Spreading Cheer With Homemade Christmas Cards

After a somewhat extended break from blogging following several weeks of working abroad and holidaying, I am back to London Parchment-ing. I arrived back from Singapore last Sunday and one of my first crafty tasks was to make some homemade Christmas cards. I thought I’d share them, and chat about the materials I used to make these little cards.

I wanted to make Christmas cards this year mainly because of my love for hand lettering, which is a hobby that I have developed and enjoyed so much in 2016. I decided to go small, each card is A6 in size, and make two varieties, one portrait and one landscape. I also wanted to use two different hand lettering styles, one brush lettered and one in a fine line style.

Coming up with an idea

I thought I would stick with a basic hand lettered card but, after having tested a couple out, although I found them rather classy looking, they didn’t convey much Christmas spirit. Colour was in order. Instead of drawing each card I decided to use a combination of a rubber stamp and hand lettering. I picked up two wood-mounted rubber stamps from one of my favourite shops in London: Blades Rubber Stamps on Bury Street in Bloomsbury. They have a rubber stamp and inkpad for absolutely everything and their Christmas selection is expansive to say the least.

After much perusal, I settled on a string of baubles and a vintage style postbox. Although the postbox isn’t strictly Christmassy, I felt like it would fit well on a Christmas card – we all grow up sending our letters to Santa with our Christmas lists, family and friends post cards to send warm wishes, there are sets of Christmas postage stamps each year and the last dates for post to arrive by Christmas day are publicised far and wide.

The paper I used for these cards is a very pale grey 225gsm card which I buy online here. I get most of my blank paper and envelopes from this site because it’s really good value and there is a very good selection of colours and paper weights. I have made a few singular cards in the past with lower paper weights than this and after a while they can sag a bit, even at a small size. 225gsm is super strong and will keep my cards standing tall for the whole Christmas season.

Materials – Baubles Card

Here is my set of materials to make this landscape baubles card:

Shot of all the materials I used to make this card in the top right corner

Sidenote – apologies for the poorly lit shots in this post. Winter desk photography is not easy and indoor light when it’s dark outside makes everything look very yellow!

You can see my rubber stamp which is the basis of the whole card design in the top left corner. I used this with a Lion Stamp Pad No. 23 which I picked up from Present and Correct. It’s a wonderfully black ink which is really saturated and only requires a dab with the rubber stamp to get a great effect on the card. One thing that annoys me about this ink pad though is that it doesn’t clip shut, so I always have to make sure it’s lying flat or wedged in between things to avoid it drying out. To sketch out the placement of my lettering I used a Blackwing Pearl.¬†Although this a really good looking pencil, I always choose it for rough sketching tasks rather than keeping it in my pencilcase for writing, and this usually means it’s confined to use at the desk. It is much softer than most of the pencils in my collection (roughly a 4B) making it a good choice for rough lines as it erases excellently and doesn’t show through black ink if you letter over the graphite.

Guidelines for hand lettering sketched out with a Blackwing Pearl

I do find that as I make more cards, I get more confident with placement of letters, and later in the batch I wasn’t sketching out a placement guide anymore. The actual lettering itself was done with an Edding 1340 Brushpen. This brush pen is super cheap and has a very soft and flexible felt tip, so I find it a very easy pen to letter with. It has a fairly wet flow so it produces consistently black lines. Felt-tipped brush pens produce much more predictable lines than fibrous brush tips where each strand is separate, so I felt like this was a good choice for lettering on a card where I wanted it to look fairly professional as (hopefully!) my friends and family will have this on their mantelpieces and windowsills.

Coloured-in baubles before adding lettering

To colour in these little baubles, I used a the brush tip of a Tombow Dual Brush pen, in a warm shade of green (shade 296 in the Tombow chart to be precise), and a red Sharpie marker. For the middle bauble I used a gold Kuretake Wink of Stella brush pen which adds a little bit of glitter and sparkle to the card. I chose to colour the baubles in quite roughly, partly because the rubber stamp itself has a rough outline for each of the baubles, and partly to add the homemade touch.

All lined up!

Materials – Christmas Postbox Card

This is my portrait card and I chose to use a red ink for the classic British postbox touch.

Shot of the materials used to make this postbox card

Isn’t the postbox stamp lovely? I love how much detail it has on it for a relatively small stamp. I used my Blackwing Pearl again for lettering placement, and this time I used a Uni-Pin 0.4mm fine line pen to produce a loopy, quite tall script. I rounded the words slightly around the postbox to frame it nicely. I thought a fine line style suited the postbox, rather than a brush script where the differentiation between thick and thin strokes is more obvious. Fitting in the word “Christmas” on a portrait A6 card in a brush script would have just been too much of a squash.

I used a scarlet Versacolor inkpad for the postbox stamp. This is a really classic postbox red, it’s bright and deep, and is fade-resistant which is handy for a lighter coloured ink. I picked this up at Blades Rubber Stamps but you can easily find Versacolor inkpads online.

Other little touches

I added a tiny sticker to the inside of each of my cards, just for a bit of fun and novelty. I picked up a lot of stickers in Singapore, mostly for journaling, and I picked up a Christmas sheet just for this task.

Little sticker on the inside of each card

Also, I decided to add a tiny note on the back of each card that I’d made it myself. I did feel a little self-indulgent doing this but I felt quite proud of the finished result and wanted to state it, and secondly once I’d done a few I felt I had to do them all so that they were a proper set! Here’s my little “made by Priya” in very small writing.

Also, I opted for a ribbed, kraft brown envelope to post them. I think I always opt for these in any homemade card scenario! They’re just really simple, subtle and natural and remind me of brown paper packages tied up in string, which incidentally is how I always wrap up Christmas presents.

Envelope choice for the cards. Sweet and simple ribbed kraft brown.

The final products

And here they are! They are simple, didn’t take me too long to make, and don’t show off any particular skill other than my still-developing hand lettering. However, I find it really fun to be a little bit creative, especially on a dark December evening, and I’m really happy with the result! And I’m especially glad that my friends and family will be receiving a very small homemade gesture at this special time of year. Give it a go if you still have time!

My two Christmas cards for 2016. I’m really pleased!

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