DIY: How to Make Handmade Postcards

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Snail mail is one of my favorite things to receive. There’s nothing like opening your mailbox and (after sorting through all the junk catalogues and bills) finding a letter from one of your best friends, or even a Christmas card from distant relatives. There’s a quality to handwritten mail (and postcards, short as they may be) that just can’t be surpassed with smart phones, Facebook, and tweets.

As far as postcards are concerned, they’re super easy to send and require much less effort than letters, but are just as wonderful to receive! In my experience, the funnier and shorter the message the better — the dull (and jealousy-generating) “We’re in Ireland, it’s so beautiful here! Miss you!” will never beat something hilarious or an inside joke. I’ve gotten some pretty funny postcards from friends, and I’ve saved every one.

Postcards are not only a great way to catch up with faraway friends you haven’t seen in ages, they are also super easy (and economical) to make — chances are you can create an endless amount of original and beautiful postcards without spending a dime. They’re fast, too, which means you can mess up over and over without wasting time or money, and you can perfect your postcards to a design you love. So, without further ado, here’s my guide to building gorgeous do-it-yourself postcards for friends and family!

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Supplies

With just a few simple ingredients, you’ll soon be on your way to creating your own snail mail confections!

Some basics you’ll need:

  • 4×6 inch blank flashcards or 4×6 inch template
  • Cardstock — white is preferable, but you can experiment!
  • Scissors
  • Colored pens, pencils & markers
  • Metallic Sharpies
  • Mod Podge/glue (Mod Podge is really preferable because it acts as a sealant)
  • Glue brushes
  • Food coloring
  • Plastic disposable cups
  • Old magazines & newspapers

Optional but fun:

  • Colored ribbons
  • Needle & thread
  • Metallic paints
  • Watercolors
  • Sequins
  • Artists’ paper with various designs
  • Old photos
  • Old film
  • Fortune cookie fortunes
  • Anything else you can think of that could theoretically be glued to a postcard

I’ve separated the remainder of this post into two parts: I’ll start with the basics, then go over some more detailed instructions for the example postcards I’ve used here.

The Basics

Step One: Prepare your work surface. Since you’ll be working with glue and sharpies it can get a little messy, so you’ll want to put down an old newspaper to prevent getting any glue on your desk or counter. You’ll also want a plastic disposable cup with a little whatever to store your brushes in between dipping them in glue. Additionally, a few paper towels isn’t a bad idea.

step2 {Tracing a 4×6 postcard onto cardstock}

Step Two: Cut out a 4×6 piece of white cardstock, or glue two 4×6 index cards together (they tend to be flimsy, so you’ll want to reinforce them for the mail). When you add layers to your postcards they will also become thicker. Make sure the glue is even and get the corners! Be careful not to drip too much glue on the back because you won’t be able to write over it.

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Step Three: Prepare the back of the postcard by drawing a line down the center as shown (I prefer to draw mine a little to the right so I have more writing space) and then by drawing 3-4 perpendicular lines on the right for the mailing address. I just eyeballed these and used a ruler for a straight edge — don’t worry if they’re not all perfectly in-line. You can also make little designs on the back around the edges or just leave it plain. (And yes, that is my super cool presidential ruler, circa second grade.)

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{An example background made of magazine text blocks}

Step Four: Decide what you’re going to put on the front and gather the necessary materials. You can do a simple design or you can make a postcard from a specific place (I promise this looks cool regardless of whether or not you’ve actually been to Paris, Italy, or wherever). You can cut out magazine ads or words, draw something and cut it out to use, color directly on the postcard, or create multiple layers to your postcard using more cardstock (more on this technique later). Either way, I recommend gluing down a basic background first — whether it’s colored newspaper, shimmery art paper, or a magazine ad — to serve as the canvas for your design.

Step Five: Finish adding layers to your postcard. Give the entire front a coat of Mod Podge — this will act as a sealant and waterproof your design for any tumultuous experiences in the U.S. postal system. Important: do not coat the back. This will back it impossible to write on. Also, be careful going over colored pens — they may run.

