Chiyogami Homemade Greeting cards , and a how-to (sort of !)

With this time of the year comes the beginning of my quest for the perfect New Year Greeting card.

This may seem a bit early to start thinking about it, but as I decided a couple of years ago to only send homemade cards, it is in fact just about the right time !

Last year, I used traditional Japanese paper, washi, on which I stamped plum flowers motifs in a variety of reds, then drew a branch with Indian ink and a brush. To give it a more festive look, I randomly embossed some of the designs (flower or branch) with bronze/gold powder. And that was it ! I had so much fun planning those cards : from imagining what they would look like, to carving the stamp (eraser stamp !), to starting stamping away on the nice and rough blank paper ! (I found a few scans I made of those last year, you can see them on Flickr, here !)

So a couple of weeks ago, I started thinking about this year’s project. The idea all came out because of this stack of tiny Chiyogami paper sheets I’ve had for a while.

Chiyogami is a type of traditional Japanese paper covered in colorful patterns. Those patterns, often of auspicious meaning (like the plum flowers, the pine or the bamboo), are woodblock printed or stenciled on a blank washi paper. Now it is also easy to find Chiyogami-like printed paper : traditional Chiyogami patterns are then simply printed on a normal sheet of paper. Those are cheaper than the traditional woodblock printed/stenciled type, but somehow lack the charm of it and its depth in colors.

To be able to use those small Chiyogami papers, and not just one type but an assortment of them, I thought it might be nice to make a window-like card. Instead of trying to describe it, I’m just going to show you my first try !

Because it was just a try, I made it pretty small, but it actually turned out cute.

The how-to is very simple :

– I cut a sheet of drawing paper the size of my unfolded card (in this case 20cm by 10cm, the folded card being a 10cm sided square)

– then I draw a grid-pattern for the windows : each window is a 2cm by 2cm square, and each square is 1cm apart from the other squares or boarder.

– then cut the windows with a small Xacto knife (I am NOT good at this !)

– Here comes the time to play with the Chiyogami paper !  I cut mines just a few millimeters wider than the 2 by 2cm windows. Once the nine little squares of paper were cut and ready, I applied glue on the inner side of the card and adjusted each paper on its window.

– While the glue is drying, I cut a square out of the remaining drawing paper. It should be as wide as the folded card, but not as high to allow the card to fold easily (bear with me, It will get clear !). So I cut mine 10cm wide and 9,7cm high.

– When you look at the inner side of the card, where the papers are glued to the window panel, you can see it is a bit messy, not something you want to send out like that. So the (almost) square I just cut allow to hide this : once a thin layer of glue applied to one side of the square, adjust it to the inner side of the window panel. It should fit the inner side perfectly, the slightly shorter edge going where the card is going to be folded (allowing it to fold nicely and easily).

– At this point I put my unfolded card under a heavy dictionary and let it there for an hour. Then, I just folded it in half, and voila !

I am not sure my explanations are really easy to follow, but it is a very simple card to make if you give it a try. I imagine you can put many things in the little windows : small photos, drawings, fabrics you like, ribbons, a few words, anything really ! I think it may also be fun to play with the size of the windows !

The shape of the card could also be anything : a larger square, a narrow rectangle for a more modern look, a circle -why not ?! I still have to decide on the shape I will use for the Greeting card versions of this. They will be larger, for sure.

If you are interested in Chiyogami and want to see a wide range of it, I found this site .

For a modern take on Chiyogami, go for the Fresh:Chiyogami (former Chiyogami Monday) Flickr group, they have some very fun and sweet designs !

And last, just for fun, the oldest mass-produced Christmas card !

Have a nice day everyone !


9 Responses to “Chiyogami Homemade Greeting cards , and a how-to (sort of !)”

  1. 1 Bejeweled October 17, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    What a fabulous holiday card idea!!!

    Handcrafted cards are always so special and have that heartwarming personal touch that just can’t be achieved the same way with a mass-produced card.

    The ones you made last year sound just beautiful and I LOVE your idea for this year.

    I purchased a package of teeny tiny chiyogami paper (I think the pieces were 1 by 1 inch??) several years ago with the intention of folding miniature cranes from them, but it didn’t work out the way I had hoped. This would have been a fabulous way to showcase all those beautiful patterns!

    Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial!!

  2. 2 amberleilani October 17, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    the cards are beautiful!
    hope you post more pics as you work along

  3. 4 mycraftyways October 21, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Thank you so much Bejeweled !

    I actually started to make my own cards because I wanted to express just a bit more, add something to the simple act of sending a card !

  4. 5 mycraftyways October 21, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Amber,

    Thank you !

    I will definitely post some more pics as I go along.
    I may even include templates if I make some for myself.

  5. 6 mycraftyways October 21, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you Regalbeads !

  6. 7 Sakura October 30, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Wow absolutely lovely cards! I love japanese yuzen paper and you have used it to great effect (^_^)

    Sakura ♥

  7. 8 mycraftyways November 7, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Hi and thank you Sakura !

    I love yuzen paper too : the colors, the patterns, I can’t seem to get enough of it !

  8. 9 betiamme March 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I just wanted to share that these cards were my inspiration for starting to create. I have now created a sacred space for my ‘crafting’ and enjoy every moment there.

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