Craft

InCoWriMo 2017 – I’m In!

Big commitment, that International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo)!  28 days, 28 letters.   Am I in?

I’ve mulled it over.  I considered my failed participation in the League of Extraordinary Pen Pals, how I began writing to a group of people – probably 10 or so – and every, single one of them fell by the wayside.  My fault or theirs?  It doesn’t really matter – I didn’t do anything to follow up with the people who had stopped writing to me.  And, on my end, well, it was a confluence of things – I lost my original traveler’s notebook, my Wendori, which was a sweet burgundy leather that I made myself, and loved dearly.  My letter log, my letters, my stamps, my addresses, were all in there.  But, that’s just an excuse really – I could have gone back to the club’s database and found the addresses again.  Who I owed, who was behind with me, that was a different question.  Then, my father died.  I decided that was a good time to sort through who I needed to write to, and I proceeded to write at least 7 “I’m sorry I haven’t written, this is what happened”  letters and by the time I had related the story of my father dying in Mexico, getting his body back, and his truly ugly fiesta coffin, that looked like it would play cruiseship music if you opened the lid, seven or so times, I never wanted to write another letter again.  So, I didn’t.  And, in the end, only one person sent me a FB message, and was like, what’s up? and honestly, I just couldn’t explain.  It was like by writing that letter, I had written the last chapter with everyone.

And, that was two years ago, and I really would like to exchange mail with pen friends again – I’m getting really good at addressing envelopes, and I have none to write, nor send.  So, I’ve decided, I can do this – I’m in.  Here’s my plan.  Right now, I’m making cards and envelopes.  There’s no way I can sustain that – that’s old Wendy crazy pants who is setting herself up for failure.  Those cards and envelopes will go to the people who I either already know (hey Mindy – you’re getting a letter!!), or who I’ve actually committed to exchanging letters with (a handful of people I met on instagram).  When that is exhausted (probably the first 10), I’m going to switch to the box of notecards I already have sitting on my desk, because I liked the box, and because they were on sale at Papersource awhile back.  And, you know – I don’t need much of an excuse to buy another box of cool cards.  And, I’m going to write them when I get in, first thing in the morning by randomly selecting people from the InCoWriMo website.  Joe works 7-3, and since my job is flexible, I work 7-3 as well – but no one is actually in until 9.  So, over coffee and the hum of my space heater (since the thermostat for my office is at the end of the hall and if it’s turned up too high, those at that end are roasted – so I rely on a space heater), I’ll write short, happy mail letters.

Good plan, right?  At least it’s not March, it’s a short month, right?

So, to make my cards, I pulled out my Crafter’s Companion Ultimate Tool:

I got sucked into this big, plastic pink thing on HSN craft day – watching Sarah Davies and her British accent score and fold with this thing was mesmerizing, and I had to have one.  Did I really have to have one?  Let’s see, the pink thing opens up into these table top surfaces.  On one side, top right, you have fold lines for 12 x 12 paper, and 8 1/2 x 11.  If you turn the board one way, scrapbook paper, the other U.S. Letter.  There are scorelines for gatefold cards, half fold cards, and tri fold cards.  However, if you were to attempt to just look at the board, and make a card without reading the instructions first, that would be impossible.  The instructions are like a rosetta stone, and this board is totally worthless without out it.  Don’t lose the instructions!  The instructions give you the basic folds/score lines for those basic cards, however, if you want to get any more complicated, and “take it to the next level” as Sarah says, then you have to watch the accompanying DVD, and then the supplemental DVD you can get on HSN.  Sarah moves really fast, and for each card, I really had to watch the videos a couple of times.  For a more experienced card maker, maybe that wouldn’t be the case, but . . . in any event, I ended up making myself plain white cardstock templates, with detailed instructions about what size paper to start with, where to rest the paper – on the handle, or the other side, which line to use, etc.

