Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Picnic, Googly Eyes and Button Swaps

This week on the incoming front, two long awaited packages arrived as well as a surprise envelope. I spent a full week putting together a stack of packages and the first one arrived at it's home in the UK incredibly quickly.


Rhya sent me an unexpected picnic diorama this week. I have been enamored with her dioramas and I'm thrilled to have one of my own. I must admit to sneaking away several times one day to play and rearrange. The items are quite small, but have beautiful detail and delicate lines. A really great project would be to make a stop motion movie from her dioramas one day. Here are a few of the best arrangements I put together.

 Having a picnic despite the fog when the wind picked up and blew the snack right out of her hand.
 Finally, a nice spot under a tree. Perfect for a wee nap.

I was a little worried that Kye Sangha's Creative Collective package wouldn't make it to me, but thankfully it did! It was a nice surprise to find out that she would be sending me a package since we knew each other already through Twitter. Kye packed the envelope with a myriad of interesting items. Some of which I'll happily reuse and others I will keep all to myself. I really liked the newspaper comics envelope, something I should try if I can find some vintage stuff. I was also tickled to discover that I'm not the only one who sends googly eyes in the post for mail art.

Kye was also kind enough to send two little letters to my daughters. They were both very excited about receiving mail and, like they do with any paper product I give them (other than books), they delighted in coloured all over them. My oldest daughter (who is three) 'wrote' a little thank you card for Kye, which I'll send along in a reply package.

Also waiting a bit longer to make it's appearance was Suzee Neal's Creative Collective package. This means I have received all three despite the strike! Suzee was generous enough to send a little owl wallet, zipper case and a couple of paper items. I have a handmade purse which is begging for a handmade wallet to accompany it and I'll store some of my pens and small sketch pads in the case for sketching on the go.


Katie Wittingham's package arrived astonishingly quickly. I am happy to hear that she loved it and that it, along with other packages, helped renew her love for mail art. She wrote a lovely post about it here.

I used a custom-made envelope that I thought fit her style and stuffed it with a Phlox watercolour silhouette, a test print of fronds that created an interesting effect, a small brown envelope stamped with a mermaid that contained colourful ephemera, a print of some of my favourite stamps, a maple seed sketch and an ampersand stamp tag. Finally, a button swap in shades of pink and red and a hand written note on map printed paper with an airplane sticker.

I feel as though these packages are less about giving and getting, but more about having a meaningful art conversation with another individual. While I can spend entire evenings reviewing someone's portfolio or blog, I really cherish looking through the odd bits of collected items and quick sketches someone has pulled together for a package just for me. I also adore gathering items from my collection or spotting the perfect clipping in a magazine. I hope I'll always have enough spare time to continue these conversations.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Butterflies, Rainbows & Fake Money

There were two plentiful deliveries in my mailbox this past week while two people received my packages. It was a fine balance.


Ashley Gaia responded to the collection of bird ephemera I sent her with a package stuffed with so much great stuff. The dolphin and rainbows stationery was the first thing I spotted and it made me smile the entire time I viewed the rest of the pieces. I can't wait to write a letter to a mail art friend and spread the rainbow dolphin love. There was a fantastic collection of stickers and a preview sketch of a series focusing on how nature adapts to man.

Some handmade paper (which reminds me that I should really make paper again sicne I loved the process), some bird stickie notes and a collection of various textured and coloured paper. A sweet note in a pretty bird card topped it off.

Jessica Mack's package caught me by surprise but it was a joy to go through. Again, the first item I spotted set the tone for the rest of the package. I did a major double take when, at first glance, I saw what I thought was proper currency. Turns out they are actually to-do lists. Sneaky Jessica! There was a lovely 'robots love' painting which reminds me of this song, a rhino watercolour, a temporary tattoo sheet in which you use markers (neat!), two mini zines (girl is a zine-makin' machine), a card, an Australia flag sticker and a letter on personalized stationery.

While prepping this post it occurred to me that I never blogged about what I sent to Jessica (Palm to Forehead). Jessica is an ardent admirer of NYC so I sent her a postcard from my collection as well as a mixed media of one of the buildings. Her sister had been admiring the boat illustration I created for Jessica's first package so I created one just for her. I also included a 'J' stamp sheet.


