Merry Christmas!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and a lot like my Christmas cards will be arriving late in the mail. While my cards were one of the first holiday projects I made this season they're the last to make it out the door. I'm checking my list (and addresses) twice. Soon my holiday greeting and paper tree will belatedly arrive at doorsteps.

When designing this years card I kept in mind the limitations of my small table top letterpress. I also wanted to incorporate my calligraphy to illustrate the card. I knew I wanted to send out a folding Christmas tree so the design of the card evolved from that concept. Of course it should be presents for under the tree. I'm very pleased with how it all printed.

It was not possible to keep a heavy inking consistent for the green of the packages so I knew I'd be letting the ink naturally fall off as I printed my cards.

It was not possible to keep a heavy inking consistent for the green of the packages so I knew I'd be letting the ink naturally fall off as I printed my cards.

Put the presents under the tree! To keep things less complicated I drew a pattern   that could be printed back to back without worry of registration. And I cut all these trees out by hand (with x-acto) so I needed the pattern to be forgiving for that as well.

Put the presents under the tree! To keep things less complicated I drew a pattern that could be printed back to back without worry of registration. And I cut all these trees out by hand (with x-acto) so I needed the pattern to be forgiving for that as well.

I added gold elastic to turn some of my pop-up trees into gift toppers.

I added gold elastic to turn some of my pop-up trees into gift toppers.

Have a wonderful Christmas! I'm hoping to have one more post before taking a little break to enjoy the festivities.

Wintery wrap with Bay Bridge ribbon

How's your wrappin' going? I haven't even begun to wrap gifts for this year. Luckily I dug up some wrap photos from last year that I never had the chance to share with you.

Last year I was clued into a stash of vintage cellophane ribbon being sold at a local art store. According to the penciled note on the spool the ribbon dates to 1938. Perhaps that's why it's printed with the San Francisco Bay Bridge and skyline which would have still been a young landmark. Of course I bought it in a few colors. 

I meet lots of people who are a bit intimidated by gift wrapping especially this time of year. Well I was intimidated by this ribbon! Aged brittle cellophane is not easy to work with! If you're nervous about your xmas wrappings make sure to use supplies you're comfortable with. And remember that it's about the sentiment of giving and not how perfecting crisp your wrapping is. Any extra creative embellishment will add that thoughtfulness. 

Have fun and happy wrapping!

It's hard to tell in the photos but I used wire to float one of the snow flakes above the package.

It's hard to tell in the photos but I used wire to float one of the snow flakes above the package.

Wrapping paper is from a 2013 print promotion by Hemlock Printers.

Shasta Claws

What? You don't have a Christmas Costume? I realize I might be the weirdest person on the internet right now so you're probably wondering what's this Christmas kitten all about? 

In years past I've taken part in Santa Con which is basically an elaborate pub crawl where everyone is dressed up as Santa. People often put their own spin on things such as becoming Disco Santa, Boom Box Santa, and Mrs. Claus. By default everyone is greeted as Santa and it's pretty wonderful to always know how to greet someone by name before you've met them. "Hi Santa!" "Hellloooo Santa!" "Ho, Ho, Ho, Santa!" Because I have an S name I've often been called Shasta Claus. This year it hit me. Shaaaaasta Claws! I'm already working away in my workshop to make all the good kitties their toys.

Instead of Santa Con I attended an ugly sweater party so it was the perfect opportunity to create a Shasta Claws branded sweater proclaiming my super powers. It was a costume that could do double duty. Triple duty actually because when I took a visible mending workshop last month I was inspired to mend a moth eaten cashmere sweater with needle felting. I'd finally be able to wear my soft sweater again.

Watch out for the claws!

Watch out for the claws!

Stretchy cat

Stretchy cat

I used needle felting to create the cat mask. You may remember I previously made one for my  Smokey Bear costume.

I used needle felting to create the cat mask. You may remember I previously made one for my Smokey Bear costume.

I used tape to mask off my nails to create the slivers of claw. My paws were created by needle felting little red felt patches to an existing pair of mittens.

I used tape to mask off my nails to create the slivers of claw. My paws were created by needle felting little red felt patches to an existing pair of mittens.

All the accoutrements. I used Needle felting to create the little red puffs on the sweater. When I realized it would take forever to finish all the letters I decided to also use sequins with the bonus of a little extra tackiness. Look carefully and you can see my mending below the second S and and near the A and W in Claws. Ears and hat were also needle felted.

