My Crafting Crisis

Ho-Ho-Holy cow I don't have the strength for this.

Ho-Ho-Holy cow! Crafting is really hard!

Susan Rocan over at mywithershins is a lovely person and a fantastic creator of homemade greeting cards. Every Wednesday she posts whatever craft she’s working on and I, without fail, am dazzled by what I see.

It wasn’t long before I decided that just had to have one of those cards. So on one impulsive day this past fall, I begged Susan to put me on her Christmas card list. She, being lovely and Canadian (but I’m being redundant), happily agreed. I was delighted.

It then dawned on me that by asking Susan for a homemade card, I was agreeing to make a homemade card for her. This didn’t delight me so much. I haven’t made anyone a card since I was a tyke. I didn’t know where to begin.

So I did what I usually do when I need to shove an unsettling fact out of my mind; I repeated my time-honored mantra:

“I’ll come up with something.”

This mantra hasn’t failed me yet. But my confidence wavered when my birthday approached and I got this in the mail:

Holy schmoley!

Holy schmoley!

The photo doesn’t even begin to do the card justice. The level of detail is incredible. The subtle color blends, the textured papers… I was amazed.

I was also touched, for Susan didn’t just make a card and send it to me; she made a card specifically for me. To construct this card, Susan used paper made out of elephant poop. (Perhaps I should explain: Once upon a time, Susan mentioned on her blog that she bought some sheets of elephant poop paper. Ever since, I have repeatedly commented on how I would loooove to get some elephant poop paper of my very own.) Also, I don’t know if you can see it in the photo, but the lower right corner of the card sports a tiny goat! Oh, how I love goats!

After receiving this card, my mantra changed slightly:

“I’d better come up with something.”

I played around with the idea of a pop-up card. It didn’t work. Not even close. I tried a collage. It looked terrible. And as I continued to experiment (and fail) precious time slipped away.

By the time my despair tank was about half full, Susan sent me a note asking what color my eyes were. “Oh, Dear God, what is she working on?” I asked aloud to no one in particular.

I had no choice but to jump back into my comfort zone. I doodled. I didn’t know what to doodle or how my doodles would work in a card, but I doodled away and hoped for a Christmas miracle. The miracle never came, but I eventually found myself with an appealing Santa sketch.

That’s was when Susan’s Christmas card arrived:

Oh, you gotta be kidding me!

Oh, you gotta be kidding me!

Can you believe it? And, much to my surprise, inside was an apology.

“I looked all over for brown googly eyes, but I couldn’t find them. Hope black is okay!”

This is what happens when you exchange cards with a Canadian. They do something amazing and they still think they need to apologize.

Just look at it! Those gingerbread men are my wife, my son, and me!

It should also be noted that, somehow, Susan made the card smell like gingerbread. I have no idea how she did this, but if you told me she took a trip to the Serengeti, fed elephants Christmas cookies, and then loitered around the area with a shovel to collect their droppings, I’d believe you.

The pressure mounting, my time almost up, I finally came up with this.

Here it is!

It looks simple, and compared with what Susan gave me, it is. But making this thing was far more involved than I ever could’ve imagined. After making a satisfying Santa doodle, I polished it up and photocopied it onto a piece of résumé paper – which gave me a nice enough texture to add color. Then I cut out the jolly fellow out with an x-acto knife and pasted him onto a sheet of Bristol vellum. Then I meandered around an A.C. Moore for what felt like 96 hours puzzling over Christmas-themed papers. Then, using my beloved Royal – and its very Christmas-y red ribbon – I typed out my greetings on the Christmas-themed paper and pasted the paper in the card.

I have always been impressed by Susan’s skills, but now I am impressed to the tenth power. Thanks again, Susan, you amazing crafter, you! I will hang onto your cards always. Do forgive my modest effort; it wasn’t due to lack of trying, that’s for sure.

My Christmas Card inside

Here’s hoping all of you fine bloggers (and blog readers) had a happy holiday! See you in the new year!

52 thoughts on “My Crafting Crisis

  1. I could feel the pressure and your heart beating, she sure is some crafter! AND I believe the whole point and value of homemade stuff is how much it is the person who made it, you know, like some people say pets resemble their owners…and your card is perfect because, well, it’s sooooo you! I think that’s what people want – a piece of the person they care for. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas my friend, and bring on the New Year! Festive love and hugs, Harula xxxxxxxxx

  2. All these cards are stunning, Mike! Letting your beloved typewriter participate was a perfect touch.

    Not only for their craftsmanship (or craftselephantship, as the case may be), but the timing, as I’ve resigned myself to the sad fact that I’m incapable of mailing winter holiday cards in plenty of time for them to arrive before St. Patrick’s Day.

    • I was glad to give my Royal a supporting role, I must admit. It was perhaps the only part of the entire process when I truly felt inspired.

