DIY, journaling + mail art

more about DIY Postcards : : customising the address side

Whatever fabulousness you end up creating on the front of your postcards for iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap, you’ll need to keep the back side reasonably clear for writing the address and attaching the necessary stamps. Addresses are being read by computers, these days, and they are programmed to search a certain part of the postcard for relevant sorting information, like zip codes and countries.

You can, of course, just write the address and attach the stamps in the usual places onto a blank back, or stick a clean label over the messy back so that computers don’t struggle with reading things that turn out to be doodles and embroidery stitches. Or you can print the backs of your postcards up with customised fields for the address, for a message, and even little “Place stamp here” squares, like on postcards back in the day (when people needed instructions on how to fill up a postcard!)

On her blog, Hanna has designed a reverse side specifically for the DIY postcards swap, and you can download the PDF template here.

Another option is to design your own postcard backside. A really easy way to do this is using Picmonkey. Here are a couple of postcard backsides that I designed using that most lovable of online photo-editing programs (incidentally, I designed these without checking the postal regulations, and so my designs violate the rules for computerised sorting…please see the template at the bottom of this post for which areas you may and may not  put your stuff…words, designs, doodles, phone numbers, etcetera…when creating a postcard) :

postcard back: valentine's day

postcard back: nautical

These were easier to make than you think. You don’t have to be a Premium Picmonkey user to make something super-special. Just pick a size for your postcard backside under “Design”(a 5 x 7 postcard printed at 150 dpi, means you set a customised canvas to 1500 x 1050 pixels, for example)

Then just have a play with all of Picmonkey’s amazing textures, effects, fonts, patterns, whatever you like. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Overlays section of the editor (the butterfly symbol) and use the lovely vintage graphics under the heading ‘Postal’ to add lovely little postcard-ey details to the design.

design your own on Picmonkey

(N.B. Do NOT use the franking stamp design, the cancellation wavy-lines design, or anything else that may confuse computer—and even human—readers into thinking your postcard has already been posted and/or cancelled. You have some creative freedom, here, but there are still rules to abide by if you want the system to work!)

If you have any questions regarding which parts of a postcard’s backside are to be reserved for official use and relevant information like names and addresses, here’s a template where the greyed-out areas indicate which parts to leave clear, and which parts you can  go wild in…

PostalGuide_5x7

I wrote about iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap here, and you can read much much more about it on her swap’s home page, here.

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events, journaling + mail art

Make a little mail art for May

iHanna's DIY postcard swap 2014

Mail art is one of my favorite things to do. The formats are compact: a great way to explore details and single ideas, to lavish your care and attention on something without having to commit a few months to the piece. Each piece has a specific recipient: this helps me focus on what I’m making and what I want to say, because I am mindful of that person waiting on the other end and the fact that a mail art exchange is like a conversation without words. Finally, that my finished piece is going to travel—sometimes to places nearby, sometimes halfway around the world—is an integral part of the art work: it encompasses ideas of an international community of artists, of a kinship with others that transcends race or boundaries, something shared and held in common with strangers…even if it is only an appreciation of art, and the joy of receiving little works of art by strangers in the mail box.

Whether you’re new to mail art, or someone who typically sends something in the post every week, iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap is a great opportunity to make ten original postcard-sized works of art in a month’s time—thanks to the little push of a deadline—for artists from around the world, and receive ten surprising, delightful, beautiful works of art in the mail from ten other artists. The swap is diligently organised, refereed, administered and documented by Hanna, herself, so that everything goes smoothly, everyone receives their mail art at *more or less* the same time, and nobody gets left out. Now in its fifth year, the number of participants has grown well past the hundred mark…that’s a decent-sized creative community to be part of, and an indication of the swap’s growing popularity.

Needless to say, I’m joining this May’s DIY Postcard Swap. I’ve got a whole month to make ten postcards…plenty of time to experiment with the very idea of a postcard, what it can encompass, and how far I can push the definitions before the post office ladies tell me “Nat, you’re going to have to send this as a parcel, love…no way is that altered license plate going as a postcard.” ;)

You can sign up for the swap until the 27th of April, 2014 (but be sure you have your actual postcards ready to mail on the 1st of May, 2014…you’ll receive your ten recipients’ addresses on the 30th of April)

To Andreas, Wherever he may be...from Where I Am

Mail art I’ve sent…

Untitled

Mail art I’ve received (L: Jason Moss R: Kristian Larsen)

I’ve got a whole set of pictures devoted to mail art on flickr, if you want to see the mail art I’ve received over time, also the sorts of things I get up to (and the heinous acts of postal service abuse that I commit) in the name of art and global community…

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paints and pens, stuff i've made

A vintage cosmetic travel case, tarted up.

