playing with paper

Friday, June 29, 2012

Found: Bamboo

On Wednesday, my 12-year-old found and brought home quite a bit of fallen bamboo from the park down the road. This girl has been collecting sticks since she learned to walk at nine months. She busied herself in the back yard for the rest of the afternoon, dropping by my desk occasionally to request supplies: paints and brushes, super glue, sandpaper. (She had already borrowed my craft saw.)

At dinnertime, she presented me with "The Mail Snail," complete with clear gloss slime trail! She chose dark green for the body since that's my favorite color. There are slots cut in the back to hold cards. She explained that if I arrange the mail small to large and back to small again, she thought it would resemble a shell. She is amazing when she sets her mind to something! Thank you, my dear!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thrift: Myrtle Tremblay Notecards

 Today was our first visit to Lancaster Creative Reuse since their expansion to two rooms. The big girls had fun and kept themselves busy creating for almost an hour. I enjoyed a bit of shopping while keeping my eye on the littlest who prefers the play kitchen over the craft table.

Creative Reuse was recently the recipient of a large lot of notecards from the estate of Lancaster County artist Myrtle Tremblay.  For five cents a card, mix and match, how could I go wrong? Four different pen-and-ink drawings and four different paintings provide a lovely selection and varied views of Lancaster. No envelopes included, but that shouldn't be a problem around here!

Thinking ahead to teacher thank-you gifts, I may go back for more of these schoolhouse cards.

I am particularly drawn to Amish Skyview as it reminds me of a Demuth. These might be the perfect winter holiday cards for this year.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Writing: Signs on the Wind

 I think part of the reason I majored in art history was because of the beautiful books: sturdy, cloth-bound volumes with thick pages and large color plates. I generally enjoy reading, but given the choice between studying images and text, I will choose images. 

Lenore Tawney: Signs on the Wind--Postcard Collages (2002) is a beautiful book. A brief but informative essay by New York Times' Art Critic Holland Cotter introduces Lenore Tawney and her work. The remaining 80 pages of the this 95-page publication each contain a photograph of a postcard collage created and mailed by Tawney between 1961 and 1990. All arrived intact at their destinations, despite containing some rather fragile elements. Since reading that she "considered the postmark itself an essential collage element," I hold her in highest esteem. Every time I peruse these collages, I find something I missed before.

It is a joy to discover an artist I never had the chance to study, to explore and fall in love with their work, and glean inspiration for my own correspondence art.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Treasure: FDOI Ceremony Program

While I usually feature vintage or antique treasures here, today I have a newly-minted treasure. On Saturday, June 23rd, I attended my very first First Day of Issue Ceremony right here in Lancaster. The second set of stamped postcards featuring the Scenic American Landscapes was released at the National Topical Stamp Show. The ceremony was fairly low-key, but for a newbie, the stamp show was overwhelming.

This set includes the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania photograph featured on the international rate stamp released in January sans FDOI Ceremony.

After the ceremony, the speakers remained at the front of the presentation room to autograph programs. Once the stamp show opened, I purchased my booklet of postcards at the USPS booth and had the two Lancaster County postcards stamped with the First Day of Issue cancel. (I plan to mail the rest.) The gentleman in line before me was a pro, so I followed his lead and added postage to my program and had a special cancel applied to that as well. (I always carry a few spare stamps in my wallet.)

I learned two interesting things about postal cancels while waiting in line: an item must have postage in order to receive a cancel, and a stamp may only receive one cancellation. You may add additional stamps to an item to receive additional cancellations.

I am grateful I had the opportunity to attend!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mailart: Fluxus Buck

My first Fluxus Buck! 
No. 20010661 May 8 2009
Portion of an envelope received from Samuel Montalvetti, Argentina
Mounted on postcard and sent on to Haddock, Oregon, USA

Friday, June 22, 2012

Found: Silence Please

I wish I could find some silence these days, but it's a rare commodity around here.

