Greetings, the sequel

Last year, I started a new tradition of making my own holiday cards. I had good intentions, but it was admittedly a last-minute, slap-dash undertaking. Since I don't like working in a rush, I decided to get a head start this year.

I wanted to make something that reflected my Roswell surroundings, but I wasn't interested in UFOs or aliens (I'll discuss my ambivalence about that in a future post). Instead, I decided to reference the more natural side of this area, specifically the dragonflies. Every fall, dozens of various and sundry dragonfly species flock to Bitter Lake to breed. It's a beautiful, magical time.

I had an extra linoblock on me in my printing supplies, so I decided to make a linocut. I chose this medium because I can print relief works at home, which is convenient when I can't access a press. For my design I used a sketch that I had done of a dead dragonfly I'd found while out on a bike ride. I have no qualms with drawing dead animals; that's the best way to properly take down proportions and details.

As I was carving my block, I also thought about how I should design the background. Last year I had printed my block on a white background, but I wanted more color this year to evoke the hues of the dragonflies I'd seen.

While I was trying to figure out what to do with the cards, I discovered paper marbling in a printmaking class at the Museum. I was so taken with the method that I ordered my own kit, and decided to marble the cards. This way every card would become unique, further personalizing the effort.

With that then, I marbled my papers:

With the papers all marbled, it was time to print. When I have access to a large press, I use that to print, but since the Museum's presses are small and can't handle thick linoblocks, I used a wooden spoon instead.

I still wasn't finished yet though. As a pun on the holiday card industry, I often sign the back of my cards (as opposed to my regular prints, which bear my typical monogram) with a fake trademark symbol called "Woodmark," a play on my name and Hallmark. I started signing my cards in my child-like scrawl, but partway through I decided to take it up another level.

I'd recently bought a 1913 Arts and Crafts drawing book at a used bookstore a few weeks ago, because I find that aesthetic intriguing. It's filled with various drawing lessons and assignments, including one on Arts and Crafts lettering, so I decided to channel that:

The front cover of this marvelous little book.

The actual lesson on script.

My "trademark" logo. I include a spiral in lieu of the Hallmark crown to suggest a tree cookie, among other things. The spiral is, after all, a highly charged symbol.

After a few days efforts, I've got my holiday cards for the season:

A few examples

They don't look Christmas-y, and that's deliberate. I'm more interested in creating personal expressions of affection to my family and friends than channeling the cliches of the holiday season. I'll admit that in recent years I've become very ambivalent about the rampant commercialism surrounding the holidays, and I see my cards as a small, humble antidote to that. True, I had to buy the ink and paper, but the final greeting is the fruit of my effort and creativity, and that, I think, carries more sentiment and meaning than a purchased card. 

I ended up with over 40 cards, but I'm not going to post them all here. After all, I don't want to give it all away, because you, gentle reader, might be receiving one in your mail.

If that's the case, I hope you like dragonflies.