This somewhat unsatisfactory situation has caused no end of "challenges" and frustrations and as the days, weeks and months passed by I began to fear that I'd have to resort to buying Christmas cards … or not sending any. Neither option was palatable to me, so at the end of November I gritted my teeth and challenged myself to come up with a straightforward design. One that could be easily and quickly produced, using only the few bits of stash that I'd fairly randomly selected in the hasty packing up of my old home (exchange to moving out in less than a week … utter madness: don't do it.) I didn't quite manage any of that: the design got a bit complex, I had to buy a few key things, the prototype took ages to produce … and then I found I'd run out of double-sided tape. So, it was Monday 10 December before I made the first card … The last posting dates for Australia and Canada had passed, the European one was fast approaching and even the UK deadline was only nine days away. Oh, and I was going to be away from home for three nights that week. For the first time ever, I managed to get organised enough to take some crafting stuff away with me and so was able to spend a happy few late night hours finishing the first dozen, while liberally coating a London hotel room in glitter, which was a nice addition to my face and jeans, the fireside rug and the ever non-complaining cat.
The shortage of daylight hours meant I had little time to colour match. Usually, this wouldn't have been much of a problem thanks to my marvellous natural daylight OttLite, but - you've guessed it - it's "safely and securely in storage in an ex-dairy in Peckham". (It's very important, by the way, to consider the architectural features and history of the building when choosing where to lock up one's belongings!) As a result, one of the cards that is mainly green has ended up with bluish gems but it's probably only me that's noticed. Certainly my mother didn't when I gave it to her … but she might have been being maternally polite and supportive as she's the one who really knows the anxiety that being separated from my stash has caused me. I've always said that crafting makes a huge contribution to my mental stability and the last few months without this opportunity have really proved it.
What I definitely couldn't have managed without were the Oh Come All Ye Crafters paper download collections from Funky Hand. I think I probably used all of them, making four cards in two different colourways from each … and then, as I got more confident, I moved on to their Papercraft Factory Twelve Crafters Crafting collection and picked the more unusual - and less traditionally festive - colour combinations.
Eight days later - six, really, if you exclude the two non-crafting days in London - I had 56 cards finished … and, amazingly, most of them written. As I'd posted several as I went along, - and, despite the dire warnings from the pessimistic woman in the King's Cross Post Office, the last one to Greece made it in less than a week - I didn't have to a chance to enjoy them all in their entirety, which was a bit disappointing. However, on the plus side, this avoided the usual feeling I stupidly get of being traumatised at the thought of being parted from any of them!
The design was far too complicated … but I needed to find something that was satisfying and although I tried it without the diagonal banner, which was very fiddly and comprised of four different layers, it just didn't feel enough. If I'm being really picky, then I wish the snowflake topper had been a little bit bigger: but I was constrained by the size of punches that were available to me. Since the papers were going to be the stars of the cards, I splashed out on some Crafters Companions Satin Finish Printer Paper, which made a huge difference with its subtle sheen. Although at 100 gsm I worried that it might mean the cards were too thick and/or heavy to get away with a normal stamp … but a really delightful woman in the Kingland High Street Post Office measured and weighed my prototype and reassured me on that front.
And, if I had any lingering doubts about the difference that running a faded black inkpad around the edges of mats and layers makes, I never will again after seeing what a lift it gave to them all, even the almost entirely black printed papers. Just getting rid of that tiny hint of white on the cut edge is a big (and important) part of it … but it's the little - even occasionally smudgy - border on the front that is the total transformer. Getting the resultant ink off my fingers, face, jeans, rug and the cat was another challenge …
So, probably the hugest crafting challenge I've ever faced, but one that I'm so glad I didn't duck, really enjoyed undertaking (after the first four, which proved to me that the design worked) and feel pride and pleasure at having completed. A tiny bit of me wishes that I hadn't used such an effective and simple design for my Christmas Card Forest last year, as that would have been great for this year's circumstances, but I had and there was no way I could've repeated it … someone other than me would have noticed, surely?
So, next year? Well, hopefully, with a dedicated - and fully equipped - studio in the garden due to be finished by late-Spring, it will all be a whole lot more relaxed, get started sooner and place no limits or restraints on my imagination and design … Who knows what that might result in? Watch this space …