Featured Etsy shop: Live Your Dream Designs

Every fortnight Occasionally, I’m featuring Etsy shops and blogs which I love. This week it’s the turn of Joyce from the Etsy shop LiveYourDreamDesigns!

Joyce makes the most beautiful 3D cards which she sells on Etsy and through her website. Here she is to tell you a little about her craft…

Origami Architecture is the combination of two ancient Japanese art forms. Origami – the art of folding paper & Kirigami – the art of cutting paper. The result is a single sheet of cut and folded paper that when opened displays a three dimensional image. My goal is to amaze and delight you with the magic of Origami Architecture.

Conservatory of Flowers pop-up card - Live Your Dreams Designs

I made a living designing and building theatrical props and costumes for 25 years. In the early 90’s I discovered Origami Architecture. I made a few designs and offered them to my friends in “the industry”. The cards were so well received that I left my costume design career in 1993 and began making cards full time.

Christmas Carousel pop up card - Live Your Dream Designs

I design and make all my cards in my studio here in Los Angeles. I have 2 lasers in my studio to cut my cards. I draw my own designs. The usual revision rate is 18 before I am happy. I choose the exterior paper carefully and write the text for the back of my cards. Then the paper goes to an off set press for printing. When it comes back I laser cut and fold each piece individually. Then I apply the exterior paper. It is still a one card at a time process. I am usually supervised my my two cats, Tigar and Trouble. I love spending my days making these cards. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to look at a table full of finished work and think “I did that today”.

Box of 3 Alcatraz pop up cards - Live Your Dream Designs

I enjoy the process of designing these cards. It suits me. The drawing work is fairly technical. More like drafting than like drawing. It requires a highly developed sense of form, space and design. I think intuitively in 3 dimensions. Most of my images are architectural. I enjoy architecture and it works well with my art form.

A Smithsonian Christmas - Live Your Dream Designs

I make handmade greeting cards because I believe that in today’s world of e-mail and cell phones, people are hungry for more personal, human contact. Sending or receiving a handmade card is a wonderful way to express our care and love for one another.

Box of 3 Griffith Observatory cards - Live Your Dream Designs

I enjoy the process of making and selling these cards, and especially the gleam of light in your eye when you open these very plain looking cards.

Joy Tree pop up card - Live Your Dream Designs

Thanks Joyce! Aren’t her cards amazing?! Check out LiveYourDreamDesigns on Etsy to see the full range!

Thanks for reading!


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Handmade card tutorial – people letters

This is a card that I have hand drawn and made in a few different designs over the years but this is the latest incarnation, which I made for my mother-in-law’s birthday earlier this year.

People letters birthday card

As you can see, it is very simple in construction – I drew the letters out first in pencil and then turned each one into 1 or 2 people shapes. I went over the pencil outlines in black pen, erased the pencil and then coloured in the clothes with felt tip pens. I think it’s quite effective!

If you don’t want to draw the people yourself, here are a couple of versions for you to print onto a card blank. The first is black and white so you can colour in the people yourself, and the second is already coloured – for if you are feeling REALLY lazy!

People birthday letters - outline

People birthday letters

Please let me know if you try your own people letters. I really enjoy seeing other people’s creations and how different they can be even when based around the same idea!

Thanks for reading!


Blog feature: Make My Day Creative

For the last couple of weeks in my ‘featuring’ series I’ve been featuring Etsy shops, but I’m also featuring blogs too! Today’s featured blog is by a good friend and fellow ex-engineer, Esther. Esther’s blog Make My Day Creative features a range of crafty tutorials and inspiration from the wonderful things that Esther makes. But I’ll let her tell you all about it herself :)

Describe your blog in one or two sentences.

Make My Day Creative is about inspiring people to try something new creatively, and to not be afraid to have a go.

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What made you decide to start a blog?

I started the blog after giving up my full time job due to stress.  For a long time I hadn’t had the time or capacity to do anything creative, and felt like I didn’t have any outlet for my creative side.  The blog was a way of motivating myself to get going again and to acknowledge the things I was doing.  Now I just love doing it and getting comments and tips from my readers and other bloggers!

Easter Cake 003

Where do you get your inspiration?

Usually, each thing I make is inspired by the person I am making it for, something I have that I want to use up or up-cycle, or by something I have seen that inspired me, usually from Pinterest or another blog.  For example, the Scottie Dog garland I recently made was a pattern for dogs I spotted on Ravelry and thought of my friend who has a cute Westie (not dissimilar to a Scottie!).  When I last saw her she was saying she wanted to add more girly touches to her little girl’s room, which had gender neutral décor.  So I made the dogs into a garland and added pink bows and flowers for a gift.

Scottie dog garland

What has been the highlight of working on your blog so far?

