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. 🙂

Crane

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.

Dragon

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.

Dog

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 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 Resources

Actually Free, Legit Resources for Collage Art

I hadn’t planned to write this today, but I was just printing a bunch of stickers and ephemera to use for mail and/or collage art. I was frustrated both by how many of the resources were NOT actually free or came with obligations to sign up for mailing lists and the like.

But I also found plenty that were great quality, with no catch!

Picture of three freshly caught fish
Photo by Alexander Zvir from Pexels

Note that I’m only looking into what works for personal use, so I can’t guarantee if they’re clear for commercial licensing, etc. My intention is to only use them for hobbies!

And I’m sure I’ll make more posts like this, as I discover more stuff. I’ve found most things through Pinterest. If you want to see my “Collage Art” board, you can find it here. Just know that I’ve not necessarily vetted all the resources and some of the pins are just inspirational (i.e., not resources).

(I also have a “Design inspo” board as well as “Printable stickers” and “Other printables,” if those are of any interest.)

For a wider selection: collections

*Disclaimer: none of these people sponsor me or anything. I’m just trying to help y’all out.

Craftstarters

So a lot of sites have free SVGs, but one I came across recently and really like is craftstarters. They have sooo much stuff and most of it is simple but realistic silhouette-style. I love that style, and it’s perfect for making little stickers (as I was) because the design is readable at any scale.

I know that their licensing agreement is free for personal use only, so be good! No selling things with anything of theirs.

HG Designs

Overlay by HG Designs
A free overlay you can find here

I found HG Designs through Pinterest and they have tons of cool-looking stuff. It tends to be overlays, textures, layers, and patterns, so this might be better for those into graphic design or collaging digitally. What makes them especially unique is you don’t even need a commercial license to use their freebies.

I don’t yet know my way around Photoshop or Illustrator (I don’t have them!) but I am very much interesting in getting them someday and learning digital art on alternative software in the meantime, so I’m really looking forward to having some cool free materials.

Smaller collections/specific printables

Most of these still have multiple images or versions, but I’m organizing them this way just to make this list less chaotic. These are typically blogs who do more than provide printables, at least. I’m extra proud of these finds because they’re harder to come by!

Rose Clearfield

Today I found some awesome vintage sheet music printables on this blog. What I love is that Rose provides several different size and shape options for the sheet music snippets, so you’re guaranteed to find something that fits what you’re looking for.

Oh, whoa. So I hadn’t noticed just how many collections of free printables Rose Clearfield actually has up! Here’s her free printables page.

Personally, I’m most interested in the vintage-style stuff. There’s a lot of sheet music and hymns, but also dictionary pages and textbooks. Look at this algebra textbook stuff! I am really excited, you guys.

Pillar Box Blue vintage world maps

This blog has a page of 13(ish?) sets of vintage maps. I printed a really neat world one and was honestly a little surprised that it printed as well as it did.

I think there are probably a lot of vintage map ephemera resources out there, but this is one I know for sure is solid because I’ve tried it.

Rad Planner free blue stickers

So there are a lot of free planner stickers out there, but what I like about this post is that there’s at least one sheet that seems more widely applicable, if you know what I mean. It’s not all planner-focused.

I picked the “Blue Stickers” one to print and it looks great. Note that there’s a specific personal use-only warning on these.

Sarah Titus adult coloring book pages/stickers

This blog post has, well, an entire coloring book’s worth of black-and-white printables. They might not all be helpful for collage art purposes, but they certainly have potential.

If you scroll all the way down, you’ll find the page with 12 little flower mandalas–that’s the one I printed and am planning to make stickers with. They’re a great size, too. Large enough to be intricate, but small enough to be a sticker.


Sorry I haven’t featured more samples of the freebies here–it’s because my blog might be considered commercial use and I don’t want to risk it.

But I’ve linked all over the place and I promise that at the time of writing, the links work! I hope that you can find this useful.

Let me know if I’m overlooking some good resources you know of! I’m aware of the bigger sites like Pexels or Unsplash, but I’m interested in finding more sites with vector images, papers, or ephemera.

See you soon!


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):


Posted in Meta

Introduction: What is Making Stuff Today About?

Photo by Alena Koval from Pexels

Hello world! Welcome to my blog. 🙂

I’m Allison and I’m excited to get started posting here. My hope is that Making Stuff Today is not only fun for me to write and research for, but also fun (and valuable!) for anyone stopping by. I have tons of ideas planned, but in general you can expect to find topics in these areas:

  • the creative process
  • how to [insert crafty or artsy technique]
  • how to make specific projects
  • resources to help you get started on a craft
  • inspiration for future projects

I make no claims of expert knowledge, but I do have some valuable tips and tricks up my sleeve.

What I Love Most

I’ve always been interested in art to some extent. I’ve gone through very passionate phases with several hobbies and I expect to continue to cycle through topics as we go here. So–expect some variety! But these are some more specific topics I’m especially interested in:

  • finding and collecting inspiration
  • (modern) cross stitch and embroidery
    • blackwork embroidery, especially
    • designing my own patterns
    • SALs (Stitch Alongs)
  • (modern) patchwork and quilting
  • mail art
    • making my own postcards, envelopes, etc.
    • ideas for swaps on Swap-bot
    • stickers, ephemera, papers, etc
  • modern lettering/faux calligraphy
  • geometric drawings
    • zentangle
    • practicing sashiko-style embroidery with drawings
    • mandalas
  • collage art
  • digital illustration
  • pencil drawings (usually people as subjects)
  • design-centric video games

So yeah, it’s kind of a long list, huh? And I’m sure I’m missing something!

In general, you’ll usually find me most comfortable with modern styles, or a modern spin on a traditional medium. I may quilt, but not like a grandma (though I mean no offense to any grandmas or older ladies)!

Let me show you some recent examples of what I’ve been working on.

If any of those look interesting to you, feel free to ask about my process! I would love to share tips with anyone curious. It’s highly likely I’ll blog about it in the future at some point, though, so stay tuned!

I hope you’ll join me as I struggle (and hopefully succeed) to figure out what I’m doing. Let’s make stuff together!