Christmas is an enchanting time here at Smythson, where adults feel like children again at the sight of the Nile Blue boxes that arrive under the Smythson tree at our New Bond Street flagship. Always one for celebrating the whimsical, this year we stepped behind the scenes of our latest paper creation – a theatrical card rendition of one of Christmas’s most enchanting tales, The Nutcracker.
‘On an enchanted Christmas Eve, under the heavy boughs of the candlelit tree, Clara battles with the Mouse King and falls in love with a handsome stranger. As the air grows colder and snowflakes begin to fall, Clara and her valiant Nutcracker take a hot air balloon ride across the frost-dusted London skyline to the glistening Land of Snow where her adventure really begins.’ In a world of Edwardian elegance, The Nutcracker is recreated in Smythson form; each quirky character brought to life in our make-your-own theatrical Christmas card.
We stepped behind the scenes to discover the magic behind the craft with our stationery designer.
What was the inspiration for the card?
I have always been fascinated by the traditional paper and wooden miniature children’s theatres, and Christmas seemed the perfect occasion to design an extra special greeting card, especially as many of us take the theatre trip over the holidays!
How did it all start?
Research, research, research! Traditional paper, miniature children’s theatres, the stage facade – you name it! The Nutcracker Ballet was a natural choice – a traditional Christmas story that many of us will see over the Christmas period (not to mention I wanted to draw the sugar plum fairy). I then delved into ballet company archives to find inspiration for the scenes, characters and costumes.
What happened next?
After the initial sketches, I began the actual artwork for the backdrops and the characters. The technical design for the paper construction required several mock ups to get right. I chose to portray the opening party scene in Clara’s beautiful home, where a giant Christmas tree takes centre stage surrounded by presents. For the change of scenery, I chose the land of sweets – the perfect scene for the sugar plum fairy to make her grand entrance.
Did you come across any challenges when designing the card?
The most challenging part was ensuring the pop up card could fold flat and slip inside an envelope, with all the changes of scenery too. I wanted to ensure people would be able to post it to family and friends.
How did you select the colours of the card?
I decided quite early on that the colour palette would be soft shades as I wanted the overall look to be feminine and quite subtle.
Finally, how did you bring the characters to life?
Firstly I created Clara, the little girl who dreams of the nutcracker coming to life. The nutcracker, a toy given to Clara on Christmas Eve by her Godfather and the King Mouse with whom Clara and the nutcracker have a battle were also an evident choice. Finally, I was most excited about illustrating the sugar plum fairy, who dances to the iconic sugar plum fairy tune that we all know and love. Inspiration for the characters’ costumes came from many different productions of the ballet, while the style of the characters was inspired by folk art to add an authentic touch.