As is our little household tradition, we print up our own Christmas cards every year on a tiny, hand-operated letterpress. We usually try and let our experiences of the past year direct what the design is, and after the second year of pandemic-life, we almost didn’t get our cards made in time for the season, because we couldn’t think of anything exciting that happened in our house in 2021.
Then we spotted the elephant (or should it be cat?) in the room: Of course something totally awesome happened this year – I had my first children’s picture book published! So we went pretty simple with the design, and I drew up Asta driving another absurd vehicle, but in a Christmas stylee. It’s one of my favourite seasonal accoutrements, the yule log!
2020 was a strange year for us all, and one of the (unimportant? privileged?) ways it impacted me is it meant I didn’t travel for Christmas for the first time in more than a decade. The nice thing about this is it gave more time and need for craft projects!
I did multiple projects for Christmas, but a couple stand out enough that I made videos about the creation process on my YouTube channel.
We letterpress our Christmas cards every year, but this year I made a video of the process of creating them, from trying to figure out a design all the way through to trying to figure out who to send them to.
I really like how these turned out – the design is a little out of our usual Christmas card comfort zone, and I think it was all the more successful for it. Watch the video to see the process!
The other project I videoed was a mini-project of making a stained-glass tree topper. It was my first time needing to decorate my own tree, and when we realised we didn’t have a topper, I put the skill I learned from making my cat flap (see previous post!) to work, making one out of glass.
The project came together surprisingly quickly, and surprisingly effectively too. Christmas champion!
We’re always searching for unconventional ideas for our annual hand-letterpressed Christmas cards in my world. Always plenty of bad unconventional ideas come up (I actually think the Angel Grinder was pretty good!), but this year’s was a doozy: eggnog.
I’ve been spending Christmas outside of the UK for so long now I’m not sure if eggnog has finally been imported to these shores, but even in its cultural home of America, it still baffles me. It’s kind of like the milkshake you never wanted.
It doesn’t really taste eggy. It sits in the same American Holiday category as pumpkin pie in my mind – a kind of not-entirely-sweet thing that is equally misunderstood outside of the US. I’ve acquired a taste for pumpkin pie now, but every year I’m on that side of the Atlantic ocean at Christmastime, I drink eggnog and wonder why I’m doing it.
I even went to the effort this year of making my own eggnog from fresh ingredients – the real stuff is basically the same ingredient set as a good gelato, so nothing to be afraid of (though your pipes might feel differently). The homemade stuff was definitely better, but still utterly perplexing.
Perplexing – perfect for our Christmas cards! To print we went, with a nice little halftone pattern giving the illustration that extra bit of depth. Super satisfying!
It’s a slow process, but I’ve been trying to get myself out to more portfolio reviews when I can get them. I’ll usually give people cat stickers or post-it notes, but I had an idea recently to use the tiny letterpress to make some calling cards. Not business cards- I’m far too independent and self-depreciating for them – just something to give someone, to hopefully remind them they met me.
Letterpressing alone would make for a nice and somewhat-unique thing in this world, but I had an idea for how to make them more interesting. I’m constantly drawing robots doing mundane things, which I’ve combined into the cards – along with my name, I’ve letterpressed in a template for a robot, which I can fill in for the recipient based on the mood of the encounter.
As I was printing something as small as intended with my little letterpress (for once), it gave a really good deep impression on the paper stock.
Check out the tiny video I made about making these tiny cards!
Now let’s hope I can find some interesting people to give them to.
While I understand the conventional wisdom that Christmas cards are a postal-service-propping hassle, my good lady Lilly and I do like the annual excuse to put our tiny letterpress through its paces.
Like every year, we try and make the card vaguely thematic to an event from our own past-twelve-months, and this year’s standout event was Lilly showing how excellently she does something when she turns her hand to it – she won the World Bread Award for her home-baked wild-yeast bread this autumn!
Alas, we don’t even have a garden for a wood-fired stove, but Santa’s affinity for chimneys made it a good way to link the season with the achievement. Like one of Lilly’s loaves, the card came out great!
