12 days of Christmas in a Paper Wonderland

Most people are familiar with the Christmas
song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. To most it’s a delightful
nonsensical rhyme set to music. As I recently discovered, it is a good deal more than just a repetitious
melody with pretty phrases and a list of strange gifts.

12 Days of Christmas Paper Cut Motifs

To give you a brief background on
the history, Catholics in England during the period 1558 to 1829, when
Parliament finally emancipated Catholics in England, were prohibited from any
practice of their faith by law – private or public. It was a crime to be a
“The Twelve Days of
Christmas” was written in England as one of the “catechism
songs” to help young Catholics learn the tenets of their faith and used as
a memory aid.
Today, this famous song was chosen to partner with our very
popular ecard of the same name; the 12 days of Christmas paper cut card.

As an artist it is only natural that I draw inspiration from my own Danish heritage in my work.  In Denmark it is common to cut and display paper cuttings in windows all year round, but especially during Christmas.   They are also used to hang on Christmas and garden trees across all seasons in the form of paper hearts or stars. 

Common Christmas designs include sleighs and reindeer, flora and fauna, nativity scenes, villages etc. Contemporary designs modern silhouettes, cityscapes and famous sayings. 

And what better idea than to bring this famously silly series of gifts from the carol to life than in 12 ornaments in a paper cutting window scene.

To begin, I created paper cut motifs following the lyrics
of the song. Each motif starts its life as a hand-drawn sketch and then is
scanned and rendered on to the computer as a vector illustration.  The digitalized images then come to life in
frame-by-frame animations. Turtle doves flutter, ballerinas twirl, swans glide and
pipers play their flutes in celebration of the festive season.
Rather than being a static two dimensional setting, I
designed the ecard to have visual depth and dimension.  To achieve this I placed the paper
cutting within a window and adding a snowy background, adding contextual depth and dimension, resulting in a dynamic moving picture.

Crafty Kids

One of the first things many people comment on when they first come to visit is the fact that we don’t have a television. We hardly notice unless they remind us, but as the boys are growing older we have noticed that they have a great love of books – perhaps even more so because they don’t have a TV to entertain their little minds for hours each day.

Emil usually makes a little reading ‘cave’ in the corner of our sofa by surrounding himself with pillows and can stay there reading for hours.

So I figured it might be fun to make some bookmarks for their books and that is what we did one afternoon … totally nerdy, I know. We got some fun supplies, like paper punches, ribbons and wavy cardboard and they had a blast with it.

The next morning I found them busy making more, haven woken up early to keep crafting away while we slept in …

Watercolor Paper

I have set up my painting studio in the brightest corner of our home with linen curtains filtering the light. A little while back I was in a real bind because I could not find the paper I use for watercolor painting anywhere here.

I use Windsor & Newton Hot Press, 300 lb sheets, because the ultra fine smooth surface is best suited for scanning the images I use in the flash animated ecards. Tim frantically called a long list of stores, but each store said the distributor had stopped carrying the paper. Finally he convinced an employee at the distributor to go and dig around in the stock room. Low and behold he found 200 sheets! Yeah, we bought it all, and stuffed it under our bed. I would have been better to have all the money we paid for it stuffed into the mattress, but hey, at least the paper should last a few years I hope …