Step Six: Write and address your postcard, pop a fun stamp on it, and send it in the mail!

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Specific Designs & Techniques

Here I’ll provide examples of some of the cards I’ve made and details as to how you can achieve the same result.

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Postcards from Magazines

One of the easiest ways to create postcards is to grab a stack of fashion or travel magazines, cut out one (or a few) of your favorite pictures and words and layer them — you can make a detailed collage or keep it simple, as I’ve done here.

For the New England postcard, I used a Ralph Lauren add and cut my own strips of cardstock to glue on top. This is an easy way to add text to your postcards without writing directly on the background. Finished with sparkly Mod Podge.

For the shoes postcard, I used metallic paint and a thin brush to paint over a Calvin Klein ad. If you find a simple image from a magazine, it is fun to add details to it using this method. I would recommend a metallic Sharpie for this — it is much more precise and easy to work with than metallic paint. Finished with a cut-out word and sparkly Mod Podge. Also: this postcard doesn’t make much sense, but I still like it. Point is — yours don’t have to make sense either. Just let your creativity lead you where it will.

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Incorporating Your Drawings

It is also possible to create your own drawings or designs (I recommend doing this on pieces of 4×6 paper or index cards so you have a rough idea of how they’ll look once transferred to the postcard) and make them part of your postcard. Colored pencil is also great because the colors won’t run, even if you liberally apply Mod Podge.

butterfly-process

For this butterfly postcard, I drew this butterfly freehand and colored it in with some pencils. Then, I cut it out with scissors, leaving a white border — you don’t have to leave a border, but it’s all about how you want your final postcard to look. I had already prepared a piece of 4×6 cardstock with colorful yellow and gold artist paper glued down as a background, and I simply glued the butterfly design on top. Finished with a thin metallic paint coat around the butterfly and a sparkly Mod Podge sealant.

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Using Dyes

The main technique this particular postcard makes use of is the application of food coloring. You can get the same effect with pricey artist inks, but for the purpose of making basic postcards you really don’t need to be spending that kind of money. Food coloring is also great because it doesn’t dry out over night. I used neon food coloring to achieve the colors on my postcards; I imagine regular food coloring will come out slightly different.

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For this design, I used an index card to paint the background before gluing it to another index card to form the whole postcard. You will want to make the painted part separately and let it dry first, because the food coloring will soak through. To make the inks, use a plastic disposable cup for each color of food coloring. Put in 10-15 drops and add very small amounts of water slowly. Use a brush and a spare index card to test the color — you may want it darker and thicker (less water), or lighter and more watery (more water). You can see the amounts I used for about 15 drops/cup above.

Next, simply use a brush to add color — don’t be afraid to let it get messy! I only used one brush, and I just dipped it in water before switching colors. Once the dye dried, I added a few splashes of gold paint and finished off the postcard with an old fortune cookie and matte Mod Podge.

fortune-back

As you can see, I added some details to the back of this card. In this case, I had gotten some splotches of paint on the back and didn’t want to glue a second backing on (although that is always an option, so don’t worry!). I just dabbed some gold paint over the mistakes and drew some swirly flowers over it with a thin Sharpie. Problem solved!

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Using Newspaper

The same food coloring method used for the previous postcard can also be applied to newspaper — simply open to a sheet of paper (preferably one with a lot of small print) and swipe on the dye. Let dry before cutting out and gluing on to your postcard.

newspaper

To complete this card, I colored over the newspaper with black Sharpie and did a more graphic design. This is a really easy method — you don’t have to make a “New York” postcard, but you can just doodle over the newspaper with Sharpie! To give the card a polished finish, I used the matte Mod Podge.

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Postcards with Multiple Layers

Using multiple layers of cut out cardstock is a really easy way to add dimension and depth to your postcard and also maintain clean lines.

