Saturday, June 9, 2012

These Cards Are Legendary

I'm still surfing the waves of family graduations. Today kicked off another weekend of celebratory events, not only for my daughters but for many young family friends and relatives too. So I spent most of the afternoon and evening working on some cards for them, worthy of their amazing accomplishments.

I'll warn you right now that I won't be showing revealing the finished product in this post. The odds are not likely but it would be a shame if one of the recipients took a peek at this post, and saw their card online before it even arrived in the mail! So I'm going to save the final reveal for a few days from now, after all the cards have reached the hands of the graduates.

But trust me, they are cute. You are going to want to make some too. So I'll show you how.

I probably should explain right off the bat that these so-called cards are actually little accordion books. I make the strip of folded pages from heavy duty watercolor paper - the kind you buy in big sheets from a legit art store. Like this. I usually get them at Michaels for maybe $8 a sheet, and get at least a dozen cards per sheet, depending on the size I choose.

I decided to make these cards about all three inches tall. The section of paper I had on hand was fourteen inches wide, so I just measured off three-inch sections. 

Now, here's a great thing about this watercolor paper. It has lovely torn edges and also rips nicely to create very interesting raw edge. 

So I never use scissors to cut the strips. I measure off the section I want, then fold along that line, first on one side of the sheet and then on the other. Then I lick the fold, also on each side of the page.

I know it sounds really weird. But it really works.

That tiny bit of moisture is just enough to weaken the paper right along that fold line, and it tears away easily and cleanly. Works perfectly every time.

My friend Vickie taught me that trick. She's the best.

Once I rip the strips off, I decide how I want to fold each one. 

I haven't told you this yet, but the pages will hold the letter that spell out the graduate's name. So I count out the number of letters in each person's name, and decide if it makes more sense to fit those letters onto four pages, six pages or eight. 

Even-numbered accordion pages work way better than odd. I don't mess with odd-numbered accordion pages and I don't recommend it to you. They are a treacherous lot.

So I just decide how many pages I want, and fold away. I don't measure or cut during this stage - I just merrily fold away until I'm happy with the result. 

Then I measure the size of the folded pages, and cut two cardboard squares of the same dimension. They will become the front and back covers.

Any kind of cardboard will do. My favorite is the kind that comes on the back of pads of paper. But cereal boxes and that sort of thing works too.

Next, I cover the little cardboard squares with interesting paper. I used some paper that I painted years ago; it's been living in my paper stash all this time, just waiting for its day to come. 

Yes, I do have a paper stash. It's a big pile of interesting fliers, advertisements, catalogs, brochures, and lots of other goodies that I like and save up for the right project.

In a pinch, you can always use wrapping paper.

After the little cardboard covers are all glued and folded and taped securely in place, I put them under a  heavy stack of books to dry. 

Now my attention turns to the pages of the book. I like to start with a cohesive background; for this project, I combed through my consumable stack of National Geographic back issues for some nice black and white photographs. 

Side note: I worship my collection of National Geographic magazines and I would NEVER rip up my first copy of each issue. But National Geos are full of fantastic photos for art projects like this one, so I have a big stash of second copies that I allow myself to rip up. 

So now I rip with abandon to size the images to my pages. 

And I do mean rip. Again, I like the look of torn paper better than a scissor-cut line, so I use a ruler to tear off the sections I need.

Once the pages are covered with my background layer, I cut out brightly colored letters to spell out the recipient's name. I'll show more examples of this when I do the full reveal; for now, I'll give you just a hint.

And where do I get all the brightly painted paper that I use for these letters?

Well, from my brightly painted paper stash. You saw that one coming from a mile away, didn't you. 

But it's true. I really do have one. 

These cards have a special feature. Because I am planning to tuck a small cash gift inside each card, I'm attaching one of these tiny little envelopes on one of the pages

Yes, I took that into account when I was planning out how many folds I would need. 

And I decided to add some black and white National Geographic goodness to the envelope too. 

Alright, now the pages are mostly good to go. I'll stash the cash in the envelope along with a personal note folded up into a tiny rectangle, but that will come later. 

Now it's back to the covers. 

Before I glue the accordion pages inside the covers, I'm going to incorporate a strip of ribbon that will be used to tie the book together, keeping the pages in a neat bundle. 

So I head out to my....wait for it....ribbon stash, and choose a few coordinating spools.

I cut off a generous length of it that will surely wrap around the whole book and still be long enough to tie a bow. 

I squiggle a line of tacky glue on the inside of the back cover, where I want the ribbon to lie, and smack that boy into place. 

Then, just because I take my projects' durability very seriously, I tape the bejabbers out of that ribbon. See? 

We're in the home stretch now. 

I put lots more tacky glue on the inside of this back cover, right over the top of the taped-and-glued-on ribbon, then plop the folded pages down in place. 

I repeat the gluing maneuvers on the inside of the front cover, put it on the top of the accordion stack, and squishy squeeze it all into a neat stack. 

Then under the stack of heavy books it goes, to dry overnight.

I really want to show you the finished product.

But we are going to have to wait for it. 

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