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Posts Tagged ‘mail art’

those lydia mendoza stamps are SMOKIN'...

those lydia mendoza stamps are SMOKIN’…

I have returned from the great state up north (Oregon) where I had a most excellent time teaching at the Focus on Book Arts Conference. All of my students were enthusiastic and ready-to-bind, even in overly warm classrooms (it was in the 90s all weekend!) The conference organizers were helpful and well practiced in the ways of running a two day event. I met some of my book arts heroes! What more can a girl ask for? (ed. –> cake.)

you know that feeling when you return home from vacation?...

you know that feeling when you return home from vacation?…

I was happy to get back to SF, since I have a mountain of projects staring me in the face. But before I could do any sort of work, I had to get down to business.

that feeling of "it's so good to be home, but DAMN this place is a wreck..."

that feeling of “it’s so good to be home, but DAMN this place is a wreck…”

“Business” meant cleaning, sorting, and organizing the studio. Stacking, piling, putting things into boxes. (ed. –> that will be a whole post in-and-of-itself, in the future) For the time being: I’m a whirling dervish of organization…

And that means great things for RLD readers!

sigh...

sigh…

As you may know (or suspect), I have a studio full of things that are delicious, postally speaking. Gridded paper, address books from the ’40’s (pristine!), rubber stamps from Japan: I’ve got it all and then some. Many items I’ve been holding on to for years; some things have been acquired via trips to Tokyo. Other items just find their way to my house. (ed. –> you know how it goes.)

Now the time has come to send some of these first rate goodies out into the world, let other correspondence kids and mail art aficionados put them to good — no, GREAT– use.

somehow, I managed to get a few things sent out this week...

somehow, I managed to get a few things sent out this week…

On Friday, July 19th I’ll be updating the RLD store with a handful of new product — a little something for everyone! Quantities are limited and some items are “one off’s”; I’ve only got one, and when it’s gone, it’s gone so get ‘em while they’re hot! Preview photos and prices are currently posted in the RLD store, so feel free to wander over and take a look.

As a bonus: each order placed through August 1st will receive an additional present and I’ll give you a hint: it’s a postal related zine!

without you, I'm nothing...

without you, I’m nothing…

So there you have it! Sort of like Christmas in July, in a manner of speaking. I can guarantee you’ll find a little treat for yourself and you won’t have to bake a single fruitcake…

In all things postal –

–JH

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these folks want to sell you some fireworks...

these folks want to sell you some canceled postage…

The season of the “big boom” is upon us. Already the smell of burnt paper wrappers and smoke is wafting through my neighborhood, along with the sound of M80s that folks seem to be so crazy about. Of course I’ll join the San Francisco masses, wending my way carefully along the Embarcadero in order to find a choice spot for fireworks viewing on the fourth of July.

ka-boom!

ka-boom!

I’m assuming most of you know that Benjamin Franklin was our first postmaster, way back when. Via the National Postal Museum‘s website, I also learned that Ben got axed from the job in 1774 for “pernicious activity” relating to the affair of the Hutchinson Letters as well as his extended absences from the colonies for diplomatic work in London. The fact that our first postmaster was an active political agitator rings true today, when mail artists and correspondents are rallying together to support the USPS and save individual post offices in any way they can.

flapping gently in the breeze...

flapping gently in the breeze…

Many readers of the RLD blog are likely familiar with Jane Davies’ story from last year (she rallied to save her small size post office and won!) Mail artist (and amazing printmaker Art Like Art has also wrapped up the successful “Save the USPS” mail art project. Everywhere, artists and fans of the post office are raising a hue and cry.

4thofjuly3

How can YOU get involved? It’s easier than you think. All you have to do is write a letter to your postmaster or the president, letting them know you are concerned about the current legislation around America’s postal system. Delivering for America and Save the Post Office are both great resources for keeping currently on the ever-shifting sand that the PO finds themselves sitting on. Once you’re ready to get your hands inky, you can design your own cards to mail out or download the adorable postcards from Afternoon Pity Party. Another option? Sending out these amazingly fabulous “tiny post office” cards from Power and Light Press.