Lilly and I were busy travelling a bit this autumn, so Christmas cards became a bit more of a clandestine operation than in past years. As usual, we struggled to come up with a design. When I sent Lilly a sketch of this it made her laugh, so in absence of a better idea I took a punt on it.
When the plates arrived, Lilly was worried that it wouldn’t be understood by most of our recipients, but sometimes you’ve just gotta be weird. Our rotund Santa has stolen the stollen (which wasn’t the only thing we believe to have been stolen in 2016… Ahem).
I went for slightly smaller cards this year thinking I would do a design that didn’t max out our tiny press so much, but I still ended up pushing the tiny Adana’s limits. We got surprisingly good results out of it though, and the silver ink highlighted the reasonable impression it made too!
Last year was my first year selling my letterpressed christmas cards, and in hindsight, it was a bit ambitious to try and sell every single design I’ve done all at once when I was printing them on demand. To keep things simpler, particularly under the time constraints, I’m just going to be printing and selling the one design this year, which you should be seeing a mockup of above.
This year was the year of the bicycle for me – Lilly and I got bicycles for the first time since we were teenagers, and spent the summer cycling around Hertfordshire, so we decided to reflect that in this year’s design. In developing the illustration, I tried to put Santa on a variety of bicycles (he looked particularly ridiculous on a racer bike!) and found he fit best on a slightly beach-ish cruiser.
As ever, these cards are being hand-letterpressed onto high-quality 300gsm Somerset card stock, and they will come with appropriately-sized envelopes. This year the envelopes are made of recycled paper, which is a big look!
Cards will be pressed and sent out to you during the first week of December, so they arrive with you in good time to send out to your people. It’s a small selling window, so get yours now!
Would you like some to send to your nearest and dearest? Go and get some here!
Ah, November. It’s that time of year when the days get so short you’ll miss the sunlight if you blink, and time to get the old Adana back in motion – it’s Christmas card time!
Lilly and I have been making hand-letterpressed Christmas cards for a while now. We come up with a new design each year, so now we have a little range of designs and feel a bit more organised than past years, I think it’s about damn time I put some up for sale!
As you should see in the lead photo, I have four designs up for sale:
Sleighbell Safari – I haven’t printed this one yet, but it will be a nice black and silver print. Buy Here
…or if you can’t decide which ones you like the best, you can also buy a multipack of all four designs here!
The cards are all printed on a very nice 300gsm Somerset paper stock, so they’re nice and heavy and when combined with the letterpressed artwork, there’s a wonderful tactility to them – something you could never dream of getting from an e-card! All cards will also come with an appropriately sized and coloured envelope – either red or silver.
I’m calling this a speed sale because by the nature of Christmas coming on a fixed date, they’re only going to be up for sale for a couple of weeks. All orders will be printed up and posted out to you by 1st December, which should give you plenty of time to fill out the cards and get them into the mail to your friends and enemies before Royal Mail’s own deadline.
Head over to my tiny webshop now to get your orders in, and send your friends some hand-printed and totally unique christmas cards – receiving mail is awesome!
We got some nice heavy-guage magnesium plates made up of a robin design I came up with under Lilly’s direction. They plates are really good – so much easier than my previous linocut efforts, and capable of a really nice deep impression in the card too.
Unfortunately I was a bit hasty when I started to print up these cards and by rushing I messed up the text on the front a little bit, ending up with a bit of ghosting from improper inking. Oh well.
Other than that we’re pleased with the cards! We’re reclaiming ‘tweeting’ from its modern social-network-meaning! If you’re not British, you might be wondering what robins have to do with Christmas. Wikipedia has an, er, nice section suggesting some reasons robins are associated with Christmas in Britain. I don’t know if it’s common, but when I was small, my Mum used to tell me that robins are Santa’s little watchmen – they had red chests to match Santa’s outfit and they reported back to him on whether you had been good or bad throughout the year so he knew what to give you for Christmas. Haha 🙂