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?

Happy Day of the Dandelion!

I love dandelions!  You probably guessed that, from the latest TangleStamp, Dandelion Smile, currently at the top of the sidebar…  Marguerite Keen of Piccadilly Post creates dandelion smiles by sending people ‘real mail’ (because who doesn’t love real mail, instead of bills, and statements etc…?), and yesterday I was lucky enough to receive one of her lovely missives. I was entertained before even opening the envelope, because it is always fun to see a TangleStamp on somebody else’s mail!  Inside, as well as a letter, was a collection of randomness which Marguerite tells me she themed by colour – and the reason for this post is simply because of how much I absolutely love the gorgeous ‘Oh Happy Day’ (vintage?) paint sample card she included.  I think I might have to frame it…
I love it so much, I’m going to post it again below, solo, in all its wonderful dandelion glory, to brighten up the weekend! 😀


(Click here to snaffle your own bit of Piccadilly Post Real Mail.)

I wonder if dandelions do have their own day of celebration…? Does anybody know?   If not, I might just nominate today as the official Day of Dandelion Happiness… 😀

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 – another handwritten – and hand-drawn – zine!  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 #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! 😉 )

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!).


Have you ever wanted to create a zine but not been sure where to begin?  Just for you, 😉 I have put together an Etsy ZineCraft Treasury, with links to some brilliant resources to help you get started & ideas to get inspiration flowing.  The pic to the left shows complete DIY ‘Make Your Own Zine Kit’ from Don Picton’s Etsy store, FriendPrices.  Don says of himself & his zines: “I’m Self-motivated uptight weirdo. I like making stuff to make people smile and not be uptight weirdos.”

On an unrelated note, today is rainy in the extreme, and while I am enjoying listening to the sound of the rain pounding against the window, I have no desire to go out in it.  But go out in it I must…  Ah well. 🙂

While my printer chugs & whirs…

…I have been window shopping, and I found so much cool stuff, I created a Totally Postal Etsy Treasury, full of fun & creative zines & corresponding delights.  I also discovered a whole host of artists selling beautiful bird-themed loveliness  – sadly not quite enough to fill another treasury, but definitely sufficient to warrant a little gallery here.  Just click on the pics to check out the Etsy stores: