A handwoven letter

I’m hoping that my first handwoven postcard trial will arrive while I’m out today.  In the meantime, I’ve been making up for lost time & have completed Handwoven Postcard #2.  Yes, it’s all a bit meta this time – a weaving that looks like a letter, except that it’s a postcard… 😉

handwoven letter postcard by Su Mwamba

I initially wove it plain, just with the airmail border but it looked very boring.  The addition of embroidered ‘address’ and needle-woven ‘stamp’ (my first handwoven faux postage!) really finish it off.  I’m slightly concerned, though, that the extra detail is more likely to endanger the weaving while it’s on its travels (more little bits to get caught up in machinery)…but we shall soon see!

Find out more about the Handwoven Postcard Project...

Perfect perforations?

ghana stampRecently I posted a comparison chart of perforation methods for faux postage stamps, and the results thereof. But today, while I was sorting through some excess real postage stamps for clearance, I came across this lovely (tiny!) stamp from Ghana. I have no idea of its age, but I assume its quite likely that more recent stamps from the same region have the ‘perfect’ perforations we generally associate with postage stamps; but I truly love the imperfection of this little sample. It was sold & sent exactly as you see, and I’m sure no-one once questioned why the perforations were not pristine.

Why am I bothering to share this? I just thought it might help assuage doubts if you are afraid your own faux postage doesn’t look ‘professional’ enough. Clearly it does! (And anyway, in mail art, the individuality of your stamps is what makes them more interesting. So there.)

Faux postage trials, Part 1

As you can see from my previous post, faux postage has been on my mind, lately.  A few days ago, I started work on a set of new text-based artistamps perforation comparison(right, still a work in progress!).  Inspired by Beanie Mouse & his tracing wheel I decided to think about alternative methods of perforation.  My fallback method is to print rows of dots – faux perforations – onto the sheet of artistamp designs, then either use the perforating blade of my paper trimmer to perforate along the rows, or just cut out by hand with scissors. fayc perforations There’s nothing wrong with this method: at a glance, the stamps do indeed look perforated, and when the paper trimmer is applied, do indeed tear off like perforated stamps; however the optical illusion doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, and as soon as the stamps are separated, the gig is pretty much up (unless stuck to a dark background, in which case the black of the faux perforation half-holes blends in nicely).

So I did some trial runs to compare visually the results of some different perforation types:

perforation flow charts

Results, from left to right:

  • Inarguably, the most successful method of perforation is the paper trimmer.  My only problem here is that the edges of the finished artistamp do not look sufficiently stamp-like (for my taste).  But it works, there’s no denying that.
  • Tracing wheel #1 has a pin-style wheel and I thought might produce cleaner, more holey perforations.  However, the spacing of the pins meant that the perforations were far too far apart, and when separated looked like the (less sharp) inverse of the paper trimmer’s perforating blade: marginally more stamp-like, but much rougher.
  • Tracing wheel #2 has a serrated wheel and was far more successful (I believe this is the type of wheel used by Beanie!).  The perforations were much closer together & far more stamp-like before tearing off stamps – an aesthetically pleasing start!  And although there is still an element of ‘fluffiness’ where the paper is torn apart to separate stamps, it is less obvious than with the pin-type wheel, as there is less paper between each perforation.  Definitely my preferred method of the three, although clearly has a more rustic ‘flavour’ than the crisp paper-trimmed edges!

A top tip, whichever method of perforation you use (with the possible exception of the paper trimmer) is to always fold and crease along the row of perforations before tearing, which creates a much neater edge, and minimises the fluffiness.  I tried using tracing wheel #2 on a variety of papers (the one in the picture is white kraft paper) in case the fluffiness was accentuated by the fibres of a recycled paper, but it made little difference – this kind of fluffiness you will always get along a paper edge when torn by hand, whether aided by perforations or not.

Artistamp by Sam Farman, AustraliaA similar result can be achieved by perforating paper using an unthreaded needle in a sewing machine – sadly I could not demonstrate this method as I have still not learned to control my tiny sewing machine sufficiently to achieve a straight line…  (But the results can be seen around the edges of the artistamp by Sam Farman, shown right.)