But, I had a day off, as our heater was broken and I had to wait for the oil guy to come, so I had time to watch the videos, and they were certainly better than watching the evening news these days.  The problem with this machine is that it can’t really be used as a traditional score board.  For instance, if you see a card or project on line, and it has instructions that say, score at the 1/2 inch, 5/8’s and 2 inch – you can’t do that, because the board doesn’t have any measurements; that’s supposed to be the point — she’s done the measuring for you.  But, that means you have to do her projects, or take her basic card “to the next level” on your own.

The other work surface areas are an envelope maker, an envelope box, an embossing board, and box maker.  And, the board that has the arches and butterflies – you emboss the shapes, and then you cut bits of them out for either popouts or windows.The envelope side is supplemented by another product she sells, the enveloboxer, which is another pink piece of plastic that fits on top of the board, specific for envelopes with a gusset and boxes, and then she has a few other pink boards for other embossing tricks.  Again, to use her envelope maker, you need to use her measurements – and the measurements in the instructions do not necessarily match the measurements on her website.  So, I like to use my WRMK envelope maker – the only problem with this is that anything that starts with paper over 10 x 10 isn’t going to fit on the board, so you can’t complete the scoreline.  WRMK has solved this problem with their new envelope maker, that’s also a box maker and a bow maker, by adding a pull out section.

So, did I really need need need this pink plastic thing?  I like it.  It’s helpful, and I can imagine if I were still doing some book binding, and folding signatures, this board is perfect for that – you’ll always find the center, and the with the edges against the handle, you’ll always get a perfect fold.

And, here’s what I made:

This is called a step card.  Sarah has four different ways to change this up on the DVD, but I figured knowing one way for now is enough.  And, these are my WRMK CKMY stamps, with my handlettering.  I really like how the stamps turned out.  I’m not the biggest fan of the flower that I showed you before, but I love the typewriter, and I love this one.  And, with the Misti Stamp Tool, it’s really easy to position the stamps, and to put some kind of greeting on the paper that’s in the typewriter.  This cards stand up, but they can also open up, and I’ll write my letter inside.

Then, I made an explosion card –

This one flips up, and an origami folded letter pops open.  I figure I’ll fold the letter after I write it – its probably a little cumbersome to write it after.  Sarah says these cards are perfect for announcements and invitations.

I have a few more types of cards to make, but they’re easel cards, and I have a watercolor stamp coming that I want to try out, that’s being delivered today, so I’ll work on them this weekend.  So, I switched to envelopes –

This is the WRMK envelope maker:

On the bottom is a chart – you find the size envelope you want to make, and the board gives you the measurements.  Fiskars has an envelope board coming out that is a twist dial like thing – you dial up your paper size, and it spits out what size envelope you get, and vice versa.  Lot’s of bells and whistles and moving parts – this one is pretty simple.  The board also tells you where to line your paper up against the stop edge – in this case, I was making a 6 x 6 1/2 inch envie, so I needed a 10 x 10 piece of paper, which I placed the corner at I think 4 3/4.  Then, it’s easy peasy.  You position your bone folder against the edge of the nob, and score the groove that’s in the board.  Then, you turn the paper 90 degrees, lining the scoreline up with the blue thingy that’s sticking out, and you make another score.  You also punch the top, giving you the notch you need to make your envies without having to cut out what would be darts I guess if you tried to smoosh it together without cutting.  The Martha Stewart Board is similar, but she has a triangular piece of plastic that sits in the corner of her score board, and you score against the diagonal.  The thing I don’t like is that it doesn’t have the notcher.

So, here are my envelopes:

and:

Voila!  Ready to be addressed.  I haven’t figured out the size envelope I need for the exploding card, I was done for the night.  but, I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

By the way, the craft paper is Tim Holtz, and it’s really great for cards and envelopes – really sturdy!  I’m sorry that I’m at the end of my stash.

And, that’s the plan!  Have a great weekend!

 

 

Rumors of a Bead Fail Are Greatly Exaggerated

So, when last I left you, I promised to show you my bead fail.  Ah, I had such little confidence in myself!  Shame on me!

