One Christmas my mother made candy wreaths for our elementary school teachers. She bent a metal coat hanger into a perfect circle then painstakingly tied red and green curling ribbon around the hoop, adding peppermint candies along the way. She was very good at making ringlets with a quick zip of the ribbon between thumb and a scissors blade. The wreaths were a fun, creative and inexpensive way to say “thank you.”
I’ve never quite mastered the ringlet-making – about 3 out of 5 times I get it right. My sister, on the other hand, is making wreaths for every season and holiday these days.
There is my mother the ribbon ringlet wreath-maker, my dad the Macy’s-worthy gift wrapper, and my sister whose teacher’s penmanship is the crafter’s equivalent of a “tell.”
I have crafty ideas, but my execution is at about second grade level (don’t even get me started on wrapping gifts). The year that my husband and I had our first apartment, I collected pine cones, dipped them in glue and then in glitter. I used a glue gun to attach red and green ribbons.
My husband thinks the pine cone ornaments are cute as heck and digs them out every year, no matter how hard I try to hide them under other, more desirable, decorations.
Even though my crafting efforts largely disappoint (me), I still get that itch to create. And I believe that handcrafted items have special meaning.
So when I decided to make Christmas cards to send to the people who were a part of my writing year, I turned to the two-dimensional craft that I can do with acceptable results: Block Cutting and Spoon Printing.
My first try was a miserable failure. I forgot some of the rules I learned about keeping the design simple and allowing for deliberate imperfections. I forgot to include a border and didn’t heat my linoleum block for easier carving. I just gouged away and swore every time a brittle section broke away and ruined my vision.
The resulting prints were awful and I dramatically declared that I was done trying to be crafty.
The next day I started over.
I followed the rules. I took my time. I used softer linoleum and wasn’t too timid about adding more ink to my palette.
The resulting cards are not Laura Wilder-level prints, but they are handmade, by me.
I put my heart into these cards because I am so deeply appreciative of all the people who played a role in my first year as a freelance writer. I could not have told any stories without them. Including this one.