Faux postage Wonderland

alice badgeI recently acquired a lovely collection of used stamps which were designed in 1979 to celebrate the Year of the Child.  They feature classic illustrations from classic British children’s literature: Peter Rabbit, the Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, and Alice in Wonderland.  Unsurprisingly, I could not resist upcycling them into badges (click on pic above right to view full range).

While I was browsing around this subject, I discovered something quite wonderful: real (well, ‘official’, at least) Alice in Wonderland faux postage stamps which were issued on special edition first day covers when the Alice stamp from the series mentioned above was released (the pic below is an amalgam of 4 different envelopes).  There are 4 different Wonderland stamps: the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and Tweedledum & Tweedledee.  Better than that, each is postmarked from a different ‘region’ of Wonderland, including Hattersville, and the Pool of Tears (I might have expected this one to have been somewhat blurrier…), and each has its own little quirky detail in the design to tie it further into Wonderland.  I love it!  Just wanted to share…

faux postage wonderland

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Handwoven faux postage #3

handwoven letter collectionOver the last couple of days, I have been weaving yet more postcards.  Why? I hear you wondering…  Well, partly to try out some different yarns, partly to try out some alternative woven postage ideas, and partly for…another reason.  Where are the postcards going?  What are they for?  Well, this time I’m not sending them to myself, but I won’t say more than that for now – look out for updates!

handwoven postage 1My postcard from a couple of weeks ago (right) was woven with an aran weight knitting yarn.  The ‘stamp’ was a very basic surface needle-weave which hid the background weaving nicely.  The more recent postcards, however, were woven with a less bulky (dk) yarn – largely because I simply could not find the blues I was looking for in a heavier weight.  (I always find it surprising that despite the vast array of yarns out there, sometimes it’s impossible to find one that matches the colour in my mind’s eye…)

woven faux postage comparisonI soon discovered that the same simple needleweaving came nowhere close to covering the background.  I got around this by weaving diagonally (both directions) across the grid that was formed, and this did the trick.

For the sake of experimentation, I also tried weaving the ‘stamp’ as part of the main body of the postcard weaving, rather than as an embroidered addition on top.  I instantly liked the way the splicing together of the envelope & stamp colours gave the appearance of a serrated edge (well, at top & bottom, at least) and will most probably use this method again.

I still also want to experiment further with the matchbox loom, though, and applique a tiny weaving onto the postcard, instead.  Another day, though…!

The Handwoven Postcard Project

Handwoven faux postage #2

handwoven letter postcard by Su MwambaIn a recent post, I claimed that the stamp woven in the corner of this ‘letter’ was my first handwoven faux postage.  Who knew?  Turns out I was wrong…!  I just re-discovered an old post of mine from 2010 in which I wove a postage stamp on a tiny matchbox loom!

I had completely forgotten about this, but really need to try it again – it would totally be possible to embroider a little detail onto the surface of this tiny weaving…  

Matchbox weaving loom

Ironically, this miniature weaving probably took as long to complete as the handwoven postcards I have talked about recently, due to the fine embroidery threads used instead of bulkier knitting wools.  It would be possible to weave a quicker stamp using a bulkier yarn or thread, though – it would just afford less opportunity for adding finer detail.

See the original post for further details.

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...