Library Card Catalog Cards! & Vintage “Found Poem” Valentine…

DSC09230 simple attraction magnet library card card c

‘Tis the Season of Love… and I love some new adventures in the studio making greeting cards from altered vintage library card catalog cards!  Depending on the year of your birth, you may or may not wax nostalgic about those big, clunky, glorious card catalog files which used to be a fixture in every library.  Sighhh.  Swooon.

I’m always on the hunt for vintage items and ephemera to re-purpose into found poem art.  (Click here for a post about a workshop I led at Poetry Camp a few months ago if you’d like to see some details about the process.) When I stumbled into purchasing a big batch of catalog cards which used to live in an elementary school library, my heart skipped a beat.  While most of these don’t easily offer up a found poem possibility, some do!  (I’ll use the others in something else, I’m sure.)

I first tested this project with a Poem Postcard Exchange  with my Poetry Friday crowd over at my author blog. The exchange was organized by Jone MacCulloch, and I posted about the cards I received here and here.

I made five different cards to send out by 1.) “antiquing” the edges of thick Stonehenge paper with inks, 2.) carving and printing a “back” for the postcard:

IMG_6318 printmaking postcard back p
DSC09183 postcard back print p

3.) picking out phrases from the catalog cards to highlight as found text (the words covered up here by adhesive strips of sticky notes):


and 4.) painting glossy washes over the words, 5.) removing the sticky note strips, and 6.) adhering the cards to the front of the postcards. Oh – and I used this great little antique key to print its shape onto the cards.

I completely forgot to take a picture of any of the finished ones, so Jone kindly sent me a photo of the one I sent to her!

20170205_172612 my postcard i sent to jone 2017 her pic ADJ sm

Jone writes haiku, as I do, so I thought she’d enjoy the haiku-like vibe of this one.

I’ve made a few recent cards for family and friends, and employed this catalog card idea. Then I decided it would be fun to find one that might lend itself to being a Valentine, or at least a romantic card, above.  Here’s a closeup of the text:

DSC09240 simple attraction includes magnetism close up c

For fun, I attached a vintage library card pocket inside, and tucked in a blank vintage check-out card for a personal message:

inside magnetism card c

DSC09233 magnet valentine library card cThe illustration on this card was clipped from the February 1927 issue of Country Life.


I had time to make one more before leaving for the day:

LIFE a poem library card card c


This one reads:



a poem








It’s topped off with an illustration clipped from a McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader (1920).

And, yes, it’s hiding away a vintage blank check-out card in a vintage paper pocket, too:

DSC09187 life a poem with inside card c

These cards are made with Strathmore textured paper and come with matching envelopes.  At 5 X 7, they can be easily framed if desired. They’re in my Etsy shop, and I’ll be making more, for sure. :0)

Thanks for visiting, and wishing you love for Valentine’s Day and all days!

A Birthday Gift and a Doggie Detour in Acrylic…


Today is my daughter’s birthday, which prompted a fun artistic detour for me last week. It all started with a wedding gift she and her hubby received last summer from my dear friend and exquisite painter, Ann Goble. Ann surprised them with a gorgeous 12X12 oil painting of their beloved dog, Cooper. They treasure it!

13315807_10153879692813089_1858535773711045778_n morgan cooper and ann goble painting crop

painting ©Ann Goble.

Well, they decided their fur-baby needed a companion, and spunky four-month-old lab Maggie joined their family a few weeks later. She’s grown into a beautiful nearly-full-grown dog.  maggie 15747548_10154472617073089_4612668225072901288_n crop ps

I thought she needed her own portrait!  I bought the only 12X12 cradled canvas in stock at my local art supply store, and rummaged through my studio for tubes of acrylic paint.  (Ann’s painting is in rich oils, but I was working with available time and supplies. No way I could replicate her work anyway, but I was aiming for something along the lines of complementary.)

In recent years I’ve been swimming around in mixed media, collage, printmaking, and lettering, but I must admit it was fun to tackle a straight painting.  Hmm… Would it be like riding a bicycle?

