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!

Badgified BoxesAs 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.

airmail arrow 1

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!

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Pinwheel Patchwork Stampification

The second Postal Patchwork experiment:

Pinwheel Patchwork stampificationI’m loving the way the colours play against each other when the halved stamps are realigned with their mismatched partners!

I’ve sketched out lots of sample patterns, and have found myself far happier with designs measuring 4 x 4 stamps rather than 3 x 3 (or 3 x 4), due to the 4-way (and/or symmetrical) nature of this type of geometric patchwork pattern.

My head is buzzing with ideas but I will have to be patient until I have the stretch of time available to put them into action…

Faux postage trials, Part 3

Oh, the trials & tribulations of faux postage perforation!  Well, today I bring you a potential solution, as discovered by Laura Werger of Demon Kitty Designs.

demon kitty stamps 1She says, “A while ago I was searching for the best, most realistic possible way to make faux postage stamps. I tried a lot of different methods, trying to get the best perforations – die cuts, spiky wheels, fancy scissors, but finally found the answer staring me in the face: margin selvage! The blank edge bits from sheets of old postage stamps. It looks exactly like real stamps’ perforations because it is real stamp perforations! I got a vintage stamp dealer to save it for me and now I have tons.”

As you can see, the results are pretty impressive, combining upcycled backgrounds with Laura’s unique illustrations and just-like-real perforated edges.  I was a little bit confused, though, as I have been using vintage stamps on my outgoing mail lately, and have acquired quite a lot of margin selvedge myself (recently donated to Britta aka JaguarSnail – looking forward to seeing what she does with it!) – but it is all very narrow, mostly no more than 1cm wide.  That would surely only make the teensiest tiny stamps!  But apparently there is an art to it:

demon kitty stamps 2” I often have to piece together bits and pieces from a few sheets to make one stamp, if I want the perforation on all four sides, though you can often find pieces that already have it on three sides. And it takes a minute to line up the perforations, but it looks much better if you take the time to do so.

Thanks to Laura for sharing this great tip & solution!  You can see more examples of her work in the Demon Kitty Etsy Store, and also on her Facebook page.

Thinking on from this idea, it occurs to me that if you don’t have easy access to stamp paper selvedge, it would actually be possible to use real postage stamps (either used or foreign) as a base for your faux postage: simply print your designs separately, trim to size, and glue over the top of the original image!  I have heard that you can even remove the original image by rubbing with a cotton bud soaked in nail polish remover – this would presumably also remove any stray bits of postmark visible around the edges of your design(?).  I haven’t tested this out myself (have you?) – but using a real stamp as a base is surely a fool-proof way of avoiding the ongoing DIY perforation issue…  Still, the trials continue… 😉

Click here for my original Faux Postage Q & A from 2010...

TangleStamps & TangleCrafts faux postage projects

Faux Postage Trials, Part 1

Faux Postage Trials, Part 2

Faux postage trials, Part 2

ghana stampSince discovering the imperfect perforations of the real stamp from Ghana, I have felt far less of a compulsion to achieve perfect perforations on my faux postage stamps.  Nonetheless, perforations are still an integral part of the artistamp process, so my experiments have continued.

Last time I compared 3 different perforation types: paper trimmer perf blade, serrated pattern wheel, and pin-type pattern wheel.  My favoured results at the time were achieved with the serrated pattern wheel.  The test runs first time around were all worked on plain, non-adhesive paper.  The new experiments compare  the serrated pattern wheel perforations from last time with a new, finer perforation from a pounce wheel, tried out on three  different paper types.  (Click on the images below for close-up views.)

  • #1: Kraft paper with peel & stick backing
    peel & stick faux postage samplesDue to the self-adhesive backing on this kraft paper, the perforating blades have 3 layers (paper, adhesive, peel-off backing) to penetrate rather than the standard single thickness of other papers.  It therefore took extra pressure for the pounce wheel to pierce through the paper.   The pattern wheel perforated with far greater ease and created a far more convincing visual effect before the mini sheet of stamps was separated.  The backing paper accentuates the ‘fluff’ around the edges when separated but both methods of perforation were successful.  I did prefer the appearance of the stamps with the larger, pattern wheel perforations, in both sheet & individual form.
  • #2: Plain gummed paper 
    gummed faux postage samplesThis gummed paper is very thin compared with Paper #1 and is therefore far easier to perforate by any method.  The paper isn’t quite as thick/shiny as the coloured gummed paper I remember from school, but prints & perforates well which more than compensates!  I found I actually preferred the finer, pounce wheel perforations on this paper.  The pattern wheeled mini sheet was pierced deeper than Paper #1 making the holes appear more ‘obvious’ but not as round or clean, whereas the pounce wheeled sheet separated very cleanly due to the closer perforations.  The edges are still clearly serrated, although the appearance is definitely not the same as a real perforated stamp.
  • #3: Plain, non-adhesive kraft paper
    kraft faux postage samplesThicker than Paper #2 but obviously not as thick as Paper #1, Paper #3 perforated cleanly with both wheels, but I preferred the appearance of the serrated pattern wheel, this time.  Both perforation types resulted in ‘fluffy’ edges, but this was due to the fibrous nature of the kraft paper rather than perforation type or spacing.  I wasn’t really keen on either of the separated stamps.