The fact that people read it!  Also, the encouragement I have received from comments and seeing my posts on sites like pinterest.

Basket 004

What do you like to do when not working on your blog?

Not everything I make ends up on my blog, but most does and this takes quite a bit of time!  I also love to read, spend time with friends and family, and play games (I have got into arguments with other competitive friends about who is the most competitive…).

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What is coming up in future posts?

I wish I was one of those bloggers who plan out their posts in advance!  I usually only have one post ahead of the last one, and by that I mean the project is done but the post still actually needs writing!  Having said that, you can expect to see more crochet on my site in the future because I have gotten really hooked (sorry) and it is my most popular subject area.


What are your top three favourite blogs?

This is a hard one!  I like Renegade Seamstress, because she is very creative and fixes stuff without using patterns, so you feel you can do it too.  I also love my sister in law’s site Helen Chandler because she has a way of making everyday life hilarious.  Stitchedupmama is good for thinking outside the box, and her style is quite different to mine which is great for inspiration.

Thanks Esther! I really would recommend checking out her blog for some great craft projects. I have my eye on that basket tutorial… one day when I learn to crochet maybe…

Thanks for reading!


Handmade card tutorial – birthday candles

I’ve seen a few examples of handmade cards with repeated designs in different colours or patterns so when my friend’s 30th birthday came round last month I though that 30 candles would be a nice idea! In the end it turned out just as well that she wasn’t any older than 30 as I wouldn’t have been able to fit more candles on the card ;)

Candles card

For this tutorial you will need:

  • Card blank (mine is C6, white)
  • Coloured or patterned paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pen for writing greeting

1. Pick the colours or patterns of paper you wish for your candles. I chose to have 6 different colours to give a nice range, therefore I knew I would have 5 candles in each colour.

2. Decide how big the rectangles for the candles need to be – mine were 0.5cm by 2cm. Measure and mark out the candles on each piece of paper and cut out.

Measure rectangular candles

3. Measure and cut out the flames. I used a gold paper for these. I cut a strip of paper 0.8cm wide and cut the flames freehand from the strip (this made sure they were all the same height). If you really don’t trust your cutting abilities you could print off a clipart flame shape and use that as a template instead.

Cut out flame shapes

Look at all the pieces ready for sticking!

Cut out candle pieces

4. Use your cut pieces to decide on your spacing. I decided to have one candle every 12mm, which made 3 rows with 3.5cm spacing between the rows on my C6 card. The third row had fewer candles on to allow space for a greeting.

5. Stick your candles on, starting with the rectangles. I was originally going to make a mark to show where each candle would be, but I actually ended up simply making a small mark at each end of each row to align the bases of the rectangles. Then I placed a ruler against the 2 marks and used the measurement marks on the ruler to work out where to stick each rectangle and made sure the rectangle was set against the ruler when sticking in place.

Sticking the candles on

I used pritt stick glue as I thought PVA would make the paper go wrinkly. However, I didn’t really like the pritt stick very much – it was a bit lumpy. Does anyone have any better suggestions?!

Update: on the suggestion of one of the commenters, the next time I made this card I used double-sided sticky tape instead of pritt stick. I simply stuck the tape to the shapes before cutting them out and then peeled off the backing paper to stick them to the card. It worked really well! (although the backing paper was a bit difficult to remove)

6. Stick the flames on top of the rectangles.

Sticking the flames on

Once you’ve finished it should look like this:

Card ready for greeting

7. Your candle spacing should give you space to write your greeting in the corner (in my case “happy 30th birthday”). I just wrote it freehand but you may wish to print off the greeting in a font you like and trace this onto the card (by scribbling pencil on the back of the printed paper and then going over the font on the front with a hard pencil/pen, like I used when decorating mugs) – then you can go over your pencil marks with a nice pen.

Finished candles card

Et voila! A simple but effective card design, great for those milestone birthdays or any celebration!

Update: I recently made this card for my husband’s birthday. I used a DL card and made the candles slightly longer. I like the improved layout!

30th birthday candles card

Thanks for reading!


Handmade cards – simple Valentine’s Day card

Valentine’s Day is coming up fast, and although Tom and I don’t really celebrate it at all sometimes I do like to make him a card. This is an idea for a card I had a few years ago:

Simple valentine's day card with flatback gems

This card is very simple and quick to make and uses flat-back gemstones. I’ve seen these in a range of craft stores, and I quite like Anita’s Gemstone Wheel which has a nice range of colours and separates them out nicely. The first flat-back gemstones I bought were mixed in a bag and it took forever to find the colours I wanted out of the bag!

Feel free to play with the design – use different words, a different layout (the heart in the corner of the card might look quite effective) or a different shape that means something to you and your Valentine.