I have tried the tracing wheel method of perforation previously, and the only reason I didn’t use it for my original TangleStamps is because I like to add a self-adhesive backing to them, and this added thickness was far harder for the tracing wheel to perforate.  I’ve ordered some new papers, though, and will soon be experimenting with different methods of adhesion, so watch this space for Faux Postage Trials, Part 2!

Click here for my original Faux Postage Q & A from 2010...

Friends & Faux is back!

I first hosted Friends & Faux back in 2010 and although slightly fewer project postcards made it home due to my moving house (twice) than might otherwise have done, it was still an awesomely fun project to co-ordinate.  The project postcards feature ‘gallery’ spaces for 8 artistamps/faux postage stamps, and are filled up as they are passed from one mail artist to the next before the completed card finally returns home.  I recently compiled 3 mini-zines showcasing the completed postcards that arrived home safely.  And I’ve also been preparing for a re-launch of the project…

FF1

ff logoFriends & Faux (version 2) has a new logo, plus its very own blog where I will be posting regular updates on postcards sent out into the world, progress reports from participants as they add their artistamps, and, of course, the homecoming celebrations!  I will also add random faux postage/mail art snippets, on occasion.  During F&F Version 1, I was alerted to the fact that some of my handmade postcards did not withstand the rigours of multiple mailings too well (peeling surfaces etc) so I have had the new postcards professionally printed to hopefully avoid a similar fate.  And if I move house again (please join me in hoping not!), I have implemented a new way of accessing the postcard return address, so hopefully I will be able to keep on top of any unexpected changes much better this time around..,

As of yesterday, the first 20 postcards are on their way out to who knows what adventures in the world, and more will follow in the near future.  Friends & Faux postcardIf you would like to learn more about the project, please visit the F&F blog, and if you would like to join in the project, you will find a brand new Friends & Faux Filately section in theTangleStore.  In fact, you can request an F&F postcard as an absolutely free add-on with any purchase at all from the TangleStore or ETPrintworks.  More news to follow, as it occurs! 🙂

I’ll let you into a secret…

F&F Mini #1…do you remember the Friends & Faux mail art project I hosted back in 2010?  Well, it’s about to return!  I’m currently in the process of building a new blog so that updates can be kept together all in one place.  Due to moving house multiple times following the inception of the first run of the project, I did sadly let it slide off the back-burner once the initial wave of postcards was sent out.  If you helped me track the project by forwarding a pic of one of the project postcards, though, please rest assured your reward (mini zine documentation) will finally be on the way to you within the next week.  And I promise I have learned from my mistakes and will be far more efficient, this time around!  Full details of the new project to follow shortly…

Beanie Mouse with F&F #1
Beanie Mouse with F&F #1

While I was working on the new Friends & Faux blog yesterday, I was reminded of one of the contributors to the very first F&F postcard – Beanie Mouse!  Beanie is star of the Found Art Blog, c/o Andrea McNeill.  Together, they create and then ‘lose’ labelled artwork around the south of England and the rest of the world, while the blog documents all the artwork as it is lost and then found again by happily unsuspecting members of the public.  As I was browsing, I soon learned that Beanie is a somewhat prolific mail artist and artistamp creator.  Above, you can see Beanie with Postcard #1 after adding his stamp, but this barely scratches the surface of his vast catalogue (album?) of work:

Photos used with kind permission of Andrea McNeill.  Please visit Found-Art for further adventures of Beanie Mouse!

Project Dissimulation – first creations

Project Dissimulation Vol. i preview

As April is bowel cancer awareness month, I was keen to get the first issue of the Project Dissimulation zine completed in time for April – so keen that I managed to be finished early!  When I first put out a call for donations of bird-themed used postage stamps and artistamps, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what exactly I would do with them, although the title chosen for the project obviously lent itself to working with collective nouns (a dissimulation of birds being the traditional collective noun for a group of birds).  Once I sat down to get started, though, the idea shaped itself and the first zine was quickly born, as well as a series of badges.

Please click through to the TangleStore to support Project Dissimulation with a purchase – any profits from Project items sold will be donated to a bowel cancer research/awareness charity.

