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Seasonal style - making handmade gift wraps and cards

Spread good cheer - with handmade gift wraps and cards

Half the fun of the holiday season is making things yourself, from cookies to gifts to decorations. Here are two projects to enhance your holidays: fancy wrapping papers, made from recycled newspapers, to add instant glamour to any gift, and greeting cards featuring your own artwork.

Gift wraps

The wrapping papers can be made in minutes, using silver, gold, and other spray paints, alone or in combination. Always follow the paint manufacturer's instructions and work in a well-ventilated area. Experiment with different colors and textures, using some of the new products available. Webbing spray (from a craft store), for instance, produces a textured finish on the newspaper.

TIME: About 10 minutes

COST: About $5

* Iron

* Newspaper

* Drop cloth

* Spray paint

1. Iron out the creases in the newspaper - it's difficult to remove them once the paint has settled and dried. Spread a drop cloth over your work area to protect the surrounding space from spray, then place a sheet of ironed newspaper on top of it.

2. Spray paint lightly and evenly from top to bottom to cover the newsprint. Repeat the process, applying the same color or a contrasting one for variety.

Block-print cards

The greeting cards require more patience and a steady hand, but are well worth the effort.

TIME: About one hour per pattern

COST: About $20

DESIGN: Sarah Caska


* Transfer paper (available from art stores), cut to fit the lino blocks

* Scissors

* A 4- by 3-inch lino block (plus a spare for practice if you're a beginner) and cutting tool (from art stores)

* Seasonal drawing no larger than 3 by 4 inches

* Pencil

* One tube green Speedball printing ink (37 cc)

* Glass or mirror surface (8 by 10 in. or larger) for mixing ink

* Spatula

* One tube silver Speedball printing ink (37 cc)

* Brayer (roller), from art stores

* Letter-size copier paper (each sheet makes four 4- by 5 1/4-in. prints)

* Wood spoon

* Retarder

* Blank note cards (at least 5 by 6 1/4 in.) with envelopes

* Scraper


* Straight cuts are easier than curved.

* For deckle edges, fold paper, then unfold and tear along creases.

1. Place transfer paper on lino block, position your drawing on top of it, and trace the lines with a pencil. Remove transfer paper.

2. Using the linocut tool, carefully follow the pencil lines. For best results, place the base of the tool in the palm of your hand and cut away from yourself. When you've cut the whole outline, rub or wash off any loose materials, so the lino block is clean and lint-free.

3. Squeeze a dollop of green ink (about the size of a dime) onto a corner of the glass or mirror mixing surface, then fold the ink back and forth with a spatula to make it workable. Add a slightly larger amount of silver ink and fold and mix the inks until you get a celadon color, adding more green or silver ink if necessary. The ink should be soft and viscous. When you're satisfied with your color, use the spatula to spread half of the mixed ink in a 4-inch-wide line down the middle of the glass. Roll the ink back and forth with the brayer (it should be clean and lint-free), both horizontally and vertically, until you get a thin, evenly inked square. Firmly roll ink onto lino block (to get a good imprint, the inked surface of the block should be completely smooth), moving the brayer away from your body. Use one or two strokes only, rolling in the same direction each time rather than back and forth. Over-rolling will leave an impression of the image on the roller, inhibiting an even distribution of ink. Clean your hands and the work surface to avoid getting ink spots on the paper.

4. Carefully place paper on top of inked block. Using the back of a wood spoon, rub the paper firmly and thoroughly to transfer ink. Rub all the edges of the lino block to ensure a continuous, even line.

5. Slowly peel back the paper from one corner. If image has not transferred well, discard paper. Try rolling more ink, adding a small amount of retarder to slow drying time, and rub more thoroughly. Clean block and brayer after three prints, and apply fresh ink. When the peeled-off corner reveals a strong, even ink print, peel off the remainder of the paper and set aside to dry. When completely dry, paste the print on the front of a note card. Remove excess ink from glass with the scraper, then wash all tools in warm water.

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