TangleCrafts Blog

Faux Postage Trials, Part 4

The lovely Britta (of JaguarSnail) has found yet another potential faux postage perforation solution for us to try and I, for one, am sold!

While rummaging in a junk/antique shop recently Britta came across a pair of rusty, slightly odd-looking scissors with teeth on one side, where the blade would normally be.  When she asked what they were for, she was told they were thinning shears, used in hairdressing.  Who knew?!  (Not us, but probably many other people in the world…)  Anyway, I tried out Britta’s shears and they did indeed make neat-if-square-ish perforations which tore off nicely, so I immediately ordered a cheap pair of (new!) thinning shears to try for myself.

New TangleStamp perforations
New TangleStamp perforations

Mine arrived this morning, and when I tested them out, not only did they make a lovely perforated edge to my new artistamps, but they separated them in the same swift movement, without any need for tearing!  (I’m assuming Britta’s shears only pierced holes because they had been dulled slightly with with age and use.)

I’ve just made a new series of artistamps, printed on self-adhesive label paper, using my most recent postage stamp collages as background images.  Here I’ve done a comparison test, first using a serrated pattern tracing wheel to tear off a stamp, and second using the thinning shears (not shown to scale!).

Faux postage perforation comparison
Faux postage perforation comparison

The auto-separation of the paper after using the shears means that rather than pre-perforating a whole sheet of stamps to tear off as needed, I will be cutting off one stamp at a time, but I like the clean edging so much, I’m pretty sure I can live with that compromise!

I designed the sheet of artistamps from notebook covers collaged in July.  This is my first notebook collage of August in a combination of some of my favourite colours: an imaginary landscape which only narrowly missed the window of joining the artistamps above!  Check out the TangleStore listing for more details.

The latest imaginary landscape
The latest imaginary landscape

For more info about faux postage/artistamps, please see my Faux Postage Q & A page, plus all of these previous posts!

Catching up, Craft fairs & Colours (oh my!)

At last I have time to write this long overdue catch-up post! The last month or so has been a whirlwind of non-stop activity/work for me, but in a good way. In June I re-entered the world of local craft fairs after a break of more than 2 years. I was somewhat swamped with preparation – stock was easy, but signage, packaging & presentation are a whole different kettle of fish from selling online. With a lot of work, though, I managed to get everything straight and had a really good day (including many conversations about stamp collections!).

Following on from the first craft fair, I had a busy week of collaging to replace sold stock, talks about a commission for a local independent restaurant (I’m designing & hand-binding their new drinks menu!), contact from a UK magazine about a couple of spots coming up over the next few months (more on that to follow later), plus top-up preparation for a local Vintage & Arts Market yesterday. Here I am in situ:

craft market 050714

It’s a lovely courtyard venue and we were very lucky with the weather (a fine, dry day, after very wet evening & morning preceding). Had lots of interesting conversations with customers & stallholders alike, and various possibilities have arisen from the day, so definitely another worthwhile (ad)venture. As you can see from the photo above, my display so far is largely of the make-do-and-mend variety, using display materials I already had on hand (spot the toast rack, camping plate & dishes!). It’s a work in progress, though – I’ve learned something useful and new from each fair I’ve attended so far – and having now made the decision to continue with local fairs as well as selling online, I will be continuing to work on signage, as well as swapping in a few more purpose-built props for future events (although I’m pretty sure the plate & dishes will stay!).

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Are you based anywhere near Derby/shire?  You can keep track of my upcoming events here!

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As it’s such a long time since I last posted, here is a little gallery for you of my new range of notebooks:

(Find the above notebooks & more in the TangleStore!)

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I’ve been creating ‘imaginary landscapes’ and discovering that however hard I try, there are always certain colour combinations that I’m drawn back to. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how different colours speak to us in different ways? Interesting how not only do we simply have different taste in what appeals to us, but how we can each perceive exactly the same colours from a different perspective, and draw a different inference entirely. In fact the ‘palette’ a particular artist uses is entirely a part of what makes their work recognisable.  I used to think I was somehow ‘failing’ by not catering to every possible colour preference one of my customers might have; but I’m now pretty well convinced that actually it’s more important to work with the colours that inspire you. Push yourself sometimes, of course, and try out something different just to see what happens; but mostly, I say go with the flow. 🙂

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Don’t forget to stop by the TangleStore to see what’s new!  The above is just a sampling, and although it’s a while since my last post here, there are new additions to the store regularly.   You can also follow me on Twitter – @TangleCrafts – for daily updates & other snippets that catch my eye from day to day.  And in case you missed it, be sure to check out my previous post for a special July discount coupon!

It’s International Zine Month!

IZMposter2014
This great list has been stolen (more borrowed, really) from Alex Wrekk’s Stolen Sharpie Revolution blog.  Join me in celebrating International Zine Month, albeit a week late! (apologies – I’ve had a hectic few weeks…)

As a little IZM bonus for you, please use these coupon codes when placing an order in the TangleStore, throughout July (although offers apply to everything, not just zines!):

  • Save 10% with coupon code ZINEMONTH10
  • Save 15% when you spend £15 or more with coupon code ZINEMONTH15

Enter coupon code at Etsy checkout & discount will be applied automatically to your order.

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(Offer valid until July 31st. )

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…and here is a little sampling of the zines currently available in the TangleStore, to whet your appetite (but there are more!):

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Another rainy crafternoon…

As has frequently been the case in Derby of late, yesterday afternoon was of the rainy persuasion.  What to do with such a damp occasion?  Another crafternoon with Britta (JaguarSnail), of course!  I was mostly on the production line, folding envelopes in anticipation of a new version of the TangleClub to be introduced in June, making address labels to include as extras with craft fair goody bags, and then unwinding with a couple of new collaged notebooks.

TangleCrafts, as drawn by JaguarSnail!
TangleCrafts, as drawn by JaguarSnail!

Britta was working on a couple of embroidery samples from her new mini zine (coming soon to a TangleStore near you – but not quite yet!); then while I collaged, Britta drew me in action, using her new copic marker pens.  She was filling up gaps in an old sketchbook from her university days, hence the JaguarSnail trial business card shown (with personal info inelegantly edited out by yours truly) to the left of the drawing.  Flattered though I am by the portrait, I’m afraid it does err to the flattering side & my face is definitely not quite so hollow-cheeked…  The hair looks great, though!

Britta was having a ridiculously creative day, and after using some of my excess stamps to trial a little postal patchwork, she then took a different direction with them, and made this oh-so-awesome envelope design:

Presidential Mail Art by Britta Jarvis
Presidential Mail Art by Britta Jarvis

I love this ‘doodle’ so much!  I immediately scanned it, then printed out a sheet as labels, so that Britta can actually mail them (the original being trapped on a tea-stained page within the afore-mentioned sketchbook). Thinking of adding them as a label set to the TangleStore – what do you think?

I should have had even more of Britta’s mail art to show you, as she brought along a whole batch of pre-artified envelopes, ready for me to list in the TangleStore.  But I noticed (far too late in the day) that she had not signed her work, so they have temporarily left the building again, to return in the near future inc. JaguarSnail maker’s mark.

Yep, there was an awful lot of craft (and art!) afoot in Tangledom yesterday, and there’s still so much more to come!  I have new projects coming out of my ears, so please keep an eye on the TangleStore, Twitter, and of course here on the blog for all the latest updates. 🙂

The Great Paper Caper

Once more, my home printer is suffering from a mystery malaise that I am not sufficiently qualified to cure. Although working at a basic level, it really isn’t playing nicely. At all.  This is the third time in 4 years that I have had serious printer issues, so last week, I finally made the (actually quite difficult) decision that it is time to outsource as much printing as I can afford.  I will of course replace the home printer, too, and will continue to print ‘on the spot’ to trial ideas etc.  But I think realistically, I just ask too much of it on a day to day basis to have it print full print runs of zines. Etc. So the outsourcing has begun.

