Every day, I send a little bundle of TangleMail out into the world; and because the majority of my customers love stamps just as much as I do, I make a special effort to use attractive stamps on the envelope. There have been some beautiful British stamps issued over the years, and those issued in decimal currency (from as long ago as 1971 – pre-me!) are still valid as postage Continue reading A TangleMail Theme Song
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!
As 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.
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!
Since my Christmas stocking project last week, my fingers have been getting all twitchy to do more crafty/stitchy things. So I just created this treasury of DIY craft kits over on Etsy, which is full of crafty ideas for inspiration – but also the materials necessary to get started straight away. As procrastinators will agree, not having the necessary materials to hand is the best excuse not to begin a new project, so these kits leave you with no excuses! 😉
Being totally honest, the packaging often attracts me just as much as the projects themselves, and is often just as original. The DIY Instant Comfort Boxes by Kim Welling are a case in point; although I also have a huge soft spot for Pupurin’s Little Kitty Kit. Those with a mildly sick sense of humour (who me?) may enjoy the 1/2 splat kit (must click to discover what this is, although the title is quite accurate!); while any embroiderers looking for a creative challenge should take a look at the wonderful Crafting Shelves kit from This Tiny Existence. Well, take a look at the whole treasury: there are all kinds of craft kits from all kinds of crafters so hopefully something will inspire you!
My own crafty plans for the new year include a return to weaving, thanks to my lovely hubby buying me ‘The Ultimate Bead Loom’ from Fred Aldous for Christmas. I’ve already constructed it (yes, I did in fact sit & construct it on Christmas morning), but the next stage is on hold while I figure out whether I’ll be using beads or yarn, and what I actually want to make. My current impulse is to make a big mess of colour… But what I love about this loom is the fact that it can just sit on a worksurface in front of me and the weaving area is (sloped) upright so that I don’t have to bend over it as I work. I love using bead looms for small-scale weaving, but most have a horizontal working surface which my back does not enjoy. 😦 I will let you know how I get on as and when any projects emerge. 🙂
Besides that, I have a freshly acquired small stash of funky fabrics and wool felts that I am itching to play with, and lots of ideas in mind. I can’t resist all the patterns, and the combinations of colours; and after my stocking project, I really got a feel for having a needle in my hand again. My mother has claimed the unenviable task of teaching me to use a sewing machine, but this will be another slow-burner due to not living in the same city, not to mention my reluctance mainly concerning the noise of the thing. I really just prefer having space to hear my own thoughts, but then again, I’m generally very good at tuning out sounds from the real world that attempt to permeate my inner world (how dare they!), so maybe I can tune out the sewing machine, too… Again, I will keep you posted.
So, how about you? Any crafty plans and/or resolutions for the new year?
Please share & inspire/motivate the rest of us!
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)…
All mapped out…
Most people, in the course of experimenting with folding their own envelopes, have also experimented with folding envelopes from sheet maps. It’s kinda cool, especially if you happen to have a map handy of your own area. Taking this idea to a new level is the very clever free toy (uh, I mean tool) available at Map Envelope. Simply enter a landmark (such as Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty) or a specific postcode or address, and it generates a printable envelope template using google map aerial photography.
You could use it for your return address, or directions for a party venue, or to show where you went on holiday – I’m sure there are all kinds of creative uses for this toy (sorry, tool)! You can even add a message of your choice in the speech bubble.
It is designed as an envelope ‘liner’ (so you would slot it within an outer envelope), but I don’t see why you couldn’t fold it with map to the outside, instead, and save on the extra paper. Of course, you could just make your own, anyway, but this tool definitely makes the process a lot easier!
The new D.I.Y. Weaving Club is up and running!
Taking a ‘kind-of’ break while I moved house enabled me to think about how I could improve the formula for the D.I.Y. Weaving Club. With the first batch of 3 month subscriptions just come to an end, this seemed like the perfect time to make the change.
In short, you don’t need to subscribe any more. Instead, you have 3 options:
- a one-off Basic Membership Pack, which includes a weave-able Membership Card & an exclusive Membership Book. This gives you lifelong membership to the D.I.Y. Weaving Club, with email updates.
- a Membership Pack which includes card & book (as above), plus an issue of Telaic Fantasy zine with accessories for a D.I.Y. weaving project, and a randomly selected mixed yarn pack.
- if you don’t want to join the club but would like the latest meanderings & projects from ‘Telaic Fantasy’, you can buy any of the zines alone.
