Pinwheel Patchwork Stampification

The second Postal Patchwork experiment:

Pinwheel Patchwork stampificationI’m loving the way the colours play against each other when the halved stamps are realigned with their mismatched partners!

I’ve sketched out lots of sample patterns, and have found myself far happier with designs measuring 4 x 4 stamps rather than 3 x 3 (or 3 x 4), due to the 4-way (and/or symmetrical) nature of this type of geometric patchwork pattern.

My head is buzzing with ideas but I will have to be patient until I have the stretch of time available to put them into action…

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Stampy stampy goodness!

Although all has been quiet on the TangleBlog-front of late, anyone who has been watching the TangleStore will have seen a flurry of activity throughout January.  I’ve been going stamp-notebook crazy with more of the Machin patchworks as seen in my December post (every colour of the rainbow now available! 😉 ) and then expanding my repertoire to include older vintage stamps from around the world, and a slightly different style of collage.  I’ve also added some frameable postcards to the range:

Vintage Rainbow

Venturing out into a different corner of the postage stamp world definitely has inspired me.  The colours, styles & production values and all my (ongoing) postage stamp projects culminated in the design of a brand new TangleStamp – and anyone who is familiar with my previous TangleStamp designs will see that this has been a big change of direction for me!

MC3 standard editionThis journey is documented in the equally brand new issue of MailCraft #3, which follows through these projects and thought processes.  It also includes mini-tutorials for very simple postage stamp collage, if you want to give it a try yourself.  MailCraft #3 is currently available as a standard 24 page edition with plain kraft cover and self-adhesive TangleStamp insert MC3 Limited EditionOR (while stocks last!) a numbered, limited edition of 10 copies which has a bonus outer cover which can be transformed into a postcard with your own collage, plus a gummed (lick & stick), hand-perforated TangleStamp insert.
 (The special editions will be listed one by one, as they are sold, so don’t despair if you don’t see one in the TangleStore when you look: the next numbered issue will be re-listed within 24 hours of a sale.)

Rainbow Definitives

A question for you (about notecards)

I must confess, I’m really not much of a letter writer (something which I’m sure will be readily confirmed by anybody who has corresponded with me in the past).  It’s a little odd, you might think, because my zines are generally pretty wordy; but for some reason I just don’t seem to have many words left over when it comes to actual personal communication.  I can usually fill a postcard, but not much more.  If I’m sending somebody a zine (etc), usually a mini card (/business card) has more than enough space for what I have to say.  Thus, my latest range of postage stamp stationery consists of flat notecards (/blank postcards) and mini notecards.  Because these are the sizes I’m most likely to use myself.

My question is…actually a series of questions…  I’ll list them instead!  So, are you ready?  When it comes to correspondence:

  • What kind of cards do you prefer?
  • Are you a full-on letter writer and would prefer notepaper, instead?
  • Do you ever/often use notepaper & notecard combined, or would it usually be one or the other?
  • If you use notecards, do you prefer a flat, single-sided notecard or a single-fold notecard with more space to write inside?
  • If you prefer a folded notecard, do you prefer a design printed on the back as well as the front, or do you prefer the back to be left blank so that you can continue your note?
  • Do you have any other thoughts about notecard design which might be relevant?

You might gather, I’m thinking of adding a blank-inside single-fold notecard to the range in the future, so I’m just trying to establish what would be the most practical, attractive-to-a-buyer/notewriter option.  But I’m also genuinely interested in your correspondence habits & preferences, so please do share.  And browse the current range, too. 😉

Puzzle me

Harriet Russell WindowsInspired by Harriet Russell’s adventures in puzzlingthe post office with her puzzled envelopes, I have just created the Puzzled Postcard Project (P.P.P., for short!).

If you’re up for a challenge, it’s time to get creative!  Create a puzzle for my postal address, mail it to me, and in return, I will send you a free mini-zine featuring your Puzzled Postcard alongside others I have received.

