Corporate solution to alleviate guilt at not expressing personal feelings to friends and loved ones: let our staff of an infinite number of monkeys/corporate lackeys do it for you. We underpay our artists, paper stock runs us another fifteen cents, and we charge you three dollars for the privilege of giving a gift that expresses emotion for you.

My mother was upset. We had expected to spend some time together for the first time in a while -- and then I was suddenly called back home. And it was her birthday soon.

So I think, like the good first born that I am, that it would be nice to stroll down to the card store and get a little something for her to either send through the mail or present to her when we did get a chance to meet again.

So, ok, look, I walk into the store and all I really want is a tasteful blank card, just something that has a pretty picture on the outside and an envelope. I was NOT thinking, "Gee, what I could really use is a Happy Birthday Mom Because I Missed You-Very Much And I'll Be Happy To See You Soon card, yeah . . ." But the surprising thing was how many people HAD walked into a card store and said, "Gee, what I could really use is a {foo} card, yeah . . .," and then gone and told Hallmark about it because there were cards for events in my life that I could never imagine happening:

  • Happy Birthday.
  • Happy Birthday to a Son/Daughter/Grandson/Granddaughter/Nephew/Niece/, Father/Mother/Grandmother/Grandfather/Aunt/Uncle, Friend/"Loved One"/Boss/Employee.
  • Happy Wedding/Bris/Confirmation/Birth/Bar or Bat Mitzvah.
  • Sorry, Missed You, Please Forgive Me, Just to Say Hi.
  • Condolences.
  • Condolences for the loss of a Mother/Father/Aunt/Uncle/Son/Daughter/ --

Can you believe that? Condolences for the loss of a SON or DAUGHTER? I could not imagine being so devoid of empathy for someone's loss of a child that I would pay Hallmark $2.99 to express sympathy on my behalf.

The point is that anything worth saying you will do fine in saying on your own, and it will mean so much more to whoever you're saying it to if you just let Hallmark mind its own business.

So please, next time you feel the urge to reach for the column marked "I'm Sorry That Your Wisdom Tooth Surgery Was Performed by an Expatriated Burmese Shoemaker in Hiding (Religious)," just buy a blank card - you'll make someone much happier.

How to Make Greeting Cards

A lot of individuals would say that not everyone can be creative, that this is a talent that you must be born with, but this is a blasphemous statement. Even you can appear creative. You can make beautiful homemade cards by following just a few easy steps.

The first of these is deciding on the occasion for the card being created. There are many reasons to make a card. For example, it might be your best friend’s birthday. This would very likely prompt you to show a heartfelt sentiment. You would want to make this courteous companion of yours feel that he is the most important thing in your life. Giving him a homemade card will create this desired effect. Just to give you an idea, a card made for this occasion was created on yellow card stock. Pieces of orange paper were placed in rays coming out from a yellow circle in the middle so it would look like a quilt depicting the sun. On the inside of the card is the sentiment “Friends are like patches of love in a sunshine quilt. Happy Birthday!”

Another reason to put effort into decorating paper would be if your brother were getting married. This would create emotions deep within you. In order to properly express these feelings, you need to convey them in your own personal way. A card made for this occasion depicts a simple drawing in colored pencil of the back of a bride and groom arm in arm. On the inside of the card it proclaims “Good luck as you begin your new life together!”

There are so many more reasons to make cards. Any occasion that stirs your blood and warms your heart is worthy of your creativity. These special times could include making wonderful Christmas cards for all your friends, Valentines for all your loved ones, and Mother’s and Father’s Day cards for your parents.

After the occasion for the card has been ascertained, you need to move on to the next step. This is when you need to decide what medium you feel most comfortable with. For example, if you feel most comfortable with a pencil when you write, then use colored pencils. With colored pencils beautiful pictures can be created by tracing already existing images onto your card. This is most easily accomplished by using a piece of glass as a table in a well-lit room. Proficient tracing is key to a beautiful coloring job. Coloring can completely transform your creation. Even a simple addition such as shading your drawing will give it depth and add reality to the image.

A flat cartoon-ish look is sometimes preferred if you have included humorous anecdotes in the card. This can be achieved by using a pen or marker rather than a pencil. You could use the above tracing method with a different coloring technique or you could produce a ‘modern art’ look just by making a number of different shapes on the paper.

If you would rather have a classic art look for the card, watercolors could be used. This type of medium is often brought into play to make a painting-like impression. This particular flow of creativity, though easier to fake in some instances, can take more skill. This may sound silly and contradictory, but it is true. The reason for this is that if you are looking for a detailed picture you can’t just trace and color. You need to pay more attention to the brush you use, the amount of water in the paint, the kind of paper used, and the pressure of the brush on the paper.

Now that the style and occasion have been decided upon you can move on to the next step: the actual creating of your greeting card. To start the process you obtain a piece of paper. This involves deciding on a color, texture, and size. All of these factors will contribute to the quality of the card and the picture on it. Starting with a sheet of card stock is a good idea. You need to cut it in half hamburger style and then fold that in half. This doesn’t end the paper issue though. Now you have some more choices to add dimension and style to your card. For example, if you add a piece of homemade paper to the card it will give it a more natural look, but if you put a piece of vellum (a kind of translucent paper) over the card stock it will lend a classic look. To make a simple sophisticated look you could just leave the card stock plain and put your picture on that, or use a card stock with a print, like a pattern of flowers, with a simple phrase etched across the front.

After you have obtained the paper, the next thing to consider is the writing utensil you would like to use. Some of these have already been discussed along with the basic methods used with these media. Now is the time to put this knowledge to use.

The next thing you must do is come up with a clever sentiment for the interior of the card. This can frequently be the most difficult and challenging part of the creation process. This is because most people like to include an original saying in their card. There is, however, a way around this. If you go to a bookstore you can invest in a proverb book. This is a great resource for the novice card creator.

However, this is not the last step in your simulated creative process. The last and maybe most important part of your card is the logo that will set your card a step above the rest. Hallmark thought it was so important they had a whole marketing angle about looking on the back of the card. My logo is simple yet profound: Kards by KK. However, my mother’s logo is an intricate design that sometimes surpasses the wonderful artwork that graces the front of the card. Nonetheless, it is the look she’s going for, and suits her well.

Now that all the steps are complete you can proudly show off your greeting card. Keep in mind that you have only heard the basic outline for creating precious cards. There is so much more that you can do! Be sure to keep this in mind on your next creative endeavor.

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