Posted in Hobbies, How-to, Ideas and inspiration

Cool Things to Make with One Piece of Paper

Maybe you’ve got bored kids on your hands and plenty of paper to put to use. Maybe you’re just an adult who wants to make stuff with paper, because who says only kids can?

No one, that’s who. Or at least, no one you need in your life. 🙂

Either way, I’ve got some fun ideas for cool stuff to make with just one sheet of paper!

Everything I list here has written instructions, but there’s no reason why you absolutely have to use these exact links. I just personally hate watching videos. Diagrams are the best for origami-type crafts, amirite?

One-page minizines

One of my favorite things to make with one sheet of paper is the legendary one-page minizine. With one simple cut along the middle fold of regular printer paper, you can turn it into a little booklet to fill with any kind of art or writing you want.

The best part? Zines are specifically made to be really easily scanned and copied. So even though there’s a part where some folding magic happens, all of your work is still on the same side of your original sheet of paper. Sound confusing? No worries. Ya need a visual, I think.

Check out this blog post to see how it’s done. Pay special attention to this infographic:

Diagrammed instructions for making a one-page minizine

I hope that helps. There are tons of other resources that lay out how to make minizines, but this infographic was the one that really sunk in for me.

As a bonus, let me offer you an extra-easy way to start making minizines: a Canva template!

This template is what I made for my own use as I make zines–it’s nothing fancy, but gives you guidelines for each page so that it’s a little easier to keep everything visible and know where to fold.

You can use this to design zines digitally OR simply print it out, write/draw as desired, and scan it into your computer afterwards. Don’t forget that some pages will appear upside down from the original orientation, though!

Let me give you a simple example so you can see what I mean:

An example minizine by the author

There are multiple ways of doing this, but in this case (my first zine ever, before I made my template) the page that says “Things that make my life bright” is the front cover; the one right before it is the back cover, and the numbering should make the rest clear.

Zines are really fun little projects that can really be about anything. I especially enjoy swapping zines with people via Swap-bot, but you can just make them for fun or for sharing with family and friends.

A close cousin: a one-sheet pocketbook

Okay, so I’ll admit–this one is a little more involved than the minizine. You might need binder rings to make it look nice in the end. But you still make it from just one piece of paper! Find the instructions here:

Cute, right? I’ve never really made a pocket book before, but I think I’ll give this one a shot when I get around to it.

Envelopes galore!

If you have any interest in mail art, fun envelopes are a must! They make snail mail that much more fun to receive. And you don’t really need that much paper to make them.

First on my list are a couple of kid- or beginner-friendly ones that you can find here:

These instructions are written really well, I think, with super clear pictures.

If you’re up for something a little harder, try this more complicated envelope.

Unless you happen to be fluent in Italian, you’ll need to translate the page to English. Chrome does this automatically, I think, though? So maybe try it on Chrome if it’s all “Greek” to you.

There are way, way more ways to make envelopes from one sheet of paper. I also tend to enjoy the template method. I find that most of those are behind a paywall, but you can find some really nice template files on Etsy. I can vouch for this one, for example. And it’s only $2, so that’s not too bad, right?

Single-sheet origami animals

Origami is such a huge craft in and of itself, but I think it belongs here as a reminder that you can make cool little animals with just one piece of paper. 🙂


Origami crane model found at the linked resource

I can’t start talking about origami without including a crane model. Like, c’mon. This was my go-to model (or approximately this) when I was a kid. It’s a classic origami model for a reason! Find some instructions here.


Origami dragon model found at the linked resource

If you’re following along in order here, you might notice that this dragon model shares a lot in common with the crane. That might make it easier, if you’re new to origami! I just really like this take on an origami dragon–look at those cute little feet! Lol. Find the instructions here.


Origami dog model found at the linked resource

I’m extra excited about this one because, well, it’s a dog and dogs are the best. But I also noticed, like the author did, that there aren’t all that many origami dog models out there? I don’t know why not, but it makes me extra grateful for this one! Here is your link.

Well folks, that’s what I have for you today! There’s a lot you can do with just one piece of paper, huh? Please let me know if you end up trying any of these and how they went!

Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you soon! 🙂

Posted in How-to

How to Make Artist Trading Cards (and Why!)

Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs) are cute little pieces of art meant to be traded with other artists. What are ATCs used for? Collecting! That’s it.

I mean, I guess you could argue people use artist trading cards for inspiration… either for more ATCs or other forms of art. But really, it’s just a lot of fun to trade your art away and get someone else’s in return. Especially in such a small, collectible format.

