more about DIY Postcards : : customising the address side

Whatever fabulousness you end up creating on the front of your postcards for iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap, you’ll need to keep the back side reasonably clear for writing the address and attaching the necessary stamps. Addresses are being read by computers, these days, and they are programmed to search a certain part of the postcard for relevant sorting information, like zip codes and countries.

You can, of course, just write the address and attach the stamps in the usual places onto a blank back, or stick a clean label over the messy back so that computers don’t struggle with reading things that turn out to be doodles and embroidery stitches. Or you can print the backs of your postcards up with customised fields for the address, for a message, and even little “Place stamp here” squares, like on postcards back in the day (when people needed instructions on how to fill up a postcard!)

On her blog, Hanna has designed a reverse side specifically for the DIY postcards swap, and you can download the PDF template here.

Another option is to design your own postcard backside. A really easy way to do this is using Picmonkey. Here are a couple of postcard backsides that I designed using that most lovable of online photo-editing programs (incidentally, I designed these without checking the postal regulations, and so my designs violate the rules for computerised sorting…please see the template at the bottom of this post for which areas you may and may not  put your stuff…words, designs, doodles, phone numbers, etcetera…when creating a postcard) :

postcard back: valentine's day

postcard back: nautical

These were easier to make than you think. You don’t have to be a Premium Picmonkey user to make something super-special. Just pick a size for your postcard backside under “Design”(a 5 x 7 postcard printed at 150 dpi, means you set a customised canvas to 1500 x 1050 pixels, for example)

Then just have a play with all of Picmonkey’s amazing textures, effects, fonts, patterns, whatever you like. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Overlays section of the editor (the butterfly symbol) and use the lovely vintage graphics under the heading ‘Postal’ to add lovely little postcard-ey details to the design.

design your own on Picmonkey

(N.B. Do NOT use the franking stamp design, the cancellation wavy-lines design, or anything else that may confuse computer—and even human—readers into thinking your postcard has already been posted and/or cancelled. You have some creative freedom, here, but there are still rules to abide by if you want the system to work!)

If you have any questions regarding which parts of a postcard’s backside are to be reserved for official use and relevant information like names and addresses, here’s a template where the greyed-out areas indicate which parts to leave clear, and which parts you can  go wild in…


I wrote about iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap here, and you can read much much more about it on her swap’s home page, here.

spirograph journal


At last! I finally made a hardbound journal using my Spirograph-inspired fabric, printed by the magicians at

The first design was reworked after I ordered a small proof and could see where things needed fixing. This second version has more intense blacks, more colour contrast, and I cleaned up some of my insipid painting by covering it over with vector decals, textures, as well as cut-outs from other paintings of mine. I used Picmonkey, Gimp, and Inkscape. I also chose to print the design as a mirrored tile on Spoonflower, so on some of the journals the design has been flipped left-to-right.


The Saltwater Craft Fair is looming on Sunday the 29th, and I have to focus on getting more journals and sketchbooks bound before then…it’s been very difficult to find the time to do anything, as I have been working more days these past weeks, and our houseboat is leaning against the Dinah Beach wharf for a bit of maintenance at the same time.

What’s that like? Every time the tide goes out, the boat sits in the sucking, stinky mud and leans against a concrete wall; everything slides off the tables, drawers fly open, the path to the bedroom becomes a slope, and we sleep in the trench formed by the bed and the wall… like pigs in a wallow. It’s no fun, but a necessary evil while Kris grinds and welds the hull of the boat for two weeks.

UntitledBut what the heck, I love my newest journal. The colours are glorious. I love the detail, love the whole idea of designing fabric specifically for use as book cover material. And I love, love, love spoonflower mightily for making this incredible creative power available to me. Never go away!