TF has grown quite dramatically! It is now half-size (A5) rather than quarter, and includes at least one D.I.Y. weaving project inside (the old D.I.Y. club had separate kit & zine, but I decided integration was the way forward), plus random accessories. Extra bits have been added to TF1 & TF2 so they are more chock-full than ever.
Want to know more? Check out my Etsy Store! You’ll find detailed info on the contents of each Membership Pack & zine. New zines and Membership Packs will be added over the next few months, possibly at a slightly irregular schedule, but there’s definitely more to come, so please check back!
My paper conundrum
If you’ve bought any of my kits or zines in the past, you’ll know that I use recycled paper for all my packaging and booklets. To be honest, as well as the ecological sense of this, I just prefer the aesthetics of recycled papers – yes, even that grey-ish almost newsprint-like stuff. Stark white paper just looks wrong to me.
So, back to the grey-ish, newsprint-like stuff. For kit packaging and booklet covers I use brown kraft paper, but I always think this is a bit dark to print a whole bunch of text on – so the inners are always printed on the grey stuff. Until now…! I picked up what looked, to all intents & purposes, my usual ream of recycled paper, but as soon as I opened the package I could see it had been ‘upgraded’ to a much whiter finish. I didn’t mind too much, at first. I was still finishing up the old paper when I started printing Telaic Fantasy #3, and I actually quite liked the fact that (by accident rather than design) the first print run has a random mix off off-white & whiter pages. I noticed the colour sections appear much brighter on the whiter pages (logic should have led me to expect this), and probably ‘truer’, too, so I reasoned that maybe the whiter paper wasn’t really so bad.
Onto the next project… Having run out of my old batch of paper entirely, I started on the new. I saw straight away that there seemed to be much more bleed-through of colour to the reverse of a page than with the greyer paper. It’s the same weight (80gsm), but clearly a different density, or absorption rate, or something. Anyway, I have printed some double-sided stuff, and am really not happy with how much of the next page’s text shows through.
So I investigated: Staples stocks 5 ranges of recycled paper, but they are all 80gsm, and all claiming bright whiteness. I’m reasoning I need a heavier-weight paper to balance the bleed-through, so these are no good. The place I use for the kraft paper stocks a wide range of recycled papers, but checking through a sample pack I ordered a while back, most of them are too thick (you can’t fit as many 120gsm pages folded into a booklet as a lighter paper). One of them, at 110gsm felt sufficiently thin for successful folding, but had a lot of ‘inclusions’ in the surface. I love the inclusions, but thought it was a bit of overkill for pages that will be predominantly text, may make things difficult to read, interfere with images etc. They did do a couple of 100gsm papers, but unfortunately these were only 20-50% recycled. Another source had nice papers, but were almost twice as expensive. Hmm…
We used to use brightly coloured sugar paper for drawing and art projects at primary school. I thought about seeing if I could use it for zines a while back, but could only find the bright stuff (it doesn’t tend to come in neutrals), or a very flimsy weight. Finally, though, I have sourced an off-white, 100% recycled sugar paper, that is 100gsm weight. Hurrah! I will be ordering it today, and am going to keep everything crossed that my printer doesn’t object to printing on it (it can be a bit temperamental with textured surfaces, sometimes). Watch this space…
In the meantime, I can’t afford not to continue printing on the whiter recycled paper I inadvertently bought :-(. But if the sugar paper works, I will probably keep the white paper to use just for test runs & folding samples, instead.
The bumblebee flies anyway
At my local Pound Store, they sell 2 mouse mats for £1. While I try, in principle, to be against unnecessary consumerism, I am powerless to resist the lure of a potentially useful bargain. By useful, of course, I don’t actually mean practical in ‘normal’ terms; more craft-able. I bought them a while back, and one (with a comb glued along the top) was used as a very handy weaving loom. The other is also very useful: I use it upside down (foam upwards) when I’m making zines & booklets to cushion the pin-stabbed bindings while I stab them.
I’ve been thinking for a while about carving a stamp, either out of a carving block, or an eraser, or…something. I’ve never really been into rubber stamping as a craft, yet there’s something very appealing in the more primitive aspect of a hand-carved stamp. I’ve seen some very cool & funky designs around on Etsy, and the simplest of designs seem often to be the most effective. I thought it would be nice to personalise packages I send out with a stamp from a hand-carving, or maybe use a stamp on the cover of a zine, instead of printing.
