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be mine tools and tricks for DIY Valentine's Day cards by Meredith Keller | 1 2 3
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Pictures | Coming up with images is no problem for those who happen to be artistically inclined, but if you can't draw to save your life, no worries: you can use pictures from magazines or even print out images from your computer. There are lots of stock photography and clip art sites online, such as Corbis or Barry's Clip Art Server. Alternatively, Google's image search feature is also handy for finding just the right graphics. You might even want to use pictures of you and your honey. If you don't want to destroy the original photo, just scan the picture into your computer and then print out a copy.

Textured materials | A really beautiful handmade card often incorporates more than just paper. Consider featuring buttons, sequins, fabric, rhinestones, foil, beads, buttons -- just about any small, lightweight, thin object can be used to make a standout card. Even plain old needle and thread can create a nice effect with just a few key stitches.

Cutting implements | I recommend scissors, a scalpel (with ruler), and a pair of cuticle scissors. The last two items may not be things you have lying around and you may initially find them harder to use, but both are really great tools for card-making and you're sure to get the hang of both with just a bit of practice. The scalpel and ruler combination allows you to cut perfectly straight lines. Just place your paper on top of some thick cardboard to protect your tabletop (or better yet, buy a self-healing cutting mat, available at any art or craft store), then lay your ruler along the line you want to cut. Now run the scalpel across, pressed up to the ruler. Voila -- you should find yourself with a clean, straight cut. Meanwhile, the cuticle scissors are very small and pointy which means they give you excellent control when you need to cut out highly detailed images from magazines and other sources. I can cut out the fine points of an image -- down to eyelashes and shoelaces -- when I'm wielding these scissors.

the tricks...
Set the scene
| Creating a backdrop for the card is an important first step in establishing the overall look that you are trying to achieve. Select a piece of decorative paper and with your scalpel and ruler, cut it to fit perfectly over the front of your card. If you are using an old Christmas card you found in the bargain bin for a quarter, be sure to choose a heavier piece of paper as your backdrop so Saint Nick won't peak through. You can even use construction paper for this.

hop this way kids!


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