First, decide on the design you want and sketch out your layers on a 4×6 card (I’ve only used one extra layer here, but you could probably make something really awesome with a bunch). Skyline silhouettes often make good layers. Cut out your layer carefully and arrange over a second 4×6 index card — this will form your postcard. Color both the layers separately — for this design, I used a dark blue marker for the background and then colored in the top layer a light pink. I detailed both with blue ink and gold paint after gluing the layers together. Finished with a heavy coat of matte Mod Podge to keep the layers together and waterproof the design.

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Adding Embellishments

This multi-layer postcard uses the food coloring dye technique and is tied up with a pretty ribbon.

parisprocess

To create this postcard, I drew on a blank card with pencil and then black Sharpie/colored pens, and used a light coat of the dye over the drawing. I glued an extra layer above the drawing to frame it. To add a bow like the one here, first tie it from ribbon and then secure with a needle and thread. I know, I know…it’s a pain. But glue — even hot glue — is NOT going to hold up in the mail. after sewing the ribbon on, you can glue a new back onto your postcard to hide the knot from the thread.

paris-back

…Now all that’s left is to write a short message on your card and pop it in the mail! Your friends will appreciate it, especially now that you have a stack of gorgeous homemade postcards to send them. You can also try making more by printing out your favorite photos and gluing them to an index card — whatever you choose to do, the combinations for these are endless. So get writing!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this post — please let me know your thoughts by dropping me a comment below!

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Trendspotting | Baroque

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On the Street in Europe | Photographed by Tommy Ton for style.com

It’s been a while since I’ve done a trendspotting post. I’m not as big on blogging about fashion trends, but this one is simply too fabulous to pass up — in other words, I’ve become completely enamored with the Baroque trend.

History

Baroque has an interesting history. According to the ever-reliable Wikipedia, the Baroque period began in 17th century Rome and was mainly reflected in architecture, sculpture, and painting (although Baroque themes were also reflected in the literature, music, and theatre of the time). Baroque — which relied on ornamentation, drama, and visual grandeur to create the style — was encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church as a means of expressing the emotion of religion through art. The Baroque style also exaggerated the concept of motion, articulating events visually with clear, dramatic lines. This would also become important when Baroque influenced the fashion world, then and now. (Below is very obviously a picture of “then”…)

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“Lady with Fan” by Diego Veláquez, mid-1600s | Source

Style also developed during the Baroque period, impacting fashions throughout Europe. Trends swung heavily during the 17th century, but at the beginning of the 1600s, wide, detailed collars, large sleeves, and dark, heavy fabrics were popular (these would later be replaced by pastels and more relaxed silhouettes). The waistline was raised — for both men and women — and corsets as well as full, ornate skirts remained popular until later 17th century, when a more streamlined silhouette began to take shape. The shoulders were also heavily emphasized.

Baroque-inspired style today is characterized by some of the earlier fashion from the Baroque period. On the fall 2012 runways, luxe materials, exaggerated silhouettes, heavy embroidery, brocade, lace, and chunky jewels were quite possibly the most popular trend. You could literally go baroque with the sheer amount of opulence that took over the runways and glossy magazine photo shoots (and apologies for the awful joke).

Runway

There was no shortage of opulence on the Fall runways to counter the past minimalism of the past few seasons. Here are just a few highlights:

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The Dolce & Gabbana show is probably the most-cited example of the Baroque trend’s reemergence into the fashion world. With gorgeous gold brocade detailing, pretty prints, and dramatic silhouettes, the show evoked 17th century opulence redefined for a modern era.

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McQueen and Marchesa also showcased Baroque style: McQueen with a more futuristic approach and exaggerated shaping, and Marchesa with beautiful fabrics and distinctly feminine designs.

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Robert Cavalli and Stella McCartney opted for a brighter, modern take with colorful brocade. As always, the tailoring on the McCartney runway was impeccable and clean. Oscar de la Renta offered printed fabrics and lots of jeweled details.

