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IN THE STUDIO: Card making – using the tools of the craft

Jasmine Maki and Molly Lenaburg show their completed cards in Lenaburg's home studio. Photo by Tim Albrecht, Herald staff.2 / 3
Jasmine Maki and Molly Lenaburg show their completed cards in Lenaburg's home studio. Photo by Tim Albrecht, Herald staff.3 / 3

PORTLAND, N.D. — This month’s In the Studio took me into a new realm of art. When we first started the video series we wanted to include both fine art and crafts. And this month, we got our first look at a crafter’s studio.

I met Molly Lenaburg, Portland, N.D., who’s been making cards for many years. In her basement studio, she had stacks of supplies, which she’d acquired during her time making cards. She had endless boxes of stamps, ribbons, paper punches, inkpads and a wall full of various papers.

I used to wonder how card makers did everything so fast and so seemingly perfect. I make cards myself, and I’d spend hours on a single card.

After visiting Chicago, I made a card to “document” my trip. I drew and re-drew the states and cut them out, along with a little car. I wrote the travel info on a scrap piece of paper and grumbled about my sloppy handwriting. I redid it again and again, until I was finally satisfied. Then, I glued all of the pieces on my card.

It took more than an hour, but I was proud of my one-of-a-kind card. I always thought the purpose of handmade cards was to make something completely original for a friend or family member.

But, in Molly’s studio I realized that people make handmade cards for all sorts of reasons. Molly makes cards because it’s something she enjoys doing. She likes experimenting with new styles and techniques. She likes exchanging cards with friends and family members. She even does a monthly card exchange with a group of women she’s never met.

She said she spends a couple of hours in her basement craft room every day. But, in the time it took me to complete one card, Molly would have created nearly a dozen. She uses paper punches, stamps and a Cuttlebug — a small machine that adds texture to paper. These tools allow her to make cards by the dozen in no time and produce multiple cards of the same design to gift to friends or sell at Gertie’s in Grand Forks.

When Molly is going to make a new card set, she looks online for inspiration, starts with a solid idea and prepares the little pieces. She uses the Cuttlebug to create textured backgrounds and stamps to create her main graphics. She cuts them out with various paper punches and pieces it all together. Like any other art, Molly said it’s important to sign the finished card. Then, she repeats the process to five or more times to complete the set.

In her studio, we created a white and peach card with three patterned banners, which Molly said are really popular right now. We used a bicycle stamp on scrap paper and cut it out with a large circle paper punch. Then, we used a stamp that read “friend to friend” to create a little label and cut it out with another paper punch.

Once we had all the pieces punched out, we attached everything with double-sided tape. We also used mounting tape to create depth between the different elements, which Molly said adds interest to any card. The entire project took less than 10 minutes.

And, while I don’t plan on making large sets of handmade cards anytime soon, I might invest in a few paper punches and stamps. After all, it doesn’t take anything away from the originality of a card, it just simplifies the process.

There’s a great debate on whether crafts like card making are art. And, while some may argue that card making isn’t an art because card makers “copy” other’s designs and ideas, I believe it is art.

Every artist draws inspiration from others in one form or another. Molly may use the same ideas, tools and pieces to create her cards, but the art is how she pieces it all together.

  •  Artist: Molly Lenaburg
  •  Hometown: Portland, N.D.
  •  Studio: In-home work space in Portland, N.D.
  •  Art form: Card making
  •  Info: Cards available at Gertie’s, 1823 South Washington Street, Grand Forks
Jasmine Maki
Jasmine Maki is a features reporter for Accent. Her main beats are arts and entertainment and life and style. She also occasionally covers health, family and TV.
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