So far I have completed Volume I of the zine, a matching Project Dissimulation badge (I will create a new badge design for each issue, so they can be collected!), and bird badges made from upcycled postage stamps for anyone who would like a completely individual souvenir of the Project:

The first issue of the Project zine features a variety of collective nouns for birds, illustrated with selected used postage stamps which were donated to the Project.  I’m not sure yet how many zines there will be in total, but I will keep going as long as there are stamps to work with. 🙂  In addition to the current items available, there will soon be a one-off chance to buy a set of badges made from the actual stamps used to illustrate Volume I, as well as bird badges grouped by species.  As the Project progresses, I’m also planning envelope seals, address labels, postcards and mini-notecards – watch this space for updates & availability!

Project Dissimulation Store

Project Dissimulation Badges Vol. i

If there are any bloggers out there reading this who would be willing to help spread the word with a mention of the Project (please feel free to ‘borrow’ any of the pics used in this post), I would really appreciate your help, too – the more people we can reach, the bigger difference we can make. 🙂

Stamps!

Project Dissimulation logoJust a reminder that I still have an open call for bird-themed used stamps (& artistamps) for Project Dissimulation.  I’ve received some beautiful stamps already, and am really looking forward to craftifying them!  The first Project zine will be issued in April, to coincide with Bowel Cancer Awareness Month (in the UK; not sure if this is international or not), but I will be continuing to collect stamps & artistamps for the project & will release further mini-zines as material is collected.  Follow the link for full details of the Project & how you can help.

Postal Ephemera PackIf you’re fond of postage stamps but don’t have any bird stamps for the Project, don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you!  I’ve also recently decided to clear out some of my excess hoard of used Machin stamps – can I tempt you?  I’ve put together some colour themed packs in the TangleStore so that you can creatively upcycle them however you Machin Gift Setchoose, because with the best will in the world, I will never have enough time to use them all myself!  I’ve also put together a couple of packs with a stamp-upcycling mini-zine for inspiration.  This mini-zine was written in 2011 but hasn’t been available for sale before & will only be available now while my stocks of these used stamps remain.  See listings for more pics & info.

MORE Christmas cards (Fast-As-You-Can!)

Even though for once I was relatively organised & had actually made a small batch of Christmas cards before December even began, I decided I needed just a smidge more variety for all that last-minute card-sending.  I should have thought of it sooner, really, but the first part of December always disappears in a flurry of time lost, and for some reason the thought only just formulated itself.  So there you go & here they are.

festive fayc cardMy little Santa-hatted Fast-As-You-Can Courier stamps have been adorning all outgoing ETPrintworks mail for the last couple of weeks, and I decided they needed a little showcase.  A mini-sheet of festive FAYC stamps is mounted on the front of the card, and the reverse has been printed so that it can later be upcycled as a postcard by the recipient (as per the Evergreen Greetings).  The back of the card features a brief introduction to the Fast-As-You-Can CoCo, and is hand-stamped with the FAYC postmark.  I’ve been long overdue in designing a FAYC CoCo envelope, so I popped that into the mix, too…  I’m really happy with them, and hopeful that my speedy little gingerbread couriers will hasten them to their recipients in time for ‘the big day’, even despite the late date.

I have an extra batch already made up, so if you want to chance a last-minute order, I have added stock to the ETPrintworks and Folksy stores & will despatch all orders received ASAP.  I will, however, be leaving them available to purchase year-round, just in case anyone actually wants to plan ahead next year! 😉

Long overdue…

Still away from home but happily with internet access, I took advantage of some ‘leisure’ time this morning to make some long overdue revisions to the TangleStore (hey, why did I never think of that portmanteau before?!) header.  The old tapestry header was relevant when the store first opened but has become less & less so, over time.  I thought a hint of TangleMail would be far more appropriate:

I’ve also breathed some life back into the TangleCrafts Folksy Store (or TangleStore UK, as it shall henceforth be known! 😉 ), which I have also neglected for far too long.  I will be adding more items over the next week or so, but there is a good representative selection available already.  The listings here are in £ sterling and only have a UK postage option, so the Etsy Store is still first port of call for international Tanglers, but UK friends now have the choice.  I’m still debating with myself whether or not to switch my Etsy listings to £ sterling currency, also (just a warning in case I decide to go for it & the prices you are used to seeing all suddenly alter slightly)…