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!
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!
With Christmas well and truly over, hopefully everybody has received all the Santa Cruiser cards destined for them by now! Here’s the story (and a few pictures behind the design.
I really wanted to do this illustration I came up with last christmas I called ‘The Nutkraken’ for our cards this year, but even after drawing it all up properly, the idea was nixed by Lilly.
Back at the drawing board post-it pad, I set about coming up with some other ideas, including this one I called ‘Santa and his Elvis’. This was nixed too:
Eventually we came back to trying to reflect what happened in the past year, and decided that getting bicycles was probably the biggest thing. I put Santa on various bicycles, including some more conventional bikes like our own, and fancy racing bikes like my cat stickers, but his rotund nature meant he was best suited to a very upright cruiser bike. Here’s the final sketch, before tidying up:
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!
Happy December, internet folk! After a few weeks of tinkering, begging for supplies, doing test prints, whittling and re-engineering, Lilly and I have finally made our first useable letterpressed product- some christmas cards to send to friends and family!