Thomas Printers strongly encourages you to "save the USPS"...

Thomas Printers strongly encourages you to “save the USPS”…

But there’s more! Letterpress mavens Thomas Printers in Carlisle, PA. have issued a call-to-arms via this year’s HOW Design Conference. Four times a year, for one full year, they will graciously send you a set of pre-stamped, letterpress printed cards! “Helping us save the US Postal Service will also help save the little part of us that loves paper, print, and postage,” they eloquently state on their blog, and I couldn’t agree more.

Cascadia, hard at work...

Cascadia, hard at work…

Artistamp maker and mail artist extraordinaire Cascadia Artpost has just clued me in on his latest mail art CFE, centered around the theme “Keep the Post Office Public”. Motivated by the “current attempts in the US to downsize the postal workforce, discontinue Saturday service, close POs, et. al.”, Cascadia is encouraging all types of mail art relating to this idea; the time is write — ahem — right!

Deadline is September 30th, 2013 and artwork can be sent to: POSTAL CALL/Cascadia Artpost, 4609 Briggs Drive SE, #304, Olympia, WA. 98501.5515. Knowing Cascadia, I’m already excited about this project and looking forward to getting something in the mail ASAP!

do your part to support this man!

do your part to support this man!

Taking the time to address and send a single postcard is no time at all, when you think about it. When the message is already composed for you (Afternoon Pity Party), and the postage is already affixed (Thomas Printers) there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be sending something to someone, somewhere. Every day, individuals use the PO; every day they take a variety of PO offerings for granted: the ability to quickly and easily send a postcard or package, the convenience of over-the-counter postage or the option of purchasing a money order. The USPS provides Americans with such a wide variety of services and options, so I feel it is time to give something back.

With sparkler in hand and a red ink pen at the ready, I’d love to hear more about the ways in which you support the PO on a daily basis!

–JH

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hard at work...

hard at work…

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling and teaching lately, which means I’ve been taking a look at the “how” and “why” of my travel mail art kits – the goodies that I can’t live without when schlepping through airports, train terminals, and bus stations. Taking stock of my inventory is not only enjoyable, but I tell myself it’s something I absolutely have to do – I mean, what if I need a new pen? A twee, portable glue stick? Or a pair of folding scissors that can make it through airport security?

I think you can see where this is heading.

coffee? check. pens? check. airmail stripes? check!

coffee? check. pens? check. airmail stripes? check!

On my writing desk at home, the laptop and “real time” writing implements share equal space. (scandal?) Admittedly, I am incredibly susceptible to the charms of a delicious fountain pen or smoked glass ink bottle. But this weekend took the proverbial cake! Lurking in someone’s attic at a garage sale, I ran across this cast iron inkwell. Gleefully, I transported it home, selected three of my favorite fountain pens, and settled down to address some envelopes!

my pen collection at home... (I wish!)

my pen collection at home… (I wish!)

But I don’t usually spend a whole lot of time writing at home. If anything, I find that my “transit time” is best used affixing stamps, writing in a jaggedy hand (thanks muni!), and mapping out which PO I’ll pass by (in order to send missives on their merry way). When I’m running errands around San Francisco, this is the kit I usually bring along.

delicious on the outside...

delicious on the outside…

Originally, this zip case held drafting tools; the minute I spied it in a thrift store, I knew it would make an absolutely perfect caddy for pens, postage, and postcards. The case itself is sturdy enough that it can be used as a flat surface for writing. Removing some of the original spaces and places for drafting tools, I gave the inside of the case a makeover: grey-blue bookcloth seemed like a wonderful complement!

...and the inside!

…and the inside!

