All my Years at Art School Have Come to This…
I MADE A CRAFT-LIKE CHRISTMAS THING.
In that order.
I documented the process for the Handmade Christmas Project where other insane people make things from other things. So without further achoo, BEHOLD my
Woodcut Style Secular Christmas Card Prints (in 16 easy steps)
Lose entire days to Pinterest. After day 4 without a shower, decide on a craft that you can’t possibly mangle beyond recognition. And costs approximately free.
Find a clean, quiet workspace free from distractions and interruptions. I have never known a space like that, so I started at my desk.
Get your stuff together, literally and metaphorically. There’s today’s pep talk.
You will need:
- Styrofoam (from wrapped meat, veggies or takeout containers, etc). Thoroughly washed because e.coli is a crap Christmas gift.
- Paint (I used cheapo dollar store paint, but any thick-ish water based paint would probably be fine. Tempra, acrylic, undiluted water colours/gouache, kids finger paint, expired mayonnaise, etc.)
- Scissors to cut out pieces of styrofoam and cut your paper to size
- Paper. I used pages from old sketchbooks. You can buy blank watercolour cards at arts and crafts stores, and I think they’re totally worth it. But you can experiment with whatever you have lying around the house. Bond paper, outdated resumes, cardboard, bills you’re ignoring, etc.
- Applicator. I experimented with a print roller (sucked), paintbrushes (mixed results), and a generic paint sponge (my favourite).
- Palette. I used styrofoam for this too. A flat surface is probably the best especially if your using a sponge.
- Pencil and Eraser. I recommend a soft pencil if you have one (B pencils), but any old HB pencil is fine.
- Water in a very stable, wide mouthed container for which you have no sentimental attachments. Many things can go wrong with this element. Choose wisely, because I don’t want to see you cry.
- Refreshments are optional but made my night merry.
- Space to let your treasures dry. I forgot about this, and it was a giant pain in the ass. A few pieces of string tacked up to make a temporary clothes line would be really smart. Or a clean kitchen counter which I heard exists but I have my doubts.
Make a simple drawing without too much detail on paper first (unless you’re super confident that you can draw freehand direct to foam). If you start shading, cross hatching, or drawing the individual scales on a fish, your finished product will be a sad blob of failure. I know from experience. Styrofoam can only do so much. If you can’t draw, print off an image you like and go over it with pencil. Use a lot of pencil.
Cut out a piece of foam that fits your drawing. Place your image face down on the flattest side of the foam, and gently rub with your finger or other blunt instrument (*snicker*). Lift a corner, holding the image in place, to see if the image is transferring well. If not, try a bit more pressure. If that doesn’t work, try adding more pencil to your image, then repeat.
Cut out (or press in) the lines of your drawing. I used an exacto blade (make sure it’s sharp or you will maul the lines), but you can used the tip of your pencil and press firmly. The deeper the lines, the cleaner the print. Try not to get blood on the foam like I did. I’m still weaning of safety scissors.
Cut paper to size (you might want to do this ahead of time, and have several on hand. If you’re on a roll, it sucks to have to stop to cut more paper). Then, cover your foam with a thin, even coat of paint, by sweeping the applicator over the surface. Try not to get paint in the lines. If you do, try to remove it. Experiment with viscosity and amount of paint, mixing colours, etc. Different applicators will have different effects.
Step whatever is next:
Gently, carefully, like your handling a newborn otter, separate the paper and foam. If you sneeze or twitch, all will be lost, and you should give up. If you manage not to shake with adrenaline and excitement, you will have a print. See what worked and what didn’t. Too much paint? Too little? Missing spots? Recalculate, adjust, and try again. Just accept that there will be many test runs. You can give these to people you don’t really like, but feel obligated to.
Step I’m hungry:
You deserve a snack after all that hard work. Something greasy or sticky will just add unique touches of love to the paper.
Step I don’t even care anymore:
Here’s a picture of other ones I did. You can all gasp in awe and envy. Also, this is my drying area. I don’t recommend it unless your floor is cleaner than mine by a lot.
A Handmade Christmas Project can also be found on WordPress. Anyone want to submit a project? Tell me in the comments.