A Gift for my Fairy Godmother

I hadn’t planned on any further Postal Patchwork experiments just yet, Postal Patchwork greensbut I had a reason to sneak this one in between some other projects.  I’m about to disappear off to Ireland for a few days to visit my aunt, who is also my godmother (I call her my Fairy Godmother, although I’m not sure how much she appreciates that…) and wanted to take a small gift with me.  So I chose greens for the Emerald Isle (and also because I’m pretty sure she is fond of greens) and pieced together this little notebook for her.

This notebook is obviously not for sale; however, this particular patchwork design used halves of 18 different stamps (which means I have 18 matching halves remaining) and thus its inverse twin will probably become available not long after my return.  I’m also seeing that almost-tree shape as a potential future Christmas card design (perhaps contrasted against a splash of red)…

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!

Diversion – organising my ideas

A couple of years ago, I realised that it would be necessary to keep a notebook about my person at all times, in order to jot down ideas when they come to me.  Being me, of course it is always on the days I have failed to throw a notebook in my bag that I need to make notes.  But that’s okay, because there are always scraps of paper to hand, and often whole sheets (which I can then fold down to mini-zine format).  Excellent.

I’ve never been a sketchbook person, because I don’t consider myself an artist, but of late, I’ve realised that sketching quick diagrams to accompany words is actually quite handy; and it really doesn’t matter if the sketches are not those of a talented fine artist.  If they convey the point I’m trying to put across, that’s good enough.  So now the multitudinous notebooks of my life have been joined by a smaller host of pocket sketchbooks (okay, notebooks with blank pages).

As I work at my laptop every morning, I always have my to-do list notebook by my side – which in addition to my long lists frequently finds itself home to numerous scribbled asides and diagrams because it is handier than either notebook, or sketchbook (which I could obviously go and fetch but simply don’t).

You can see from this haphazard summary that I am less than organised  when it comes to organising my ideas.  When it comes to getting a particular idea off the ground, I can always visualise in which notebook or on which scrap of paper I made my notes, but then I have to waste time remembering where I have currently stowed those particular pieces of paper, waste further time digging it/them out, then work surrounded by open notebook/s and/or scraps of paper, while I collate my notes for that particular idea.

So it occurred to me that what I need is a larger sketchbook (scrapbook?) in which I can pull together all the scrappy notes into something slightly more coherent.  Somewhere that I can literally cut and paste torn out pages from smaller notebooks or loose scraps or pictures I’ve found in a magazine.  Then add some extra notes, of course.

Okay, that makes sense: a larger sketchbook.  Not something I would carry around with me, I’m clear on that; because I’m lazy, and a pocket notebook is the largest extra weight I’m willing to carry on a regular basis.  It would be unwieldy, too, and not very practical to whip out for notes-on-the-go.  But how would pasting all my notes into one larger sketchbook work?  Because my ideas rarely come in a coherent flow, and are frequently jumbled up with ideas for different projects from day to day (or hour to hour).  If I pasted them all into one large sketchbook as the ideas came, it would be equally difficult to collate related thoughts when the time came – flipping backwards and forwards through the pages to find the relevant bits.  So, a series of sketchbooks, one for each different idea?  This could get complicated.  And expensive.

My next thought was a ring binder.  Just hole-punch the pages, add in plastic pockets to hold cuttings etc, and easily switch around the pages to re-organise thoughts, and keep notes for individual ideas together.  Problem is, I just don’t like ring binders.  Those rings always get in the way.  And everything looks scrappy very quickly unless you keep everything in those plastic pockets; but then everything is visible but inaccessible.  Hmm.

Bingo!  Well, maybe.  How about an index card system?  I’d only ever seen standard 3″ x 5″ index cards before, but I just noticed that my local office supply shop sells 8″ x 5″ index cards (and holder boxes) that would be perfect for organising ideas.  Cards are sturdier than paper, so would be less inclined to get scrappy (so quickly) and are easily shuffled back and forth, organised and re-organised according to whatever whim I am currently working on.  I’m liking this idea.  Hey, I’m liking this idea even better:

  • a shoebox
  • plus cut-up cereal box index cards
  • plus all those blank postcards I have in my stash that I have never found a use for as file cards (write/paste on the blank side, obviously)
  • equals cool handmade index card system!