Long distance travel is a whole different creature, when bringing along art-making tools. So many questions to address: is there such a thing as too many pens? Do I bring both glue stick AND double stick tape? (absolutely.) Does an ink pad dry up quickly, when used in a pressurized cabin for 11 hours? (the answer is “no”…) Invariably, I always thank my lucky stars that pens and drawing implements are long, narrow, and lightweight – that means I can bring along a few items that aren’t necessarily “necessities, but fun nonetheless.

a long-time friend and travel buddy...

a long-time friend and travel buddy…

These are the tools that I always travel with, no matter what. Upon closer inspection, you’ll note there are a couple things that aren’t mail art related, per se, but they certainly help out in a pinch! Believe me: in a foreign country, when you have a killer headache there’s nothing like good ol’ fashioned Advil to take the edge off. Bandaids are sometimes needed (exacto cuts can happen anytime, anyplace, anywhere!) and batteries (oddly enough) have come in handy more times than I’d like to admit.

all these items, in that unassuming pencil case!

all these items, in that unassuming pencil case!

While these are some of my tried and true favorites, I’ve been trying out some new things lately. The “storage box” from Kiosk is the perfect size for tucking into your carry on and filling with postcards. Having a mini return address rubber stamp is a most efficient thing to own, whether on the ground or in the air. And although I’m a Pilot Uniball girl when flying (who wants to deal with pen “accidents” mid-flight?), I’m eager to give the Parker “Flighter” a chance.

Sending you summer postcards from afar –

–JH

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Vincent Sardon of Tampographe Sardon...

Vincent Sardon of Tampographe Sardon…

I’ve been a long time fan of the work of Vincent Sardon/Tampographe Sardon in Paris. His sharp wit and politically charged rubber stamps are in a category all by themselves. (warning: there’s lots of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll involved in these rubber stamp designs so if you have delicate sensibilities, don’t say I didn’t warn you…)

sort of like falling into a trance...

sort of like falling into a trance…

If you’re into rubber stamps like I’m into rubber stamps, you’re probably always on the prowl for something different, that perfect one. It can be a pretty exciting day when you find a stamp designer unlike any other; often single rubber stamp can inspire a whole new project or approach. When I first heard of Vincent Sardon’s work, I knew I had to see more.

oh yes...oh yes indeed (via the Tampographe Sardon website)

oh yes…oh yes indeed (via the Tampographe Sardon website)

You can be certain that a Sardon-designed stamp is unlike anything you’ve ever seen: sometimes shocking, darkly humorous, brash and bold.

it's a delicious on the inside as it is on the outside...

it’s a delicious on the inside as it is on the outside…

Last year, a monograph of Sardon’s work was published by L’Association in France (see cover photo above), in conjunction with a showing of his work at the Gallery Nabokov in Paris. Chock full of incredible photos and visual puns, this was definitely one of my favorite book purchases of last year. (FYI: the book is written in french, so…)

via the Tampographe Sardon FB page...

via the Tampographe Sardon FB page…

I always love to see artists “in process”: brainstorming ideas, working in the studio, continuously experimenting. Take a look at the video below; you can get a peek inside Sardon’s studio (a.k.a “The Crypt”) as he goes from drawings on paper to finished rubber stamp — it’s quite a process!

 

So there you have it — one of my inspiration heroes! For all you RLD readers out there: who inspires you to create/make/send? Which five artists or designers would you sit down to dinner with, and why?

–JH

–visit the  Tampographe Sardon store to see the full range of rubber stamps

 

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Ray Johnson, bunny heads, perforations -- swoon!

Ray Johnson, bunny heads, perforations — swoon!

 

June 1st,  2012 will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the day that one of my long-held artistamp dreams came true.

