A kind of sketchbook

Once upon a time, my life was not swamped beneath a sea of vintage postage stamps – but in these halcyon days of perpetual collage, I have only the vaguest recollection of those times…

Sorting through large bags of mixed old stamps is an integral component of my working life.  I usually separate them out by colour family. These are then mixed in with my ‘paintbox’. (Stamps shown in pic are but the tip of the iceberg – both sorted & not!)

stamp sorting - palette edit

My paintbox

stamp sorting - individuals ffSometimes, though, individual stamps stand out. I have no immediate plans for these particular stamps, but just because I love them, I have plucked them out from the rest so that they can permeate my subconscious while I’m working on other things…

stamp sorting - colour combinations ffI also separate out landscape-style stamps (not necessarily literal landscapes – abstract colour blocks also often work just as well). I use stamp collecting stock cards – of which I have inadvertently acquired many – to keep stamps of similar colour configuration together. The exact tones of blue/green/etc vary from stamp to stamp, so it’s handy to have them available side by side to pick out just the right one for whichever composition I happen to be working on.

Sometimes filing similar stamps together in this way leads to ‘accidental’ composition, as it becomes obvious that the background hill in one will blend seamlessly into the hedge at the top of another. In this way, the stockcards are more like a sketchbook, and I use them to test layouts for possible future collages. Although the stamps won’t necessarily, ultimately be used in the exact same combinations, they make ideal starting points:

stamp sorting - composition ff edit

Stockcards as sketchbook: testing out combinations & layouts

The stockcards above are from a current, very large & ongoing batch of stamp-sorting – not that I don’t already have (more than) ‘enough’, technically, but I find it quite an inspirational process. I usually don’t have a particular plan in mind when I begin sorting, but sometimes the colours and connections evolve of their own accord. I allow myself to be drawn in whatever direction they lead me, and then my ‘job’ is to find secret patterns in the randomness of serendipity. I love my job. 😉

Keep an eye on the TangleStore over the next few weeks – it’s quite likely some of the stamps above will be glued into submission very soon!

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