Book Review: Originals: Handcrafted Cards Made Easy by Jeanette R. Lynton

Reported by: Kristine Fowler
Those of you who are fans of Close To My Heart might recognize the term “Originals Card Confidence Program” from years (and Idea Books) gone by. Launched in 2002, the Card Confidence Program was published in a series of 3 unbound (i.e. loose sheet) collections, with a coordinating binder available at an extra cost. Well, in September 2008, that program was given a complete re-model, combining many (although not all) of the ‘original’ patterns into one complete hard-cover volume, showcasing current design trends, and featuring recently released Close To My Heart products. The book “Originals” is the fourth installment in the series of how-to books by Jeanette R. Lynton which includes Cherish (2005), Imagine (2006), and Reflections (2007).

For those of you not familiar with Originals, trust me when I say, you’ve been missing out. This book is absoltely beautiful, and is a definite go-to for me when I’m in need of some inspiration. Inside are layout blueprints, exact dimensions, fold placement guides, templates, and step-by-step instructions for constructing 99 different handmade cards. Of course, with the 99 blueprints, there are an unlimited number of design possibilities as each one can be created as shown (if you have the materials), or customized using your own paper & embellishments. The blueprints can also be flipped & rotated to achieve a whole new look. Perhaps the best way to explain the book is to quote the author, Jeanette R. Lynton. In an open letter to the reader Jeanette explains:

“These patterns may help you get started, but you’ll add the ‘heart’ that is uniquely your own. That’s why I call this book Originals – my patterns become your original handmade cards with your personality, your style, your creative twists.”

The book opens with a 2-page description of some of cardmaking’s basic principles; folding your card base, choosing papers, patterns and colors, customization, templates & envelopes. While perhaps targeted at the novice cardmaker, it doesn’t hurt even the seasoned crafter to give this page a read as it includes some great tips and information. Next, the reader is treated to a 4-page Quick Reference Guide (a portion of which is shown below) to assist them in choosing a blueprint to use as a starting point.

There are blueprints included for 7 different card sizes:

  • 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
  • 3″ x 3″
  • 4 3/4″ x 3″
  • 5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″
  • 5″ x 7″
  • 6″ x 6″
  • 8″ x 3 1/2″

Once you’ve chosen your blueprint, you then need simply turn to the appropriate page in the book to find it and start creating. Here is a sample of what you can expect to see when referencing a blueprint:

Pattern copyright 2008 JRL Publications

In this case (called Presented to You), from left to right we see: a full-color sample, a list of Paper Dimensions for each piece on the card, step-by-step instructions for putting it all together, along with the black-and-white-blueprint.

Additional samples of this card layout can be found elsewhere in the book on pages 74 and 126. Here is what you’ll see there:

Images & Artwork copyright 2008 JRL Publications

As you can see – 3 very different cards have been created using the same blueprint – very quickly demonstrating the flexibility of these designs.

For my art project today, I have decided to create a card or two using the Pretty Simple blueprint. The basic black-and-white blueprint is shown here. I chose this one for a couple of reasons: (1) the design is simple and I believe it to be quite versatile, and (2) I am able to share with you in full, the layout blueprint, complete with instructions so you can try it out for yourself. To download the copyright free blueprint, click here.

My takes on this design are shown below. You can see for both, I did take some creative license modifying the basic blueprint to suit my needs. In the first card, I added a sentiment below piece A, and in the second, I matted piece A and made the sentiment block slightly bigger and stretched it over to reach the right of the card. Again, it’s important to point out that while these cards use the same basic blueprint, they are indeed very different in appearance proving that you can use the book and blueprints again and again.

Supplies used: CTMH Emporium Paper Packet & My Stickease, Ric Rac, CTMH Cupcake Sprinkles stamp set, CTMH Love Story Rub-ons, Marvy Liquid Applique, Prisma Glitter (it’s on the cupcake icing, but it didn’t photograph well)

Supplies used: CTMH Emporium Paper Packet & My Stickease, Ric Rac, CTMH Because of You stamp set. The blue background of this card is textured, although you can’t see this in the picture.

At risk of rambling (as I always do), there are a few other things that need to be mentioned in order for you to get a good handle on what this book is all about. First, for inspirational reference purposes, the artwork in the book is divided into 12 sections, one for each major card-giving occasion of the year. (All Occasion, Baby, Birthday, Easter, Friendship, Graduation, Inspirational, Invitation, Sympathy, Thank-You, Valentine, and Wedding). So if you need to create a Sympathy card, you can at first be inspired by looking to the Sympathy section. By no means does this prevent you from using a blueprint from the Wedding section to create your card — in fact, the Pretty Simple blueprint that I used above is from the Valentine section — and neither one of my cards are Valentines! You may find though that flipping first to the Occasion you need right away will help get your creative juices flowing.

