JaguarSnail – welcome!

This post is to welcome the zines of Britta Jarvis of JaguarSnail into the TangleCrafts fold. ūüôā ¬†Britta is a local artist & crafter who I met through a mutual friend, a couple of years ago. ¬†We have since spent many a happy hour on the production line together and have discovered lots of common interests – the most obvious being zines, mail art, and a weakness for terrible puns… ¬†We are currently scheming to bring you various collabrative projects (largely involving me harnessing Britta’s amazing – and speedy! – stamp-carving skills!). ¬†In the meantime, 3 of Britta’s mini zines are now available in the¬†TangleStore:

I Love Mail - JaguarSnailI Love Mail!¬†– quite a maxi mini zine at 20 pages long, but standard mini zine dimensions. ¬†It includes 8 things Britta loves about mail, an envelope tutorial, a postal poem, an interview with a Royal Mail postman, and more. ¬†Illustrated throughout with Britta’s own sketches & doodles, this one is a limited edition in the current format so don’t miss out!

Make a Zine - JaguarSnailHow to Make a Zine – an introduction for beginners. ¬†If you’re tempted to write your own zine but don’t know where to start, this mini zine could be just what you’re looking for! ¬†Lots of tips, guidance and inspiration, but the best bit about this mini zine is that it’s double-sided – open it out, and there’s a unique zine theme-picker on the reverse. ¬†Twice the fun of an ‘ordinary’ mini zine squished into the same amount of space – genius!

Experimental Poetry - JaguarSnailA Collection of Experimental Poetry¬†– This one does exactly what it says on the tin, and is a perfect example of Britta’s quirky nature. ¬†These fun little poems are accompanied by original illustrations to make a unique addition to your zine collection.

At Home With Handmade Books

If you are anything at all like me, you will find that a very comforting title! ¬†I have just treated myself to this lovely book by Erin Zamrzla, even though it is quite expensive over here (¬£18.99 for a softcover!) and even though I have many many other bookbinding titles on my shelves (if creative bookbinding is something you’re interested in but you don’t know where to begin, allow me to highly recommend anything¬†by Alisa Golden!). ¬†So what makes this one different?

Well, a lot of it is in the presentation, which is very simple and unfussy, but in a considered way that is intrinsically interesting. ¬†The first third of the book presents the photo gallery of projects and the latter portion the instructions. ¬†This is a formula that I have disliked in other books, but here works well, due to good quality instructions and repeated (smaller) photos. ¬†But I guess the real reason I don’t mind is mostly because the projects themselves are so appealing. ¬†There is nothing extravagant about this book or its contents and the projects, too, have an air of calm simplicity. ¬†There is a wide variety of techniques, different stab stitch bindings, different ways of presenting similar ideas, and showing how easy it is (/can be/seem) to create something original and interesting from a very standard starting point. ¬†Yes, I think that is what I like about it. ¬†It is not (only) a book of projects but a book of adaptable ideas and inspiration.

You will find all the usual suspects within the pages of this book: accordion folds, envelope pocket books, various stitch bindings, but it’s the ideas for use, and the (often re-purposed) materials used in their construction that makes them interesting: ¬†a menu/place card, read & write bookmark, return to sender mail book (above right)¬† – actually, maybe those appeal to me just because they tie into my own preference for dual-function… ¬†But I also am itching to try the very simple bead binding ¬†(right) and ‘ledger stitched’ seed packet book (lower right), too. ¬†This project is of course far more effective if you have such prettily illustrated seed packets to hand as shown in the pic; but I think the standard flower packet photos would have a (slightly different) charm of their own…

I used to be far more experimental in terms of my zine bindings/construction, and have¬† definitely got into a saddle-stitch and ‘standard’ mini-zine rut of late. ¬† That’s mostly due to practicality of multiple reproduction & the simplifying factor of re-using my existing templates, but this book has inspired me to start thinking a little more creatively again, even if only for some one-offs or limited runs. ¬†I can see that some of the ideas in this book would not really be much more labour intensive than the basic 3-hole saddle stitch, so it’s time to shake off the dust and try something if not new¬†exactly, then at least different than my usual. ūüôā

