Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snowy Brown Christmas

This madness known as “Homemade Christmas Card” started over 10 years ago and I haven’t been able to kick the habit since. Every year I design and make my own Christmas cards, and every year the engineering and production of these tilts a little farther towards the “weird cat lady” end of the spectrum.

This yearly tradition started many years ago, first because I didn’t want to buy and send out a bunch of things that would just end up in the landfill, second because I enjoy making things, and third, because no matter what is going on in the world that is awful, hopeless, maddening, and tragic, putting faces on miniature snowmen and bumbling around in the glitter bin takes my mind off of the noisy collapse of empire. This year’s inspiration came from a forgotten box in my mom’s attic. I went by her house and she had this giant box of christmas cards in her living room,”Oh, those were moms, (my grandmothers), she saved every christmas card she received, from the 1940’s all the way into the 2000’s.”
Being a paper ephemera collector, with my faves being from the late 1800’s to the 1940’s,I suggested we “quickly sift through” the giant box before she gave it away, and pull out all the good cards.

This fat Santa gave me the idea for this years’ card. He’s holding a miniature card! Way cute. I decided to make a snowman holding a miniature book, with a little rhyming story inside. I started by making a prototype:

Because cutting out shapes by hand is the most time consuming, I used an online laser cutting company that cut out the cardboard and felt hats and scarves. I scanned in my drawings in Photoshop, made the shapes using Illustrator, and uploaded them to the site. 2 weeks later I received these perfectly cut out shapes of snowmen, scarves and hats!

I applied a watercolor wash to the bodies:

Then stamped some faces on:

This giant elf helped me glue the hats and scarves on:

I apply some mica glitter:

With these steps done, the miniature book with rhyming poem-story needed to be flushed out. Luckily, I live with a musical genius who rhymes effortlessly and frequently, so I assigned this task to my lovely husband with the vague parameters that it be about Snowy Brown, a not-quite-white snowman. Even though I thought he might labor over it for a good day, 5 minutes later he emailed me the final perfect version. It took me awhile to lay it out in Adobe InDesign, as I was planning on printing it double sided and the little pages had to all be correctly oriented to each other. This proved to be more vexing than I thought it would be. Little-book making is a big job!

Here is the part where I started to worry that maybe this whole thing was a dumb idea. But no, I got the book right and we had it assembled by the end of the day.

A bunch of gluing, stamping, and glittering later, Snowy Brown emerged from scraps of cardboard and felt into a real holiday card!

Here is the final piece, a Snowy Brown ornament with miniature book:

Also, because I live in the woods and our local post office only seems to have ugly stamps, I felt compelled to create my own on stamps.com. I uploaded a photo and within a week these lovely stamps arrived:

After some envelope fancying and addressing, Snowy Brown was ready to debut himself into the world of holiday cards.

Happy Holidays, and have a Snowy Brown Christmas!


  1. awesome! send me one? :)

    27 samoset sf, ca 94110

  2. Very inspiring & simply beautiful! Maybe next year...

  3. Merry Christmas Camille' Your cards are awesome.

  4. Merry Xmas Camille!!

    I absolutely adore, Love that you even had the stamp made too!Trade some old 50's xmas wrapping paper for just one!!!

    kim grisco

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Awesome - I love it! I make my own cards for friends, too - but they are all ghetto and cut-outs from art magazines (usually Juxtapoz) and ribbon and glitter - collage! Your art is even on them from time to time!

  7. Well you guys just amaze me! Really? How do you manage to come up with something great each year and both of you on the same page? I'm awestruck. Did you save the best of grandma's cards?

  8. These are amazing. I have purchased your Christmas cards of years past from the MOCA store. Any chance these will ever make it there (or anywhere) for purchase? I'm dying to get my eyes on that little book! Thank you for sharing!

  9. So absolutely adorable, the detail in each is gorgeous. As Linda mentioned above I too have bought your Christmas Cards in prior years and absolutely love'd them. This year I'm making some of my own but since my art is in clothing I made a Christmas-y outfit and put the photo of it on the cover of the cards :)
    I hope all the recipients of your cards put them in frames to enjoy all year round, I know that's what I would do :D

  10. Awesome! I wants one :p hehe. Hope you have an amazing christmas!!!

  11. They are beautiful - lucky lucky people who will be surprised by those in their letterboxes! Merry Christmas!

  12. this is amazing Camille! i totally need to get on your christmas card list! i love seeing the work in progress! love it to bits!! xo

  13. Magical! You've inspired me to make my own cards this year!

  14. Ohmigosh those are brilliant. Magical!!!!

  15. Where did you get your ink rubber stamps, did you have them special made?

  16. These are amazing! I hope to see what else you have lined up for Christmas!

  17. So beautiful and inspiring <3
    What stamps are the letters?