Guess What’s Spinning Out of Control – A Contest!

While growing up, my sister and I kept busy by creating all kinds of art projects. Accustomed to drawing, I chose an art degree and graduated with a Bachelor of Science. I worked at a hospital as a medical illustrator for a few years. When Danny and I were married in 1987,  I drew our first Christmas card which started a family tradition. They never took more than a day. I dashed off to the printer and picked them up when they were done.

step 7

Last year’s card. They were a piece of cake compared to this year’s.

What started out as a simple illustration  has become a complicated marathon. It all started a couple of years ago, when I paged through Robert Sabuda‘s Christmas pop-up books. I stared in wonder at the amazing crafted paper which transformed into 3-d objects before my eyes. The BRILLIANT idea of creating a moving card was born.


How does he do it?

This year, I searched for inspiration in Sabuda’s books once again. I found two pages that popped up and spun. After five hours of studying and trying to copy the paper mechanism that created spin in the book, I had a breakdown. The stupid thing wouldn’t turn.

deconstructing Sabuda

Deconstructing Sabuda. I finally pulled off the circular part to examine the folds underneath.

Instead of wasting more time, I drew the illustration. It only took two hours. I considered printing the card without the pop-up, but something deep down inside screamed, “Don’t give up now! It will be so cool if it works!” I tried to shut the little voice up, strangle it really, but it kept getting louder. I attempted to create the mechanism with heavier card stock. It worked! It was a gift and a curse.

After nearly fifty fun-filled hours of printing, cutting, and pasting, the cards are finished. The small quarter turn I worked so hard to create, may not even be noticed when opening up the card. Oh well… I know it’s there. 

I’m not sure whether it’s determination or stubbornness that won’t let me give up on an idea. Once I visualize a project, I feel compelled to complete it. When I consider the alternative, it feels like defeat.

Doesn’t compelled sound similar to compulsive? I looked it up: “Compulsion is the state of being compelled. The irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the irrationality of the motivation. “ Well, there you go.

I made it to the finish line exhausted, but happy. Next year I promise to keep it simple and sprint through the project. Yeah. Right.

Guess what my family is doing in this year’s Christmas card and I’ll send you one! The more specific the better. If there are more than three winners, I will draw names.

Have you ever felt compelled to do something irrational?

93 thoughts on “Guess What’s Spinning Out of Control – A Contest!

Add yours

  1. I’d guess skiing at Breckenridge, Susie. Or, if I get a second guess, dining in some amazing restaurant in Barcelona. Yes, I get compelled with many projects, especially when I’m doing some kind of fiber arts. I just won’t quit until I figure it out!


  2. Robert Sabuda is a genius. His books always enthral me. There is no way I would ever try to figure out how he does what he does. You are definitely a rock star in my books. I’m hoping you will show us how it all turned out in the New Year.


  3. You are so crafty it hurts my feelings 🙂 Kidding! Can’t wait to see the finished masterpiece. My guess would be you guys are running (jogging? extreme walking?) in the card. Now that I wrote that it seems completely wrong!


  4. Susie, this story and your cards needs to be covered locally and then picked up nationally. I do have one contact at 9 News. Do I have your permission to share?

    Sent from my iPhone Sarah



  5. (Nutcracker dancing on ice?) Do hope your story gets noticed by news – perfect for trending segments.
    I know that pop-up artist. Pop-up book always fascinated me (lucky small child was careful with all those we bought) Impressive you built one! (All that attention to detail helped in med illustration) Of course you had to get that quarter turn…”better is the enemy of good”
    Love all your jingling! (makes me feel lazy!)


    1. Thanks so much Phil!
      I’ve always loved pop-up books too. I had a completely different idea in mind, but maybe I can develop it and do next year’s cards in July! Nah….

      Yeah. What’s up with that barely a quarter turn thing? Oh well. They’re all done. Now if I can fold them flat and put them into envelopes!!!


  6. Hi Susie! Your post sounded a great deal like my artist daughter’s breakdown last night. She conceived a number (2 sides of closely ruled 8×11 paper’s worth) of art projects to draw, construct, and give to her friends for Christmas this year. She did the math last night (never her strong suit–math) and discovered she just wouldn’t be able to finish it all given her school and sports schedule. Oh, the tragedy. I don’t think she’s given up on the ideas, though, math notwithstanding. The compulsion may come with the artistic mind. I do believe there is an artistic temperament… I love that you take time to hand craft cards for your friends and family. THAT is the true meaning of Christmas, I’m thinking… What are you doing? Dancing with joy! 🙂


    1. I feel your daughter’s pain! If I would have known that in the end they would take 50 hours to make, I may have cut back somewhere. Nah!
      I did the math in my head and I think it comes to 45 minutes a card. (Not bad for an art major) Cra Cra!
      I will be joyously dancing through the weekend that’s for sure. 🙂
      That is so interesting about the artistic temperament. I believe you’re right!
      Have a fabulous holiday. Thanks for guessing!


  7. Hmmm…
    There is compulsion, and then there is obsession … Never mind, most genius-types have the latter.
    Is this a photo of the family looking at you in some apprehension wondering what the latest daffty thing is that you are about to get up to? 🙂


  8. If you’re taking requests, after you announce the winner of your card guessing game contest, how about posting a video of how it works? My guess is that you’re rocking around the Christmas tree.


  9. You are sooo far ahead of me. I still have to make calls to relatives to collect addresses and e-mail addresses for the relatives whose envelopes from last year got tossed in the last purge, I mean major cleaning.


  10. Popup card engineering is so satisfying. I can completely understand your obsession (the time spent is not wasted when it is used in an activity that brings satisfaction to you and joy to the recipients.)
    Are you decorating your Christmas tree, or stuffing stockings?


    1. I think I get some joy from sketching and illustrating the cards but the pop ups are a lot of extra cutting and pasting. I need to simplify them next year!!!!
      Thanks for the guess!


  11. I can barely draw a stick figure and you expect me to even attempt anything like this? I’ll leave the crafty masterpiece to you and stick with buying my cards at Hallmark!


  12. Those cards look awesome – and so satisfying to do! Somewhat envious of how well organised you are. In our household, the week or two before the festive moment devolves to a frenzied scrabble to Get Everything Finished, of which festive preparations themselves seem to come last… sigh… I’m not sure how things are in the US, but here in NZ the Christmas period involves about a three week summer shut-down of Absolutely Everything and it’s the apparent need to get the year’s activities finished before the universe (evidently) ends that erodes the time. As I say….sigh…


    1. Nothing closes here until Christmas Day!
      It’s all a facade! But I feel better now that the cards are done, my son graduated from college yesterday and I made my peanut butter balls. Now for a little shopping!
      Merry Christmas!!
      Can you guess what we’re doing In this year’s card???


  13. I guess you are all gathered around the fireplace looking very happy. I am irrational when it comes to trying to fix my old vehicle myself. It becomes a passion. (of course it is a beautiful 1978 Toyota FJ 40 land cruiser , but hey.


  14. Is it a picture of your little wonderful family holding flower pots in front of their chests (like your iconic photo) and you can open the flaps to see what’s behind the pots? 🙂 That would actually be pretty cute! LOL.


  15. Given your disco dancing across parts of Europe this summer, and the fact that your son is a DJ, I’ll guess you’re dancing!

    Can’t wait to see the end result. What ever your family is doing this year, the cards will no doubt be amazing!!


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