Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Sparkle of the Stars

Merry Christmas!

I waffled a lot on this year's Christmas card. I wavered between Ornamental Pine and what I ended up with for a long time. The ugly prototype of my poorly executed Ornamental Pine card is sitting on my desk validating my ultimate decision as I type.

I start my Christmas cards each year the same way. An idea in my head for the ULTIMATE Christmas card, which quickly goes in the trash. I end up going through four or five iterations before I settle on what clicks.

This year, I had a card hanging around in my head from earlier in the year. I'd seen this card by Jill Avery Foster and asked her how she achieved that background look. She said it was a happy accident with some distress stains and a baby wipe.

Well I have neither of those things, so I tried to DIY another version.

I took a sheet of Fabriano Hot Press Watercolor paper, uncut. I used Dr. Ph. Martin's Frisket Mask Liquid (I like this the best because it comes in a bottle with a dropper) to drop dots of mask all over it. I let these dry completely before watercoloring.

For the color, I smooshed inks onto my clear blocks - blues, yellows and pinks. Then I took a somewhat gnarly, well-used 4" gesso paintbrush, barely dipped it into water, dried it a bit on a paper towel, picked up ink, and made large vertical swipes of a single color on the paper - down from the top and up from the bottom - not quite meeting in the middle. Then I repeated that with each color. Sometimes my brush was wetter and sometimes it was dryer, resulting in a lot of variation  between smooth, blended colors and more crisp, brushstroke-y colors. So fun.

I continued this process for 20 sheets of watercolor paper - I got 8 pieces out of each piece of the large paper - and I needed to make 150 cards. I measured it so there was no waste out of any of the paper - that's a challenge I give myself every year.

After the watercolor was dry, I took my adhesive eraser and rubbed off all the masking fluid to reveal the sparkly stars.

Then I used our tree punch and the AWESOME greeting from Christmas Bliss to finish the card.

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Here's a small sampling of how different they all look. Is the one you got one of these? :)

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Now, as is my custom, I'll prove to you that making your own cards is not only a joyful activity, something that connects you to people you may only connect with once a year, a great gift, and a fun way to slow down during the holidays, but it's LESS expensive than buying your cards!

Here's the breakdown:

Now I don't count non-consumables - if I can use it again, it's not much of a project cost.

I used about 15% of the bottle of masking fluid - that's $1.95. I used 20 sheets of watercolor paper, so that's $7.33 - by far the most expensive part. I used 75 sheets of Whisper White Cardstock, cut in half, and that's $23.44.

Grand total for 150 lovingly handmade cards? $32.72. Had I ONLY made those 150 cards with these supplies, my cards would have cost .22 apiece.

BUT - see the punched tree? I got 50 more cards out of those pieces for my downline appreciation cards - so add in 25 more sheets of whisper white and divide by 200 and you get a whopping 20 cents a card.

As I did last year, I searched Amazon for the cheapest Christmas card of 2014. I sorted low to high price and came up with these bizarre cards, which are .83 apiece. And no one had fun making them while watching Elf. :)

I loved the star in the Christmas story, which is why I chose this greeting this year. I loved that they were looking up, I loved that it was a source of light.

I've given up news for the most part, and I have to say - my life is infinitely better. I used to be a news junkie and nearly always had it on for background noise. I've switched to Cutthroat Kitchen for background noise while I work. I have a few local radio talk shows that I can't live without - our local gardening shows, and a few discussion shows. But outside of that I'm in a news blackout and it's glorious. I tend to hide people who post news on Facebook - because, let's face it - it's overwhelmingly negative. Who needs that? Aren't sparkly stars better?

I used to think I'd miss something if I didn't listen to the news every day.

I think what I've figured out is that the only thing I missed when I DID listen to the news is the sparkle of the stars.

Try it for a week and see if the stars aren't sparklier.

Merry Christmas.



  1. Beautiful cards! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  2. These are gorgeous. I always look forward to seeing your Christmas card and reading about how it came to be. Merry Christmas!

  3. Well said, Lydia, about the news and stars.
    Merry Christmas to you.


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