I put Rhya's envelope in the mail the day before the postal strike and I think it had a wee camp out in the mail box before making its way to the sorting depot and finally to her house. Slow and steady, I suppose. I wanted to put together a little something as a thank you for her wonderful wolf zine. Some origami paper and fabric, possibly for reusing in mail art or such. Stickers, fuzzy initials, googly eyes, a postcard and a small mixed media piece of a tree and butterfly. The butterfly was actually cut out for something else but I dropped it on the paper and it looked rather nice so I glued it down.

Kimi Kobashi was one of the first recipients of my custom made envelopes from the animal encyclopedia. I chose an image of a squid as it reminded me of her earth day printing workshop. I used another element of my busted Polaroid pictures and etched and painted a butterfly onto the emulsion. I found some clippings that I thought Kimi might like such as the amazing sewing machine and a blue mushroom (!!) A few butterfly punch outs, stars, stickers, origami strips and a seagull stamp were also stuffed into the envelope.

Kimi recently returned from a road trip so the postcard of the US from my globe and the camera silhouette were a perfect fit. I also painted a school of fish onto a piece of watercolour paper which reminded me of her school and all the children. I finished the package off with one of my 'blarg' cards. I've been sketching things like this for a while now and after rooting through my old sketchbooks it seemed like the perfect thing to create for mail art. 'Blarg' is the height of my daylight hour swear words I can utter aloud with two small children who seem to be permanently set to record and playback. I imagine she can sympathize with that one.

See you next Monday!


Friday, July 22, 2011

Dad's Creatures

I was cleaning out my email account the other day and I noticed that my Dad had been sending me several, very interesting, creatures that he had found around his house. I was also looking for something to paint so this rediscovery came at the perfect time.

I've completed one watercolour so far with several others lined up for this small series.

My caterpillar watercolour.

Dad's original photograph.

I think I may try a moth next which may or may not be the by-product of this creepy little fellow.

... J

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Elephants, Maps & Constellations

I was very fortunate to have some fantastic packages arrive this week. Let's get straight to them!


Michelle Ashton's envelope full of goodies arrived with the most adorable stamp on it. Thomas the Tank Engine!! This stamp is a stamp of a very sour looking Gordon. Notice how I placed the stamp so he looks as though he's checking out the adorable mini rubber elephant? If Gordon could see the elephant in person I know he'd stop pouting. I love this little guy and have him sitting on my desk by my mug of pens.

Also included in the envelope was another great postcard, this time with a few animal stickers which makes it look as though they're taking over the castle. There was a cat drawing piece that is a mixed media and some of the process involved bleach on tissue paper. I'm really intrigued by this process. I've bookmarked a few sites involving bleach on thick coloured card stock, but have never tried my hand at it. Perhaps I'll give it a try soon.

A map, ticket, a vintage building sticker and map stickers rounded out the package. Oh, cheeky elephant, walking through my shot. Bit of a camera hog, isn't he?

Katie Whittingham replied to my package with an envelope adorned with maps (squee! I love maps!!). Inside was a map garland (double squee), a tag with a typed "I wanted to tell you..." message with butterflies, a key drawn on fabric, a response to my button swap with a neutral colour mix, a lovely personal letter and a pink mountains clipping. I also received a lovely bug illustration which reminds me of a few things. First, of my dear friend's bug illustrations and also that I should comb through my sketchbooks and bring some new life to sketches that are tucked away. Perhaps copies sent via mail art would be nice. Lastly, a bag of Pukka tea which I am sipping on as I write this post. It's lovely.

Both Sumi and Katie have typewriters and I remembered my parents had one or two hanging around. I inquired but alas, I waited too long and they are off to another lucky soul.

I haven't received notification that my final Creative Collective Swap envelope arrived. This last one had less of a distance to travel than the other two so I'm hoping that the recipient has simply forgotten to record the arrival and it's not lost. Maybe Murphy's Law will kick in and once I post this, it will arrive.

