Monday, April 18, 2011

DIY project: Anthropology bon voyage card & envelope stamp

Please forgive my terribly crappy picture. When I'm out and I see something I could easily make at home, I don't necessarily think to take a perfect picture. I only take the picture as reference just in case I never see that item again.

Let me explain what you're [barely] seeing here! I spotted this card at Anthropology and thought it was a great little idea as a bon voyage present. That's a map with a little needle and some fancy thread so the person who goes on the trip can use the thread and stitch a travel line to all the places and countries they visited. It's the perfect travel present for a crafty friend. Of course, at the time, I had absolutely no one to give it to and even so, it was far too expensive for what it actually was (typical Anthro). That's when I take a quick picture and file it away for later.

Then I learned that a cousin was planning a trip to Australia, but due to her circumstances, I didn't have a chance to visit her or send anything to her before she left. I've just now got an address, so I thought it would be the perfect time to make and send this little present.

The hardest part of this craft is finding a nice map picture. I had to do about three differently worded searches through Google images in order to find one I liked. It's well worth the search, though, because there are a lot of really beautiful maps out there, so don't give up if you don't immediately find one you like! Doing this yourself also enables you to customize the card for the exact location your traveller is going. I don't know if you can tell so easily, but the Anthro card is basically the entire map of Europe and that's great, I guess. I suppose some people go on huge trips like that, but I would think that most of us would only go on a trip to one or two countries. It's definitely more personalized to find a nice picture of the country or countries they're actually visiting so they can really map out the trail they made there.

Once you find an image you like, simply save it to your computer so you can print it out. I had to resize mine so it would fit onto cardstock the way I wanted it to, but that's easily done in paint or any photo editing program.

I have a lot of thread from my grandma's stash (it's got good grandma vibes which works as a great family present, too), so I went through all of it to find a contrasting colour that would work well with the map. Of course, if you don't have a bunch of thread sitting around, you can find it anywhere. Literally. While you're getting groceries, you can pick up some thread. And it will still be cheaper than buying this card premade.

And while we're talking about all of this thread, can we take a moment and stare at all of the pretty wooden spools? Thanks.

I ended up choosing red. How original.

I have a ton of these little cards used to wrap and store embroidery thread. I don't know how I came to have all of them, but I'm glad I do because, obviously, you don't need to include an entire spool of thread. That's ridiculous! Just unwrap as much as you think would be appropriate and wind it onto an embroidery card, if you have one. You could also cut a small piece of paper, add some notches, and wrap the thread around that or you could even just loop it around your fingers a couple of times and tie it in a loose knot. I also have a lot of extra needles (gosh! This project is turning out to be so damned easy for me), so I just wove one through the thread to keep it in place.

Since she's still there and she's already done a lot of stuff and been around, I added this little note to the bottom. You definitely don't have to include a note if you don't want to. The original had nothing but the map and thread. I like that it's a little more personal and it kind of invites her to mark the places she travelled and send it back.

To keep everything together, I stapled the embroidery card right to the map and folded it over so it fits neatly into an envelope. I really didn't want to fold it, but if I reduced the map size any more, it would have been too difficult to read the place names. Sometimes, you just gotta cut your losses, you know? I also cut down the size of the paper so it would fit into a standard envelope. I have no issues sending parcels, but this is so small I thought it would be better to keep it as regular mail. Like I said, if she wanted to send it back, she doesn't have to go through any unneccesary steps in sending it either.

The envelope stamp is a Pinterest DIY. I found this picture and traced it back to the original source hoping for some kind of how-to. There was no tutorial, but I thought it was straight forward enough that I could figure it out on my own. (Mini rant: Finding the original blog post took me so long! One of my biggest pet peeves about Pinterest is when people pin without singling out the blog post they're getting it from. By not doing so, the picture links to the website, but not the actual post/page they got it from. It takes half a second to click over to the actual post for the original pinning, but it takes an hour to track that post down from the pin. It's so irritating). 

tester page

Figuring out what to use (aside from buying a stamp making kit) took me quite a while. It's always when I have these ideas that I have absolutely no supplies around. I really thought I had some packing styrofoam somewhere, but I didn't have a single bit, so I experimented with the end of a foam brush. I loved that the shape was already there, but it didn't work worth anything.

Then a day or two later, I was watching some new appliances get unpacked and loaded into one of the new homes when I realized that those guys were handling a ton of good styrofoam. So I ran out there and asked if I could have some. "Sure! Whatever you need, darlin'!" and then they proceeded to stop unpacking appliances to ask me what size or shape I needed. I got some good thick pieces, but they didn't work how I wanted them to. I tried everything! Sanding, shaping, smoothing. The texture did not look good at all.

The eraser was the best, but the size just wasn't there. I thought I'd seen one of those giant erasers at the Dollar Store (you know, those "for really big mistakes" gag erasers), but I couldn't find it. Instead, I thought I'd wing it on a $1 package of craft foam, and it worked! It's not a perfect stamp, but I actually like the texture. It gives the final stamping more of a weathered look.

And while we're on the foam, can we take a minute and look at all of its rainbow-y goodness?

Now's the super easy part. Grab a piece of craft foam, cut it into the shape you want, and apply some ink (I wish I had had one of these tags as a reference, but I didn't so I just used my best judgement. Then I used a one hole punch to get the hole). I don't have a stamp pad (I'm way too cheap for that -- unless I start stamping things every day, I'm not going to buy one), so I just used a Mr. Sketch smelly marker. I coloured one whole side of the tag stamp, then, very carefully, I placed it on the envelope where I wanted it to be and pressed it all over. You really have to make sure to press on all parts of the tag or the ink won't transfer over. As you can see, I missed a tiny spot, but that's ok with me. Also make sure to let the ink dry completely before you try to write on it. Mr. Sketch ink is really wet when it's first applied.

To finish it off, use a dark pen to draw on a little tag string and write the address. Done! A cute little handmade stamped envelope with a fun card inside. Both projects cost me all of a dollar and some cents! I love it when crafts work out like that.

find the whole bookmark DIY list here!


Linda said...

Love the idea! And thinking about a new series of business cards (loving business cards far too much!) - tag-style business cards with tag stamps! Wow! Thanks for the inspiration and wishing you a wonderful weekend Linda/PaperPhine

Francine said...

What a neat idea! And I want to second your rant about people not pinning things properly, it drives me nuts too! :)

GALaxy said...

Linda: Thanks! I love how all of that ordinary stuff is suddenly looking really cool.

Francine: Thanks, I thought I was the only one!

Anonymous said...

Awesome idea and I have a crafty friend in Europe right now! I will give this project a shot and might even post a craft blog of my version (I will link back here of course!) Thanks for the inspiration!