Okay, so… how do you make an ATC?

One of the coolest things about ATCs is that there are very few rules. All you really need to do is make sure you’ve got something (thin cardboard or watercolor paper, ideally) that measures 2.5 x 3.5″, which is the same size as a typical poker playing card or trading card.

(You can optionally round the corners off like a playing card. This is super easy with a corner punch and I do it literally every time because I just like the way it looks. I’ve never seen it required for a swap, though.)

Got it? Now make art! 🙂 Just decorate one side of the card however you’d like. Collaging, painting, drawing, sewing… anything goes, really.

When you’re satisfied, it’s a good idea to seal the card with Mod Podge or the like. I alternate between matte and glossy Mod Podge because the glossy stuff looks cooler but takes a lot longer to cure (so it might be sticky even if you don’t realize it).

The final step is labelling your ATC with your information. How much you provide is totally up to you, but personally I include the following:

  • My full name, username, email, city and state, and country
  • The title of the card
  • The date I made the ATC
  • What kind of exchange it’s for (Swap/trade/mingle/RAK [Random Act of Kindness])
  • The theme of the exchange it’s for

At first, I just handwrote this info in Sharpie on the back of each ATC. Now, though, I print premade ATC backs and glue them to the back, filling in the blanks with a Sharpie.

Do you have a template I can use for the back?

Sure. Here’s an artist trading card template I made with Canva.

How do you find people to trade ATCs with?

I mostly use Swap-bot and ATCs For All, personally. Those links are my direct profiles, so feel free to reach out and say hi. 🙂

Swap-bot has a lot more to it than specifically ATC swaps, but they’re all swaps–meaning you send a card(s) to someone and they send to someone else. It’s a lot easier to get involved in ATC swaps on Swap-bot once you’re in a mail art-specific group.

On ATCs For All (or AFA), you can also find trades. So you might message someone if you see a cool ATC in their online gallery, they respond with what they like of yours, etc. You directly exchange in a trade.

A swap on AFA means that every player sends cards to the host, who then redistributes them among all the players (sometimes randomly, sometimes thoughtfully).

In some private groups, there are “mingles,” which mean the same as swaps do on Swap-bot (so you send to one person, who sends theirs to someone else).

RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) can take place anywhere, basically. If someone feels like sending you their cards out of nowhere, with no expectation of a trade or swap, that’s a RAK.

I’m stuck at the “make art” part. Where can I find ideas for ATCs?

The good news here is that usually you’ll have a theme to work with for whatever kind of exchange you choose. Limiting your options can help you get creative!

Otherwise, honestly, Pinterest is great. Here’s my ATC inspiration board.

If you join ATCs For All, they have a huge gallery of cards, too. You could always just browse for inspiration for your own ATCs.

Well, those are the basics of all you need to know about making artist trading cards. I hope this was helpful!

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon! 🙂

Posted in Color, How-to

How to Pick Coordinating Colors

This seems like a basic thing, but what do we really mean by “coordinating”?

Lots of different things, as it turns out. I’m resisting the urge to pull out a color wheel because it seems like everyone and their cousin does that. Not without good reason, I guess, but I’m tired of color wheels. I’m gonna assume you’ve got the very basics of color down. Deal? Deal.

You might have forgotten the names of things, though. So, a good rule of thumb is to consider a color’s friends and enemies. Friends meaning the colors who are its neighbors on the color wheel and enemies meaning the ones opposite.

Real Artists(TM) would call these analogous and complementary colors, and they’re useful to recognize because the combinations achieve very different ends.

What are friends for?

Friends, or analogous colors, always play nice together. If green is our reference point, yellow and blue will never let you down. You can’t go wrong. This also starts to feel like a spectrum is forming, which usually has broad appeal.

You want friendly colors when you’re looking for a way to branch out without getting too crazy. Mild salsa is not the most exciting choice, but it’s also popular for a reason.

Photo by Zaksheuskaya from Pexels

The above photo also speaks to the point that analogous colors can safely mix, as in paint. I go to analogous colors all the time, especially when I’m painting.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer?

Complementary colors, on the other hand, tend to scare me a bit. Color wheel enemies, like blue and yellow, have a strained relationship at times.

I’m not saying they can’t hang out, but you kind of need to plan ahead if you want to include them. Blue might say something snarky to Yellow if they’re seated next to each other at dinner.