For years, I’d been on the hunt for a Rosback perforator – the “holy grail” of artistamp makers. Still in business today, the Rosback Company in St. Joseph, Michigan manufactures a range of equipment for binderies: perfect binders, paper drills, saddle stitchers, and yes – perforators.

this would have been my dream job, in 1932...

this would have been my dream job, in 1932…

But my heart was set on one of their “old school” models: something foot operated, manufactured in the 1880’s (or there abouts). I knew other artistamp makers who had their own Rosbacks; they all told me different versions of the same stories: they’d inherited their perforators from other artistamp makers or looked for years to find such a machine, usually in a dusty warehouse or at an auction sale.

a careful observation of all items...

a careful observation of all items…

I took to combing Craig’s List at odd hours of the night, using search terms that were only vaguely related to printing equipment. And then one day in May, I received an email. There was a Rosback for sale, closer than I had dared to hope: a barn in Napa! Unbelievable.

a new model...and extra heavy!

a new model…and extra heavy!

More emails sent quickly back and forth — it was decided: I was the proud owner of a Rosback perforator, circa 1888!

That meant making space in the studio:

have I mentioned how much I dislike this part of the process?

have I mentioned how much I disliked this part of the process?

And getting things out of the way:

...but somehow, space was acquired.

…but somehow, space was acquired.

June 1st : the big day had arrived. “Mr. Rosback” arrived in the neighborhood on the back of a liftgate truck, to the amazement of neighbors. I imagined the truck driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, freeway drivers catching a glimpse of this crazy looking machine and wondering to themselves “what the heck is THAT?!?”

like a parade float, but BETTER!

like a parade float, but BETTER!

As it was, people walking past the studio stopped to ask that very question. “It’s a perforator,” I’d reply proudly. “for making postage stamps.” Incredulous, the neighbors wanted to know more, see how such a thing worked.

routine maintenance...

routine maintenance…

All told, the move was over and done with in a quick 45 minutes. After all the bustle had died down, I spent the rest of the day making friends with my new BFF. That meant disassembling all moving parts, tabletop to under-the-hood. Mr. Rosback was in good shape, but after living in a barn in Napa for well over a decade (or more), he was ready for a good scrubbing and oiling.

the happy couple!

the happy couple!

I replaced some of the older perforating pins with nice sharp ones and refinished the work surface using linseed oil (as suggested by Nick Yeager of Biblioforge). Suddenly, the studio smelled like a painter’s atelier – which I loved. I imagined Mr. Rosback settling in to my cozy space, enjoying the garden outside and Oscar Peterson playing on the radio.

artistamp eyecandy...

artistamp eyecandy…

One year later and we’ve created many stamp sheets together, Mr. Rosback and I.  With every artistamp project I pull together, I’m thankful we managed to find each other in the giant wilderness of printing and binding equipment. For my fine perforating friend I say this: happy anniversary to you  – and may this be the first of many years to come!

–JH

PS: interested in perforated sheets for your artistamps? Get in touch; I may have just the thing on hand!

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if you've signed up for "Mail Art 101", this is part of your treat packet!

if you’ve signed up for “Mail Art 101″, this is part of your treat packet!

…in my upcoming classes at The Ink Pad on June 1st and 2nd!

packing up tools for "Faux Postage 202"...

packing up tools for “Faux Postage 202″…

If you’ve already enrolled in Mail Art 101, Faux Postage 202, or Clever Carousel Books I’m here to tell you: we’re gonna have non-stop fun! I’ve spent the last few days putting together class packets (see above), pulling examples of mail art from my(vast) archive, and constructing one or two additional carousel book samples.

getting ready for an upcoming class is half the fun!

getting ready for an upcoming class is half the fun!

Interested in enrolling? Head on over to The Ink Pad’s website. I’ll also be teaching in Oregon at the Focus on Book Arts conference June 29th and 30th — still a couple seats left in those classes as well! Celebrate your summer vacation by learning something new…

–JH

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a delicious stack of mail, outgoing...

a delicious stack of mail, outgoing…

I love using those “Celebrate!” postage stamps. I mean, there are so many DIFFERENT things to celebrate at this time of year that it’s hard to choose just one. For example, RLD readers could take a moment to revel in the beauty of this rubber stamp carousel:

IMG_2248 copy

(given to me by Mom ‘n Dad, who always find the PERFECT presents; it was used at a post office counter in upstate NY…)

Or perhaps bask in the satisfaction of a day well spent at the studio! Completing this group of “outgoing” postcards and such, it felt great to see them gathered together, waiting to be placed in a blue box…

satisfaction guaranteed!

satisfaction guaranteed!

