Featured Cardmaker: Carole Ann S, The Woodlands, TX

This week I am delighted to introduce you all to Carole Ann. She has some wonderful ideas and advice for successful group crafting for anyone contemplating getting a group together. Carol Ann doesn't have a blog so be sure to leave her some love at the end of this post.

How long have you been stamping? About 10 years

Do you have a craft room or specific area where you stamp/craft? I have a hobby room above my garage that can hold 6 six-foot tables. Originally the room was designed for scrapbooking with friends. Now, twice a month, I have friends over to make cards for OWH. One night, there were 17 of us making cards so the room is great for OWH events.

What are your favorite stamp/craft products? My personal favorite is Smooch (and as a collector, I needed to have all the colors)!  But, with the varied experience and ages of the volunteers that make the cards, I have to have both simple and more advanced cards at our card making sessions.

Do you have a favorite technique? I love to learn new techniques but some of them don't lend themselves to group efforts. I personally love using shaving cream to create 'marbled' backgrounds and baby wipes to create customized multi-colored 'inkpads'.  Both of these are a little messy for a roomful of volunteers.

Are there colors you love to include on your cards? Personally, I have to have (hah!) each color that Stampin Up has.  But, for OWH, I use each and every color of the donated stash. Because of the generous stash of donated papers and cardstock, I first select a patterned paper, then choose papers and cardstock that coordinate. Then I choose ribbons and other embellishments that work with the print.  Then, I try to figure out which of my stamps will work with the selected papers and needed themes to make a cute card. 

How did you hear about Operation Write Home? Up until about two years ago, I would invite 4-5 friends over once a month for a stamping night where we would each make cards for our own personal stash. At one of those 'Evening of Stamping' events, one lady mentioned stamping cards for OWH (then called, Cards for Heroes). I thought this was a fabulous idea because how many cards can I, my mother and two daughters really use. 

I contacted my friends who liked to stamp, told them about OWH, asked them if they were interested and the rest is history.  I knew that I was totally involved in this effort one Saturday when I was at a scrapbooking event for 120 women.  I took the stage, described our OWH effort, announced when our next card sessions were and told them that if they wanted to join us, the details were in the handout that I had distributed. On the way back to my table, I thought 'oh, my goodness, I just invited 120 women to come over to my house to make cards. What if they all show up?'  Luckily, they did not all show up at the same time!  But, between that announcement and continuing word of mouth, I have more than 72 participants in donating supplies, kitting cards and making cards. Not included in that number is about 10 junior-high girls who come and make cards about 3 times during the school year to fulfill their private-school philanthropic requirements.

I am a Creative Memories consultant and have asked my customers and friends that if they have scrapbook supplies that they are tired of looking at, they can donate the supplies to our OWH effort. I now have a continuously renewed stash of cardstock, printed papers and embellishments. One woman donated more than 300 cut and folded pieces of cardstock ready to be stamped and decorated. I have had former scrapbooking consultants and stamping demonstrators donate oodles of discontinued products.  One of the card makers likes to frequent resale shops and keeps me supplied with ribbons, buttons and other 'finds'!  The only items that I regularly need to purchase are specialty adhesives and jewels. 

Our OWH efforts has evolved into a very successful routine: As described above, I design up to 2 dozen cards each month making the most of donated papers and embellishments.  I then fill out a 'card specs form' listing sizes of each paper, ribbon length, ink colors, and which stamp set has the chosen stamp in it, and how many cards will be made with the kit. Then, I have a 'card kitting' event on a Friday night where volunteers cut all of the papers for 12-18 identical cards and place them, along with the card sample and embellishments needed, in a ziploc bag.  About a week later, the card makers arrive with their favorite adhesive and make the cards in as many kits as they have time for.  My 'bribe' to get them to attend the kitting and making sessions is pizza, salad and dessert!  We make between 250 and 300 cards a month! 

What motivates you to make cards for our heroes? My husband was in Special Forces in Vietnam.  He is nine years older than I am, so what I remember of that time was my college classmates worrying about their draft status. While getting to know my husband, I asked many questions including those about his time in the army.  After 25 years of marriage, I still remember him describing the atmosphere that he and his comrades encountered when they returned from Vietnam... it was not a supportive, proud time in America. While making cards for today's heroes cannot make up for the lack of support for the Vietnam heroes, I cannot think of a better way to show today's heroes and their families that they are in the thoughts and prayers of so many.

Unknown  – (June 3, 2011 at 4:54 AM)  

I love that pink card! "What if they all show up?" LOL! Special request for a tutorial on that shaving cream technique.

Donna Hanley  – (June 3, 2011 at 5:02 AM)  

Carole Anne, what a wonderful thing you do for our heroes, hosting all of those card parties. Each of your cards shown here today are beautiful. Your sentiment "you're never more than a thought away" is one on my all time favorites. I use it very often for OWH cards. It just seems so appropriate. Thank you for sharing your creations with us.

Linda  – (June 3, 2011 at 5:36 AM)  

Wow on your contributions to OWH. Thos partoes sound like aq lotta fun. Thanks for sharing you wonderful cards! With all those donations I bet you could stump Sandy!

AllisonG  – (June 3, 2011 at 5:39 AM)  

Carole Ann, thanks so much for sharing your cards and all your "techniques" for hosting cardmaking parties. One day I hope to be able to do the same - I just gotta find the people!