ET illustrationsI’ve posted previously about the search for just the right paper for my different projects, and I still have a great collection of recycled papers to draw upon, from my earlier experiments.  Therefore it’s a little sad to say goodbye to some papers I have loved in favour of the more limited range of eco-friendly papers available from my chosen printshop.  But while I mourn the aesthetic loss of, for example, my newsprint designs, I console myself that they have been replaced by far superior paper and print quality: still recycled, but much thicker, and such vibrant colour reproduction

Tangelope self-mailerLast week I had my Tangelope zine & self-mailers printed on a wonderfully tactile new FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) paper.  It feels almost velvety, and the reproduction is definitely much higher quality than I would have been capable of by my previous means.  I’ve used the same paper for the ‘Bit of Earth’ seed packets.  This week, I have had reprints of selected Enchanted Times back issues which are still printed on recycled paper, but feel so much more substantial than before!  In short, while there are a few minor aesthetic losses, I feel I have definitely gained both time and quality courtesy of the decision to outsource, so although my arm was somewhat forced, I do think it was an ultimately beneficial decision.

holly bookmarkOh – unrelated to the above, I have been meaning to post this pic for a couple of weeks!  As you can see, it is a beautiful hand-drawn bookmark which I was lucky enough to receive from my occasional illustrator for the Enchanted Times, Holly Mitchell (her work can currently be seen in back issues ‘Frogments’ and ‘Stitched Up’, shown above).  Please ooh and ahh in wonder at its beauty, as I do. 🙂

 

ZineCraft?

craftivism coverOh dear.  I have inadvertently wandered back into the old art v. craft debate.  In general, I prefer to avoid it but a recent interview with craftivist Betsy Greer made me consider a tangential aspect.  (It’s an interesting interview from more perspectives than this, though – you should read it!)

And then I got carried away…

Is zinemaking a craft?  Approaching this from my own perspective I would have to say that it is, even if only at a most minor level; but zines represent an extremely wide field with all kinds of subgenres and production values so I think it would be impossible to give one all-encompassing yes or no answer.  Regardless of that, here are a few aspects to consider:

  • A standard 8-page mini-zine involves hand-folding and a cut (origami? kirigami?) – this is a very basic craft, but a craft nonetheless.
  • A stitch-bound zine involves basic bookbinding skills (pamphlet/saddle stitch, stab-stitch, all kind of possibilities) – probably more likely to be utilised in a zine already focused on arts or crafts, this is inarguably using craft skills.
  • But if you simply fold each page in half and then staple it?  Stapling, I’m afraid, is not a craft.
  • And if you outsource the printing & binding to a printer?  Definitely not craft!  Here we are simply moving into the realms of basic book/let production.
  • worth something journalWhat about the content?  Well, a lot of work can go into the design and layout of a zine (or not – anyone can make a zine, with almost any skill level!) – but design and layout are skills rather than crafts.
  • What about the aesthetics, all the beautiful artwork found in some zines?  But it is reproduction rather than original artwork, as in any art book you can buy in any bookshop.  The original artwork of course remains so, but the multiple reproduced copies are clearly no longer original art.
  • And if each page of each copy is hand-embellished and/or handwritten?  Then we are moving away from zines and into the world of artists’ books.

Cut down to the bare bones, zinemaking is probably more the culmination of a number of individual skills (not necessarily craft-based), combined.

The bigger question is, does it matter what you call it?  My (slightly abridged!) conclusion to the art v. craft debate was that there will always be different perspectives of any one work.  Some questions to consider…

  • If somebody uses a particular craft technique to follow and reproduce the results of a pre-tested craft pattern, they are producing craft, not art.
  • If somebody uses a craft technique but follows their own (self-designed) pattern, is that craft or art?  Certainly additional skills have been utilised.
  • If somebody uses a craft technique but follows their own pattern, then makes minor changes or alters features so that the end result is different every time, have they produced art or craft?
  • If somebody uses a craft technique but follows their own pattern, yet unconsciously makes changes as each item is produced so that every item is utterly unique with its own character, is that art or craft?
  • If an artist uses a craft technique within an art piece, is that art or craft?
  • If an artist makes a series of similar pieces utilising a craft technique, are they producing art or craft?
  • If an artist tells you that the meaning behind their work alters the context of the craft, does that make it art?
  • What if a crafter tells you the meaning behind what they call their craft?
  • What if a crafter is unaware of any deeper meaning in their work, yet subconsciously, they are expressing something unique with every piece?

Different people will give you different answers to probably all of these questions, even when assessing the same individual case.  Does it matter if you call it art or craft?  Not to me!  Create whatever you want to create, and let other people label it whatever they like; all that matters is whether or not you are happy with what you have created.  Similarly, if you write a zine, does it really matter if one person calls it a craft and another doesn’t?  Just make a zine that says what you want it to say by whatever means suit you best, and be happy. 🙂

myo zineAnother tangent – I’ve just curated a ZineCraft Etsy Treasury full of ideas & inspiration. Enjoy!  (The Make Your Own Zine Kit shown to the left is from the FriendPrices Etsy Store – one of the many cool zine products featured in the treasury.)  Do you have a favourite zine?  Please feel free to share a link!

