Knotted Versals Birthday Card


I’ve noticed that a lot more people read my card-making posts than ones on more obscure topics like the stationery items historically used by Canadian fur traders so here’s another one.

My inspiration for this card was the Learn to Letter session at the April 2018 Edmonton Calligraphic Society meeting ( This month’s style was Knotted Versals. Versals are the decorated letters found in illuminated manuscripts, often at the beginning of a verse (hence the name) or paragraph. While the Celts weren’t the only ones to use knotted designs in their manuscripts (most famously the Book of Kells),  knotted versals are often associated with them. I used the alphabet provided by Pauline Baynes at the meeting as my guide for the outline of the letters.

20180414_155757That was as far as I got at the meeting but later on at home I used watercolour paints with a very fine paint brush to colour them in. I think markers or pencil crayons would have been easier, especially where the lines are quite close together.  


Once the letters were painted, I mounted on coloured paper and attached to folded cardstock to make the card. So here’s to a very happy birthday for Alison!



Birthday Card

Today is the birthday of a very special person. So special that they get a hand-crafted birthday card to celebrate the occasion.

I got the idea for this card from a picture I saw in a Michael’s flyer. I believe it was for a rubber stamp set but I thought my drawing skills were up to tackling a jar and a bunch of flowers so I grabbed a scrap of watercolour paper and did just that. After colouring it in with watercolours and outlining with a black pen I cut them out.


Next I made a tiny tag and added some text with rub-on transfer letters before tying it to the jar.

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To assemble, I took a piece of cardstock, folded it in half, and glued on some decorative paper. I used embossed vellum from an old wedding invitation in my scrap folder to make the doily. I didn’t like the visible line of glue along the edge so I covered it up with washi tape.

Finally I glued on the jar and attached the flowers with some foam dimensionals from an old Stampin’ Up kit. Voila, a simple bouquet for a special somebody.



Hopefully everyone who is getting a Valentine from me this year has received it so I am not spoiling any surprises. I made three but two are the same design.

The two similar ones use the Strathmore tracing paper I recently discussed (read more here). First I decorated some cardstock by dipping a cookie-cutter in thinned red acrylic paint. Then I wrote “always in my heart” using the narrow nib and black ink cartridge from a Sheaffer calligraphy set onto tracing paper. I secured the tracing paper to the card using washi tape (read more here).


valentines inside 2

I used Greys paper envelopes (read more hereand addressed them using a new stash of rub-on transfer letters I recently acquired (learn more about this in a future blog post).

Andrea envelope

Fonts: Update and Friz

Alison envelope

Fonts: Cathedral and Univers

The third valentine was made using a keychain fob that came on a wine bottle as a rubber stamp, adding a cut out heart for the seat, and decorating with a marker. I used Mecanorma rub-on transfer letters in “Orator” font for the text on the front. I wrote in the inside using a Pilot Parallel pen at the February Edmonton Calligraphy Society meeting/workshop where we were introduced to a very old Germanic letter form called Fraktur. We only covered lowercase letters so that’s what I used.

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Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Christmas Cards


What with today being Christmas Eve, I felt I had to do a Christmas related blog. The first thing that came to mind was Christmas cards. When I was a child, my parents received so many that we decorated the living room with garlands of them while I only get a few each year and send out less than ten. Still, it is not a tradition that has died out entirely and while most people (myself included) send commercially made cards, I have been known to make my own. My results with this are generally pretty amateurish (see snowman card below) but last year I signed up for a workshop called Stamp-a-Stack with a former colleague, Rhonda Vague, who is a Stampin’ Up representative in her spare time.


Rhonda is very talented and comes up with all of her own designs. She does a lot of the prep work for the cards ahead of time. At the session you are given a package with all the paper you need and then you use her stamps, embossers, and punches to assemble the cards according to her instructions. It is all quite ingeniously planned so that you feel like you have made them yourself even though the creativity is all hers. I am not an experienced paper crafter so I only barely had time to complete the basics during the workshop and then had to do a lot of the assembly at home. These are by far the most beautiful cards I have ever sent out.

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Because of my skill level it is possible to tell they are hand made but they have none of the originality or charm of either my sister’s homemade cards have or my daughter Alison’s. Below are some that Alison made this year.


I don’t think Christmas cards are people. Rather they are jolly elves that remind you about those you care about, both when you are sending and receiving. Have a very merry Christmas everyone!

Halloween Cards


I know card giving is not a Halloween tradition (hey kids, you don’t want candy that will rot your teeth, why don’t you take one of my homemade cards instead) but I recently joined the Edmonton Calligraphic Society and at the meeting they gave the attendees a big pile of paper. I love paper but I already have a substantial stash myself so I needed to use some of it before the next meeting or it will get unmanageable.


