and I'm enjoying them. Please watch this space or my other card making craft blogs to see how I've used Panpastel. 

    Friday, September 16, 2011

    leslierahye.: LIVE EVENT Saturday Sept. 17th

    leslierahye.: LIVE EVENT Saturday Sept. 17th: Join designers all over the world as we create cards for our soldiers to send to their loved ones. Saturday September 17th 2011-- 3:00-6:00pm Eastern / 8pm-11pm UK / 9pm-12am Central European Time
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