Updated: Jan 4, 2021
Poinsettia flowers appearing in markets and stores are iconic symbols of the holiday season. These plants hold a special significance in my local town of Encinitas, CA since it was here the gangly, Mexican native was first commercialized and grown in the 1920's. Every year I look forward to visiting Balboa Park during the holidays to see the poinsettia display in the historic Botanical Building. Hundreds of varieties are visible in lighter shades of ivory and blush to traditional deep ruby reds.
For this project, I am making holiday cards inspired by these local beauties. My starting point is a watercolor I painted after visiting the display. Using a fairly simple, bold design translates into an effective block print pattern.
Start by printing a copy of the image to the size of block. Graphite paper can be helpful in transferring the design to the block. Just trace over the image with a pen to transfer the image. I like to go over the lines again with a marker to finalize the design. Use the carving tools to remove the block material along the pattern lines. I start with the fine outlines and work deeper as I go. Remember, anything carved out will be white. I print test copies and refine the lines until the balance works.
Mix up the bright poinsettia colors. Use the brayer to roll the ink out to a very thin layer before inking your image. Place a sheet of paper on a flat surface. Center the block, commit and press evenly. Carefully peel back the block to reveal the beautiful flower.
Let the prints dry a few hours to avoid smudges. I'm finishing the cards with a bit of added holiday sparkle in the center and a bold black border for contrast.
Can't wait to send these out to friends and family!
Speedball Easy Carve (it's like carving a large, soft pink eraser)
Lino carving tools
Inks - I use a combination of Speedball printing inks and Golden Open paints
Paper - I save all the odds and ends from larger printing projects. For these cards, I love using the gorgeous, thick Sommerset printing paper and cut everything to 4 x 6.