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NOTE TO STUDENTS!

I removed a couple of my old posts on the subject of art v. craft when I learned they were quite frequently being plagiarised by art students.  Please take note, lecturers know how to use the internet, too!  If you ‘borrow’ my thoughts, your lecturer will probably already have a good idea of where they came from. Take the questions above & give them some thought of your own, instead!

Enchanted Times enchantment

While the ETPrintworks presses have not rolled for a few months and Enchanted Times journalists roam the Enchanted Realms in search of new stories to bring their readers, it’s great to see that the populace is still soaking up the timeless, magical news of the various ET back issues in circulation (as they enjoy the early summer sun, at the end of the garden):elf pics

Photo courtesy of local artist Rachel Gallagher, whose beautiful plush elves (etc) are available to purchase from Titania’s Tea Party. I’m looking forward to meeting Rachel and her creations at Derby’s Furthest From the Sea Festival next month!

TangleCrafts on Twitter

I’ve resisted for a very long time, but I have finally launched a TangleCrafts Twitter page!  It’s all new to me, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it all goes/grows – please stop by & follow if you are a fan of TangleCrafts, and you will be the first to hear the latest new news.  🙂  (And I won’t feel so lonely over there!)

In other news, another local craft fair has been added to my summer events list; and here is my latest collaged notebook – another one which reminds me of an abstract summer coastal scene (I think my subconscious is trying to tell me I need a holiday!):

First Class Notebook #9

Crafting on a rainy afternoon

Britta's mini envelopesBritta (see JaguarSnail section of the TangleStore) popped round yesterday on another miserable, rainy day, which we brightened up with lots of junk food & an afternoon of crafting.  Britta made (almost) the teeniest tiniest envelopes imaginable, measuring just 1″ x 1.5″ and embellished with a handcarved stamp of even teenier tinier faux postage, postmark & ‘handwritten’ address (she also made pandalopes from a poster salvaged from her erstwhile teenage bedroom).

Collage postcards by TangleCraftsMeanwhile, I collaged 2 postcards which will be hopping into a postbox near me today.  The colours used for the postcards were based on the preferences of the individual recipients, and blue is not my favourite colour, so I struggled with that one a little bit.  (Only peach is worse.  Peach literally makes me shudder!)  After a bit of a false start & a composition which did nothing for me at all, I started again, this time mixing in some teal and turquoise (the acceptable face of blue for me!), and all was well. 🙂  And it turns out I love the combination of both postcards together, like a wet, sandy beach leading into the sea, or beneath a summer sky (which was especially cheering given the damp & dismal weather outside)…

Bazaar Update

It’s been a couple of years since I last tabled at a craft fair.  I planned to get back into it last summer, but circumstances prevailed and after my dad passed away I did lose creative impetus a little.  This year, though, I’m itching to get out there and get back into the fray and have already booked into two markets, with hopefully some more a little further down the line.  I love to see what other people are making, and chat with (potential) customers in person – it’s such a different experience than selling online!

I don’t expect a high volume of sales – I know a lot of people just like to browse – but having changed focus since my last craft fair, I’m interested to see how my collage notebooks go down.  The zines & upcycled badges will still be there, too, of course!  I’m also considering branching out & making some framed collage art – something I have so far baulked at attempting on Etsy due to the extra cost and worry about potential damage when shipping bulky-but-fragile frames…

I’m looking forward to all the ‘boring’ preparation – planning different packaging, deciding on labelling etc.  There are lots of ideas bubbling around inside my head, now I just need to work on organising them into a format I can put into practice!

Are any of you out there in or near to Derbyshire (UK)?  I’d love to meet you at one of the craft fairs!  I’ll be giving away small goody bags to anybody who spends £5 or more, but if you mention this blog post, I will find a little extra something for you, too. 🙂  I have added a link to the mainpage sidebar with further details of forthcoming fairs & markets, but here’s a shortcut for you.  New dates will be added as I book them.  Hope to see you soon! 🙂  (But if you can’t make it to an event, you are always very welcome to browse the online TangleStore, instead!)