Simple Watercolor Christmas Card Tutorial!

We all have just one more week before Christmas! I can’t quite believe it. I’m feeling the need to prioritize the last of my holiday plans so that I can relax and enjoy what’s left of the holidays. In recent years I’ve sent handmade Christmas cards to my close friends and family. I have loved the process of making and sending them, but this year, in the midst of amigurumi orders and having to, for the first time, ship off all our family’s Christmas gifts so they’d arrive by Christmas, I just couldn’t come up with a new card design in time.

But then, while I packed up my very last box, the package of matching goodies inspired me to get my watercolors out and try something. I wish I’d tried it sooner, because I like the results and the technique was SO simple.  You don’t have to know how to draw or paint to make your own customizable handmade watercolor cards.

I remembered a wax crayon I’d saved from an easter egg dye kit I’d bought earlier this year. It is called Dudley’s Magic Crayon which, after a quick Google search, looks like may only be available in easter egg kits? However, a white wax crayon or candle are said to accomplish the same thing: resist the watercolor paint so that the design you’ve drawn shows through the paint.

I got out my trusty Strathmore watercolor cards and hastily drew a basic Christmas tree and star shape on the front with my crayon. I found some of the inexpensive watercolor palettes I’ve had forever that had exactly the three colors I wanted and, with just a few swishes of my brush, I had this!

watercolor cards

OK, I think that one was my second or third try. The first couple times I tried this resist technique I hadn’t gone over the lines with my wax crayon enough times. It’s really hard to see where you’ve drawn because the wax crayon I have is clear. I could hold the paper up to the light to see it, but that doesn’t help when you’re drawing. I found that if I went over each line a couple times, the watercolor paint resisted better. Thus, the design needed to be simple, without any intricate detail. Luckily, that’s what I was going for. I also wanted the color to be more vivid, so once my first coat was dry, I did it one more time: a couple gold swishes, wet my brush, a couple green swishes, wet my brush, a couple rust swishes. Then I tipped my paper a bit so the colors would bleed into each other a bit, and here’s the result!

watercolor cards

So simple! I had a few failures, but the process is so fast, who cares!

I used an old snowflake stencil I had stashed and came up with this one:

watercolor cards

Hey, they aren’t masterpieces, but they are handmade and doing something creative, even though it left my dining room table a mess, helped perk me up one chilly evening last week. I hope the cards perk up their very few recipients. I may have to perfect the designs and use them again next year.

watercolor cards

I’ll have a few more Christmas-related posts before the holidays. I just put my shop on vacation so I can finish up a project or two for Christmas and start the new year refreshed. Thank you so much, everyone, for your support, encouragement, time, and orders this year! I can’t wait to see what creative adventures await in 2013.

 

Cardboard Mobile

The best thing about living in a new city is that, around any corner, you might happen upon something new and inspiring. A few days ago, while out on one of our double stroller walks through the new neighborhood, we happened upon an art gallery. My four-year-old, Jho,and I peeked in the window and found ourselves intrigued with the display of box art. We ventured inside after reassuring the gallery owner that my son could keep his hands off the art. I’m constantly shocked at how interested he is in looking at and talking about art when he is often impatient with making it himself. He was particularly obsessed with a simple mobile. It was made of small rectangular pieces of wood strung intermittently down a white string.

I had taken him inside with the intention that we would go home and make our own art box (we might still), but he was so interested in the mobile that I decided to help him make his own mobile first and you should make one, too! They came out really pretty and the only materials needed are cardboard, string, scissors, and a hole puncher/awl of any kind.

We had no shortage of boxes or cardboard after the big move, so I decided cardboard would be used instead of wood. We started by cutting different sized cardboard rectangles from long strips of cardboard I had already prepared for him. He decided where to make the cuts. Then I asked if he wanted the cardboard to be painted or plain like the wood mobile we saw. He decided to paint his cardboard pieces blue and green (his favorite colors).

I set him up with a sponge brush and blue and green acrylic paint. We painted both sides and let those dry.

Then I introduced him to my awl tool and he helped me carefully poke a hole through the middle of each cardboard piece. Then I showed him how to thread a big, blunt tapestry needle with white ribbon and he learned to poke the needle through the holes.

I helped him tie knots above and below each cardboard piece so they would hang a few inches from each other and knotted a loop on the top for hanging.

I was actually really pleasantly surprised at the result and could imagine making lots of these in all different colors for beautiful party decorations.

We moved just after Jho had started a preschool program in Orlando and I have been feeling so guilty about his lack of structured, fun things to do with other kids. I’m trying to have fun projects and outings ready for him until I can figure out a school (or not?) for him. We live right next to a children’s art museum and, on their website, I found this really cute Fall project to do next.

It’s the perfect project for this week because we just discovered this beautiful section of town called Preservation Park surrounded with trees like these. I love our new neighborhood!

 

Florida Fun Friday: Rain?

What does one do in Florida when it’s stormy outside? Crochet! That’s probably what I’ll spend most of my time doing this weekend. I am loading up on inventory for my first craft show. Today, feeling bummed out by bad weather, lack of sleep (teething baby), and just general frustration about stupid things, I went to the craft store and did some yarn-shopping therapy (cheers me up every time!) Now I have exactly the perfect colors to make some adorable turtles and a couple more hot air balloons (my new FAVORITE thing!) I would take pictures and post them, but today’s not the day for good pictures. No rain on the product!

Other than crocheting, this rainy weekend will probably entail an IKEA trip for new lighting in our kitchen and maybe the hanging of billions of pictures for our picture frame wall project (long overdue!)

Since my weekend will be pretty blah and uneventful, I’ll share a project I did with my three-year-old two nights ago. I’ve been looking for inspiration in strange places lately, trying to be extra attentive to the world around me. While cutting some baby bok choy for dinner I noticed that the cut part looked like flowers! People try really hard to cut vegetables into flower shapes and here were perfect rose garnishes ready to go with one chop!

Jho and I always have fun playing with my stamps, so I thought we could use the baby bok choy ends for some print-making. We started rummaging through the pantry to find some other foods that might make good stamps. Leftover red onions made great concentric circles. We threw in a couple banana slices and leaves, too. 

I unrolled a section of white newsprint (purchased very inexpensively at IKEA) and poured out some tempera paint and went to town.

The results weren’t beautiful, but it was fun and messy and different. Next time, we’ll  paint with our feet.  Happy weekend!