Mail Art!

I’ve always loved getting post (mail, to the U.S. readership!).  I was one of those children who always had lots of penfriends, and joined lots of postal clubs, and there was something so exciting about waiting for the postman to arrive each morning!  As an adult, when sometimes all the post seems to bring is junkmail and bills, I still love the potential of finding something interesting there.  I confess, I am the type to order things by mail order, sign up for newsletters, to increase the odds… 😉

At the same time, I do feel kind of bad about it, because print-mail isn’t the eco-friendliest medium, and the internet is the perfect way to disseminate information and newsletters without the need for print.  There’s just something about the anticipation of receiving post, of savouring the quirks of the packaging, and then actually physically touching the contents that is an intangible delight.  And, of course, it’s much easier to put a paper-something in your bag to read during a break at work, than packing up your laptop and finding both power supply & internet access to do the same…

Well, I accept that I am on a losing battle ethically, and I can console myself with the fact that at least the TangleCrafts Mail Art set is printed on recycled paper, and many commercial printers are switching to environmentally-friendly inks and papers, too…

Anyway, I just wanted to share some mail-art related links.  I recently discovered the Olathe Poste, a company that specialises in artistamps.  What are they?  Well, rather than rubber stamps, they are actually gummed and perforated postage stamps (or at least, they look like them; they aren’t actually legal postage currency).  The Olathe Poste will make you your very own artistamps from your very own artwork/photography.  How cool…?  They also sell the gummed or gummed & perforated paper, so that you can make your own!  I can already make stickers by printing directly onto self-adhesive paper, but stamps are just, well, different.  Admittedly, I’ve not found an actual, practical use for them, yet; but if nothing else, it would be kind of cool just to give away special TangleCrafts stamps with a goody bag, or something (I usually have a freebie to give away to the first few customers at craft fairs).  The Olathe Poste also produces a print newsletter, which I suspect is also kind of call, although straying more into the field of philately and stamp artistry than more general crafts.

Another recent discovery is the Aranzi Aronzo Post Club.  They’re the people who do the cutest sewing books, like ‘Cute Stuff’, ‘The Cute Book’, ‘Cute Dolls‘ (…you get the idea).  If you love the kawaii vibe, you’ll love the Post Club.  As a member you receive monthly postcard, not otherwise available, featuring cool Aranzi Aronzo comic strips etc.  The text is in Japanese, but that just adds to their funkiness, for me.  Apparently, free gifts are also included once in a while – you can’t say fairer than that!

If you want to find out more about mail art, my best recommendation is the book ‘Postcard’ by Fl@ss.  It showcases some of the coolest postcard artwork, and the funkiest innovative ideas, that will really motivate you to either get involved with mail art, or at least think about the possibilities adaptable to other forms.  I found it very inspirational.  If you’re not already familiar with her work, you should also check out ‘Envelopes’ by Harriet Russell.  I’ve not bought the book, as I already know the contents, but Harriet Russell sent a series of letters over a period of years, in what can only be seen as a challenge to the postal service.  Although each envelope was addressed, the address took the form of a puzzle, or illusion that needed to be solved before being immediately apparent.  If you’ve not seen her work before, you should definitely take a look.

And last but not least, yet another book mention.  Very recently released, is ‘Junk Mail Origami’ by Duy Nguyen.  This seems to me to be the most awesomely creative way of recycling – rather than discard all that unwanted but colourful rubbish that comes through your letterbox, re-form it into something decorative, instead.  This surely opens up a whole new world of possibilities…!

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