Hello everyone. Grandkids are visiting so I have been busy playing grandma and having so much fun with my kiddos. We made books.
Hello everyone. Grandkids are visiting so I have been busy playing grandma and having so much fun with my kiddos. We made books.
Mailman came today with an unexpected package! An interesting package. From Sharon Fraser who lives in Canada.
Inside was this lovely note.
It was packed beautifully and carefully.
Just in time for Bastille Day:
Let's get a close-up.
What were those scrabble pieces about, you ask. Well, they are the bases for the actors. So clever.
Sharon, dear. You made my day. What a lovely thing to receive. Thank you so very, very much. I can't wait to see you in August to give you a big hug.
I love getting mail, especially decorated mail. Ingrid Dijkers sent me this wonderful package today. Actually she sent it to all of you.
Ingrid is so much fun. We hit it off immediately the first time we met. We both have Dutch backgrounds, although hers is much more recent than mine. I think Ingrid's dad was born in Holland. My Dutch ancestors came here in the 1830s. BUT my daughter married a nice Dutch young man whom she met in Holland when we lived there years ago.
Oh, what was in the package you ask?
Samples for her class at Small Studio on April 21: Vintage File Folder Journal. See I told you it was for you.
We have so many wonderful classes and workshops coming up. Won't you join us?
Guess who came to the store today to visit?
She stayed all day. Lucky me.
We have been friends since 1997
You guessed it. Pam Sussman.
Pam will give the instructions for the tiny books and bookcase shown above to all who sign up for the Box class on Saturday Sept 22nd. She has also agreed to add a Friday class to the September weekend. Hooray!
There are spaces available in all the Small Studio Workshop Series Classes. Sign up soon.
Don't forget the FREE Mail Art Morning at Small Studio this Saturday. We will gather together and decorate envelopes.
If you have been reading my blog for awhile and if you were a shopper on my etsy shop, then you know how much I love the old red London double decker destination signs. We now sell them in the store and they have been selling pretty well, as well as anything in the short four weeks we have been open.
See where it says "Bricklayers Arms" and "Noah's Ark"? I just read that those are the names of pubs. Since pubs in England seem to stay in business for 100 years and are located often on corners, the busses use the names of pubs for many of the stops. I love knowing that.
And....Look what my clever husband John did today:
He did a wonderful job of adding a few of the destinations to a dresser. It is for sale in our shop.
Maybe it won't sell. I know a perfect place in our house for it to live.
Here it is March already. So what are we doing in March at the store? Well on Saturday March 10th from 10:30-12:30 we are having a Mail Art Morning. Come play, decorate envelopes, amuse our postal workers and maybe help out the PO a bit. This will be free, yes, free. I will have all the supplies needed such as stencils, stamps, ink, markers, envelopes, paper scraps, glue sticks, scissors. You just bring yourself and a friend if you like. We have plenty of room. RSVP at 440-808-8599 just so I know how many to prepare for.
Then on March 31st, Candace Rich will be teaching "Mixing it Up: Making Cloth Paper". This is a great technique class from 1-4 ($35 per student). You will learn how to combine and layer to create a beautiful and strong material that can be used to cover books, add to collage and can be sewn. Full details are on our website. Just click on "Store Classes". While you are there check out the Workshop Series too. We have awesome teachers coming just for you. We will host all your favorite retreat instructors without all the pressure of a retreat. We have Leighanna Light, Michael DeMeng, Andrea Matus, Carol Owen, Teesha and Tracy Moore, Pam Sussman and Keith Lobue. Sign up now for one or all. Registration is ongoing throughout the year until classes are sold out.
Small China Rant:
Did you see the program on China last week on CNBC? It was very, very interesting. Regular readers here know that I get on a rant every so often about too many products being made in China, lack of quality, loss of jobs here, etc. I had thought that the jobs going to China wee improving the workers' lives over there. Well, apparently this is not true either. According to this documentary, Chinese workers are working around the clock for $200 a month. They live in company dorms and work 16 and more hours a day.
