DIY Wedding

DIY Wedding

How to Make an Impression: Extraordinary Thank-You Notes

comments (42) January 10th, 2011     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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These days, sending any thank-you note will get you noticed, but sending this thank-you note may very well get you hired!
Try to keep your designs loose and unfussy. This note was done mostly freehand and took just over an hour to cut out.
A handmade vellum envelope is a wonderfully mysterious way to wrap your note for delivery.
These days, sending any thank-you note will get you noticed, but sending this thank-you note may very well get you hired!

These days, sending any thank-you note will get you noticed, but sending this thank-you note may very well get you hired!

Photo: Jeff Rudell
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One holiday, many years ago, I hand-made ornaments for everyone on my Christmas list. Then, I wrapped each ornament in tissue paper, fashioned the tissue paper it into the shape of a bird, and placed each one inside a small paper cube that I had carefully cut to resemble a birdcage. Then (to the consternation of everyone I gave a gift to that year) I glued the cages shut with paper adhesive. My hope was that each person would tear open their cage to get to their gift. Unfortunately, one after another of my friends and family refused to cooperate. "I don't want to ruin it," was the prevailing complaint, though it came in a number of variations. One person attempted to steam open the box—against my protests—and completely ruined the ornate clay ornament inside.

I couldn't fault my friends, of course. What they saw was only the finely cut paper, and they were loath to destroy it. I suppose it was a testament to their appreciation of my work that each of them was so adamantly against damaging—even a little—anything I had made for them. However, I had envisioned that the act of tearing open the paper cages would engender a sort of childlike glee in everyone and I had hoped that moment would be memorable. It was memorable, all right, but not in the way I had hoped. I nearly ruined Christmas that year.

 

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My tactic was a bit off the mark, perhaps, but my idea was sound. The way I saw it, I work with paper and paper is inherently emphemeral. Under perfect conditions, it might last a few centuries. Under less than perfect conditions, it will fade, yellow, become brittle, disintegrate into dust, and blow away in no time at all. I was trying to capture that fleeting, joyful quality that I associate with paper and somehow give that same experience to my friends.

The great thing about paper is that while it may be temporary, it can also be a tremendously effective medium for memory-making. By "memory-making" I don't mean scrapbooking or the related crafts that are so often lumped together under that name. Those crafts are more often about "memory-keeping" rather than "memory-making." I love paper's incredible power to surprise, delight, awe, get you noticed, and make you memorable. It is inexpensive and plentiful (not to mention biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable) and it can be both strong and delicate.

While I'll probably never tinker with Christmas again, I still try to put this temporary nature of paper to good use as often as possible. One of my ways of doing this takes the form of the humble thank-you note. These days, thanks to email, thank-you notes seem to have fallen out of fashion, but that's a shame. A friend of mine likes to say that a thank-you note is "the gift you give someone for sharing their time." In light of such a lovely sentiment, it seems a little miserly to simply dash off a note on a computer.

Granted, not every note merits the time and energy required for this project. But, on that rare occasion when someone's gone out of their way to give you a little piece of their day, why not give them a little of your day in return by crafting an extra-special thank-you note? In time, the paper it's written on may fade, but the sentiment never will.


Begin with a sheet of lightweight pastel drawing paper or any lightweight paper that can be folded without too much bulk, 18" x 20".

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Comments (42)

crafti_1 writes: There are really beautiful. I can hardly wait to try it myself.
Posted: 6:17 pm on September 6th
EchoLin writes: With such a special thank you note, all of my fause will be forgiven by others.
Posted: 1:07 am on March 20th
Sunshine43 writes: I love it! Wonderful idea Jeff. And you live in NYC of all places. Look up my singer Ed Rambeau. He has now written a book called "Forbidden Step". Loved his book too and him!
Check it out when you get some spare time. It's at www.edrambeau.com.