As I’ve mentioned before, my craft pursuits are usually the result of a tiny spark that leads to a stream of seemingly unrelated ideas – for instance, photography lead to image transfers that lead to art journaling that lead to portrait painting that lead to dolls.  Of course, it wasn’t such a straight line, from photography to dolls, there was sewing and sculpting along the way too, but basically, one spark lead to another.  This past weekend, after I finished up the doll, I switched to beads.  How did I get to beads?  Crochet to crochet jewelry to this class that’s starting next week   (I’m always a sucker for an earlybird special!) to a desire not to invest in any more store bought beads.  I’ve been down that jewelry hole before, you see.  Gotten all excited about beading or wire wrapping or soldering, or whatever, and then I’ve gathered my materials, made a sizeable investment, made one thing, and that was the end.  Not again, I said to myself.  Small investment, this time.  And, I stumbled on paper beads.  I invested in 2 bead rollers (a big one and a small one) from this Etsy shop, and paper marking template from this shop.  Of course, now I’ve made a $26 investment, but I’m still not paying any money for the beads, right?  Whatever, I say to myself.

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So, I marked up my paper with my template – for Pandora like, fat beads, with a large hole in the center to place a bead core, a fancy name for an eyelet.  This, frankly, was a pain in the ass, and no fun at all.  To make these beads, you have to cut three sizes of strips – one that’s the same size on both ends, a second stip,  with one end that matches the width of the first strip, and tapers in to about half the other end, and a third strip, which matches the width of the second strip on the one end, and then tapers to a point on the end.  That’s a lot of marking, cutting and rolling.

Bleh.

And, here are the four beads I finished:

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Not quite finished, I didn’t even bother to put the cores in – I was just over them.  For four beads, I had to measure and slice up 12 strips of paper!  That adds up, my friends, and with scrapbook paper, and a rotary cutter, is zero fun.

So, I thought I was done with the beads after only 4 beads, but then I went back to the youtube drawing board, and found this video – Paper Beads 101, and it all just clicked.  I don’t need to mark my paper – I can just measure on one end, cut to a point on the other.  I don’t need to use scrapbook paper – I can use magazine paper, and it’ll fit right in my Fiskar’s paper cutter.  And, I don’t need to use multiple strips for a bead, I can just use one.

With this measureless cutting technique (well, I did measure the one end to be 1/4′ but that was more about aligning the paper on the paper cutter, than measuring), I cut cut cut away my National Geographic magazine, tossed aside the big bead roller with the 5 mm hole for the eyelets, and started rolling up beads like a machine:

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These small beads are perfect for my crochet project!

Of course, then there was the glazing.  Unfortunately, even though I burned my hand on our grill (yes, the grill handle is there for a reason – don’t touch the top – oy! so stupid), I didn’t want to waste the evening, so I strung up my beads one handed, and created a makeshift drying rack out of my quilting hoop.
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Doing this one handed was quite a feat, and probably stupid – since the beads are too close together, and the Glossy Accents will probably glue them together, and then they’ll be worthless, we’ll see when I get home!  Fast and wrong.

Anyway, if you clicked on Paper Beads 101, she makes a bracelet that takes 300 beads.  When I first watched it, thinking it was the excruciating process of the big beads, I thought, holy cow, no way, but in the span of the PSU/Pitt football game, I rolled all of the above, about 150 beads, so 300 – easy peasy.

Since I didn’t do such a good job with the glazing, I think I’m going to make a ladder bracelet with these, and then start the rolling machine going again for crochet class.

For which, by the way, between my bead fail and my bead success, I purchased the class kit – so much for not buying any more store bought beads.  Although, of course, these are special vintage beads, plus charms! And a hook! And C-Lon thread!

I should have had more faith!  Hmm, but now I have the special beads and the paper beads – win win!

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Call Me Crazy Quilter

As you may remember, I’ve been working on this Rebecca Rinquist sampler:
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Pretty, right? The buttonhole stitch is finally sticking!

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And, I’ve added the chain stitch, and the detached chain stitch/lazy daisy to my repetoire.

Great!

Now what?

