Saturday, February 2, 2013

Card Bomb How To

I'm making a million cards for Valentine's Day, and I know this makes me look crazy, but really, it's not that difficult.

I don't think I clarified before that the cards I'm making for my boys are little 2"x3" valentines, almost like the ones they will be getting at school from friends.  Their Valentines are easy to throw together rather quickly, and it's easy to batch create them when you do them assembly line style.  I make each one unique, but I get my stuff ready before I start.

My husband's cards are all handmade individually, and they're bigger, and they're for him, so they take up much more time.  I had already made him five cards, I believe, throughout this past year, knowing I needed to get ready for this, so that means I have 9 hand crafted cards to make over the next 13 days.  All in all, not impossible, but those are made the old fashioned way, so I don't have any real advice for getting those done except to just do it.  Whenever there's a spare moment, make something.  That's how I roll around Valentine's Day.  Come to think of it, there always seems to be some occasion, so it seems like that's how I roll for most of the year.  I keep busy!

Valentine Card Bomb How-To

If you were interested in making handmade Valentines for your child (probably a girl, unless your boy is in Kindergarten or you have a lot of really manly supplies... I had to throw that in there, because I have never made handmade Valentines for my boys to take to school even though I constantly dreamed of it, which may be how this whole Card Bomb thing started) to take to school, these tips and tricks would work out well for you!  I'm making 28 cards this way.

First of all, and most importantly, decide on your basic color palette and stick with it.  For my cards this year, I'm doing red, black, and creams and browns (vintage), with occasional splashes of pink.  Deciding this ahead of time helps you to make the best use of your time by eliminating most of your choices in decoration.  Less agonizing over choices means getting more work done.

Next, pick out colors that match your theme and cut out and score all of the card bases.  The base size of the card pieces themselves is 3"x4".  You can get twelve 3"x4" pieces from each piece of cardstock.  Score each piece 2" in along the 4" side.  I leave them unfolded until assembly so that they all stack neatly.

Side note: This is a great way to use up those weird, random pieces in a 12"x12" stack that you don't really like, but don't really hate, but that you know in your heart you will probably never use.  It's funny how even the weirdest patten ends up looking SO cute folded up as a little 2"x3" card.

Prepare appropriate stamps and punches for sentiments, decorations, etc.  I'm making at least two each of 14 different sentiments for 14 different cards.  If you were batching these for a classroom, you would probably just need one sentiment for all of them.  Because each day my boys need to get a unique card, my process is more involved in this step.  I use a lot of Stampin' Up! stamps and punches because they coordinate.

Grab a piece of white or light colored cardstock and start stamping images along one side, making sure to leave room for the punch to go around each one.  I use only one color of ink (usually black or dark brown) to save myself time.  I have a baby wipe on hand to wipe each stamp clean as I finish, and I put everything away as I work.

When you get all the way to the edge of your page, punch out each image, and then slice off that portion of the paper with your slide cutter.

You end up with a really cute pile of punched sentiments and a fresh edge to start working again.  Go ahead and just keep repeating this process across the page.  Try to, for the most part, use punches that are about the same height, that way you don't use up too much valuable page space.  But, above all, don't agonize too much over this part. 

If you're not sure whether or not a certain image will fit inside a certain punch, just make yourself a template from scrap paper (or cut apart a piece from one of the strips you've been making) and simply lay it like a window over the stamp to see if it will work.

This also works very well for helping you eyeball placement of stamps along the edge of the cardstock.

After about 45 minutes to an hour of work, I ended up with a nice pile of sentiments that looked something like this:

Now, you could totally just go from here and start work on your cards, but I happen to have border stamps that fit each one of these punches, so I sort of had to do an extra step.  To me, I think truly beautiful objects are all about the details of their creation.  This is for my precious boys, after all, so I have to add these steps even though they probably will never know or care.  It's just essential to me, whether or not they recognize the work in the final product, that my love can't be expressed with anything less than my best.  It reminds me of God, actually, and the way He loves us every day.

