The Pantone postcard project

Earlier this year I received a box of around 50 postcards, all of different Pantone colors, from a good friend of mine.

Without much thought I realized these cards lend themselves to having collages created on these colorful backgrounds. So without any planning I went to work using up scraps and little paper bits to create some collage art.

I started with using no more than 3 pieces per collage, like I did with this blue one.

I’m not sure what to do with the cards once I’m done. The initial plan was to mail them off to mail-art friends. Now that I’ve got a collection of them I’m reluctant to break them up. I could punch a hole in the corner and put them on a ring, or put them all in an album. But wait a minute… . Why are people like that? Why do we want to collect things and hold on to them?

No, I’ve got enough things that I’m holding on to. I’m going to be firm and mail these off. I can keep the pictures though.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Global Priority Mail journal

Recently I put together a postal-themed journal for a postal-friend of mine who has sent me some wonderful no-longer-in-use forms and papers from the USPS. I constructed the cover using a flat Global Priority Mail envelope that I cut down for the front and back.

I used another envelope to cut the length of the spine. I used a piece of Tyvek sandwiched between the 3 cover pieces, and cardboard I used as a backing and to make it more sturdy. The Tyvek allows it to bend at the hinges to make a cover (See my post on making journal covers if this makes no sense to you and you want to read more).

After I sewed in the three signatures to make up the journal, I asked some fellow mail artists to make some postcards to include in the journal.

The whole thing came out beautifully and I was so excited to mail it off to its destination in Tennessee.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The recipient loved it, I am happy to share. She sent me a wonderful response saying, “There has never been one made that is more loved or appreciated than this one!”

I’m so pleased ūüôā

Postage stamp art

In the last few months I’ve been playing with postage stamps, using them in collages and art projects here and there. A very talented artist and a friend of mine who is very interested in working with postage stamps, has been working on a postage stamp glue book that I fell in love with.

I’ve been holding on to the perfect little travel notebook that I found in a giftshop some years ago and there I began experimenting with series postage stamps, paint, and pigment color.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These “painted” pages are a little more time consuming, though I thoroughly enjoyed working on them, but I also wanted to do more straight gluing of stamps in groups. These have been a lot of fun to make. I’ve only started. I’ve got a lot more to do.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I get the stamps from a couple of different places. Ebay, of course, is an obvious place to search for stamps in large quantities. They are relatively cheap and there is such variety to choose from. I also get some stamps from my local stamp club. It’s worth it to do a little research to find out what kind of stamp connections you might have near by. I’ve also attended my first stamp show not too long ago and enjoyed it. It definitely was a new experience.

I love working with postage stamps though I have to stress that I am not a collector. I’m not looking to have anything of value. I like to sort by theme and color, and I like the cheapest stamps best. That way there is no guilt when I glue them with a glue stick into my pages.

 

Piecing together a collage journal

The longer I experiment with collage art, the more fun it gets.¬†It’s funny how little bits of paper can get me so excited and enthusiastic about¬†the art of making a¬†journal.

Previously I wrote about my trip to San Francisco in January to visit my friend and fellow correspondence-art artist Pamela, and how I fell in love with her collage book made with Reader’s Digest covers. I was very much inspired to make my own, and that’s what I’ve done here. Pamela got me started by giving me extra covers she had on hand, and then cutting down some file folders to make the pages. Once the pages were¬†hole punched and everything assembled with rings, I was ready to go.

covers with rings

With this journal, the covers were¬†no work at all. Reader’s Digest books, like this one from the 1970s, can be found in abundance at any thrift store. I didn’t like the rings at first, but now I can see that they are pretty useful in being able to move collages around. I’ve seen people use twine or other heavy fibers to bind hole-punched pages like in this journal. I might try that next time.

I didn’t have any themes in mind as I was creating, I simply wanted to use papers from authentic sources; no images from a craft paper pad or digital printouts. I used some vintage papers like from old books, but I also used things like postcards I have received in the mail over the past year, receipts from places I shopped, maps, forms, photographs, and postage stamps, of course.¬†I also used washi tape and rubber stamps with¬†ink.

folk maiden of war

More of the pages are here:

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Video is here:

The Process of making a journal cover

I’m not sure if I’ve shared much about the process of making journal covers. I do them all pretty much the same way, so I thought I should write a bit about it.