For Elle Roberts

This was one of my favourite packages. I LOVED the envelope page and had a hard time parting with it. It was a page from my German atlas but this time it was of the constellations, rather than a map. I went with that theme and included some space stickers. I also really loved the cork stamp sheet on the kraft paper. The dark red colour worked well on the natural paper and the pattern has a nice balance.

Surprisingly, there were no arrivals this week so while my mailbox was full and happy I also generated a large to-do list of responses. That's ok. I'm having a really great time finding items and putting together packages.

... J

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Botanical Silhouette Postcards

I recently joined Postcrossing as a way to add to the amount of interesting mail I receive and also to meet people across the world. While I don't mind buying postcards for individuals who prefer a card depicting my town, I find the majority of the selections a bit on the kitchy side. Whenever possible I'll send a postcard with some of my own work on it and I hope I find a few individuals who do the same.

The need for postcards seemed like the perfect opportunity to use some of my botanical silhouettes, use old paper I've had since college and test the print quality of our inkjet printer. I was a bit skeptical of how it would look but turns out I was pleasantly surprised. The colour and resolution are beautiful and I love the way the colours change based on the type of paper I used.

This is all excellent news as one of my goals is to open an Etsy shop. I've mentioned before that I am taking my time doing research on the business and materials end while finding and experimenting with my style. The success of these cards feels like I've checked a box off and I'm one small step closer.

... J

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Say Cheese - for Polaroid Week

When digging out all of my art supplies after our move and setting them up in my studio I found my old Polaroid 600 series camera. I had never used it much, mostly for the odd shot here and there in college. I also rediscovered my black and white film! I was so excited with big plans for taking pictures of the blossoms on our tree. 

The film was about 10+ years old and had been moved at least half a dozen times in all sorts of weather. I think the abuse was too much for it as the pictures exited the camera with dried emulsion and general wonkiness. It seemed like such a shame to simply chuck it out so I cut out the inside and decided to reuse the frame. I've sent a few along for mail art exchanges and kept a couple for my own hijinks. Here are the results of my experiments with my polaroid frame.


I was planning on posting these pictures this week anyway but them stumbled on the fact that it is Polaroid week! Even though these aren't proper instant pictures, I'm honouring the style of the beloved instand film.

... J

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Collaboration: Around the World Journal

Jessica Mack at Brown Paper Bunny put together a sketchbook that is traveling around the world. I asked to be included in this art project and just mailed it off to its next destination.

This may be my first contribution to a collaborative journal. I'm wracking my brain, but I can't think of another example. It was a fun process and I'll definitely sign up for another one if it comes my way. I enjoyed seeing and touching what the other artists had contributed. Jessica has kept an up-to-date page on her site so you can view each artist's work. Speaking of which, here's what I put together:

Jessica's cover of the hand bound coptic sketchbook made to look like an air mail envelope.

My bio page with a bit about me, my preferred art mediums, where I'd love to travel to and my contact information. I chose a fireworks Canadian stamp which worked well as I was working on this around Canada Day.

My spread was formed from my ideas on how mail connects us through cities and over mountains. I used watercolour and painted sheets from a magazine to form the buildings and mountains.

On my last allotted page I drew a postcard and affixed one of my vintage stamps.

The final page is where each individual pastes a few stamps. I chose three blue Canadian stamps.

It looks as though Jessica is going to have an amazing sketchbook once it's filled. I'm eager to see what all the other artist will contribute!

... J

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mail Art Monday: Good Things Happen When I Complain

I was in a grumpy mood last Friday and tweeting a wish for a mailbox full of mail art to make me feel better. The universe answered my whine and rewarded me with three huge and wonderful packages from some awesome ladies.


Sumi Senthi was the winner of my cork stamp giveaway and I happily sent her the corks with a few extras with no expectation of receiving a thank you as grand as the one she sent me. The postal strike kept this package from me a little longer than it should have but it arrived safely. Thankfully, Sumi didn't have to send a search and rescue party.

Where do I begin with describing the awesome? Let's start with the wrapping. She wrapped it in brown shipping paper with a string around it which reminded me of vintage parcels and was a lovely touch. I opened the package to find a large assortment of wonderful bits and bobs in a hand sewn personalized felt box. The felt box reminded me of a tickle trunk because it was stuffed so full of wonderful things and it seemed bottomless.

