If you’re looking for something a little different this year for your holiday cards, here’s a project you can do with the whole family. Rather than buying mass-produced, ready-made holiday cards, create unique cards that everyone will love and appreciate.
You’ll need just a few tools and supplies. Even though your initial expenditure may be more than you’d normally pay for the season’s holiday cards, the tools will last for years and the paints go a really long way. The more cards you make over the year, the less costly they become. You may find you’re hooked on block print cards and create your own set of thank you, birthday and get well cards to use all year long!
You don’t even need to be able to draw to create beautiful cards. You can always trace simple shapes you find in children’s story or coloring books and trace letters you’ve printed out in your favorite font from the word processing program on your computer.
Linoleum Block Printing Books
Block printing is pretty simple and straight-forward, but lots of folks like to have a book in front of them when they’re learning a new skill. You’ll find loads of illustrated manuals for both kids and adults that provide you with skills and ideas to inspire your creative muse.
Linoleum Block Printing Kit
You can certainly go out and purchase everything individually, but buying an all-in-one kit makes life a whole lot easier. As you develop your skills, you can always add more carving tools and better quality or larger accessories, but kits are always a good way to ‘get your feet wet’ in a new hobby.
Block Printing Ink Set
Yes, if you look around online, you’ll find lots of information about using alternative paints for block printing. Some artists suggest adding mediums to acrylic paints, and elementary teachers may suggest using tempera paint. However, printer’s ink has the correct density and drying time, so it’s well worth it to purchase a few jars. You’ll save a lot of ‘trial and error’ time and effort, and you’ll be sure your cards will turn out beautifully.
Blank Cards And Envelopes
Cards and matching envelopes turn your unique designs into lovely, distinctive gifts from the heart. You can choose white or colored sets, but you should be sure that the cards are a nice, stiff paper that won’t buckle.
Additionally, heavier stock allows you to add hand-colored details in watercolor, colored gel-pen or other water-based paints. While the ink is still wet, you can even add a bit of glitter for a festive look.
Block Printing Tips
- Transfer your image with carbon paper. It’s easier to work out your design on paper and then transfer the image onto your linoleum block. That way, you don’t have errors on the linoleum and have clean lines from which to cut.
- Reverse your image, if necessary. Remember, your block prints a mirror image, so things like letters and words will print correctly if you trace them on your block flipped. Use a photo editing program if you’re using your computer to print images or turn over the printed page and use a light box or window to trace the artwork in the flipped position.
- Cover the linoleum surface with a thin coating of paint or ink before beginning your carving. The contrast allows you to easily see the cuts you’ve made, and you can use a fine-grit sandpaper to remove the paint after you’ve completed carving your block.
- Heat your linoleum for easy carving. Warm linoleum minimizes the amount of force required to cut the surface of the block. You can use a hairdryer to warm the surface as often as you need.
- New linoleum cuts much more easily than old linoleum. As it ages, linoleum becomes harder to cut. Only purchase small amounts of linoleum at a time, so you don’t wind up with hard blocks that are almost impossible to carve.
- X-acto knives are extremely sharp and have a very fine blade. These knives are perfect for fine detail such as hair or tiny dots.
- If you accidentally cut an area you shouldn’t, don’t worry – you can glue a piece of cut linoleum into place. When it’s dry, refine the glued piece with your cutting tools and sand it smooth. You can also try using a hot glue gun.
- Some artists like to use thin paper like rice paper. If you decide you want to use thin paper for your print, you can glue it to the front of your blank greeting card for a custom-printed look.
- Prevent spoiling your artwork with inky fingerprints by dusting your fingers with talcum powder if your hands become paint-stained. Just keep a small bowl of talc on your worktable to dip into whenever you see a bit of paint on your dexterous digits. This eliminates the necessity of washing your hands every time you see a smudge of paint.