I start with cutting down some heavy weight card stock to the size I want. I don’t have specific measurements but it’s usually around 5 x 8″ with a spine of 1.5″.

covers cut to size

After I cut the board, I cut a piece of tyvek paper that will cover the width of the spine and a half inch over to the front and back covers. Tyvek is a “paper” made with plastic fibers that help give the joints strength so the book covers don’t tear off over time. I use double sided tape to attach it.

Once the tyvek is in place I cut down the paper I want to decorate the cover with and glue it or attach it with double sided tape. I create 6 pieces: 3 for the front, spine, and back, and then 3 for the inside front, spine, and back. In this photo I’ve moved¬†the pieces below the cardboard so you can see the layers. Normally the pieces of decorative paper would be flush, or very near the edge of the page.

decorative paper for the cover

The cover should be in one continuous piece by this point. Lay it flat on your work space with the side you want to be on the inside covers lying up and take 2 large pieces of white tissue paper, laying them on top of your cover. Cut the two pieces of tissue a quarter of an inch larger than your covers, on all sides.

With a paint brush and some matte medium or glue, attach the first piece of tissue paper over your cover. I usually start with the spine and move out to the covers. With the tissue paper glued on, there should be a bit of extra paper hanging off the edges.

Once it is dry (I usually use my hair dryer to quickly dry it), take your scissors and carefully trim off the extra tissue paper. Turn it over and lay your second piece of tissue paper down. Use your paint brush to glue down the second sheet. With the extra quarter inch, wrap it over the edge and use the medium to glue it down.

Dry everything again. Now the fun begins with paints, dyes, and whatever tools you’d like to use to decorate your covers. I like to use Distress Stain, acrylic paint, rubber stamps and permanent ink, and lately Gelato pigment crayons.

17239687_217384358666802_8931572734548874719_o.jpg

Here’s the cover I made with these:

This cover has a simple element from a rubber stamp and ink. Simple but effective, I think.

This one also has a rubber stamped impression.

After you have done enough to your covers, seal them with a varnish. I use Liquitex Satin Varnish but I think just about any varnish will do. If you have experience with Mod Podge that might work too. I ruined an important piece of art with Mod Podge (I couldn’t get rid of the tackiness, even after days of drying it, and it stuck to something else causing major damage to the cover and the other piece next to it) so I never touch the stuff anymore.

I sometimes attach metal pieces or other decorative elements. Some planning is needed for that, but they do get attached once the varnish is dry.

 

 

Un petit cadeau — of postcards

One of the neat things about sharing your art through the internet is that other artists reach out to you and connect with you over shared styles and interests. That’s how I came to be in contact with Trishia at the French Kissed Postcards shop online.

Trishia and I both love collage art from vintage paper sources. We initially connected through our interest in Mary Green‘s glue book art, and then I learned that Trishia herself is a wonderful source of some really gorgeous vintage postcards.

But first let me explain about my interest in postcards.

I use postcards a lot in my artwork. When considering a postcard I look for several things:

  • The image on the front: is it in color or black and white (I look for both kinds). Is it interesting?
  • The back for writing: is it blank or has someone written a note? What does the handwriting look like? Is it legible? What language is it in?
  • A stamp: does the postcard have any stamps? More than one? Are the stamps attractive and in one piece? Is there a postmark? Is it legible?
  • A date: is there a date either written by the author or on the postmark?

Sometimes I place the entire postcard in my journal, in a page pocket for example.

Other times I will glue a postcard down so that just a single side is showing. I do that if I am making a larger collage and need only one side as an element in the over all piece.

It’s handy when you have a bunch of old postcards and either the picture on the front is ugly or boring and therefore you don’t feel guilty about covering it up permanently, or if the note on the writing side is dull (or it’s blank), then I don’t feel guilty about gluing it down.

Trishia knows I use a lot of postcards and she sent me a packet of vintage postcards that are just beautiful. She sent me some that are a perfect example of classic penmanship and some that are written extra fancy.

