Posted by: bluelanternstudio | May 20, 2010

What’s in a card?

I’ve always loved making handmade greeting cards. Until I became a mother, I would make one-off birthday and Christmas cards for family members and special friends.

Then, with the arrival of a baby, all of a sudden the list of people I love became too long for the amount of time I had to devote to making one-off cards. But I still didn’t want to be sending mass produced cards to really special people. Collage is my solution.

The beauty of collage is that I can still make handmade and unique cards, but in multiples which saves huge amounts of time. Over the past few years, I’ve experimented with various collage techniques and materials. I started using art papers and stencils and have moved on to found materials.

To make the collages that decorate the cards, I take large strips of watercolour paper, tape them down on a board, and then apply paint and collage materials to them.

I gravitate towards old, previously used paper materials—maps, stamps, pages from old dictionaries, books and magazines (the 1900s through 30s are my favorite time period for materials). I also collect bits of paper that I find when walking around town: notes that drop out of pockets, ticket stubs, playing cards, stickers, packaging material, dry cleaning stubs… you name it.

I embellish my collages with paint, rubber stamps, and stars. Once I’m happy with the way they look, I cut the large collages away from the tape, turn the collages over, and draw a grid on the back. The size of the grid depends on the size of collage I want to glue down on the greeting card stock. Once that’s done, I use an exacto knife to cut along the grid lines.

My favorite part in the whole process is turning over the little collages to see what they look like. I’m always surprised, mostly thrilled, and sometimes disappointed. I set aside the pieces that don’t quite look right and every once in a while I go back and fix them up. It usually only takes adding one splash of paint or a stamp to transform a reject into gold.

Once I have all the collages cut out and sorted, I glue my favorites down onto blank card stock using non-toxic, acid-free paste. I sign each one and package them up with their matching envelopes. They’re ready for their new homes!

I’ve now expanded my card making beyond my own contact list. I wholesale cards to stores and also sell them myself at markets and fairs. Selling my cards brings so much added and unexpected joy. I love that the person buying my cards falls in love with them, and then turns around and sends the card to someone they care about. I think of my cards as messengers weaving a chain of love throughout the world. Of course, some people just frame the cards and hang them on their walls, and that is a huge compliment too!

[Note: You can buy my cards on-line through my website here. And here’s where you can buy them in person, mostly stores in Vancouver BC.]


  1. I was on Facebook reading about your new cards
    and guess what….I just found out that you’re a MOM…


    note: I want to buy some of your cards….I love them. Can I place an order online?

    • Hi Suzanne – Thanks! And I’m so glad you love my cards. Yes, you can place an order on-line through my website: If you’d prefer not to pay through Pay Pal, let me know and we can make other arrangements ( Great to hear from you!

  2. Robin! Great article & inspiration for me as a card-making artist too! Really want to experiment with collaging sometime too. Meanwhile getting ready for June 12 show & working to get my new website up & running before the end of the month too…
    Sometime I’ll get over there for tea! Thanks for keeping the invitation open & the news coming!

    • Hi Elaine – thanks for responding. Collaging is really fun – I find it exercises a different, more intuitive part of my brain. Every piece of paper I glue down responds to the other images and textures … it’s like a little conversation. Best of luck with your projects. And I do look forward to a visit before too long!!

  3. Hi Robi,
    I love the randomness of your back side grid technique. It sounds like the making of the larger collage pieces might be more free spirited that way – I think I might try it sometime. I’ve been adding collage elements to a new series of pastel still life drawings. There’s a couple images on my blog at, more soon. Let me know what you think! -T

  4. Hi Teresa – Nice to hear from you! I’m so glad you’re making art and experimenting with materials. I’d love to see more images of your work … get them up on your site!!! (I do really like the structure of your blog – it’s very easy to read). Congratulations on your upcoming show!

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