Well, I am always a sucker for a sale, so when Crafty’s put all of it’s classes on sale last week (and it’s still going on – I’m not a Craftsy affiliate, just a fan – and the sale goes through midnight tonight), I decided to check this one out –

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This class seems like it would be a crazy choice for me.  Crazy quilts are not my aesthetic at all.  While I do love all things vintagey in theory, that love translates practically into modern design with a dash of nostalgia.  For instance, I have no problem pairing the modern furniture in my living room with antique picture frames, nostalgic memorablia, and retro cameras.  But, I’m not a lacey, beady, ribbony kind of girl.

On the other hand, what doesn’t quite fit with my aesthetic, completely runs paralell to what I’m doing craftwise.  I love quilting, and especially foundation pieicing, and I’m really enjoing my hand sewing/embroidery.  Crazy quilting combines these things, along with other textiles I’ve used in the past – like beads and charm embelishments, and the process of creating, designing and stitching a crazy quilt appeals to me.

So that begs the question – is it worthwhile to pursue something that appeals to my process side, but not at all to my product side?  For me, the answer is yes, for once I master the process, I can turn it into my own product.  While for now, I am making a wall hanging (or maybe a pillow) as a I follow along with the class, I have ideas about making journal covers – and I think this crazy quilt look will work for me in that medium.  Who wouldn’t want  a beautifully quilted and embelished journal cover – a pretty place to store memories, thoughts and dreams?  Hopefully, everyone will want one  -because if this works out, everyone’s getting them for the holidays!

In any event, I started the class, and I was really inspired.  Again, by the process.  I’m not all that inspired to have a crazy quilt on my wall, but eh, maybe it’ll be a gift.  I have taken many many Craftsy classes – yes, I am a craft class addict.  Some are better than others.   This class, with Allie Allers, has to be one of the best.  Much like Sarah Fielke’s class, Big Tehcniques from Small Scraps, which is also awesome and also covers a gazillion skills related to applique, this class covers so many techniques and skills it will make your head spin.  Not only does Allie cover four different techniques for piecing a crazy block,  she also teaches I think fourteen basic embroidery stitches, and how to combine them.  And, just when I thought class was over, she moved into beaded embroidery, and then ribbon embroidery.  Done?  Not yet, there’s still a whole lesson in finishing and displaying your quilt.  Piecing, embroidery, beaded embroidery, ribbon embroidery and finishing, all in one class.  I have to say, by the end of the class, I was exhausted.  And, then, I watched it again.  I took advantage of Crafty’s 30 second repeat button, and stitched along with Allie – not only while I pieced my blocks, but while I learned the embroidery stitches.  And, today at lunch, I’m going to pick up some beading supplies, so I can rewatch those sections, and stitch along with her.

And speaking of picking up supplies, since crazy quilting has never been on my radar before, all I had in my fabric stash was quilting cotton.  Well, I had to do something about that.  I found this store on Etsy, AnnDanCes and bought her listing for Fancy Scraps.    Buying fabric like this is a crapshoot.  Generally, the photo is generic – a representation of what you’re going to get.  So, you just have to cross your fingers, read some reviews of the seller, and hope for the best.  And, my – was I pleased!  The shipping was super fast – I ordered the box on Wednesday, and it arrived, from Texas, on Saturday.  And, when I opened it, I was literally gleeful – I think I even clapped my hands and exclaimed – goody!

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I dumped the box out on my table, and sorted the fancy scraps into color piles. Not a crazy quilt thing to do, I guess, but a Wendy thing to do, and I made the first two blocks from the class.

This one is flip and sew foundation piecing:

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And this one is the same method, but the pieces are curved –

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Very proud of myself!!

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And these two blocks are perfect examples of how jam packed this class is – I learned how to flip and sew (which unlike paper piecing, involves tracing your pattern onto muslin, and using the diagram as a guide, rather than sewing on the backside of paper), stablizing these fancy fabrics, how to care for these fabrics so you don’t crush them, and curved piecing. If I had just stopped at these two blocks, I would have gotten my $19.99 worth. But, the next two blocks take things even further. The third block is freezer paper applique, and the last block is improvisational piecing. I’m telling you, each block could be a stand alone class.

