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Telling Your Love Story with Paper, Glitter, and Glue

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Who needs to spend money on store-bought Valentines when you can make your own for next to nothing and say what’s really in your heart? Try these designs for yourself or with your children.

I heart you

You can’t go wrong with hearts, whether you cut them from paper, felt, or fabric. For a symmetrical heart, fold paper in half and cut with the fold line running vertical. To make a chain of hearts, fold a wide piece of paper numerous times in alternating directions, the same way you’d make paper dolls. For clever heart-shaped outlines, turn a cookie cutter into a stamp, with ink, paint, or a mixture of glitter and glue applied with a cotton swab or inexpensive paintbrush.

DIY confetti

Make your confetti card out of thick paper and homemade confetti. First, fold the paper in half or in quarters, and use white glue to create the outline of a shape, such as a heart, on the front. Then, create the confetti with sequins or the byproducts of a hole punch (or invest in an inexpensive heart-shaped punch from a craft store). Finally, sprinkle the make-your-own confetti on the wet glue, let it dry, and then tap the sheet to dislodge the loose pieces.

Make it punny

To crank up the sophisticated humor on an otherwise traditional, sentimental occasion, express your feelings with a clever pun, and pair the message with a visual. Combine a picture of a light bulb with a “You light up my life” headline, or “I’m stuck on you” with an image of a bottle of glue. Depending on the style of card you want to create, use images cut from catalogs and sale flyers, draw your own, or print royalty-free pictures.

One potato

What do you get when you add paper, ink, and a potato together? Potato prints. You may not have made potato stamps since your childhood, but now’s a great time to recapture the technique. Cut a russet potato in half along its short dimension, and—carefully—use a pocketknife to cut away the outer edges of a Valentine shape such as a heart. Ink your stamp, decorate your card, and let it dry thoroughly before you put it in an envelope.

Handy cards

A hand shape makes a clever background for other graphics, and adds a truly personal touch. Fold paper in half and place your hand on top of the sheet, with the fold line at your wrist. Trace around your hand and cut out both layers of the card around the outline, leaving the fold line intact. (Use a soft-lead pencil and erase after you cut.) Superimpose a cutout heart shape on the “palm,” and add your message—”You’ve got my heart in your hand” works well—inside.

Tree of love

This design lends itself to any combination of pasted-on cutouts and painting. Either paint a tree with branches on the cover of your card, or attach a cutout shape. Adorn your tree with glued-on cutout hearts.

Windowed strips and ribbons

Make good use of leftover scraps of paper or ribbon. Begin with a letter-sized sheet of paper that you fold in quarters. With the last fold line on the left edge of the cover, lightly draw a shape in pencil and cut it out. (To start your cut, pierce the middle of the traced shape with scissor points or a knife.) On the card panel that shows through the window you cut, glue on narrow, decorative horizontal strips of paper or ribbon. Once you’ve attached all your decorations, glue the card together at its open edges. Write your message on the outside, inside, or both.

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