CraftSeller Q&A: TangleCrafts (Part 1)

When I discover a new crafter or artist whose work I enjoy, I always want to know more about them – where they draw their inspiration, how their ideas develop, why a particular piece took that particular direction, why they use one technique rather than another, or any number of things about their personal ‘story’.  Sometimes an artist is especially open, and all sorts of information might be available, but many people – myself included – simply don’t know where to begin when talking about themselves and their work.  With this in mind, I have drawn up a series of questions designed to extract the kind of information that I would often like to know, and I will be asking fellow crafty types to share their answers. Continue reading CraftSeller Q&A: TangleCrafts (Part 1)

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Faux Postage Trials, Part 4

The lovely Britta (of JaguarSnail) has found yet another potential faux postage perforation solution for us to try and I, for one, am sold!

While rummaging in a junk/antique shop recently Britta came across a pair of rusty, slightly odd-looking scissors with teeth on one side, where the blade would normally be.  When she asked what they were for, she was told they were thinning shears, used in hairdressing.  Who knew?!  (Not us, but probably many other people in the world…)  Anyway, I tried out Britta’s shears and they did indeed make neat-if-square-ish perforations which tore off nicely, so I immediately ordered a cheap pair of (new!) thinning shears to try for myself.

New TangleStamp perforations
New TangleStamp perforations

Mine arrived this morning, and when I tested them out, not only did they make a lovely perforated edge to my new artistamps, but they separated them in the same swift movement, without any need for tearing!  (I’m assuming Britta’s shears only pierced holes because they had been dulled slightly with with age and use.)

I’ve just made a new series of artistamps, printed on self-adhesive label paper, using my most recent postage stamp collages as background images.  Here I’ve done a comparison test, first using a serrated pattern tracing wheel to tear off a stamp, and second using the thinning shears (not shown to scale!).

Faux postage perforation comparison
Faux postage perforation comparison

The auto-separation of the paper after using the shears means that rather than pre-perforating a whole sheet of stamps to tear off as needed, I will be cutting off one stamp at a time, but I like the clean edging so much, I’m pretty sure I can live with that compromise!

I designed the sheet of artistamps from notebook covers collaged in July.  This is my first notebook collage of August in a combination of some of my favourite colours: an imaginary landscape which only narrowly missed the window of joining the artistamps above!  Check out the TangleStore listing for more details.

The latest imaginary landscape
The latest imaginary landscape

For more info about faux postage/artistamps, please see my Faux Postage Q & A page, plus all of these previous posts!

It’s International Zine Month!

IZMposter2014
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.

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(Offer valid until July 31st. )

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…and here is a little sampling of the zines currently available in the TangleStore, to whet your appetite (but there are more!):

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ZineCraft?

craftivism coverOh 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.
  • worth something journalWhat 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. 🙂

myo zineAnother 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!

A Gift for my Fairy Godmother

I hadn’t planned on any further Postal Patchwork experiments just yet, Postal Patchwork greensbut I had a reason to sneak this one in between some other projects.  I’m about to disappear off to Ireland for a few days to visit my aunt, who is also my godmother (I call her my Fairy Godmother, although I’m not sure how much she appreciates that…) and wanted to take a small gift with me.  So I chose greens for the Emerald Isle (and also because I’m pretty sure she is fond of greens) and pieced together this little notebook for her.

This notebook is obviously not for sale; however, this particular patchwork design used halves of 18 different stamps (which means I have 18 matching halves remaining) and thus its inverse twin will probably become available not long after my return.  I’m also seeing that almost-tree shape as a potential future Christmas card design (perhaps contrasted against a splash of red)…

Ideas

Have you ever noticed how when a deadline is approaching, creativity often sneaks out the back door?  Similarly, when I am determinedly trying to keep new ideas on hold until all moved into the new house next month (because I need to be packing & cleaning & doing boring things, not tapping away at my laptop and happily running things through my new printer) it seems that my imagination goes into overdrive.

Sneak preview of Enchanted Times Mini #4.5 v.iii - coming soon!  (-ish.)
Sneak preview of Enchanted Times Mini #4.5 v.iii – coming soon! (-ish.)

Not counting all the ideas I’ve written down for new projects to commence following the move, I couldn’t help myself from writing & laying out an entire new issue of Enchanted Times Mini, and, um, I’m halfway through another new issue as well…

March will herald the one year anniversary of my separate E.T.Printworks store and it’s going to be all-change.  Aside from the new paper mentioned in previous post, I will be discontinuing some items, re-packaging others, and of course, adding entirely new lines, as well.  It will be an ongoing process, but I will have as much of the new presentation ready as possible for March.  Be warned, there may be a couple of price increases (so buy now with your 25% discount for the best deals!) but there should also be a more cohesive and professional feel.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I will be closing the Etsy stores while my re-location takes place.  Everything should be re-opened by March, and if at all possible I will re-open a little earlier, but this will all depend on realities and practicalities of unpacking & more.  In the meantime I will try very hard to stem the flow of ideas, because I really already have enough to be going on with… 😉

Meritocracy

I’ve been a little bit fascinated by merit badges, lately.  The only time I’ve ever had something like this in real life was when I was in the Brownies – where the only badges I specifically remember earning were the Reading Badge (Enid Blyton, I believe!) and the Collector’s Badge (I really need to dig out that coin collection…) although I’m certain there were more.  Why should such activities be confined to children, is what I wonder?  Well, it seems I am not alone in such ponderances, as a little browsing brought up all kinds of fun stuff that I now feel obliged to share…

First up is the Make Do Mail.  I just couldn’t resist – it’s a zine full of DIY projects & recipes, it’s a club with a membership card (doubling as a handy kitchen conversion chart), and it also includes a DIY merit badge for you to embroider yourself, once you have worked your way through the club booklet.  How’s that for feeling like you’ve earned something?!  I am a little previous mentioning this, as I have only just ordered my membership pack/s but I’m sure I will be back to tell you more once my
goodies arrive…

Next up is from one of my old favourites, the Letter Writers Alliance.   First you need to join the LWA (follow the linked text or image below), but then you can sign up for the quite wonderful new ‘Initiative Response’ program.  You can only sign up by mail, and then you will receive in return a letter of introduction to the program and a form comprising a list of tasks to be completed for your chosen initiative/s (choose from ‘World Traveler’, ‘Typist’ and ‘Out of the Box’).  If you complete the tasks successfully, then (and only then!) you will receive the appropriate hand-embroidered badge as your reward.  I love so many aspects of this.  The whole point of the LWA is to promote the nearly-lost art of writing letters so it is wonderful that there is no option to join the program online: you have to apply by post.  And I like that you have to complete the mail-related tasks before you receive the badges – which will be sent to you by post.  I will definitely be doing this & will update with further developments in due course! 🙂

But if all that ‘earning’ feels like a little too much like hard work, you must check out the quite astounding Lee Meszaros Etsy Store, which offers badges for everyday occurrences and personality traits that most of us can achieve without even trying (although it’s still nice to be recognised for! 😉 ).  I picked out ‘Pushing the envelope’, ‘Being just my type’, ‘Letting the cat out of the bag’ and ‘Being proud as a peacock’  but other categories include ‘Surviving first love’, ‘Taking the cake’, ‘Never changing your spots’, ‘Making lemons out of lemonade’ – you get the idea!  All sorts of everyday triumphs are recognised in these witty badges.  Each badge is silk-screened, hand-painted, hand-embroidered, and comes with its own presentation certificate  – they really are miniature works of art and would make wonderful gifts.

What merit badge are you holding out for?