Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Paper Show Loot & a Giveaway!

I've been cutting and pasting away, using my loot from the Allentown Paper Show to create some new postcards for my mail art partners:
As far as I'm concerned, I could glue an airmail envelope to a 4x6 inch piece of paper and it would be a perfectly gorgeous postcard, but I've tried to add some additional touches.
I have included some handcarved stamps (like the hand and footprints above).
I've also included lots of decorative tapes to try to pick up the colors in the stamps of the original envelopes.
I've also used some of the Cavallini and Company postal-themed stamps in several places.
A friend of mine just bequeathed some pretty card-making papers that she isn't using any longer, so I used those where I could, as well.
All in all, there's nothing like a new stash of paper to inspire a healthy session of cut-and-paste!

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I included so many photos of the Allentown Paper Show in my last post that I didn't dare include all of the photos of the items that I purchased--too many photos for a single post!  So today I will share with you all of the loot I walked out with from my five hours at the show.

At one booth, I purchased a bag of cardboard and paper coupons for Octagon laundry soap, La Perla macaroni and Ronzoni pasta.  I was creating mail art postcards in my mind as I handed over the cash!
One booth had some pen and ink drawings with no indication of the artist.  I was taken with the following sketched portrait and had to add it to my collection:
I found most of the available cigarette cards too expensive to bother with, especially when I compared their prices to what I have seen at Briggs Auction house.  I couldn't resist a few, though, especially this gas mask (or "civilian respirator") card:
I bargained for a bag of bills of sales for a local hospital, and it satisfied my desire for some handwriting ephemera.  Most of the other examples--letters, contracts, etc--had asking prices beyond my willingness to pay, or even bargain.  
Photographs were available for such a variety of prices.  I mainly purchased from a "four for a dollar" bin, and am so happy with my selections.  I looked specifically for individuals and expressions that spoke to me.  I find myself drawn to pretty young women, some children, and groups of friends:
Postcards also came for quite a range of prices, and I tried to stick to the bins labeled 25 cents to a dollar.  I was especially drawn to those with handwritten messages, often in French. 
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I wanted to specifically share this "Busy Soldier's Correspondence Card," where the soldier was able to check off the key parts of his message:  how he feels, what he's been doing, what the weather is like, and what he wants to be sent.  There were a couple of these "check off" postcards at one particular booth, but I thought the soldier's card was especially poignant:
One seller had a selection of letterpress stamps, and was willing to sell ALL of his stamps, along with the printer's drawer, for $50, but it was late in the day, I had spent a lot of money already, and I just didn't think I needed to go home with them all.  So I settled for two:
My last purchase of the day was a box of stamps and postmarked air mail envelopes.  The stamp collector had glued the stamps and envelopes to notebook paper, so I went through and detached all of them so that they could be used for collage purposes.
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And now, for the giveaway!

I have put together a package of 95 goodies, mostly drawn from my paper show purchases, to send off to one lucky recipient.  If you love ephemera, and think that you might be able to use an injection of new additions to your paper stash, please comment on this blog post for a chance to win this selection.  Make sure that I know your email address in order to contact you.  I will draw a winner on Monday, May 6, 2013.  The winner will receive the following:
6 postcards
4 internationally postmarked airmail envelopes
4 foreign currency bills
57 stamps (from Japan, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands)
4 Octagon coupons
4 Ronzoni coupons
8 La Perla Macaroni coupons, two sizes
8 posters promoting stamp collecting
Two sample stamp collecting posters
Good luck!

EDIT:  It's 9:30 pm on Sunday night, May 5, 2013, and the giveaway is officially CLOSED!  Thanks to all who entered; the winner will be announced tomorrow, May 6, 2012!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Paper, Postcards, and Postage!

And I thought it couldn't happen so close to home!
A box of postage- and postmark-laden envelopes.
On Saturday, I drove an hour to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and then spent five hours poking around and shopping at the Allentown Paper Show.  Two enormous rooms filled with about 250 vendors--it was an ephemera-lover's heaven!  I just found out about the show's existence from my friend Sue about two weeks ago.  I was so excited to find out about this opportunity so close to home!
A selection of vintage magazines and sheet music.
Vendor booths held vintage postcards, magazines, posters, sheet music, postmarked envelopes, matchbooks, photos, cigarette cards, books, currency, receipts and bills of sale, school report cards, contracts--if it's made of paper, someone had it!  There were also bottles, lace, tin toys and tea sets, and vintage box games.
Rows and rows and rows and rows of postcards.
Many vendors had large boxes overflowing with disorganized photos for sale, four for a dollar.  Other vendors had carefully encased photos for sale for up to $12.  Many vendors had boxes filled with postcards for 25 cents or a dollar.  Most others had carefully categorized postcards ("animals," "children," "coffee drinkers," "trains," "Christmas," "risquĂ©") individually prices from $2 to $12 or more.  It was amazing the range of prices that could be found! 
A vintage tin tea set.
Sixty-something men predominated when it came to the demographic of both vendors and shoppers.  Most of the women appeared to be there as sidekicks to their husbands.  I probably saw less than a handful of people who were my age or younger.
A range of paper-oriented objects in one vendor's booth.
The vendors were friendly, and happy to strike up conversations about what kind of items the buyers might be looking for.  One man guessed my interest in collage, and began pulling additional boxes of postal ephemera out from under a folding table.  Most were happy to offer deals at check-out, and it was clearly acceptable to make an offer to pay less for items of interest. 
More carefully-curated postal ephemera.

