Handmade Cards: An Easy Creative Lettering Technique

My husband and I have a thing for silly movies. Our first official date was to see the Mel Brooks sci-fi send-up “Spaceballs.” About a year later we laughed along with “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” where we picked up one of our couple catch-phrases.

easy lettering technique for handmade cards
This easy technique from Joanne Sharpe makes it
a cinch to add lettering to handmade cards.

If you’re not familiar with the story, Roger is a silly cartoon rabbit (think the Trix cereal character) who’s married to a va-va-voom toon, Jessica, voiced by Kathleen Turner. When the human protagonist asks Jessica why she loves her wacky bunny hubby, she replies, “He makes me laugh.”

There are many reasons why I love my husband, but I think the most important factor in why our union has lasted so long is because we can still make each other laugh.

So when Valentine’s Day approaches and I go into the studio to create handmade cards, I’m more apt to choose humorous quotes over flowery ones to use as card embellishments, at least for my husband.

For this year’s card, I used a lettering and paper collage technique from Joanne Sharpe’s new book, The Art of Whimsical Lettering.

This paper collage technique–which Joanne calls “Story Strips”–appealed to me because I could practice the lettering until I got it right, then tear out the words and place them on the background.

This is how I made the card:


  • Watercolor paper
  • Stencils
  • Dylusions Ink Spray by Ranger®, various colors
  • Scrap paper for lettering practice
  • Faber-Castell® Gelato, melon
  • SmoochTM Pearlized Accent Ink
  • Sharpie® fine-point marker, black
  • Faber-Castell PITT artist pen, middle purple pink
  • Pre-folded black cardstock
  • Soft gel medium


1. Make background pages by spritzing ink over a stencil, letting it dry, and then using another stencil and spraying more ink.

2. Practice your lettering on scrap paper, working out spacing, style, and spelling.

3. Print out your lettering on white paper using a Sharpie or similar writing pen. Using tips from Joann, I embellished my letters by filling in the openings in some of the letters with the PITT pen and dotting the straight ascenders with Smooch.

4. When the letters are dry, tear the words or phrases out of the paper.

paper collage story strips by joanne sharpe
“Story Strips” paper collage and lettering technique
from The Art of Whimsical Lettering.

5. I wanted to include a heart, so I tore a heart shape out of the background paper and played with the placement in the collage. The heart didn’t stand out, so I knocked back the pattern by applying the Gelato over the heart and dotting the perimeter with Smooch. The heart now stands out from the background, but you can still see some of the pattern, so the combination is cohesive.

6. Play with the placement of the collage elements until you get a pleasing arrangement. Glue down the elements with soft gel medium.

7. Mount the paper collage onto the front of the pre-made card.

This technique can also be used in reverse: writing on the background and applying the torn-out phrases to a white or muted background. It’s not only perfect for use as card-making embellishments, but also art journals and collage art.

In The Art of Whimsical Lettering, Joanne shows you step-by-step how to create artful, personalized fonts and letters for all your fabric and paper art projects.

P.S. Do you make your own Valentines? Are they funny, sentimental, or romantic? Leave your comment below.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques, Paper Art and Zen Doodle


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