Meritocracy

I’ve been a little bit fascinated by merit badges, lately.  The only time I’ve ever had something like this in real life was when I was in the Brownies – where the only badges I specifically remember earning were the Reading Badge (Enid Blyton, I believe!) and the Collector’s Badge (I really need to dig out that coin collection…) although I’m certain there were more.  Why should such activities be confined to children, is what I wonder?  Well, it seems I am not alone in such ponderances, as a little browsing brought up all kinds of fun stuff that I now feel obliged to share…

First up is the Make Do Mail.  I just couldn’t resist – it’s a zine full of DIY projects & recipes, it’s a club with a membership card (doubling as a handy kitchen conversion chart), and it also includes a DIY merit badge for you to embroider yourself, once you have worked your way through the club booklet.  How’s that for feeling like you’ve earned something?!  I am a little previous mentioning this, as I have only just ordered my membership pack/s but I’m sure I will be back to tell you more once my
goodies arrive…

Next up is from one of my old favourites, the Letter Writers Alliance.   First you need to join the LWA (follow the linked text or image below), but then you can sign up for the quite wonderful new ‘Initiative Response’ program.  You can only sign up by mail, and then you will receive in return a letter of introduction to the program and a form comprising a list of tasks to be completed for your chosen initiative/s (choose from ‘World Traveler’, ‘Typist’ and ‘Out of the Box’).  If you complete the tasks successfully, then (and only then!) you will receive the appropriate hand-embroidered badge as your reward.  I love so many aspects of this.  The whole point of the LWA is to promote the nearly-lost art of writing letters so it is wonderful that there is no option to join the program online: you have to apply by post.  And I like that you have to complete the mail-related tasks before you receive the badges – which will be sent to you by post.  I will definitely be doing this & will update with further developments in due course! 🙂

But if all that ‘earning’ feels like a little too much like hard work, you must check out the quite astounding Lee Meszaros Etsy Store, which offers badges for everyday occurrences and personality traits that most of us can achieve without even trying (although it’s still nice to be recognised for! 😉 ).  I picked out ‘Pushing the envelope’, ‘Being just my type’, ‘Letting the cat out of the bag’ and ‘Being proud as a peacock’  but other categories include ‘Surviving first love’, ‘Taking the cake’, ‘Never changing your spots’, ‘Making lemons out of lemonade’ – you get the idea!  All sorts of everyday triumphs are recognised in these witty badges.  Each badge is silk-screened, hand-painted, hand-embroidered, and comes with its own presentation certificate  – they really are miniature works of art and would make wonderful gifts.

What merit badge are you holding out for?

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A mail art embroidery

I don’t know why, but I have really been drawn to bird-related imagery recently.  Just before moving house, I started working on this small embroidery, which I charted from an illustration by Jay van Everen (from the book ‘The Laughing Prince’ by Parker Fillmore, c. 1921):

I completed it after the move, and although I’m not entirely happy with the lower left quarter, I can’t imagine re-charting/re-stitching any time soon, so this will suffice, for now!  I thought the adaptation worked really well, overall. 🙂

(I will probably release the chart in zine form, at some as yet unspecified future point.)

Something different

It’s a long time since I’ve done any embroidery or design thereof, but recently, the urge has started twitching at me, again.  My charting program was a sacrifice I made for the greater good when I switched to my new laptop last year (because the new laptop does not have a disc drive, and my charting program was on disc) – but even so, in the last 2 weeks, I have managed to chart 3 different designs using a painstakingly longwinded method I devised using Open Office Draw.  It’s almost as painstaking as drawing it out by hand on graph paper, but slightly easier to amend errors & try out alternatives.  Anyway, I managed it!

This is the second design that I charted, but the first one that I stitched, as the first charted design is quite complex, and having not stitched anything for so long, I thought I would ease myself in gently!  This one is adapted from an illustration by Jay van Everen in a collection of Jugoslav fairy tales by Parker Fillmore (c. 1921).  The story is called ‘The Laughing Prince: the story of the boy who could talk nonsense’,  and the image is part of a larger illustration featuring different elements from the story (right).  I believe this section of the illustration relates to the this part of the story; “the dampness had made the millet grow so well that its tops now reached the sky” – but I may be wrong, so don’t quote me on that!  I just loved the weeping willow-esque shapes.  And the bird.  For some reason I seem to have been drawn to bird imagery more than usual, lately…

Anyway, definitely time to invest in a new charting program (downloadable, this time) and make life a bit easier for myself!  But I’ve surprised myself by enjoying the manual process, in the meantime.

