Going Hallmark one better


Should one need a christening card, Penny Black tells how to make it in her charming, diminutive "The Book of Cards and Collages" (Simon & Schuster, 1993, $17). She also gives directions for making cards to mark anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine's Day, birthdays, as well as directions for "everyday" cards that are anything but ordinary.

All the cards begin with the special papers on which Ms. Black arranges her pressed and dried flower, seed, vegetable and textile scrap designs. The more recycled and organic-looking the papers, the better. The results are unique, miniature pieces of art made from natural ingredients. Everything from autumn leaves and fern fronds to dried, pressed butterflies and herbs comprise Ms. Black's designs.

Collages are also a part of Ms. Black's metier. Her section on stained-glass windows is particularly appealing. She explores the possibilities of such unlikely partners in design as scraps of corrugated cardboard, satin ribbon, blue bell, wild mignonette and clematis blooms.

Her directions for creating the designs are easy to follow, and illustrations of the finished products should inspire even the least dextrous.

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