Good Mail from my friend Brian Kasstle in CA:
Thank you, Brian. You added smiles to our day...and here is the back:
Tin Types: I have been collecting Tin Types for several years. In the 1800s Cabinet cards were affordable mostly to the wealthy. Tin Types were affordable to the masses. Photographers could set up their cameras on the street, in pubs and at carnivals. They were never great quality and many became dark with the images fading. The Tin Type below is one I found on this trip and it is so clear, much more so than most old Tin Types.
Yardstick Art: I saw this on the Gypsy Girls blog...love it.
This entry is not about the deer that wander through our yard. No, that would be an entirely different blog post. No this is about playing with money.
When my kids were little, our bank sold pads of real dollar bills that had authentically colored stickers of Santa, Cupid and the Easter Bunny covering President Washington's face. The kids thought they were pretty cool and sometimes didn't even spend them instead saving them. After a quick look through the internet, it seems this is still done.
Then as the kids got older and I became more creative, I would fold paper currency into origami shirts and other objects. The kids were more savvy by then and quickly unfolded the origami and pocketed the bills.
Artist Mark Wagner likes to play with money. He uses real money to make his own brand of art. It appears he uses mostly $1s.
Some people like to put all their eggs into one "basket", so to speak, when it comes to money.
Here is a 50 Yeun Banknote.
Here is a 50 Yeun Banknote created in 3-D out of eggs!
An old friend of mine Julie Paquette (now Jeffries) began Fluxus Bucks back in the early 90s. As a mail art project she printed up a gazillion fake dollar bills and sent them out into the art world to be altered and sent back to her to receive more. Back in the day she kept careful records of who she sent them to and who returned them. I don't know if the record keeping has continued but Fluxus Bucks still circle the globe. Go google it. There is quite a bit of info online and several interviews with Julie.
What have you done funny with money?
When I started rubber stamping a million years ago, the only thing I stamped was envelopes, mostly to my sister-in-law, Sheri. Sheri and I sent letters back and forth regularly for quite a few years. It didn't much matter what the letters had in them, it was all about the envelopes. No envelope should go into the mail naked.
Lately there has been a discussion on Facebook among some of my friends about mail art. There are formal definitions of what constitutes "real" mail art, but for me it is just decorating envelopes. Today I actually went into my art room and played with scissors and glue. I haven't done that since before the holidays, so it is a start.
It felt good to play, even if the play was simple and basically meaningless.
Are you a fan of "Good Mail Day"? I am. I think we should declare a "Mail a Letter to a Friend" Day to save the Post Office which seems to be in deep financial trouble. Good Mail Day posts interesting mail related stuff every day.
Maybe if we each sent a letter it would brighten someone's day when they need it.
I got an e-mail today (always appreciated too) from Shelley Howard who cut up an Observation zine (a now defunct publication of mine) to make her own art.
Complete sets of Observation, 7 issues, are available for purchase in my Etsy shop.
Last from Good Mail Day this cool pillow. Your thought for the day:
Recently I have been getting more letters than usual. I have been a terrible correspondent lately, but old friends have not given up on me...yet. The universe has been telling me to pay attention. I was invited to a letter-writing party. I was unable to attend, but what a great idea. Just invite a few friends to bring their stationery and address book. Maybe first you will all decorate envelopes and then get down to writing. Wouldn't it be great if you knew some of the same people? Then you could round robin the letters and each write something.
Then I ran across this website about letter writing.
They have some interesting stuff online. They sponsor and report on mailing events and mailing news.
I have always loved mailboxes of all kinds especially the pillar boxes of England and I have a collection of vintage miniature pillar box banks. I even have one of these happy red post boxes from one of the Danish countries that I bought years ago, but it sits unused waiting for the perfect spot and function.
Life will go on whether I write letters or not, but isn't it fun to get something personal in the mail other than circulars and bills?
Keith was successfully launched toward home this afternoon complete with three huge suitcases and two carry-ons. We really enjoyed his visit. Keith is like one of the family. We will miss him, but at least we have his two blogs to read. Have you seen his newest blog "Stuff Smith Times"? Currently he has a post with a number of music covers that he designed before he became Lo Bue Art full time. Go have a look.
While Keith was here, I received a book I had ordered after reading about it on Kelly Kilmer's blog. Kelly always costs me a bunch of dollars because she finds the most interesting things.