Okay, I have a question for you! ¬†I’m not a tea drinker so the Tea Bag Tracing Book project shown left intrigues me. ¬†The pages are made from actual tea bags, and the accompanying text says, “If you are an avid tea drinker, you will collect the pages in no time.” ¬†But surely if they had been first used for tea then the pages would be stained in tea colours (and also crumpled)? ¬†Would it be practical to wash & iron a tea bag after use to re-use as a book page? ¬†Or are empty tea bags available that could be opened out and used as pages without¬†first having been used for tea (which would surely defeat the object of re-purposing…)? ¬†I’m genuinely slightly puzzled by this, so am looking forward to enlightenment from one of you clever people ‘in the know’ on the subject! ūüėČ

ETA see comments below for, amongst other things, why I was stupid to ask the above questions! ūüėČ

Zines I Like #8: Star Farmer by FyreFies

Star Farmer is an awesome series of mini-zines written & hand-drawn by SuperMay of¬†FyreFies. ¬†Each 16 page zine introduces a range of plants grown by the star farmers (each illustrated and including its latin name), notes on the properties of the plants, cultivation tips and warnings such as: “The bud of the Red Dwarf was used in love potions and lover’s sachets until it was discovered that any romance started using the Red Dwarf ended in tragedy.” ¬†Volume 3 explores the latest star farming trend for ‘hot pink’ varieties, and Volume 4 proffers advice on various elixirs and therapies available for enhancing growth of star plants. ¬†In short, unless you have a severe allergy to whimsy, you will love these zines!

The FyreFies Etsy Store is currently & sadly devoid of Star Farming manuals, but hopefully they will return soon.  In the meantime, there are some rather nice vintage illustration digital files available.

Zines I Like #7: Once Upon a Time by Dudley Redhead

Yes I know, it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to something fairy tale-based, but this particular mini zine appeals to me on so many levels: not only is it a mini mini zine (half the usual size), but it comes in the cute packaging shown left, and¬†comes with a matching badge. ¬†What’s not to love? ¬†The zine features reproductions of original illustrations to 8 fairy tales &¬†nursery rhymes, painted on vintage book pages, alongside brief musings about the illustrated tales. ¬†Cute!

There is all kinds of beautifully packaged mini-zine loveliness to explore at the Dudley Redhead Etsy Store & there’s even more inspiration to discover at the Dudley Redhead blog¬†such as the DIY business cards & mini envelopes shown below.

Zines I Like #6: One a Day May 2011 by WalkerWorld

Yipes – thought I had better blog this before it becomes 2 months overdue, rather than just 1…! ¬†The May issue of Laura Walker’s One a Day project features more daily snippets from her zine-filled life – from newspaper headlines to comic strip re-enactments, from photos of shadows to taking the dogs for a walk, from reactions to the failed Rapture to letters from prisoners. Life goes on!

Check out One a Day zines both old & new (& more!) in the Walker World Etsy Store.

Zines I Like #5: How to draw like a Nut by Andrea Joseph

Yay Рanother handwritten Рand hand-drawn Рzine!  This 16 page, half-size zine is completely jam-packed with incredibly detailed drawings (all drawn with ballpoint pens), creative inspiration, tips & techniques, and lots and lots of text meandering around the prolific illustrations.
The first double page spread, in a ‘cunning’ play on the zine’s title, consists of a detailed tutorial of how to draw a monkey nut shell. ¬†On subsequent pages, Andrea rambles engagingly about shoes, ¬†pens, where she finds ideas (“anywhere & everywhere (but as I am reclusive they mainly come from around the house)”), and if following the text around in multiple directions does not make you feel seasick, you will pick up lots of practical tips, as well as inspiration. ¬†And lots of anecdotes about Andrea’s life & habits. There’s also a fun double-page spread of Andrea’s living room, complete with 10 loose ballpoint pens for you to locate!

As we all know, I personally cannot draw, and did not labour under the illusion that this zine would magically teach me how.  If you already have a degree of artistic talent, however, it might give you a few helpful pointers.  Most of all, though, this zine is just a funny & fascinating insight into a creative mind, combined with many pretty impressive ballpoint illustrations.
Visit Andrea Joseph’s Etsy Store for your copy.

