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Q & A: Help along the way.
How-to : Questions and Answers Archives (2005-2006)

Questions from readers. Answers that may help.

By Chris Dunmire

Flying kiteBetween 2005-2006 Creativity Portal fielded questions from readers regarding the topics we promote on our site related to art, crafts, writing, and creativity. Sometimes we could help, and other times we simply pointed people in the right direction to find the answers on their own.

With the growing ease of finding answers by googling questions or asking on dedicated forums and social networking sites, we discontinued fielding questions for the Q & A feature. The archives are useful, however, so they will remain here for informational purposes.

Disclaimer: Answers and advice are available on a take/leave basis. That is, take what's useful, and leave the rest. Creativity Portal makes no warranty, express or implied, with the respect to the content, quality, reliability, or accuracy of information contained on its site or the sites it links to. It is your responsibility to use your discretion and discernment when considering the opinions or advice of anyone else.

Article-length answers to questions

Quick Q & A

Writing for a Greeting Card Company

Q: Do you have any information about writing for a greeting card company?

A: Yes, check out Creativity Portal's how-to Greeting Card Writing Websource page. It features links to articles and resources by artists and writers who've worked for Hallmark, Blue Mountain, and other greeting card companies. This is a great place to begin your research if you want an insider's look at the creative process involved in writing greeting cards and tips about writing for the marketplace.

Keeping Chalk Drawings from Smearing

Q: When making a chalk drawing on a chalkboard to keep, what can I spray it with to keep the design good so it won't smear?

A: If you intend to spray anything on a chalkboard to keep your design from smearing, you should expect never to use the chalkboard again. This is not unusual, as I've seen small-framed chalkboards in craft stores just for this purpose.

What you're probably looking for is a good quality commercial spray fixative — the same kind used for regular pastel and chalk art drawings on paper. I've been told that hairspray has been used for this purpose too, but there's some debate on that.

More Helpful Info:

Simple Wire Art Craft Projects and What Wires Not to Mix?

Q: I am a teacher at a mental health center needing a simple but nice wire art craft project for kids 8-17. Do you have any sample projects for those of us who feel non-creative in this area?

Q: I took a 3-D art class and wire was one of the projects. I remember something about not being able to mix various wires such as copper with anything. Could you please let me know what types of wire you can and cannot use together. — Amanda

A: For the answer to your question, Amanda, and other teachers looking for simple wire art craft projects, we'll direct you to one of the world's foremost contemporary wire sculptors, Elizabeth Berrien. Elizabeth has two wire art lesson plans on Creativity Portal which might help you out. She's also informed us of the FAQ pages on her Web site that answer common questions she receives about this creative art form. If your particular question isn't included in the FAQs at this time, I'm sure Elizabeth would be thrilled to hear from you.

Where Can I Find Collage Materials?

Q: I love your website! I love doing collage, but I find my sources of material limited...magazines, calendars, etc. I want to make my collages classier. Where do I go for free or moderately-priced material? Can you have more articles on collage? Thanks! — Kay

A: Thank you for your compliments on the Creativity Portal, Kay. We now have more articles about collage online that address your questions in more detail. Meanwhile, here's the short answer...

First of all, if you haven't seen it, our main jump-off how-to collage projects page is here, which will inspire you in many ways with its free project ideas, how-to collage articles and tutorials.

And regarding materials... you know, the sky IS the limit on that one. Anything you can glue (or mod-podge) down is fair game. I once created a recycled-wood collage that included among other things, craft sticks and toothpicks!

Most mainstream craft stores cater to collage artists by providing an extensive inventory of interesting papers and embellishments sold in sheets, pads, and packs. And some great low-cost resources include bargain bins at fabric stores (remnant materials are awesome) and garage sale/resale places. I once found some great textured "classy" wallpaper swatches in a paint store!

Once you start brainstorming places like these, ideas will just burst forth. By the way, one place online that sells some cool stuff for collaging is called Found Elements at www.foundelements.com. Take a peek at that site for more inspiration and ideas.

