Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Sooz Makes Stuff: altered greeting cards

(This idea seems so self-evident that although I came up with it on my own, I'm certain I wasn't the first to do so. However, when I searched for "altered greeting cards," most of the hits described ways to modify the chip in an audio greeting card. This is not that kind of alteration.)

I have a slightly quixotic love for snailmail. There's nothing wrong with email -- it's both faster and (usually) more likely to reach its destination -- but as we march inexorably toward all-electronic communications, the odd snailmail letter or postcard becomes more cherished by those who receive one. There's something both vital and elegant about a real piece of physical mail, one that isn't advertising anything, that someone took the time to write, address and send just to you.

So although I send emails and texts every day, I also send out snailmail birthday cards, anniversary cards and thank-you notes. Occasionally I make my own cards, but I usually find nifty cards made by someone else. This isn't obscenely expensive, since I know where to shop; I buy birthday cards for great prices at Half Price Books, and low-priced anniversary cards and thank-you notes at Dollar Tree and Trader Joe's (the latter has a wide range of attractive cards for the bargain price of 99 cents). I don't often bother with secondhand cards, but it's possible to find cheap gems at Goodwill, Value Village or creative reuse centers.

There is, however, a potential problem with picking up greeting cards at a discount: substandard sentiment inside. Let's say you've found a frugal anniversary card with an attractive cover, but the inner content is a little blah or too syrupy for your liking. Could you write better content? Of course you could. SO LET'S FIX THAT GLURGE.

Outside = purty!
You will need:
  • a nice-looking greeting card with meh inner content
  • a glue stick
  • heavy white paper or light cardstock, and/or a scrap of colored cardstock that matches the colors of the card
  • a computer, printer and word processing program (or mad calligraphy skills)
  • a rotary cutter and mat (or a straightedge, a pair of scissors and surgeon-steady hands)
Well, it's not bad... but we can make it better.
Write some content to replace the sentimental glurge inside your greeting card. You may choose to make it funnier, or to personalize it for the recipient. (Mine is going to a couple that really loves good chocolate.) It may take more than one draft. Take your time.

Once you have your replacement content just right, put your printer to work. If you're me (and I am), you have a basic black laser-jet printer. But that's OK, because most inner content of inexpensive greeting cards is in black and white anyway. Crank up the word processing program of your choice (yay WordPerfect!) and find a font that matches or closely resembles the one on the outside of the card. Type up your new content, working until you get the font size and line breaks just right, then print a test run. Check to make sure it fits inside the greeting card and covers the existing sentiment. Once you've got it the way you want it, pull out your heavy white paper and print up your new content. (Alternatively, you can bust out your mad calligraphy skills to write the new content just so.)

What, you were expecting Shakespeare?
Cut your content down to size with your rotary cutter and mat. Chances are good that, unless you used really heavy paper, you'll still be able to see traces of the old sentiment behind it. Never fear! Paste your content onto a scrap of colored cardstock that matches the outside colors of the card, then cut it down to size with your trusty rotary cutter (this is way easier than cutting the cardstock first, then trying to center and paste down your content by sheer eyeballing. Learn from my MANY fails).

Turn over the cardstock-mounted content and slather the back of that thang with glue stick. Make sure you get it all the way out to the corners. Now flip it over, carefully take it by the edges and position it lightly over the original glurge. Center it very carefully. When you're sure you've got it just right, gently press your new content down onto the card, starting at the center and working out to the edges.

If it doesn't lie flat, stick it between two heavy books to dry and smooth down overnight.

All done! Now all I have to do is add our signatures, slip in a little gift card from a local chocolate company and we're ready to roll.

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