Like the others, this journal measures 4 3/4″ x 6 1/4″, has 120 leaves (240 pages) of 120 gsm. acid-free Bianco Flash paper, and is sewn onto cotton twill tapes with 25/3 linen thread. There are two layers of made endpapers, in contrasting colours. I was too excited to add them to this one—I just wanted to see a finished book!—but the rest of this batch of journals will have hand-sewn headbands and ribbon bookmarks, as well.


inspiralled detail

My soul is alight with your infinitude of stars. Your world has broken upon me like a flood. The flowers of your garden blossom in my body. The joy of life that is everywhere burns like an incense in my heart. And the breath of all things plays on my life as on a pipe of reeds.

—Rabindranath Tagore

starting line

It started with a piece of linen, divided into front, spine, and back journal cover panels using some thread and a running stitch. Onto this I let wet circles of ink puddle and pool, adding details as parts dried. When all was dry, I photographed the cloth, and filled the orbs with PicMonkey overlays of flower balls and spirographs. The next day the finished piece was uploaded to Spoonflower for printing, as my first pattern design ever, and something new to cover my hand-bound journals with.


Waiting for that first proof has me buzzing with excitement and/or apprehension.

Also, I have managed to surprise my disenchanted self, at this late stage. Last night I lay in bed and said, dazedly, “I actually got off my ass and did something I have been talking about doing for three years, and it only took two days!” Kris murmured back in the dark, “Shocking. What is the world coming to?”

back from the dead, as Picmonkey!

When Picnik closed in April, bought out by Google, stripped of everything that actually made it great, and then moved over to Google+1 as their basic photo editing tools, I felt like a friend had died. I would wander around on the internet, bereft and hoping to run into Picnik, even though I knew it was “no longer with us”.

Even though I know how to use Photoshop and Gimp a little bit, and realize that anything I could do in Picnik could be done on one of those desktop image manipulation programs, I just really enjoyed using Picnik. It was fun, there was an avid community of users, and it was quick, you could do it on any computer with an internet connection (handy when I was traveling) and if you knew how to layer, layer, layer the effects on offer, it was amazing what you could do.

A few similar online photo-editing sites turned up, as Picnik neared its end…really horrible, lame versions, with crappy filters, crappy stickers, supermarket home brand vanilla-style features that just highlighted how much better Picnik was.

After I rushed eagerly to check out Aviary, the site that Flickr has partnered with for photo editing since Picnik died, and found something so crude and primitive that it could have been designed by Fisher Price for 3 year olds, I gave up looking. Picnik was gone, and nothing could take its place.

Until yesterday, that is.

Yesterday, I found Picmonkey. I Googled “the best alternative to Picnik”, and was flooded with Picmonkey love in the search results.

A couple of former Picnik engineers, a rabbi, and a monkey meet in a bar.

The rabbi realizes he’s not in the middle of a corny joke so he leaves. But the monkey. The monkey starts raving wildly. He’s slapping the Picnik engineers on the back, congratulating them for pioneering the online photo editing space 6 years ago, and for enabling a whole new class of photographers to create beautiful images and hang out together. And the monkey has more ideas about time travel, connecting people, light speed, and making Brussels sprouts taste better. The engineers, they’re listening, but they’re onto something new. They scribble furiously on the backs of napkins and the edges of sleeve cuffs.

Several months later, here we are. A dynamic duo became a small dynamic team. And the world’s friendliest photo editor got a chance to start again. If you loved Picnik, PicMonkey is back in town and better than ever. It’s faster, more powerful, and easier to use. It’s the real deal you already know, plus 78% more monkey.

…Here’s who we are: a bunch of dedicated, in-the-trenches people who just want to make this online photo editor experience ridiculously great. We’re getting PicMonkey up and running, and then watch out. Keep your eyes peeled for more. Because we’re gonna keep adding more features and more tools and not stop until you scream and say “Holy Macarena, people, go home and get a life because you’ve done. it. all!”

JOY! Not only is it ‘like’ Picnik, it has nearly all the old features, plus many great new ones. It’s got a much sleeker, beautiful design, and I am lovin’ it so much, I could hug a monkey right now!