Vintage toys and game boards.
A box of stamps and postmarked envelopes was for sale for $30, but the vendor accepted my offer of $20.  Letterpress stamps were selling for $5 each, but I got two for $5 when I asked.  At one booth, I collected a bunch of coupons that the seller originally wanted $1 for every two, but then I ended up getting a bag filled with rubber banded coupons that cost me much less.  I won't say I got out of there "cheap," but I will say that I got a lot of ephemera for my money.
Another booth with a wide range of collectibles.

Poster booth.

Awesome hand-illustrated envelopes.  The vendor wanted $75 for the set of 12...a little outside my budget!
Within an hour, my fingers were covered in the dust and grime of vintage papers.  After five hours of deliriously-contented browsing, I walked out with a treasure trove of ephemera to add to my collection.
Box of random vintage photos.

Cigar boxes.
If you come back by the blog on Tuesday, I will share photos of what I purchased, as well as give you details about a GIVEAWAY!

See you on Tuesday!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Zakka Shop

I've been "rediscovering" Philadelphia lately, finding out about all these neat developments since I moved away to the suburbs twelve years ago.  You may remember my discovery of the absolutely amazing mosaic destination, The Magic Gardens.  Yesterday when I went into Center City, I visited the Omoi Zakka Shop on Pine Street near 16th, which has been open since 2006.
If you aren't familiar with the term zakka, I understand it to be a kind of design phenomenon originating in Japan.  It basically refers to making everyday objects attractive and stylish.  So, for example, you wouldn't close an envelope with Scotch tape; you would instead use some pretty washi tape.  You wouldn't throw your lunch into a paper sack; you would house attractive bites into the many compartments of a colorful Bento box.  You wouldn't scribble appointments and phone numbers onto scraps of paper; you would maintain a visually pleasing planner.  So a zakka shop provides all the implements you need to improve the overall look of your home and your life.  (This is my understanding of the term, by the way, from the little bit that I have read about it, and I am by no means an expert!  You can search "zakka" on Pinterest to get a sense of how others interpret the term, as well.)
I knew I would find washi tape at Omoi, but other than that, I didn't know what to expect.  I liked some of the desk accessories, like cute little squirrels that could hold onto and dispense your tape.  (I knew I didn't have space to put another item on my desk, though, so I abstained!)
I was seriously tempted by the Bento boxes in the back room, since I am always trying to pack up lunches for my girls for picnics and playdates.  But while their compartments are perfect for sushi rolls and yummy Asian noodle dishes, I wasn't sure that their petite size would suit our Western-style sandwiches and bananas!
My photos are a little hurried.  I asked for permission to take them, but still felt self-conscious snapping them around the store on my phone, having forgotten my camera.  I encourage you to check out their web site and blog for more photos of the store and its products.  And they even have their own Pinterest page!  I shouldn't be surprised; I guess most stores do that now, too.
I came away from my shopping excursion with three new rolls of washi tape, a deck of matchbox stickers, and a copy of Uppercase magazine (their latest issue focuses on stationery!).  I haven't taken photos of the loot yet, but you are sure to see its presence in upcoming journal pages and mail art.
When I return to the city, a little bit of my twenty-something self returns, and I like the feel of it.  I knew its streets so well, since it was much easier to walk anywhere I wanted to go than to drive.  When I did drive, I prided myself on being a master of city driving, whizzing around like a pro, dodging in and around all of the traffic congestion.  On the day of my visit to Omoi, perhaps my greatest moment of pride was parallel-parking my mini-van in front of the store with just an inch or two to the front and an inch or two to the back.  Back in my 20s, I never could have foreseen myself as a suburban mini-van-driving mother-of-two coming into the city to poke around like a tourist for the afternoon.  But at this point, there's nothing else I would rather be!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Forgotten Treasure

When I shared my mail and book sale goodies the other day, I forgot to tell you about my great find at the Briggs Auction a couple of weeks ago.  There were two boxes of old bank notes for sale, and I had my eye on them from the time I entered the building. 
But when the first box went up for auction--a box of old German bank notes--it sold for at least $60 (I forget how much exactly, but I know it was more than I was willing to pay).  My heart fell and I accepted defeat, but then the second box of mixed banknotes went up, my husband bid on it, and we were able to get it for an acceptable amount!

