Recently, a good friend of mine finally lost her battle with cancer and passed away at her home, surrounded by her family. She was so young and full of life, and was a wonderful Christian believer, as are her husband and two children – in fact I was privileged a number of years ago to witness the whole family being baptised together. She and her husband were part of my Bible study group for several years, and we had many wonderful times of fellowship together.
I needed to make a very special card for this very special family, and have given it some considerable thought and prayer. For Christians, although the loss of a loved one through death affects us as much as it does non-Christians, and we have to go through exactly the same grieving process, the Bible gives us hope of everlasting life, and reunion with those we have lost, and I wanted to reflect both these aspects in my card.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
One of the songs we used to sing together was “We will dance on the streets that are golden” – a picture of the heavenly Jerusalem, and I decided to use this as the theme for my card.
The first step was to make the golden pavement and draw a dancing figure on a piece of recycled watercolour paper. (This drawing was adapted from an image I found online.)
The golden pavement was made from a piece of gold mirror card. I drew some perspective lines on the back and then hand-embossed the card from the back with a large embossing tool, and picked out the lines between the paving stones with a smaller embossing tool from the front, working on a piece of fun foam. I outlined the drawing with a waterproof black marker pen and then added some colour with my Derwent Inktense Pencils, blending them with a water brush.
The next step was to cut out the dancer. Here is a mock-up on the white base card.
I then began work on the drawing on the base card, to form a “Heavenly City” background. I added a few Zentangles, notably “Float Fest” to give the suggestion of more domes extending into the far distance, and began colouring it with Inktense pencils as before.
At this point I got a bit carried away and forgot to stop and take any photos! The next photo shows the finished card front, complete with an emerald rainbow (as described as being around the throne of God in the Book of Revelation), and the addition of little spots of Stickles glitter glue in various colours to represent the jewelled foundations of the Heavenly City showing through the transparent gold paving. I also made a separate banner from the recycled watercolour paper, with the words “Dancing on the streets that are golden” and stuck this down. For the banner and for the dancer, I used Scotch Quick Dry adhesive, which is a good strong wet glue. As usual, the photo doesn’t do justice to the golden, glittery effect!
As this is a bereavement card and I wanted to convey my feelings for their loss, the front of the card needed to reflect this, and although the above shows my friend in glory, free at last from all pain, and carries the hope of reunion in the life to come, the present also needs to be addressed.
I decided to make an overlay from translucent parchment paper with a message on it, but through which you could just glimpse what was beyond. Looking through my stash, I was delighted to find some parchment that I had printed for another project, and made the mistake of not choosing the “borderless” option on my printer, which left an unprinted border, so I couldn’t use it. It is fine for this project, though, as I had already decided to make a paper border to cut out and stick down around the edge of the parchment, which will cover this unprinted part. You can see that it is a subtle blue colour with some butterflies on it.
Working on the border. I chose a piece of A4 100 gsm copy paper which has a lovely smooth finish, and folded it in half. The back could be cut away to leave a small amount to stick down onto the back of the base card and form a hinge, and this would also hold the parchment piece in place. Again, I used my waterproof black marker pen to create a text border. I chose a verse from one of my favourite hymns, which we had for Dad’s funeral last December, “Teach me, my God and King” by George Herbert. The verse I chose is as follows:
A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heaven espy.
This is so appropriate for the situation! We can look at our circumstances and our loss, and we can also look through it, and see the hope and beauty beyond. The parchment paper can act as the “glass” which we can look at, or we can see, “through a glass dimly” as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13, the golden bejewelled image beyond; and in our case, we can also turn the page and see it in its full glory.
In the next photo I am working on the border. Between each of the words I have used a tiny drop of bisque Liquid Pearls – this stuff is gorgeous!
Here is the finished border. At this stage I had not yet applied any distress ink because I was waiting for the Liquid Pearls are dry. The next step would be to cut out the middle, and stick it down onto the parchment, and then create some slips of paper with some Bible verses on them.
Here is the text border complete, having been distressed with Old Paper Distress Ink, using an Inkylicious Ink Duster – these large soft brushes are ideal for this kind of thing because they are so gentle and do not snag the edge of the paper. Laid on top is one of the text pieces that would be attached to the parchment overlay.
Here is the parchment overlay with the first text, which I have hand-written direct onto the parchment, and the other cut-out piece ready to stick down.
For the main text across the centre of the overlay, I spent some considerable time selecting and cutting out a series of letters from magazines and newspapers (like a ransom demand!) and arranged them into words. In this picture I am beginning to cut the words out. I was quite pleased with the result because the letters added a bit of colour to the front of the card.
Here are the words stuck down onto the parchment overlay. I used 3M spray photo adhesive – a recommendation I found online – but it wasn’t easy to get the pieces to stick initially, and once the glue was dry, I had to apply a small amount of Scotch Quick Dry adhesive with a cocktail stick to make sure each piece was securely adhered. Parchment paper can be quite difficult to deal with.
Here is the parchment overlay together with the text frame, both of which have now been trimmed down the left side, ready to apply to the base card.
On the inside of the card, I wrote the Aaronic Blessing from Numbers chapter 6, and afterwards embellished it with some more bisque Liquid Pearls, and wrote the greeting on the other side. Having thought long and hard about what text to add to this card, in the end I felt that the Bible said it better than I ever could!
I attached the text frame to the parchment overlay with 3M photo adhesive spray, and this was attached to the base card using the red-backed ultra-sticky double sided tape.
Here is the completed card. You can see the golden picture underneath the parchment overlay. You can see that I have also added some embellishment with a black marker pen around the cut-out words, directly onto the parchment paper, to give the design more cohesion and to link this central text with that at the top and bottom of the card.
The finished card with the overlay turned back. I wish the photo did the gold pavement and the Stickles better justice, as it is very shiny and sparkly.
I feel very privileged to have had this lady as my friend. She was such fun, and so full of life, and had such a strong faith. She and her husband brought up their two children in the love and fear of the Lord, and they are now being launched into the world in their chosen professions, well equipped to be good citizens, and to cope with everything that life will throw at them, with God’s help. My love and prayers go with them all.