But that’s not to say it’s a bad idea to play with complementary colors. Exhibit A:

A bright yellow lemon in front of a bright blue background
Photo by Toni Cuenca from Pexels

Man, does that yellow POP, right? You cannot possibly ignore that lemon. That lemon has something to say.

I actually adore the combination of blue and yellow. I’ve recently figured that out because I really like Van Gogh, and blue and yellow are a big theme in his art.

But if this idea appeals to you, bear in mind that mixing their paint will reveal a friendly green, which is an entirely different vibe. Blue and yellow is bold; it almost operates as black and white does. But there is a time and a place both for strongly contrasting black and white AND graceful transitions of shades of gray.

Pick your battles

Speaking of which, these friends/enemies ideas apply to intensity, too. Like, if you want a really intense focal point, it should be surrounded by peaceful neutrals or it won’t stand out. Whereas if you’re looking for a pretty even spread of intensity, stick to similar levels across the board. Intensity friends are nice to each other.

Nature is Cool

Finally, my favorite advice about color theory: just look at pretty things and steal their colors. Most of this stuff is intuitive, right? It helps to have a vocabulary and make intentional choices, but you also can grab stuff that looks good and do amazing art with it.

One resource I found today that’s really fun to mess with is this palette generator called coolors. It somewhat randomly chooses colors for you and you lock in your favorites one at a time. It has some intelligence about it, too, so whatever it generates next goes with whatever you’ve already locked.

I came up with this one when I was playing around:

A color palette ranging from muted light greens to bright raspberry to muted pinks and purples

I named it “Raspberry and friends,” because of reasons.

I just love it because I never would have picked out this palette had I not seen the colors next to each other. Hooray for serendipity!

Well, I hope you got some colorful inspiration out of this. Color coordination means something different to everyone, but knowing what combinations create what kind of tension will help you make more confident choices. And don’t forget to just wing it sometimes to broaden those horizons!

Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you soon!

Posted in Resources

3 Free and Unique Postcard Designs

I’ve recently started playing around with Canva and am having a lot of fun with it. I only have the free version, which is frustrating, but you can still do a lot with it! I”m surprised at how much I’m able to do, actually. I expected them to stop me from downloading my designs or something.

But yeah, so I’ve been designing some postcards and I thought I’d share with anyone who’s interested. I’m no professional graphic designer, by any means, but I think these designs are cool enough that I plan to use them, so why wouldn’t someone else?

The “catch,” I guess, if there is one, is that you would either need to get these PDFs printed professionally as postcards or be cheap (as I am) and somehow stick them to fully blank postcards. I tried it with Mod Podge (both between the paper and postcard and over the top to seal it and give it texture) and it worked decently.

I say “decently” rather than a more positive adjective because it did warp the cardstock a bit and I will probably end up taping the edges (with clear Scotch gift wrapping tape or similar) to make sure nothing catches or rips when it goes through the scary postal machines.

Here’s a little before and after picture demo (while still wet versus fully dry):

So you can see that it does work, if not perfectly. I bet it would flatten more if I pressed it with heavy books or something. If you do try this method, I would hold off on taping the edges until you write on the back, because you probably won’t be able to write over the tape as easily.

This sort of thing works better if you use less Mod Podge or none at all. I would recommend the UHU glu stick because it’s amazing. I’m not an Amazon affiliate or anything, it just is a really good glue stick and that’s the best price I could find, especially when shipping comes into play.

Seriously, if you’ve only ever used an Elmer school glue stick, you think you know what a glue stick could be, but you don’t. It’s so strong and dries so fast. The only reason I couldn’t use it for this demo is I don’t have any! But it’s on the way from Amazon. I know, I sound like I’m benefiting from this somehow, but I’m honestly not. If I join an affiliate program, I’ll say so!

While I’m giving shoutouts, also–shoutout to Postcrossing. I just joined yesterday finally and am really excited about it. It’s a global postcard exchange program that holds people accountable via postcard ID that the receiver registers on the site. You can also upload pictures of the image side so everyone can see how cool and unique you are. That sounds sarcastic, but I mean it genuinely!

These designs would be fun to use on there, which I plan on doing. So, yes, arguably I’m making them less unique finds by freely sharing, but I think it’s all right. I would rather inspire more people to get into postcard and mail art than be worried about uniqueness.

So let’s get to the sharing, shall we? I’ll share my PDFs as downloaded from Canva. It worked when I set up my printer to print at “default” scale, by the way.