This evening, my husband came across this passage in a short story titled "Silence Please" (1954) by Arthur C. Clarke found in Tales From the White Hart.

"I can still remember reading the synopsis while waiting for the curtain to go up, and to this day have never been able to decide whether the libretto was meant seriously or not. Let's see—the period was the late Victorian era, and the main characters were Sarah Stampe, the passionate postmistress, Walter Partridge, the saturnine gamekeeper, and the squire's son, whose name I forget. It's the old story of the eternal triangle, complicated by the villager's resentment of change—in this case, the new telegraph system, which the local crones predict will Do Things to the cows' milk and cause trouble at lambing time.

"Ignoring the frills, it's the usual drama of operatic jealousy. The squire's son doesn't want to marry into the Post Office, and the gamekeeper, maddened by his rejection, plots revenge. The tragedy rises to its dreadful climax when poor Sarah, strangled with parcel tape, is found hidden in a mail-bag in the Dead Letter Department. The villagers hang Partridge from the nearest telegraph pole, much to the annoyance of the linesmen. He was supposed to sing an aria while he was being hung: that is one thing I regret missing. The squire's son takes to drink, or the Colonies, or both: and that's that."

Certainly an unfortunate end for the postmistress and one of the more interesting postal references I've read!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Writing: The Englishman Who Posted Himself...

The Englishman Who Posted Himself and Other Curious Objects by John Tingey, published in 2010, is a fascinating study of the creative challenges W. Reginald Bray (1879-1939) set forth to the Royal Mail during his lifetime.

His experiments began in 1898 after obtaining a copy of the Post Office Guide, regulations published by the British postal authorities. It seems he considered these regulations a challenge, not a guideline. This enjoyable read includes plenty of photographs to illustrate his many and varied postal antics.

He may well be the pioneer of mail art. I wonder, did the author of Flat Stanley know of this Englishman who traveled by registered post in 1903?

Treasure: Whitehead & Hoag Co. Cover

Another beauty from my grandma's eclectic collection.

The Whitehead & Hoag Co.
Makers of Ribbon, Metal, Celluloid & Enamel Ivory Badges.
Main Office & Factory.
28.30.32&34 Warren St.
161&163 Washington St.
Newark, New Jersey.
E.L. Tibble Esq.
Harrisburg Pa.
City Treasurers Office
If you wish to keep your badge in good order,
keep it on the card board and
in this envelope.
[Postage cancelled in Philadelphia, date illegible.]

Tension Envelope, Patented March 13th, 1883.
Office and Manufactory, 28 Reade Street, New York.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mailart: Add and Pass

 2012 June 18
Add and Pass envelope and postcards, begun by Signor Moreno, sent to me by Valentine Mark Herman, traveling on to C.Z. Lovecraft

Add and Pass envelope reverse

2012 June 2
Add and Pass mini book, begun by Eduardo Cardoso, sent to me by Samuel Montalvetti, traveled on to ??? (I forget! I need a better system to track outgoing mail. C.Z. may have gotten this one too.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Found: Postage Stamp Artwork

(photo: Ethan Allen catalog)
I've been hoping to add some postal zip to my home decor, and I recently found these large and lovely stamp prints in an Ethan Allen catalog. With my stamp collection, scanner, and new printer, a few craft store mats and frames, I think I can recreate a similar finished product for much less than their $300 price tag.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thrift: Cereal Box Postcards

 I know many mail artists repurpose cardboard packaging in their mail art, so this is not a monumental revelation. For some reason, I am not often inspired to immediately reuse food packaging; perhaps it's too new for my vintage tastes? But this past week, two cereal boxes in particular caught my eye as having great mail art potential.

Snoopy ponders mailart, making life better with a stamp.
(Sent off in a packet to Angie & Snooky)
The back of the Life box had a scavenger hunt of sorts and after reading #9 "Where non-email goes," I knew had to make it mail art. The "zap" and "blam" came from a party invitation, and thank you to Alice for the "stampe" and "this is urgent" etiquettes. She is first-class.

I've cut the word "Cheer" from Cheerios boxes before; Cheerios even encouraged me to do it! As an added bonus, Honey Nut Cheerios boxes also say "Naturally Flavored." Yes, tasty mail art. Sometimes it helps to have a specific recipient in mind.

 Naturally Flavored Mail Art Cheer. Yum.
(Sent off in a packet to Eat Art/Mike Dyar)

 Apparently, Honey Nut Cheerios is currently America's favorite cereal, but that was easily edited. I can't resist any comics with a mailbox, and Snoopy appears to be patiently awaiting his daily delivery of mail art.

The public has spoken. We love mail art.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In Writing: Flat Stanley

My eight-year-old spent the morning sorting through her books and reading as she went. When she finished, she had a pile of books for me to store away and an organized bookshelf!

She discovered a mail-related story I had forgotten, Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown. It was written in 1964, but surprisingly, I did not read it when I was young. It was introduced to me when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten or first grade. I read it aloud to her until she could take over and read it herself. Then she read it aloud to me! (Our edition is copyrighted 2003.)

"When Stanley Lambchop wakes up one morning, his brother, Arthur, is yelling.
A bulletin board fell on Stanley during the night, and now he is only half an inch thick!
Amazing things begin happening to him. Stanley gets rolled up, mailed, and flown like a kite. He even gets to help catch two dangerous art thieves. He may be flat, but he's a hero!"

It's hard to believe, but our Flat Stanley was never cut out and sent off on an adventure. Maybe I will add this to my list of mail-related projects for the summer.

You can find more about Flat Stanley and the latest generation of books at Learn about the Flat Stanley Project at Author Jeff Brown passed away unexpectedly at the end of 2003, so I believe the new books are ghost-written by Sara Pennypacker, author of the Clementine books.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Treasure: Souvenir Folders

 These treasures are on loan to me from my friend Delphine. She told me she recently inherited her uncle's postcard collection, and knowing my love of Real Mail and ephemera, she wanted me to take a look at them and hopefully brainstorm some display ideas.

It turns out they are not postcards but multiview souvenir folders, the likes of which I had not seen before. These were collected during her uncle's travels, not mailed, though a few have names penciled on the address lines.

Most of the linen-like cover-weight folders contain 16 to 20 images on a double-sided accordion folded text-weight interior panel. Three views of Greater Chicago include New Post Office, Outer Drive, Link Bridge, and Skyline, and Art Institute.

One of the folders, called An Art Folder, from Salt Lake City and Scenic Utah contains 36 views printed on two separate panels. It weighs just over an ounce.

Those with copyright dates printed on them range from 1934 to 1944, and most state that "postage without message" is 1-1/2 cents. The folder from Venice, Ocean Park and Santa Monica, California appears to be the oldest in the lot but has no copyright noted. The upper right corner reads "Postage without message one cent--with message two cents."

All are from cities, states, or regions in the United States, except for one from Niagara Falls, Canada. It provides an excellent example of an intact folder, showing the top angled flap that tucks into a slit across the lower portion.

Many of the folders have torn at the slit, and a few have lost their top flaps. For a moment, the mail artist in me imagined adding these lovely papers to collages, but the conservator took over, and I enjoyed matching all the detached pieces to the appropriate folders. I then gave each a protective sleeve. I'm still working on (kid-friendly) display ideas, but I'm thinking something with a postal or travel theme. 

