I would have preferred to have just added this to my saved profile, but I see I'd be restricted to 1200 characters, and I suspect I have more to say than that, so it has to be a full 'post'.
I was born in, and grew up in South Africa. Until the end of 2007, we lived in the Johannesburg area, and nearby, I had a small, very well stocked, commercial card shop. Celebratory events were very important to me: Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, etc, and I loved giving 'just the right card'. I would visit the card shop for hours at a time, with my list of upcoming events, read through every card, and choose 'just the right card' for each person. What was important to me was the message inside. I didn't really care about the picture or decoration on the outside of the card.
At the end of 2007, we moved to the coast, to a small town north of the Durban area, and while we loved the more isolated location, I hated the fact that I no longer had access to my little card shop. There was a near-enough card shop, but it had one, maybe 2 options per celebration: so if I wanted a card for my sister-in-law, they had one option only, maybe 2 if it was for a mother. I couldn't find anything that said exactly what I wanted to say, and I decided I would have to make my own cards.
I didn't own anything remotely creative to make the cards, but since the most important thing to me was the message inside, my cards didn't really need much creativity. I spent many hours searching the internet for sites with messages to write inside cards, and found a few fantastic sites. My favourite is Joanna Fuchs's Poemsource, because her poems have depth and meaning regarding relationships. I found many other sites too, and I was on my way.
My first few cards were simply printed onto light cardstock, with one of my own photographs printed on the outside. We had a spectacular view of the Indian Ocean from our property, and I took daily photographs of dolphins swimming by. Those photographs made their way onto the front of my cards. Soon I wanted to make something with a slightly different feel, and I went in search of goodies to decorate my cards with. I didn't know of a single store which sold the kinds of things we all use today, so I started with my local stationery store, which also stocked party items, and bought foil confetti, etc. They also had mix packs of what looked like offcuts of printed paper, and I bought those too. The first real crafty thing I found, was a strip of peel-off stickers. I downloaded a few cute images from the internet, and created this card for my brother-in-law. It has never made its way into public view before, for obvious reasons, but it's the first card I made, that I kept a photograph of, because it didn't have one of my own photographs on. The thought of sharing it used to make me cringe, but in this card lies the birth of a hobby that today takes up most of my time, that I love, and that I share with all those dear to me.
Remember: It was about the message INSIDE the card!
From then on, I searched every store I went into for goodies I could use to make cards, and slowly the outside of the card became more important to me. I found a few sticker sets in the back of an odds-and-ends store, and then my sister in UK mentioned that my sister in the USA had a Cricut machine, that could be used to MAKE MY OWN STICKERS!!! I told my husband that if I had one of those, I would never need to buy stickers again! Poor guy... What we all know is that you never have enough craft equipment, stash, pretty stuff. I didn't know that then though.
South Africa isn't the hub of anywhere, and finding anything imported readily available for purchase was tough. I did eventually find a store that sold Cricut machines, and when I did, we drove out that same day to buy it. It came with 2 cartridges, and I thought I'd made it into 'Craft Heaven'! I soon discovered that those 2 cartridges weren't going to be sufficient to make every imaginable sticker, and not only would I still have to buy the odd sticker set 😉, but an obsession with Cricut cartridges had also been born!
Craft magazines were my next discovery, and the freebies they often came with started me on a creative journey. I would absorb every picture, technique, idea and word, look up every site, try every card.
In 2011 my sister visited from the UK, and gave me a precious gift - a few Magnolia stamps. I already had a few freebie stamps from craft magazines, but I had no idea what to do with them, so I simply had them stored in a drawer. She taught me about mounting blocks and ink pads, and I began the next obsession.
This was my first stamped card, and it was coloured with pencil crayons:
The first stamps I actually bought were Lili of the Valley, and the postage and import duties to South Africa made them more than twice as expensive as they should have been, but by then I had imported loads of Cricut cartridges, and even some Jolee's stickers through Amazon. Crafting was not inexpensive for me!
What probably had the greatest impact on my crafting, was the discovery of a few digital freebies available in one of the crafty magazines: KennyK!!! I had already downloaded whatever was available in the magazines - mainly toppers and a few odd pictures I hadn't yet used, but KennyK opened up a whole new world to me. I began searching feverishly for digi stamp shops, which made so much sense to me! I no longer had to pay import duties and postage from far-off places, and wait months to get my anticipated package. I could have my image immediately, and at the same price as anyone else! Was there ever a better creation???
