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O Christmas Tree Cards!

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Projects by Sharon M. Reinhart

As the carol says, it truly is "the most wonderful time of the year!" It is also true that there is still time to make beautiful cards to share with your nearest and dearest, and to reach out with random acts of kindness and brighten a stranger's day!

In this issue we will explore the different tools and techniques that may be used in order to make beautiful cards with trees as the focal point. From stamping to die cutting and even simple hand cutting, these techniques will help to bring your holiday cards to life!

The tradition of the Christmas tree as we know it is said to have first occurred in 16th century Germany. The tradition was brought to America in the 17th century, but only became accepted as a Christmas decoration throughout the Western world around 1850. Many legends and stories exist about the use of the Christmas tree. Today, it is often center stage in homes, city and town centers, and as a main attraction at various celebrations. So, it makes sense for us to give it a place of importance on our handmade cards as well!

There are probably as many variations of trees in the card-making world as in the real world -- possibly more! Creating cards with trees can be as simple as cutting or punching triangles from printed papers, or cutting a tree shape from a solid color of cardstock and adding accents and embellishments to decorate the tree. In Project 1 the simple hand-cut triangle tree is layered onto a pressure-embossed stripe panel. Beautiful foliage accents created with the use of a die template adorn the tree. The addition of the dimensional tea-bag-folded medallion truly brings this tree to life. The finishing touches of glitter borders and berries coordinate beautifully with the glittered brad in the center of the medallion and add just the right amount of glitz!

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To make the medallion, refer to Steps 8 through 11 in this issue's free project, The Season of Giving, to learn how to create the basic circle fold. From there, simply create a progression fold by folding the top curved layer back onto itself. Next, apply double-sided adhesive to the back of each piece along the right folded edge. Then slip the bottom layer of one folded circle between the top and bottom layers of another. Continue until all the circles have been adhered together.

Not only is it possible to fold paper into medallions, but there are also many tree designs which have been made using folding techniques. There is a delightful tea-bag-folded tree in the publication Tea Bag Folding Through the Seasons available for download at e-PatternsCentral.com. Just scroll through the photos to get a peek! While you are there be sure to check out Joyeux Noel -- a wonderful dimensional tree -- and the cool Quilled Christmas Tree. Both are downloadable projects and available for purchase. Another great resource is the Fabulous Paper Folds class with yours truly! I encourage you to take a look and, once you are there, scroll to the bottom in order to see the class photos. There are two tree designs: Joy to the World, a stamped and tea-bag-folded tree; and the Season's Greeting project, an iris-folded Christmas tree.

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Another quick method to create a tree is to use scallop circles of three ascending sizes. To start, punch or die-cut three circles of ascending size and cut in half. Fold the corners together at the back and assemble by stacking from smallest to largest.

If you wish to make some trees without folding, try stacking colorful strips of varied lengths of Washi tape, from smallest to largest. A similar look can be achieved by cutting strips of cardstock, or you can tie pieces of ribbon to a small twig or wooden skewer. Rolled paper stacked together is another variation that works very well and adds a bit more dimension.

Alternatively, different punched or stamped shapes assembled in the shape of a tree work wonderfully. Some great shapes to use are snowflakes, stars, hearts or even circles of different sizes. Lightly trace the shape of a tree with a pencil using a template or cookie cutter, and then fill in with your chosen shapes or even rhinestones or buttons. Remember to erase the traced line.

Stamp sets with coordinating die templates are a trend that seems to be here to stay, thankfully! Truly, this takes the "fussy" totally out of the cutting! Project 2 is a great example of this technique. Three tree shapes have been cut from cardstock and layered onto an embossed kraft panel. Three trees have been stamped and embossed with clear embossing powder and cut out, also using the die templates. To achieve further dimension, the stamped trees have been layered onto the solid-color trees with the very last tree attached using a dimensional adhesive such as foam mounting tape.

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Don't be too quick to throw out the negative shapes from Project 2. They are perfect for Project 3. This cute mini card has been created by layering the leftover panel (negative piece) onto a patterned cardstock mini card, and then it's finished with the addition of a die-cut word and mini adhesive rhinestone accents. This is the true meaning of the phrase one person's trash is another person's treasure!

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Our final project, Project 4, has also been created with the use of a die template; however, this one is a stacked, multilayered tree. The hand-cut snow bank has been pressure-embossed with dots and is the first to be attached to the card. Next, cut all of the layers for the tree at once and then simply stack from the bottom of the tree (largest piece) to the top of the tree. Add a die-cut sentiment and a few punched snowflakes and finish with some glitter-glue accents to replicate a frosty winter scene!

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As you can see, your options for creating cards with trees as the focal point are limitless. We have only just scratched the surface. I hope that you have been inspired to create and explore the many possibilities further!

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