Editorial

Plenty of editorials from around the world featured Baroque styling. Here are a few of my favorites, for some inspiration:

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Photographed by Takahiro Ogawa for Elle Mexico | fashiongonerogue.com

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Photographed by Mikael Wardhana for Karen Magazine | fashiongonerogue.com

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Photographed by Mario Testino for Vogue Spain | fashiongonerogue.com

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Photographed by Sofia Sanchez and Mauro Mongiello for Vogue Turkey | fashiongonerogue.com

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Photographed by Zhang Jingna for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam | fashiongonerogue.com

I love the drama of the last image! If any thing, the Baroque trend is very obviously over-the-top, especially when it comes to the details — whether it be a painted blouse, gold brocade, or lace overlay — extravagance defines the Baroque trend. To emulate the Baroque look (not mimic, that would certainly be a disaster), take a cue from the runways and editorials from this season and look for pieces with gold detailing, lots of lace, defined shoulders, or jeweled accents. You’ll feel like Renaissance royalty in no time.

What’s your take on Baroque for this season?

{Sources: street style, Tommy Ton @ style.com; painting, marquise.de; runway photos, style.com; editorials, fashiongonerogue.com}

Edible Art

{Chocolate Spice Moroccan Market Table for Brides Magazine | Amy Atlas Events}

As anyone who has kept up with this blog for some time (and you are champs!) would know, I do seem to have a certain penchant for desserts (don’t we all…). And I’m also a huge fan of stylish decor. When hosting parties, I’m always nitpicking over every single detail to make the atmosphere perfect — and so, these beautiful dessert tables are a huge inspiration to me. The displays are stunning and definitely help set the tone for the event. And the food looks delicious, of course!

Here is just a sampling of some of the yummy dessert table inspiration I’ve found — be sure to check out the designers’ websites for even more photos! (Trust me, their portfolios are drool-worthy…)

{Bridal Brunch Dessert Table | Amy Atlas Events}

{Poolside Dessert Table in the Hamptons | Amy Atlas Events}

{Missoni-Inspired Dessert Table for InStyle | Amy Atlas Events}

{Candy Shop Dessert Table | Amy Atlas Events}

{Graphic and Glitz Dessert Table | Shauna Younge Dessert Tables}

{Bridal Party Dessert Table | Shauna Younge Dessert Tables}

{Ice Cream Dessert Table | Jillian Event Design & Styling | Source: 100 Layer Cake}

{Lemon Dessert Table | Design 2 Decor | Source: Sweet Tooth}

I am blown away by the creativity and detail that goes into crafting these tables. The results are simply stunning and I wish I could post tons more photos. (If you want more inspiration, be sure to check out the portfolios of the designers featured in this post.) As you can see, there is quite the mix of styles out there, and something to suit every taste. I can’t wait to draw on these photos for inspiration when the opportunity comes for me to make my own dessert table!

{Sources: All images are property of their respective owners, as noted.}

No more pastels! Honeysuckle Pink is Pantone’s Color of the Year 2011

For 2010, Pantone selected Turquoise 15-5519 as its “Color of the Year.” A beautiful shade – calming and appealing to all color palettes, flattering in the home as well as on brightly colored accessories, and evocative of little blue boxes from Tiffany & Co.

Honeysuckle Pink 18-2120, the color of choice for 2011, could not be more different. Bright and poppy, it takes some serious confidence to pull off this shade. And despite what the Pantone press release claims (“Honeysuckle is guaranteed to produce a healthy glow when worn by both men and women”) I don’t make it out to be a very gender-neutral color (except maybe in a tie, as the press release mentions, but no shirts please).

However, despite the aversion I know many are going to have to this color, I’m definitely on board with this shade for 2011. I think it’s time that people embrace pink again — it’s a happy, invigorating and playful color that, for once, needs to be taken seriously.

