(Making your own greeting cards has exploded in popularity over the last few years, mainly through the advent of stamping. But we sometimes forget that making your own greeting cards has been popular for decades. As a bookseller I have the privilege of coming across a wide variety of books; my latest treasure I just discovered on my shelves is “How to Make and Have Fun with Greeting Cards” by Joseph Leeming published in 1960. Now Mr. Leeming didn’t have access to the same technology and materials that we do, so he had to be, in my personal opinion, much more creative in his ideas.)
In this article I will describe how you can use feathers and postage stamps to create and decorate your greeting cards.
Feather Picture Cards
In 1960, people did not have access to all the colorful craft feathers that we do, so the author recommended that crafters use feathers from white chickens, pet birds (such as parakeets), and found feathers from wild birds. To add color to the feathers, wash white feathers carefully in a mild soap solution, allow to dry completely, then dye them using ordinary fabric dye. Though Mr. Leeming does not mention this, for sanitary reasons I would recommend that any found feathers (either from the wild or pets) are washed and dried in this fashion before using.
Feathers can add a lovely color and texture to your cards. They can be used to make beautiful pictures of flowers, butterflies, or birds. If you need ideas for pictures, flower or seed catalogs are a good source, as are reference books on butterflies or birds borrowed from your library. Try sketching the outline of your picture on your card first, then glue the feathers next. Backgrounds can be colored with crayons, colored pencil, or painted with water colors. Extra little touches can be added using black ink, sequins, buttons, or pieces of pipe cleaners.
Postage Stamp Picture Cards
The crafter of today (2009) may have difficulty finding enough canceled postage stamps to make many greeting cards. In 1960 letter writing was much more popular and the advent of the basic (and boring) white postage strip was still some time in the future. But if you do have access to canceled postage stamps (and you have verified that they have no collector or monetary value) you may enjoy using them to decorate your greeting cards.
First, to remove the stamps from any envelopes, soak them, dry them flat and sort them by colors. Use small scissors, like manicure scissors, to cut the stamps into smaller shapes. As with the feather cards, consider sketching the picture on your card first, then gluing on the different stamp embellishments. One easy way to make a simple flower using postage stamps is to take five stamps of the same size, fold them in half, and cut them to make petals. Cut a circle from another stamp to make the center of the flower and paste the petal pieces around it.
Because you may be working with very small pieces of stamps for decorating, you may find it easier to work with them by putting a small piece of paste or glue on the end of a toothpick, then lift up the piece with the toothpick. Put the piece face down on your left forefinger (if your right-handed, use your right forefinger if your left-handed) and apply paste on the backside of the stamp. Finally, still using your toothpick, place the small piece where you want it on your card. Use a soft cloth or piece of wax paper to remove any excess glue or paste.
One kind of postage stamp greeting card I thought was particularly clever that Mr. Leeming used in an illustration for his book was of an Easter egg for an Easter card. The crafter put overlapping postage stamps on the egg shape, then trimmed the egg with some kind of craft ribbon and glued the egg next to a large outline of the Easter bunny. I can see using that same technique to decorate simple shapes like rectangular birthday presents or Christmas ornaments for a Christmas card.
Joseph Lemming. How to Make and Have Fun with Greeting Cards