A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: paper

I’m still plugging away with my craft knife and most recently made a small piece for a friend’s thirtieth birthday. The more I hear about turning thirty, the more I like the sound of it. I decided to emphasise the sunny aspect of growing older and wiser in the cut.


I wonder if this also represents an unconscious response to the feedback that my thesis celebration card was ‘too dark’. Ain’t nothin’ dark about a lovely sun, right? Right?

Here’s what the card looks like finished and backed.


The heart is totally there just for cuteness, and not to cover up a mistake I made right near the end.


I was pleased to get some all too rare good news during the week- the card I designed for the competition my university ran won! Although, like my thesis itself, it came back with some minor corrections. Unlike the thesis, however, the corrections did come with a very welcome addition to the prize, which means I should be able to afford a nice new backpack for my summer travels.
I spent an evening working on the amendments. They wanted me to change ‘Life after thesis’ to ‘Life after the thesis’ and also to remove my little quip about thesis-related nightmares. Apparently they want the tone of a celebratory card to be ‘light’. I don’t really do light.

I think it looks okay with the changes. Can you tell? I removed the line with ‘after’ on it, re-cut a line with ‘after the’ on it and popped it in place. Removing the text about nightmares proved surprisingly difficult. I hope the commissioners will be happy with what I was able to do.

I designed this paper cut for a competition run by the university I technically attend. They decided, after we submitted, that it would be nice to give students a card when they hand in and further we, the students who left the office with nothing but horrible memories, would be best placed to design that card. Unfortunately I’m a total sucker for an excuse to make stuff so I had a go.

Even though there are quite a few mistakes (including two areas where I had to stick sections of text back together!) overall I’m happy with this piece. I like to set myself really ambitious craft challenges sometimes, and this was definitely one of the hardest!
It took about two or three hours to do the preparation- designing, drawing up the final composition, transferring it to tracing paper and then onto the final piece of card. The actual cutting took about eight hours in total. By the end I had a really sore back from sitting hunched over my cutting mat as well as an impressive blister on my index finger. I would have looked like a hybrid of Quasimodo and ET as I hobbled around showing people my injured finger. Craft is so cool.
Here is yet another GIF of my work on my Tumblr. And now for some progress pics.
Initial sketch

Final design

Transferring the reversed design onto card.

This is what it looked like once I had cut out the design.

I’ve been inspired by the work of Paper Panda, which is where I got the idea for the rainbow. It was fiddly to do at first but I got the hang of it after a couple of colours.

The final stage was to add the backing. If I had photo editing software, I would probably clean it up a bit, but I can live with the flaws. They prove it’s handmade.


Card shops have a lot to answer for. Just the other day, I popped into one as I wanted to send a message to a friend who had lost two important members of her household. But could I find a ‘sorry your fish died’ card? Not for love or money. Well, money. The woman behind the counter got very sniffy when I asked about the store’s policy regarding trading against sexual favours and I was asked to leave.

Anyway, I decided to make my own. What’s quite cool here is that you can see that the design evolved quite a bit from my initial sketch to the end product.

Initial sketch

I started out with the idea of making a jokey card with very simple fish silhouettes. But after I researched the fish (a fan-tailed and a bubble-eyed goldfish) on the internet, I realised that I could recreate them pretty accurately without it being ridiculously complicated.


Cutting out the text was definitely the hardest bit. I’m hoping I’m going to get better at using a craft knife soon! Because I sketched the design on scrap card, I was able to cut out templates for the fish, which I flipped over and traced onto my coloured paper.

Cutting out a fish

I then had the shape the right way around on the paper with no pencil marks.

I wanted Wingus and Dingus to stand out, so I used some adhesive squares on their backs.

Fish with sticky tabsBackground

The observant among you will notice that one of those plants is, in fact, a pineapple as a subtle nod to Spongebob. I am all about understated allegory in my art.

As a final finishing touch, I added some rhinestones because SPARKLES. I used clear nail varnish to stick them down as that was the least messy thing I could think of.


Another hard bit was making their haloes. I used quite thick card because I wanted them to stand out, but cutting out the centres was a bitch.


but when I do, I go for it! This is a card that I made for my previous supervisor at work, who is widely believed to have a condition called ‘musical Tourette’s’, which, tragically, isn’t nearly as amusing as it sounds.


I think it came out okay, but I really must invest in some nicer paper. Everything I have has been either recycled or ‘borrowed’ from one place or another so the quality is variable and the colours aren’t amazing. Were I to do this again, I would also change the orientation of the card to landscape as the bars of music would look much better if they were longer.

This isn’t a proper how-to as I made this very late at night and so forgot to take very many pictures. I started out with a couple of sketches, which I turned into templates.


Using some reference images of music, I drew the bars straight onto my backing card, outlined in nice black marker, and forgot to rub out the pencil marks. Oops.


I cut the letters using a combination of craft knife and scissors. My knife skills still need a lot of work and I find it very hard to cut curves using the knife, especially when cutting through two layers of paper (template and coloured card) at once.

You can’t really tell from the photo, but the notes are raised from the surface of the paper using adhesive squares, which looked pretty good. I was too tired to ensure that the notes made up ‘proper’ music (plus I haven’t read sheet music in 10 years and I wasn’t great back then either) otherwise I would have made some kind of witty musical pun, maybe by arranging the notes as ‘Smack my bitch up’, ’99 problems’ or an equally inappropriate song. Interesting that the first two tunes that came to mind are pretty misogynistic. Don’t analyse that too closely…

After having all the equipment in my Amazon basket for months, I finally decided to take the plunge and try out papercutting. The deer in the forest design is partly taken from the book I bought, The Crafter’s Guide to Papercutting and also a cool t-shirt I spotted on Threadless.


Papercutting is a nice craft to take up as the equipment is cheap and readily available.

To make this, I used:

  • A craft knife
  • A self-healing cutting mat
  • A steel rule
  • Paper that I had lying around anyway
  • Glue

The materials to start could be purchased for under £10. I have now invested in some spray adhesive as well because the cheap glue stick I used isn’t holding up too well. I know that off-brand glue is a false economy but I still got sucked in!

Anyway, the yellow back ground is a piece of paper I painted yellow for another project. The templates for the three sets of background trees were in the book I mentioned above.

Two sets of trees cut out

I designed the deer silhouette, sketching it out first.

Deer template cut up

I masking taped this template to black paper and tried to cut through both layers…

Black scored

and didn’t quite manage.

A few more slices of the knife later and I had

Silhouette cut out


I’ll probably give this away as a card, but a friend pointed out that this would also look great in a shadow box. You could use some glue dots or adhesive squares between the layers to provide additional depth.

More cuts coming soon!

Can’t believe this is my first post about making cards, I went though a big phase of this a little while ago but I suppose I haven’t made very many recently. I had a great excuse to make one recently in the form of a good friend’s birthday. I feel that papercraft is something I could get into in a big way and there are some people out there making some wonderful pieces. My dabbling is simpler as I don’t tend to go 3D, but I think I might start that soon. Anyway, here’s what I made.

Whole card


Here’s the initial sketch I made.


And this is the inside. It’s totally there to look cool and not to cover up the fact that I make my cards on top of old Christmas cards so I know the envelopes will fit.

Inside 26 star