Creative Card-making Lifts Spirits

Stuck indoors for weeks, many of us faced a big question: What to do all day long and into the evening?


Not Senior Planet member Madelon Hambro (at right). She simply picked up the pace on a hobby that she has pursued for over a decade: crafting beautiful, hand-made greeting cards for Citymeals on Wheels.  The greeting cards go to home-bound seniors for birthdays or to mark a variety of holidays. Senior Planet learned about member Madelon’s hobby when she posted on our Open Thread about activities pursued during lockdown. Her lovely, thoughtful activity that brightens lives caught our attention — especially when she mentioned that she made over 1,000 “Thinking of You” cards during the lockdown. “During that whole period I was as busy and engaged as I needed or wanted to be,” she says.


Cheer, Color and Readability

The cards she makes are cheerful, colorful and easy to read. They have to be. “Some recipients have vision problems,” she notes. “I create large, black type on my computer and use clear, easy-to-identify pictures such as flowers, plants, birds, dogs, cats and other animals. I also make sure there is good color contrast on every card.”


Another touch: Texture. “People enjoy being able to feel their cards,” Madelon reports. She uses buttons, ribbons, paper flowers and the like — but never glitter. “Glitter is a no-no because it can fall into food,” Madelon explains. Because texture is another pleasure dimension, people whose vision isn’t strong still derive enjoyment from the cards. Some cards take only  minutes to make; a few take up to 10 minutes. “I try to make 20 cards a day,” says Madelon. “In addition to being fun, making cards is one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done.”
While “Thinking of you” cards were the focus of Madelon’s effort during the lockdown, her cards vary throughout the year to mark the different seasons, holidays — Christmas and Chanukah are big ones — and special occasion days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day.


Accidental Beginning

A happily retired former office manager, 88 year-old Madelon began her hobby accidentally over a decade ago when she saw a notice in her church bulletin seeking crafters to make cards for a social services agency. The idea appealed; she made contact. She found that she loved using paper and odds and ends to create cards. ”I have to use my brain to plan and design each card’s layout,” she says, an activity she describes as completely absorbing and relaxing.


To find the “fixin’s” for her cards, Madelon haunts thrift shops, rummage sales, block parties, church and school sales looking for discarded cards, ribbons, colored note paper, old post cards — anything she can repurpose into cheerful, colorful cards. She’s  laden with supplies and hardly made a dent in what she has during the busy lockdown period.


Citymeals uses her cards because they’re personal, not cookie-cutter commercial items.  “Last year we delivered over 80,000 handmade cards to our homebound, elderly New Yorkers,” reports Vivienne O’Neill, Director of Volunteer Programs. “The cards serve as a reminder to our homebound seniors that someone cares, and they have not been forgotten.” And Madelon? “I hope they bring a few moments of comfort to the recipients while keeping me busy and productive.”


10 responses to “Creative Card-making Lifts Spirits

  1. Interesting article about Creative Card Making. Have you considered offering a workshop on this? I’m in the process of decluttering and have lots of cards I’ve received and purchased that I haven’t sent. Don’t want to throw the cards away. My church has a card ministry. I could send these novel cards to church members.Great way to spend my some of my time during this “strange time.”

  2. My aunt Madelon is truly an amazing woman. While most of us complained about being shut in, she maintains a positive spirit by creating these inspiring cards. In a word, they are spectacular! Her cards are a gift to all who receive them

  3. So thrilled to see Madelon’s talents and commitment recognized. As her niece, I have spent a life time and seen first hand, Madelon’s generosity manifest in so many ways. She is a world traveler, bibliophile, lover of the arts and all things cultural that enrich people’s lives. In her own corner of Manhattan, Madelon creates art beyond monetary value… her cards are important and good for the souls of the “City Meals On Wheels” Recipients!

    1. I make cards too. But u have really inspired me to get off my but and start making more. I know how happy I feel when I get a card. It’s good u are sharing that feeling with so many. I can’t make that many in a day. How do u do it? Thank you for your article. Have a lovely day

  4. So happy to see this article about Madelon! It’s too bad you couldn’t show more of her cards. Her artistic eye and crafting skill are truly amazing! Hallmark should be so lucky! Each card is different, and each one is a visual treat. She even makes complicated pop-up cards.

    Keep in mind, she maintains that production rate all year long, and it’s all volunteer! That’s right! Completely volunteer. She’s one of the most amazing people I know. I only hope I can be that generous and productive when I am 88! Thank you for featuring her! She ought to be in someone’s Hall of Fame.

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