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Let's get those Christmas cards finished, shall we?

1 CommentTuesday, 11 November 2014  |  Admin

I've been making hand made cards for friends and family for over 15 years now so I have some top tips to help you get organised, get inspired and hopefully get finished!

Get Organised

Make a list

You need to start with a list of how many people you are going to give hand made cards to. If you have a lot of cards to make, this is not the time to lavish hours and hours on every single one, so perhaps make a shortlist of people who will get a 'special' card that takes more time and thought.

What do you enjoy?

Now you need to think about how you like to work. Do you love fussy cutting or hate it with a passion? You need to think about things like that when selecting what products to use because you if you play to your strengths then you'll enjoy the whole process more.

Materials

Bearing in mind the quantity you have to make and the things you enjoy doing, now you need to look at your stamps and materials to see what you have that you can use and what you need to buy. If you are a complete beginner and this is your first year making cards, then here is my list of basic supplies that I keep coming back to when I'm doing my Christmas cards:

  • Christmas themed paper

You may want to create your own background paper, but it is convenient to have some printed papers to fall back on, especially for last minute quick makes.

I've just treated myself to the Craftwork Cards Magic of Christmas pack which I think will go perfectly with lots of our stamps.If you are comfortable working with a computer, then I would also recommend our Season's Greetings CD which is such good value for money and even has some quick and easy toppers you can add your own text to. (Plus we are retiring all our CDs at the end of this year so grab it while you can!)

  • Glitter

I always have Stardust Stickles in my stash, but at Christmas, I like to make sure I have gold and silver to hand as well. I also have some favourite sparkly embossing powders that suit Christmas - Sparkling Snow, an opaque twinkly white, Neutral Ultra Shimmer which has a transparent sparkle and Ruby Romance for a deep twinkly red (used on the flower petals below).

Check out our WOW Embossing Powder department for the full range of colours.

  • Christmas Words

Christmas Magic and Bold Christmas Words are my two 'go to' sets as between them I have a super range of different sentiments in different fonts and sizes.

  • Pretty Die Cuts

Stamping your sentiment onto a pretty shape always looks great. Every time I cut one for a card, I cut two or three more in white or cream card and store them in a box, so I have plenty to stamp on when I am in 'batch mode'.

  • Stamps

What can I say, I'm thoroughly biased towards Chocolate Baroque stamps of course! I do think we have a fantastic and varied selection of Christmas themed stamps which you can browse through here. We also have great patterns and fragments which can look Christmassy with the right colours - try Harlequin Fragments or Gothic Fragments in classic red and green or go for a modern twist with purples and copper.

  • Quality Adhesives

There's nothing worse than coming up with a great card design and not a having enough or the right kind of adhesive to get everything assembled. I love tape runners for speed - the E-Z Runner holds paper and most card really well, but very heavy cardstock or heavy watercolour paper may need something stronger such as Scor-Tape.I like foam pads for sentiments and embellishments and use a pokey tool to remove the adhesive liner so they don't stick to my fingers.

If you have a craft room bursting at the seams with materials, then you need to restrict yourself to some core products otherwise you will just be overwhelmed with choice and end up with a desk covered in so much stuff you can't work (ask me how I know this!)

Design your card

Composition

Composition is a matter of personal preference, but there are some tried and tested layouts that work well which will give your cards some balance or symmetry. Here are a few of my favourites that I often come back to.

A centred background stamp (or backing paper) with a sentiment in the bottom third, positioned either to the right or left with a ribbon running horizontally under the sentiment.

A focal image placed to the left with a sentiment on the right on a strip of paper or ribbon running under the main image.

A central image layered up on a double mat - sometimes a detailed image needs a very simple treatment.

Study cards that you like and see if you can adapt the layout to the stamps and materials you have.

Colours

I tend to choose a warm or a cool colour palette each year, depending on what stamps I'm working with. Family Christmas stamp set for example, makes me think of rich reds and golds to echo the warmth of the fireside whereas Reindeer Landscape would have me reaching for cool blue tones and silvers of a frosty scene. Choosing a colour palette to base all your cards on can be a very useful working method as offcuts from one card can become an element on another so you save on time and have less wastage.This year I have one batch with an aqua and purple palette:

Snowy Scenes and Gelli printed backgrounds

And some more with a vivid yellowy green and red scheme:

Harlequin Fragments and Bold Christmas Words

And these use a blue and kraft colour scheme:

Snowy Cottage and Winter Church clear stamps

Production Line

If you have a lot of cards to make, then you really need to think about a production line approach. As mentioned above, choosing a colour palette really helps to get a production line going, but there are other things you can do as well.

Backgrounds

Creating your own backgrounds can give your cards that arty touch that your crafty friends will appreciate. There are enough background techniques to fill several books, but most of my favourites can be messy, so I will make a stack of backgrounds in one go and clean up thoroughly once everything is dry.Here are a few ideas for creating backgrounds:

  • Sprinkle Brushos onto wet watercolour paper, choosing two or three coordinating colours from your chosen palette
  • Spray a background with Dylusions Spray Inks
  • Use a stencil brush to stipple or swirl colour from Distress inkpads onto your background, flick with water then blot with kitchen towl
  • Sponge PanPastel onto textured or embossed card

Stamping

Choose a stamp that doesn't require too much detailed colouring in for your batch cards.

Our Big Bold Background stamps are fantastic for super quick cards - stamp one onto a card slightly smaller than the stamp (no trimming needed) and pop a sentiment on top - job done!

Get Inspired

Keep a notebook - I always have a design notebook on the go where I can jot down ideas for card layouts, fancy fold formats or colour combinations. It's a great resource to dip back into when I need ideas. Even though I have Pinterest boards bursting with ideas, I still find that jotting down a doodle or some notes by hand in a book acts as a much better creative trigger for me. Here are some great resources to see what other people have done with Chocolate Baroque stamps. Why not visit these links with a notebook to hand and jot down any ideas that you think you could use or adapt to suit your materials, your abilities and your style.

I hope that this has given you some ideas and motivation to use one of those precious five weekends left before Christmas to get organised and turn out a batch of pretty cards you are proud to send out to your loved ones.


Jacky A
Thursday, 18 December 2014  |  11:00

This is a really helpful article. Wish I'd seen it before I started my Christmas cards. However, it's information that can be used for card projects throughout the year so I will be referring to it again. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.