Inside is a mix of old money from countries as diverse as India, Egypt, Spain, Germany, Poland, Italy, Turkey, USSR, Pakistan, Belgium, and Brazil.  Some are tattered, torn, and taped, while others are in such perfect condition that they don't look real at all.  I was noticing how many of the bills feature delightful portraits of political and cultural leaders, or symbolic figures.
My husband is thinking that he perhaps he should do a little research into their value before I start turning them into collages!  I'm not sure I can wait much longer, though....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Art Journal Round Robin

Before sending off the latest journal in our Art Journal Round Robin, I thought I would share its current pages.  This book was created and bound by Janet Briggs, and it's a beauty.  I love her opening spread, introducing all of the participants:
Here is Janet's other spread from the first round:
The book then went to Mary, where she contributed the following floral loveliness:

And now that it has come to me, I created the following spreads:
I've been creating a silhouette spread in each of the books I've received; for this book, I turned it in on its side.  To create the background, I laid down various papers and covered them with gesso.  I added spray inks, and then created the silhouette with black acrylic paint.  On went the decorative tapes, and a quotation from Harriet Tubman with a basic black pen.
For the next spread, I again used spray inks to create the background, and decorative tapes to create a border.  I adhered a gorgeous world map napkin using gel medium, and glued the picture of six men in a boat from one of my new library sale books.  I love the quotation from St. Augustine:  "The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page."  I wrote the letters in white-out pen, and outlined them in black. 
This was a project that was definitely worth cluttering up my newly tidied workspace to create!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Treasures and Findings

Look what I found in a package in the mail recently from Mary, of uncustomary
Are these storybooks?  Cards?  Postcards?  Mail art?  You be the judge!

These mailers fold out to six panels to tell a story.  Then they have a space at the end where you can add your own message to the recipient.
Finally, you can fold them back up again, seal them with the provided sticker, and mail them directly, without an envelope.  How clever is that!  (And the fact that it calls for a 25 cent stamp, I'm pretty sure dates them if I had more postage history knowledge!)
They are now my girls' favorite bedtime stories, especially Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstilskin, and Hansel and Gretel.

That's not the only treasure that has come to me through the mail, though.  Mary, of Joyful Ploys, sent me this wonderful, personalized envelope notebook as a thank-you for contributing to her art journal.
She just blogged about it today, as well, so you can see additional photos here.
The binding is stitched with thread, and the notebook has an enclosure made from brads and thread--ingenious!
The pages are a delightful combination of found imagery, Mary's drawings, and the features of the envelopes, such as glassine windows and stamps.
She also tucks other paper goodies in each of the envelope pockets at the top!  And there was additional ephemera in her package as well!
Now this makes going to the mailbox worthwhile!

Many thanks to Mary and Mary for making my days Great Mail Days!

I've also had the pleasure of attending two of my local libraries' twice-a-year book sales.  While I still have bins full of books purchased from previous sales that I have yet to read, that didn't stop me from some pretty enthusiastic shopping.

My loot from the Springfield Township library sale is almost exclusively chick-lit novels to read, though there is a Bible translation, a book of Sherlock Holmes, and a book entitled Freeing the Creative Spirit for a little variety:
My loot from today's Media-Upper Providence Township library sale includes even greater variety.  I like the premise of the book title, 40 Things To Do When You Turn 40, though I haven't really looked closely to see if it's of any value.  (I still don't feel 40, people!)   I found books on religion, decorating, printmaking, organizing, cooking, self-help.  I even found the book Where Women Create, which must have been the precursor of the Stampington & Company publication.  There is a lot of fun stuff to look through here!
I also purchased a whole stack of books intended for my artwork:
I ran into a woman from my church in the Special Collections room, and she said, "You're going to cut these up, aren't you??"  Guilty as charged!  The imagery in them is really wonderful.

From a book on ancient Rome:
From a book on Galileo and Newton:
From a book on Marco Polo:
From a strange and lovely book called An Enchantment of Elephants by Emily Gwathmey:
Expect to see some elephant imagery in my upcoming work!
From a book called Symbols of America:  A Lavish Celebration of America's Best-Loved Trademarks and the Products They Symbolize--Their History, Folklore, and Enduring Mystique by Hal Morgan:

Ah, memories of Big Boy from family road trips when I was a kid!
From Margot Lister's Costume:  An Illustrated Survey From Ancient Times to the 20th Century:
And, because I can never have too many maps, yet another atlas: Hammond's New Supreme World Atlas, whose colors I really love but could not capture in a photograph:
And, finally, a stack of recent Yoga magazines, not because I practice, but because I thought I could benefit from any healthy-living, stress-busting articles they might include.
Some of my reading goals for 2013 might be out the window, because I now have a whole new library of titles that I would like to get to!  I do this every spring and every fall--bring WAY more books into my home than I could ever hope to read across the years of my life.  But I guess I'll die trying!