Inside the Collection

Hand-made Christmas cards

Close up of Collage Whipbird Christmas card
Whipbird Christmas card, designed and hand-made by Suzanne Annand, 2011

Every year, around this time of the year, an envelope arrives on my desk which brings with it, pleasure and delight. This year, in response to the emerging community interest in the ‘hand-made’ (demonstrated in part by the enthusiastic response we’ve received to the Museum’s international Love Lace competition and exhibition), I thought I’d share some of this joy and delight with readers of the Museum’s ‘Inside the Collection’ blog.

This year the special envelope contained a decorative little hand-made cut-paper ‘Whipbird’ (above) with a glittering diamante eye! It had a metallic string thoughtfully attached so that the bird could be hung as a Christmas decoration. The card is the latest in a long running series of hand-made Christmas greeting cards that Suzanne Annand (nee O’Reilly) has been making since she was 8 or 9 years old, and one of a series that Suzanne has been sending to Museum curators since we first met Suzanne and Tony Annand in 1990, when the Museum acquired the Douglas Annand design archive.

Collection of hand made collage Christmas cards
Sheep, Christmas stocking, koala and gumleaf, and black swan Christmas card desgins, hand-made by Suzanne Annand, 1990-2010

For these cards, Suzanne draws inspiration from the things she sees around her – the whipbird, cockatoo and brush turkey were regular visitors to her garden in St Ives, the lizard was seen on a trip she and Tony took to Central Australia, the King parrot was seen while sitting on the veranda at Napoleon Reef, 18km east of Bathurst, the sheep is wrapped in wool from the shearing shed at their property at old Bredbo (now Jerangle).

Collage Lizard Christmas card
Lizard Christmas card, Suzanne Annand

To create these highly personalized and appealing Christmas card designs, Suzanne uses readily available materials like coloured paper, tissue and card, diamantes and sequins, holographic stickers, metallic ribbons and threads, and sometimes natural ‘found’ objects like the dry gum leaf. Some are concertina format, others folded, but mostly each is shaped into an easily recognised form.

Penguin, Christmas tree, boomerang and cockatoo Christmas cards, designed and hand made by Suzanne Annand
Penguin, Christmas tree, boomerang and cockatoo Christmas cards, designed and hand made by Suzanne Annand, 1990-2010

The materials are combined using simple techniques like paper cutting, origami folding, crumpling, knotting and threading, gluing, over drawing and hand painting, in an intuitive process which leads each year to a delightful new design.

Suzanne attributes some of her inspiration to the privilege of watching, and sometimes even helping, her father-in-law, Douglas Annand work. Annand is renowned for skilfully integrating a hand-made aesthetic into his unique and usually very sophisticated commercial artworks and designs like his iconic Qantas x Australia poster of 1972 (which Suzanne watched him create with coloured Letraset strips) or the memorable ANTA Black Swan poster design of 1954, which has obviously directly provided inspiration for Suzanne’s black swan Christmas card (above).

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing and reading about Suzanne Annand’s delightful designs. Thank you Suzanne for making Christmas each year just a little bit more charming and delightful with your hand-made cards! Wishing you, and our readers, all the very best for Christmas and the New Year – from all the staff in the Museum’s Design and Society curatorial department.

Santa stuck in a spider web collage Christmas card
Santa stuck in a spider web Christmas card, designed and hand-made by Suzanne Annand, 1990-2010

All card images courtesy of Suzanne Annand
Post by Anne-Marie Van de Ven

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