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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

 

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:

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!

 

I’ve been getting some pretty neat mail lately. I’ve also been working hard, creating some nice pieces to send out. Here’s what I’ve got to share:

For a postcard swap I mailed in a few postcards with a map theme. Here was one I made.

map post card

In return I got some neat ones:

mail collage postcard 1

mail collage postcard 2

mail collage postcard 3

 

I’ve been motivated to make art with postage stamps so I also made a few postcards with stamps:

colorful queen

These I made with postage stamps and a type-writer rubber stamp:

typewriter postcard

typewriter postcard

And here’s one I received:

stamp collage

Here are some really cool envelopes I received. This one is made from a junk mail catalog page.

envelope art

This one is from my creative friend Pamela. I have to read up on where she gets her template from. I love how the ice cream float stamp goes with the 60s yearbook theme.

yearbook page envelope

She sent something colorful inside.

stamp napkin

Recently some art friends and I have come into a bounty of cancelled stamps. At next month’s meeting of correspondence art enthusiasts we are going to make more postcard art with stamps. I’m very much looking forward to that.

postal stamp art

Do you have a lot of old postage stamps sitting in a drawer somewhere? Then here’s a little project for you.

Wall art with postage stamps

Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Print out something you can make a silhouette out of. I chose my initial M, with the font increased to 450, and then printed in a lighter gray instead of full black. You don’t want to use up all your toner color on printing things out. This is your test page, keep it for step 4.

test initial

Step 2: Once you have your image at the size you want, do another print but instead of printing on regular white printer paper, print on to black card stock (Yes, the gray print will show on black card stock).

Step 3: Using an Exacto knife or something similar, carefully cut out your image so that you have the silhouette in tact.

initial silhouette

Step 4: Go back to your test page and use that as your template, carefully filling in the gray spaces with your stamps. You can line them up or overlap; however you want to do it. Periodically lay your black silhouette on top of your stamp collage to see how it looks.

fill in with stamps

Step 5: Affix your stamps to the page using matte medium or other kind of glue. I used a glue stick.

Step 6: When you’ve finished affixing all of your stamps, let the page dry completely and then press it overnight under something heavy so that it is completely flat the next day.

Step 7: Lightly paint your stamps with a sealing varnish to make the stamps look uniform and to protect them.

use varnish to coat

Step 8: Attach the silhouette to the white page using glue or some other adhesive. I used double-sided tape.

Step 9: Glue or affix your stamp silhouette on to a background card stock.

Step 10: Embellish or leave it alone, and then decide how you want to hang it. I punched eyelets and used copper wire for hanging.

There you have it! I like how I can see some of the cancellation marks on the stamps. The lavender stamp was posted from Vienna in 1915. Neat!

cancellation marks

more cancellation marks

 

 

 

I came across an art term I had never before; never even considered that such a thing could exist: correspondence art. Correspondence art, also mail art is the concept of sending small pieces of art through the mail service. Materials used are typically postcards, rubber stamps, collaged pieces of paper or other recycled materials — or pretty much any kind of material turned into art that can be put into an envelope and mailed off.

There are networks of people who love to send and receive mail art. Naturally there are websites devoted to this. I haven’t joined an internet group, but I did find a group in San Francisco of mail artists and letter writers and will go to a meeting at the SF main library in a few weeks. How fun it would be to chat with others who love the USPS and make small pieces of envelope-sized art. Here’s my first piece of mail art from one of the members. It’s awesome!

mail art postcard 1

Here's proof

Separately, I joined a post card swap called Postcrossing. I completed 5 post cards and mailed them to 5 different countries (they sent me the names and addresses). Once they receive my post cards they log it with the website through a code I write on the card, and then I will receive 5 postcards from 5 other individuals. I think it sounds kind of cool. Mostly I’m looking to see what kind of stamps and images on the postcards I get. I want the kids to see what comes too. Here are a few I did (don’t mind the stars. That’s just to cover the address and bits):

mail art sent

Anyway, I’ve begun thinking about envelope art in a new way and that’s intriguing to me.

Mini junk journal of postage stamps

Last week I saw a blog post by Bonnie about making a mini book from packaging of a deck of playing cards. I thought it was the cutest thing ever. A few days ago I was opening a new roll of cello tape (my kids go though so much tape I now buy it in bulk) and I was left with the little box. Hmmm, I thought. Maybe I could make this into something… .

Mini book, covers and spine

I cut down the box so that the spine remained between two covers. Then I reinforced the cardboard to make it more sturdy. I cut down to size pages of a travel book that was translated into 3 different languages. I took some pages from each language until I had 3 signatures.

3 signatures postage jj

In all I have 72 pages to embellish (12 sheets per signature = 24 sides, in 3 signatures = 72 pages). I thought that was an awful lot to take on until I realized that some of the pages I stamped with a rubber stamping looked good just like that. I didn’t need to add anything else. Other than the rubber stamping, I’ve been embellishing with vintage postage stamps and bits of pattern papers. The pages are small so I put the cap on the number of decorative elements to 3. No more than 3 things on a page.

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It’s a super cute book. I haven’t finished all the pages but I don’t mind that some are blank. I’ll add to it when I feel like it. I have a nice envelope full of vintage stamps I can still take from, so I have plenty of material to work with.

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