Or, I could go the whole hog and just use an actual filing cabinet with a separate file for each idea.  Wow.  That sounds a bit scarily organised.  I think the shoebox is a bit more me…

Of course, realistically (because like I said above, I really am lazy), I would still never get around to actually filing my ideas until the point at which I wanted to turn the idea into something.  But I would have spent some happy hours preparing the filing system.  And I would have a better way of keeping the ideas organised while I was working on them.

And of course, the only reason I am thinking about this now is because I have forbidden myself from new projects until after the house-move so I am obviously twitchy to be doing something creative rather than practical.  Must distract self from distraction…

(Will update on Friends & Faux project soon – please accept my apologies for continued delay, I’ll get there shortly, I promise!)

Projects in progress…

Firstly, I’ve had quite a few updates on the Friends & Faux project over the last week or so, which I have thus far failed to update here on the blog.  Bear with me, I will be caught up soon! In the meantime, I just wanted to share a couple of projects I’ve recently been playing with…

A couple of weeks ago, I helped out a new friend (illustrator & comic artist Sally Jane Thompson) with a comic & bookmaking event.  The event was held as part of a local ‘celebration of drawing’ called the Big Draw, which sees events held across the city, with the aim to get as many people drawing as possible.
(If you have access to A4 paper, there’s a short booklet you can print to celebrate the celebration!)

Now, I am really not much of an artist, but in the spirit of the day, I decided to doodle some doodles, while I was helping out the kids – just to show that you really don’t need to be able to draw to actually draw something.  If you see what I mean!  I had pre-printed some mini-zine templates (which I have just added to the mini-zine freebie page – enjoy!) because I thought some people may find a completely blank page slightly daunting.  I personally definitely found it easier to start drawing when I had a manageable-sized space before me!  This is what I doodled on the day:

I started with the ‘flowers’ in the lower left corner, then worked my way around anti-clockwise.  I stumbled upon zentangling about a year ago, but despite being quite enthused about it at the time, I never really got into it.  I really enjoyed my afternoon of doodling, though, and am definitely going to finish off what I began.  This morning, I discovered a nice blog, the Open Seed, which has inspired me to try my hand at a couple of new patterns, and reminded me that I really need to get going with completing the above!

The other current work in progress I wanted to mention began in a supermarket.  No, really, it did!  I fell in love with a multipack of Dorset Cereals muesli boxes, and had to have them, despite not having a clue what to use them for, at the time.  I banned Corey from opening them, so that he didn’t ruin the boxes in the meantime, of course  (I’ve since emptied the mini packets out into a single ‘lucky dip’ muesli mix).  It was soon quite self-evident that what these boxes really wanted to be was notebooks, so after a quick glance through my craft library for ideas, I was ready to play:


I chose Japanese stab stitch for the binding, then proceeded to execute a very non-thorough job of researching!  As a result of my lack of planning: you can see that the stitching is very unevenly spaced, because I didn’t stop to think about measuring etc; I couldn’t have as many pages inside as I wanted, because I only had a pushpin to hand rather than a bookbinder’s awl; and I also didn’t leave a wide enough margin on the lined pages I printed off for the inside.  But overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I definitely plan to make some more – after a little spot of fine-tuning!  Lucky I like learning by trial and error (and lucky I like alliteration). 😉

Other things I like about this project: I like the ‘hemp leaf’ stitch pattern, which I thought complemented the leaf design of the cereal packet nicely; and I like the little pocket that I made on the inside front cover, by folding in some of the box flaps (I cut most of the flaps off).  I also love that there is a recipe for making lemonade on the back cover, although I can’t take any credit for that! 😉  Once I’ve played around with the idea a little more, I’ll probably write a tutorial; but if you want to experiment in the meantime, this is a good place to get started.

