My Material Life

The Sharpie Christmas Card Challenge

When I was setting up a Christmas display in my house earlier this month I picked up a book sitting on top of a bookcase and decided to flip through it to remind myself of its magic. I remember being so excited to purchase this book; it was so unique and wonderful. Would I still see it that way?

You bet I would. This spread stopped me in my tracks. It’s a last-minute invitation that the author of the book created with just a Sharpie, his own hands and the help of Kinko’s (aw, remember when Kinko’s was Kinko’s?). These invites are big – a full 8-1/2 by 11 and they’re spectacular. And if you added a little doo-dad like the one below on a print of Stella in the snow you could take that invite right to Christmas town.

Stella of the Frozen North

I only sent out a handful of Christmas cards last year and I didn’t save much time for them this year, but I did lay in some Paper Source blank cards and forest green envelopes. I had an idea that I might be able to pull something off with some gold leaf on the cards, and unfortunately my experiments with that were not successful. Gold leaf on paper is fine if you use just a touch of it and you don’t need crisp edges. But I wanted to feature a gold leaf design with very crisp edges. Would I have to let the cards go again this year?

Thanks to the late Joe Nye and his Sharpie inspiration from his beautiful book, Flair, I would not. I could use an oil-based gold Sharpie to decorate my cards. Well, two of them – one fine-tipped for the tree and one extra fine-tipped for the script (one of my favorite Lee Mendelson lyrics from the song Christmastime Is Here) and the tree garland. The lyric line and tree were originally separate cards in my mind, but somehow they came together for me once I started playing with the Sharpie and trying different things out. I created a rectangular cardboard template and ran a bone folder along its edges to create a guideline for my script. They were all created freehand, no copies. I made a smaller run of cards than usual, but gosh did they come together quickly and with so little mess and no frustration! I also glued a single flat-back Swarovski crystal to each star on the trees because you can’t go wrong with a little extra sparkle this time of year.

I will say that the inside of the card was a real disappointment! These cards have a rough surface so it was hard to write on. It must have been a let down for the recipient to go from the front of that card to whatever I managed to write inside and how it looked. I could have added a plain piece of writing paper or a photo, but you know how it is when one waits until the last minute. At least the envelopes looked good. They were such a pretty color and I used the gold Sharpie to address them.

I didn’t realize Joe Nye had passed away until I sat down to write this post. I was so sad to learn that and cheered a bit that he is still able to inspire us with his beautiful book.


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