Over the last two weeks, my discovery that I have an...ahem...issue with hoarding greeting cards has been weighing heavily on my mind. Even though I weeded through the stacks, dramatically reducing the volume by keeping only my favorites or those with sentimental messages, I still didn't feel that was good enough. What I wanted to do was find a creative way to use a handful of the cards to create a unique piece of holiday decor.
One reader shared a project of how she created a flag bunting using cards of Christmases past. The idea was darling, but I wanted to put my own spin on it. GIven the approaching Valentine's Day holiday, I thought, why don't I take old Valentine's and anniversary cards to create a string of hearts that I could use as mantle decor? After going through my collection (collection is a much nicer word than hoard, don't you think?), my plans were cemented.
I grabbed my trusty craft supplies -- in this case a hot glue gun and my stash of decorative ribbon -- and was well on my way.
I limited my color palette to the more traditional choices of red, white, pink, and purple, with a hint of orange thrown in. I wanted to not only vary the color in the chain, but I wanted to vary the size and shape of the hearts for visual interest.
First I made several heart shaped templates, using a pre-cut heart shaped card from Paper Source and a couple freehand hearts as my guide.
Depending on the greeting card's design, I selected the template that would capture the area of the card I wanted to feature. In the case of the card below, I used the small heart as my template.
This left me with perfectly framed kissing porcupines, which I easily cut out with scissors.
I repeated the process over and over again until I was satisfied with the volume and variation in design and color of the hearts.
After cutting out the hearts I laid them out, moving them around until I decided on their order. I kept both the color of the heart as well as the size in mind, in order to create a balanced look.
After choosing a pink ribbon from my supply, I cut a length roughly four feet longer than the heart chain. This extra length gave me the flexibility to tie loops on either side, as well as add to the chain in future years if so desired. In order to figure out the specific length of ribbon we needed we actually held the ribbon on either side of the mantel and allowed it to hang to the height we wanted in the middle. This gave us the specific length necessary to achieve the optimal look.
Next, upon Alex's sage advice, I lined the dining room table with a piece of cardboard to prevent any hot glue mishaps. (I don't know about you, but I never have any glue accidents when using a hot glue gun! Not.) In addition to protecting my work surface, a happy accident that occurred by using the cardboard. One of the creases in the cardboard gave me a nice straight edge from which I could align the top of my hearts and ensure a consistent layout.
At this point I was nearing the finish line in my little project. I applied three dabs of hot glue to the back of each card, just under the heart's...umm...cleavage? Is there a word for the dip at the top of a heart that isn't cleavage?
Since we're talking about the hot glue step of this project, I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you to take caution when using a screaming hot glue gun. It's not difficult to burn your arm, finger, and hand, as well as apply glue to your work surface and ribbed black sweater. I'm speaking in hypothetical terms, of course because that.never.happened.to.me.at.all.
Allow a few moments for the glue to set and then tie a simple loop at either end of the chain.
Here's a look at the full chain of hearts, just before hanging it on our dining room mantel. Isn't it sweet?
In our case, we use self release hooks to temporarily secure seasonal decor. These hooks are great and you can barely even see them supporting our work.
I quickly looped an end over each hook, and voila, my festive and sentimental touch for Valentine's Day was complete.
In all, the project took under an hour and cost nothing because I had the ribbon, glue, and cards already on hand. However, the best part has to be the satisfaction in displaying a handful of my favorite greeting cards, rather than leave them to their slumber inside the dining room buffet. Now I won't feel like a hoarder when I fold this up and tuck it away until next year.
Do you incorporate touches of festive decor into your home for Valentine's Day? Do you have a way to display or organize sentimental items in your home, be it a shadow box, an album, or some other creative way? I still have a big stack of birthday, Christmas, and other miscellaneous cards that are calling out to me. I think I'm just getting started.
Interested in more Valentine's Day ideas? Check out our Valentines Project page.