Scattered throughout the book are also more than 50 of “Jeanette’s Tips.” Some of these tips give instruction for creating texture, adding dimension, suggest ways to use different embellishments and much more. Even the novice will be able to incorporate many of these tips and design elements into their finished cards.

Another bonus you get with this book is a Template CD which includes printable pdf files of the non-standard shaped panels (that is those that are a not purely rectangular or round) that are used on some of the cards. So for example, if a blueprint includes a tag, you could simply open the the pdf file, and print your tag directly on the back of the paper you wish to use and then cut it out. No muss, no fuss. You’ll get a perfect shape every time. The CD also includes printable templates for 6 different standard envelopes so that you may cut and customize your own packaging.

So what’s the bottom line?

  • For CTMH fans the setup of the book will be familiar as it follows the same basic principles (blueprints, artwork, instructions, tips & suggestions) as the first 3 books in the how-to series.
  • The book is hardbound for sturdiness, but the inside pages are held in by a spiral coil so that the pages lay flat when the book is open on your desk (big thumbs up on this one!).
  • 99 blueprints are included, each with at least 2 full color samples of how the blueprint can be used and all page numbers are cross-referenced (definitely lots of eye candy here!)
  • The artwork is current with trends seen all over the industry: stitching, paper tearing & rolling, inked edges, lots of dimension, etc.
  • Over 50 ‘tips’ to assist you in taking your creativity to the next level.
  • Detailed supply lists and accurate step-by-step instructions make this a true how-to book.
  • Templates for non-standard shaped panels are included to make duplicating the card layout as simple as possible.
  • Envelope templates are included making custom packaging a breeze.


  • At present, the book is available only through a CTMH consultant. In time though, you will start seeing it elsewhere – in craft stores, book stores etc. if you decide to wait. Typically books by Jeanette Lynton are sold exclusively through CTMH for about a year before they are made available to main stream retail outlets.
  • Owners of the originally released (2002) Card Confidence program by CTMH, may be a bit disappointed to find that there are no new blueprints included in the 2008 release.
  • There are no 4″ x 4″ or 5″ x 5″ card patterns. These were not included in the 2002 version either. With some simple math however, most of the 6″ x 6″ patterns can be ‘reduced’ to fit one of these smaller frames.
  • The book does not include ALL of the blueprints from the 2002 Originals 3-volume series, it would be nice to see the rest of those old blueprints ‘refreshed’ as well.
  • I would have like to have seen more 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ blueprints included in this book. There are only 15.

Originals retails for $37.50 Canadian ($29.95 US) and is available from your Close To My Heart Consultant, as is all of the beautiful product used in the book to create the samples. If you do not already have one, you can follow this link to find a consultant in your area.

Overall I give this book a 8 1/2 out of 10. Although it is a revamped ‘refreshed’ release of the 2002 program which as I said may disappoint some, the artwork is truly extraordinary and well worth the re-investment of funds. The card designs are simple, yet elegant. They are versatile and fun.

Do you own “Originals” or is it on your Wish List for the future? Let us know! Leave us a comment, we’d love to hear what you think.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

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6 Responses to Book Review: Originals: Handcrafted Cards Made Easy by Jeanette R. Lynton

  1. Avatar
    Christine June 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm #

    Wow, what an awesome review. I was not familiar with this series and love all the details that you included. I really got a feel for what this is all about. I love card sketches so this might be a great buy for me. Thanks for all of the info!
    xoxo, Christine

    Sorry about the above post. I was logged in wrong.

  2. Avatar
    sandyh50 June 1, 2009 at 10:11 pm #

    What a great review! I just got Originals this month and have heard rave reviews about Jeanette’s “Wishes” book that comes out today, June 1st. Some say Wishes has more of the newer medium to advanced card making techniques in it. I can’t wait to get that one too.

  3. Avatar
    Kristine June 2, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    I just ordered Wishes myself and should receive it within the next week or so. I can’t wait!

  4. Avatar
    Cyndie June 2, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Lovely to see a great review for CTMH products. I found a link to this site through the Close to my Heart consultant messageboard. I will bookmark this site and check out the content. The Originals book is great, the Wishes book is even better! I have all the program books and I cannot scrapbook or make cards without them.

  5. Avatar
    Carolyn June 2, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    I am a Close to My Heart consultant and I also found out about your review on our message boards. Thanks much for the great review. I always tell people about our How-To program books. They are excellent! I use them all the time and they have made scrapbooking and cardmaking a breeze!

  6. Avatar
    Oma June 2, 2009 at 7:12 pm #

    My niece is a CTMH Consultant and I ordered this book from her. It helped me a lot when I started making cards. The book is well written with easy to follow instructions and the photos are excellent. I would recommend this book for the novice stamper.