Cheers,
Barbara
Posted: 1:49 am on February 23rd
sews4fun writes: Just stunning! If I had the talent, I would make one as well but I don't think I could make anything nearly that incredible! Thank You for sharing such a lovely idea!
Posted: 9:01 pm on February 18th
lindaisrael writes: Jeffery, Beautiful! I treasure hand written notes! My husband thinks I'm a pack rat because of all the paper I collect. Thank you for this share. I could see a way for those that aren't as confident with scissors where other talents could be used - paper punches or electronic paper cutters to get a similar effect. My wheels are turning because of your idea! Thank you!
Posted: 11:43 am on January 20th
redrobin01 writes: Every year for each of my children we handmade the invitations- one year we had a pirate party and soaked the paper in tea (to look old), burned the edges, and then sealed each with a red ribbon and a dob of wax onto which we had pressed a button with an anchor on it- it looked great, and each year children commented on the party the year before - but your lovely paperwork reminded me of the invitations that people seemed to like the most. Oldest daughter wanted a ballerina party when she was about seven or eight.
I had no idea how to do a ballerina invitation and then had a brainwave- ballerina paper dolls.
I used fuschia pink paper and drew an elaborate ballerina leaing to one side with hands above her head. I folded some paper so that there were five or six folds (skinny ballerina) and so that she was joined to the next ballerina by her skirt and elbows and one foot. It took a long time to cut each ballerina paper doll stack with my craft knife and then put the details on each- a little information on each ballerina, but it was great fun, NO CHILD lost their inivitation and I still have one...if I can find it I will take a photo and post it.
I used to do notes like this to people when i was a child- but with a lot less detail and the cutting was somewhat haphazard, so thank you for some wonderful inspiration to get back to the things I used to do and love :)
Posted: 1:26 am on January 16th
Rooty_Tooty writes: Absolutely gorgeous! Wouldn't these make wonderful wedding invitations, as well? Of course, one would have to be prepared to follow suit with equally stunning "Thank you" notes after the big event...
Posted: 1:33 pm on January 15th
craftybegonia writes: That is absolutely stunning! No doubt it would raise your likelihood of getting it!
Posted: 8:10 pm on January 12th
pinghana writes: I love just about everything that Jeffery posts, but this thank you note is the best! Absolutely gorgeous and precious. I will definitely give this a try :)
Posted: 5:52 pm on January 12th
Lilbios writes: beautiful! it's nice to know people will put that much effort into a thank you note!
Posted: 3:31 pm on July 27th
ThankYouNoteWording writes: What a lovely creation!

Thank you so much for sharing such a unique way of creating thank you cards!

Thank You Card Wording
Posted: 2:57 pm on January 17th
AudreyGardenLady writes: What a terrific writer you are!
and what can I even say about your gorgeous Thank You note!

As one paper lover to another...
Bless you for sharing!
I'm going to go do it!!

Audrey
aka AudreyGardenLady at etsy.com
Posted: 3:04 pm on January 11th
Leanda writes: Completely stunning work!! You make it look so easy although I can't imagine for a minute I could manage this. Thanks for sharing your secrets though :)
Posted: 3:42 am on January 7th
Carolemeis writes: I've admired this paper-cutting from afar too. It's such a creative idea!! Not only do I love paper-cutting but also nature's bounty so your project reminds me to try something akin to yours. Thanks for the inspiration!
Posted: 9:32 pm on January 6th
mozzart writes: Beautiful! So Victorian! You've done such an excellent job that it looks laser cut!
Posted: 7:05 pm on January 6th
LianaDim writes: It is just beautiful! I love the idea! Thank you
Posted: 9:35 am on July 27th
Sweet_Dee writes: Wow. Awesome thank you note.
Posted: 9:13 pm on May 17th
grammawanda writes: Do you make patterns to sell? You're awesome!
Posted: 9:04 pm on December 10th
Inklings writes: Wow! My sister asked me to help her with her wedding invitations. For a moment I thought... but then I thought of my poor hands after 50-odd of these.

