Megan Dowsett is a creative consultant working with museums and galleries, and an illustrator who is finding her voice through personal and local projects.

Through the name Norris and the Flamingo, she shares the sense of adventure that runs through all of life, wherever we are on our journey. A sense of imagination, of possibility and discovery, for children and adults alike.

16 December 2019

The Annual Christmas Card Challenge

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I LOVE the challenge of making Christmas cards!  This is how it looks:

Make about 100 Christmas cards.  Write them.  Before Christmas.  Without having to start in March.

In 2014 it gained a new layer:
Involve my child.  After all, the cards are from all of us and she isn't quite ready to write the messages.  And time is even more precious than it was previously.

Later of course, it became:
Involve both my children.  This isn't as simple as involving two children rather than one, because I need to accommodate the three year age gap in their abilities.  Perhaps this is why, among some rather more personal reasons, I took a couple of years off.

But the cards won't go away.

You probably don't need me to point out that the final element, which grows more powerful year on year, is the environmental impact of Christmas cards.  Trying to keep happy the part of my brain which thinks we shouldn't be sending them at all. 

But I think it'll be a while before I stop making Christmas cards.  Yes, I like the challenge.  But also, it feels like one of the few times when I - and the kids - take the time and care to make something for the people who help us get by each day.

So, for the time being, making the cards with as many recycled materials, or whatever we already have in the flat, as possible, is the final part of the challenge. 

So, here we are.  I forgot to mention that, not only should the cards be quick to produce, involve children aged 5 and nearly 3 and be environmentally resourceful, they should of course look beautiful and entirely different to the cards made over the last few years.

IMG_6479 This was a pre-children highlight, lino-cuts printed onto gold tissue paper.

20191216_214625 And this was a one-child highlight, covering reams of cereal packets in paint, glitter, stickers and felt pen, before I chopped triangles from them.  Simple but effective, and successful enough, I fear people didn't realise Feets had contributed.  Therein lies another subtle element to the challenge.

I just can't beat the Christmas trees.

This year, I concluded that variety was the name of the game.  We did a bit of everything:
20191125_142231 - Slapped lashings of liquid watercolour onto paper and experimented with salt, bubble wrap and cling film (sorry, environment, it was only one sheet, used many times)
- Borrowed circle-cutters from a friend to cut bauble shapes from our paintings.  Thanks, Wendy.
- Used a snowflake punch and some white address labels to make stickers for the baubles.  And added anything else from the artbox while we were at it.
- Created informal collagraphs by sticking yew twigs onto card and printing with it.  And printing with our hands.  And painting with the ink.  After all anything goes.  Feets' favourite bit.
- Used tiny foam squares to stick the baubles onto the cards.  This was, without question, Bean's favourite bit.
- I was a bit concerned that our baubles looked like planets, so I used silver pen to add 'strings'.  Obviously the kids got involved with this too.  They still look like planets.

Job done.  Very imperfect, that's the point.  I'm happy.  Hopefully there are a bunch of people out there who appreciate that we made them a card.

As for next Christmas ... well I used up ALL my ideas this year.  I'm stumped!
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