The construction of the folders inspired me to make my own, and I think I may use them as my very first mail art add-and-pass project.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mailart: First Class Teacher

I suppose these technically aren't mail art since they were hand-delivered by my girls to their teachers on the last day of school, but I did manage to work in a bit of a postal theme.
 A big THANK YOU to all the teachers and support staff out there for the hard work you put in throughout the year to educate our children.
My girls have an amazing elementary art teacher; I wish I could take her classes. I plan to have them teach me all the projects they worked on this year to broaden my artistic horizons and help keep them busy. We can all make some mail art!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Found: DIY String Tie Envelopes

(photo via minieco)
I love printable envelope templates. I like to have various shapes and sizes of envelope patterns handy, but I also run all sorts of paper through my printer to save a little time tracing a pattern. These string tie envelopes found on minieco are especially sweet. When I'm feeling creatively stuck but still want to make something, I cut and fold envelopes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thrift: Lotto Game

The World About Us Lotto Game, copyright 1971, was my favorite find last week when I stopped in the Goodwill store after picking up the latest Pixar stamps, Mail a Smile, released June 1st. Of course, I love the mailman featured on the Community Workers card. I just hope they don't go the way of the milkman. Ninety-seven cents bought me six playing boards and thirty-six cards (all accounted for) in a box "guaranteed" not to break for the the life of the game. 
I love old games for mail art!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In Writing: Postcards From Camp

Today was the first full day of summer break from school here. All my girls received some Real Mail from Grandma, but so far, only the littlest has made anything to send back. Next week, the oldest will attend day camp, but none of the girls have yet experienced a sleep-away camp. I didn't go away to camp until the summer between my junior and senior years of college, when I worked as an arts and crafts counselor and had a cabin of eight-year-olds down in North Carolina.

Postcards From Camp, A Postal Story Presented By Simms Taback, is great fun for campers and mail artists alike.  The art was created by hand using mixed media, collage and gouache. I am particularly thrilled by the use of postage stamps, both real and imagined. Every time I flip through it I see something I missed before.

The book begins with a foldout list of camp essentials, and the story is told through the exchange of illustrated postcards and letters by camper Michael Stevens and his father Harry Stevens. The postcards are printed on the pages, but the four letters slide out of actual envelopes secured to the pages (like the Griffin and Sabine books.) 

Michael isn't so sure he wants to stay at camp, but with time and postal encouragement from his dad, this humorous story has a happy ending. Both my older daughters (ages eight and twelve) have enjoyed reading and rereading this one.

Feeling inspired? Send some mail art to camp! Check out this post over at Good Mail Day, and help Marissa get her campers excited about 
Real Mail!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Treasure: Parcel Post Sale

Another item of note from my grandma's collection:

A request for donations to a church fundraiser called a Parcel Post Sale.
Reminded me a bit of the mail art calls for works to be auctioned for charitable causes.

Printed on a 3-cent Liberty stamped card.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mailart: Imagine Peace Chain Letter

I received my first mail art chain letter from Mary Has Sound last week.
"Send a piece of artwork, something made by you, to the first person on the list below, then remove or cross out the first name on the list and add your own name and address at the bottom. Make 10 copies of the new letter that includes your name and address and send it out to people who will keep the idea growing."

I used the "Imagine Peace" as my inspiration, and I created this 5 x 7 inch collage on board to send off to #81 on the list Haddock in Oregon, USA. I'm mailing it naked, so I hope I chose my adhesives wisely. Now I have to figure out 10 folks who won't mind receiving a copy of the letter. (Please let me know if you want one! I promise to send other fun stuff along with it!)

I was on a roll, so I created two 4 x 6 inch cards in the same style, sending one to Valentine Mark Herman and one to Samuel Montalvettti and Sol Pedrosa for their mail art call "Grafismos del Bajo." Since these are traveling internationally, I packaged them in circus-themed party favor bag envelopes. I discovered I like creating mirror image pairs of cards.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Found Friday: Keep Searching

I am cleaning out and organizing. 
I found this envelope from Miss Sequential. 
I know when I received it, I loved the rubber-stamped phrase. 
Now it reminds me once again to Keep Searching.
Even if I don't find what I'm looking for, I hope I find what I need.
Perhaps I already have.