Handmade Holiday Cards

I start thinking about my holiday card around mid-summer. There are three stages to my process: design, engineering, production.

By September I’m usually already experimenting with paper and other materials. (If I don’t have a final design by early October I’m in trouble.) Once I have a design I like, I break it down into its most basic elements and record the size of each piece. Then, in almost assembly line fashion, each card is constructed.

I created my first card in 2001. Below are seven of the cards I’ve created since then. I don’t always remember to save one for myself, so there are quite a few missing.

I Know An Old Lady

I Know An Old LadyI recently entered this drawing in a local juried art show. Sadly, it wasn’t accepted, but it was fun to create none-the-less.

The drawing is based on the cumulative children’s song There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, also known as I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly, and I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.

It begins:

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly,
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
I guess she’ll die.

I know an old lady who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her.
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don’t know why she swallowed the fly,
I guess she’ll die.

She goes on to swallow a bird, cat, dog, goat, cow and horse.

At the bottom of this drawing you can see the old woman’s head tilted back, her mouth wide open and her tongue sticking out, waiting to accept her deadly feast. Her big nose is visible too but her eyes are outside the frame.

The large mass at the top is a horse’s head. Inside the horse’s head is an entire cow, set at an angle. Inside the cow is the goat. Inside the goat a dog, then a cat, bird and spider.

Map Study

Like many people, I’ve always loved looking at maps. The idea of taking invisible elements like property lines and borders and having them appear defined both confuses and amuses me. I started my map study with the two places closest to my heart, Chatham and Highland, NY.

 Map of Highland, NY - Suzanne Trevellyan

Map of Highland, NY

Map of Chatham, NY - Suzanne Trevellyan

Map of Chatham, NY

Poster for Farm Film Fest Six

Farm Film Fest Ad for FilmColumbia programFarm Film Fest Final Poster 2015

Advertising poster for 2015

I’ve enjoyed designing each year’s the Farm Film Fest poster since the first event in 2006. For the poster each year we use a picture as the focus, usually stock art. This year I wanted to do something different, I wanted to incorporate my graphic drawings with graphic design. The samples above was done entirely by hand. I didn’t trace or copy anything I didn’t think up or create. I did five or six other full iterations of this final poster before I knew I was done.

For The Bride and Groom

Wedding Commission for Kyle and Leigh's wedding

I’ve often thought about incorporating text into my designs, but it is only recently that this has begun to take shape. This piece, 9″x12″, was commissioned as an engagement gift for a lovely couple that I know well. The central feature is the engagement ring.

Rainer Maria Rilke

The Poetry Project by Suzanne Trevellyan

In early fall, 2012, the Columbia County Council on the Arts announced a juried show called Poets and Painters. Artists were asked to enter work that was inspired by poetry. The piece I submitted was inspired by an excerpt from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Third Elegy.

Mother, you made him small, it was you who started him; in your sight he was new, over his new eyes you arched the friendly world and warded off the world that was alien. Ah, where are the years when you shielded him just by placing your slender form between him and the surging abyss? How much you hid from him then. The room that filled with suspicion at night: you made it harmless; and out of the refuge of your heart you mixed a more human space in with his night-space. And you set down the lamp, not in that darkness, but in your own nearer presence, and it glowed at him like a friend. There wasn’t a creak that your smile could not explain, as though you had long known just when the floor would do that… And he listened and was soothed. So powerful was your presence as you tenderly stood by the bed; his fate, tall and cloaked, retreated behind the wardrobe, and his restless future, delayed for a while, adapted to the folds of the curtain.

Look closely at the patten and you’ll see that the top half (the horizontal top half) and the bottom half are mirrored, only the shapes are filled in reversed. As daughters, we fight to be different from our mothers, yet as our life nears its completion, we find out how very similar we really are.