Here’s one with a nice illustration and a stamp with postmark all on the front. I haven’t see many like this.

She also sent some with neat illustrations or photos. My absolute favorite are postcards with architecture. This one is of architecture with the bonus of writing on the same side. Wow!

Trishia specializes in French postcards. At her shop she sells vintage postcards as well as digital images of postcards for quick download. Those are useful too for printing at home and using for personal projects. Check out her shop if you are looking for some really unique pieces of postcard art.

She sent me more postcards but I didn’t photograph all of them. I did take a picture of the card she sent them in. It’s so pretty I’m tempted to use this in a collage too!

 

 

I’ve been inspired

Last Saturday I took a day-trip to San Francisco to meet my friend Pamela. Pamela is an amazing collage artist ¬†— one of the most talented that I know. We’ve discovered that we share a similar style, or at least are drawn to similar types of images and illustrations.

We’ve been admiring each other’s work for several months now and knew that if we’d get together we’d have a lot to talk about, so when we made arrangements for me to come up to her studio I was so giddy, I couldn’t resist telling my kids, “Mommy’s got a play-date on Saturday!”

Her workspace is filled with so much inspiration and neat projects. Here’s some of the loveliness on her desk.

Pamela's desk

And her tower of index cards. I love all those tabs.

index card tower

One of her awesome projects to make a piece of art on a Rolodex card, every single day.

Rolodex card art

Other artists also contribute to her collection, including me (yay!). She’s been doing this for a couple of years so her collection is extensive. See her blog post for more amazing photos. All those cards represent a work of art. It’s astounding, really. It would take a pleasant period of time to go through them all. I’d love to do that some morning, along with a cup of tea.

Rolodex collection

Another of her interests is in correspondence art, and actually this is where our paths crossed. We share a love of all things postal, so of course I wanted to see art she makes, she collects, and some of the ephemera she has for creating more.

letters and glassine

postage stamp book

Here are some of the postcards she has received from all over the world.

mail call

Field Notes

Another project that is very unique is her work on altered passports. She takes an old passport and tells a story with photos and ephemera of where this person has traveled. It’s so creative! Read her description of how she comes up with the ideas on her blog. I want to create something with one of my old passports. I’m going to do some studying of these for a while first.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

She also has glue books that I found fascinating. The covers come from hardcover Reader’s Digest compilations.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All in all, we had a wonderful time. I brought some of my journals to share so with all of our sharing we didn’t have that much time to create. That’s ok. We’re going to do it again someday ūüôā

rubber stamps

bingo cards

gummed labels

 

Adding pages to my US stamp journal

I can honestly say that it has been tremendous fun working on pages and adding content to this vintage US postal stamp junk journal that I made. I brought it along with me to the San Jose Stamp Show a few weeks ago and sat down with a local stamp dealer who helped me locate some of the sets of stamps I was looking for. There is a whole culture of stamp collecting that I know very little about. With my little journal, I am learning a lot; more that I ever expected to.

I wrote about the journal a few posts ago. It looks like this.

cover us stamps jj

I took apart an old 1947 catalog from the H C Harris & Co and interspersed pages along with blank tea-dyed pages to make a new journal. Since I have blank pages that face catalog pages, I thought it would be fun to make collages with the stamps shown on the catalog page on to the facing page. Here’s an example:

Railroad time book collage

I was looking for these parcel post stamps issued in 1912-1913. I showed the stamp dealer my page, and he was able to locate them pretty easily. I purchased these 5 for about 35 cents a piece. I could have gotten all of them, but I didn’t want them all. I just wanted enough to make a nice collage.

Fo the background, I wanted something that conveyed “transportation”, so I went with an old California map and tore a page out of a railroad time book I have.

I found a couple a couple of these pamphlets at a local antique dealer a few months ago. They contain so much information about a single month of work.

Railroad time book 1910

Time book page 1903

record of work done

The pamphlets are fragile and falling apart so I decided to use some of the pages in some of my art pieces. I tore out a page for my parcel post stamps.

Parcel post collage

Parcel post collage 2

In addition to completing this page, I completed a page with stamps of national parks. I got all of these stamps for free. The folks at the San Jose Stamp Club are so generous!

