I’ll let you into a secret…

F&F Mini #1…do you remember the Friends & Faux mail art project I hosted back in 2010?  Well, it’s about to return!  I’m currently in the process of building a new blog so that updates can be kept together all in one place.  Due to moving house multiple times following the inception of the first run of the project, I did sadly let it slide off the back-burner once the initial wave of postcards was sent out.  If you helped me track the project by forwarding a pic of one of the project postcards, though, please rest assured your reward (mini zine documentation) will finally be on the way to you within the next week.  And I promise I have learned from my mistakes and will be far more efficient, this time around!  Full details of the new project to follow shortly…

Beanie Mouse with F&F #1
Beanie Mouse with F&F #1

While I was working on the new Friends & Faux blog yesterday, I was reminded of one of the contributors to the very first F&F postcard – Beanie Mouse!  Beanie is star of the Found Art Blog, c/o Andrea McNeill.  Together, they create and then ‘lose’ labelled artwork around the south of England and the rest of the world, while the blog documents all the artwork as it is lost and then found again by happily unsuspecting members of the public.  As I was browsing, I soon learned that Beanie is a somewhat prolific mail artist and artistamp creator.  Above, you can see Beanie with Postcard #1 after adding his stamp, but this barely scratches the surface of his vast catalogue (album?) of work:

Photos used with kind permission of Andrea McNeill.  Please visit Found-Art for further adventures of Beanie Mouse!

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A quiet week?

Despite a lack of blogging activity here which may suggest the contrary, I have been busy busy busy all week!  Well, I took a week’s holiday from ‘real’ work – caught up with a friend, saw my mum & dad (my dad has been in China for the last 6 months or so, so that was an especial treat), and went on a day trip with Corey – the highlight of which was probably when he left his umbrella behind on the train there, but found it again on the train back!  But around these brief outings I have been working non-stop.  There are some new things very nearly ready to tell you about, but the most immediate, are 2 new zines (& something else a bit different), now available in my Etsy stores:

Contours cover shotThe first is ‘Contours’, my first art zine, which is all about doodling.  This is where my brief encounter with Zentangling led me.  I suddenly realised how the majority of the patterns I have designed as an adult all stem from one basic doodle that I used to doodle all the time.  The zine looks at how that doodle has emerged in the various crafts I have worked in, considers the possible origins of the doodle, and leaves lots of spaces for you to doodle away to your own heart’s content.

tiffanyacorns1As you can see from the photo, there are some extras included – hand-doodled bookmark to stitch, and a hand-doodled ‘fingerprint’ of lino to carve & print.  Inside the zine you will also find a 4-way Acorns cross stitch chart, Bobbin Along freeform bargello pattern, plus 4 postcards (2 printed, and 2 blank for you to doodle yourself) printed on gummed paper, freeform-bobbin-alongso that you can turn any piece of scrap card into a postcard, (these come with 4 postcard reverse labels which could also be used as envelope re-use labels, if you prefer).  Check out the TangleCrafts Etsy Store for more details.

Papertrail #2 cover shot Hot on the heels of Papertrail #1, you can now also find Papertrail #2.  Papertrail #2 is a zine full of questions and books and reading habits, with answers/opinions from me, Corey, and spaces for your own responses, too.  It’s all about books, and how we live with them.  Alongside everything else is a Papertrails ‘map’ of routes you can take from novel to novel, spaces to design your own book jackets, plus copy-&-cut bookplates & bookmarks.  And as if all that wasn’t enough, Papertrail #2 also includes a free membership pack for the Papertrail Reader’s Club!

The Papertrail Reader’s Club is there for everyone who loves to read.  The Basic Membership Pack includes:Club Package

  • 2 pre-gummed Ex Libris plates
  • 2 recommendation bookmarks left blank for you to personalise
  • and the Member Book:

The Papertrail Readers’ Club Book is a membership card and reader’s record book combined! It is a 20 page, staple-bound mini-booklet, printed on high quality recycled sugar papers. Each book will be personalised with your name and membership number, and date stamped with the start date of your membership. It includes spaces to list all the books you want to read alongside dates started & finished, and there are even pages to fill in with your own mini-reviews! Club Book

Each month, a different book is chosen as a feature title, with review printed inside the back cover.  Club members are eligible to submit their own reviews of the club titles which may earn them a free Papertrail zine!

If you buy any issue of Papertrail, you will receive free membership to the Reader’s Club, including the current month’s club review.  If you don’t want to buy the zine, you can still buy a one-off membership to the club with a Basic Membership Package.  And if you fill your record book quickly, or just want another, a Renewal Membership Package is available at a reduced price.

Told you I’d been busy ;-).  And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Nice parcel from craft place

Happily, I placed a couple of orders this week for ‘essential’ crafting supplies, and top of the list was more lino, to continue my printing experiments.  The place was out of the softcut lino I used previously, so I bit the bullet & ordered some ‘real’ lino.  The parcel just arrived (happy day! 🙂 ), & opening the box, the smell took me right back to my school days!

I only did lino-cutting once before my recent attempts, and that was back at school, taking GCSE art.  I’d forgotten the smell of the stuff until I opened the box!  I know (I remember!) it’s going to be a lot harder work carving this stuff than the softcut, but I’ll give it a go & see how it turns out.  I’ve heard that slightly heating the lino before carving makes it much easier, so I’ll definitely be implementing that advice!

I also got some more pigment ink blocks in some lovely colours that I thought would be nice for blending with the brown I already have – 3 additional browns, a berry purple, and a couple of mossy greens.  Yum 🙂

Zines again!