This is going to be an ongoing project (feel free to contribute more than once!), and I will make a more detailed record (yes, probably in zine-form) of all postcards sent and received, as well as other interesting bits and pieces, once the project has been running for a while.  Please check out the full details, and ask if I can clarify any details not covered there.  🙂

Zentangling

Corey is away for the weekend, so I am luxuriating in having a couple of decadent evenings to myself.  What am I up to?  Well, I’m about to make myself a cheese & pickle sandwich, and am otherwise having an evening off from ‘work’ and just browsing online.  That’s very rare!  And after I’ve made my sandwich, you know what else I might do?  I might actually switch off the laptop and read a novel for a couple of hours.  I’ve not done that for ages!  I know what you’re thinking: this girl’s life is just one long, endless party…  No?  Yeah, I know; it’s not the most exciting evening I’ve got lined up, but  I’m looking forward to it, anyway.

zentangleOh yes, nearly forgot the reason I stopped by here!  The reason was ‘Zentangles’.  I suspect, as with most things, I am way behind the times with this one, but just in case you’re in the dark like I was, it appears to be ‘doodling with intent’ (rather than in absentia) – hence the zen part of the name – and then (because they do look pretty cool) calling them art.  It’s not just the ‘tangle’ part of the name that attracts me (honest).  I had a flick through the gallery (see pic, right) at the official website, and a lot of the patterns just reminded me of the kind of doodles I actually do.  Therefore it didn’t strike me as something that would take an enormous leap for me to grasp the gist of.  And looking through the gallery, I also thought the black & white patterns would lend themselves well to relief printing.  I’m feeling slightly more confident in my lino-cutting skills these days, but drawing isn’t really my thing, and I hit a kind of stumbling block (no pun intended) in terms of new projects & design inspiration.  If I can get away with adapting my doodles, I will be very happy!

Now, the Zentangles website gives lots of background information about how great & therapeutic it can be for the soul, and all that kind of new age stuff, but it’s very thin in practical advice when it comes to getting started – mainly, I would guess, because they sell a $50 starter kit, and they want people to buy it, rather than think they don’t need it.  Personally, I would rather test out the principles of the concept before shelling out $50 on yes, very nice, high quality materials, but really not essential to the practice itself.  Having said that, the website does include a free online newsletter which gives clear guidance on ‘learning’ particular filling patterns, and where to find doodling inspiration etc.  But if, like me, you read through the website and can’t quite see how to get started, you might also appreciate these posts on Crazy Art Girl’s site, which demonstrate a beginner’s zentangle from start through to completion.  It really clarified the concept for me, anyway.

I bought a cool notebook from Bad Day Ben Designs on Etsy a few months back, with good thick quality paper pages measuring 2.5 x 3″ each – I think I might have just found the perfect use for it…!  I’ll let you know how my Zentangle explorations progress…

Oh, one more note ‘Zentangle’ is a trademark name, and I think refers to the method they use to teach the Zentangle doodling technique (hence $50 for starter pack).  However, you can also find references to similar stuff with a google search for the more general ‘zen doodle’.  There are ‘zen mandalas’ which are similar, too.

The bumblebee flies anyway

combboardweaveAt my local Pound Store, they sell 2 mouse mats for £1. While I try, in principle, to be against unnecessary consumerism, I am powerless to resist the lure of a potentially useful bargain.  By useful, of course, I don’t actually mean practical in ‘normal’ terms; more craft-able.   I bought them a while back, and one (with a comb glued along the top) was used as a very handy weaving loom.  The other is also very useful: I use it upside down (foam upwards) when I’m making zines & booklets to cushion the pin-stabbed bindings while I stab them.

I’ve been thinking for a while about carving a stamp, either out of a carving block, or an eraser, or…something.  I’ve never really been into rubber stamping as a craft, yet there’s something very appealing in the more primitive aspect of a hand-carved stamp.  I’ve seen some very cool & funky designs around on Etsy, and the simplest of designs seem often to be the most effective.  I thought it would be nice to personalise packages I send out with a stamp from a hand-carving, or maybe use a stamp on the cover of a zine, instead of printing.