Jacobean case

There’s been a lot of interest in the fabric. It’s P. kaufmann’s “Brissac”…also available in the colourway ‘sea glass’. GORGEOUS stuff.

So here’s what I did with my time yesterday: I have been meaning to tackle this project ever since Kris found this vintage cosmetic travel case at the dump a few years ago.

It was very dirty and discolored, but structurally still perfect, and it took hardly any time at all to wipe the leather down with methylated spirits, give the case 3 or 4 coats of matte pastel green acrylic primer, and then paint some crazy Jacobean flowers on the lid. I lifted the flower designs from a gorgeous piece of upholstery fabric in my stash, thinking I would line the inside of the case with it, and the lid would match. Not so sure about that plan, now…at $70 a metre, it’s the most expensive fabric I own, and  I’m reluctant to use it on just anything. We’ll see.

I finally fixed the case up because I need something to hold my greeting cards at craft markets, and after toying with various DIY card rack and display stand ideas, thought it would be simpler (and cuter) to just stand all the cards in this little lockable case.

Jacobean case

Jacobean case

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craftiness, events, stuff i've made

A Pop-Up Upmarket : : ETSY Territorians

ETSY Territorians Pop-Up Upmarket 2014

I’m pretty excited about this new pop-up craft market that’s coming to the Territory…the ETSY Territorians Pop-Up Upmarket.

Happening only during the 6 months of the Top End’s cool and gorgeous Dry Season, this once-a-month boutique-style array of handmade loveliness is different from most of the markets to be found in Darwin, in that it features only Top End craftspeople and artist/makers who also have shops on ETSY, and whose work is of the highest quality. ETSY sellers bring experience with global markets, internet savvy, marketing and styling panache to the local market scene…no mass-produced touristy tat, or poorly-made tchotchkes flown in from someone’s holiday in Bali, here! This is the market where you’ll find something handcrafted, unique and precious—for yourself, for your home, or to give as an outstanding present to someone very special.

The first Pop-Up Upmarket is happening on Sunday the 13th of April! If you live in Darwin (or even further out but don’t mind the long drive into the city on a Sunday), please come to the very first ETSY Territorians event—set under the massive old trees of the George Brown Darwin Botanical Gardens from 9a.m. – 4 p.m.—and help us start this new market with a flurry of discovery and delight! The market is officially supported by ETSY Australia, and by the Northern Territory government.

We aim to grow this market into a popular Top End tradition and you could, years hence, be telling everyone that you were there from the beginning! :)

For more information and to help spread the word about the very first pop-up upmarket, please visit the official ETSY Territorians facebook page, or share  event invitations to April’s market with friends and family who live in the Top End.

To find out who our local ETSY craftspeople are and see what they make, check out the ETSY Territorian team.

Fabric Bunting Beads

at a Darwin craft market

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bookbinding, stuff i've made

Released in the morning

released in the morning

This small handful of journals and watercolour books that I put together yesterday spent the night tightly clamped between smooth, hard boards…like unruly winos locked up for their own safety.

A favourite way to start the day is to pour a cup of coffee and sit in the breeze on deck as the sun comes lancing over the tops of the mangroves, and release the previous day’s work—what was a loose and motley collection of disparate pieces held together with runny glue and faith in the powers of synthesis—from the grip of the press, to find that everything has come together with a grace and finesse that still takes my breath away.

kidskin and marbling watercolour book

Yesterday: paper, thread, fabric and leather scraps, glue, grey-coloured board.
This morning: a dense, well-made, glowingly beautiful book that feels precious as it sits in my hand.

tea journals

Magic. I will NEVER become blasé about the transformation.

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, books + poetry, Inspirations, life

dragonfly

giant dragonfly

The dragonfly at rest on the doorbell—
too weak to ring and glad of it,
but well mannered and cautious,
thinking it best to observe us quietly
before flying in, and who knows if he will find
the way out? Cautious of traps, this one.
A winged cross, plain, the body straight
as a thermometer, the old glass kind
that could kill us with mercury if our teeth
did not respect its brittle body. Slim as an eel
but a solitary glider, a pilot without bombs
or weapons, and wings clear and small as a wish
to see over our heads, to see the whole picture.
And when our gaze grazes over it and moves on,
the dragonfly changes its clothes,
sheds its old skin, shriveled like laundry,
and steps forth, polished black, with two
circles buttoned like epaulettes taking the last space
at the edge of its eyes.