Zines I Like #4: Miss Sequential #4 by Marissa Falco

I love handwritten zines! ¬†And this 24 page, half-size zine is entirely handwritten & hand-drawn. ¬†In addition, it’s subject is entirely postal related, so this zine could really hardly fail to win me over. ¬†The zine charts Marissa’s relationship with letters & mail from pre-school onwards, including letters written in code, early penpal failures, a template for making your own upcycled envelopes, illustrations of mail received, penpals past & postal workers known, and a handy resources page. ¬†And lots more, of course. ¬†There is lots to recognise here in the world of the postal-obsessive, so highly recommended. ¬†Visit the ThimbleWinder Etsy Store to
snaffle your copy.

Zines I Like #3: Dark Side of the Building by Fiftysticks.com

This 16 page, half-size zine is mostly handwritten (with a typewritten essay by Grace), and has a machine-stitched spine. ¬†Nice. ¬†Contents give a thorough explanation of the concepts of dumpster diving and freeganism (extreme recycling), including advice on getting started, tools of the trade, safety, and how to deal with potential run-ins with the police…

The diagram left demonstrates exactly why I am unlikely to ever go dumpster diving:
free stuff + me = yes please;
dirty + me =
no thanks.
Even my zines are far from their grubby, cut-and-pasted, photocopied roots (but that’s okay; it’s just my interpretation of a form). ¬†But that is exactly what I like about this zine: it informs me about something I will never ever do, but is nonetheless fascinating, and I do agree with in principle; and the handmade style of presentation makes for interesting reading in and of itself, too. ¬†Find out for yourself, zine available from Fifty Sticks¬†(because one more would be too many goddamn sticks).

Zines I Like #2: So You Wanna Write a Manifesto? by A4DS

From the inside front cover:
Art for a Democratic Society is dedicated to the promotion of a conscious and public discussion of art and its role in society. ¬†We believe that open and democratic debate, discussion, and critique are preconditions for progressive and inclusive movements in politics, art, and culture. ¬†We seek to engage artists and art audiences in public discussions concerning the state of. and relationship between, art, politics, and culture in contemporary society.”

While I am marginally scared by the earnestness of the above statement, I am nonetheless fascinated by the concept of art manifestos.  And this cute little pocket-sized workbook really makes me want to sit down and think for a moment about what & why I create.  Crammed into its 16 pages is an overview of writing a manifesto, questions and starting points to kickstart your own manifesto, plus 4 manifestos created during a manifesto workshop, demonstrating alternative approaches to the project.

So You Wanna Write a Manifesto? is available for a measly $1 from the A4DS (Art for a Democratic Society) Etsy Store, as well as a wide variety of additional historical & contemporary manifestos to inspire you.  You can also visit the A4DS blog for lots of online content & to find out how to participate in the Manifesto Exchange.

Zines I Like #1: One a Day by WalkerWorld

Zines I Like¬†is going to be a recurring if sporadic feature on this blog – in no way comprehensive, but just a heads-up to some cool zines I have discovered. ¬†After ‘researching’ my treasuries a couple of weeks ago I had a small spree, so the next few days will feature some zines I have very recently acquired. ¬†The numbering, by the way, is not a rating or hierarchy of the zines mentioned, just a numerical list of those featured to help me keep track.¬†

One a Day: April 2011 by WalkerWorld

I first came across Laura Walker’s zines early last year, with her first One a Day project (which I blogged about briefly here). ¬†In fact, Laura was the inspiration for my own Doodle a Day project in February of this year which I mentioned in passing here. ¬†(It was a fun challenge & I’ll be expanding on various ideas that emerged from it, but the resulting zine will only be seeing very limited release! ūüėČ )

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, Laura’s own One a Day project has morphed slightly for 2011 into more of a journal project, making for a fun & varied zine cataloguing the random details of Laura’s life through photography, handwritten text, lists, traditional cut’n’paste photocopied layouts & cartoon-style illustrations. ¬†I loved Laura’s original One a Day project, but it’s interesting to see how an idea grows and develops. ¬† Probably what I like most about it is that it incorporates pretty much everything that my own zines do not! ¬†You can check out both old & new styles in the Walker World Etsy Store¬†as well as the brand new May 2011 issue (which I will update on here once I’ve snaffled my copy!).