It is the true story of mail art pioneer Reginald Bray who in 1898 began testing the British postal system regulations by mailing all sorts of objects adorned only with a postage stamp. Eventually he mailed himself. Keith was so taken by it that I gave him my book and ordered another from Amazon. It came the next day! It is full of interesting illustrations.
Kelly also posted a note about Vintage Magazine. I ordered it and received it. This is also very interesting.
It is an oversize magazine and appears to be hand-bound and includes all types of inclusions like this book within a book:
And this shopping bag with pull-out story:
There are pop-out ads, folded pages and a number of different types of paper within the magazine. The only trouble I found with it was that I could not discern the focus or the purpose of the magazine. There were stories and articles about old hotels and old typewriters, but nothing really held together for me. Has anyone else read Vintage Magazine?
I always know when there is a surprise for me in my PO Box. The mail people are smiley. Today there was a wonderful surprise waiting for me from Ingrid Dijkers. Ingrid spent a long weekend last month with John and I while she taught her part of the Small Studio Workshop Series. I had not met her before, but we got along better than great. I love her work.
Above is the front of the oversize postcard and below is the back. All along the edge Ingrid has wired small black beads. They make the most wonderful sound when the postcard is handled. She made the card with punched holes so that it will fit into the book I made in her class. It is altogether very colorful and classy. Thank you so much, Ingrid!
Now, have you seen these on my Etsy shop?
Today I received photographs from my customer Ranae of Stella Ranae Vintage. Isn't this the best?
Thank you so much for taking the time to send me photos.
Yesterday I blogged about reusing boxcars as housing. I was not the first to think of this. I found some images online to share with you. Boxcars are about 10' by 50' so they provide 500 square feet of space.
During the depression in the 30s. boxcars were used as emergency housing for the unemployed. Here is an excerpt from Modern Mechanix magazine about boxcar villages in 1936:
Past is prologue as boxcars are converted into housing during that last unfortunate event when so many couldn't make their rent or mortgage payments and were foreclosed out.
"A very useful community can be built from the bodies of old box cars, as they are in the most cases very well built to carry grain and other perishable bulk commodities, and hence make easy buildings to convert into livable homes. Being tight they are easy to heat. A winter’s supply of wood for the community can be had by wrecking other cars."
"AN INNOVATION in living quarters is represented in a boxcar village which has recently sprung up in New York City. Inhabitants of this unique village pay only $3 a month rent, or $6 a week for room and board—reasonable enough in these hard times. Each boxcar—there are 40 in number— is equipped to sleep four men with respectable comfort, and has a wood stove, washing accommodations, and a carpet.
When good times come back—which won’t be long now—the village will probably be abandoned."
Last year I did a blog entry about using shipping containers as studios, but they have also been used as housing. I found these photos online:
If you google "recycled boxcars" there are numerous entries about reusing the durable and strong flooring boards and other parts. It is all interesting to me.
Mail and more:
Sharon Walworth of Rhode Island recently gifted me with this stash of 5 cent stamps. I love them. Thank you for your thoughtfulness Sharon. I love a surprise and you did surprise me.
Last but not least, Sharon Fraser from Canada sent this wonderful envelope to me.
...and I want to shower and go to bed early so this will be a short post.
I wanted to share with you a great bit of mail art that I received on Monday from Nancy Rafi in Rhode Island. She sent her Small Studio Workshop registration in this:
Note that the PO number was somehow missing in action and yet miraculously it found my mailbox. Actually when I walked into the PO the mail people were all smiling and just waiting for me to see this wonderful envelope. Definitely they enjoy it as much as I do. Love my Avon Lake postal staff.
Here is the reverse side:
Everyone in the PO had to handle and touch the envelope. It has great texture since each little bit of design is a separate piece of paper collaged into a whole piece, then made into the envelope. It is a work of art. Thank you Nancy Rafi. I look forward to meeting you this summer during the workshops.
In fact I send you a
Pillows are from ClothKits in the UK. I have been thinking about sending away for these, but I haven't done any needlepoint or crewelwork in decades. Aren't they sweet?