TangleClub – October update!

Have you joined the TangleClub yet?  If not, click here for all the different options!  Alternatively, spend $10 or more on anything else in the TangleCrafts Etsy Store and receive a Basic Membership Package absolutely FREE!

For existing members your club-exclusive freebie for October awaits you!  This month, you can print your very own ‘Ideas Grow’ mini-zine notebook, perfect for tucking in your pocket, and can be used to design your own comic rather than take notes, if you prefer!  Click on over to the TangleClub Archive for full details. 🙂

Another exclusive offer for existing TangleClub members:
Place an order anytime throughout October and receive a First Day Cover postcard of the latest TangleStamp!  The design is called ‘Star of Daphne’ and is derived from a hand-carved block print.  The postcard also tells you the story behind the Star of Daphne, an element of Tangledom’s unique folklore.

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!

Notebooks…mmm…

What is it about a new notebook that is just so…I don’t know…enticing? All the unexplored potential it has, perhaps. Or just the invitation to scribble notes for nothing but your own sense of satisfaction. Anyway, for fellow notebook fans, I just wanted to add a couple of links that I found:

Are you a fan of the traditional Moleskine notebook? They’re nice, granted, but do they really justify being at least 3 times as expensive as your average notebook? Well, they do have that handy pocket, and perforated, tear-off pages… Even so, thanks to a couple of very helpful online crafty types, now you can save yourself some money and make your own! Surely not, you ask? But it’s true, I tell you! My favourite is from The Long Thread, and shows you how to make a replica Moleskine Cahier with just a sewing machine and a cereal box (see left).  If you prefer the thicker Moleskine Notebooks, try instead this tutorial from Michael Shannon.

But – and yes, it’s possible! – an even cooler notebook project can be found courtesy of Diane Gilleland over at The Crafty Pod.  This tutorial shows you how to cover a notebook with a wonderfully retro 70s fabric (it would probably work with other fabrics, too but would it still be as cool? 😉 ).  I totally love this tutorial!  It’s not just because I adore these retro patterned fabrics (honest!), but because it actually shows me to how to make something useable with the fabrics I love without having to touch a sewing machine.  Which in my eyes is nothing short of genius.  Sister Diane, I salute you!  😀

A quiet week?

Despite a lack of blogging activity here which may suggest the contrary, I have been busy busy busy all week!  Well, I took a week’s holiday from ‘real’ work – caught up with a friend, saw my mum & dad (my dad has been in China for the last 6 months or so, so that was an especial treat), and went on a day trip with Corey – the highlight of which was probably when he left his umbrella behind on the train there, but found it again on the train back!  But around these brief outings I have been working non-stop.  There are some new things very nearly ready to tell you about, but the most immediate, are 2 new zines (& something else a bit different), now available in my Etsy stores:

Contours cover shotThe first is ‘Contours’, my first art zine, which is all about doodling.  This is where my brief encounter with Zentangling led me.  I suddenly realised how the majority of the patterns I have designed as an adult all stem from one basic doodle that I used to doodle all the time.  The zine looks at how that doodle has emerged in the various crafts I have worked in, considers the possible origins of the doodle, and leaves lots of spaces for you to doodle away to your own heart’s content.

tiffanyacorns1As you can see from the photo, there are some extras included – hand-doodled bookmark to stitch, and a hand-doodled ‘fingerprint’ of lino to carve & print.  Inside the zine you will also find a 4-way Acorns cross stitch chart, Bobbin Along freeform bargello pattern, plus 4 postcards (2 printed, and 2 blank for you to doodle yourself) printed on gummed paper, freeform-bobbin-alongso that you can turn any piece of scrap card into a postcard, (these come with 4 postcard reverse labels which could also be used as envelope re-use labels, if you prefer).  Check out the TangleCrafts Etsy Store for more details.