Anyway, this morning, there is no coffee in the house, and I am having difficulty getting motivated to get on with stuff.  So for some reason, I decided now is the time to try carving a stamp.  No erasers or carving tools to hand, I just cut a chunk from mouse mat #2, and carved my design freehand with a craft knife.  I could have drawn bee-block1 my design first (just as you can’t see the carving too well to the right, you can’t see pencil marks on black foam rubber, but I could have outlined first with the knife); but I just got stuck straight in.  This is why my intended ball of wool is now a bumble bee… 😉 bee-printI also forgot, in my eagerness, that the design would be reversed in the printing, so it quite took me by surprise to see my bumble bee flying in the opposite direction when I lifted the block (no coffee yet, you see).

For my first attempt, I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and will definitely be doing further experiments!  My trial print (above left) went straight onto the corner of one of my stash of board envelopes (I love the idea of using a stamp as an actual postage stamp), so if you buy anything from the Etsy store in the next week or two, you might receive this very bumble bee, in the mail!

In short, I feel my £1 shop bargain has been well-justified!

Ideas

With the craft show looming (sorry) at the end of the month, I’ve been focusing on getting stock together.  But of course, rather than being actually focused, I have simply been stalked by new ideas, which I have then had to try out (some have worked, some not).  So I think it would be fair to say that my merchandise will be a fairly eclectic collection, with not more than a handful of any one concept.  There’s still time, though, so I might be able to increase quantities in some areas, yet (if I manage to keep additional ideas at bay).  I don’t really mind; there’ll always be another craft fair that I will have more time to prepare for.  But the long and the short of it is probably simply that I don’t have the inclination/discipline to create multiples of similar items.  Not consecutively, at least.

Anyway, here are some of the ideas I’ve been working on (pictures to be added shortly; sorry):

Oddballs1.  Oddballs.  These are little creatures (approx. 2-3″ tall) woven and stuffed with the leftover oddments of yarn, so every one is different.   I guess they will appeal to kids, and to those drawn to amigurumi.  My husband thinks they’re the best thing I’ve ever done, which is lucky, as all of the prototypes appear to have congregated on his desk…  The principle behind them for me is that I would rather use than discard short lengths of yarn, and they are quick to make.  But they are cute.  Feature-wise, I have given them blank expressions deliberately, because the marketing feature is that they are, essentially, an afterthought.  Oddballs will come in individual little cotton drawstring pouches, with the label: “I am an Oddball.  I just want to be loved.” (Currently superimposed on the picture above left.)   Emotionally manipulative?  Me?  😉

2.  Gossamer bookmarks.  The Oddballs are one of those little extras I think people will pick up because they’re cute and comparatively cheap.  But other people will find Oddballs a little whimsical, so the Gossamer Bookmark is the alternative quick-to-make souvenir item for those who don’t want to splash out.  The bookmarks are woven on 18ct tapestry canvas strengthened by a piece of card (glued to the canvas so that only a single row of holes are visible around the edge of the card).  The canvas is warped from end to end, by passing the needle through every other hole along the shortest edges.  Then using the same length of thread (I used a fine spun silk) I wove over and under the warp threads from side to side.  At each side, the needle passes through the canvas and back to the right side 2 holes along.  Once the bookmark is woven from top to bottom, I withdraw the outer thread of the tapestry canvas along each side of the ‘loom’.  All the edge loops can then be easily (carefully) slid from the loom, releasing the finished bookmark.  Because of stitching through the canvas at the sides thoughout the weaving process, the sides consist of even loops from top to bottom, and there is no danger of ‘drawing-in’.  The resulting bookmark is very delicate, though, and needs something extra to substantiate/protect it.  I thought about laminating, so that it would look like the bookmark is floating, but it’s not a very eco-friendly solution.  I think it would look nice mounted on a piece of textured, handmade paper or card, so that people could still touch the actual threads and textures.  Or in a world I have not yet investigated, I know there are stabilisers for delicate fabrics and clever disolving things, so perhaps I can do something with that.  (Any advice, or websites you can direct me to?)

The woven bookmark precipitated another idea that is still in the germination stages; but the process does create a very evenly spaced fabric (unlike densely packed tapestry) that is crying out to be embroidered…

There are more ideas, but the next two are related, and I’m running out of time, so I will post again, shortly…