I’m not really into poetry (with the exception of the ‘found’ poetry, that I included in some of my recent posts!), but I love haiku – capturing fleeting glimpses of moments (like a photograph) in condensed, image-rich words.  I have put together a 3-part mini-zine, with a booklet of Corey’s haiku, a collection of my haiku, printed on individual cards, and a little booklet of my thoughts about my own and traditional haiku.  If you are intrigued, check out the full listing for ‘head-space’ in The Tangled Press Etsy Store.

I also received a wonderful bundle of zines myself this morning, from Kristin Roach of Craft Leftovers.   I would love to add a photo, but my lack of home internet prohibits that, just now!  The July issue of Craft Leftovers Monthly is a fantastic themed issue, which will give you lots of practical tips & resource ideas if you are thinking of making a zine of your own.

Also, arriving just at the right time for me, it includes a great relief printing tutorial.  I’ve recently done some lino cut experiments, but made the best of what I had, materials-wise, and used stamping rather than printing inks.  However, while I was bemoaning the lack of clean prints this resulted in, to a colleague at work, a customer who overheard offered to bring me printing in exchange for copies of the prints I had already done.  I felt terrible accepting the offer, but at least it was a trade, and I’ve felt even more guilty since, as even though I bought a brayer to use the printing ins with, I still wasn’t brave enough to try it out.  Well, with July CLM as my guide, I will definitely be trying it out this month.  Honestly.  Well, maybe…

Stamp carving experiment #3

(Firstly, a note to anyone who’s waiting for me to catch up with mail-outs, I’m finally feeling on top things here in the new house, and orders & subscriptions will all be in the post tomorrow or Saturday.)

Moving house was a horrible nightmare of packing, throwing away, unpacking, throwing away.  So many things I wanted to be getting on with just had to be put on hold – very frustrating!  But I’m now all unpacked & have managed to actually get rid of various miscellaneous extraneous ‘stuff’, & my new workroom is feeling like a very nice place to be.  The light floods in, which is great!  (& the house came with built-in wardrobes replete with numerous shelves and cubbies, perfect for storing all my crafting paraphernalia – hurrah!)

You know how when you pack and unpack you come across all sorts of stuff that you’d forgotten you ever had?  I made some great discoveries!  Firstly, I found a craft knife set – including 2 slightly sturdier knives than the one I broke during my last stamp carving experiment – and (even more exciting!) an unopened pack of anti-slip furniture/floor protectors. cork-tiles What? But yes, honestly this was an exciting discovery: I saw these miniature, self-adhesive cork tiles and instantly saw all sorts of wondrous possibilities leaping out at me.  Not least, a very definite premise for Stamp Carving Experiment #3.  After SCE #2, I invested in a (cheap) lino-cutting tool with a selection of cutting blades, so I was ready to roll.

  1. cork-stampsI started with one of the little round tiles, and drew my design straight on (oops, used a pigment ink pen rather than nice, quick-drying Sharpie – now I have very inky little fingers).
  2. I quickly discovered that lino-cutting tools make no impact whatsoever on cork, so lucky I found that other craft knife set!  I carved out along the lines with a craft knife.  Cork is very crumbly, & I just kind of nudged quite a lot of it out.  I quickly gave up on the prospect of perfect, clean-cut lines.  I took a second tile, & cut it into a rough flower shape with a pair of scissors.  While I was carving the first tile, I suddenly thought larger blocks of colour might work better, so worked the 2 tiles simultaneously, for the sake of comparison.
  3. It seemed almost wasteful, but considering the incredibly convenient self-adhesive backing, the logical thing to do seemed to be to mount the carved/cut tiles onto more of the same.  I cut a very quick stem from a 3rd round tile to go with the scissor-cut flower, and mounted on one of the larger tiles.
  4. flower-printsI was surprised by the results: I had expected the larger ink blocks of the scissor-cut flower  to stamp more smoothly.  The stem is very clean, but the carved ‘pinwheel’ flower gave a more consistent overall print.  The cork absorbs ink very quickly, which I think makes the surface texture more evident than printing with other mediums.  Probably a thicker printing ink would negate this slightly – but then, if you want a perfectly smooth print, there are other surfaces you can carve, instead.

ray1I was really pleased with the results, another happy learning curve.  In fact, given the success of the pinwheel flower carving, I immediately set to another.  I used the remainder of the tile I had lopped a side-curve off to make a stem earlier.  I decided starting off with straight rather than curved lines would be a quick way to get cleaner edges (lesson learned from stem of flower).  It is supposed to be a rising/setting sun, with rays outwards.  I really like how it came out, but depending on your perspective, it could probably just as easily be a beach ball, a shell,  or even half a daisy…!  Hmm, half a daisy? bat-rayA quick bit of photo-editing ‘magic’ and hey presto!    Um, not so much a daisy though, really, as what?  A bat, maybe?  Perhaps I’ve strayed back to the unintentional Egyptian theme, and it’s some kind of scarab…  And what is that creepy skull/face thing that has emerged in the centre?  This print really makes me think of those old Rorschach inkblot tests…!

So there you have it, Stamp Carving Experiment #3.  It’s definitely a learning process, but I’m enjoying it!  Next stage is a lovely smooth piece of lino (it’s sitting on the sofa, calling to me) – but it’ll have to wait a day or two: there are lots more things I have to catch up on, first.

It’s good to be back 🙂 – see you again soon!