Helping Children Gain an Interest in the Arts

Q: I am a painter. Currently I am working on a series of paintings inspired by the film, "Finding Neverland". They are not fantasy paintings, rather they have sprung from the theme of imagination and creativity. I want to eventually put the whole body of work together for a show. I would like to try to use it in some way to help children gain an interest in the arts. I would like to hear suggestions others might have in regard to this. — Elaine

A: Thank you for sharing this with us, Elaine. Your series of paintings and your eventual goal to inspire children towards the arts with them sounds like a very exciting project.

We love to help out artists where we can, but we don't have an open forum on our site (at this time) devoted to this kind of discussion. However, in the spirit of lending a helping hand, here's what I suggest to you:

Find an online discussion forum devoted to helping artists with ideas and plans of this nature. There you could solicit the feedback and expertise from others experienced in the field who often have very good suggestions and points of view.

One forum that you might like to check out is called Wet Canvas at www.wetcanvas.com. Additionally, Creativity Portal has a page devoted to other online forums and social networks devoted to art, craft, and creativity communities.

Perforated Bookmark Paper Stock

Q: Do you (or do you know someone) who sells the paper stock for bookmarks? The bookmarks are for advertising a book sale that our [association chapter] does as the major fundraiser for scholarships. I can do the design but want stock that will be perforated so that I don't have to spend hours with a paper cutter. HELP!

A: You may have to order paper like that as a "specialty" item from a paper or printing vendor if you don't see it on the shelf at your local office supply store. You can do a quick search engine query (example keywords: perforated + bookmark + printing + paper) to investigate the options. Take it a step further by calling your local office supply store to see if they have other suggestions.

Another option to consider is this: If you're thinking about working directly with a professional printer on this promotional piece, you can design your bookmarks several up on a sheet, and the printer can do the cutting for you. Details can be discussed with them, but it's another option to keep in mind if you don't want to do the trimming yourself.

Making 4th of July Parade Flags

Q: We're planning on attending our town's annual Independence Day parade and want to make our own novelty flags for the occasion. Do you have any ideas on how we can do this?

A. Of course we do! You'll find the answer on our 4th of July Independence Day sources page.

Help with a Quilting and Beading Project

Q: I am a year eleven student at a High School and am in the process of making a quilt for my GCSE project in textiles. The quilt is for a child and I am going to include beading on the quilt. Please would it be possible for you to send me any information on beading to help me with my research?

A: We have two "how to" resource pages on the Creativity Portal that may help you with your research. One is a page on Beading and Jewelry Making, and the other is on Needle Crafts & Quilting. Each of these pages contains a selection of hand-picked external Web sites featuring techniques, tutorials, project ideas, and other instructional content for beading and quilting.

How to Build Kites

Q: How can I build a kite like Benjamin Franklin's kite?

A: Ever since he discovered electricity with that 'key on a kite string' stunt, Ben Franklin seems to be the father of the diamond shaped kite.

You'll be pleased to know that Ben left his original kite making instructions with us (featured in the 1752 Pennsylvania Gazette) and thanks to PBS, you can learn how to make that Franklin-style kite here: Benjamin Franklin Kite-Making Instructions.

If You want to learn how to make other kite styles, see our Kite Making sources page.

Converting a Painting to a Needlepoint Canvas

Q: I have some paintings I would like to make into needlepoint canvases and I don't want to re-paint them. Any suggestions? I have some of them already professionally photographed.

A: Two items that may be of help to you from our Cross Stitch resource page: 1) The article Stitching Memories: Photographic Crafts and 2) the Web site Layden with Stitches featuring step-by-step guides that show you how to convert your photos to cross stitch designs.


About Chris Dunmire

Chris is a deeply engaged creative spirit, lover of wit, words, and wisdom, and the driving force behind the award-winning Creativity Portal® Web site. [...]


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