CONCLUSION:  I will have to do individual trials for each paper type I consider using, because there are clearly differences within the papers which affect the success and appearance of the perforations.  I also clearly have entirely arbitrary, personal preferences, not necessarily based on those factors alone.  (For example, I just love the stamplike lick-&-stickiness of the gummed paper, even though most real stamps these days are self-adhesive, and even though the recipient would never know which kind of sticky had been used for their artistamp, anyway…)

Of the latest experiments, my preference falls firmly with the gummed paper combined with fine pounce wheel perforations, even though this possibly has the less stamp-like appearance.  Of course, my opinion is quite possibly influenced by the fact that I find it far easier to control & run a straight line with the pounce wheel than the pattern wheel… 😉

In conclusion, if you are making your own faux postage, I advise trying out different combinations of whatever perforation methods and papers you have available, and find the one that works best for you.  I don’t think there is one magic solution that will suit us all, I’m afraid.  Have fun! 🙂

little red zine(Ironically, my latest faux postage design has faux perforations…)

Click here for my original Faux Postage Q & A from 2010...

Spot the difference!

postcard 1a before & after

postcard 1b before & afterCan you spot the difference?  The weaving of Handwoven Postcard #1 appears remarkably unscathed & not at all traumatised by its little jaunt through the Royal Mail.

The address side bears an unfranked stamp, and a couple of very minor scars – if not for the postal ‘barcode’ overlapping the address box, it could easily be believed it had never left my hands or home (but it did!).  I’m very impressed by its survival skills & can’t wait to see if Postcard #2 fares quite so well…!

The Handwoven Postcard Project

Faux postage trials, Part 1

As you can see from my previous post, faux postage has been on my mind, lately.  A few days ago, I started work on a set of new text-based artistamps perforation comparison(right, still a work in progress!).  Inspired by Beanie Mouse & his tracing wheel I decided to think about alternative methods of perforation.  My fallback method is to print rows of dots – faux perforations – onto the sheet of artistamp designs, then either use the perforating blade of my paper trimmer to perforate along the rows, or just cut out by hand with scissors. fayc perforations There’s nothing wrong with this method: at a glance, the stamps do indeed look perforated, and when the paper trimmer is applied, do indeed tear off like perforated stamps; however the optical illusion doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, and as soon as the stamps are separated, the gig is pretty much up (unless stuck to a dark background, in which case the black of the faux perforation half-holes blends in nicely).

So I did some trial runs to compare visually the results of some different perforation types:

perforation flow charts

Results, from left to right:

  • Inarguably, the most successful method of perforation is the paper trimmer.  My only problem here is that the edges of the finished artistamp do not look sufficiently stamp-like (for my taste).  But it works, there’s no denying that.
  • Tracing wheel #1 has a pin-style wheel and I thought might produce cleaner, more holey perforations.  However, the spacing of the pins meant that the perforations were far too far apart, and when separated looked like the (less sharp) inverse of the paper trimmer’s perforating blade: marginally more stamp-like, but much rougher.
  • Tracing wheel #2 has a serrated wheel and was far more successful (I believe this is the type of wheel used by Beanie!).  The perforations were much closer together & far more stamp-like before tearing off stamps – an aesthetically pleasing start!  And although there is still an element of ‘fluffiness’ where the paper is torn apart to separate stamps, it is less obvious than with the pin-type wheel, as there is less paper between each perforation.  Definitely my preferred method of the three, although clearly has a more rustic ‘flavour’ than the crisp paper-trimmed edges!

A top tip, whichever method of perforation you use (with the possible exception of the paper trimmer) is to always fold and crease along the row of perforations before tearing, which creates a much neater edge, and minimises the fluffiness.  I tried using tracing wheel #2 on a variety of papers (the one in the picture is white kraft paper) in case the fluffiness was accentuated by the fibres of a recycled paper, but it made little difference – this kind of fluffiness you will always get along a paper edge when torn by hand, whether aided by perforations or not.

Artistamp by Sam Farman, AustraliaA similar result can be achieved by perforating paper using an unthreaded needle in a sewing machine – sadly I could not demonstrate this method as I have still not learned to control my tiny sewing machine sufficiently to achieve a straight line…  (But the results can be seen around the edges of the artistamp by Sam Farman, shown right.)

I have tried the tracing wheel method of perforation previously, and the only reason I didn’t use it for my original TangleStamps is because I like to add a self-adhesive backing to them, and this added thickness was far harder for the tracing wheel to perforate.  I’ve ordered some new papers, though, and will soon be experimenting with different methods of adhesion, so watch this space for Faux Postage Trials, Part 2!

Click here for my original Faux Postage Q & A from 2010...

Crafty resolutions

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!