Anyway, this morning, there is no coffee in the house, and I am having difficulty getting motivated to get on with stuff. So for some reason, I decided now is the time to try carving a stamp. No erasers or carving tools to hand, I just cut a chunk from mouse mat #2, and carved my design freehand with a craft knife. I could have drawn my design first (just as you can’t see the carving too well to the right, you can’t see pencil marks on black foam rubber, but I could have outlined first with the knife); but I just got stuck straight in. This is why my intended ball of wool is now a bumble bee… 😉 I also forgot, in my eagerness, that the design would be reversed in the printing, so it quite took me by surprise to see my bumble bee flying in the opposite direction when I lifted the block (no coffee yet, you see).
For my first attempt, I’m really pleased with how this turned out, and will definitely be doing further experiments! My trial print (above left) went straight onto the corner of one of my stash of board envelopes (I love the idea of using a stamp as an actual postage stamp), so if you buy anything from the Etsy store in the next week or two, you might receive this very bumble bee, in the mail!
In short, I feel my £1 shop bargain has been well-justified!
Craig Oldham is an ex-footballer, now designer; I stumbled upon his site whilst looking for something completely different. I’ve seen lots of craft projects lately that transform the printed interiors of security envelopes into cool new concepts, like beads, and even business card storage. The elegant simplicity of this idea, however, blew me away: just carefully turn the envelope inside out for a completely fresh envelope that you can now re-use!
[Update, already! – I just found this how-to tutorial, at Design Sponge…]
Craig is also running the hand.written.letter.project, which is, quite simply, all about reminding people that in this wonderfully technological day and age, there is still something inherently nice about getting a personal letter (probably more so than at any time in the past, as they are so rare these days; that’s the point). I totally agree, & I’ll be sending him a letter this week. Why don’t you? (see his website – link above – for details.)
Tidying (shudder) but finding various stuff & ideas
I am not a tidy person. I like to have what I need spread out and accessible around me – and still there the next time I sit down to continue. But I have been so busy lately, and putting together kits and zines in the tiniest corner of my really quite large study made me realise that the ‘essentials’ were spreading out of control. So I got out some bin liners and set to work…
You see, the problem is that what to most people would be genuine rubbish (misprinted papers, discarded packaging) I can genuinely see uses for. The cardboard packaging from a random stationery item can generally be turned into some form of loom. The half-printed papers I can use when I’m experimenting with my own packaging formats, or notebook pages. I was strict with myself, though, and made boxes for full and partial sheets of paper that I could realistically re-use, and sent the rest for recycling. I threw away the chocolate wrappers (look, I need energy while I work, okay?). I was ruthless with the random packaging leftovers. Admittedly I kept most of the card, but the plastic-y bits, and shrink-wrap etc are gone. Hurrah!
By anybody else’s standards this room would not look tidy (except perhaps by Corey’s standards – and he at least will never nag me about the state of my study, because his is infinitely worse). It probably looks like everything has just been pushed out to the edges. Okay, to an extent, this is what I did… But I have also slightly organised all the stuff I was ‘saving’ so that it is actually useable and accessible (findable!), I have thrown away the stuff that really was rubbish (oh my god, 2 bin liners-full!) and I HAVE FLOOR SPACE! Oh, oh, I also have table space! It’s really quite exciting (for me, anyway). So nice to look across from my chair and see carpet, and think I won’t have to nudge everything out of the way to make space when I’m putting the next zine together (watch this space – if I don’t post about TF2 later today, it will definitely be in the next day or so!).
And I brought up a pot of hyacinths from downstairs, so every now and then I get a lovely waft of their rich scent. Mmm…
I fully accept that I should not have allowed my ‘creative disorder’ (okay, mess) to get quite so out of hand; there’s just always so much more important stuff to do than tidying… It has always been and will always be my nature, and I’ve accepted that. It is also possible that it took me slightly longer than perhaps necessary to tidy up this time, as I kept re-discovering things I had accidentally buried. Yes, it was necessary to spend 10 minutes staring at & contemplating a small packet of needles. It was! When I bought it, it was just an ordinary packet of needles, and I honestly thought nothing more about it – but look! I made this:
Yes, I know the picture labelled ‘front’ is actually a different packet of needles to the finished notebook, but I’d finished making it before I realised I should probably have taken a ‘before’ picture. You get the idea, anyway. I just cut some pretty (recently unearthed) handmade paper embedded with petals to size, and attached to the centre panel of the opened-out needle packet (see below). I used a dab of glue to fix the bottom piece of paper to the packet, and stitched the little stack of papers into place. (I could just have easily have used a staple, but I’m kind of into stitched bindings, at the moment.) Just a slightly different spin on the matchbook notepad concept, really – and slightly more appropriate to needleworkers.
(I should really remember to add in a darker-coloured backing when I scan in white/pale blue things; sorry…)