Saturday 12 November 2011

Oh Christmas Craft, Oh Christmas Card

When we were kids, my mom was really good at coming up with holiday projects we could make.  I’m sure that some of them arose out of the simple need to occupy us on a rainy or snowy afternoon, but I loved them all.  I still enjoy a good holiday project, especially if it’s something that I can craft with some of the kids in my life. 

Card making is often a good way to occupy children for an afternoon or two.  Most of the materials can be found quite inexpensively at the dollar store or at an office supply store.  If you break the project down into steps, it can be extended over a couple of crafting sessions and, if you want to, you can make several cards at once.

If you celebrate Christmas, there’s always a need for one or two cards even if you’re not in the habit of mailing them.  There are cards for teachers, cards in which to enclose a tip for the paperboy or hairdresser, and thank-you notes to write after Christmas.  A bundle of home made cards tied up with a pretty ribbon can make a thoughtful, inexpensive gift.

This is a good card to make with kids. I’ve made this project with children as young as three, and with kids right through their teens.  Depending upon the age group you’re working with, you may have to adapt the design a bit or do one or two of the steps yourself but you'll find that the design is easy to work with.

To make these cards you’ll need:

  • Blank quarter fold cards (The cards should measure 4-1/4 by 5-1/2 inches.  You can usually buy them quite inexpensively at places like Staples.  They often come pre-packaged with matching envelopes.  If you can’t find them, they’re easily made by cutting a piece of 8-1/2 by 11 inch paper in half horizontally, and then folding each of the cut pieces in half.)
  • One piece of dark blue or purple cardstock for every four cards you intend to make.
  • One piece of green cardstock and one piece of regular white copy or printer paper for every eight cards you intend to make.
  • White acrylic paint.
  • An old toothbrush.
  • A glue stick.
  • Clear glitter glue in a squeeze bottle.  (I used Elmers.  If you can’t find glitter glue regular white glue will work.  Kids just seem to like the glitter glue better and any unplanned blobs or streaks are more likely to look like they’re a planned part of the design.)
  • Flat backed “jewels” from the dollar store.
  • Newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to cover your work surface.
  • Aprons or clothes that you don’t mind getting splattered with paint. (Acrylic paint will not come out once it’s dry.)
If you’re working with very young children, you’ll want to do the first step yourself before you make the cards with them. 

Begin by laying your dark blue or purple cardstock out flat on your work surface.  You’re going to be splattering paint onto it, so make sure that there’s a large clear space to work in or that furniture is covered with something that you can later wash or discard.  Cover a larger area of your work surface than I show in my photo.  I ended up spattering over the edges of the newspaper.

Pour a little paint out onto a piece of scrap cardboard and wet the toothbrush bristles with the paint.  You don’t want too much paint on the brush. 

Hold the toothbrush perpendicular to the paper, a few inches above it, and draw your thumb across the bristles to splatter the paint onto the paper in a fairly fine spray.  Try to make sure that there are no bare spots.  There needs to be paint on every part of the sheet.

When the paint has dried, cut the paper into four pieces, each 4-1/4 by 5-1/2 inches.

Now you’re ready to begin making the card fronts.  Cut the white sheet of paper in half vertically.  Tear a strip off each end of the paper, about 2-1/2 inches or so from the smooth edge.  The torn strips don’t have to be perfect.  Rough edges are actually a good thing. 

Fold the remaining paper in half, and cut along the fold.  Glue one piece of white paper onto each piece of blue or purple paper, aligning the smooth edges together.  The torn edges of the white paper should be near the middle of each card front.  If the edges overhang a bit, don’t worry.  Just trim them when the glue has dried.

Tear the green cardstock in half vertically, then tear some rough triangles out of the paper.  If you’re not comfortable tearing triangles, cut them with scissors instead.  They’ll still look fine. 

Glue a green triangle onto each card front so that they look like trees standing in the snow.

From this point on, it’s best to work with only one card on the work surface at a time.  Doing so will help to ensure that the glitter glue doesn’t end up on elbows, the backs of cards, your furniture…

Squeeze some glitter glue dots onto the trees.  Try to space them out but if the kids want to put them close together or clump them all in the middle, let them.  The cards are, after all, homemade.  Imperfection is part of their charm.

If you’re working with very young children, you may want to opt for different colours of glitter glue and to let them decorate the trees with just the glue.  If you’re working with older kids, have them place a “jewel” on each of the glue dots. 

When the card fronts are dry, glue them to the front of the blank quarter fold cards.  It works best if you apply the glue to the quarter fold card with a glue stick and then position the completed card front onto the glue.  The glue is forgiving enough that you should be able to slide the card front around a bit if you need to adjust its position. 

You can leave the cards blank inside or use a rubber stamp or stickers to add a sentiment. 

Happy card making!

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