All the accoutrements. I used Needle felting to create the little red puffs on the sweater. When I realized it would take forever to finish all the letters I decided to also use sequins with the bonus of a little extra tackiness. Look carefully and you can see my mending below the second S and and near the A and W in Claws. Ears and hat were also needle felted.

Turns out I won the ugly sweater contest by not winning. My outfit was deemed to cute.

Thanks Jen Roberts for the photos of Shasta Claws!

Wrapping with Wrap magazine

WrapMag_2578.jpg

The tagline says it best. Wrap is a magazine celebrating illustration, design and creative culture. It hails from the UK and I've had a subscription for a year as well as buying a few back issues. When I tell people I've found a gift wrap magazine I think they picture a glossy version of my gift wrap blog posts. It is definitely not that. The wrapping paper is a unique bonus because this magazine is for anyone who loves art, illustration, and the stories behind it. It is truly international.

Wrap comes with 5 sheets of double sided wrap. Some wrap illustrations use repeat patterns but most feature an illustration varying it's depiction from corner to corner. I have truly had a hard time tearing out these beautiful sheets and deciding which portion of the wrap to feature on my gifts. Until this holiday season I'd only wrapped with it once.

WrapMag_2547.jpg
WrapMag_2564.gif

The above wrap features two illustrations from the Winter 2012 issue. Two sides of the same piece of paper. The illustrated scene on the spinning box is by Bjørn Rune Lie. The wrap on the right is by Petra Börner using paper cuttings. This issues theme was the deep cold of winter so they commissioned Nordic artists who know the cold well.

WrapMag_2584.jpg
WrapMag_2586.jpg

One of the smartest things Wrap does is repeat the illustrations on the pull out wrap inside the magazine. So even when you've wrapped a gift you can still look back on the artistry.

WrapMag_2560.jpg
WrapMag_2553.jpg

These wraps are from the latest Winter 2013 issue. Their theme was the telling of tales. Ten illustrators recreated a well known folk tale heralding from their home country. On the left Polish illustrator Pawet Milder recreates the story 'You Will Go Astray, Like a Killer'. On the right Leslie Wood recreates a winter edition of the American tale of 'Sticks and Stones'. Both wraps are from different sides of the same paper.

WrapMag_2562.jpg

If you'd like to subscribe or just buy some gift wrap you can do so right here. I highly recommend it. This magazine is made with extreme care and all of my issues have been accompanied by hand written notes.

Wrapping small and special

SmallWrap_2440.jpg

The saying goes 'good things come in the small packages'. I'm sharing here some easy ways to wrap some small things in a special way.

SmallWrap_2446.jpg

First up is surprise balls! Do you have any fond memories of surprise balls from childhood? I think I only got one once but I loved it. I was reminded of them last year when HonestlyWTF posted a nice tutorial for making them. They stood out to me as being a great way to wrap something small and special. I've created a little unravelling animation to show the fun.

These are easy to make though they do take a little time. This is a good activity to do while watching your favorite Christmas movie. Little flat-ish things work well to include in the crepe paper layers. The list is endless. Some ideas are; stickers, fortunes, hand written notes, confetti, jingle bells, or money (who doesn't like finding a surprise dollar in their pocket).

Cut standard crepe paper streamer in half for more control when wrapping. Connect multiple colors with washi tape.

Cut standard crepe paper streamer in half for more control when wrapping. Connect multiple colors with washi tape.

I could see these as being a good way to wrap a special piece of jewelry, new car keys, or an engagement ring. I wrapped a ring for my mom last year this way. The ring had a cat on it so I even included some catnip as one of the elements which revealed itself from the layers of crepe.

SmallWrap_2435.jpg

Many cards come wrapped in a cellophane sleeve. You can use that as a keeper of a special gift when you add confetti. Wrap the gift first in some tissue to help distribute the weight and keep your item from falling through the confetti to the bottom of the bag. I make my confetti with multi-blade scissors. They're actually being sold at Target right now in the mens department. Marketed as a personal shredder in the "Gifts for him under $20" display. Here's a different pair. I sealed my confetti filled present with washi tape of course.

Save your cellophane bags!

Save your cellophane bags!

SmallWrap_2429.jpg

You don't need holiday specific paper to wrap something special. Pair some metallic pipe cleaners or ribbon with neutral wrap to make it feel festive.

SmallWrap_2431.jpg