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:

postcard recycling kitWithin 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! 🙂

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!

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…

Handwoven postcards go Crafty!

crafty coverLife has been a bit hectic round these parts since September, largely as the result of being asked to write a tutorial for UK craft magazine, Crafty. Keeping the deadline meant various other projects had to be put on hold temporarily, and then (more recently) the catch-up period commenced…  I was very excited about the magazine project, and it was very hard for me not to mention in advance, but I received my contributor’s copy today & it will be in the shops tomorrow (Friday 8th), so I can finally share the news!

I was given carte blanche for a DIY weaving project, and was very happy when the go-ahead was given for my handwoven airmail envelope idea.  The observant amongst you may have noticed my sudden resurgence of interest in the Handwoven Postcard Project, and an unprecedented number of posts where I shared (unbeknownst to you!) my prototypes for the magazine tutorial.

crafty cropYou may or may not have also noticed that my blog posts are usually conspicuously free from pictures of myself (largely because there is no camera in my household), but now that a photo has been published in a national magazine, I decided to break with tradition and share the (actually quite old!) pic I shared with them.  There I am!!! >>>>
Far more interesting to me is the nice job they made of photographing the actual handwoven postcard – much more enticing than my usual flat scan…

By the way, the magazine people very kindly returned my handwoven postcard sample, so I have popped it into the TangleStore for somebody to snap up a little piece of TangleCrafts history!  (Sorry, someone was quick off the mark with this!  Look out instead for limited edition ‘custom’ handwoven postcards, available soon…)

airmail sample pageThe Crafty feature provides step-by-step instructions to weave your very own postcard-that-looks-like-a-letter.  To complement the project, I have also just added a new TangleClub* freebieprintable airmail stripes and/or background – to make the non-woven airmail border that little bit easier to achieve.  (Of course, you can also use the printable for non-woven mail art projects if you feel so inspired. 🙂 )

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough space in the Crafty article for the extra steps I had prepared for adding the ‘address’ and ‘stamp’ to the weaving/postcard/letter, so I will be working on a new kit/instruction booklet which will include those little finishing touches as well as various other bits & bobs.  Watch this space for availability!

There are lots of other exceedingly cool projects in this month’s issue of Crafty (I especially can’t resist those Clanger-esque needle-felted mice on the front cover by illustrator Gretel Parker) and I notice there is currently a half price subscription offer on the Crafty website, which sounds like a bargain to me!  If you check out the magazine, please stop by and let me know what you think. 🙂

*TangleClub membership available here.

Handwoven faux postage #3

handwoven letter collectionOver the last couple of days, I have been weaving yet more postcards.  Why? I hear you wondering…  Well, partly to try out some different yarns, partly to try out some alternative woven postage ideas, and partly for…another reason.  Where are the postcards going?  What are they for?  Well, this time I’m not sending them to myself, but I won’t say more than that for now – look out for updates!

handwoven postage 1My postcard from a couple of weeks ago (right) was woven with an aran weight knitting yarn.  The ‘stamp’ was a very basic surface needle-weave which hid the background weaving nicely.  The more recent postcards, however, were woven with a less bulky (dk) yarn – largely because I simply could not find the blues I was looking for in a heavier weight.  (I always find it surprising that despite the vast array of yarns out there, sometimes it’s impossible to find one that matches the colour in my mind’s eye…)

woven faux postage comparisonI soon discovered that the same simple needleweaving came nowhere close to covering the background.  I got around this by weaving diagonally (both directions) across the grid that was formed, and this did the trick.

For the sake of experimentation, I also tried weaving the ‘stamp’ as part of the main body of the postcard weaving, rather than as an embroidered addition on top.  I instantly liked the way the splicing together of the envelope & stamp colours gave the appearance of a serrated edge (well, at top & bottom, at least) and will most probably use this method again.

I still also want to experiment further with the matchbox loom, though, and applique a tiny weaving onto the postcard, instead.  Another day, though…!

The Handwoven Postcard Project

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… 🙂

Handwoven faux postage #2

handwoven letter postcard by Su MwambaIn a recent post, I claimed that the stamp woven in the corner of this ‘letter’ was my first handwoven faux postage.  Who knew?  Turns out I was wrong…!  I just re-discovered an old post of mine from 2010 in which I wove a postage stamp on a tiny matchbox loom!

I had completely forgotten about this, but really need to try it again – it would totally be possible to embroider a little detail onto the surface of this tiny weaving…  

Matchbox weaving loom

Ironically, this miniature weaving probably took as long to complete as the handwoven postcards I have talked about recently, due to the fine embroidery threads used instead of bulkier knitting wools.  It would be possible to weave a quicker stamp using a bulkier yarn or thread, though – it would just afford less opportunity for adding finer detail.

See the original post for further details.

Spot the Difference #2

postcard 2a afterYou’ve got to be impressed by Derby’s mail service!  HP#2 arrived home safely yesterday, and you really would be hard-pushed to spot any signs of  damage due to it’s journey through the postal system (compare the pic above to the earlier pic in this post – I defy you to spot the difference!  I assure you, they are different pics, taken days apart).  postcard 2b before & afterThe only evidence can be found in the slightly disappointing hand-scribbled cancellation of the postage stamp.  Otherwise, it is entirely unscarred, and might just as well have not travelled anywhere at all!

I suspect I am not challenging my handwoven postcards sufficiently, by sending them on such a short, local journey.  Perhaps Derby is especially (unusually?) mail art-friendly?  But HP#3 (& possibly HP#4) will test out the services slightly further afield.  I’ve not had chance for any further weaving yet, but should be underway in the next few days…

On the plus side, the results of my experiments so far must surely be encouraging to anybody who is worried about the damage that might befall their artwork should they free it into the postal system.  Personally, I’m a bit disappointed – I was hoping for some scars and more obvious signs of transit…   But on the evidence to date, it seems quite likely that your missives will survive entirely in tact and unharmed, so now that excuse is by the wayside – get creative! 🙂

The Handwoven Postcard Project

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

A handwoven letter

I’m hoping that my first handwoven postcard trial will arrive while I’m out today.  In the meantime, I’ve been making up for lost time & have completed Handwoven Postcard #2.  Yes, it’s all a bit meta this time – a weaving that looks like a letter, except that it’s a postcard… 😉

handwoven letter postcard by Su Mwamba

I initially wove it plain, just with the airmail border but it looked very boring.  The addition of embroidered ‘address’ and needle-woven ‘stamp’ (my first handwoven faux postage!) really finish it off.  I’m slightly concerned, though, that the extra detail is more likely to endanger the weaving while it’s on its travels (more little bits to get caught up in machinery)…but we shall soon see!

Find out more about the Handwoven Postcard Project...