Yes – at least it felt that way!  First I filled a couple of sketchbook pages with rough sketches and gesture drawings from a few photographs. (The one above became my primary reference photo.)  I remembered old tricks such as making a drawing upside-down, just focusing on shapes and lines.  (Remember Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain?) I also made a loose grid to guide my composition – folding a copy of my reference picture into 16 squares, and adjusting my drawing on paper accordingly if my rendering seemed too far off in one section or another.

Then I rubbed the back with charcoal and placed my sketch on the canvas, going over the lines again with a pencil to transfer them to the paint surface.  Now it was painting time!

So much fun making a messy mix of colors!

So much fun making a messy mix of colors….

Here’s a rough progression:

IMG_6320 maggie start c

IMG_6321 in process c


IMG_6326 final maggie c

Ant then the best part, giving it to Morgan:

IMG_6371 robyn and m organ and maggie painting crop p

If it makes them smile, that’s success enough for me for this little artistic side trip.

And, really, any creative project that gets our right-brain synapses firing helps nurture other creative projects, too, don’t you think?

Happy New Artsy Year!!



Greetings from the New Year side of the holidays!  Thanks to all my wonderful customers who’ve filled a stocking or two with artsyletters wares in recent years. It’s an honor to be a part of gift-giving traditions.

I look forward to creating all kinds of new items this year, and more of the offerings which need restocking.  My studio is my happy place. :0)  I’ll resume more “open” hours in February here in Beaufort on Bay Street (this month I’m hibernating with multiple creative writing projects and traveling some, too).  In the meantime, my Etsy shop is open 24-7.

Wishing you and yours an inspiring and creative 2017!

Ho Ho Ho – Studio/Shop Hours This Week



If you’re enjoying shopping in downtown Beaufort this week, stop in and say hello! I’ll be open Wed. through Friday afternoons from 1-4 pm, and possibly Christmas Eve too.  811 Bay Street #3.  Look for my sandwich board sign on the sidewalk. If it’s out, come on up. (If you don’t see it, save yourself the climb – ;0) ).


A Peek at Micro Found Poem Christmas Ornaments…


Click here for this listing in my Etsy shop.

Click here for this listing in my Etsy shop.

Some weeks there’s some cross-pollination between my writing blog and my art blog.  Today for Poetry Friday, I featured a Christmas poem by George Cooper from the December 26, 1896 edition of GOLDEN DAYS for Boys and Girls published in Philadelphia by James Elverson. This is the newsprint magazine that yielded those mini-ornament found poems I featured on my author blog a couple of weeks ago. (And promptly sold in my Etsy shop to my online poetry friends!)

I found one more teeny frame in my studio this week. I’m certain this is the last one (would love to come across more either online or in a thrift store!) . This one was missing its wee bit of hardware, but I improvised.

Here is the highlighted text:


is contagious,

be merry

For this one day,
be merry with heart


and here are a couple of pictures of the ornament-in-progress.





For a slightly more detailed “how-to” with actual words, click here for my account of making a small batch of these year before last.

Whatever your faith tradition, I hope you FIND much to be merry about this holiday season!

FREE SHIPPING through Cyber Monday! And Open for Small Business Saturday…

dsc07122-shop-small-bus-sat-2016-cGreetings, Black Friday through Cyber Monday Shoppers!

1.) Etsy shopper, or would you like to be? To celebrate Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday, my shop is offering FREE SHIPPING on orders of $10 or more (domestic only) for the whole weekend. Simply enter Coupon Code SLEIGHRIDE when you check out.  I’ll get the reindeer ready; enjoy shopping!

2.) Local? Loving life in the Lowcountry? I’ve just officially joined the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce (Woo-hoo!) and look forward to celebrating SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY  with an open studio from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 811 Bay Street, Suite # 3 – above Modern Jewelers. Head up the stairs and to the right! Special activities downtown will help inspire your holiday hunting.

