I look forward to the Lunar New Year not only for celebrations, but to lengthen the time allowance to send out holiday greetings. Those that I didn’t get to by Christmas go in the New Year’s card list, and those missed the second time get put on the Lunar New Year list.
I don’t do it every year; in fact, the last time I did anything for Lunar New Year was in 2008, because one of my brothers is Year of the Rat. It was fun to come up with the concept: using half sheets of origami paper, I designed the motif so that I could use the cutout as well as the leftover “framing” the negative space — eliminating waste while doubling my output. Win-win! The execution, however, was painfully intricate, especially at the ear, leg, and tail; not just cutting, but getting the placement right when gluing. I went around for weeks with my box of supplies: mini cutting mat, knife, glue, toothpicks (!), and card stock. Sticky fingers and all; what a sight!
I’m really happy with the way the cards turned out and I won’t say I’d never do that again, but it’s been five years and… let’s just say I’m exploring other crafts…
This year I wanted to make a greeting card because I’m a Snake! I decided that designing and carving a stamp would be the best (read: most efficient) way to create something original. I imagined a very geometric, ribbon-like snake figure. The most challenging part was the angle of the head. Once I reached a satisfactory sketch, out came the linocutter and carving block. As execution tends to be, cutting was more difficult and time-consuming than I anticipated! After I got a good one done, I ended up going to the art store for more carving blocks because I had discovered it would be the year of the black snake and had to invert my image. Which turned out to be a good thing because it meant less surface area to carve out.
I picked up a pen with white ink at my local Japanese bookstore, and voila! A couple batches went out to family, friends, and fellow snakes (high school and college peers).
Here’s a fortune for this year’s snake. Though I definitely agree that in Asia, the snake doesn’t carry the stigma it does in Western Judeo-Christian cultures, I can’t say I buy into the predictions. Mostly because of the wide variance of personalities among the snakes that I know. What do you think?
In any case, may you have a prosperous, happy, and healthy New Year!