Rubber stamp kits like the one below are always cause for merriment. Sometimes I like to relax by hand-setting rubber stamp type:

IMG_2980 copy

I think the old school, 1950’s look of the lettering (when printed) is a good fit for a lot of the work that I put together…

my flux-y alter ego...

my flux-y alter ego…

Needless to say, I could paint the town red every single hour of the day — eating cake, drinking champagne, and pressing rubber stamps to paper. For now, I’ll just say a hearty “thank you!” to everyone who sent a little something my way for this past week’s birthday. The postal concoctions which grace my PO box are always cause for celebration!

–JH

PS: next week’s write up will come to RLD readers via Tokyo — what Aries person in their right mind would miss a chance to whoop it up in an exotic, stationery filled locale? Not I!!!

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this is the desk of a hardworking girl!

this is the desk of a hardworking girl!

Great news for RLD readers: I’ve done a thorough dusting of the Red Letter Day store and taken the “gone fishing” sign off the front door – just in time for valentine’s day! Perhaps you’d like a special something-or-other for a postally-inclined person in your life; maybe you’d like to pick up a little goodie for yourself – I have the perfect solution!

it's a little over a week away!

it’s a little over a week away!

Treats galore await you at the RLD store: valentine’s day items, artistamp sheets, and zines are just a few of the things you’ll find. Each item is hand made by Jennie at the Red Letter Day studio in San Francisco. Quantities are limited, so be sure to make your purchases early in order to get the best selection.

yesterday was "super-correspondence sunday"!

yesterday was “super-correspondence sunday”!

Clicking right here (or on the “RLD store” link in the sidebar) will whisk you away to a papery postal paradise! Questions about specific items that you see for sale? Just send me an email at: redletterdayzine@gmail.com

In all things postal, I remain –

–JH

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Celebrating Art's Birthday on January 17th, 2010 -- thanks to Robert Filliou & the Eternal Network!

(edit: this is a RLD blog post written waaaaay back in 2010. But I thought I’d re-post it again, since…well, you’ll see!)

You may or may not have known, but today is Art’s birthday.

You remember, you’ve met Art before: the last time you snatched up a fountain pen, inked a rubber stamp, or folded a snazzy envelope…that’s Art.

is this Art? yes -- I believe it is...

is this Art? yes — I believe it is…

The idea of Art’s Birthday was introduced by Robert Filliou in 1963. The idea goes something like this: 1,000,000 years ago, there was no art. (!) But one day, on the 17th of January to be precise, Art was born. (!!) According to Filliou, it happened when someone dropped a dry sponge into a bucket of water. (!!!) And thus a new holiday was born. Art’s birthday is celebrated in a wide variety of ways throughout the world; there are accounts of musical/noise recordings, get-togethers in which artists build/exchange “gifts” to/for Art, or all-night birthday parties/celebrations.

ask yourself a question...

ask yourself a question…

Mail artists feel a special affinity for Art’s Birthday; Filliou and Fluxus artist George Brecht introduced the term “Eternal Network” to the art world (circa 1965), and mail artists have adopted this phrase for their own usage. Filliou himself believed that art didn’t have to express itself as an object (i.e. a painting/sculpture/tangible something-or-other). He saw art as a form of play that could even occur as unrealized notions, which is a view which stays with us today, stronger than ever.

tools of my trade...

tools of my trade…

One of the important ideas attached to the Eternal Network, (or “La Fête Permanente”/ The Constant Festival as it is also known) is that “the artist must be aware that he is part of a larger social network, part of the “Constant Festival” which surrounds him everywhere and elsewhere in the world.” For mail artists, this notion is always at work — creating, sending, and receiving in return are the gears that keep postal machinery running and mailboxes full.

