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Friday, July 11, 2014

It's studio tour time again! Where Bloggers Create 2014

Welcome to my happy place. Thanks to Karen Valentine of My Desert Cottage  for hosting another Where Bloggers Create event! This is my second year at the party, and I appreciate all of Karen's efforts to make this event exciting and fun. 

The photo above is a studio view from the doorway. My studio is three steps down from our dining room. New in this area since the last year's WBC party are the pull-down school maps on the back wall and the chest of map drawers (below).

I've been calling this a map cabinet because the drawers are large and shallow, but the chest was actually handmade to store hardware in someone's garage. I saw it in the bed of a pick-up truck and asked the driver if it was for sale. Lucky for me, the answer was yes! It was a mess when I bought it, but a friend repaired it for me, and I love it because it is so useful. The bin pulls are solid brass and the sides are beadboard.

One large map drawer holds washi tape in plastic trays from cracker packages.

This tall 40-drawer Post Office cabinet (below) is my pride and joy. It looks like a card catalog cabinet in photos, but it is much larger. The drawers are 8-1/2" wide and 24 inches long. so they hold a LOT! The second photo below shows all the vintage oddities I put on top of it.

Love this 5-foot-tall Post Office cabinet!  I'll show you what's in some of the drawers later.

A hodgepodge of vintage goodies that caught my eye: folk art American flag on corrugated metal, parking meter, beach pail and shovels, toy trucks, toy cash register, vintage tins, and what some people call "creepy doll heads." 

Another of my favorite pieces is this golden oak McCaskey Register System from the early 1900s (sitting on top of an oak card catalog cabinet).  This historic piece of furniture was part of a revolutionary accounting system for department stores and other businesses. (I call it the earliest version of QuickBooks.) The piece has large shallow drawers under glass, where ledgers displayed customer account numbers. Above the glass are metal fold-down receipt holders where numbered compartments hold clips for each customer's receipts. When the customer came to pay on his/her account, the store owner would look up the account number and then total the receipts for payment.

The receipt holders fold down and I use them for vintage photos, artwork and ephemera. 7 Gypsies produced a perfectly accurate replica of the black metal McCaskey receipt holders a few years ago as display pieces for artists. While 7 Gypsies did a great job with the reproduction, I think it's pretty exciting to have the genuine article!

I'm using the ledger drawer to display a collection of vintage office supplies.

Just some more of my funky stuff... I actually use the antique fan, but not the oversized pencils. (I found the pencils just last month, one at a time!) The hand-painted spool drawers hold rubber stamps for mail art projects. Everything in this picture was found at a local flea market except the stereo and the figural brush, which was a gift from my mother.

Can you guess my favorite color? I love my little red Corona typewriter and vintage red Arrow stapler. The Sychro-Jr. Jig Saw for Boys belonged to my father when he was a teen. He used it for model airplane making.The jig saw still works, as does the vintage Kodak photo developing timer. The metal Duro Sign Maker box holds some of my handmade books, and the little red metal blasting caps box holds some of my ATCs.  Shallow drawers below hold rubber stamps organized by theme.  It's nice that the drawer pulls are label holders; they make it easy to keep track of which theme is in each drawer.

Some of the many things I collect in my studio are vintage children's art supplies. I love the cute illustrations and the colorful packaging. Vintage watercolor tins are among my favorites.I had the same Playtime watercolor tin when I was a child, so it was a thrill to find that at a garage sale.  Did you notice the original price? 29 cents!  It's a bonus to be able to use the contents!

I hope you have enjoyed this peek into my studio, and I hope you'll stop by my blog again to download free printables. I have some wonderful ephemera to scan and share with you.

Be sure to visit the other WBC blogs to see more studios (via the link in my sidebar) --- and please stop back by here tomorrow for more pictures of my studio! 


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mail art: the beginning of beautiful friendships

Nearly 20 years ago when my sons were small and I had an irregular work schedule as a freelancer, I got involved in art swaps via mail. Swappers were an eclectic group of strangers who enjoyed using software called Print Artist got together online to chat about the software and artsy projects we could make using the software. We exchanged handmade greeting cards, postcards, bookmarks and other paper craft projects via mail. The exchanges were really fun, and these strangers became online friends.  Later, after meeting in person at national conventions and regional get-togethers we called "mini-meets," many of us became real-life and in-person friends. Some of these have become close, lifelong friends. 

My husband and I are empty nesters now and I have scaled back my work hours. It's nice to have a little more time for art, and I've been taking art classes and dabbling in art journaling, mail art swaps and book projects.

Twenty years ago, it was exciting to get email.  (If you are of my era, you'll remember being happy to hear the old AOL sound bite: "You've got mail!"). Today, our email Inboxes are so filled with spam, constant audible announcements would drive us crazy. Today, it's rare and exciting to get a physical letter or a hand-addressed card in the little black box at the bottom of our driveway.  

Receiving mail art is even more exciting because it's a big pop of color and surprise in your mailbox. And making mail art is as much fun as receiving it.

One of my favorite contemporary artists is Seth Apter of The Altered Page.  Seth might not be an artist today if he hadn't been introduced to mail art!  He was vacationing in Vancouver when he bought a piece of art at a gallery. The gallery owner sent him a mail art thank you, and he felt he should respond in kind, so he crafted a mail art reply. This serendipitous mail art exchange with the gallery owner was the beginning of a close friendship AND the beginning of Seth's interest in becoming an artist. (We should all send the gallery owner a thank you for inspiring that!)

Mail art, which is basically just decorative mail, is a simple art project that is fun, simple, and easy to make time for.  Instead of writing an address on a plain envelope and adding a Forever stamp, mail artists will use paint, rubber stamps, washi tape, ephemera, images clipped from books and magazines, and multiple postage stamps to make that envelope anything but plain. And sometimes mail art is putting a stamp on a rubber duckie... or a pair of flipflops.

Below are some examples of my mail art postcards and envelopes. They are messy and busy, and sometimes silly, but they were fun to make and (I hope) fun to receive. 

 Mail art postcard: Paper napkins, ephemera, images and letters cut from magazines

Mail art postcard: Washi tape, labels, game ephemera

Mail art envelope front: Rubber stamping, washi tape, letters cut from magazines,
mail-themed postage stamps

Mail art envelope back: Rubber stamping, washi tape

Mail art postcard using paper napkins, ledger paper, rubber stamps and washi tape
Back of mail art postcard with washi tape, rubber stamps, postal ephemera, etc.

Sometimes it's fun to follow a theme with your mail art. My sister loves animals, so I collected animal images and animal-themed postage stamps to make this oversized envelope for her.

Large envelope with rubber stamping, images and letters cut from magazines, animal-themed postage stamps

Three blogs I enjoy focus on mail and mail art.  Check them out:

Every day is a red letter day

Cappuccino and art journal

Mail me some art

Karen Isaacson of "Mail me some art" hosts several themed mail art swaps every month. Her swaps are a great way to get started with mail art. Open swaps are listed here.

Make someone happy today by sending a mail art postcard, envelope or letter!  You might even make some wonderful new friends.

I hope you have a good mail day!