Predictably enough, I went pink-hunting online and found some great Honeysuckle-inspired goodies to spice up your home and wardrobe for the new year. Try accessorizing your home/apartment/dorm room with pink accents, your wallet with a shiny new Pantone Visa card, or your closet with a bright new sweater or bag. [Click image to enlarge]

Pantone, which selects its Color of the Year based on its predictions about fashion and home trends, makes an excellent point in its press release about Honeysuckle Pink:

“In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®.

With the current state of the economy, it is all but fitting that we should have a little fun despite the pressure. We need to take things more lightly and refresh our wardrobes and homes as well as our minds. So this is my proposition: let’s not be against bright pink in 2011. Let’s relax and learn to live a little even if conditions aren’t ideal.

As Audrey Hepburn once said, “I believe in pink.”

Shopping Information:

  1. Lemlem® Tarara Wrap. $90, jcrew.com.
  2. Cashmere crewneck cardigan. $80, jcrew.com.
  3. Bodum® Chambord thermal jug. $20, crateandbarrel.com.
  4. Blazing Birthstone pillow. $78, anthropologie.com.
  5. Jewel-tone tiered dress. $110, madewell.com.
  6. Wayfarer reader. $14, urbanoutfitters.com.
  7. Dior Addict lip polish in “Fresh Expert”. $30, sephora.com.
  8. Harper Sangria 4’x6′ rug. $40, crateandbarrel.com.
  9. BDG corduroy ankle cigarette pant. $29, urbanoutfitters.com.
  10. Sparkle & Fade tank. $13, urbanoutfitters.com.
  11. Tamerlane pillow. $118, anthropologie.com.
  12. Madera weekender. $488, freepeople.com.

{Source: Images via pantone.com, jcrew.com, crateandbarrel.com, anthropologie.com, madewell.com, urbanoutfitters.com, sephora.com, and freepeople.com. }

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vena cava for aqua | collection favorites

Click image to enlarge.

The highly anticipated Vena Cava + Aqua collaboration made its debut today at Bloomingdales.com. From the looks of it, the 19 piece collection has some great items for fall, from basics like this tee to statement pieces such as this velvet dress. Above are a few of the pieces I’m loving from the line (information below). The dresses are especially fabulous (all of them!), with gorgeous draping and feminine details.
I do have one reservation, however: despite the heavy price tags (even for a “cheaper” designer & department store collaboration), I’m a bit skeptical of the quality and fit of the pieces — mainly due to this article here. Some of the pieces (like this military jacket) look a little questionable, so I will definitely be checking them out in the store before I decide to purchase anything (and at that, I’ll be waiting for a possible sale first). Although this dress, my favorite piece of the collection, looks fantastic!
  • Ponte Coat, $198 | I love the versatility of this jacket. It looks soft and pliable, like a cardigan, but is warm enough to wear by itself. You can wear it as an integral part of a look or simply throw it on over to keep cozy during the brisk fall weather.
  • Accordion-Pleated Silk Skirt, $138 | Pleated skirts are “in” for the first time in what I assume has been many, many years (as they are quite reminiscent of ugly kilts, aka middle school field hockey uniforms), but the small and numerous folds here and jeweled detailing is quite elegant.
  • Carrot Pants, $138 | Sleek and perfectly roomy for fall. Loving the silky material, zippered bottoms, and cropped silhouette.
  • Jersey-and-Mesh Combo Dress, $158 | This is the perfect fall dress, and the colors are all fantastic. It’s muted tones and simple design make it the perfect base for any layered look, but it also works on its own thanks to the beautiful draping of the skirt.
  • One-Shoulder Draped Mesh Dress, $178 | I love the dark and moody combination of the navy and black (although this dress does come in two other color combos). It’s fierce! And one-shoulder dresses are definitely on my mind right now.
  • Faux Fur Vest, $188 | The only thing keeping me from buying all the faux fur jackets, vests, and accessories I can get my hands on is the question of whether or not I could actually pull them off without attracting some strange glances. But I do love this vest — it’s not very fitted (almost low-key) and the bow is such a lovely feminine detail!

What are your favorites from the collection?

{ Source: Images used in collage from bloomingdales.com }

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