Every December, the walls of our wood paneled family room would become an art gallery of sorts, complete with images of wreaths, snow capped mountains, reindeer, and the baby Jesus. As soon as the snow started to fall, my mom would run lengths of yarn wall-to-wall, and secure it in place with thumb tacks. As the greeting cards arrived in the mailbox, they were opened, read and hung on display, at least until mid-January. I still remember sitting on our corduroy orange sofa, unable to lean my head back because of the multitude of holiday messages hanging behind me.
These days, many folks send seasonal greetings via the Internet, but for family and friends near and far, a homemade card is a lovely gift in itself, especially when it’s made by little hands.
One of my favourite techniques for making greeting cards is monoprinting because the results are artistic and expressive. The goal is not to create a perfect, pristine picture but rather to "go with the flow".
A printing plate. This can be a piece of plastic/Plexiglas®, or an old yard sale sign, or a piece of cardboard with plastic wrap. Even a flat cookie tray will do.
Paint, water and a paintbrush. Watercolour paint is recommended, mostly because it will not dry as quickly as acrylic or tempera (poster) paints. You need the paint to stay wet so the image will transfer easily onto paper. (If you have water-based printing ink, use it.)
Paper. We used sheets of computer printer paper but most any paper will do. However, I wouldn’t suggest construction paper because it tends to break apart when it gets wet.
Cardstock, poster board or construction paper. Once the prints have dried, you will cut them and paste them onto a heavier piece of folded paper to make them into cards. (If you print directly onto folded poster paper, you can eliminate this step.)
Scissors and glue. See above.
A permanent marker: This is optional but can be used for adding details.
Paper towel. Naturally.
Paint an image onto the plastic keeping in mind that the printed image will be in reverse (so stay away from words!).
Working relatively quickly (don't let the paint dry), grab a piece of paper (or folded card stock) and place it on top of the plastic. Rub lightly to transfer the image.
Peel off the paper to see what you've made.
Rinse the printing plate clean so you can make more prints. Remember only ONE print is made each time you paint an image. That's what makes these MONOprints!
When the prints are dry, you can add details with a black permanent marker. This is an optional step but I find it helps to define any areas which may have become too "washed out" during the printing process.
If you haven't printed directly on card stock, now is the time to cut out the images and glue them onto poster board or construction paper to turn them into greeting cards.
If you're not sure how to start from scratch, you can "cheat" by laying a piece of clear plastic or Plexiglas® on top of a photo or illustration and then painting what you see, directly on the plastic. Follow the directions as described above.
If you will be mailing your greeting cards, be sure to check with the post office ahead of time to make sure your cards won't be oversized (or undersized) because this will affect mailing rates. To be safe, make the cards to fit into standard greeting card envelopes.