If giving greeting cards is a lost art, then Nancy Croker of rural Colo is perhaps a “lost soul.”
Because once a month, Croker, originally from Maxwell, where many remember her as Nancy Swalwell, gathers together women who have signed up, and they make cards. Fancy cards. Beautiful cards. Sometimes personalized cards.
Buying her supplies through a company called Stampin’ Up, Croker loves to make cards and help others make cards, and by doing so, she hopes she is, in some small way, keeping the art of card-making and card-giving live.
One month was mix of birthday, wedding and sympathy cards, another month it was get well cards and birthday cards, last week it was Christmas cards. “When we go to vendor shows (craft shows and such, where homemade things are sold), Christmas is a big seller,” said Croker, who spends lots of time making cards that she will later sell.
This fascination with card-making started as a fascination for another paper craft — scrapbooking. After getting married to Dave Croker 22 years ago, and having two step-children and one child of her own living at home, Croker started doing scrapbooking with pictures of the kids.
“I’ve always been crafty,” said the 1978 graduate of Maxwell High School. “I wanted to go to art school, but my dad didn’t think that was a career.”
So, she gave up on that dream back then, working in a factory for a time. Later, she went back to school at DMACC to gain computer and office skills and she worked in office jobs for awhile. She’s also worked at in-home care positions and did a stint as a sorority cook at Iowa State.
Her spare time, however, is largely devoted to crafting and primarily card-making.
Just like with scrapbooking, Croker said, once she got into it, she went “full bore,” often buying whatever materials were needed to make the best things. She’d tell us how much she’s spent on supplies with her paper crafts, but she said she doesn’t dare let her husband read that in the newspaper.
When it comes to card-making, she doesn’t have a favorite type of card. “I really love them all.” And she loves having the classes at her house, where she gets everyone’s packet ready, so that when they arrive they can start making the cards. Each packet is $25 and contains all the papers and details needed to make five different card designs. Croker has supplies for each participant to make two of each card, so for the $25, they leave with 10 cards, which they can personalize in pretty much any way they want, or follow along with the design she’s already created.
Nicole Miller, of Roland, who was making cards last week, has come to Croker’s house twice before for card-making. “I love cards and I have a ton of them,” Miller said. But she doesn’t feel she’s a very crafty person, so she loves that Croker has all the card designs done in a way that they’ll look nice and she can just follow that pattern and make hers look the same.
Croker said that’s what’s fun about watching the different people who come to create cards. Some like to follow along with the designs she has made, but others like to tweak those designs or personalize their cards and she enjoys seeing what they do with theirs.
While card-making is a bit of a money-maker for Croker, she said getting into card-making has been “not so much about making money, but about doing something that I love to do.”
Even when she’s getting all the supplies lined up for a night of card-making, which can be time consuming and stressful, Croker said everything comes back to the fact that she loves art. This is finally how she’s living out that dream of being an artist.
Anyone who would like to keep card-making and card-giving alive is more than welcome to join one of Croker’s monthly card classes, which she announces on Facebook at: Nancy’s stamping creative room. For those not interested in making cards, but who would like to have Croker make cards for them, contact her at 515-290-8225.