I am in that happy place today. Amazon delivered not one, not two, but three good books for me to add to my ever growing inspiration and instruction library. I have asked this before, but really, how many books can the second floor hold before all comes tumbling down? When I lived in CA I was an assistant librarian, librarian-in-charge of a LA County book mobile and a circulation librarian. In CT, I was a serials librarian for the city and historical librarian for the Historical Society. Also I worked a stint in the Netherlands as a librarian for the very small American Library. I tell you this because I had a deep respect for free lending libraries and saw no need to own a lot of books. After all, they were all there to borrow whenever I needed them. I still respect free public libraries and use them, BUT my own library overflows and grows each year. I have to own these books. They need to be within reach when I need inspiration or instruction. Every time I look at one of them I see something new.
The first in the box was the sequel to Where Women Create (the original book) by Jo Packham and Jenny Doh. Oh, what a lavish collection of glimpses into the studios of female artists. Although the book discusses with each artist organization and creativity, it is the photos of their stash of supplies that had me at page one. I loved seeing their stuff and their artwork. I will look at this book again and again.
The second book was Linda and Opie O'Brien's latest book: Who's Your DaDa?" The book is divided into several sections. The first is about supplies and techniques to instruct which is well done. The second section is full of projects and variations on those projects. There is an impressive gallery of wonderful artist's interpretations of "DaDa". I really liked their first book and I like this one every bit as much. Linda and Opie will be teaching here in Avon Lake OH at the Small Studio Workshop Series. Their weekend is September 10-12. There are openings in both workshops that weekend.
The third book I received today is Michael deMeng's "Dusty Diablos". Love this book. It is chock full of Michael's very recognizable assemblage art. His art is so full of odd details, that to look at a single piece for a very long time still would not reveal all. His step-by-step instructional processes are great in this book. Add to all the above his humorous insights and comments and you can't help but love this book and want to take one of his workshops. Sign up for his classes at Small Studio. He will be here June 11-13 and there are still openings.
It was a good mail today too. I received a bunch more registrations for the workshops. One even arrived in this great envelope made from a file folder and highly collaged. It went right up on my bulletin board. Thank you, Jolene Ziegler!
New items were added to my Etsy shop this morning.
I promise that this is the last of my road trip photos. I spotted this wonderful and creative paper dress in the window of a shop at the airport.
Remember when I showed you this ephemera chandelier from Pottery Barn?
7Gypsies has made a version of their own. One of their design team artists made this one and gives step by step instructions on her blog. Pretty cool, isn't it? Much less, much, much less expensive.
MAIL ART! Happy Day! Happy PO Box! Happy Postal Staff!
Look at what arrived in my box this weekend from Canada. From Shelley Malone.
My mail box was a happy camper this month. I also received this really lovely Christmas card from Amy Alford who never misses a holiday to send me a card. I really thank you, Amy. Your card, all handmade, is wonderful.
John and I were talking about what we wanted for the New Year and got sidetracked with all that happened in 2009. It was a great year.
* We enjoyed great road trips: CA, NE, SD, CO, IA, NV, FL, VA, MI, IN, PA and Mexico (John), antiquing all the way and collecting goodies for us and for this year's shows.
* We redesigned our backyard and replanted it all. Love my picket fence and arbor.
* Celebrated John's (the son) wedding to Jessica.
* Had a great time at Mike 's (Coffee Break) warehouse sale with Mike and Chris and some old friends.
* Spent time with each of our children and grandchildren this year on our road trips.
* Spent more time with my local grandkids this year.
* Celebrated my mother-in-law's 94th birthday
* Visited our siblings and laughed and laughed with all of them twice this year. Lucky me.
* Made some art. Sold some art!
* Enjoyed art play days with friends here and in CA
* Joyfully planned the Small Studio Workshops coming up
* Made new blog friends and continued enjoying old blog friends
* Continued to realize how very lucky I am in all aspects of my life.
Thank you for enriching my life.
Yes, it is me, Ginny, standing on my head trying to complete the tricks of the season, getting everything done that I want to get done. You too? Somehow the tasks have not lent themselves to anything of blog interest unless you really want to know how long I had to stand in line at the post office to mail the last of my out of state Christmas parcels and Small Studio orders.
TODAY IS THE LAST DAY TO ORDER FROM SMALL STUDIO UNTIL AFTER CHRISTMAS. Just a heads up.
