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No Need for an Artistic Gift to Create Handmade Cards : Crafts: Rubber stamps, embossing powders and high-quality ink pads can help in making attractive greetings. The activity can be relaxing.

November 24, 1994|BARBARA BRONSON GRAY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Barbara Bronson Gray is a regular contributor to The Times.

Cheryl Trostrud-White remembers how fun it was as a young child to get out her felt-tipped pens and paper to make holiday cards for her family's friends. Now, she gets a similar pleasure using rubber stamps and special papers to create handmade cards for her own friends.

Trostrud-White, of Calabasas, is part of a growing trend: Craft and rubber stamp store proprietors and instructors say more and more people are taking the time and energy to create cards instead of sending out pre-printed holiday greetings.

Part of what is fueling the newfound interest in card making is the wealth of new materials on the market that make even the artistically challenged capable of creating something worth appreciating, said Tricie Krim, an Agoura card-making instructor. Rubber stamps, for example, combined with embossing powders and high-quality ink pads can minimize the talent it takes to turn out a good-looking card.

Geri Laughlin, manager of Rubber Boots, a card and gift store in Toluca Lake, said she is seeing a growing number of people gluing their family's holiday photos to interesting papers and cards and then decorating them with rubber stamps, glitter and stickers. "People want to do their own thing," she said.

There also are interesting new papers available, tiny ribbons and hand-folded or pleated papers that add depth and texture to a card, Krim said. Some people like to create collages, using news clips, postcards, stamps or magazine photos to design an interesting and meaningful melange.

Some card makers use stencils with watercolors, and then add salt, for example, on a snowman to create the look of ice or drop tiny bits of rubbing alcohol on the watercolor to create the effect of dots.

Michelle Safer, who teaches watercolor and stencil techniques at Paper Post, a rubber-stamp and card store in Westlake, said she finds that adults and children enjoy taking time out to do something creative. "People really relax and have fun with this stuff. People in our society are so hung up about not being able to draw that when they get a relatively easy way to do something artistic, they love it," she said.

Making homemade holiday cards does not have to be expensive, Krim said. She advocates buying just one or two rubber stamps, then using the colors of the holiday to make the card look festive and original. The inside messages can be stamped or handwritten, and there are a wide range of colors of ink to choose from.

Some people give handcrafted cards instead of gifts, putting them in Lucite or deeper-than-usual frames, Safer said. "They're not expensive, and they are very, very appreciated," she said.

Children can enjoy having a part to play in the holiday card giving. To help get them going, Krim suggests displaying a few examples and putting out a wide variety of different materials, like rubber stamps, stencils, markers, cotton, papers and straw. There are also many classes available in card making for children, and some products in toy stores provide ideas, stencils, stickers and instructions.

Those who send homemade cards say that in today's ultra-fast-paced world, taking the time to make something--anything--by hand is seen as the ultimate gift. "People love to get homemade cards. They put them up on their mantels to display," Krim said.

Classes in card making for children and adults are available at Paper Post, 1145 Lindero Canyon Road, Westlake. Call (818) 865-0702 for a class schedule.

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