The Easy Technique for Painting Handmade Christmas Cards

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Wax-Resist Handmade Christmas Cards: Why Use this Technique?

Handmade Christmas cards using wax resist
Wax resist is an easy and fast method to make Christmas cards. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

One of the easiest ways to create your own, handmade Christmas cards is to use watercolor paints and wax resist. It's also a technique that can be learned and used very quickly, so it's ideal if you've left making your Christmas cards to the last minute.

How does it work? It's based on the fact that oil or wax and water don't mix, so you draw with the wax on a sheet of paper or card, then paint over it with a water-based paint. Where the wax is, the water in the paint is repelled. The paint either runs off it or collects in little drops on it, revealing the image you created with the wax.

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Wax-Resist Handmade Christmas Cards: What Supplies Do You Need

Handmade Christmas cards using wax resist
Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

To make a Christmas card using this technique, you need some watercolour paints, a brush (use a big one that'll hold a lot of paint, rather than a small one), some wax crayons (if you don't have any, a wax candle will also work, though it's not as easy to draw with), a glue stick, and some card (if you haven't any card, take some sheets of paper from your computer printer).

I prefer using a white wax crayon rather than a coloured one, because then the 'drawing' doesn't show up and unless you look closely it's a little bit of a mystery as to why the paint hasn't covered the areas of the card. But that's just a personal preference; the color of the wax crayon or candle doesn't play any role in repelling the paint.

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Wax-Resist Handmade Christmas Cards: Folding the Card and Drawing the Design

Handmade Christmas cards using wax resist
Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

If you're using a piece of printer paper, fold it in half twice so it's thick enough to stand up by itself. (You can glue it together now, but I prefer doing this once I've painted it -- that way, if I somehow make a mess of it, I at least haven't wasted my time on the gluing too.)

Decide whether you're going to create a design on just the front of the card, or on the front and back. Then using a wax crayon (or candle) draw the design. Keep it simple -- the wax-resist technique works best with strong lines, not fussy details.

To see what you're drawing when using a white wax crayon, put the card or paper near a light source such as a lamp or window, and you'll be able to see the wax shining on the paper. (If you want some simple ideas to get you started, look at these free Christmas stencils.)

Next step is to paint the card and reveal your Christmas design!

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Wax-Resist Handmade Christmas Cards: Painting the Card

Handmade Christmas cards using wax resist
Wax resist is a fast way to make cards. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Remember, for the wax-resist technique to work, you must use a water-based paint, not oil paints!

Use a large brush that will hold a lot of paint, rather than a small brush that you have to keep reloading with paint. And rather mix up more watercolor paint than you think you'll need than run out! Then simply apply the paint boldly, across the whole card, and in an instant you've got a Christmas card.

Tip: If you've used a white wax crayon, paint with strong colors so the design stands out.

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Wax-Resist Handmade Christmas Cards: Use Multiple Colors

Handmade Christmas cards using wax resist
Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Don't think you need to limit yourself to one color. You can use as many as you like, whether wet-in-wet, (as here) or wet-on-dry.

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Wax-Resist Handmade Christmas Cards: Glue It Together

Handmade Christmas cards using wax resist
Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

If you've used a sheet of paper rather than cardboard to make your Christmas cards, it'll be far more rigid if you glue the folded sides together. Just be a bit patient and wait for the paint to dry completely before you do though. (Or use a hairdryer to speed it up.)

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Wax-Resist Handmade Christmas Cards: The Finished Christmas Card

Handmade Christmas cards using wax resist
Receiving a handmade Christmas card is somehow more special. Image: © Marion Boddy-Evans. Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Now your card is finished, all you still need to do is write a message inside, pop it in an envelope, and post it.

But what's that, you're worrying that your cards aren't good enough to send out? Rubbish! In this age of mass-production, it's a delight to receive handmade Christmas cards, to receive something that a friend's taken the time to make, rather than an arbitrary card bought in a supermarket discount bin.

Merry (handmade and hand-painted) Christmas!