Pat Pleacher sent me this lovely envelope and some fun ephemera inside. For some reason it won't load in the proper orientation on my blog. You can still appreciate the lovely calligraphic work, stamping prowess and attention to small details. Thank you, Pat! My local postal employees thank you, too.
John and I made some handmade gifts this year. I cannot show them to you because the someones who are receiving these gifts read my blog. We intended to make almost all our gifts, but the gifts we chose took much longer than we expected and I spent way more time at the PO standing in line than I anticipated. I am not complaining (I always appreciate your orders), just rationalizing my lack of true handmade efficiency. Do good intentions count?
We did sneak off to see "Brothers" on Monday afternoon. It is a very heavy emotional movie but the acting is superb and all three main actors should receive Oscar nominations, particularly Toby McGuire.
Have a great day.
Today I got another surprise in my Post Office Box.
Not only did I receive another fun envelope, this cute little box made with Ten Second Studio stuff, but also (drum roll please) a big two page handwritten letter!!! It was from my old friend/customer/ store volunteer Jane Ambrogi Becerra. Jane is well known in these parts for her wonderful sense of humor and hardy laughter. The letter though was kind, full of personal updates, chatty stuff and warm sentiments. It made my day. I love getting handwritten letters. I love getting fun envelopes. Josh and the girls at the PO love that I get fun mail.
Do any of you stampers remember Stampa Barbara? Years ago, Gary Dorothy opened a small store off of State St in Santa Barbara. My sister-in-law and I used to make the 90 minute drive from LA up there for a girl's weekend about once a year. Soon he moved into a slightly larger store on State St and then eventually into a beautiful big, newly built store also on State St. Gary was amazing. He not only remembered names but also details you might have mentioned during the last visit. His stamp designs were fervently waited for and when the new issue of Rubberstampmadness came out (in newspaper form back then) his ad was always the entire back page. There was no catalog, so groupies would copy the ad and keep them to create a personal catalog. The only way to order was to call the store and the phones would be busy for days before one could get through to order the newest and best. Years later when I had my own store, Gary decided to allow me to sell his stamps in my store. I was so thrilled to have them. He chose the images.
Why am I talking about this? I lost track of dear Gary several years ago. Yesterday he asked me to be his friend on Facebook. I am so happy to reconnect with him. He has a wonderful website where he sells his photos.
My third friend is Lynne Perrella. I mentioned her book yesterday "Art Making & Studio Spaces".. It is a wonderful book full of wonderful studios. Just to see all the supplies and all the tools is intriguing. Love the messiness of some (Michael deMeng) and the organized neatness of others (Pam Sussman). I love Judy Reisch"s beautiful studio and Judy Wilkenfeld's. You need to get this book. I am sure if you like peeping into artist's studios, you will love this book.
Thanks for stopping by today. I really appreciate it.
I have a new sign! You know how I love anything with text, but this is everything I like wrapped up in one little sign. It is metal and it is red. It is rusty and has my initial. It has the word "Funk". Funk G is an old company that produces hybrid corn seed. I can hear my brothers from across the 2000 miles in CA making jokes...corny jokes.
Above is another piece of fun mail that arrived in my mailbox. This one is from Bonnie Boyle in GA. It had a couple of fun ephemera pieces inside. Thank you, Bonnie!
We are having wonderful weather here along Lake Erie. I hope you are, too.
I issued a challenge a week or so ago. I was discussing mail art and said send me something and I will send something back. Today when I checked my PO box I had not one but two fun pieces of mail.
The orange envelope is from Pat Pleacher (see her blog on the sidebar). Great calligraphy work, Pat!~ and I like the little hand with a string attached to the postage stamp. The greenish envelope has no name. Please let me know who it is from. You can e-mail me at email@example.com. She used an interesting background technique with rubber stamps, lots of rubber stamps.
The backs are as fun as the fronts. The PO people loved that Pat sent them greetings. Thank you and I will get right on your return missives.
Our first instructor for the 2910 workshop series is Pam Sussman. She chose a very clever way to announce it on her blog. Those of you who attended Art Continuum will appreciate the references.Go here to read it for a good chuckle.
