Three simple Christmas card ideas

November 28, 2016

christmas craft, how to make christmas cards, scandinavian simple monochrome designs using brushstroke lettering, leaf and potato printing

Image: Design Soda

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It’s less than a month til Christmas! Let me just say that again so that it really sinks in, really, where did that come from?! I’ve been happily dancing through November and suddenly it’s almost over and so Advent begins.  Expect a few Christmas related posts on the blog over the next 10 days, starting with some super simple and quick Christmas Card designs I’ve made. I love homemade cards at Christmas, and I love it when I receive a hand drawn scene, there’s something quite old school about receiving something on paper that somebody has put thought into, but I really can’t draw, that’s not faux modesty but a true and much maligned statement of fact. I would love to be able to, if something needs putting together visually I’m your girl but if you need a drawing of it I’m woefully not, when I find the time it’s something I’d love to learn but it’s something that defeats me at present. However, despite total lack of ability I do like to make homemade Christmas cards when I’m able to find a minute. And this year I’ve managed to come up with three super simple designs that not only don’t steal all the time I really haven’t got (you could make all three in an evening, really not much longer than it takes to write the messages) but also I think pack a punch way beyond my childlike ability to draw.

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christmas craft, how to make christmas cards, scandinavian simple monochrome designs using brushstroke lettering, leaf and potato printing techniques

Image: Design Soda

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Like any self respecting 8 year old, I can draw Christmas trees and sprigs of holly so I’ve taken that as my base point, I also have nice handwriting (happy to own that self congratulation) and I’ve been looking around the house at winter things that I like. I’ve decided on three card designs that are pretty Scandinavian in sensibility and require zero drawing skills (hurrah) as they are based on primary school favourites like potato and leaf printing, or simple old handwriting practice! They are all monochrome, so achievable on a budget without buying loads of art supplies, and pack quite a punch above the effort involved, here are the instructions for each. 

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christmas craft, how to make christmas leaf print christmas tree card, scandinavian simple monochrome design

Image: Design Soda

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Leaf Print Christmas Tree:

You will need:

Blank white cards

A fern leaf (or other suitable shaped leaf)

Black acrylic art ink

Flat paint brush

Metallic gold pen (or your colour of choice)

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christmas craft, how to make christmas leaf print christmas tree card, scandinavian simple monochrome design

Image: Design Soda

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Method:

This really is such a simple card, to be totally honest I massively over complicated it, because I hadn’t done leaf printing before I spent ages testing out ink amounts and pressures but it’s actually pretty instinctive. First up you need to coat the front of your leaf with ink, bear in mind a little on the brush goes a long way. Put some newspaper down underneath to avoid any spillages on tables etc, get a scrap of paper to test with and place the leaf face down onto paper, now place another piece of scrap on top of the leaf and press down with your hands applying equal pressure onto the whole surface, I tend to find that when you can feel all the veins of the leaf under your fingers the correct pressure had been applied. Now put the card to one side and let it dry, start again with next card and repeat until you have enough cards. Now for the decoration! Because I’m really swayed by the whole Scandi Christmas look this year (and probably also because of my lack of artistic technique) I stayed pretty minimal with my gold pen, drawing a star at the top and some gold dots to represent baubles or lights. You could really go to town on this part, so if you have better abilities than me (I’m jealous), do decorate your tree with anything you’d like to have hanging on it. Voila, a super simple Christmas card that I think packs quite a lot of dash.

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christmas craft, how to make brush stroke letting christmas cards, scandinavian simple monochrome design

Image: Design Soda

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Brush stroke lettering card:

You will need:

Blank cards

A fine paint brush and some drawing ink

or a dual drawing pen (easier and less mess)

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christmas craft, how to make brush stroke letting christmas cards, scandinavian simple monochrome design

Image: Design Soda

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Method:

If you have naturally attractive hand writing then you are in luck, but if not this is a fairly easy style to pick up, and it looks really great on cards. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours at Anthropologie, Spitalfields, a few weeks ago doing a Brush Stroke Lettering workshop with brilliant illustrator Bee Davies illustration. I really recommend these workshops as you get an almost full refund for the class with a purchase on the day, and we had fabulous mince pies and prosecco on tap! I picked up a few great hints and tips, one of the most important of which was to make harder imprints with each downward stroke on your lettering and release this to a lighter hold on each upward curve of a letter. As part of the workshop we were given Bee’s fabulous alphabet to practice with and this is what I’ve used as my reference point, but I have googled it and you can find lots of examples of brush stroke lettering alphabets to use in its place. You could even buy Lamplighter London’s Nib + Ink for £12.99 (which is on my Christmas wish list) if you want to get really into it. One word of advice, practice copying an alphabet a few times but try to be as quick and natural as possible, this will greatly improve the natural authenticity of your lettering, too slow and too copied can look very staged and a little disjointed. You can write these cards (as I have done) with a dual drawing pen like this, or with drawing ink and a fine brush. Have a go, it really is quite a simple skill to pick up. 

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Christmas card craft easy potato printing trees, card design, scandinavian monochrome

Image: Design Soda

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Potato print cards:

You will need:

A potato

A flat brush

Craft knife

Black acrylic ink

Blank cards 

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Christmas card craft easy potato printing tree giftwrap wrapping paper, card design, scandinavian monochrome

Image: Design Soda

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Method:

 I think this is my favourite design, once you’ve made your stamp you can print it on pretty well anything (see examples above). Tree design is pretty crucial here, when thinking of black and white fir tree designs there’s only really one pattern in my eyes, and it is of course Swedish – the Gran pattern by Fine Little Day which we have as a cushion in our living room. I love it’s simplicity and boldness, there’s both a sophistication and a childlike joyfulness to it. Start by drawing out your tree design on paper until you are happy with the silhouette, then shade it in so that you have an idea of its impact. Now cut out your shape and draw around it on a practice card in the same formation you intend to print it (the picture below contains my practice run with a colouring pen). If you are happy, now is the time to slice your potato in half! Once you have your potato half, take a fine blade craft knife and place your tree shape in the centre, use the finest part of the blade to draw around your tree. Once you have your outline, remove the paper silhouette and start making more defined cuts into the potato. Cut sections of the outer part away in small sections until you have a 0.5cm tree shape left in the middle (see picture for illustration above). Now paint your shape with the acrylic ink and practice stamping on some scrap paper to ascertain how much ink is best, I rather like less ink and more irregular trees, but I did also try it with more ink which produced a lovely bold pattern. You are now ready to start printing. I began by printing onto simple white cards, simply paint the ink into your shape press down, release potato and repeat. I liked the design so much that I then decided to print some more on white card and cut them out to make gift tags, then I printed them on some plain brown IKEA gift wrap we had in the cupboard and I’m rather pleased with the result. It’s a good job I ran out of time or I may have started stamping everything in the house! I think it’s pretty splendid together as a set. What do you think? Which one would you give a try? 

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christmas craft, how to make christmas cards, scandinavian simple monochrome design

Image: Design Soda

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