More postal patchwork (& other fun things)

Another crafternoon with Britta produced lots of fun results!  Of course, my new Postal Patchwork experiments paled somewhat beside Britta’s amazingly detailed hand-carved stamps – applied to Moleskine notebooks, so we can all share the goodness!

Badgified BoxesAs if that wasn’t enough, Britta presented me with a little stash of badges she’s been working on, made from the quality control marks & recycling logos on salvaged packaging (‘Badgified Boxes‘, as we decided to call them!).  We worked together on the presentation, hand-cutting mount cards from discarded packaging lying around TangleCrafts HQ, together with low-fi hand-stamped title & by-line, using my DIY printing kit.

We had a fun afternoon (topped off by pizza!), and I was inspired to carry on with a little more Postal Patchworking the next day.  This one is a postcard, and I’m thinking of putting together a tutorial zine & possibly kit so that you can try it out yourself.

airmail arrow 1

As soon as I started laying down the stamps for the above ‘airmail’ arrow pattern, I started visualising alternative pattern variations which are crying out to be tried.  The problem with this Postal Patchworking – with any kind of patchworking, probably – is that there is an almost infinite number of variations for every pattern, and it’s simply impossible to act on them all!

I’m suffering slightly from ideas-overload at the moment, so am planning to scale back again on PP experiments while I try to let some of the other ideas that are buzzing around in my head chance to breathe (before they just spill out of my ears…).  Watch this space (&, of course, the TangleStore) for the results!

Progressing in Postal Patchwork…

Now THIS was fun!

Purple Postal PatchworkWhen I first started dabbling in patchwork-style collage with postage stamps, it was enough for me to see a variety of tone-on-tone colours in serendipitous side-by-side placement (left).  Today, however, my attraction to creating more collages using this style of stampification was definitely on the wane – lots of stamps everywhere around me, but somehow not quite the right level of inspiration…  (I have been in a state of what might be called overdrive since stampifying my first notebook and so this was a natural & perhaps overdue decline in enthusiasm.)  Then – out of nowhere! – I was motivated to return to my old favourite Machins and…start cutting them up!

Diamond Patchwork ExperimentAfter spending a little time pondering the absolute sameness of the Machin stamp design – each issue identical in size and image, the only variable being in the colour – I just wanted to see what would happen if I took one half away and replaced it with an identical half in a contrasting colour.  I’ll tell you what happened, it captured my imagination!

The diamond pattern notebook (above right) is the result of my first experiment, but I suspect an investigation into quilt block patterns may not be too far behind.  This postal patchwork technique has real possibilities!  As you can probably tell by my overuse of exclamation marks, I am genuinely caught up in enthusiasm for this idea.  Will post some more pics once time allows further experimentation…

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

Another crafternoon…

December frequently escapes me somewhat, with birthdays, increased busy-ness at work, and the forthcoming seasonal festivities, all piling on top of my days which already feel very full.  But earlier this week I did manage to make time for another get-together with the lovely Britta of JaguarSnail.  We had some fun playing with my new envelope punchboard – we struggled to follow the instructions, bluffed our way through to success by trial & error, then found that the instructions did make sense, after all… 😉  I really love the results & there will definitely be new TangleMail-designed envelopes  coming soon (probably not until the new year).

Britta brought with her a brand new zine, the seeds of which were sown on our last crafternoon a few weeks ago.  On that day she made a miniature mock-up of the concept, and I have to say she’s done an awesome job of following it through.  If you have ever aspired to invent a new life form, this is the mini-zine for you!

Mythical JaguarSnailEach page features an ordinary creature – man, lion, eagle, cobra, goat and carp (some interesting choices!) – and each page is split into 3 segments so that you can mix & match your own mythical beast!  There is even a section at the back of the zine where you can log and name your favourite hybrid creations.  The drawings are really cleverly done, with lots of character, and perfectly aligned so that any combination (of the many possible!) slots together smoothly – yet another example of Britta’s talent!  There are only currently 5 copies available of this labour-intensive, slightly-larger-than-average mini-zine, so don’t miss out!

first class notebooksBritta was also inspired by the sea of stamps that were overflowing in a corner of my craft room, and followed up on her previous stampy works by customising a couple of stray notebooks I had lying around.  One of these was snapped up overnight (the other is still available, at time of writing), inspiring me in turn to follow her example – see pic to the right for even more First Class Notebooks, this time stampified by me.  These are all one-of-a-kind creations, so if one of them catches your eye, be quick!

There’s something about that repeated motif – the same but different every time, thanks to the unique combinations of postmarks – and the patchwork effect of the randomly combined colours that never fails to fascinate me…

Britta and I generally have no problem thinking of new creative ideas, but our ‘crafternoons’ are definitely motivational for both of us to actually get down to putting the ideas into practice.  When I say that a sea of stamps was overflowing in my room, I’m actually being literal rather than gratuitously poetic – but now we have actually made a real start on crafting them, I feel far less like I am about to drown in them…!

Here’s to crafty afternoons!

Fairy tales & faux postage for the festive season

My little sidetrack regarding perfection & fir trees the other day came about while I was browsing for Christmas card ideas.  But for once, I have actually managed to make some Christmas cards before December (even better, before Christmas Eve!).

