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Let challenges, rules and recipes reboot your cardmaking creativity

A clean slate usually means that anything is possible. But sometimes it gets in the way for creativity. For when everything is possible suddenly nothing shows up. So how do you solve that kind of blockage? Here’s three tips from me: Lifting, us a few simple rules or a whole recipe and you will find your way through.

  • Type of project: cards
  • Occasion: spring birthdays
  • Style: mixed media/artsy
  • Techniques used: ink-blending, stamping, diecutting, dry embossing, heat embossing
  • Decoration: stickers, thread, die-cuts
  • Main colour: brown/yellow
  • Media used: distress watercolor pencils, white ink spray, shimmer paste, distress oxide ink
  • Equipment used: dies, embossing folder, stamps


I’m part of a design team for a small craft shop in Sweden. Whenever one of us is in a creative drought one of the other team member stands ready with a challenge. One of the most frequent challenges is asking the fellow crafter to make a new card using an old card as inspiration, so called lifting. Try it and ask one of your crafty friends to draw one of her cards for you to lift.

Then there are the challenges where you set three or four rules, for example you must use a certain color, have a certain theme/motive and use a certain technique/equipment. This is what I got last time: orange, yellow and pink, flowers and die cutting. This is how that challenge turned out for me:

What would it look like for you? This creative technique you can turn into a game if you set up a scheme with a few categories, six alternatives in each and roll a dice for each category. Infinite fun!

If you want to make it a little more challenging you can set it up as a recipe. I love making recipe-like challenges myself. At a first glance it could seem constraining, but I find a lot of creativity within the boundaries. This is how I set up a recipe last time:

“Use craft paper for base. Use some media or color directly on that craft paper. Your project must include 1) something die-cut 2) the use of a stencil 3) an embossing technique 4) a thread 5) stains 6) the color green. You decide in what order you do this, if it’s in plain sight or barely seen and if you want to combine two or more must haves, for example green stains. You can add to the recipe but not withdraw.”

I made this card as an inspiration for the recipe. How would you interpret it?

I hope you find one of these techniques helping you next time your in a creative drought!