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Pocket Page Fun With Card-Making Supplies!

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As card makers we often embark on creating a variety of projects that may go in a different path than cards, but still make use of our go-to card-making supplies. Some of these projects may include party decor and favors, mini albums, wall decor, gift packaging, scrapbooking/memory crafting and working on our day planners. In this issue we will touch on a couple more areas that make use of a plastic page protector as the foundation of the project.

Yes, pocket pages or page protectors come in a ton of styles and sizes. The ones that we will be discussing in this issue are the nine-pocket sports trading-card sleeves. These are readily available and are relatively inexpensive. They are often found in dollar stores, office stores, and collectible and craft stores.

There are a few different ways in which these pocket pages may be used. The first is the intended use which is for trading-card collecting. However, I don't know many crafters who always stick to the intended use. The next thing that comes to mind is along the same lines, but these are called artist trading cards. Not sure what artist trading cards, also knows as ATCs, are? They are miniature 2 1/2 x 3 1/2-inch works of art that are created with various mediums and techniques.

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ATCs are often created as unique limited editions or in a series based on a theme or subject. The artist signs and dates the back of their works and often includes some contact information. Traditionally, these cards were meant to be always traded and never sold. Most collectors store their received cards in nine-pocket plastic sleeves and then in three-ring binders. The founder of this concept is Swiss artist M. Vanci Stirnemann who held the first exhibit in Zurich in 1996. At the end of the exhibition, he invited others to trade their works for his. Today, regular trading sessions can be found in many cities throughout the world.

Another creative outlet is the use of pocket pages along with creative inserts and inclusions as pen-pal letters. Upon taking a look at this format, it seems to be a fusion of artist trading cards, pocket samplers and pocket scrapbooking. However, this is a new way to send and collect pen-pal letters that seems to have created a renewed interest.

The creative force behind this trend is Janette Lane who is the founder of Pocket Letters™ and the Pocket Letter Pals™ network. Janette states in one of her videos that Pocket Letters came to life after she was attempting to do Project Life® style of scrapbooking on a budget.

As is true with many paper crafts, the sky is the limit with creating pen-pal letters in a pocket format. You can create your page as you see fit or follow recommendations from a pen pal, a swap or other people involved in this pastime.

Janette suggests several components for this type of pen-pal letter to get you started, but again states that you can design your pocket page any way you like. In her video tutorials she states a few different elements that could be included such as:

  • letter to the recipient
  • ephemera
  • stickers
  • mail tag (which would include a few questions to get to know your pen pal better)
  • quote
  • an "about me" panel (which would include a short blurb about yourself such as hobbies, likes and dislikes)

Some people choose to decorate the plastic page protector itself, but as a card maker and paper crafter it seemed natural for me to decorate each base-card insert. So that is exactly what I did. My finished pocket page is more like a hybrid pen-pal letter and pocket sampler. I truly enjoyed the process of creating the miniature 2 1/2 x 3 1/2-inch works of art using some of my card-making techniques and supplies!

Let's take a look at the inserts that I have created row by row. In row one, the first panel on the left has been made with a die-cut doily, a stamped sentiment and a letter sticker to personalize it for the recipient. Behind this panel I have included a few die-cut doilies. The middle panel includes a decorated paper clip with a molded flower created with Crayola® Model Magic® and Plaid's Mod Molds. Confetti flowers that have been colored with an ink pad add a further accent. The third panel on the right has been adorned with a banner, a punched tag shape and a ribbon accent. Behind this panel is a tag with a few questions for my pen pal.

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The first panel in row two includes a stamped quote along with a few layers of a die-cut flower. The second panel carries the theme of nature and fall with a die-cut flowerpot and plant along with a stamped word. A theme is not necessary unless stated in a swap; however, I did choose to incorporate one. The third panel has been accented with beautiful thread, stickers and a punched butterfly. This panel has a little sampling of the thread tucked behind for my pen pal.

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The final row, row three, includes a letter to my pen pal tucked behind the stamped card in panel one. The middle panel includes a die-cut word and a tea-bag folded medallion. Tucked behind this panel is a little explanation on how to complete this tea-bag fold along with a tea-bag sachet. The final panel is a collection of die-cut and punched images reflecting nature.

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Other goodies such as sequins, stickers, washi tape, etc., can be inserted into any of the pockets. Keep in mind that the postal fees could be affected by the thickness of your finished folded page. If you do not wish to have inclusions, be sure to convey your intent with your pen pal or swap organizer. In order to achieve success, everyone should be on the same page -- no pun inteded!

To finish, fold the rows inward, and if desired, the pocket page may be wrapped with a lightweight material such as tissue paper and embellished further. This is entirely up to you and/or the parameters that have been discussed with your pen pal or swap organizer. Due to the style of page protector used, the letters are easily mailed to recipients in a size #10 business envelope and easily stored in a standard three-ring binder.

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Another project that is similar, and is also created using the trading-card pocket pages, is pocket samplers. The idea behind this type of project is to decorate and embellish 2 1/2 x 3 1/2-inch base cards and place one into each of the nine pockets. The decorated cards or panels are usually based on a technique, variety of techniques or even a theme. These can be kept and displayed, or shared with friends through swaps or even used as gifts. It's a great way to inspire others and share different techniques. I encourage you to watch for the CardMaker winter 2016 issue and, in particular, Deborah Nolan's article about the We R Memory Keepers photo sleeve Fuse tool. She includes a beautiful Christmas pocket sampler and also discusses how to use this tool to seal the pockets on your pages. The winter 2016 e-magazine will be available on Sept. 27 and the print version of the magazine will be on newsstands Oct. 18.