Saturday, December 17, 2011


The following is Leah's* comment on a previous post. I've brought it forward here so that I could show a few images of her homemade Christmas cards. I'm sorry for the strange configuration. If you've ever worked with Blogger, you understand.

Leah wrote: "Here's the story of my Christmas cards. I began making our cards by hand in 1961. We had money for the stamps (4cents) but not cards. So I wrote a poem of 8 stanzas about Christmas at our house. I was a stay-at-home mom and on my portable typewriter, I typed the poem on 67 pieces of paper, 8½ x 11, folded in half. Then I folded the "card" in half again. On half of the folded paper, I made a tree and candle out of letters typed into these shapes. Before computers (and clip art), we made designs in a more creative way.

"Sending cards that I made by hand began again in the mid 60's. I cut out little pieces, pasted them on a background shaped like a snowman, angel, crown, tree or gingerbread man. It was much more expensive than buying cards and the time involved was enormous. But I loved it and so did our friends & family. These folk art cards ended up on people's trees year after year and I realized that I made a bright spot in people's lives for a brief moment. My son just loved them. Not so, my husband. Our kitchen table was covered with my project pieces for weeks before Christmas as I cut out and assembled them. Felt, sequins, pipe cleaners and ribbon were everywhere. I would send 100 cards each year during this time period.   

"When I stopped (after the gingerbread man's buttons stuck to the envelopes), my son was heartbroken. He was 17 at the time. He begged me to keep doing it. "No one makes handmade cards. They are so special" he pleaded. But I was just plain tired of the hard work & knew that my heart wasn't in it any longer.

"I told Brian that even though I don't make hand crafted cards today, they are still uniquely my own creation. I found a place on the internet that allows me to choose my own greeting. Then I add a special message at the bottom (which they print on the card). Their selection of cards is outstanding, although very expensive.

"I now send 75 cards each year and receive around 40 to 45. I am not disappointed that I don't receive as many cards as I send (although I love getting cards). Some people just don't send cards and that's okay. I send my Christmas cards as a gift to each person. It is to warm people's hearts and remind them that I think of them."

A great point of view on the card exchange, I think. KW

*Leah's mother's half-sister was my dad's cousin. We aren't really related by blood but our paths crossed as we researched family history.


Leah said...

Kathy: Glad you enjoyed my card story. The ones that you chose to show aren't a surprise since they used sewing notions. The "berries" on the wreath (from 1967) were made on my Singer Sewing machine with a cam that made the design. The tree was my favorite because it was simple, yet elegant with velvet ribbon & angel sequin.

Time isn't kind to glue. The poor little angel collage looked better in 1966.

I learned quickly that I didn't have the "sewing gene". The wreaths were the best thing I ever made with my machine.

Kathy said...

I actually tried to upload quite a few of your images to Blogger. I really wanted the poem, since I think it was a significant labor of love to type so many of those. But formatting wasn't easy and in the end it was what it was, as they say.

The image I really wanted was the gingerbread man, since his butt stuck to the envelope.

I remember making little accessories for my dolls with felt and sequins. Your project also reminded me of things my mother did, most notably the holiday coat corsages she made.

Hallie said...

I'm especially impressed by the typewriter art (the tree and candle) and that the font is in red. I guess it didn't occur to me that you could get red ribbon for the typewriter.

Very nicely done, all of it!

Hallie said...

I made a slide show so that more images could be shared. :)

Kathy said...

One of the things I love about retro posts -- that someone asks about little mundane facts we all took forgranted, like typewriter ribbons that were half red and half black. You used red by locking the ribbon in place on the lower half. You could buy ribbons that were all black if you didn't need red. Then when one half was used up, you could use the other half. Perhaps you could buy ribbons that were just red, I don't know. And I don't remember that the word "font" was part of the general vocabulary either, though I'm sure printers used the term. (I could be wrong on some of this info.)

Kathy said...

Wow! I didn't know you could do that. You can see my downloads? What else do you know??? Anyway -- it's great!

Hallie said...

There were a couple that were in Picasa that didn't make the blog and then I added 3 more that Leah shared with me. The slideshow doesn't appear on the iPad, so it must not be compatible with mobile devices. I can show you how to do it when I'm there. It could definitely have its uses.

Leah said...

Kathy: It was the gingerbread man's buttons that stuck to the envelopes, not his behind. You can see in my sample how faint the "buttons" are. I used real icing from tubes and didn't test it to see if it would harden. I had to scrape the icing off to keep the one for me.

You explained the black & red ribbon very well. That's exactly what I had. And, you're right, we didn't use the word "font" back in the 60's.

Thanks for the slide show, Hallie. I remember people making elaborate pictures made with letters like my tree & candle. Today, you just insert photos into your message.

Kathy said...

Oh! LOL! I misread about the gingerbread man's buttons. Tired, I guess. Makes more sense now.

Back in the '80s I took on the job of secretary for my church, and my mother bought an electric typewriter for me from Great Western. That was before we had a computer. The typewriter had some memory capacity and I thought it was great. I remember a friend explaining to me that once we had a computer, I would never type again. I couldn't imagine that.

Leah said...

Another thing about my old typewriter...It was a manual (not electric). Nothing was typed quickly with a manual. We haven't stopped typing in today's world, Kathy.

What I think is interesting is that many people never took typing classes in HS. The method taught, "touch typing," doesn't require looking at the keyboard, as we all know. It becomes a dance between your brain and your fingers.

I volunteer in our Village Computer Workshop one day a week and see people (mostly men) struggling to type something "hunt & peck" style. They are amazed that I type so fast. What I don't tell them is that after 2 years of HS typing classes, I barely passed. Typing for decades gave me the ability to type as quickly as I do today.

Chris said...

Wonderful cards, Leah!

Typing class. Ahh, typing class, with one electric typewriter which scared all of us to death. :-)

Leah said...

Thanks Chris. My simple craft work pales compared to your talents.

When you think of crafts that anyone would try (meaning me) in the 40's 50's or 60's, it describes the era. We learned to make decorations, cards or toys from our parents. I didn't have the knitting or crocheting gene, but give me some paper & glue & I was off and running! If I still did crafts today, I'd have a glue gun, though. Does anyone remember flour paste?

We didn't have TV and entertained ourselves (mostly outdoors). A bygone era and I'm a dinosaur from that time.

I guess I could be considered "The Little Engine That Could" in regard to typing. I kept trying and trying and lo and behold, over 50 years later, I'm a great typist!

Kathy said...

Chris -- I had to laugh about the electric typewriter in the typing lab. It would buzz intermittently, and when it did, our very stern teacher would yell, "Turn it off! Turn it off!" I wanted nothing to do with it.

We learned a lot in typing class, though. It was a four semester class wherein we worked for speed and were taught the importance of perfection in business letters, reports, etc. When my children took keyboarding, it was a 9-weeks class that dealt only with keyboarding.

That typing class set me in good stead for the rest of my working career. I began as a typist operating automatic typewriters, IMB's MTST and one called Redactron. And I ended as a secretary for the State of Idaho.