This was my first KennyK card - using a freebie digi image:
And as you can probably tell, it was coloured with markers - also introduced to me by my sister in the UK - Letraset ProMarkers! and unfortunately also not available in South Africa - yet another thing to import. Well, I don't do things halfway, so I slowly built up my supply of markers to the full set, and I've never looked back.
Now it would be wrong to ignore the paper obsession that had crept in along the way. Oh my word, do I LOVE PAPER! You may think you love paper, but I can assure you, you DO NOT have as many paper packs as me! My husband has teased that the craft suppliers will soon contact me to replenish their stock, instead of the other way around! Did I mention that I really love paper???
In June 2012, myself and 3 sisters, across 3 countries, began a Sisterhood Card Challenge. We took turns choosing a theme for the week and on the due date we'd all sit at our computers and email our pics and info to each other, and chat and comment on each other's cards.
In 2013 I started my Pinterest page, purely out of a sense of integrity - I had gained so much inspiration from other creations online, that I thought I needed to share my own cards online for others to gain inspiration too. It felt a little strange. I'm sure any card maker can identify with this: every card you make has a bit of your soul in it. It's not just time and money that goes into producing a card, it's thought, creativity and consideration of the recipient. It's a piece of me. Every time someone 'pinned' or 'saved' one of my cards, I felt a little mixture of pride and invasion at the same time. It's ok, I'm over that now!
In 2014, I added my first card to this blog. I had created the blog in 2008, but honestly couldn't think of any reason anyone would ever visit it, so I couldn't imagine what I would post on it. Actually, I felt blogs were a little self-indulgent until that point, (maybe I still do - a little), but as it says in my profile, my sisters Amanda and Patsy were rather insistent, so I went ahead and began adding my creations to my blog.
In 2015 we left South Africa, and moved to Australia, and suddenly I had access to things I'd struggled to find for years! I am truly in heaven! I have a craft shop I can order just about everything from, and I can buy my ProMarkers straight off the shelf at the art store!
In late November 2016, I entered my first online card challenge, at The Paper Shelter. There are 3 things I love about entering online challenges: The inspiration gained by looking over Design Team and entrant creations, the themes and the deadlines! If my family members had to describe me in one word, they'd probably all choose 'organised'! I love knowing what I'm working towards, and when it's due. Since participating in challenges, my stock of cards has grown dramatically, and along the way I get to pretend that I'm working towards something, when all I'm actually doing is having fun, doing what I have come to love doing.
I have never considered myself as creative. I love doing all sorts of creative things - cooking, baking, knitting, painting, etc. But I've always felt that the most important skill in each, is reading - if you can read a recipe, you can cook, right? If you can read a pattern, you can knit. But I think carding has given me a sense of creative accomplishment. I feel creative. And there's nothing like the reaction of someone opening one of your cards, and loving it - especially another carder - someone who knows what went into it: your time, and especially, your soul.
My 2 daughters still live at home, and I love getting their thoughts on my work-in-progress. Sometimes you're doubting a little something in the design, and just need that little 'mmm...', to let you know (depending on the tone) that you're on the right track, or that you need to make changes. My husband doesn't have too much to say, other than an occasional, "Don't give that away," which in girl speak is: "Oh wow! That's stunning! Too good to give away!" Could there be a greater compliment? And of course there's the teeny fact that I haven't worked (for a salary) since the day we got married, but have the best stocked craft room I've ever seen! Could there be greater support for my hobby?
So as I look around my craft room today, I have the important equipment: computer; original treasured Cricut, awesome Cameo, new Cricut Explore Air (which is fantastic with the online software, but what if my internet is down😳), and eBosser. And then the boxes: flowers, stamps, punches, embossing folders, dies, lace, ribbons, brads, eyelets, buttons (I love buttons!), ink and paints, pearls, gems, washi tape, charms, embellishments, Cricut cartridges, paper, paper, paper (did I mention I love paper?) Patsy and Amanda, you created this monster!
That's been my carding journey - talk about self-indulgent! If you've stayed this long, thanks for joining me!
It wouldn't be right to have typed out this LONG post, without a list of great links, so pop on over to a few of the places I love to go:
KennyK Stamps - where digital dreams are born
The Paper Shelter shop
Lili of the Valley - who now sell digi stamps!
Fantastic online craft shopping in Australia: Craft Online
and a few great challenges to enter:
The Paper Shelter
Club KennyK Facebook challenge (join the group on Facebook)