At this time of year, I’m sincerely thankful to my wonderful customers & friends for your patronage and encouragement.  You inspire me and keep me wishing I had even more hours in the studio to create, create, create!

Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!



Greetings, artsy shoppers!

Here’s a little help for your gift list:

1.) Etsy shopper, or would you like to be? To celebrate Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday, my shop is offering FREE SHIPPING on orders of $10 or more (domestic only) for the whole weekend. Simply enter Coupon Code SLEIGHRIDE when you check out.  I’ll get the reindeer ready; enjoy shopping!

2.) Local? Loving life in the Lowcountry? I’ve just officially joined the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce (Woo-hoo!) and look forward to celebrating SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY  with an open studio from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 811 Bay Street, Suite # 3 – above Modern Jewelers. Head up the stairs and to the right! Special activities downtown will help inspire your holiday hunting.

At this time of year, I’m sincerely thankful to my wonderful customers & friends for your patronage and encouragement.  You inspire me and keep me wishing I had even more hours in the studio to create, create, create!

Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!



Happy Holidays!  

Any readers, writers, poets or dreamers on your gift list? Feel free to browse my “literary gifts with a vintage vibe” – all created by me!  Click HERE to zoom over to my Etsy shop.


What I’ve Been Up To… Sharing Handmade Wedding Touches

Greetings, Friends!

Thanks for coming by.  I didn’t really fall off the planet in recent months, but much of my creative energy was funneled into MOB (“Mother of the Bride”) endeavors. While not directly artsyletters-related, maybe you’ll enjoy a peek behind the wedding-planning curtain into some handmade touches crafted for the Big Day.

[For REAL wedding photos, you might enjoy photographer Sabrina Fields’s blog post about Morgan and Matt’s wedding, which highlights the happy couple, bridal party, and main events of the day.]

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Sabrina Fields Photography (my crop)

THE BIG DETAILS: Planning started literally the morning after they got engaged – about 10 months from the wedding date.  We snagged Greenville, SC venues (Daniel Chapel at Furman University and The Commerce Club) and began lining up special vendors – flowers, DJ, cake, and the like.  Because it was out of town (Morgan remained in Greenville for two years after college but just moved to Georgia this month), we also reserved a large room block at The Hyatt Regency downtown.  That happens to be where my hubby and I, as Furman students, had our very first date in the hotel restaurant!

Back to the wedding. “The dress” was found Halloween weekend in Charlotte (it takes months for wedding dresses to come in, and a few weeks should be allowed for alterations), with bridesmaids dresses ordered and tuxes picked out soon thereafter.

Then the FUN, SMALLER parts! First, we pretty much had a theme and color scheme handed to us – when the bride’s last name is Black and the groom’s last name is Whyte, the direction is obvious! So, black and white and silver and gray it was, with dashes of fresh color in the gorgeous flowers by Dahlia.

Here are a few examples of things we did ourselves, for your amusement or inspiration.

While we ordered wedding stationery in a pattern of silvery-gray lace from Wedding Paper Divas (to complement the beautiful lace of Morgan’s Kenneth Winston dress from NY Bride and Groom), I was determined to brush up on Copperplate calligraphy and hand address each envelope.  I hadn’t attempted pointed pen calligraphy since those Furman days in art class…. I thought this would take a few days.  It took longer.

photo 3 (4) calligraphy practice

callig practice p

First I had to freshen up supplies, thanks to John Neal Bookseller, and drag out my old resources and references and purchase more.  I finally learned how to use an oblique pen holder!  Copperplate lettering requires a different, and much slower, approach than broad-nib calligraphy – and a pressure/release technique that’s a little tricky. Don’t look too closely at the chicken-scratch above; initial efforts were NOT pretty.

Finally the calendar dictated that I get those 125 envelopes (outer and inner!) addressed, ready or not.  I can’t believe I don’t have pictures of how they took over our dining room and spilled onto living room shelves; I accidentally deleted a couple I snapped on my phone.  But a few recipients were kind enough to send texts with nice notes and photos when their invitations arrived in the mail – here’s a sampling of those envelopes.