Just returned from our regular Friday night Fajita dinner at our favorite restaurant. In spite of the fact that our clothes smell like fajitas, we enjoyed the evening so much.
Last blog we talked about mail art a bit. I love getting decorated envelopes. I took some calligraphy lessons years ago, but did not keep up with my practice and have since lost the techniques and skill completely. There is an annual contest run by the Washington Calligraphy Guild called the "Graceful Envelope". Here is a sample of what they receive.
How I wish I had kept up with my study of calligraphy. Of course we will never know if I could have been as talented at it as these calligraphers. If you would like to see more go here.
Here are some questions for you today:
Do you wish you had kept up with something you started (and stopped) years ago?
Do you wish you were receiving interesting mail in your mail box? Send a decorated envelope to my PO box and I will send you one back. Deal?
Ginny c/o Small Studio
PO Box 11
Avon Lake OH 44012
Years ago, I think it was the late 80s, when I first got on the internet I was on Prodigy. I typed in "Rubber Stamps" and found a small group of about 20 people who were chatting on a shared list about stamping. They all had stamp names like Stampo or Ex Posto Facto or Rubber Queen or Arto Posto. The group was extremely active in mailing stuff back and forth. When I say stuff, I mean stuff. Sure there were cards and envelopes, but also paper plates, Barbie dolls, shoes and all matter of other stuff unadorned, unwrapped, unboxed, but definitely stamped both with postage and rubber stamps and the Post Office let it all go through. We were a tight group. We joked, we argued over what is art and we shared each others ups and downs. Most of us had not met in person. Through the years several of us opened stores and several of us started stamp lines. Some became involved in mail art, some in formal art and a few drifted away. When we come across each other either in person or online, it is a warm and friendly reunion. It is as if we are family and had grown up together. Solid old friendships, they are.
Rubber stamping during my involvement, has gone through many transformations. It started out as funky and quirky and then became very cute with fluffy animals and fat simple flowers. Then it transformed itself into sophisticated art designs and I think now it has gone back to mostly cute and is generally clear stamps for scrapbookers full of words and phrases, flowers and scrolls. There was a 20 year heyday for stamps that is slowly fading away. The conventions have dwindled and there are very few true stamp stores left.
What made me think about all this? Yesterday I had to move all my stamp storage to get at the phone jack in my art room. I realized that I had not used a fraction of my stamps in a long time. I thought that maybe I should try to sell them or donate them to a school art department. As I looked at them, I realized how much I love those old friends, my stamps, and could not part with them, so back they went into their drawers. I will use them again, I am sure.
Today John hung an old architectural piece we recently purchased on impulse. I love how it looks over the doorway!
We went candy shopping today. Yes, you read that correctly. I have never gone candy shopping. At least not on purpose. But we are still in wedding mode here at the Smallenburg cottage. Now I am working on favors and place cards for the rehearsal dinner. I bought dozens of glass topped tins and my good friend Mr Coffee engraved them with some special words. In order to show the engraved words off, I need to put a small circle of paper behind the words. This means I cannot fill the tins with anything greasy like nuts or chocolate which may stain the paper and make it look icky. I wanted to fill them with Kisses, but the kisses are too tall. I discarded John's idea of black jelly beans. It just didn't seem weddingly enough.
We have been staying in most of every day because it is snowy and really cold. I had dinner with a good friend last night (no blog, no web) and we closed down the restaurant before braving the cold again. There is nothing like sitting at a table and talking with a good friend that you have known for years.
Brian Kasstle sent me this wonderful Halloween card to the Empty Mailbox . Thank you! I check the PO Box every day, being the optimist that I am. I was surprised and delighted to see something fun and creative inside today. Brian used Stampers Anonymous stamps from the Tim Holtz collection. Brian, can you comment below and tell us how you got the wonderful glimmery effect?
Have you seen this? You can make your favorite (or least favorite) candidate into a finger puppet.
Just print out the template on the site and make them act out whatever scenario you hope for.
Speaking of candidates, my friend Mike Meador sent this fun video to me. Go check it out. It can be customized to send to all your friends to remind them to vote. I wanted to add the video here, but couldn't figure out how to do it. Oh, to be computer savvy!
If you have nothing else to do, maybe you would like to go browse our shop over at Small Studio Productions.