There was quite a bit of graph paper to practice our letters with but there were also strips of orange card stock, heavy yellow paper, and some pages from an old British children’s book. I know the president of the society is a volunteer at the Edmonton ReUse Centre so I suspect some of the paper may have come from there. From what I can tell from the two book pages, the story revolves around the unlikely plot that a leopard is on the loose in their town, a situation I am sure many children could relate to. The children are named Susan and Terry and they live with their Auntie May, Major (a basset hound) and a terrier named Snip. Here is an excerpt:  

“I’ve just had some disturbing news from Constable Simkins,” she informed her niece and nephew. “It appears a leopard escaped from Red Walls early this morning and is still at large.”

This terrifying scenario made me think of Halloween, as did the strips of orange, so I got to work.

First, I made trimmed the book pages and singed the edges, both to make them spookier looking and because I love burning things. Next I practiced my dip pen writing skills and wrote Happy Halloween on the orange strips and roughened up the edges before gluing it to the front of the card on top of the book pages. The writing on the inside of the cards is also on orange strips of paper.


I didn’t have any envelopes the correct size for the finished cards so I made some out of paper from an old used Grumbacher sketch book. I had forgotten just how good this paper is. I am going to have to go back to my Canson paper sample book and compare.


It was fun to practice my calligraphy on a project instead of just working on my letterforms on graph paper. I am looking forward to seeing if we get interesting papers at every meeting of the Calligraphy Society.

If these cards were people, they would be more kooky than spooky. They would dress up to pass out treats to the kids but the treats would be homemade. Unfortunately most would just be thrown out, but the few children who dared eat them would get lovely homemade fudge.  



Elisabet Puts Thread to Paper


I recently came across the word sewist, combining the words “sew” and “artist”, to describe someone creatively sews and thought it was the perfect description of how my sister creates her unique greeting cards (and better than calling her a sewer). In honour of her birthday tomorrow, I am going to share a little bit about her card making.

She started down this path many years ago when she began sewing  attractive and sturdy re-usable shopping bags that she would sell at craft fairs and markets in Quebec where she was living at the time. She soon found she needed to diversify her stock and, keeping with her business’ eco-friendly theme, began making cards that incorporate cast-off bits and pieces like scraps of fabric, maps, old calendars, buttons, and used greeting cards. For that special Elisabet touch, she uses a sewing machine to add a line of stitching. She even makes her own envelopes using brown kraft paper lined with recycled paper. While this never became a big money maker for her, the cards are a great creative outlet and became very popular with her regular customers back in Quebec. They would drop by her house and ask to see “the box”, an antique train case she got at a garage sale that she keeps her cards in.


Her creative process begins when she sees a scrap with fresh eyes. Sometimes something catches her eye and an idea comes, other times she seeks inspiration by tidying up her sewing and craft supplies. Once she has a few ideas, she usually tries to make 5 to 10 at a time. This makes the process more efficient, as does making all the cards the same size. For cards that use fabric, she first spray glues the fabric to stiff paper before cutting to size and then gluing it to the card. The last step is to do the stitching with an old, slow sewing machine with a blunt needle.


Making the envelopes comes next and is enjoyable in its own way but, as this part of the process is repetitive, she recommends listening to the radio while assembling them. As a finishing touch, she uses pinking shears on the flap to give the envelope a paper bag look.

Her customers appreciate the uniqueness of her cards and I know I love receiving them!

If these cards were a person, they would be a loving and creative individual that makes the best of what they have by adding a touch of pizazz to whatever they do, much like my sister herself.

Birthday Cards

this year

It was recently my birthday and, following with tradition, I received a few birthday cards. Two of them were handmade and all of them were from women which confirmed a Carlton Cards statistic that claimed that 70 percent of all card purchases are made by women. I tried to find out when the custom of giving birthday cards began but all I could find was the history of greeting cards in general. Even the Hallmark Cards site only made special note of Christmas, Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day when discussing the history of their company. Maybe because birthday card purchases happen all year round, card companies take that market for granted even though it is estimated to be 60 percent of all greeting card sales.

I couldn’t even find out when celebrating birthdays began but I, for one, am glad we take a moment to give thanks for another successful trip around the sun. I have a sentimental streak so have kept a stash of old birthday cards. The ones from my parents mean the most to me now. 


I also get a real kick out of seeing how graphic design has changed over the years.

contemp1 9years

While designs change, the personalities of the givers stay the same. The same friend who gave me the kittens card when I was nine, sent me a text birthday greeting with a photo of her cat this year. 


I love penguins so have received a lot of penguin cards over the years. I mustn’t be the only one who loves penguins as Hallmark even had a “Penguins” line for awhile. 

Penguins Penguins reverse

So here’s to birthdays and to those who keep the birthday card tradition alive!