December 28, 2009

Ho, ho, ho! - Back After a Hiatus!

Hello, again! It seems that I have gotten lazy over the past few months. My creative juices ran dry after only 5 posts... in June?!

Not really. Let me explain and offer some advice. Never take on a large project in something in which you have no confidence. For me, that's writing fiction. I thought it would be fun to try taking on a new version of a chapter of Pride and Prejudice written in a modern tone. Except that I had forgotten how bad I was at writing fiction. Three weeks later, and totally burned out, I was left with a sucky version of HALF of the chapter and had been sapped of any desire to do something creative. For those interested in the text - too bad. That crap will never see the light of day. Working with physical objects is more my speed.

So, I'm back now, doing the things I enjoy! I've been occupying myself for the last month or two with my all-consuming annual project: handmade holiday cards! Typically, this involves a lot of paper, scissors, and glue - and this year hasn't been any different.

First, the design. This is inevitably the most maddening part of the process. Searching for ideas doesn't always work. I usually look through my little card making book, catalogs, magazines... Usually the idea just comes to me: a flash of inspiration (eureka!) in the middle of the day when I'm working on something totally unrelated to greeting cards.

Having been obsessed with Mad Men (including a theme party earlier this year), I drew inspiration from the show and AMC's "Mad Men Yourself" application. I figured that a little 60's style would be fun for my holiday cards. Who doesn't want a Gimlet, skinny tie, or house frock to brighten up the holiday season?

So, I made pictures of a male and female figure with the suit and dress that I liked:

Then I printed those images out on white paper and then cut out the clothing only so I could get a clean silhouette without the other body parts. I scanned the images back onto the computer so I could print them en masse from Powerpoint directly onto the red paper I was using. (This year's card was designed to be made mostly from leftover paper from previous years. If any of you do arts and crafts, you know what I mean. I am sick of having random paper scraps lying around the house!)

Snip, snip! Dresses and suits in red!

I used organdy ribbon to create a ruffle at the bottom of the dress. Despite my horrific freehand sewing skills, I gathered the organdy ribbon with a needle and thread to make a bunch of little ribbon lengths. I then sewed them onto the bottom of each dress to create a raised "hem." It's surprisingly difficult to create a length of ribbon the same length as a piece of paper unless you're measuring against it every second.

Cut velvet ribbon was used for the trim around the red suit jacket. I glued the ribbon to the jacket and then trimmed with scissors for a custom tailor job. Santa needs to look as slim for the big night!

I freehand drew some Santa hats. I have to tell you that Santa hats can look weird if you don't get the droopiness just right.

Sticking everything to the card and finishing it off with a "Merry Christmas" stamp is where the relief sets in for me. Sadly, I was a little indecisive this year about how I wanted things positioned, so there were a few versions as I have shown below, a few versions where the couple look like they are toasting each other, and a few versions with crooked stamp placement. (I should add that the stamp is totally optional in the case of non-religious friends. Unfortunately, I may have already offended with the Santa theme. Oh, well.)

Voila! It's a swingin' 60's Santa with his Mrs. Claus. Times 40 cards. Equals a lot of time devoted to cards instead of holiday shopping.

This year's design is definitely not my favorite. Aren't we always our own harshest critics? Below is a lineup of my work over the years. I loooove my paper.

The bottom three are "Christmas Surprises:"

Materials used for this project:
  • Clothing design from "Mad Men Yourself"
  • Needle and thread
  • White organdy ribbon
  • White velvet ribbon
  • White pompons
  • Sharp paper scissors
  • Paper, A2 and A4 cards and envelopes from Paper Source
  • Glue
Final note: Until I put together the full lineup, I didn't realize that I have been making these cards for the past eight holiday seasons. Time flies, as evidenced by my long absence. I hope that everyone out there has had a great 2009; cheers to an even better, more creative 2010!

1 comment:

  1. I totally look forward to your annual holiday cards and love getting them to see what the creation is for the year!!! It's so great to now know the inspiration and process with which they were made!!! Can you do that for every holiday card you make from now on? :) Happy new year!!!