The Vanity of The Dragonfly, by Nancy Willard

Update: Yes, it’s real, I found it half-drowned in a rainwater collecting drum the night before. I took it out and set it in a pot plant for the night, but by morning it was dead. It was easy to find and identify, simply by Googling “large dragonfly”. It is a member of the dragonfly family Aeshnidae, called ‘Darners’ in English. This one is Epiaeschna heros, called a Swamp Darner in English. It occurs, as a native taxon, in multiple nations. In many places in the U.S. it is classified as vulnerable, in some states it is ‘imperiled’ or ‘critically imperiled’.

What I find most intriguing about this particular dragonfly is that it has the markings and colouring found on Darners in North America. The Australian Swamp Darner, Austroaeschna parvistigma, is black and dull-coloured. I understand that this family of dragonflies is migratory, though it is hard to believe that my nighttime visitor came from quite that far away!

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bookbinding, Online Shops, stuff i've made

Spirograph journals are out (after a little spell of self-doubt)

I showed you this fabric I designed and printed with Spoonflower aaaages ago, right?

Well, I was chuffed when it first arrived, but then I got cold feet about actually making journals from the fabric and it has lain all this time, unused, in a drawer. I let my self-destructive superego get the better of me. I started to find fault with the design: too busy, too many colors, too immature, the subject was too simplistic, not enough thought had been given to composition, to balance, not enough care was taken in painting it, blah, blah, blah…. In the end I convinced myself that I should be ashamed to show this design to people, or put it on my journals and offer them for sale at craft markets or online. It was just SO UNSOPHISTICATED!

But my ETSY shop was empty last week, so I took the fabric out, looked at it again, and (in a gentler and more accepting mood) found myself thinking “It’s okay for a first time fabric journal design…and there is something uninhibited, psychedelic and childlike about the intense colors, the clashing patterns, the higgledy-piggledy arrangement of elements. All of which, I realised, I’m actually grateful had happened to this journal cover design, and not some other. At least these qualities fit the subject, no? So I have been lucky, really.

1969 Spirograph : : a handbound journal

Inspired by a Spirograph toy from 1969—that I always wanted but never got—which Kris bought for me on ebay a year ago, on Valentine’s Day. The original design was worked in inks, paints, and colored pencils on linen; with additional textures, overlays of other paintings of mine, and some floral patterns added in Picmonkey. The actual book covering fabric is linen-cotton canvas printed by Spoonflower (this is an awesome fabric to cover books with…the more I use it, the more I like it). There are two cover designs (because I printed the cover as a mirrored repeat) so you can choose to have a greeny-blue cover, or a mostly warm reds-and-yellows cover.

I have 7 of each cover version, now available on ETSY. Details about the paper and binding are in the item’s description there, too.

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Kakadu wildflowers

I got very little in the way of creative work done this past weekend. I took my bicycle to town for serious repairs. From there I walked to the optometrist to get my eyesight checked (and she confirmed that my perfect vision is, alas, a thing of the past) SO I then got fitted for my very first pair of glasses…the cheapest frames they had, and still the bill came to 350 smackeroos…which stung, I tell you…OUCH!!!). On another day there were trips—on foot—to post offices, to the bank, and an all-day lunch with a friend…

Tomorrow, it’s off on foot again to pick up my bike, and another visit to the bank…don’t forget that I must take the tides into account, and this week the lowest tides are smack in the middle of the day, so if I want to be ashore anytime before 3 p.m., I have to leave the boat at 11:30 a.m., and find ways to kill all that time. *sigh* Where did my weekend go?

BUT! Look what I found in my flickr sets! Never-before-seen photos of a trip Kris and I took to Kakadu in late July, some years ago. Can’t believe I never posted about the trip, or shared these. Some gorgeous wild country out there…and lots of small wildflowers, as I discovered once I started looking for them.

a prehistoric home overlooking the wetlands

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Kakadu wildflowers

Kakadu wildflowers

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Darwin, Australia, Inspirations, photography, travel

Snapshots of the Northern Territory

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