Screenshot

If you ever wanted to know how things really work in a pop-up card factory…well, this probably won’t help you. But it does provide a whimsical interpretation of the process we go through in my home every year to make about 100 crazy holiday cards for our family and friends. At some point, this greeting card developed into a small carousel book. In this case, the carousel is arranged into four equal rooms when it is fastened together. That seemed to provide the right amount of space for the narrative I had in mind. Unfortunately, making something like this is very labor intensive and my wife and I do these mostly by ourselves in the ample free time we have leading up to Christmas. So after an unprecedented and anguished onslaught of hand assembly work over the last month, we’re finally finished with this small production. I’m going to do something much simpler next year …or I’m probably going to have to explain to my son what “trial separation” means.  But this one has it all – more rhymed couplets than Shakespeare , more symbolism than The Catcher In The Rye, more hidden images than those Highlights magazines you see in pediatrician’s waiting rooms. (That was part of my pitch to my unwavering wife once she was faced with helping me glue over 3,500 parts.)
After I developed the general idea, I made a very rough paper mock up.

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rough mock-up

I was inspired by some old carousel books I’d seen which featured images of happy families and rhymed verses. I always try to put a humorous twist onto things so I stated writing all of these facetious rhymed verses to accompany the illustrations. I haven’t really had the patience to do any illustrating lately but I will occasionally dabble in digital art in order to get the job done. Normally I use a lot of photography on these cards but I’ve fully illustrated at least one of these card designs before. This step took me a lot longer than I’d planned and I was already late to start the project so unfortunately some of these probably won’t reach their recipients until just after the holiday. They’re also a little bulky in their envelopes so I hope the industrial shredders they use to sort mail at the USPS wont destroy them all.

Anyway, I’m glad to have completed this project and I hope it brings joy to whomever sees it. I wonder what I’ll do next year. I’m going to put more thought into the schedule and have a firm plan in place by August. [He said without conviction.]

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carousel opened
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Scene 1 – what could possibly go wrong?
Scene 2 - things are already getting hectic
Scene 2 – things are already getting hectic
hiding helpers
hiding helpers
I'm often irate whilst brandishing a protrator
I’m often irate whilst brandishing a protrator
sure, the Atari is standard equipment in any art studio but why the need for a spear gun on the wall?  random sea monster attacks - that's why.
sure, the Atari is standard equipment in any art studio but why the need for a spear gun on the wall? random sea monster attacks – that’s why.
Scene 3 - looks like trouble
Scene 3 – looks like trouble
why is there a bottle hidden in that cabinet?
why is there a bottle hidden in that cabinet?
Scene 4 - things have clearly gone awry
Scene 4 – things have clearly gone awry
we miss you, grandma
we miss you, grandma
art is imitating life here. I'm holding a mirror up to my card making process. get it? there's a mirror back there! oh, that's rich.
art is imitating life here. I’m holding a mirror up to my card making process. get it? there’s a mirror back there! oh, that’s rich.
this is how I always feel once the Christmas card project is done
this is how I always feel once the Christmas card project is done

 

Bonus fact: muffin tins make great organizers for those times when you have designed about 50 individual parts to be glued onto each card!

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A Look Inside The Enchanted Christmas Card Factory
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4 thoughts on “A Look Inside The Enchanted Christmas Card Factory

  • December 27, 2015 at 2:53 am
    Permalink

    Rob, that’s a great card! Now, how did you produce 100 of them, do you have a plotter, or it’s all hand cut…

    Reply
    • December 28, 2015 at 2:03 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks Mike! The printed material is cut by machine one-at-a-time on a flatbed plotter / cutter table. We used to cut everything by hand but the project got too big for that. We still cut some special components by hand (i.e. mirror card, string, mylar) but the bulk of the cards are cut on the plotter. I should do a “making of” video sometime.

      Reply
  • January 3, 2016 at 12:34 am
    Permalink

    OK Santa Rob, I hope you’re paying your elf helpers extra for all their hard work. 100??? That’s quite the factory you’ve got going on there. Love all the little nods to so many sweet details. Thanks for sharing your peek behind the curtain! May 2016 be a less challenging year (NOT!)

    Reply
    • January 3, 2016 at 8:02 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks, Cecelia! There is no pay for the helpers on this project. I only feed them and I hope that the pressure doesn’t make them cry (because tears would ruin the printing on the paper.) It really is a lot of fun to do these cards but you tend to lose sight of it while you are rushing through the mass-production phase.

      Reply

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