Making Cards-and Writing-Part 2: The Process of Creating Art

by Fae Rowen

To our readers who comment on this blog:  You’ll be entered for a chance to win six hand-crafted cards from Fae Rowen.  One entry per person, please.  We’ll post the winner of the cards next Monday, August 29.  Good luck!

I realized as I wrote the first blog, Crafting Handmade Cards , about the joy in the creative design and execution (yipes!) phase of “card production,” that I go about making a new card much the same way I go about starting a new writing project.  Here are the steps with the card making part first, followed by the writing part in italics:

1.  Inspiration/Theme:  I see something in nature or on a trip that makes me think, “That would make a good card.”  For example, when I went to the Big Island, Hawaii, I went to the seahorse farm near the airport.  There were tanks of seahorses in various stages of growth and at the end of the tour we got to wash our hands, make one hand look like a coral reef (thumb and forefinger connected) and lower our hand into the tank.  A seahorse wrapped around my fingers and held tight.  What an experience!

I took home a seahorse rubber stamp from their gift shop.  Okay, four seahorse stamps.

On a trip to Sedona, while driving across the Arizona desert I thought, “What if you suddenly got dropped here with nothing but protein bars and water? (Yes, I was on a diet at the time.) It’s a l-o-n-g drive, so I had a lot of time to flesh out the idea.  My current WIP is this story.

2.   Develop the idea, Research/Develop the idea, Research:  I played with the stamps on cards, but nothing did my experience justice.  I decided to emboss the seahorse in many different colors and cut it out then attach it to a light blue card.  Better, but not that special.

Flesh out characters, develop a plot, do any necessary research.  And write a short synopsis, which I believe is always easier to do before you write the book.  Actually my two-page synopsis is the only plotting I do, so I start writing without knowing much more than an opening scene, a theme, and how the book will end.  I know a few of the scenes in the middle, but how everything will be connected, that happens in the actual writing.

3.  Bring in new ideas/Write and Talk to your Critique Group:  I thought of those seahorses and how they wrapped their tails around kelp, how the water in their tanks sparkled.  I bought some blue netting and green “hairy” yarn.  Attaching the netting to the card was messy and I didn’t like the results, so I let the project sit for awhile.  But then I bought some sparkly blue netting and pulled out my project bits and moved them around.  I punched a hole in the seahorse’s tail and poked the yarn through it.  Yes.

My main character morphed daily as I wrote the first chapters and revised them.  Her age, her height, her feistiness–all differed from the first version–but better in keeping with the theme, which became much more finely honed.  The secondary characters got fleshed out as I “discovered” their backstories.  Someone dies later rather than earlier.  Another person didn’t die, but moved.  I told the story to Laura, Jenny and Sharla and answered their questions.  (Their questions always help me figure out who my characters are and what they really want.) 

4.  Put it together. Again/Write. Revise: I attached the netting to the cardstock in various ways, then positioned the seahorse and yarn ends.  Once the seahorse and yarn looked right, I glued them down.  I tried different versions until I found the one I liked the best.

Write.  Do the seat time.  If a scene isn’t working, write it from a different characters point of view.  Just like a card shows your theme, make sure you show, don’t tell.  Keep writing. Finish the book.

5.  Production/Write and Edit:  Once I have THE card, I make several to give away.  Sometimes it’s a self-limiting thing, as in the case of the seahorse cards.  I really don’t like cutting out images, so I embossed a limited number of seahorses–only as many as I was willing to cut out.

Write.  Edit.  Write  Edit.  When you think you’re done, edit some more. 

5.  Give away/Sell what you created.  And prepare to accept kudos gracefully.

How is your creative process alike when you write versus when you create something else? How is is different?

Here’s the seahorse card.

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13 Responses to Making Cards-and Writing-Part 2: The Process of Creating Art

  1. Laura Drake says:

    Oh Fae, I’ve never seen that one! Must be special, because I don’t have one in my Fae stash (ahem!)

    Love how you tied all this to your book journey – I wouldn’t have thought of that, and it helps me to see the structural pieces, which I need. I’ll out myself in the Wed. blog – I suck at plotting.

    • Hey Laura, you proposed the throwdown on plot-driven (my method) vs character-driven. I’m working on my “back at ‘cha” for next Monday. And, looking into my crystal ball-and you know I have one-I’d say there is a seahorse card in your future.
      -Fae

  2. Carrie says:

    That is a beautiful card. I have inclinations to be crafty but my life always seems to get in the way…that and a 3yo who is hell bent on destroying anything I create. Sigh…

    • Hi Carrie,
      I would say that living with a three-year-old can be pretty creative at times.:) It won’t be long before you’ll be asked to get artsy with your child. Thanks for your comment.
      -Fae

  3. Jenny Hansen says:

    Gorgeous card, Fae! And one I don’t have either…hmmm, why is that?

    I loved seeing your process laid out like this. Thanks, Fae!

  4. Janel says:

    My favorite crafty outlet is beadwork. I swear I always do things the most difficult way first. There have been so many times when I’ve taken a step back and realized there is a much simpler way to do a stitch. I’m that way with my writing too. It all starts to shine and become clearer as I revise and edit.

    • Sometimes I think the planned out approach is highly over-rated, Janel. I do believe it’s all about the journey, but I do love finding ways to make things I do simpler. Isn’t the revision and editing process a bit like polishing furniture?
      -Fae

  5. Fae, I loved the way you use the analogy of the hand craft to the craft of writing. Being a crafter I am always in need to keep my hands busy. I find when the hands are busy the mind is at rest.

    Good post and great advise🙂

  6. Awesome! You and me should hang out some time.🙂 I’ll bring my colored pencils, scissor, and crayons…maybe a sharpener to have color shavings, too.🙂 Then, we could create cards together.

    • Sounds like a wonderful day! A few years ago I chained a couple of friends to my kitchen table and taught them how to make cards. Now they inspire me! Seeing other people’s creativity with the same “ingredients” makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. About those color shavings…
      -Fae

  7. Pingback: Invasion of the Bees–and a Writing Lesson | Writers In The Storm Blog

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