DIY Christmas Cards

Our last few Christmas cards were getting posted out today, so it’s an apt time to talk about my DIY Christmas card project. Particularly this year when people can’t see each other, cards are a really nice way to cheer up the depths of winter. We have a decent stash of old paper and card from my grandad’s house so I was happy to find a use for some of it and to not have to waste any paper.

I recently invested in some lino-printing tools (this box from Artful) and they provided me with red and black inks. I’ve wanted to learn how to do lino printing forever, since my older sister came from with her lino-cut Junior Cert art project, so I can forgive myself for this partial impulse-buy.

Drawing the image

I used an image from the internet to begin with, copying it just onto paper and messing around with the image until I was happy with the silhouette. Using a heavy black marker to imitate the ink – I experimented with what I could simplify and still keep the robin looking recognisable and, as this was my first lino-printing foray, made sure it was a simple enough design to be cut/printed. Once I was happy with the image, I transferred onto tracing paper to trace onto the lino itself

Remember: the image on the lino has to be BACKWARDS from how you want it to look! Because the lino gets flipped over when you print, the print will be a REVERSE IMAGE of whatever it looks like on the lino. If you use tracing paper once it should reverse the image, but if you’re drawing straight onto the lino, be aware that it will come out the other way around.
My initial drawing, the traced image and the lino cuts

Cutting the Lino

The kit I got came with loads of differently shaped carving tools, so I got to try them all out on my little robin design. Because this is a two-colour print, I had to make two different stamps – one for the black, all the outlines and details; one for the robin’s red breast. I literally just traced the entire image, apart from the red section, for the black stamp and then traced the red section next to it on the lino sheet and cut them out.


I could definitely do with some additional guidance on the printing side of things – the results were pretty variable and “rustic” shall we say? But that is the appeal of doing practical arts, that the material process adds something to the finished picture and the variance in the image makes each print unique and noticeably hand-printed.

Robins taking over my kitchen surfaces

Because this is a two-colour image I printed it in two stages – the black stamp first, then let that dry and added the red details. It was hard to line up the red stamp with the black lines, so I ended up cutting out the robin’s eye completely on the red stamp so there was a hole and lining that hole up with the black printed eye on the paper.

Lastly, I cut out squares around the print and mounted them on to sturdier card. I think they look fab, I’m delighted with my first foray into lino printing and I’m looking forward to trying out more detailed designs.

A small army of festive robins

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