Most years I scan a drawing and use the laser printer for our Christmas
cards but this year I wanted something
hand-made. I didn't have time to
produce a lino-cut so I called at Dab
Hand, Horbury's stencil & craft shop, for advice. They were able
to supply me with a sheet of smooth, dense stencilling card. The colour
and texture of it remind me of the smooth side of hardboard.
I went for shapes that are easy to cut; a freehand star, stylised
pine trees and a mound of snow. I used a sharp craft cutter to follow
I took some old acrylic paints from the drawer
and experimented with colour combinations. To register the three
elements of the design - star, snow mound and trees - I cut the
stencils to line up with the top right corner of the greetings
card. I used a strip of
adhesive tape to hold the stencil in place across its top edge,
hinging up it up to position the card for stencilling underneath.
each colour to
before printing the next. I was able to line up the top edge of
snow mound with additional precision when I printed the trees on
I could see the shape through the stencil.
I used a round hogshair brush to dab around the stencil. I wanted
a textured rather than a smooth effect.
We went for a Christmassy red but I also liked the dramatic effect
you could get by printing on some of the darker coloured cards
- not an option I would have had in laser printing, unless
I'd been prepared to use an awful lot of toner!
I printed in three colours - titanium white, primrose and cobalt
but I got a fourth colour because the blue appears brighter when it is overprinted
on the white.
As I had over 100 cards to print, I soon used up my remnant tube of cobalt
blue (right) and
I then went on to ultramarine (left) which has more
transparency than the cobalt so that it appears blackish on the red but bright
blue on the tree
trunks, which are printed over the snowy white.
I noticed that a residue of acrylic accumulated around the edges of the stencils.
This didn't make much difference to the snow mound or the star but the tree
trunks and jagged of the trees began to take on an 'out of focus' quality as
I continued to print. The tree trunks, which were narrow slits in the stencil,
up towards the end of the run of prints.
I think the out of focus quality gives a more painterly look to the later