National parks stamp collage

I used a survey map as a background on the left side.

survey map

survey map 2

On the facing page I had an old envelope with three national park stamps (by the way, an envelope is referred to as a “cover” in the world of philately), and an old, damaged postcard that I tore to use. I love how it’s so bug-eaten.

bug-eaten postcard

Since the catalog includes¬†US and North America, I have pages with Canadian stamps too. Here’s one I did using a whole lot of repeats.

Canada goose

I have more to do, but I am happy to wait — to put it off for a time when I will happily sit down to it and make something interesting to look at.

additional stamps

 

From a postage stamp catalog to a journal

cover us stamps jj

In addition to all the wonderful postage stamps I got from the SJ Stamp Club, I also got a few old stamp catalogs that I’ve been thinking about what to do with. As I started going through the US stamps in my collection, I had the idea that I could make some collage art using the stamps. When I was looking at the individual pages of the stamp catalog I realized I had several of the stamps on hand and that’s where the idea of the journal came from.

img_8452

The catalog is from 1947. It’s a bit fragile so when I took out the staples that held the pages together, I realized I’d have to reinforce the creases on the pages with washi tape.

washi tape crease

I made the cover of the journal using the original pamphlet covers that I glued on to cardboard and then covered with tissue paper. I used tea dye distress ink over the top and then covered it with a coat of varnish.

The journal pages are a mix of catalog pages and blank tea-dyed paper. I’ve started making collages on blank pages where there is a¬†facing catalog page.

stamp collage 1

stamp collage 2

stamp collage 3

I also added some pockets for unused vintage envelopes.

pocket page

I’ve got a lot of stamps that I still plan to collage. It’s a nice task to look forward to.

additional stamps

And here’s the youtube video:

A Whole lot of stamps

Before I get to the stamps I have to back up a little. Back in the middle of August, there was an antique fair in Sunnyvale, hosted by the Sunnyvale Historical Society. Since I’m now a member of that group, I had gotten the heads up that the antique fair was going to be something that I didn’t want to miss. The event was held at the Sunnyvale museum and had an area set up outside with many tables for groups to display things of interest, such as the Lace Museum having someone working on making traditional lace.

Sunnyvale lace 1

Sunnyvale lace 2

They also had a few tables set up with antiques for sale. I picked up a few things.

antiques in Sunnyvale

I got a Kodak camera from 1917 with its case for $25, a coat and hat wall hook for $4 (I just figured out where I’m going to mount it!), a hand-stitched handkerchief for 25 cents, and some neat *huge* geological survey maps for a couple of dollars total.

geological survey maps

At another set of tables was the San Jose Postcard Club and the San Jose Stamp Club. I got a neat vintage stamp for stopping by.

mint stamp

I began chatting with some of the gentlemen at the SJ Stamp Club booth and was telling them how I use old postage stamps in some of my collage art pieces. They were very interested to hear what kinds of projects I was working on and eventually invited me to one of their club meeting where I was invited to share some of my different projects. I really enjoyed that.

One of the members made available to me a huge quantity of stamps at a very low price. Many of the stamps had little to no value so letting them go in bulk was not an issue. So on another day, we arranged I would come to collect what turned out to be 4 big boxes of stamps. Some were stamps that were still backed on old bits of envelopes, but most of the stamps were loose.

boxes of stamps

box of stamps on paper

One box was entirely international. Another box was US only.

international stamps

Some stamps had been sorted and bound into small bricks.

brick stamps

Those were the cutest ones. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of just those arranged in a bowl.

bowl of stamps

In the end, there were so¬†many stamps that it was necessary to share. Thank goodness I knew the right people to contact. My friend Pamela who does correspondence art got half the stash (and she was kind enough to reimburse me for half of the modest¬†donation price I originally paid). She’s going to do amazing things with these stamps I’m sure! With my portion, I gave two-thirds¬†of that to the art department at my children’s school. The last third I kept for myself to play with. For me less is better. I easily become overwhelmed if I have too much of anything. Still, my stash is easily 500 stamps of really neat international and US stamps. I think I’m set for life with stamps!