There was always that kid in school, the kid whose idea of a Valentine's Day gift wasn't exactly a construction paper heart espousing saccharine sentiments. Instead, she spray-painted dead praying mantises, coated them with glitter and slid pastel candy hearts between their serrated forelegs. Quite possibly, Alicia Devora, creator of these quaintly offbeat Valentine's cards, was such a child once.
"My cards are not for everybody," Devora says. "My biggest seller of all says, 'Sorry I got drunk.'"
The tiny, macabre worlds Devora depicts in her cards are populated by nuns clutching giant corn dogs, medieval gentlemen showing off rockets and monkeys presenting elaborately wrapped gifts. Her line of Valentine's Day cards is sweet enough to charm even the most bitter Cupid-phobe and novel enough to satisfy the tastes of barely reformed arts-and-crafts weirdos.
"I make cards out of stickers, and if I cannot find the stickers to buy, then I make stickers," says Devora, whose hobby-cum-cottage industry began after a $200 shopping spree in the sticker aisle of Michael's Arts & Crafts during her Katrina evacuation. "I actually have a sticker machine. When I work on cards, I cover an 11-foot table with thousands of stickers, and I play with them. I hold all the pictures together and try to figure out what would go with what. I have a lot of fun."
Devora's cards are for sale at the Freret Street Market (unless it's raining; moisture wreaks havoc on her cards), Pack Rat Shipping and Lucky You! A restorer of textiles by day, Devora works 'round the clock making stickers, painstakingly cutting them out by hand and arranging them into odd little tableaus.
"I do my best work in the middle of the night," Devora says. "If [a card] makes me laugh at 3 a.m., I know it's a good one."