So, when faced with a family member's birthday, I rampaged through my craft zone to look for something to create a card. My creative process, in general, runs something like this:
2. Find a stamp that says what I need - a phrase stamp (in this case, "Happy Birthday").
3. Find some stamp/embellishment/etc that speaks to me - something unique to the person getting it or something to dress up the card to look special. For the card I created for our Aunt Karen, I decided to make a watercolor creation, and found this neat stamp idea from a set of stamps my sister got me. The fish is actually made of 2 stamps, an intricate squiggle and a large heart shape stamp. The head of the fish is the heart, the top and bottom fins were the squiggle, and the tail was the squiggle stamp repeatedly stamped with a slight angle and turn each time. I used the black ink I had on hand, though I suggest for water color to use "Staz-on" black ink, or if you have the time, emboss the ink with black embossing powder so the paper can get wet without running the ink. I took a permanent fine tip sharpie to add an eye, connect the head to the tail, and add some lips.
4. Add color - I took my watercolor pencils (a splurge purchase last summer) and colored in my fish, then took a thin small round brush and wetted the sections to blur and 'watercolor' the pencil strokes away. BTW - that brush case? A travel toothbrush holder with a bit of modeling clay crammed in the bottom to hold the brushes in place. Works great for travel! Other ways to add color are with embellishments, paper accents/punches/borders, ribbons, tapes, or, well... you get the idea. I didn't plan on it, but ended up using my two nesting paper punches to punch out the birthday saying and a blue background.
5. Improvise as needed - I actually had the fish stamped directly onto the card, and went to stamp the "Happy Birthday" directly on the card in the corner, but to my horror, realized too late I had the birthday stamp upside down. (There are some friends that might have received the card this way just for an extra laugh, but my Aunt may not have got the odd humor.) So, plan B - I cut the fish out and re-aligned it with the Happy Birthday, pre-stamped and paper-punched as a separate piece on the card. Since everything was being attached to the card now, I found some blue ink and a bubbles stamp and made the front of the blank card a bubble background. It turned out really cute, but I wanted just a little bling, so I took out some glitter glue goop/scribbles and made some seaweed coming from the bottom of the card and let it dry. It turned out pretty cute, I thought. More time and less rushing would have produced an even cuter card, but we work with what we have.
6. Personalize inside - never just sign a card - that is lame. Even if your handwriting sucks, put SOME words inside, if you went through the trouble of making the whole card yourself.
On the inside, I usually try to be punny, much to Big D's dismay. For this card, I wrote -
"On a 'scale' of One to Ten, you are a Fishteen!"
Horrible, yes? I love it. Other fish sayings I came up with that could work for you:
"Another year swam by, but you are lookin fin-tastic!"
"Swim my way more often, I love seeing you!"
"May your bubbles never pop."
"You asked if I got you anything for your birthday. GO FISH!"
Well, enjoy your next card making excursion. With any luck, yours won't be rushed and you will have time to comment with pics of your latest creations. I'd love to see them!