December means it’s time for holiday cards. Admittedly, I had thought about skipping this year because writing personal notes to thirty or so people can be a bit of a slog. Given how trying 2020 has been, however, I thought the people in my life could benefit from a little mailbox cheer, so I went ahead and sent them out.
That said, this year’s card is a little different from previous iterations. In the past I’ve printed either intaglio or relief impressions to make my cards, but this time around I used cyantotyping, a photographic technique invented in the nineteenth century.
I actually printed these cards several months ago over the summer, when the days were long and replete with sunshine (well, for the northern hemisphere). You can make cyanotypes at any time of year, but the summer months require shorter exposure times, so it’s a good time to print them. The leaves I used for these impressions were collected and dried the previous fall. I’d been saving them for some kind of project, but hadn’t figured out exactly what. Since they were already around they made for easy subjects.
As with last year’s card, I used these cyanotypes as an opportunity to use up some older materials. Some of the impressions were made on marbled paper I’d made years ago when I was still in Roswell. Others were made on printmaking papers I hadn’t especially liked but still wanted to put to good use.
Some cyanotypes were made on small, individual papers, but many were made on sheets, with each sheet containing several impressions. Once the paper dried, I folded and tore the sheets to separate the leaves. Once I had all my impressions, I glued the individual impressions onto card stock. I then put them in storage until December.
I didn’t necessarily envision these cyanotypes as Christmas cards when I first made them. Initially, I was thinking of keeping them on had for thank-you notes or other special occasions, or even listing them on Etsy. In terms of holiday cards, I had thought about making a print featuring a rabbit because over the summer I had gotten into the habit of counting them during evening walks. Ultimately though, I didn’t have the energy or inclination to make a new print, so I used the cyanotype cards since they were already finished and ready to go.
Overall I really liked how these turned out. I know they don’t look Christmas-y or even seasonal for that matter, but my cards have always been more about capturing a sense of place than a specific holiday. I want to give the people in my life a glimpse into where I live and what I experience, especially if they don’t get the opportunity to visit themselves. Given that I collected these leaves on my walks, and printed them using Virginia sunshine, I think these cards do a good job evoking where I live. I’ve still got a few impressions leftover, so I might even go ahead and revive my Etsy shop for them.
Good tidings, everyone.