Still - lovely, lovely work!!
Posted: 12:29 am on November 18th
Makteh writes: oh wow,I love it,I'm going to make one.
Posted: 4:50 am on November 16th
majkp writes: This is incredible
Posted: 8:27 pm on October 31st
amaquima writes: This is adorable... Who wouldn't love to receive something like this...
Posted: 12:09 am on October 15th
javajenny writes: I love the story about your Christmas ornaments. The card is lovely - very stunning!
Posted: 10:34 pm on October 4th
erica2567 writes: Beautiful! To bad I didn't see this yesterday when I was making a thank-you card.
Posted: 7:04 pm on September 30th
LonesomeRoadStudio writes: Absolutely gorgeous! I would love to receive this card in the mail.
Posted: 2:07 pm on September 29th
MAVIE writes: Marvie: This is the most beautiful and delicate card that I have ever seen in my life.
Posted: 5:12 am on September 29th
LPERRY193 writes: You do make this look so easy, as I have over the years purchased books on this craft and tools such as sissors so fine pointed that I paid much money for it, and yes the craft knife you so readily speak of.

It takes a special person with this special talent and patience to create what you did. I would envy your family and friends at any Christmas gift you have created. You are so wonderful to share this craft with us and you're beautiful design. I wish there was a class on this, but I also have at times limited use of my fingers with Chronic Arthritis...which I'm sure many readers can agree with. You're only as good as your hands allow you to be.

Awesome job would love to see more of your work!!!
Posted: 11:40 am on September 28th
dollsntpartys writes: Breathtaking!! I'd frame this, place it at my bedside, and smile every night before going to sleep and then upon waking.
Posted: 9:02 am on September 28th
UniqueMommi writes: How lovely! I have been searching for years to find someone who does just this. Now I can make a letter most thoughtful and cherishing and maybe even frame. An heirloom to pass on to my children and family.
Posted: 12:36 pm on September 27th
camounts writes: Jeff,
What an absolutely EXTRAORDINARY idea! Since I am a 'newbie' at this sort of craft, snowflakes seem a good way to start.
Thanks so much for your expertise and for sharing these facinating 'Thank You " Notes.
Posted: 11:56 am on September 27th
JhenniK writes: Your photos and step-by-step instructions are fantastic.
I must agree that receiving such a stunning card in the mail would light up my soul. I can't wait to create my own version. You've given me so-o-o many ideas!! THANKS!
Posted: 11:47 am on September 27th
LostAndFoundObjects2 writes: simply beautiful
Posted: 8:04 am on September 27th
paperrain writes: This is just absolutely amazing.
Posted: 7:13 pm on September 25th
mrsnicolaray writes: Wow, that really is very gorgeous. It must have taken you hours and your recipient must have been thrilled. That's the kind of thing I'd frame if I received it. Totally awesome!
Posted: 7:06 am on September 25th
bevvsedge writes: Wow that is just stunning! Beautiful!
Posted: 3:55 pm on September 24th
MandaPanda writes: Somewhere out there the universe is laughing at the thought that I might possibly make something that looked remotely like this. I think mine would turn out more like a sheet of paper with a child-like version of a snowflake jutting out the side in a roundish mound of jailed and slightly scared confetti. You are incredibly talented, and patient to boot, and I have so much admiration for your skills. I might not be able to duplicate your efforts, but it's fun to read about you doing it. Keep up the good work. Martha's got nothing on you. . .
Posted: 1:46 pm on September 19th
AWilcox writes: Hello Mister Jeff,

Your work is magnificent, your "Thank You" notes are beyond extraordinary, they are breathe taking to say the least. Congrats on always delivery such amazing work to this site.



Posted: 3:21 pm on September 16th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Wow, love, love, LOVE!
Posted: 8:19 pm on September 15th
JanineS writes: Jeff...loved this blog and the project...beautiful. Also loved meeting you when you were in Connecticut! Thanks for such an inspiring lunch!
Posted: 7:43 pm on September 15th
iHanna writes: It's beautiful but I can't imagine it would look as delicate if I cut out flowers, hehe. I'd love to see photos of your bird cages too, did you take any? :-)

Thanks for posting, it sure is a beautiful letter!
Posted: 5:53 pm on September 15th
dany4bec writes: Woah...beautiful!
Posted: 4:03 pm on September 15th
erika_kern writes: So lovely! What a wonderfully thoughtful idea.
Posted: 1:08 pm on September 15th
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