I used to write a lot of zines. What’s a zine? It’s just a handmade magazine, about whatever subject you like (like a blog, but in print form!) Continue reading A brief introduction to the TangleMail Newsletter
It’s International Zine Month!
This great list has been stolen (more borrowed, really) from Alex Wrekk’s Stolen Sharpie Revolution blog. Join me in celebrating International Zine Month, albeit a week late! (apologies – I’ve had a hectic few weeks…)
As a little IZM bonus for you, please use these coupon codes when placing an order in the TangleStore, throughout July (although offers apply to everything, not just zines!):
- Save 10% with coupon code ZINEMONTH10
- Save 15% when you spend £15 or more with coupon code ZINEMONTH15
Enter coupon code at Etsy checkout & discount will be applied automatically to your order.
(Offer valid until July 31st. )
…and here is a little sampling of the zines currently available in the TangleStore, to whet your appetite (but there are more!):
The Great Paper Caper
Once more, my home printer is suffering from a mystery malaise that I am not sufficiently qualified to cure. Although working at a basic level, it really isn’t playing nicely. At all. This is the third time in 4 years that I have had serious printer issues, so last week, I finally made the (actually quite difficult) decision that it is time to outsource as much printing as I can afford. I will of course replace the home printer, too, and will continue to print ‘on the spot’ to trial ideas etc. But I think realistically, I just ask too much of it on a day to day basis to have it print full print runs of zines. Etc. So the outsourcing has begun.
I’ve posted previously about the search for just the right paper for my different projects, and I still have a great collection of recycled papers to draw upon, from my earlier experiments. Therefore it’s a little sad to say goodbye to some papers I have loved in favour of the more limited range of eco-friendly papers available from my chosen printshop. But while I mourn the aesthetic loss of, for example, my newsprint designs, I console myself that they have been replaced by far superior paper and print quality: still recycled, but much thicker, and such vibrant colour reproduction
Last week I had my Tangelope zine & self-mailers printed on a wonderfully tactile new FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) paper. It feels almost velvety, and the reproduction is definitely much higher quality than I would have been capable of by my previous means. I’ve used the same paper for the ‘Bit of Earth’ seed packets. This week, I have had reprints of selected Enchanted Times back issues which are still printed on recycled paper, but feel so much more substantial than before! In short, while there are a few minor aesthetic losses, I feel I have definitely gained both time and quality courtesy of the decision to outsource, so although my arm was somewhat forced, I do think it was an ultimately beneficial decision.
Oh – unrelated to the above, I have been meaning to post this pic for a couple of weeks! As you can see, it is a beautiful hand-drawn bookmark which I was lucky enough to receive from my occasional illustrator for the Enchanted Times, Holly Mitchell (her work can currently be seen in back issues ‘Frogments’ and ‘Stitched Up’, shown above). Please ooh and ahh in wonder at its beauty, as I do. 🙂
Oh dear. I have inadvertently wandered back into the old art v. craft debate. In general, I prefer to avoid it but a recent interview with craftivist Betsy Greer made me consider a tangential aspect. (It’s an interesting interview from more perspectives than this, though – you should read it!)
And then I got carried away…
Is zinemaking a craft? Approaching this from my own perspective I would have to say that it is, even if only at a most minor level; but zines represent an extremely wide field with all kinds of subgenres and production values so I think it would be impossible to give one all-encompassing yes or no answer. Regardless of that, here are a few aspects to consider:
- A standard 8-page mini-zine involves hand-folding and a cut (origami? kirigami?) – this is a very basic craft, but a craft nonetheless.
- A stitch-bound zine involves basic bookbinding skills (pamphlet/saddle stitch, stab-stitch, all kind of possibilities) – probably more likely to be utilised in a zine already focused on arts or crafts, this is inarguably using craft skills.
- But if you simply fold each page in half and then staple it? Stapling, I’m afraid, is not a craft.
- And if you outsource the printing & binding to a printer? Definitely not craft! Here we are simply moving into the realms of basic book/let production.
- What about the content? Well, a lot of work can go into the design and layout of a zine (or not – anyone can make a zine, with almost any skill level!) – but design and layout are skills rather than crafts.
- What about the aesthetics, all the beautiful artwork found in some zines? But it is reproduction rather than original artwork, as in any art book you can buy in any bookshop. The original artwork of course remains so, but the multiple reproduced copies are clearly no longer original art.
- And if each page of each copy is hand-embellished and/or handwritten? Then we are moving away from zines and into the world of artists’ books.
Cut down to the bare bones, zinemaking is probably more the culmination of a number of individual skills (not necessarily craft-based), combined.
The bigger question is, does it matter what you call it? My (slightly abridged!) conclusion to the art v. craft debate was that there will always be different perspectives of any one work. Some questions to consider…
- If somebody uses a particular craft technique to follow and reproduce the results of a pre-tested craft pattern, they are producing craft, not art.
