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Instant Gratification Cards - Book Review

Busy paper crafters who are looking for a quick and easy way to make greeting cards by hand will love “Instant Gratification Cards” (Chronicle Books, 2000). This book by Carol Endler Sterbenz and Genevieve A. Sterbenz promises “fast and fabulous projects,” and it delivers – most of the time.

The book offers 38 projects grouped by occasion into chapters with titles like “Love”, “Home and Hearth”, “Work and Travel”. The projects can be finished in probably 15 minutes or so, hence the “instant gratification” tag.

The secret lies in the simplicity of the designs. Most of them consist of a small focal point (a graphic element, charm, or other embellishment on a background) mounted on a much larger card and finished with a length of ribbon. The results, quite surprisingly, are elegant. Photographer Julie Toy does such an excellent job of showcasing each card, well enough to inspire you to try your hand at making your own.

A few delightful projects stand out: a card that doubles as a paper lantern, which you wrap around a votive candle holder; a lavender sachet which you can slip into your linen closet; and a whimsical matchbox valentine.

The instructions for each project aren't individually illustrated, but are clear enough to understand. Any complicated steps are accompanied by diagrams to help you out. The list of materials for each card is also given, of course, and templates are provided for envelopes.

What’s missing, however, are individual sections on basic materials and resources. The authors simply mention in passing some of the tools and materials used in the book, and add that many of them are readily available at good craft stores. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some of the materials described in the Technical Glossary at the end of the book, which explains some of the techniques used. Also, a list of retailers carrying the supplies mentioned in the book would have been helpful. But as the projects are meant to inspire your own designs and not encourage exact copies, the materials can be easily substituted with whatever you may have on hand.

In general, this is a good resource for anyone looking to make decent-looking greeting cards in a jiffy. However, once you see the possibilities and master the basic formula (card + focal point + ribbon) you may no longer need the book. Borrow a copy or browse through one first before buying it, so you could decide whether or not you should add it to your library.

Note: I bought this book with my own funds, and it’s part of my personal library.

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