One of the great joys of block printing is its huge potential at Christmas. I buy rolls and rolls of recycled brown paper and the children and I go to town. There is nothing more heartfelt than a piece of hand-printed wrap, a jaunty homemade decoration or even a simple, printed card. It feels good (and saves money) to have made your own. After all, if you give someone a present wrapped in a piece of paper you’ve made- it’s already special before they’ve opened it! You can either print very accurately, or you can totally free print, but the most important thing is to have fun and be confident. I like to get classically festive, so I often use reds and corals and all those lovely warm, jewel colours – set off perfectly with contrasting brightly coloured ribbons.
Potato Printing Wrapping Paper
We sell hand block-printed wrapping paper, but if you want to have a go at home it’s a lot of fun. Here’s what you need:
- Plain paper I like to print on recycled craft paper. It’s really easy to get hold of and you can buy it on a large roll so you can just keep on printing if you want.
- A knife, cutting tool or biscuit cutter I have a pot full of biscuit cutters especially for Christmas printing in all sorts of shapes and sizes – a Christmas tree, a star and Father Christmas.
- A paint brush
- Paint Use up any old any sample pots you have lying around, or poster paints work well too. I tend to use water-based paint because they dry much quicker than oil-based paints and I like to get on with my printing once I’ve got going.
- A trusty spud When you print with a potato rather than a wooden block, it has a lovely natural ‘give’ in it, so you don’t really need any extra padding underneath your printing station. You might just want to protect the table from the paint with some old newspaper.
Start by cutting your potato in half to create a nice flat surface. Using a pencil draw lightly the shape you want to cut. I find simple shapes create the most striking wrapping paper. Cut away the excess potato, leaving the area you want to print raised. Paint a nice thick layer of paint onto your potato and press it down onto your paper. Try out your design on a scrap first. Each time you make a print, make sure to load your potato with more paint. You can either keep it simple or add a second colour to your wrapping paper by introducing a new shape – just load your next shape with a different colour and print away!
As I quietly print away, I find the rhythm and the process of block printing just takes your mind off everything else. This is called ‘flow’ – when you are completely engaged with something creatively with both your head and your hands – you can switch your mind off to other things, which is really rather good for us, especially at Christmas when things can be so frantic. And at the end of it, you have beautiful hand printed wrapping paper to wrap your gifts in, so a lovely way to unwind, recycle old paper and add an extra special touch under the tree.
Don’t stop at wrapping paper! Printing Christmas cards is one of my favourite things to do. It’s easy, not to mention fun – and all you need is a Christmassy carved block and a bit of paint. We now sell a range of print-your-own-card kits to get you started if you’ve never done it before, or you can use the potato method as above. I always like the decorate the envelope too – print on the front or the back where you seal it.
Decorations are another great thing to DIY. Paper Stars are simple to make, are really effective and create a cheerful splash. Hang them above your kitchen table and it will instantly look festive and full of joy and love. You can make individual stars or string them together to make a garland. All you need are some rectangular sheets of wrapping paper, a stapler, a sharp pair of scissors, glue and some ribbon. If you stick two contrasting sheets of wrapping paper together, it means that your finished stars will look pretty from every angle.
Find the full collection of printing kits, block printed wrapping paper and Christmas presents at mollymahon.com. We’ve also got our eye on the workshops and courses for 2023. Book now and have a go at block printing cushions at Charleston in March, with subsequent sessions on napkins, aprons, lampshades and more. Having tried one of Molly’s workshops earlier this year we can vouch for how wonderful and absorbing they are – they’d make a lovely Christmas present too!