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!

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!

little red set

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.

Carved stamps and Christmas robins…

Britta (aka JaguarSnail) and I had another productive afternoon in the craft room, yesterday.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that she is a bit of a demon when it comes to hand-carving stamps?

A collection of hand-carved mail art stamps by Britta Jarvis

Britta's stamp-carving mini zine & airmail labels
Britta’s stamp-carving mini zine & airmail labels

Well, she has put together a tutorial mini-zine so that you can perfect your own demonic (I mean stamp-carving) skills.  The demo design teaches you to carve an ‘airmail’ stamp featuring a funky little arrow in flight – but as if this wasn’t enough to satisfy you creative mail artists out there, she has also pre-cut & hand-stamped a set of airmail labels from the very design featured, so you can start adorning your outgoing post while you are still honing your own carving abilities.

I went through a stamp-carving phase myself a few years ago.  I enjoyed it at first, while I was playing with new ideas, but I wasn’t really ‘a natural’, and eventually decided my time was better spent pursuing other…pursuits.  So while Britta & I were sitting companionably in my craft room yesterday (with popcorn & chocolate close to hand), I was somewhat relieved when she ever so kindly offered to carve a robin stamp for me, to illustrate the presentation cards for my new Round Robin upcycled postage stamp badges.

Round Robin badge with Britta's illustration on the card
Round Robin badge with Britta’s illustration on the card

(I know it seems early to be working on Christmas designs, but I thought better now than in a couple of months’ time when everything is too hectic to think straight & I don’t have enough time to put all my plans into action…)  Then on top of feeling relieved, I was equally fascinated to watch her turn swiftly to the task at hand, and present me with the cutest little (2-layer) robin stamp you’ve ever seen in what can’t have been more than 15 minutes!

Britta's robin illustration in pride of place
Britta’s robin illustration in pride of place

I loved Britta’s robin illustration so much that today I made a new batch of Round Robin badges giving her robin pride of place – and then I made some matching envelope seals, too!  I’ve had a soft spot for robins since first reading The Secret Garden, so working on these projects the last couple of days has made me happy… 🙂

Friends & Faux is back!

I first hosted Friends & Faux back in 2010 and although slightly fewer project postcards made it home due to my moving house (twice) than might otherwise have done, it was still an awesomely fun project to co-ordinate.  The project postcards feature ‘gallery’ spaces for 8 artistamps/faux postage stamps, and are filled up as they are passed from one mail artist to the next before the completed card finally returns home.  I recently compiled 3 mini-zines showcasing the completed postcards that arrived home safely.  And I’ve also been preparing for a re-launch of the project…

FF1

ff logoFriends & Faux (version 2) has a new logo, plus its very own blog where I will be posting regular updates on postcards sent out into the world, progress reports from participants as they add their artistamps, and, of course, the homecoming celebrations!  I will also add random faux postage/mail art snippets, on occasion.  During F&F Version 1, I was alerted to the fact that some of my handmade postcards did not withstand the rigours of multiple mailings too well (peeling surfaces etc) so I have had the new postcards professionally printed to hopefully avoid a similar fate.  And if I move house again (please join me in hoping not!), I have implemented a new way of accessing the postcard return address, so hopefully I will be able to keep on top of any unexpected changes much better this time around..,

As of yesterday, the first 20 postcards are on their way out to who knows what adventures in the world, and more will follow in the near future.  Friends & Faux postcardIf you would like to learn more about the project, please visit the F&F blog, and if you would like to join in the project, you will find a brand new Friends & Faux Filately section in theTangleStore.  In fact, you can request an F&F postcard as an absolutely free add-on with any purchase at all from the TangleStore or ETPrintworks.  More news to follow, as it occurs! 🙂

JaguarSnail – welcome!

This post is to welcome the zines of Britta Jarvis of JaguarSnail into the TangleCrafts fold. 🙂  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.

Project Dissimulation Update

I have just re-opened the TangleStore, although I will be unable to despatch any orders until I return home in a few weeks’ time.  I only closed the shop yesterday so apologies for see-sawing – but I realised that now is the time when Project Dissimulation matters the most, and I really want to make those items available.  If you prefer not to wait for your print copy of the zine, though, I am also making a PDF edition available (just click on the pic):

Dissimulation of Birds cover

If you enjoy this Project Dissimulation zine please make a donation directly to Beating Bowel Cancer, or a charity of your choice.