Preparing for Carve December – LinoCave

Preparing for Carve December

A flatlay of a multicolored square print, accompanied by colored stamp pads and carving tools.


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During before times #CarveDecember would always surprise me, kind of like Christmas does every year, not that it doesn’t occur on the same day every year and reminders aren’t given by big retail starting in August, but I digress. A “normal” December for me would consist of working lots of shifts at the restaurant, frantically making and packing and unpacking items for in-person shows, my husband being busy at his job too and then after all of that loading the car full of Christmas gifts, warm clothes, skates and wine and making the eleven-hour drive from Boston to Toronto where we engage in a frenzied pace of cooking, visits, parties, eating dumplings at Dumpling House on Spadina, last-minute shopping, wrapping gifts, transporting gifts to my BIL and SIL’s house on Christmas morning to open under their 14-foot-high Christmas tree until we are drowning in wrapping paper, then packing them back up and bringing them back to my MIL and FIL’s house and then executing a homemade Christmas dinner for 20+ and finally the (lovingly) dreaded Christmas quiz containing a broad range of subjects from history to Canadian artists to French Cheeses to German tanks to popular culture and sports that is meant to address and challenge the knowledge base of the group ranging in ages from fourteen to ninety-one and culminates with arguments about overly-punitive scoring. A winning score generally hovers around 50%. Then there are dishes, a few days of relaxation and the journey back home, which is always open to the possibility of being a white-knuckle drive through terrible weather. Needless to say, the only one of these activities likely to occur is the Christmas quiz via Zoom. That leaves me lots of extra time to devote to #CarveDecember!

A photo of a family gathered around a Christmas tree opening presents
A long Christmas Table ornately and colorfully set with people gathered in the background


I was thrilled this summer when I received an email from Julie Balzer asking if I would like to be a guest teacher in her first-ever Carve December Class. She assembled a group of ten women printmakers to guest teach and help her offer 31 short pre-recorded lessons each day of #CarveDecember. Its going to be fantastic because there will be such a broad range of tutorials, techniques and methods. You will have lifetime access to the class, so you can work on it at your own pace. I created a lesson about reduction printmaking on fabric and offer some of my favorite tips and tricks. However, I have also decided to experiment with stamping as part of my journey to be a more active participant in #CarveDecember, rather than my usual reactive participation.


In September I did a takeover of Speedball Art’s Instagram account and hosted a series of really enjoyable artist chats. I had the pleasure of speaking with Sarah Matthews (who is also one of the guest teachers in the Carve December Class) about a broad range of interesting subjects, but one in particular inspired me to take the plunge and purchase some Versafine Clair stamp pads and put some of my many scraps of Speedy Carve to use. Sarah described the importance of putting ink on paper every day, but is also a mother to four daughters, one of who is four years old. She talked about how rolling out ink can be a barrier for entry because it can be time-consuming and messy (and if you have a young child at your side, extra messy), but stamp pads are a way to create quickly and neatly and still have fun and be creative. Well, boy was she right. I ordered my stamp pads and have been having a grand old time stamping away! It is a low-stakes, high-reward way of creating small pieces of unique art.


So I think I am going to give #CarveDecember a real shot this year! I spent last night not carving, but just using trimmings of Speedy Carve and scraps of Arnhem paper that might normally be destined for the trash to explore color, shape, texture and form and it couldn’t have been more fun.

A colorful long and narrow print of colorful block printed triangles accompanied by colorful stamp pads and carving tools.

In advance of this challenge, I plan to set myself up for success by:


-Having my tools and supplies at the ready. That is easy for me because they are all located in my Harbor Freight tool chest in my studio. If you don’t have a dedicated studio space I highly recommend creating a kit and storing it in a box or some zipper pouches, which are my go-to for portable organization.


-Having small pieces of paper and fabric at the ready to print onto. There is no shortage of fabric scraps in my life, I bought some large manila gift tags which are a perfect way to have fun and experiment on, and I plan to tear down some of my Arnhem paper into small squares.


-Bookmarking the prompts so that I can think ahead about how I would like to respond to them.


A colorful block print of curved shapes accompanied by colorful stamp pads and carving tools.

So there you have it, I have made this commitment. #CarveDecember also intersects with the printmaking campaign that I co-host with Mindy Schumacher of @follysomeprints, PrinterSolstice (details to be announced soon). Please check out the brand-new dedicated @printersolstice Instagram account to see some amazing talent in addition to following the #printersolstice hashtag. Seems the end of December will be extra printy for me! If you are interested in signing up for the Carve December Class, please click here. I plan to take it as I do not want to miss the opportunity to learn from so many talented artists!

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