- If somebody uses a craft technique but follows their own (self-designed) pattern, is that craft or art? Certainly additional skills have been utilised.
- If somebody uses a craft technique but follows their own pattern, then makes minor changes or alters features so that the end result is different every time, have they produced art or craft?
- If somebody uses a craft technique but follows their own pattern, yet unconsciously makes changes as each item is produced so that every item is utterly unique with its own character, is that art or craft?
- If an artist uses a craft technique within an art piece, is that art or craft?
- If an artist makes a series of similar pieces utilising a craft technique, are they producing art or craft?
- If an artist tells you that the meaning behind their work alters the context of the craft, does that make it art?
- What if a crafter tells you the meaning behind what they call their craft?
- What if a crafter is unaware of any deeper meaning in their work, yet subconsciously, they are expressing something unique with every piece?
Different people will give you different answers to probably all of these questions, even when assessing the same individual case. Does it matter if you call it art or craft? Not to me! Create whatever you want to create, and let other people label it whatever they like; all that matters is whether or not you are happy with what you have created. Similarly, if you write a zine, does it really matter if one person calls it a craft and another doesn’t? Just make a zine that says what you want it to say by whatever means suit you best, and be happy. 🙂
Another tangent – I’ve just curated a ZineCraft Etsy Treasury full of ideas & inspiration. Enjoy! (The Make Your Own Zine Kit shown to the left is from the FriendPrices Etsy Store – one of the many cool zine products featured in the treasury.) Do you have a favourite zine? Please feel free to share a link!
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NOTE TO STUDENTS!
I removed a couple of my old posts on the subject of art v. craft when I learned they were quite frequently being plagiarised by art students. Please take note, lecturers know how to use the internet, too! If you ‘borrow’ my thoughts, your lecturer will probably already have a good idea of where they came from. Take the questions above & give them some thought of your own, instead!
Enchanted Times enchantment
While the ETPrintworks presses have not rolled for a few months and Enchanted Times journalists roam the Enchanted Realms in search of new stories to bring their readers, it’s great to see that the populace is still soaking up the timeless, magical news of the various ET back issues in circulation (as they enjoy the early summer sun, at the end of the garden):
Photo courtesy of local artist Rachel Gallagher, whose beautiful plush elves (etc) are available to purchase from Titania’s Tea Party. I’m looking forward to meeting Rachel and her creations at Derby’s Furthest From the Sea Festival next month!
A circular owl-sound
I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, but finally, at long last, I have been able to find a source for one of those exclusively elusive Round Tuits! I can therefore now present to you the results of my acquisition: a sequel to what is definitely one of my bestselling zines of all time, The Postcard Recycling Kit:
Within this new edition kit, you will find labels designed to stylishly upcycle any old scrap card into functioning postcards, and extra labels to decorate the ‘picture’ side. These include: a quotation from Lewis Carroll’s mostly forgotten treatise on letter-writing, a wordsearch puzzle allowing you to personalise a greeting for multiple occasions, a stamp album collector’s page, and a (hand-designed) cross stitch chart for my beloved classic Machin postage stamp. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also an extra cardstock postcard ‘blank’ for you to upcycle with your own choice of used postage stamps and/or other ephemera. Click here for full details.
For the puzzlers amongst you, I will soon be introducing a wordsearch-only recycling kit, and there are also more postcard kits on the way (soon-ish), to include blackout poetry and collage. As of tomorrow, I will be away from home until the weekend, but upon my return, there will be all manner of new TangleCrafted delights to look forward to. See you soon! 🙂
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:
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!
This 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 OR (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.)
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!
Each 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!
Britta 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:
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:
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.
I 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!
Little Red Hoods & Big Bad Wolves
Once upon a time, Little Red Riding Hood set off through the forest to visit her Grandma. On the way, she met up with a Big Bad Wolf who struck upon the clever plan of taking a shortcut to granny’s house so that he could gobble her up then have little Red for dessert. Ms Red didn’t fall for it, though, and a heroic woodcutter saved the day by chopping the wolf’s belly open with an axe & retrieving Grandma (thankfully still undigested). End of wolf, end of story. So the Grimm Bros would have us believe, anyway…
But what if Little Red Riding Hood is not necessarily the innocent heroine of times gone by? What if she is a little older, a little cannier, a little altogether sneakier? In our new Enchanted Times report, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of itinerant seamstress Ms Scarlet Hudd, after a Mr. B. B. Wolf claims to have been stitched up in every sense of the word… Who do you believe? Read the brand new issue of Enchanted Times Mini & make up your own mind!
A complementary Little Red Stamp Booklet has also been issued by the Fast-As-You-Can Courier Company (staffed entirely by rehabilitated Gingerbread Men), featuring genuine FAYC (lick & stick) stamps and further variations on the Red Riding theme.
Hop on over to the Enchanted Times blog for an exclusive online interview with the aforementioned Mr. B. B. Wolf, who offers his own views on the subject as well as additional points regarding lupine discrimination.