Filliou went on the travel the world, as well as conduct interactive art experiments and events. His constant study of Zen Buddhism led him to incorporate many of it’s core beliefs into both film and art works. In 1987, after creating his final piece (Time is a Nutshell), Robert Filliou passed away.

hand carved, hand perfed, hand stamped!

hand carved, hand perfed, hand stamped!

We are left with a yearly celebration, a time to consider how important this thing named “art” is to us. Take a moment to create, to reflect, to share. How do you live with your art/works? What promises do you make to Art, and yourself?

Making is doing. Creating is learning. Art is all around us, in big things and tiny glimpses.

–JH

PS: the recent book “Felt: Fluxus, Joseph Beuys, and the Dalai Lama” by Chris Thompson is a fascinating look at the way western art met eastern philosophy when Robert Filliou and Dutch artist Louwrien Wijers arranged a meeting between avant garde artists and the Dalai Lama in 1982. Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in avant garde art history and it’s intersection with eastern philosophy.

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do you think they lick the stamps?

do you think they lick the stamps?

Writing a blog is a reward unto itself: searching out things to write about and hearing from RLD readers are two of my favorite parts of the blogging process. You guys share all sorts of things with me, both online and on postcards: hilarious postal anecdotes, clueing me in to something mail art-ish I should know about, showing your incredible mail/art skills and talents. I am one lucky girl!

giving thanks to one and all!

giving thanks to one and all!

In January, I often find myself thinking about the recently passed year, as well as the year coming up. What kinds of art/correspondence projects will I tackle in 2013? (I’ve got a few ideas.) Was I happy to say goodbye to 2012? (in some ways yes, in some ways no.) How can I make this an even better year, postally AND personally? (I’ve got some ideas there too.) Taking stock helps me remember what I should prioritize, what I can learn from, and what I can leave behind.

on your marks...

on your marks…

That’s why I’d like to take a paragraph (or two!) to thank YOU, fabulous RLD readers! As mentioned above, a blog is fun to write but it’s only as much fun as the readers who are along for the ride. The input, perspective, and advice that each of you offers up keeps the RLD “car” moving, so to speak.

get set...

get set…

To that end, I want to give a special shout out to the RLD “Fab Five”! These are the top five “comment kids” on the blog for 2012 and I’ve got a little surprise for those five folks. Can I have the envelope please? (insert sound of ripping paper here…) And they are:

  • –Angie P. (Miss Rose)
  • –Maureen F. (happenstance)
  • –Dorothy Y. (dot’s rainbow)
  • –Andria (drawing near)
  • –Pamela G. (cappuccino & art journal)
...GO!!!

…GO!!!

Each parcel consists of a smattering of fun items to help you with the coming year’s correspondence: a handful of enticing envelopes, an ephemera assortment of old and new bits, and a hand bound soft cover journal to keep track of your correspondents. Put it all together in an airmail themed zipper pouch, and there you go! (if your name is listed above, please contact me  at redletterdayzine@gmail.com to confirm your snail mail address.)

I am. Aren't you?

I am. Aren’t you?

And I have another little “thank you” for the first 15 folks who leave a comment below telling me their favorite RLD blog post of 2012! (sorry! The folks listed above aren’t eligible for this one…) I love writing about the mail art shenanigans and postal high jinks that make you guys happy; tell me about the write ups you’ve enjoyed and 2013 will be filled with more of the same.

(edit, 10:55pm: guess what gang? All presents have been spoken for!  But you’re of course welcome to keep the discussion rolling below, if you’d like…)

this is where creativity begins!

this is where creativity begins!

All in all, I can promise that 2013 is going to be a bumper crop year: correspondence and creativity are going to abound, both in person and via the mailbox. I’m looking forward to swapping more stories, sending a mountain of mail and keeping in touch with RLD friends near and far.

You guys are the best!

Postally yours –

–JH

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