New zines, old zines, something for everyone!

There has recently been a little flurry of activity in my Etsy store with all sorts of interesting new arrivals!  Time for an overview:

First up, I am thrilled to offer copies of Kristin Roach’s latest issue of Craft Leftovers Monthly.  Inside there is a bounty of crafty goodness, including a ZineBomb mini-zine (by me!) and a Postal Travel Kit guest article (also by me!).  The best part is the accompanying pattern for a fantastic Postal Clutch that Kristin has designed with pockets to fit all your mail art essentials. Click here for more details and to buy your copy from my Etsy store, where I’m offering two FREE mini-zines with every copy sold!  It’s such an honour to be included in this awesome zine. 🙂

My own latest zine is called ‘The Thief of Time‘ – very apt considering how time has been escaping me of late!  It is a collection of blank to-do lists for you to fill in, to help organise your own time, combined with an overview of 7 crafty days of my life – projects, pics and points of view.  It covers everything from doodle-stitching to artistamps, mini-zines to stamp-carving, and it also includes a free copy of Going Postal mini-zine, Volume 6.  Thief of Time is available with the usual plain kraft paper cover, or a special edition with a funky fabric cover, instead – check the Etsy Store now to choose your copy!

Yes, there’s more!  I am about to retire one of the old TangleCrafts favourites, Leftover Lavender.  Inspired by the lavender currently in bloom in my garden, I have put together 3 final copies, each with a bundle of beautiful overdyed embroidery threads in greens and purples.  Buy it now, while you still can (located in the Special Editions category)!

…and even more from the Special Editions category, I have  put together a bumper edition of the ultimate guide to Tangledom’s mythology and customs, the Mulberry Digest. This is lots of fun for the eco-romantics out there, with the creation myth of a land that was dreamed into being, free mulberry seeds for a spot of guerilla mulberry activism, an exploration of the symbolism of Tangledom’s arts and crafts, and two free cross stitch charts.  The Mulberry Digest is printed on A5 (half-size) mulberry pulp paper, with a ‘unique’ hand-stitched binding of my own devising!

Last but not least, we have yet another issue of Going Postal, which has now reached the giddy heights of Volume 7! Click here to find out more about the Going Postal project, and how to take part.  If you’re feeling inspired, your artwork could be included in the very next volume!

Well, I do think that’s all for now (isn’t that enough?!).  Please browse through at your leisure, and remember, you will get FREE membership to the TangleClub with any order, which then entitles you to discounts on future orders, as well as access to the TangleClub Archive with a new free project or printable available online, every month!

A Happy Mailday Round-up #1

Over the last week or two I have received some totally awesome pieces of mail art, and because I’ve been super-busy and not blogged them as they’ve arrived, that means there is a bumper blog-ful of cool stuff to share today. 🙂  (Although, because there is just so much stuff, I think I will be splitting the post into 2 halves, so look out for part 2, coming soon!)

First up is this completely unexpected e-postcard from Sean Woodward of Planet Dada (ironically actually located in my own hometown, Derby), which I received shortly after joining IUOMA (International Union of Mail Artists).

And shortly after that, this wonderful fabric postcard travelled all the way from Sam Farman in Australia and made me very happy indeed 😀 (you can tell, by the huge smile!).   She embroidered a chameleon with daisy-like camomile flowers, to create a fantastic chamomeleon.

I love any kind of daisies (cream gerbera with brown centres were my wedding flowers), and orange is one of my favourite colours, so I had several reasons to adore this postcard.  I am just in awe of Sam’s embroidery skills – and originality!  But on a more basic level, I was just quite impressed that the stamps remained successfully stuck to the fabric backing for the entirety of their journey, and I love that they are ‘properly’ postmarked (I always think the PO is cheating when mail is hand-cancelled with biro!).  Sam was the recipient of the doodle-stitch postcard I blogged a couple of weeks ago, which also apparently arrived without any undue mutilation – hurrah!  Check out Sam’s sunnysidey blog, and be impressed by her constant creativity!

Next up is something a little bit different!  But actually, this post is getting quite long, so I will continue my Happy Mailday round-up in another post, to follow shortly…  Watch this space!