Ms Pasty Fingers

One of the things retired people often do is take advantage of classes, workshops, or other “improvement of the mind” opportunities. We’ve been told over and over that we need to keep our minds sharp by changing up our routines, learning Farsi, taking up the violin, or becoming a scuba instructor.

Since I don’t want to work that hard, I have chosen to take “the path more travelled” and sign up for classes offered on Meetup or other organizations in the area.

Then my friend Karen twisted my arm—er, offered me an opportunity—to take a card-making workshop at the Fairlawn Learning Resource Center where she works.

I must tell you that for a brief period about 35 years ago I went through a “crafty” time in my life. I created Christmas stockings, mirrors made of paddleboards, and I even knitted a very oversized sweater. Not to mention the  cross-stitched a pillow with the word mortgage misspelled. I’m not kidding. Luckily, those days were hammered out of me when I saw people looking at my efforts with pity and asking questions like “When do you think you might return to teaching?”

But, because Karen was persistent, I caved and registered. I showed up at the LRC and found my chair nested amidst the guinea pigs, ferrets, and bunnies. What card making has to do with the park and stray animals takes a rather existential leap, but then paper does come from trees. So there.

Pam (seated) and Karen

Karen seated me next to the right of her chair. Pam, another friend of hers, was to my right.  I’m sure that Pam has more nimble fingers and a creative mind to match. But, since Karen has known me for over 30 years, I was almost expecting a bib with that little plastic trough at the bottom for me to wear. However, I think that would have reflected badly on Karen and her whom she chooses for friends.

Anyway, there was a tour of the room to help us locate available paper choices, rubber stamps, paper cutters, the “ribbon corner” and the very clever paper punches. But the really important display showed us the possibilities for card templates that Karen and her boss, Lisa, had made.  Since this was November, there were lots of Christmas themes.  I was very glad not to be Jewish, or an atheist.

Soon we all started to select cards designs and corresponding paper that appealed to us. I was going for a plain note card thing so I headed for plaid wallpaper and corresponding polka dot coordinates.

There is some degree of precision required for making cards. This was really an obstacle for me. Anyone who knows me, is aware that I usually go for “good enough.” My personal motto is: IT IS NOT A SWISS WATCH WE ARE MAKING HERE.

I traced around a template and then went to the paper cutters for a “clean cut.” I seemed to get through this easily enough. When the parts were cut, it was time for pasting. This proved to be a big challenge. I was gluing down some transparent ribbon and wanted not to show the glue in blobs underneath so I was very sparing with the glue stick and compensated by pounding the ribbon like it was a flank steak.

I found out my careful cutting was “good enough.” No one would notice that part of the coordinating paper that was showing at the fold, right?

I used one of those specially made paper punches to round the corners. I was toying with the idea of putting some of my hair in there to see what would happen, but I was feeling the pressure from my fellow classmates who were already on their 19th card. The competition was fierce here!

Animal and Human Classmates

Then I found a little butterfly stamp to add to a seal on the flap. It did end up being light enough to look like a cross between a housefly and a pupa, AND it was off center. I was beginning to think of three year olds to send cards to. Obviously, I couldn’t send this card to any adult who still had eyesight.

I moved on to my next design: a card with little colorful bars tied together with twine and encircling a bit of handmade paper. Once again, this required some precise measuring and cutting. Then there was the tying. This turned out to be a labor-intensive design that should only be done with little fingers. I felt there should have been a warning label: “This card design may cause trembling, mouth drooling and under-the-breath cussing.” I was so feeble at this card that I started to laugh at my very sophomoric attempts. I decided to call this a “primitive.” My classmates were now on their 31st card and I was there with my fingers stuck together.


The clock was ticking and I was feeling that those store bought cards with glitter and rhinestones were a bargain at $6.00 each. I decided to make my last two cards from my own design: i.e. “Any Fool Can Do This Without Messing Up.”

I picked the brightest metallic paper I could find—bright pink—and a scrap of gold paper. I punched out pink stars of various sizes and glued them down on a flap of gold paper. Easy right? No. I managed to get the stars all crooked and the glue showed up every move I attempted to make it right. There were gross bubbles under the flap. I found that I was hiding my efforts under larger papers. No one said anything as I went to the back of the room and worked under the snake tank.


Finally, it was time for me to make an exit. I gathered up my cards and envelopes and hid them in my tote bag.  My classmates were going to have a card viewing at the end of class with a trophy awarded to Most Cards Made.

With painful memories quickly fading, on the way home I was thinking about my career options. American Greetings is headquartered in Cleveland. I wonder if they needed designers?


6 responses to “Ms Pasty Fingers”

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  1. Lois says:

    I really would have loved to have seen you making your cards. When I started reading I thought that the post would end with you playing with the creatures and never making a card.

  2. Carolyn says:

    This is such a great story! I see myself in there over and over and over. All thumbs! But, you’re not alone Karen. American Greetings’s is moving the heck OUT of Cleveland!

  3. Julie says:

    Must be genetic. This is just one of the many reasons I haven’t found the time to work on my Memory Albums. My friend, A Creative Memories consultant, tells me they are not photo albums and so much more than scrap books. Whatever they are, they are sitting untouched in the guest room waiting for my kids to grow, move on, and get married to very talented young ladies who will want to finish these as a gift to their aging mother-in-law.