Anyway, after piecing my two blocks, I did have to try some stitching. I set up a sampler, and practiced some stitches – herringbone, stem stitch, chain stitch, lazy daisy flowers, and using a no fear attitude, I started stitching on the first block:

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And the totally fun thing about crazy quilting – I really have no idea what I’m going to do next.  Each block is unique.  If there are any crazy quilting “rules,” I don’t know what they are – so the only thing limiting me is how fast I can learn my stitches.   And, to help with that, and for additional inspiration,  Allie Aller’s book, Crazy Quilting, is included as a free download with the class.  Crazy right!  The hardback version of the book on Amazon is more than the class itself – bargain!!!

So, if you have any interest in this fun project, check out the class – you’ll definitely get your money’s worth, no question.  And, I’ll be back later in the week with how my blocks are progressing.

You may have noticed there is no Knitting on the Porch today.  I took the weekend off for Mother’s Day, so I’ll be back with a video blog next Monday.

Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day!

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What About the Art?

Last night, Joe was polishing his boots for work, and he asked me where my soldering torch was (he found this tutorial online for shoe polish that entails torching your shoe – smells lovely, let me tell ya).  I said it was in the basement, and go for it, “I’m off the metal, I’m on the fabric.”

And, really, that’s the way it goes.  I flit from making art, to making digital scrapbook pages, to soldering, to sewing.  It’s not that I’m not interested in everything all at one time, it’s just that there’s only so much time in the day, and I only have the energy to be obsessed with one thing at a time.  So, other things, regrettably, but necessarily, fall by the wayside.

My time, this year, really was curtailed by unexpected, and unpleasant circumstances.  Since Joe and I have been together, his hours were always 3 p.m. – 11 p.m.  This was perfect for us. I would come home around 5’ish, and I had all of that time to myself to do my projects.  And, since he was going to bed like a normal person, he had all afternoon to do his.  And, then, the rug was pulled out from under us – in April, he was transferred to last out, and now he works 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.  I cannot tell you how much this sucks for so many reasons that have nothing to do with free time, and have everything to do with proper sleeping, healthy habits, and sanity.  And, now when I come home from work, he’s been up for maybe an hour, and this is the time we have to spend together before he goes to work.  Sometimes, he’s working on a project, and I have time to work on something in the craft room, but not so much.  And, by the time he goes to work at 10:00, it’s really too late to get anything messy started, or to do anything that requires accuracy, like soldering or sewing, since I’m tired. I usually get my creative team stuff done, and then it’s time for bed.

Not enough hours in the day.

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Sigh.

But, I do miss arting, and mess making, and my craft supplies, and so on, so next year, I’m going to make an effort to schedule time for arty things, and to do that, I realize, I need structure.

Like online classes!

So, next year, I’m embarking on a mail art exchange with my friend Mindy.and we’re going to take Robin Marie Smith’s class, You’ve Got Mail . . . Art!  Yippee!  Art + Mail = Happiness!  Her Ripped and Stitched Journal also looks interesting, but again, not enough time in the day.  And, I’m going to once again take a journey with Misty Mawn in Full Circle.  Every year, Misty sends out an email around now, announcing her next class, and every year, I gulp at the price.  But, I’m always happy I signed up, and it does always follow on the heels of holiday gift money.  And, I like the way she’s structured it this year – I really think it will fit into my lifestyle.  And, while her classes aren’t forever classes, she does leave them open for well over a year.

I even rearranged my craft room to accommodate my return to messy products.  Originally, I did all of my crafting at one station, but now, I’m really not inclined to get a goop of gesso on my fabric, so I moved another desk into the main craft room from the way back room (a very cold room, with no windows), and now I have two stations to work at.  I’m so ready!

Ready for 2014, a year of endeavoring.  My word for the year, endeavor.

More on that later.

 

29 Faces – Face 9 and Finished Pendants

 Face 9

Who’s worried?  All of my faces lately.  So, in an effort to avoid a creased brow, a stressed girl, before I even began, I scribbled “Try Not to Look Worried.”  And, I think it worked.  She looks a little blank, but she doesn’t look worried.

I semi-caught up my Lovely Dream lessons today – Suzi’s all about Pan Pastels right now – but I don’t have any.  So, I stopped with the graphite.  Maybe I’ll color her in when I buy some.  

