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Playing with Paper

Using my applique and embroidery patterns to make collage cards

Today my daughter is about halfway through her 3-week stay at camp. THREE WEEKS! She’s never been gone more than a week before! And those previous trips were to stay with family. I miss her – but I know she’s having a great time. I knew she would love it the second we set foot on the grounds – and every one of her letters confirms what a terrific time she’s having. Her last letter began with “I am so homesick” and then went on to detail everything she loves about camp. She loves the food – especially the bread (there’s fresh-baked bread every day). She quoted songs she’s learning. She’s gone swimming almost every day. She loves skits. Her tent mate loves the book of scary stories she brought with her and could I please send the other one in the series?

I don’t think she’s actually homesick. I think she’s trying on the idea of homesickness. And that’s okay. I want her to be happy to be there – and then happy to come home when that time is over.

The letters have, of course, been going both ways. We came home the other night to TWO bats in the house, so that gave me lots of exciting news to tell her.

I’ve been using some of her favorite patterns to make the cards I send to her – and I thought I’d share those with you today.

sly cat

This one is made from the Sly Cat embroidery pattern – shrunk down a bit to fit on a card.

anywhere bear

This one is made from a bear applique pattern. I had to shrink this one down a bit to fit on a card – but that’s easy to do with a copy machine or computer.

pink rainbow girl 1000 px

This one I had to enlarge just a bit to be a good card size. It’s one of the girls from the Rainbow Girls embroidery pattern.

I love making collage pictures like this. I have an enormous collection of paper that I’ve painted with various textures and it’s really easy to use the embroidery or applique patterns as a guide. I tape the pattern up in a window, then hold my painted paper over it and trace the shape I want to cut out. Cut it out with a pair of scissors or an exacto knife and glue it down with a glue stick. Easy peasy. I draw the faces (or other fine lines) with a fine-point Sharpie. If you want to stitch lines on this paper – this video will show you how.

If any of you have experimented with other ways to use the embroidery or applique patterns, I’d love to see them!

Hope you all are having a great week!



  1. Sarah SAYS...

    Wendi- any advice for painting paper? Like what kind of paper and paint, what do you use for texture and how do you store it? Thanks!

    • That’s a big question. 🙂 I used to assist in the classroom with an artist friend who taught this and she was very particular about the materials she used. (She was teaching how to paint papers that would then be used in bookbinding projects, so she wanted the results to be super durable.) For the paper we used high-quality construction paper. We dipped each sheet quickly in water, then smoothed it onto a table with a damp sponge that soaked up any excess water. The water made it cling to the table so it wouldn’t shift around while we worked, and painting on damp paper was dreamy. 🙂 For the paint we made a cooked paste with rice flour, and then mixed in high-quality acrylic paint. The paint was really deeply pigmented – it had to be scooped out of the jar with a spoon – so it could stand up to being “diluted” in the paste. The more watery acrylic paints you buy in the little squeeze bottles woulnd’t work well. Mixing the paint with the paste is what made it (and the paper) strong enough to be pages in or covers of a book. The texture of the paste was really lovely to paint with. You can use brushes or your hands, and she had all kinds of other tools you could use to play with. My favorite technique is to dollop a couple of spoonfulls of the paste/paint mixture (usually two related colors) and then brush or smear with my hands to cover the paper completely while leaving the colors partially unmixed – then comb through the surface to remove some of the paint. I love using combs to pulls off stripes where you can see through to the paper. When you’re happy with the sheet – pull it off the table and lay it on a window screen to dry. Before I use them I like to iron them with a dry iron to make them nice and flat. I store mine (I have stacks and stacks) in a drawer.