Friday, December 18

Crafty Advice

I'm still working on the holiday cards but they're not done yet, so I still can't publish the photo-documentation of making these things. Because there's so many of them, it's a lot of work to execute each stage. My wife and I alternate shifts of motivation: sometimes she's all, "We've got to get these out the door this weekend," and I'm stuck playing free MMOs for my other blog. Alternately, I'm all, "Please do your part of the writing on the backs of the cards," because the handwriting would turn out all uneven once the interior mechanism is in place, and she's fixated on World 6 of Super Mario Bros. Wii.

But we are getting it all done, slowly done. I'm also learning a lot throughout the process. A few days ago I was talking with her about what it is I really, really need in terms of stationery. I saw this intriguing Japanese postcard kit--it uses shaped foam brushes instead of hair-tipped brushes--and realized that I already own the most important elements of that kit. It wasn't worth $24 for materials that could be gotten cheaply as individual parts. So I decided what I really needed was stronger cardstock, since I tried using the post office's pre-stamped postcards for a watercolor project and they warped all to hell. I was frankly surprised they reached their destination.

Harder cardstock is easily had, but does that solve all my problems? I can print my own stationery, I can cut out my own envelopes... ah, there we go! I need to create a more attractive laser printing system for address labels! Because I can find some appealing but very busy design on paper, carve it into an envelope, and there's no way I could use any kind of writing implement to scribe an address any person or machine could read (though I wonder if there is a reactive ink that a postal scanner could read better than the naked eye can? And if it's invisible, my gosh, wouldn't that be cool!).

Eventually I realized the problem isn't in the labels, it's in the adhesive. Remember how that one address label fell off of the envelope I sent to a new pen pal? And I've had other envelopes fall apart because the glue stick I used to seal them was grossly inadequate. And now I'm at a point in the holiday card assembly where I need to fold the cards in half and seal them in such a way the internal mechanism can move freely. I would've tried glue stick but actually used it all up on the internal mechanism (sorry to be so cryptic, you'll see what I mean soon) and had to fall back on this cheap Elmer's transparent glue gel, which is entirely unsuitable for this task. This morning I found that much of my binding had come unbound, and with a distinct lump in the center of each card, it's impossible to place a weight upon the card and ensure an even press all over its topography. The solution to that might be a small sandbag or even a bag of sugar/flour, in terms of household items, but I'm not going to fill 50 freakin' sandbags and spread them all over cards on the floor just to get a secure seal!

And then it hit me: I lost my job last Tuesday and, with my new-found free time, kept myself busy by sealing up the windows with sheets of plastic. Annual Minnesotan tradition for anyone who likes to keep warm. It took me way too long to realize that the double-sided Scotch window insulation tape is the perfect item for my stationery jobs!

I bought a spool of so-called double-sided tape before and it was crap. The adhesive itself peeled away from the plastic strip that was supposed to be coated on both sides. It was also unwieldy to use, tended to get tangled and folded, and brought much more frustration than convenience to my project. But this simple roll of Scotch window insulator tape peels off easily, pastes down neatly, trims handily, and whipping off its paper backing is simplicity itself. And that seal will hold! This is excellent tape, and I think I'm going to stop by the local hardware store and stock up on a couple rolls for personal use. Why didn't this occur to me before?

UPDATE: I got the cards finished and am hand-writing address labels to get them sent out tomorrow! I can start releasing my tedious photo-documentary!

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