One of the best parts of the holidays is getting creative. Whether your version of creativity is cooking, decorating, making hand
made gifts, making some seriously creative cocktails, or maybe just getting really creative with all of the scheduling you have to do - whatever it is - thinking outside the everyday box is a big theme of the holidays. That said, keeping things simple is imperative. First and foremost to maintain our sanity, fragile at the best of times, but also in order to have fun. And isn't that really what the holidays are about? Fun? Joy? Sharing fun and joy? We think so.
And so, in the spirit of sharing fun and joy, keeping things simple, and getting creative I bring you this delightful holiday craft idea: homemade, stamped, uniquely-cool wrapping paper and gift cards and tags! Woot! (Cue cheering of all grandparents who will be forever grateful for these gifts from their grandchildren. Trust us.)
They say that "presentation is everything" And I quite agree! Packaging, marketing, call it what you will I am a big fan. It's really all about first impressions - and it's part of the experience - from retail to wholesale, from birthdays to anniversaries, and certainly to Christmas - just the sight of a wrapped package brings a special thrill. And extra points if it's wrapped beautifully. Don't get me wrong - even the most badly wrapped, dated, tacky wrapping paper with hideous bows and masking tape will intrigue me - whatever could be inside? There is a child in all of us that delights in the anticipation of unwrapping a gift, even if, well let's face it, about half the time that's the best part about it. But when a gift is packaged with thought, and care, and even just a little bit of creativity - well, it's like an extra gift in itself.
This process of making your own stamp is so easy, and will provide a life time of wrapping paper, cards, gift tags, t-shirts, you name it. Anything you can stamp. Never spend a dollar on over-priced store-made stamps, or wrapping paper, or cards for that matter, again! Make your own charming stamps, for any occasion, personalized however you see fit. Don't worry a jot if you're not a practiced artist, or even any kind of "artist" at all! No experience necessary. It might take a few minutes to get control of your cutter, and you must promise to be very careful with it, it's very sharp - remember always cut away from your fingers and hands - but then you'll be home free forever, and your few tools will last a lifetime.
A sheet of rubber stamp material - a soft, bendable rubber they sell in art stores that is much easier than linoleum block to cut, and doesn't require a press to print with. The rubber sheets come in different sizes and can be cut with scissors or an exacto blade to the desired shapes and sizes.
a linoleum block cutter with different sized attachments - very inexpensive tool they have at art stores
a roller - another inexpensive tool you'll use for years and years
a flat surface to roll ink on - I love a sheet of glass, but you can use anything smooth and easy to clean
water based printmaking ink - you can buy many colors, or mix your own
a palette knife - for smoothing ink and mixing colors
choice of paper, cards, gift tags, etc
To make a one-color stamp:
Basically the idea is to CUT AWAY anything you want WHITE. Or, the color of the paper you are printing on. What you are cutting away will not be inked, and therefore will not show in the print. Anything you don't cut away will be inked, and printed. If you notice unwanted inked bits when you first test your stamp, you can always cut them away. Sometimes that's the only way you can see if there are any unwanted bits left, is to test the stamp and cut away whatever needs it.
First, draw your design on your rubber stamp material. Use whatever you like to draw it, a pencil doesn't show that well, so sketch it first with a pencil if needed, and then darken the lines with a pen. Ball point, or sharpie work well. At this point, or before, practice cutting with different techniques that result in different effects - try tracing the lines of your drawing with your cutter and see what kind of print that makes. Or, cut all around your lines and leave them standing, to see what those results are.
You can also follow these instructions on this amazing blog for a super-cute snowflake stamp. Experiment! You'll learn every time you do it.
Once you've cut your stamp to the desired effect, or whenever you want to test it - blow off any stray scraps and bits of cut material. Lay stamp flat on the counter. Squirt some ink on your rolling surface and spread it thin with
the palette knife. Roll the roller back and forth until the ink is smooth and makes a smooth, sticky sound, and the roller is evenly coated. Not too thick - if there is too much ink on the stamp it will result in a messy print. Once the stamp is covered with ink, turn it over on your paper of choice, and stamp! Repeat design on wrapping paper of choice to create pattern. I LOVE a good brown butcher paper for wrapping. It is such a clean, classic, and understated background that can be styled a MILLION ways.
You can wash your stamp in cold water with soap if you prefer, dry, and roll it with another color. So much fun for kids and adults, and your gifts will stand out under the tree. Who knows, the recipients might even save your wrapping paper forever as a treasured holiday momento. An easy way to create something special. And not just for the holidays - for any occasion! Enjoy! xoxoxoxo DR