Posted in Technique adventures

Adventures in Technique: Card-Making

Overview image of the card sketch I used and an example card
The card sketch I followed, designed by Julee Tilman (direct link to her blog below)

Good morning! I hope all is well with everyone out there.

So I’ve been working on a card that I was able to finish last night. It’s for a lady I’ve never met, whom I know through Swap-bot. (Swap-bot, by the way, is an amazing site you can use to coordinate and find snail mail “swaps” either with strangers and/or private groups. I’ll write a post going into more detail soon!)

Part of the conditions of the swap I’m participating in is that we follow the card sketch referenced above–basically a suggested layout for your card. If, by the end of this post, you’re motivated to try it out for yourself: here is the blog post and here’s the sketch in detail:

Card sketch detail

Now, if this seems restrictive, don’t worry! I don’t know all “the rules” as this is my first card sketch-following adventure, but from the provided examples on the blog, you can tell that it’s meant to be inspirational rather than strictly limiting.

I’m really happy with how mine turned out, though I certainly made A LOT of mistakes. Let me walk you through my process with this project. Apologies for not many pictures; I’m still getting used to this whole craft blog thing and I just didn’t think to document it! Lol.

The first steps

The first step for me was to raid the stash of all the papers I have available to me. I knew that the person I’m making this for is into fall colors and texture, so I went for tan/brown/red/orange in my colors and made sure that the biggest contrast piece was textured.

I cut everything to the specifications in the sketch (well, mostly). I found it interesting that the sketch doesn’t assume you’re making a whole card? I mean, the face is listed as 4 x 5.25″, but if you want the background solid color to fold and form a greeting card, you need to actually cut an 8 x 5.25″ piece and fold it in half. Maybe this is obvious to everyone else, but my newbie brain wondered at it! 😂

Anyway, so far so good. This is what my card looked like at this point:

The layout of my card project
My card laid out

Though not really a “mistake” you can see that I kind of exaggerated how big the smallest strip should be. I just liked it better that way, plus my paper scrap happened to be that wide to begin with, and I’m lazy. Let’s just be honest. 😂

Phase 2: the creative block and moving past it

At this point, I set the card aside for a couple of days. On the one hand, I felt like I was nearly done (nope!) and on the other, I was overwhelmed by the “finishing touches” elements I could include.

Sure, I was following the layout of the sketch, but what and where should I stamp? What should the message be? Should I add some background accents? Etc etc.

I’m really interested in how we as creatives encounter this kind of paralysis and what we do to move past it. But more on that in future blog posts. 🙂


In this case, I felt motivated to return to it because my swap deadline is approaching (you need to indicate that you’ve sent your items within an agreed-upon timeframe on Swap-bot) and my stepmom was feeling crafty last night.

It was easier to get started by simply being around her and talking it out as well as asking her for help and suggestions (She’s also crafty and provides A LOT of my supply stash.)

So yeah, I eventually hit a “f@#k it” point and started trying things because I couldn’t stand there forever.

Scrabble tiles spelling out "KEEP TRYING"
Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels

You guys, I made so many mistakes. I thought all was lost. Like, several times.

It turns out, I don’t really like stamping. Especially not stamping directly on what will be my finished product. I could have thought to stamp on my smaller pieces of paper before gluing them on, but that would have made FAR too much sense.

But! Here’s what I also figured out! When (not if) you mess up with a stamp, one solid option is just to keep stamping with it. Make it look like you actually meant to create a texture rather than a well-defined image.

Want to see what I mean? Let’s look at how my card turned out.

My finished card
My finished card

You see the brown texture? Yeah. All that was just covering up a terrible stamp job.

The cinnamon color coming out from behind “You make me smile” is covering up my attempt to stamp a different message with that color of paint.

And the stamped message–“You make me smile”–was a scrap of paper I found already stamped so I didn’t have to deal with it.

I learned a lot from this project, but especially that a big part of being creative is just rolling with the punches, letting your mistakes alter your plans.

I also found a texture stamp I really love (note the reddish flecks) and tried out a couple of different ways to create interesting edges: rubbing the paper edge over a stamp ink pad and dipping my finger in acrylic paint before running it over the edges (beware of papercuts!).

Overall, I’m just really happy that the finished product turned out looking like I know what I’m doing. Trust me, I don’t. 🙂

I hope that some part of this inspired you. Feel free to reach out to me with any comments or questions!


If you want to know more about what to expect from this blog (since it’s a baby!), here’s my introduction post.

All credit for the card sketch goes to Julee Tilman and her Poetic Artistry blog post.

Finally, here are some of my favorite examples from other artists who tried out this layout (taken from her above linked post):


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