Far from perfect, but fun to do and sent with love.  Oh – see the extra stamp required on each envelope up there? Just .1 ounce (POINT 1!) above one ounce, with the RSVP inserts and such, so each envelope required an extra stamp.  I wanted a wedding-friendly image in addition to the custom postage we’d ordered, so another first-class stamp it was.

While in a calligraphy vein, I also wanted to add a wee flourish to the ceremony programs with an “M & M” decoration, since we were employing the letters here and there. We had looked at ordering matching programs from Wedding Paper Divas, but the cost was beyond the budget we’d already exceeded for all of that fancy paper.  My hometown printer here in Beaufort, Murr Printing, saved the day with a simple folded program on a lovely light gray linen cardstock.  For the ornamentation, once again, practice:

decorative initial practice p

then the final result – nowhere near perfect, but a scroll-y, curlicue touch:

Because most attendees were traveling, we made up welcome/goodie bags (one per room) to be handed to our folks at check-in.  I ordered bulk quantities of designs that I could also use for my shop! (These came from Store Supply Warehouse.)

bags on bed p

Each featured a circle tag from Wedding Paper Divas attached with a silver ribbon. tag from wedding paper divas pInside were:  A printed weekend itinerary (with a couple of more inclusive get-together options beyond wedding party events), a map, a new colorful guide to Greenville, a guide to the Swamp Rabbit Trail for those needing a fitness break, chamomile tea, some festive napkins, a little bag of silver Hershey Kisses & Hugs, and – of course – another bag with those yummy bakery black and white cookies, plus a few Keebler Danish Wedding Cookies thrown in for good measure.goodie bag contents wedding welcome c

cookies wedding c

The most special thing I made for the wedding were earrings for the bridesmaids.  Morgan and I had been looking at options on Etsy (where her lovely earrings came from – who could resist a shop with a name like Poetry Bridal?), but couldn’t find exactly what she wanted.  When I realized she was drawn to simple designs – no stone setting or metalsmithing! – I knew I wanted to have a go.  I love each one of those lovely young women who stood with Morgan and wanted to give them a little gift myself.

I’d found the Avon necklace I wore at my own wedding, um, 32 years ago. The gold-tone was definitely more tone than gold, and the iridescence uneven on the little pearl beads. But I knew I could use those small beads in earrings. I found some lovely 1940s Japanese glass beads (also “cheap” but with such a pretty patina) from another Etsy shop, House of Twinkle. Perfect color to complement the dove gray dresses. DSC02280 robyn necklace wedding and glass beads pThen it was time to experiment, trying a couple of different styles of rondelle beads from The Paris Carousel, adding a tiny 100-year-old steel bead from ohmymilky to each, and dangling all from findings from UnkamenSupplies. (Yep – all Etsy.)

DSC02286 earring construction zone p

DSC02293 trying out earring options 2 p

Here’s how they turned out:

bridesmaids earrings c(I made Morgan and myself a pair too, just for fun!)

bridsemaids earrings bunch p r c

Sabrina Fields

Sabrina Fields

I certainly come by my “maker” tendencies naturally.  My mother, Nita, made Morgan’s garters (one to keep and one to throw).  For the keepsake one, she used a little snip of lace from my wedding dress (taken unobtrusively) – a dress that SHE had made ME all those years ago.  For Morgan, she even made a couple of sets to choose from:

photo (31) garters p

Morgan-Matt_SabrinaFaves-106 garter p

Sabrina Fields

Speaking of lace, I wanted to incorporate it somehow into the seating chart for the reception.  Be forewarned – making a seating chart (even if just to assign table numbers as we did) is not for the faint of heart!  It’s like putting together a big puzzle, assuring that guests will at least have someone they know at their table.  :0)

