Hmong Inspired Cards

This week, I have been working on drafting and testing some Hmong-inspired designs for greeting cards.  For a while now, I had been thinking about making these cards but have been a bit hesitant.  Hmong textile art has very intricate designs which has intimidated me for quite some time – I’ve always been unsure if I could really do it justice.  With the push from my mom to make one for her, I finally decided to sit down and draft some ideas out on paper.  Let me just say, it was a lot harder than I initially imagined.   This is definitely going to be a continuing project I’ll be working on to refine and improve.

If you are familiar with Hmong textile art, you know there are many designs and meanings behind each one.  Since I hadn’t made any Hmong-inspired cards before, I decided to start with one of the most recognizable design known as the Elephant’s Foot.  I made 4 versions of the same design to see which one I liked best and they all turned out pretty nice!

To make the cards, I used the following supplies:

  • Cricut Explore
  • Vinyl
  • Vinyl transfer paper
  • Pigma Mircon Pen (0.3mm)
  • Cricut Pen in Midnight
  • Strathmore Ready-Cut Cold Press Watercolor Paper (5×7)
  • Mijello Mission Gold Watercolor 36 Color Palette
  • Derwent Inktense Watercolor Pencils
  • Tim Holtz Distress Inks
  • Watercolor brush in size 2
  • Paper Source A6 Envelope
  • Painter’s tape
  • Hard board panel (9×12)

Version 1

I first used my Cricut Explore to cut and draw out the image that I wanted on watercolor paper.  The original watercolor paper size I used was 5×7 but I had my Cricut cut it down to 4.25 x 6 to fit an A6 envelope.  The design on the first card I made was outlined with my Cricut using Cricut’s pen in the color Midnight.  The lettering for the “Nyob Zoo” greeting was quite thin so I used Pigma’s Micron Pen in 0.3mm.  I use this pen for two reason: 1) the pen is thin enough to fill in the lettering and 2) the ink is archival and waterproof which is important since I was going to be using watercolor.

Outline CardOutline Filled

After that step was completed, I taped the paper on a hard board with some painter’s tape.  I do this to keep the paper from warping when watercoloring.  Since the lines are pretty thin, I used Derwent Inktense watercolor pencil to first color in the design, then went over again with a water brush.  This was my first one, I kept the colors pretty conservative and didn’t do anything too fancy. I liked the way this card turned out, but it still looks unfinished to me.  I’m going to have to go back and work a bit more on this one.

Card 1 Finished

Version 2

For the next card, I wanted the elephant’s foot to come through white  so I painted the negative spaces of the design.  Again, I used my Cricut for the design.  However, instead of using the pen to draw tthe design, I cut it out with some vinyl that I had.  Then I used some  transfer tape to remove the vinyl onto the watercolor paper.  This part was the  most tricky.  I never had any problems in the past transferring vinyl with transfer tape, but this time it took quite awhile to get it to stick.  I’m thinking it’s because of the thin designs…but who knows!

Vinyl Outline

When I finally got this part down, I taped the card down on my hardboard.  I do this so the card won’t warp while I paint. I used the Tim Holtz Distress inks in the colors:  Salty Ocean, Peacock Feathers, Mowed Lawn, Mustard Seed, Faded Jeans, and Picked Raspberry.  These are water-based inks.  I didn’t use any special techniques to paint the colors on – just washed the entire card with some water and began adding color.  I try to put ‘like’ colors next to each other in case colors bleed, it wouldn’t turn a yucky color.  After the card dried, I went back in and added water droplets on the card to reactivate the inks.  This just adds a different effect and  some interest to the card.  Once everything dried, I lifted off the vinyl to reveal the design.

I liked the way the card turn out.  However, the colors were lighter and more pastel than I anticipated. Next time, I’m going to experiment with using the distress inks along with either my Mijello or Derwent watercolors.

nullColorful Finished

Version 3

The next one I made was a hybrid between card versions 1 and 2.  I used my Cricut to draw out the design and but then colored in the design with the Pigma Micron pen.  I attempted to make this one darker because the last one turned out so light.  For this card, I used the my Mijello Mission Gold 36 color palette.

Hmong Card Dark

Version 4

The last card I made was like version 2.  Again, I used vinyl for the outline.  This time I wanted to try coloring in the positive space instead of the negative space. I also used 4 smaller elephant’s foot and not the 1 like I did in the previous 3 card.  For the color, I chose warmer tones since  my last few were all cool.  I used shades of red, orange, and yellow.  However once it dried, it came out more orange and the other colors didn’t come through as much as I had hope.

Hmong Card V4

I hope you enjoyed these cards as much I enjoyed making them!  Stay tuned, this is only beginning.  I hope to revamp these and come out with more designs in the future.  In the meantime, comment below and let me know which version you liked best!

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