I will ask that you kindly only use these for personal use and link back to this blog post if you want to share.

The first design is “Books not guns”-themed, as pictured in my demo above:

Postcard design featuring the text "Books not guns, Culuture, not violence."

PDF link here.

Second up is an abstract one with rectangle shapes:

Abstract postcard design with several gray, teal, purple, and pink rectangles

PDF link here.

Lastly we have a black and white/gray design meant to be inspiring:

Black-and-white postcard design with the text "This postcard wants you to have a great day" at the top and "A gray day can be made great" at the bottom.

PDF link here.

Please let me know if there are any problems with the files! I would also love to hear which design is your favorite and if you plan on using any for Postcrossing.

Thank you for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Posted in How-to, Ideas and inspiration, Technique adventures

How to Make a Color Palette Generator with Canva (Free Version)

Oh man, you guys. This was truly an adventure. By which I mean I had a looottt of trouble getting something simple to work. More on that later. 🙂

First, a disclaimer: I’ve never really played with Canva before. I’ve been interested in trying it, but this is really my first experiment. So I fully expect I did some stupid things. Please let me know if you have tips!

This is more a post to walk you through my experience, rather than Knowledgably Advise you on how to do this. But, to my credit, I now know at least one way to get the job done!

The first steps

I first just opened a blank “Play with Canva” file because I have no clue what I’m doing.

I decided the first thing to do once I was in was literally just search for a color palette template. At least I was smart enough to do that, and not try to reinvent the wheel!

Screenshot showing a search for "color palette" template in Canva

Bear in mind, I only have the free version, so there aren’t that many options. I first picked this one:

Screenshot of "Color Palette Inspiration" template in Canva

Little did I know the Hell that awaited me.

I wanted to upload a picture and see how easy it was to let Canva pull out the colors for me. As it turns out, that part was very easy and user-friendly.

All I had to do was upload something (though I know that part was probably unecessary because they have free images, too) and click on it to add it to my existing project. I chose a somewhat clumsy golden retriever pixel art I made last year, mostly because I only used 4 colors and it would make it easy.

Screenshot of Canva project after uploading an image

Fairly straightforward so far, right? I had figured out I needed to do this because when I clicked on the color palette (as highlighted above), I could see that Canva automatically tells you what colors are present in the photo/project over on the sidebar.

So my little dog pixel art resulted in this (I needed to click “See All” under the colors in the photo):

Screenshot of Canva's automatic color detection on my dog upload

Massively helpful. Thank you, Canva! It also gives you the hex code for each color when you hover over it with your cursor.

I thought “Wow, this was easy. I’m basically done!” But… I’ve foreshadowed enough. Here comes the trouble.

I was able to do a number of small, basic adjustments like moving things around, resizing, updating the text to reflect the real colors in the dog, but I couldn’t get the color palette itself to have all rounded corners once I cropped the extra fifth color off.

I know it sounds like no big deal, but I spent a very long time trying to figure it out. See, there are frames in Canva which will crop your image to the frame. So I should have been able to simply drop the palette piece onto a rectangular frame with rounded corners, but it just wouldn’t work.

This is where you find the frames and what they look like, by the way:

Screenshot of Canva menu showing frames

After suffering for a long time and trying and retrying resizing in every which way, I nearly rage quit the project altogether. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but every tutorial was like “it’s so easy, just drag and drop! :)” and meanwhile absolutely nothing happened when I did that.

I suspect the problem is either something is too fixed about the template I was using or I wasn’t able to resize finely enough or something? I’m not sure. This is what my experiment looked like when I gave up on it:

Screenshot of first Canva palette experiment
There was an attempt

Experiment part II

But instead of rage quitting, I decided to try a different template. I picked the sandy beach one you’ll see here, right above the one I first chose:

Screenshot of Canva's color palette template options

It was all smooth sailing from there. I deleted the background sand, which left me with a square frame. I was worried, but this time, my dog image actually resized to fit it. Amazing.

Then it was just some copying and pasting and changing the colors over to eventually get this:

My final experiment result, showing a dog with its color palette

It was a wild ride, maybe, but I got there eventually. And now I know how to do something new!

I learned a lot in general behind-the-scenes, too, just figuring out what’s available in Canva and that sort of thing. It seems like a great tool. I wish the paid version didn’t cost so much, or they’d have me as a customer.

I hope that you got something out of this, if maybe only entertainment at my Canva ignorance. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you soon!