After figuring out all those rounds of ten, the fun can begin.  I started with a 20 X 30 framed magnetic board from our local T.J. Maxx. I covered the canvas surface with black lace fabric I ordered on eBay from paylessfabric, tucking and gluing the edges inside the frame. Also on eBay, I found some great paper doilies from Sea Starr Emporium. I grabbed some metallic silver cardstock from my studio and with my new favorite tool, an EK circle cutter,  cut out circles slightly smaller than the doilies.  Are you still with me?  I printed off the names for each table on good white paper and cut circles of these as well (slightly smaller than the silver circles), experimenting…seating chart in progress p

magnets for seating chart p


At the top, I used a rectangle for the bridal party’s head table, playing with layers of doilies behind that and accenting with a cut out lace design from an extra wedding invitation.

In a final burst of overkill, I covered magnets with lace designs from the invitation, too – another excuse to play with the circle-cutter. I glued the layers of the circle together, then used a magnet to hold each “table” to the board.

Here’s how it turned out:

Morgan-Matt_SabrinaFaves-232 seating chart crop p

Sabrina Fields Photography

photo 1 (3)

Morgan-Matt_SabrinaFaves-236 seating chart detail p

Sabrina Fields Photography


[And the bride and groom get some fun refrigerator magnets to remind them of their celebration.]

For good measure, I also printed out the names for each table and put them in small frames.  First names only – to encourage conversation, and so they’d fit!

These were placed with the round table numbers (ordered on eBay from Green Ridge Designs, along with tiny stands) – see below.  I ordered two sets so the numbers would be visible from each side.
small framed table names p

Sabrina Fields Photography

Sabrina Fields Photography

Morgan also made a darling sign with their “hashtag” – one of several new wedding norms that didn’t exist back when I got married!morgan black to whyte sign p

Also, in addition to a traditional guestbook, Morgan and Matt bought a new bible and set it our for guests to highlight their favorite verse and sign.  We supplied small not-too-sticky sticky notes for them to mark the spot so they could be found later.

One last note about reception decor – For each table, I framed a 5 X 7-ish picture of Morgan and Matt through the years.  (These went back to eighth grade, though the two didn’t really stick as a couple until their senior year of high school!) And for the head table, these found treasures from the past, placed in T.J. Maxx frames, marked their seats:

little matt and morgan frames p

These days, couples often make their grand exit through sparklers (rather than bird seed, or, in the even older days, rice.) We found good ones at a good price from Wedding Sparklers Outlet.  (I ordered the 20-inch sparklers rather than the 30-inch, after another recent family wedding involved 30-inch sparklers and quite a little light show as the bride and groom made their escape exit…)

And one more wedding vendor – I don’t yet have pictures of it in action, but to keep our swanky affair grounded, we arranged a surprise gift for the bride and groom in the form of a custom monogrammed cornhole set!  Etsy sellers Zubky added some floor-protection to the bottom, and the Commerce Club staff kindly set it up in the bar area.  It was a hit with the younger guests, for sure, and we hope will foster fun for years to come.

Finally – favors!  We offered a couple.  Morgan found some great Koozies from Rook Design Co. on Etsy: kooziesYes – members of our immediate and extended family can quote every line of “The Princess Bride” movie.

And, because we HAD to…m and ms hearts p

Black and white M&Ms!  Kind of pricey but we had no choice. (At least we didn’t need any custom printing – the M’s were just right.)  I drafted hubby Jeff and son Seth to help with the assembly.  jeff m & msseth m & msm and ms in process p

The plastic hearts (perfect to hold a couple dozen candies) came from Papermart. I also ordered some of their ribbon and was pleased with the quality!

M & Ms and program p We hope everyone, the bride and groom most of all, left with full hearts.  (Sorry – couldn’t help myself.)

When we get family pictures back, I’ll follow up with a much shorter peek into how I used some vintage Etsy finds to decorate myself for the big day.

And I promise to post more artsyletters art soon, now that the flower petals have settled and I can get back into the studio…

Happy July!  And if you’re planning a wedding, best wishes!