      Mailing cards can be a pain. I was on top of the (non-Susan) Christmas card situation this year because, well, I wrested that responsibility away from my wife. She is far more last minute-y than I. My feeling is, if you don’t get those cards out the door during the first week of December they hang over your head — and not the good hanging-over-the-head, like mistletoe, but the bad hanging-over-the-head, like the sword of Damocles.

  3. WOW…she IS amazing and actually does things I only wish I could do. I was so impressed with what you came up with…I was right with you through every failed attempt in creativity. The card you made is beautiful! Sure, it probably wouldn’t make the cover of the latest crafting magazine but I would love to have a card like that…and keep it forever! It is so you, Mike…and that’s what makes it special!

    Awesome that you got through it!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mrs. P! I was pleased with my result (as long as I didn’t compare it to what Susan sent me!).

      Susan’s stuff is amazing, isn’t it? I would recommend checking out her blog, if you don’t already. Every week she shows off some pretty amazing things.

  4. I love it. I, too, have a crafty friend that I will never live up to. It’s like when I’m dancing and I realize that part of my role in this world is to make others feel that, in fact, they are amazing dancers. And so let’s all make mediocre cards and make the crafters of the world feel incredible! (However, I think your card was pretty amazing, too!).

  5. Oh dear. I’m speechless. And believe me, that doesn’t happen often (WHAT? oh, you have no trouble believing that? Hrmph). But as I type this, speechless (what do I say about that kind of talent, and time, and love, in making up such a crafty card? – Susan’s AND yours?) I thought of something to say. I will never ask you to send me a card, because I would have to move to someplace with no water/electricity/post office/power/elephant poop/old typewriters since there is no way I could respond in kind. I’m intimidated. Who takes the time to send such a loving greeting any more? But then I snapped my fingers (between hitting keys here) and realized that I B A K E cookies, and my Christmas cookies are pretty darn good, and they take a lot of time and effort. So maybe that counts?

    • Of course baking counts! It’s all about how you wish to put your personal stamp on the holiday.

      Some fools — um, I mean some people — spend the better part of December decorating the outsides of their houses. I don’t even put a wreath out because, well, I have far better things to do than to announce to strangers that I celebrate Christmas.

      Now wrapping is a different story entirely. I don’t want to brag, but I could become a professional. I can wrap a gift with only three pieces of tape. And, hoo boy, those creases! Sharpest creases you’ve ever seen. And odd-shaped presents? Let me at ’em! I don’t even hafta put my name on the tag. If it’s the best looking wrap job you’ve ever seen, it’s from me.

      • Okay, here’s a deal. Don’t ever send me a Christmas card, but I’ll take one of your gifts. It doesn’t have to be anything but an empty box, but I adore beautifully wrapped packages (probably because I wrap boxes about as well as I make home-made cards…)

  6. What lovely cards! I’m always impressed by crafters, I would love to be all crafty! The card you did is perfect too though because it’s a representation of what you do, if you tried to do a collage or something it just wouldn’t be you, you’d be a collage-fraud! I don’t know if they do this in the States, but at my kids’ primary school (ages 4-11), every year they would get the kids to do a Christmas drawing or painting, and then it would come home with an order form, and we could order Christmas cards to be printed with our kids’ drawing on – it was great, it would have their name printed on the back, like “Designed by…”, so that would save having to make lots of homemade cards, but it would still seem more special to send out than just buying a load of cards!

    • I was a collage dropout.

      My son’s school does not do the card thing you described — which is a bummer because I think it is a splendid idea. That’s why we do the photo card; it allows my boy a chance to show off his hammy instincts.

  7. Holy bananas, those cards are exquisite. Way to make the rest of us feel in adequate, Susan. I’m in chronic awe of people who have artistic skills like that. If I had received cards like those and knew I’d have to send something in return, I’d probably curl up in the fetal position and weep uncontrollably. I think your card is great, Mike—I love your drawings and your drawing style, Mike. And I can tell that your card involved a lot of work too. So there.

    Happy New Year to you and the gang, sir!!

  8. Mike, I am totally blushing, right now, and I’m sorry I put so much pressure on you. It certainly wasn’t my intention to make you feel inadequate. It’s easier to make cards when one has a plethora of stamps and inks and embossing stuff. I was honored to get your adorable handmade sketch with the print created with an actual typewriter. I’ve always had an affinity for old typewriters – used one a lot as a kid – and the fact that you went out and found red ribbon for yours makes me feel extremely special. Red typewriter ribbons must be terribly rare these days. Thank you, Mike. I really love your card. 🙂

  9. I think you did a fine job on your card Mike, And there’s always Pinterest for ideas on turning handprints into reindeer antlers, Santa’s beards, etc if you really get stuck when developing your 2014 Christmas cards!

    • Thank you, my good friend. If I didn’t have a deadline, I think my crafting adventure would’ve been a whole lot less angsty.

      So get out there and get artsy! You can do it! Woo! (And if I ever find myself in Niagara, I’ll hug you, too.)

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