Today I’m going to be sharing how I created a simple, yet elegant Holly Bough inspired Holiday card using hand-carved rubber stamps and hand lettering. I think you’ll find that as you begin your own you’ll be inspired to create a lot of different design ideas to make it even more charming like adding watercolors or metallic inks.
The materials I used for this project are:
Sparkly Watercolors (optional)
Blank Index Cards so handy I used them for everything and keep close.
Note: I always recommend seeing what you already have that you can play around and explore with before purchasing everything listed because that’s what gets the creativity flowing.
The thing about this design is that it involves hand carving hand-lettering and I will tell you that carving letters, phrases, and word stamps can be a little tedious and tricky. One little mistake can alter how the design turns out, which you may or may not like. But it's good to know going into it.
So before you start any carving, you’ll want to write out your word or phrase as many times and in many different ways to see what you like and are drawn to. At first I tried a smaller version which after I carved it I definitely didn't like it. I wanted something more substantial so it would play well with the Holly Bough elements I planned to add. Plus bigger letters mean less fussy mistakes that are visible.
Once you have the phrase written out the way you like, transfer your word or phrase onto your rubber stamp carving block and begin the carving process. My favorite carving material is the Speedy Carve by Speedball and the carving tool and blades I like to use are the Speedball Linoleum Cutter Kit Assortment #1 which comes with 5 blades, the Small V-shaped blade No.1, and the Linozip blade #25. The Linozip blade is great for removing large areas of rubber material, just be careful as it has a big bite! Meaning, it can take away more of your material than you expect with a single pass of the blade, so go slow!
After you’ve finished carving and before you ink it to see if you removed every crumb from every nook and cranny, make sure to get out any scraps that may be left behind so that you don’t get a bunch of rubber pieces in your ink pad. I like to use kneaded erasers, this one by Faber Castell is my favorite.
Next you’ll want to apply some Zig Two-Way Glue to the back of your carved lettering stamp so that you can temporarily attach it to an acrylic mount. There are so many different kinds of acrylic mounts you can use and they vary in size and shape. For instance you can find round acrylic mounts or rectangular ones. Once you’ve applied the glue generously with a few nice thick coats, give it about 10 minutes to dry and then apply it to the acrylic mount.
While you wait for the glue to dry, you can begin carving out some Holly Bough leaf shapes and Holly Berry shaped dots into rubber stamps. Once your leaves and berries are carved, start playing around with different ink colors and placements of the leaves berries on a 4x6 index card to see the different designs you can create until you land on the one or few you want to move forward with.
After your placement of leaves and berries is how you want it and your glue is dry on the back of your hand-lettered stamp, you’ll want to mount it to your acrylic block. Once that’s done you can ink your stamp and test it out on an index card to see how you like the lettering design. If you need to clean anything up you can do so now and then stamp your final card design to see how it all comes together.
To see my process and the placement I decided on going with for the leaves and berries, as well as more fun tips, ideas to bring some sparkle and flare to your cards, and additional placements I experimented with, check out my YouTube video from earlier this year.
One fun tip I’ll leave you with is to use the leaves and berries stamps to stamp the envelopes you’ll use to send out your cards – it adds an extra special touch. And it's so much more exciting to get a decorated envelope and maybe the postal workers might appreciate it too.