And I’m on the last lap of my Mother’s Day marathon – my pendants are done.  And, I’m pretty pleased with them.  Oh, one has an air bubble, one has a bit of a ding in the resin, but for the most part, it was a good first effort.   I did totally screw up one of my cool Eiffel Tower ones, when I painted the domino, but oh well, I can always make it again.  And now, as always, I have all kinds of ideas for the next time.  One of them is curing as we speak – when I thought about what I should wrap the pendant in – I thought – ah ha! a tin – and why not add a little resin while I’m at it?  I’m not sure it was a good idea though – I think I may have gotten some resin in the hinge – oopsy.  Whatever.  It’s the thought.

But now for the pendants.  They didn’t photograph so well – they look a lot better in person.  Especially the Eiffel Tower – in the photo, it looks like the brown paint is brown guck, but in person, it looks they way I wanted it to, a bit aged, a big grunge. 

Anyway, I have strategies in my head for being neater with the resin next time, although, like the dolls – what the heck am I going to do with all of these pendants?

At least the dolls I can hang on the wall.

 

Mother’s Day Approacheth

Just because I couldn’t buy yarn for myself at Sheep and Wool didn’t mean I couldn’t buy it for someone else.

You would think a festival would be a great place to buy a Mother’s Day gift. Nice thought, but the truth is, my mother is only a fair knitter, and she knits mostly charity things – baby blankets, hats, etc., in that dreaded Red Heart.

So, I was really looking for something else. What that was, I didn’t know exactly, but I thought I might find a simple kit with a simple project. And, I did. But then I decided what was simple to me, might not be simple to her, so I decided to knit it for her.

Can I tell you that this simple pattern – this knit stitch only pattern, that promises to take only 3 hours – has been the bane of my existence.  

I’ve now knit it three times in probably three hours. First, the pattern called for a size 15 needles, so I knit it, and what was supposed to be a scarf looked as big as a hanky.   Not that you’d want to blow your nose in this stuff.  So, I borrowed size 19 needles from the yarn store, and cast on again. However, I was so distracted by my thoughts in the post below, and I was running the whole thing by the girls at knitting circle, I accidentally recast it on on the 15’s again. I finished it – again – and, again had a circus clown, yarn hankie.  And then I gazed across the room to see the 19’s sitting by the register, and I realized what I had done – again.

So, I took a breather, and cast on again last night – knit for a half hour, and it’s about four rows from being done. It’s definitely better, but . . .

it’s . . . gosh – really, what is it?  I wanted to buy my mom a kit that looked like she had bought it at Chico’s.

I think I nailed that.

But is that really a good thing?

Eh . . . we’ll see.

So then, I started thinking, I had better make something else.  And just as I thought that, I stumbled onto this excellent tutorial on making Domino pendants from Art Play Today.

 

 

Looks easy peasy right?

And it was!

Here are the pendants I made so far – preresin, that is.  Since taking this photo this morning, I’ve mixed the resin, “frosted the cake,” and they’re now drying.

 

The photo of the woman is my grandmother.  It’s actually part of a four square of photos.  She borrowed her sister’s fur, snuck out of the house, had her picture taken, snuck back in, and returned the coat.  The rest of the photos are pretty awesome too, but this one was the best shape for a domino.  The tulips are from the flower show, the crow from our backyard, the other flowers from the beach, the cardinal from my parent’s backyard, and a face I painted on tissue paper.

Then, after I was all finished up, I had a brainstorm.

Lightning!

I remember my fantastically fabulous Cartes Postales book that I brought back from my trip to Switzerland years ago.  I think I paid $20 for the whole thing.  

I can’t even begin to tell you how beautiful the postcards are inside.  

And they’re all copyright expired.

Anyway, so what I did was I scanned a few fronts, then scanned the backs, and then I used the handwritten backs as overlays.

How cool are these?  Well, the SheArt one is for my niece, I don’t know how cool that one is, but the vintage postcards?!?!  

So what to do with this stash of postcards?

Hoard them for myself?

Create free collage sheets?

I don’t know.

Stay tuned!