Papertrail #2 cover shot Hot on the heels of Papertrail #1, you can now also find Papertrail #2.  Papertrail #2 is a zine full of questions and books and reading habits, with answers/opinions from me, Corey, and spaces for your own responses, too.  It’s all about books, and how we live with them.  Alongside everything else is a Papertrails ‘map’ of routes you can take from novel to novel, spaces to design your own book jackets, plus copy-&-cut bookplates & bookmarks.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, Papertrail #2 also includes a free membership pack for the Papertrail Reader’s Club!

The Papertrail Reader’s Club is there for everyone who loves to read.  The Basic Membership Pack includes:Club Package

  • 2 pre-gummed Ex Libris plates
  • 2 recommendation bookmarks left blank for you to personalise
  • and the Member Book:

The Papertrail Readers’ Club Book is a membership card and reader’s record book combined! It is a 20 page, staple-bound mini-booklet, printed on high quality recycled sugar papers. Each book will be personalised with your name and membership number, and date stamped with the start date of your membership. It includes spaces to list all the books you want to read alongside dates started & finished, and there are even pages to fill in with your own mini-reviews! Club Book

Each month, a different book is chosen as a feature title, with review printed inside the back cover.  Club members are eligible to submit their own reviews of the club titles which may earn them a free Papertrail zine!

If you buy any issue of Papertrail, you will receive free membership to the Reader’s Club, including the current month’s club review.  If you don’t want to buy the zine, you can still buy a one-off membership to the club with a Basic Membership Package.  And if you fill your record book quickly, or just want another, a Renewal Membership Package is available at a reduced price.

Told you I’d been busy ;-).  And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Super-cool playing card notebooks

playing card notebooksThey’re notebooks, they’re made out of playing cards, and they’re very cool indeed.  What more is there to say?  Well, plenty, actually.  Check out the full post (including a tutorial for making similar notebooks) over at Diane Gilleland’s Crafty Pod.  Can you resist?  I’m not sure  I can…

‘New’ Telaic Fantasy #2 – postcard recycling/mail art kit

TF2 CoverIt’s felt like a long time coming (to me), but I have finally caught up with myself, and re-formatted Telaic Fantasy #2 into the new, bigger A5 size.  Now that all the back issues have been updated, that means I can focus on getting a new issue ready.  Actually, I have something pretty cool in mind for TF4, but because it involves allowing for somebody else’s schedule, it means the new issue won’t be out until the beginning of July (ish).  Don’t worry – I will have lots of other new stuff popping up between now and then!

For now, here’s a preview of the revised TF2:

TF2 Preview 1The free postcards now come tucked into an envelope bound into the spine, and the postcard labels themselves are printed onto (recycled) gummed paper (I recently learned that gummed paper is better for the environment than self-adhesive, as it is water-soluble, and doesn’t clog up the works at the recycling plants).  There is also an additional page of labels for you to photocopy, cut and paste, so you can recycle as many postcards as you like :-).  Ever fancied trying a spot of mail art?  I’m not sure about the realistic possibilities of a tapestry reaching its destination in tact, but it’s surely a concept worth experimenting with!

TF2 Preview 2There are lots more features crammed into TF2, not to mention the fact that it doubles up as a handy notebook, with lots of custom printed pages for you to scribble down your sketches, notes & ideas. TF2 is available to buy as a stand-alone zine, or as part of a membership package for the D.I.Y. Weaving Club.   As always, the first 10 issues will be signed and numbered.  Check out the listings at my Etsy Store for full details & all options available!

TF2 postcard stampAnother addition to the postcard recycling kit is this cute illustration that I hand-carved using my new-found lino-cutting skills ;-).  I’ve used it to stamp onto the envelope that contains the free postcard & postcard cutting template.

Today is a happy day, as it marks the beginning of my revised working hours at the bookshop.  From today onwards, I will only be working afternoons, allowing me to squeeze in precious extra time every morning to keep on top of all the crafty stuff.  Too-many-ideas-and-not-enough-time will I’m sure remain my mantra, but hopefully those extra few hours a week will make a difference.  🙂