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Crafters share love of creating handmade cards

Grand Forks cardmaker Cheryll Berg with one of her creations. FORUM NEWS SERVICE/John Stennes

Filed in small plastic containers, sorted by occasion, Cheryll Berg of Grand Forks has about 800 cards made and ready to send. The recipients, as of now, are unknown. And for some, the message is as uncertain as the receiver, with a simple phrase, “For you,” stamped on the front.

“You can use it for a birthday, or get well, or anything,” Berg said.

Working with her card stock, stamps and markers several times a week, Berg creates cards for every occasion: birthdays, weddings, graduations, Christmas, Halloween and more. She even makes cards to celebrate the simple things in life.

“One of my girlfriends in Wisconsin, her son was named nurse of the year … and the little boy won something in black belt, so I sent them off something,” she said.

For Berg, no achievement is too small to be celebrated with a card.

It started with a class

She started making greeting cards about eight years ago when she and Jan Hanson of Northwood attended a class at Scrapbooking 4 Fun in Grand Forks.

Berg got a taste of card-making, and she was hooked. After those first classes, she met Kari Lommen of Stampin’ Up in Grand Forks, who holds card-making classes several times a month. She’s been going to Lommen’s classes ever since.

“I offer a new class each month, which repeats two to three times on a different day…” Lommen said. “The class consists of making four cards, introducing a new stamping technique, as well as unique embellishments.”

The fees for her classes cover all the materials needed to complete the cards, except for the adhesive.

“We bring our own sticky squares or double-sided tape, and she furnishes everything else,” Berg said.

With some of the pieces already done for them, it typically takes the students just over an hour to complete the cards. Berg works off the pre-determined designs in class, but she draws inspiration from the Internet to create her own designs at home.

The process

She plans the entire design before starting the construction.

“Usually, one of the first things I do is what I’m going to put on for the picture,” she said. “I like the animal ones, and I especially like snowmen, too, but I like them all.”

She uses card stock for the background pieces. Then she layers cutouts of shapes. Sometimes, the layers are simple rectangles or squares, which she off-sets. And other times, they’re fancy lace ribbon cutouts or gingerbread men, which she creates using her Cricut Cuttlebug. She also runs her paper through an embossing machine to create a textured effect.

“You want variety,” she said, adding that a variety of colors, textures and patterns helps to create a more interesting card.

She uses mounting squares to make certain pieces of the card pop out and create more dimensions. On top of the layers, she’ll use a variety of stamps to create the main image of the card. She said she typically uses marker to color in the stamps, but colored pencils and chalk are sometimes used, as well.

Berg buys many of her card-making supplies at Stampin’ Up, but most of the same supplies can be purchased at almost any craft store.

To finish the cards, she’ll use colored jewels and ribbons for added accents. And on the back of each, she uses her personalized stamp that reads, “Handmade by Cheryll.”

Although her cards look complex with many layers, they weren’t always like that.

“When you go back and look at the first one’s you did, it’s like kindergarten,” she said, with a laugh. “They were so basic in the first place, very simple. They (didn’t) have as much fancy stuff on (them).”

Part of her designs has remained simple, though. Aside from an occasional little stamp in the bottom right corner, the inside of the cards are left blank, so the sender has plenty of room to write.

Michelle Brusegaard, a Grand Forks native who has been making and selling cards since 2006, said card-making is a lot easier than people might think.

“I get inspired when I just go to a craft store and look at supplies,” Brusegaard said. “It’s pretty simple to work with.”

Whether one’s making cards for his or her own use or to sell, Brusegaard said it’s an easy craft to get started with because it’s really inexpensive.

While Berg’s designs are mostly paper and stamp-based, Brusegaard uses a lot of printing. She starts all of her cards with an original drawing that she scans into Photoshop to clean up and add text. Once the design is complete, she prints and folds cards. She might add more stamps or screen printing, but the majority of the design is printed onto the card.

She sells many of her cards in sets of five on her website,, and Her cards and card sets range in price from about $4 to $25.

Sharing the love

Although Berg doesn’t sell her cards regularly, she sometimes sells her extras for just $2 a piece at craft shows to make space for new ones. She also gifts cards to her friends and family members.

She recently sent her daughter a package of 40 sympathy cards.

“You don’t think of young people needing sympathy cards,” she said. “But she should be set for a couple years now.”

Last year, Berg pulled some cards out of her stockpile to create a large variety package for a friend’s 80th birthday.

“I went to Michaels and got a nice box with a fold-over lid, and I put 80 cards in it,” she said.

Whether it’s just one card or a package of cards, Berg said she’s happy to share her handmade cards with others.

“This is what we retired people do for entertainment,” she said with a laugh. “Make cards and play pinochle.”

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