Now that I got myself all teary eyed over the boogens in the middle of my own tutorial (hopeless sap, I know, but I can't help myself), I will show how I do border stamps on punches.  If I'm doing multiple punched images (sentiment AND border), I always do it this way.  If I'm doing only a border, then I stamp the border and punch it out.

This way seems to get more consistently good enough results, if that makes sense.  I have yet to find a method that is perfect every time.  Some stamping genius probably knows some way to line everything up perfectly (and, actually, I know how to do it, too, but it's too time consuming to contemplate), but usually when I'm making stuff, I have to get something done, so I do as few steps as possible.  This works out very well for me, especially when using a light colored ink.  It all ends up getting rather well hidden when you ink the edges of the punched pieces.

Lay your stamp down, face up, on your work surface.  Ink it with a light colored ink.  I used Distress Ink in Antique Linen, and I also used Victorian Velvet, which is not very light at all, but I almost never completely follow instructions.  Even my own.  Basically, you can use a darker ink if it's not going to interfere too much with your sentiment.

(Also, at this point, if you're going to be assembling cards right away, you might want to plug in your hot glue gun if you use it.)

Okay, stamp inked and ready.  Take your punched piece and lay it on top, lining it up as best as possible.  Basically, you're going to reverse stamp now.  Take a clear block or the back of another wood mount stamp and press it onto your punched piece to get an even press of ink across the surface of the paper.

For truly tiny stamps, you can just press on the back of the paper with your fingers.

When you're all finished, you should have a nice little pile of double stamped sentiments that look something like this.

Not all of them are absolutely perfectly centered, but it's not the end of the world.  I put the details, and I always aim for perfection, but I don't let it get in the way of getting things done.  Anyway, I think it just adds a lovely extra layer of craftsmanship to have the borders on there.  If you don't have border stamps, you can stamp a background stamp with a light ink (for REAL, a light ink this time, even I wouldn't not do it in this situation) over your sentiment to create that extra layer of craftsmanship.  It will still look really nice!

To assemble, get your hot glue gun (or some other quick drying adhesive) ready to go.  I am discovering that I love tissue tapes because they save so much time!  Pieces of cardstock would work just as well.

Pick your punched sentiment, plan where it should go, fold up the card base, and get to work.  Basically, lay some kind of grounding strip (tissue tape, cardstock, ribbon, or combinations of those) centered where your punch will go.  I am finding myself obsessed with banners right now and decoration everything I see with little strips of ribbon hanging down, like you can see in the "you're a gem" card in the back.

I like hot glue for this because it's fast.  I do a line of adhesive on the card itself and then press the ribbon on top.  For my ribbon dangles, I run a line of hot glue over the back of the punched piece, then put my little ribbons in place.

I purposefully use the same exact embellishments on the cards as I make.  Obviously, this saves time, but since I usually make these in separate groups, it creates a natural mix in the finished pile of cards.

I made these five cards in about 20 minutes.

Inside of each card, I put the number and write something sweet.

You also need a way to keep track of which sentiments you used.  I just grab an index card, label it with each child, and create a checklist.  As I use a sentiment for one child, I put it on each child's list, but only check it for the child that received that card.  This way I don't have to hunt later to find the different sentiments and figure out which child got what so far.  This is my 2013 improvement.  I have high hopes for it!

Because these cards are so small, they and all their papers and sentiments fit very nicely into a sandwich size bag.  I throw everything in there after I'm finished working and toss it into my desk drawer.

It's a lot of work, but I find it so necessary.  I'm creating a crazy memory for them more than I'm making cards.  I love the idea of them sharing this memory with people.  Even when they're teenagers and they'll probably think it's so lame, I'll keep going.  I'm not too far away from my "everything-is-so-lame" teenager years that I don't remember that I also did actually appreciate stuff, but was too "meh" to admit it.

Here is the display of the Card Bomb, day one.  It ends up looking much more impressive later.

And here is a closeup of Adam's card, but you can't see inside that one.

I'm off to add more cards to the table, turn Netflix on my laptop, and make some more!

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