There was a friendship bracelet, bird and rose buttons (I'm going to have the most beautifully adorned jacket in town), silly banz (which my daughter has absconded, but that's ok), a ribbon rose and bows and a very regal looking owl pendant.

There was also a small envelope packed with stamps (ooo, I smell a stamp exchange) and vintage tickets. A glow-in-the-dark star (fun!) topped off the trinkets.

A typed letter came in an envelope that had hand-drawn honey bees on it! It had a wax seal on the back and I seriously pondered never opening the envelope. It was just too beautiful to disturb. I very carefully trimmed the side and found a wonderful typed letter. I forgot how much I love typewritten letters, it's been ages. I think the last one I received was from my Grandpa for a birthday letter decades ago. There was also a sweet PS note that was hand-written. I love the juxtaposition of the two styles.

A Jenny Noscoe postcard, a yellow post it with a typography stamp pattern, a copy from a sketchbook page and a print of her robot. I love the sad, little robot. He's either a little disappointed in the rain and he's 'missing a few screws' or he's been put back together and is pondering the always present few screws that are left over. Always seems to happen to me when I put something back together, too.

Heedless Ceramics sent me a lovely cityscape magnet. I have been coveting her cityscape pieces since I began following her and am excited to own one. It will be placed high on the refrigerator, at eye level for me and out of the way of little hands.

The postal strike put a crimp in the plans for Creative Collective's June Snail Mail Swap. My first package to arrive was from Eva Harvey, part of the Bunny Sisters. The envelope was packed full of items I could use to create some of my own crafts; buttons, tags, music sheet hearts, doilies, crochet flowers and a mermaid stamp. There was a also a bunting card and a well-designed matchbox. I was just saying the other day we needed some matches. Sweet!


Helen MacDonald at Jolly Good Studio received my thank you for her colourful mail art package this week. I sent her some origami paper, a mixed media piece of houses on the sea, a couple of stamped rolodex cards, googly eyes, a postcard, furry initial stickers and a few flowers and feather clippings. I also sent along a Polaroid frame.

The film I had moved at least half a dozen times for over 10 years didn't withstand my abuse. When I tried to take pictures, they came out with dried emulsion and general weirdness. Never one to casually waste things, I cut out the frame and have sent it along to a few people with the hopes that they'll make their own 'framed Polaroids'. I'm going to post my random Polaroid framed pictures this week.

Two of the three envelopes that I put together for Creative Collective's swap arrived at their destinations this week. I had a lot of fun putting these packages together. I finally got around to trying my hand at creating my own envelopes, thanks to Jessica Gowling's suggestion. I used thick paper from a thrifted German atlas and created hand-drawn mailing labels.
Inside the envelopes were three postcards I created. One of my botanical silhouettes, one silhouette using my old film camera and one created from a picture of my much loved antique globe. I finished off the package with some stickers, an origami crane, a Polaroid 'say cheese' frame, a rolodex stamp card and a small print from my cork stamps on a sheet of natural paper.

For Andrea Stewart

For Miranda Grange

Now I  need to get my act together and send some thank you packages and replies so my friends can get rid of their grumpies after checking their mailbox. 

... J

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mail Art Monday: First Bits After the Strike

The first package of mail art I received after the postal strike was from the lovely Kimi Kobashi. It was absolutely worth the wait! 

The envelope was decorated with a sailboat made from a map (two of my favourite things) as well as a picture of a sleeping woman with flowers and bugs. Inside was a letterpress bookmark, Maker Faire stickers and buttons and postcards.

There was also a beautiful handmade mini journal in hot pink, origami paper and envelope, a set of stamps and flowers with tails -- all colour coordinated!

I can't wait to put a package together for Kimi! She's currently on a wonderful road trip and has been sharing tidbits of her sights on her Twitter. Perhaps by the time she returns there will be something special on its way to her.

Sadly there were no items delivered this past week, but I expect that will change and by next Monday it will be a much longer post.

... J
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