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Posted by on Aug 2, 2011 in Tutorial | 16 comments

Tutorial – Making Mojo

From time to time we see comments and posts from cardmakers saying, “I finally have time to make cards, but I can’t find my mojo.” Mojo, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, traditionally meant a talisman or magic charm, but in popular slang is now used to mean creative spark or talent.

So, what do you do if you find yourself staring blankly at the paper and ink and ribbon, wondering where your mojo went?

1. Relax

As our friend in the OWH Old Spice video says, “Set aside your foolish chores.” Take some deep breaths, do some deskercises, put on your favorite music, and let go of any thoughts of work or obligations. If your calendar and your stack of bills are in your cardmaking space, move them out of your line of sight. This is crafting time.

Speaking of your crafting space, take a look around. Some people don’t mojo well when their space is cluttered. Clear the deck. Put away the scraps/stamps/paper/ink/ribbon from the last card(s) you made. Start fresh.

2. Get Motivated

Set a goal. Some people work best on a deadline. You can set a goal for a certain number of cards in a week/month/year, or to fill a box and send it to your shipper by a certain date. Use the OWH challenge dates, or the holiday deadlines, or days that mean something to you.

Now’s a good time to mention – not all these ideas will work for all people. If you work in a job that gives you a lot of deadlines, you may find that setting these kinds of goals are detrimental to your creative spark. Do what works for you.


Read the Hero Blog. To me, there’s nothing as inspiring as hearing how much these cards mean to our deployed heroes and their families. Here are a couple of recent quotes:

(From the wife of a Hero) “Where my husband is stationed there are very few amenities and soon phones and internet will be taken away as well. So writing will be of huge importance for my husband and the men and women in his unit. Staying connected is very important, especially for the children they leave behind. Thanks so much for all you do for our service members.”

(From a deployed mom) “I took mid-tour leave in February, surprising our youngest for her 6th birthday, and found all of the cards I’d sent them! Each girl had her own growing collection that she treasured and could revisit whenever they missed me.”

3. Make kits or card parts

Maybe for the moment you don’t quite have the mojo to design or assemble a whole card. Take just one part of the process and do the rest later.

A trick I picked up from our very own Sunday Sketches Julie is to keep an envelope box filled with A2 sized pieces of cardstock and patterned paper. Julie suggests jump-starting your mojo by pairing up coordinating papers and ribbon.


Maybe you just feel like coloring. Stamp or print several of your favorite images and just color them for use on cards later.

Maybe you have a lot of scraps you need to wrangle. Sometimes I just sit and cut squares for pinwheels or punch circles for dahlias. One time I got carried away and ended up with a big plastic baggie full before I finally decided I should stop making them and stick them on some cards.

If you have a card making party coming, you can just cut pieces for card kits. You can even make card kits for yourself and assemble them later. Sandy has some great examples of card kits on her blog.

(A side note about making multiples of the same card. Some people have expressed concern that we might be sending the shippers too many of a certain technique of card. Keep in mind we’re sending to three different shippers who are each sending out several boxes of cards each week. If you send in twenty-five identical cards, they’re not all going to end up going to the same unit in Afghanistan. And if you look through the inlinkz on previous tutorial posts, you can see how different the same technique can look when different cardmakers are using different papers and sketches and making the technique their own. Do be careful of multiples of the same card if they’re for a holiday and the deadline is approaching. Give our shippers enough time to spread your cards out over several boxes, and everything will be fine!)


4. Try something new

Look through the previous tutorials, sketches and midweek challenges and try something you’ve not done before.

CASE (Copy And Share Everything) or Scraplift from other cardmakers by looking through the Featured Friday folks, or visiting the blogs in the blogroll in the right margin of this page, or looking through the images in the Inlinkz galleries on challenge posts.

5. Revisit something old

If you don’t feel like creating something new, stick with familiar territory. Turning to your favorite stamp set, cardmaking tool, or embellishments may be the mojo-making equivalent of curling up in your favorite sweater on a cool day. And our heroes aren’t going to point and say, “You’re doing THAT again?” because they don’t know you’ve used it for everyone’s birthday card for the past year. They didn’t see your family Christmas cards, and even if they did, they don’t mind the recycled ideas. They’re just happy to have your beautiful cards to write home on.

6. Have Fun

Remember, this is your hobby. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s all just ink and paper. Even if you have some kind of epic catastrophe, there’s more ink and paper where those came from. Cut yourself some slack and just enjoy. The mojo loves it when you’re happy.

If you see an interesting technique that would make a good tutorial, or if you have one you would like to share, please email me at kate@operationwritehome.org. Also, you can find archives of our previous tutorials at the Cardmaking Resources page of the OWH website, and lots of great information in the Cardmaking Glossary.

Now, share your mojo-making ideas in the comments here. One great thing about our OWH community is how much we learn from and inspire each other.

16 Comments

  1. Oh, thank you so much for posting this!! Great ideas.
    For me, if I just get started on something, then the mojo usually comes after that.
    Also, sometimes I just need to CASE my most fav card of the moment and then I'm on track.
    As for music, for me, it's a hit or miss thing–at times I need it and at times I need it OFF!! haha

  2. This came at just the right time, as my mojo seems to have gone on vacation somewhere! Great tips, TFS!

  3. I needed to read this today! Off to clear my desk and start fresh…

  4. This is a great article and I will remember your tips when I need my mojo!

  5. Thanks for this message. Usually a visit to the Stars and Stamps page will get me motivated…so much good stuff here with sketches, tutorials,and so much more. Pat K.

  6. Lots of great tips and advice in this article that I know will help a lot of folks, myself included.

  7. Thanks for sharing these great tips. I think the most important part is to let yourself have fun and relax. Making cards for OWH should never be stressful. That's why I don't get too hung up about balancing out my themes or designs. I love the colors and designs of kids cards, so I make those most often. If my box doesn't have any birthday cards, so be it!

  8. Thank you for all these great tips!! They are very helpful… usually if I'm looking for mojo, I go through the gallery looking for cards to CASE.

  9. When my mojo goes awol I go and find myself a new (cheap) toy to play with… then I can't wait to come home and find out what it can do!

  10. Excellent post!

  11. I like this post! Great tips =)

  12. I do all of these ideas. I also find my Mojo sometimes, just by grabbing a cute sticker and start matching papers for it, then look through the OWH sketches til something clicks. So much fun! OR my all time favorite, is go through my stuff. This reminds me of what I have and usually I find something I want to create with right then.

    circlebenterprises.blogspot.com

  13. Thank you for this reassuring Mojo raising article! I have struggled with many of the things you addressed. It is nice to know I am not alone! I spent yesterday cutting all of my cardstock down to card size and still no ideas. I am taking today off, just cruising for ideas and I think the OWH mid-week challenge has me back on track!

  14. What a great tutorial, Kate! Thanks very much for posting it. I've been having a kind of slump these days and it lifted me up. One thing if I may add to all of these, do not feel guilty for not being able to make a card when you are so tired. Instead, you might try writing an Any Hero mail/card. Once you start writing "Dear Hero," you will feel so much easier. Thanks again!

  15. Thanks so much for posting this!! A friend of mine was giving me a pep talk with some of the same suggestions. It's so nice to know that I'm not alone and that others understand. Thanks for the uplifting post!

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