There’s a whole history to Valentine’s Day, and being the paper-lover that I am, I’m most intrigued by the origins of the Valentine card.
Legend has it that during the 3rd century, Saint Valentine penned a poem from prison to the woman he was in love with. (The story goes that she was the jailer’s daughter!) He signed it “your Valentine,” which thus became the “unofficial” first Valentine. He was executed on February 14th, signifying the date dedicated to his name.
During the 18th century, exchanging handmade cards to celebrate the holiday became a widespread tradition. They were often elaborate and adorned with lace, ribbons, and colorful illustrations, and it became customary for lovers to express their feelings through written messages. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Valentine’s Day cards started being commercially produced.
I imagine you’ve heard of the term “Hallmark Holiday.” It refers to the perception that holidays like Valentine’s Day are uber-commercialized with greeting cards, candy, and gifts. Indeed, those cards can be quite expensive. If you’re a paper lover like me, you’ll agree that a handmade Valentine is the best! So let’s skip the Hallmark store, shall we? Making your own Valentine’s Day cards can be easy and tons of fun.
The Brown Bag Book Project
Creating anything handmade can be a bit daunting at first, but the good news is that I have the perfect project for you to make your Valentine. (And it’s free!) This little Brown Bag Book is adorable and versatile. You can jazz it up with fancy embellishments, small paint squares, or zentangles. You can keep it simple with washi tape or stickers. (Great excuse to play with foam hearts!) The choice is totally yours. Even better, it can be made using recycled materials, like a brown grocery bag or your favorite gift wrap. Or, you can use scrapbook paper, gelli prints, paste papers, or handmade paper.
I recently asked Handmade Book Club members to share their Brown Bag Valentines, and wow, do I have some samples for you! I’m completely smitten with their work. Their lovingly created mini-books are a fine example of how creative you can get with this project.
See What You Can Make!
Check out Beth P.’s charming Valentine. She used one 12”x12” sheet of pink scrapbook paper. Then she collaged with book page scraps, heart tissue paper, red construction paper, gold paper doily scraps, and white handmade paper squares.
Judy B. created hers by starting with a large sheet of Arches BFK and cutting it down to 16″ x 16″. She used one long piece of vintage lace (glued down with a glue stick) to line both the front and back of the book. This acted as a binding over the spine. Then she scanned some of her vintage Valentines and decorated each page.
Judy didn’t stop there! She also made this beauty using some of her marbled paper. She created pockets where the folds were back-to-back and slid in tags for an additional note. Then she used scraps of book board covered with the same marbled paper and added a ribbon.
I’ve been swooning over Joyce J.’s itty-bitty book. Joyce used paste paper, heart cutouts from her own artwork, washi tape, Posca pens, heart cutouts from new Handmade Book Club printables, paper bags, and a Tombola pen!
Jeri L.’s adorable Valentine is all about the love! She made hers with red 12×12 card stock and various scrapbook papers.
Michelle T. made this little treasure for her husband! She used pink 12″x12″ scrapbook card stock for the book. For the cover, Michelle used white scrapbook card stock and acrylic-painted hearts. An ink pad and templates were used for the inside of the card, and a Bijou ZentangleTM tile for the heart on the envelope.
Take a look at what some of the other club members made!
Tracy R. used scrapbook paper for the inside and card stock for the covers. The inside pages have 2″ squares from Amy Maricle’s 2023 Inchie Challenge, where she was prompted each day to draw on a 2″ square. This book was the perfect size for her drawings!
Judy F. used vintage photos, red cardinal photos, and broken heart quotes.
Make Your Own Brown Bag Valentine
Now that you’ve taken a peek at what can be done with the Brown Bag Valentine Book, it’s time to create your own! Keep in mind that this is also a GREAT project to do with kids! What a fun and unique way for them to make handmade Valentines for their classmates!
The supply list is simple, and you can customize the size of your book if you’d like. Just click the button below to get your free class. Be sure to drop a comment and let me know how you made your Valentine’s! ❤️
Hi! I’m Ali Manning
Years ago, I learned about handmade books, and ever since then, I’ve been hooked. I love creating new designs, learning about different techniques, and expanding my collection of paper. But what I love most about bookmaking is the community.
Through Vintage Page Designs and the Handmade Book Club, I’ve met thousands of other passionate bookmakers, mixed-media artists, and crafters. We all share a love of book arts and crafting, just for the joy of it.
I believe that bookbinding and book arts are for everyone, regardless of skill level or equipment. All you need is a little creativity and, of course, paper!