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The Art of Cardmaking

Ralph Tyndall Designs, a cardmaking account on Instagram, first captivated my double-tapping thumb on 22 March, 2023. The post documented his detailed and seemingly effortless process of constructing a handmade card for a coworker who had recently had a baby. The style of the card didn’t particularly align with my own, but the satisfying sounds of the paper cutting and the pens clicking mesmerised my art-loving eyes, and minutes later, I found myself enchanted by every video on his account. Ralph Tyndall Designs’ meticulous paper-scoring and ink-stamping skills suggested complete cardmaking mastery, satisfying my desire to consume media eliciting artistic perfection. This video did not serve as an introduction to cardmaking but rather reinforced my infatuation with the hobby.

As soon as I could hold a pencil and draw a flower, my parents strongly encouraged me to make cards for people. They didn’t have an aversion to store-bought cards, and nor do I, but I think they saw it as a way for me to express my appreciation for someone in a personal way apart from just the writing inside the card. Especially as a young child, I did not have the capacity to write completely earnest letters, and they often ended up sounding robotic or scripted, but drawing my own designs reinstilled sincerity in my cards. I admire that my parents pushed me to make cards now, but when I was younger, I regarded it as a chore and didn’t understand the importance it held. As I made more cards and developed more of an artistic niche, my excitement about making birthday and holiday cards for my friends and family grew significantly. I would even go as far as to consider cardmaking a personal love language.

Cardmaking is unique in that it involves both the card-giver and the card-receiver. If you know as little as someone’s favourite animal or colour, you can make a card for them that shows that you value them in some way. One may argue that greeting cards achieve as highly as handmade cards because someone can easily pick up a card at the drugstore and say “this reminded me of you” without the hassle of gathering art supplies and thinking of a design. That argument considers thought but neglects personal flair. The act of giving someone something that you are proud of creating connects the giver and receiver in a way that store-bought cards can only aspire to accomplish. The fate of handmade cards surpasses that of the store-bought given that store-bought cards eventually surrender to the depressing hole of a trash can. Handmade cards often end up displayed between magnet and fridge, propped open on a fireplace mantlepiece, or placed alongside others of its kind in a shoebox covered with construction paper, tacked with rhinestones, and labelled ‘memories.’ The occasionally laborious but extremely rewarding and arguably enjoyable process of finding inspiration, acquiring necessary tools, and designing until satisfaction evokes unparalleled delight and gratitude in both parties. 

Cardmaking serves as a valuable way to exercise and practice creativity. As a busy St Andrews student, I rarely find time to enjoy my painting, drawing, and collaging hobbies, and only sporadically allow myself to indulge. Cardmaking gives me an excuse to dedicate some hours of the day to something I would typically regard as a waste of time. This not only allows me to improve my art skills but also leads to a balanced lifestyle. Through cardmaking, I have permitted myself to experiment with new materials, and without the aid of this hobby, I wouldn’t have discovered the power of an embossing gun or the dimension a beautifully billowing ribbon adds to a piece of paper. Cardmaking also forces me to finish a piece and feel satisfied with it, which is a personal artistic dilemma. Ultimately, I cherish the hobby because I am not only paying homage to a tradition my parents started for me and my siblings but also because it brings me complete and genuine bliss. I highly suggest cardmaking to anyone who may want to deviate from the conventional process of giving someone a card.

Illustration by Sandra Palazuelos García

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