Inspiration finally came in the form of a sheet of ‘real’ faux postage, which I was recently able to add to my fairy tale/postage stamp collection.  Since 1904, Denmark has issued an annual sheet of Christmas ‘seals’ which look just like postage stamps (but without any marked value) and are sold in aid of charity.  Similar to artistamps except commercially produced, they’re just used to dress up letters and cards sent during the festive season, and in 1994, an amazing set was released featuring scenes and tableaux from Hans Andersen’s fairy tales:

Denmark,1994 Christmas Seals

Amongst others, you can pick out the Ugly Duckling, the Six Swans, Thumbelina, the Little Matchgirl, and the Snow Queen, but the story that wanted me to work with it this time around was the Little Fir Tree (top row).  I don’t know how well you know the story – if you re-read it, you might be surprised by how sad it is – but at the same time, it celebrates the beauty of nature (in its natural habitat!) and evokes some wonderful festive imagery to balance out the poignancy.  I was so happy when my sheet of seals arrived, and have picked out just a few of the images and combined them with short extracts from Andersen’s original tales to make a lovely seasonal collection of cards:

Little Fir Tree cards

They really emphasise for me the magical (,perhaps a little old-fashioned) but natural aspect of Christmas that can be overlooked amidst the swathes of red & green & gold & glitter of commercial festivities.  In fact, only one of the quotations includes a specific mention of Christmas, so if you prefer to celebrate a non-denominational or pagan or ‘other’ seasonal solstice festival, they are suitable for almost all occasions.

Fir Tree Zine 2013I was so taken with the illustrations that I also ‘re-jacketed’ last years ‘Seasonal Celebration of Trees’ to match (the inside of this combination zine & card is still the same).  It’s now called ‘The Fir Tree: a Celebration‘ which suits the contents just as well. 🙂

Click here for the original Andersen Little Fir Tree fairy tale.

Click here for a gallery of & further information about Denmark’s tradition of Christmas Seals – this site is fascinating & well worth a visit!

Perfection isn’t perfect

norway spruce“The Spruce Fir is generally esteemed a more elegant tree than the Scotch pine; and the reason, I suppose, is because it often feathers to the ground, and grows in a more exact and regular shape: but this is a principal objection to it. It often wants both form and beauty. We admire its floating foliage, in which it sometimes exceeds all other trees; but it is rather disagreeable to see a repetition of these feathery strata, beautiful as they are, reared tier above tier, in regular order, from the bottom of a tree to the top. Its perpendicular stem, also, which has seldom any lineal variety, makes the appearance of the tree still more formal. It is not always, however, that the Spruce Fir grows with so much regularity. Sometimes a lateral branch, here and there taking the lead beyond the rest, breaks somewhat through the order commonly observed, and forms a few chasms, which have a good effect. When this is the case, the Spruce Fir ranks among picturesque trees. Sometimes it has as good an effect, and in many circumstances a better, when the contrast appears still stronger; when the tree is shattered by some accident, has lost many of its branches, and is scathed and ragged. A feathery branch, here and there, among broken stems, has often an admirable effect; but it must arise from some particular situation.”

from Woodland Gleanings by Charles Tilt, 1853

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

Postage stamps for charity

Project Dissimulation bird badgesEarlier this year, a lot of kind people helped me out when I made a plea for used postage stamps featuring birds for Project Dissimulation (in aid of bowel cancer awareness, following my dad’s diagnosis).  Well, it suddenly occurred to me that it was time to pay this thought forward.

I have accumulated far more stamps than I will ever be able to use over the last few years.  I’ve shared some recently with Britta/JaguarSnail (see below) and I am going to send a big batch off to the RNIB mixed international(Royal National Institute of Blind People) next week.  I’ve chosen this charity because it is based in Benfleet, where most of my dad’s family lives.  While I was growing up, we always saved our stamps (I had lots of penpals when I was at school, so this was an area I felt I could help!) and gave them to my great aunt Rene when we visited in the holidays – she passed away several years ago, but I know she would appreciate my carrying on the tradition.

Britta (/JaguarSnail) does amazing things as a volunteer for the Air Ambulance Service – her job is to creatively re-craft plain items that have been donated for sale, so that they can be sold at a higher value and raise a greater amount of money.  She does lots of postage stamp collages which appeal to me for obvious reasons…!

Stamp Collages by JaguarSnail

There are so many great causes out there that need our support, though, so here is a non-comprehensive list of UK charities that are currently appealing for used stamps – please help them out, if you can!  (If you know of any other charities collecting donations of used stamps, whether UK or overseas, please feel free to add the link in a comment.)

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!

Stitched up…

Wise Words - badges by TangleCraftsOne of the items in the TangleStore which ticks over regularly is this set of 3 ‘Instructional Craft Badges‘, featuring vintage book illustrations and ‘sage advice from bygone crafters’.

I was singularly tickled to receive an email yesterday from Kris Bailey with a pic (below) of what she had done with her set!  Putting slight feelings of inadequacy aside (suddenly my plain kraft packaging looks somewhat lacklustre…) I’m sure Kris’ friend Jan* will adore this witty, hand-lettered, handmade birthday card with badges for embellishment – so much fun!  I’ve been thinking about making some cards to go with the badges for ages (who doesn’t love a badge on their birthday card – especially if it doesn’t tell their age! 😉 ), and Kris has definitely provided me with some inspiration here.

Birthday Badges

This rather pleasant surprise set me to thinking – have you done something creative with any TangleCrafty goodies?  If so, please do drop me a line.  It’s fascinating to see what happens to my stuff after it ventures out into the world…

(*Jan Eaton, author of numerous needlework books – by the by, but an interesting snippet nonetheless!)