Giving Is Getting: Handmade Gifts

A guest post by Melanie Rothschild

I hate to buy anything that I think I can make myself. In a sense, I kind of pride myself on living that way. At the top of this list is birthday cards. They’re expensive. At $3 – $5 apiece if you give just one card per month, you’ve raked up roughly $40 a year in greeting card expenses.

Investing that same $40 in frivolous and random materials could be a much wiser outlay.

In addition to creating a little cash flow for extra supplies, making your own cards is a huge opportunity in a much more important sense. It’s a chance to get into a creative zone in a very genuine way; you’re working on something that’s important, maybe even deeply important, but in reality it’s actually not that important, at least not in terms of the whole scheme of living life important. Devoting yourself to making a card allows you the freedom to allot time, focus and attention to a project you care about. However, regardless of how it comes out, the intentions of showing thought and care are going to be fulfilled. Therefore, making cards is a chance to rip and roar, to try things you haven’t done before, to roam and wonder with ideas and to bust out of your usual style. It’s essentially an almost sure-fire recipe for working creatively.

I’ve found that making cards has often been a conduit for taking me to completely new ideas that I’ve used in other contexts. I was out to dinner with my friend Gopi and found out that his birthday was the next day. The only way I could send him a card was with email. Shoot. I had absolutely no intention of sending a pre-set digital template. But what to do?

Happy Birthday Gopi

To be candid, my tech skills are minimal, very minimal. The only post-industrial skill I could rely on was the ability to take a picture and send it. I got a silly idea in my head. I dumped a few cups of baking soda on a black tray and started to play. I spread the powder across the tray and tested out writing words in it the way you would write in sand at the beach. I used a few different implements that were in arm’s reach: a knife, a spatula, a fork, an eraser, and two of my own fingers (one smaller and one larger).

Voila. . . a new technique. I now had a way of working I could use all year long to send cards and messages. The presentation seems to delight people, it’s easy to do … and talk about economical!!  The potential for application is just so rich: thanks you’s, congratulations, reminders, jokes and on and on.

Thanks Suzy

The particular technique is not the important point. What is significant is using some reason – a birthday or some other occasion as a catalyst, a friendly challenge to propel yourself to come up with a new direction, to try something you might otherwise never have attempted. This is a potent opportunity for flexing creative muscle. The stronger that muscle becomes, the more easily it can be applied in all sorts of other, unrelated situations.

That can make it all the more appealing to dive into creating something new for the next special occasion. Rather than a vicious cycle, I’d call it a delicious cycle.

Bon Voyage

Melanie Rothschild is a self-taught artist whose elaborate interior accessories have been sold in stores throughout the United States including Neiman-Marcus, the shops at the Smithsonian Institution, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and hundreds of others for almost two decades. Her work is shown in fine art galleries and has been licensed to Target. She considers moxie, an irreverent nature, and a respect for mistake-making to be the tools of her trade. Melanie has a master’s degree in the Study of Creativity and an undergrad degree in Anthropology. She is from and lives in Los Angeles. “Like” Melanie on Facebook today!

Click here to see more of Melanie’s artwork and a short preview of her documentary, MISTAKE.

Y0053_ArtSaves_CM.inddYou might also enjoy Art Saves by Jenny Doh.






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One Response to Giving Is Getting: Handmade Gifts

  1. Sophie Michael says:

    Great Idea! I completely concur with you that birthday cards are so expensive yet necessary to give with a gift because I feel any gift is incomplete without a gift card so It’s better to make gift cards at home to save some money.