What you need:

  • Flat-back gemstones (the ones I use here are 2mm in diameter)
  • PVA glue
  • Card blank (I am using a C6 card blank which folds to make an A6 card)
  • Tweezers
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Coloured pen
  • Sharp pointy object

1. Use the pencil to draw your shape on the paper, or print out a shape onto the paper instead. I made the heart about 2.5cm in width but play around until you find a size that works for your design.

Printed heart shape

2. Place the gemstones onto the outline of the shape to check spacing. Put the gemstones you are not using back into their box/bag (otherwise you are likely to knock them everywhere… I say this from experience!).

Gemstone spacing on paper

3. As you remove each gemstone, make a mark with the pencil so you know where it was on the shape.

Gemstone positions

4. Place the paper over your card blank so that the shape is where you want it to be on the card. I chose to make mine central horizontally, and the same distance from the top of the card as from the sides. This left room below the heart to write my message. Using a sharp pointy object, press on the points where you want your gemstones to be (where the pencil lines cross the shape outline). I used the corner of my tweezers for this. You will be left with a series of indents in the card. I rested the card on a cutting mat when making my indents, because it is a little bit soft which helps to make the indents deeper and easier to see. If you can’t see your indents very well, draw a little dot with the pencil where each indent is.

Gemstone position indents

5. Place a small drop of PVA glue on the first few indents. I use Anita’s Tacky Glue which comes in a bottle with a nice point which makes it easier to make the small blobs of glue. Make your blobs approximately the same size as the gemstones. I prefer to use too much glue than too little, as some of the gemstones have fallen off in the past and the glue dries clear so it doesn’t show too much.

Blobs of glue for the gemstones

6. Using your tweezers, pick up the gemstones one at a time and place them onto the glue blobs. Push down a little and if necessary nudge the gemstones with the tweezers to get them in the right position.

Sticking the gemstones to the card

7. Continue to add blobs of glue and attach gemstones until you are finished. It is better to do a few at a time otherwise the glue might dry before you have had time to add all the gemstones.

Flat-back gemstone heart

8. I chose to write a short sentiment under the heart in gold pen. I think if I did it again I would leave a bigger gap between the heart and the writing, which I think would look better.

Flat-back gemstone heart with sentiment

And there is your finished card! Be sure to let the glue dry completely before writing and posting it.

Simple valentine's day card with flatback gems

If the card is going in the post, I usually put a piece of card (from a cereal box or similar) over the front of the card in the envelope, which helps to protect the gemstones. I write ‘packaging’ on the piece of card so the recipient knows what it’s for!

I hope this has inspired you to make a card of your own. Please let me know in the comments or by email how it went!

Also, if anyone would like this card to give to someone dear on Valentine’s Day, just let me know and I’ll send it over :)

Thanks for reading!


Handmade cards – patterned letters

I’ve made many cards for my friends and family over the years which means I keep having to come up with new designs! I like a fairly simple aesthetic and don’t tend to stick many things onto the card. I came up with this design for my Mum’s birthday last year and I’ve used it a few times since as I think it’s quite an effective design.

Handmade card patterned letter

What you need:

  • Card blank – mine is a square white card, 135mm x 135mm, but feel free to use whatever you want
  • Coloured pen (I used a gold ballpoint pen)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Rubber
  • Light box (or you can use a window)
  • Pattern – either a printed one, or your own (I’ll talk more about this in a bit)

1. Take your card blank and draw on the shape that you wish to have the pattern inside. I used an initial (A) for this card, but I’ve also used numbers and short words (such as “Mum”). If you choose a shape, make it a fairly simple one with large features.

I made the letter 85mm tall, so that it filled most of the front of the card but not all. I drew the letter by hand but if you would rather you could print a large letter onto a piece of paper (using Word, for example) and trace it onto the card.

Letter outline

2. Draw over the outline of the letter in your chosen pen colour (in my case, I used gold)

Outline the letter in pen

3. Draw your pattern on a piece of paper or print the pattern design that you want. I chose a henna-inspired design that I drew myself. I just drew some circles on the paper and filled them in with patterns (as you can see below, I kept changing my mind!). Make sure that the pattern is at least as large as your letter.

Henna inspired pattern

4. Now use your light box and place the pattern under the card. Trace the pattern onto the card using your coloured pen, but be careful to only draw the pattern where it lies inside the letter! If you do not have a light box, you could put the paper and card on a window and trace it that way. It’s a bit uncomfortable (your arm goes numb after a while) but it still works.

Tracing using a light box

And here is the traced pattern:

Patterned letter

5. To finish, rub out any pencil lines that can be seen. I also wrote “happy birthday” on the side of the letter.

Patterned letter handmade card

That’s all there is to it! Simple but effective, I think. If you have a go at making a card like this, please send me a photo – either by email or in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!