Eleonora Leopardi is a PhD candidate in the School of Medicine.
I do, yeah, I have quite a few hobbies. I mean, I am sure we all dabble in a few leisure activities just to distract ourselves from the stress of academic life, right?
For me, I play sports (two different ones this year – wow, look at me go!), I look after my flowers in the garden (with varying levels of success), and I follow world politics (always keeping track of the latest memes).
However, if there’s one hobby that truly makes my heart sing, it’s cardmaking.
Cardmaking is a branch of papercrafting, which is itself just a part of the large world of arts and crafts. Crafts are about making things with your hands, and include just about anything you can think of making: from quilting to pottery, from basket weaving to painting Warcraft miniatures.
All crafty activities are hobbies that I could see myself taking up. I like pretty things and I like seeing something take form in my hands. Also, as many crafters know, there is a wonderful pleasure in gifting something you have made yourself. You are giving a unique, beautiful gift to someone you love, and – if nothing else – you’ve saved a bunch of money.
Anyway, among all the crafts, I found my true love in cardmaking. I think it went something like this: a long time ago, I made a birthday card for my mom, which she hung up in her study. It was real ugly… and it’s still there, an eternal reminder of how much I sucked at colouring. Wow, Mom, take it down already. Still, I told myself, “I can make something prettier than this,” and kept going.
Around 2009, just after I started uni (gosh, I’m ancient), YouTube became popular, and a few actually good cardmakers started posting videos and tutorials. I watched them to get inspiration and learn new techniques – and also to procrastinate, because uni life is hard and Facebook was not that fun back then.
After a long long time and many, many ugly results, I’m now at the point where I only make a couple of ugly cards for each good one, so I think I’m quite good.
There are a bunch of reasons why I want to recommend cardmaking to you all, who are stuck with me in this hell torture challenge that is postgraduate life. Especially now that we’re deprived of group hobbies and sports, I find a lot of joy in cardmaking, and maybe some of you will be tempted to try it too.
1. It keeps me away from my laptop – which is important, given that I spend about ten hours a day on it, between my thesis and the classes I teach. If you, too, can feel the colour scheme of Outlook etched into your retinas, getting some hours off-screen is a good idea.
2. It keeps me connected! Okay, sure, I do still video-call my mom everyday (she wants to know if we have toilet paper). I do text my friends and family regularly. But, it’s different to mail a card across the world (or just, like, down to Sydney), when the actual physical card you have made gets into the hands of the recipient.
I guess that’s something I never appreciated about snail mail, until I moved here and I started sending stuff to my family. We’re so used to emails and digital connection that it amazes me to see a card I made, in an envelope I licked, actually get back to my family in Italy. That’s definitely more meaningful than an email!
3. You cannot snack while crafting! I am an incorrigible nibbler, and I would snack on popcorn and chocolate all day if I could. Don’t judge me, friends… I know you’re also tapping into your quarantine snack stash.
Good news: you cannot nibble when you’re crafting, or you’ll leave greasy fingerprints all over your project. There we go, perfect solution! You can give yourself treaties after finishing the project, as a reward. I won’t tell.
4. The cardmaking community is lit. There’s a great community online, and a small but dedicated community in Newcastle. I go to a cardmaking class every month and there are some fascinating people there. Yes, most of them are over 65 – but trust me, they’re wild.
There’s a lovely old lady that keeps rebelling against the instructor and changing the layout we’re supposed to use. She always says she forgot her reading glasses and cannot read the instructions. That’s a lie, she told me she doesn’t need glasses. I wonder what else she’s hiding from us all.
5. There’s room to experiment – and a cushy comfort zone. Some days I feel adventurous, and I have energy and ideas to try a new technique, a new colour combination, or maybe a different format of card. Some days I just want to do something I know I can do well, so I don’t need to think very hard and I can listen to a podcast in the meantime. Then, I can let myself feel the flow of my usual patterns, my favourite colours, my trusted layouts.
Cardmaking is a very versatile hobby, and a full project doesn’t take long, so every day I can choose what I want to do based on how I feel.
In short – cardmaking is my jam. It checks all the boxes of my favourite things, plus no mosquitoes.
I am an old lady inside. And I love it.
[ Lots of great reasons to make cards, right? I reckon you should give it a try! Thanks to NUPSA, we will have a cardmaking workshop in late April, and hopefully we will start up a papercrafting/cardmaking club. Stay tuned for further updates! ]