Eucalyptus And Stars - Homemade Christmas Cards Part Two

I've made Christmas cards pretty much every year since I was five. I have many happy childhood memories (sliding down haystacks, making wigwams in the back garden, falling out of trees), and one of them is the annual ritual of making dozens of Christmas cards, usually by lino printing.

I haven't made Christmas cards for a couple of years, because I've just been too busy - but this year I have a magical three weeks off, and have been able to fully indulge myself.

Here's the results of my handmade stencilled and spray-painted Christmas cards, of which I shared a sneak preview yesterday:

I was inspired to create these cards by Hannah Nunn and Mr Yen, who are two very talented UK paper cutters. You can see the wonderful lamp that I purchased from Hannah in situ here, and visit her shop here. I featured one of Mr Yen's handcut Christmas cards in my Etsy Christmas card round-up, and you can visit his Etsy shop here.

I like my Christmas cards to be quite neutral, and ideally with a simple, organic motif. Something that whispers 'festive'. This year, I chose Eucalyptus and Stars as my theme, based on the lovely eucalyptus trees in our back garden:

Here are my tools - recycled notecards and envelopes from Paperchase (natch), some creamy textured paper, a 50cm ruler, and a sharp craft knife:

So the first step was to sketch the design. I drew it lightly in pencil, then firmly in pencil, and then used a fresh sheet of paper to trace the design in black ink:

I scanned the image, saved it as a jpeg, re-sized it to fit the notecards, and printed it onto an A4 sheet of stiff paper (this would be my stencil):

Then I started to cut - here's how it progressed:

Cutting those tiny eucalyptus leaves took some time, I can tell you!

Now, here's where my already comprehensive admiration for Hannah and Mr Yen really moved to the next level. I cut out one design, which took nearly an hour, and gave me one heck of a sore thumb. The idea was that I would then use this as a stencil to spray-paint through. 

However, what Hannah and Mr Yen do is just keep right on cutting - design after design. Their paper-cuts are not stencils - they're the end design. Need 20 cards? Then you need to cut 20 individual designs. Respect, guys. I don't know how you have the patience!

Having cut my stencil, I was ready to start spray-painting. With a stencil this elaborate, the cut-out pieces tend to lift up. So I used tiny pieces of blu-tack to ensure that the stencil would stick properly to the paper underneath it:

I sprayed the design onto rectangular pieces of creamy textured paper that I had hand-torn to fit neatly onto the front of the notecards, leaving a little border on all sides.

If you've ever spray-painted before, you'll know that the stuff goes everywhere. It was too cold to head outside (it's been snowing quite a lot in Manchester, if you haven't already noticed), so my solution was to place my stencil into an old cool-box, which has high sides and a lid, and neatly kept the spray from decorating the rest of the room:

As you can see, I was ably assisted by two furry helpers. Don't worry, I banished them to another room when I actually started spraying paint all over the place.

Here's how the first four turned out:

It was at this stage that I had a bit of a light-bulb moment. Spraying through the stencil made it very wet with paint on top. So I had to stick a sheet of paper over it in order to lift it out of the box, and pull it away from the textured paper, without getting paint everywhere. I realised that when I peeled this sheet of paper away from the stencil, the paint had transferred to the paper:

And what do you know, I actually preferred the accidental-cream-silhouette on-chocolate-background design. So from that point onwards I made two cards for each spray - one chocolate on cream, one cream on chocolate.

I printed the words Happy Christmas onto another sheet of the same cream textured paper, using the font Rough Typewriter (which I downloaded from Dafont). I then hand-tore each Happy Christmas individually:

All that remained was to assemble the cards. Stick picture onto front. Stick Happy Christmas inside. Write 'Eucalyptus and Stars STN Dec 09' on the back in silver pen. And I was done!

Here are some tips for anyone who is considering making something similar for future festive occasions.

  • Making cards by hand is not a cheap option. By the time I had bought the paper, spray paint and craft knife, I'd spent well over the average price of a boxed Christmas card.
  • Making cards by hand takes hours. It is not something you can knock together in an afternoon. Pretty much it will take at least twice as long as you were expecting.
  • Mix it up while you go along. Spray some designs. Rip some paper. Assemble what you've done so far. Spray some more designs. For some reason, approaching card-making this way makes it feel like less of a chore - I guess because you're not stuck doing the same thing over and over and over again.
  • Spray paint goes everywhere. Do not get a manicure and then get busy with a can of spray paint!
  • Do not use a can of spray paint as a hammer - it will not end well. Actually that's a whole other story...

And there you have it - that's how I made my Christmas cards this year. I hope you enjoyed this little show and tell :-)

So do you send Christmas cards? Do you make Christmas cards?

Christmas Eve tomorrow! Yayness. After tackling my Christmas cards, my next big project was to wrap a whole stack of presents in brown paper, hessian, lace, net and twine. I'll be sharing the results tomorrow - stay tuned! And if I don't see you again before the big day, I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with your family and friends. Peace, ya'll.