All of your cards are wonderful yet simple enough to kit! Thanks for sharing so much of what you do.

Velda  – (June 3, 2011 at 6:36 AM)  

Love your motivation story. My husband was also in Vietnam, but doesn't like to talk about the homecoming. Very bitter. You are doing a great job of keeping your friends motivated. I'm sure they are all becoming better cards makers because of you guidance. Thank you for sharing the lovely cards.

Ann  – (June 3, 2011 at 8:46 AM)  

You are one busy lady! Thanks for sharing your talent. I would love to see a how to on the shaving cream and baby wipe ideas. I haven't head of those before.

Ann K - Seattle

Julie  – (June 3, 2011 at 9:18 AM)  

Cute cards! And great job on organizing your friends to make OWH cards. I want to do something similar - thanks so much for the ideas!!

Sharon  – (June 3, 2011 at 9:34 AM)  

What a wonderful person you are to make such an effort to not onlyb make cards for OWH yourself but to encourage others with your parties! My hubby was drafted during Nam and it is so shameful the way our Nam Vets were treated by so many---thank goodnes today's military are treated with respect.
thanks for showing your beautiful cards. Tell your hubby I appreciate his service to our country!!!

Dolores A.  – (June 3, 2011 at 11:06 AM)  

Carol Ann, you are a perfect spokesperson for OWH to be sure. Bless you for all your efforts!

Your cards are great, but will have to CASE that pink/brown one as it is adorable.

Hope you'll consider sharing your techniques with us here as they sound intriguing, and we all like to try new things.

Lastly, have to ask you what is "Smooch" that you need all the colors? I've only been making cards for the past 2yrs. so this is still quite new to me and there's lots to learn.
Thanks for sharing all this with us.

Jacque  – (June 3, 2011 at 3:27 PM)  

Thank you and your husband for your service and dedication. You do so much and it is appreciated. I hope to be able to do group events in the future and you inspire me!

Anonymous –   – (June 3, 2011 at 3:34 PM)  

Your cards are great! Thabk you for insoiring and enabling so many more card makers. Pat K.

Paula S.  – (June 3, 2011 at 3:39 PM)  

These cards are all beautiful and though it is tough to pick a favorite the pink and brown combo gate fold is just stunning! I am truly inspired by your enthusiasm and dedication for OWH and so glad to have you as today's Featured Cardmaker. Thanks Carole Ann!

Sherry Hickey  – (June 3, 2011 at 4:15 PM)  

Hi Carole Ann, it was fascinating to read about how your card parties started and the process you follow to get read for them. I am in awe of your organizing skills and dedication! Your cards are beautiful and the pink & brown one is my favorite, if I were to choose! Keep up the good work!!!

Desert Rose Stamper  – (June 3, 2011 at 4:46 PM)  

Hello Carole Ann, Your cards are wonderful. You are amazing doing all the card parties and helping others get involed making cards for OWH. I too am married to a Vietnam Vet and he supports my efforts in making cards for OWH because of how he was treated when he returned from war and he wants our heroes to know they are respected and appreciated. Please let your husband know we are very thankful for his service too.

Anonymous –   – (June 3, 2011 at 5:05 PM)  

Carole Ann: Your story is inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Ronda Archangelo  – (June 3, 2011 at 5:08 PM)  

Love the brown and pink cards...it's so "neopolitan"!

Paper Therapy Ponderings  – (June 3, 2011 at 5:09 PM)  

what a wonderful organizer you are -all the parties and coordinated planning and donated supplies - fantastic job - love your cards.

Barb Housner

Sherry Varga –   – (June 3, 2011 at 5:19 PM)  

What a great story and what a talented lady you are. I wish you lived in my neighborhood so I could come to the card making parties!

Anonymous –   – (June 3, 2011 at 7:15 PM)  

Thank you so much ladies for your support and comments. It is a bittersweet week for me--being recognized here is fabulous. But, my 92-year old mother passed away late Wednesday. Quite a bit of my time over the last 5 years has been spent making her smile and making sure that she is comfortable. It is a blessing that she is with my dad and the angels now. So, your comments and the focus on our cards has been perfect!

When things settle, I will post more about the 'shaving cream' technique and using 'baby wipes'. I send my monthly stash of cards to Kris, so I am sure she has wondered if I 'fell off the turnip truck.'We were supposed to have a card making party tonight, but will have to make those cards at our next session. Two of my cardmakers who are teachers have had their students write Hero letters during their final week of school, so I will get those off next week!

Love to you all. Carole Ann

PCM  – (June 4, 2011 at 5:11 AM)  

What a fantastic idea. A wonderful use for discontinued materials as well. You have encouraged me to consider doing something like this - now that I have a craft room to work out of.

Carol L  – (June 4, 2011 at 9:57 AM)  

I salute you in your constant efforts to support our troops with a constant supply of hand-made cards! Your organizational skills simply amaze me and I wish I didn't live so far away, because I'd love to join you to make cards! You have some wonderful ideas and your cards are all great! Keep up the fantastic work!!

Kathy V. –   – (June 4, 2011 at 10:00 PM)  

So sorry to here about your loss Carole Ann.

Thank you for your wonderful story. You must be a very special lady. There's a special place for thoughtful, generous, caring people like you. Thank you for the inspiration. God bless.

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