Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Gift of a Letter

This morning I was up early, so I took the time to write a long letter to a new friend in Germany. I don't know her well, but she took a great deal of time over the last month or so to write to me a few times. I was happy to return a letter and carry on the conversation.

Over the past year, this blog has evolved a bit to one that was primarily focused on writing to one that explores art (mostly my own fledgling attempts) as well as correspondence and mail art, something which I have grown to enjoy more and more with each connection. The mail I receive is a gift of someone's time and time is something we seem to have less to give. Apropos of this sentiment and this seasoning of giving, here is a video courtesy of WestJet. I've heard of Mr. Farrer's letter project over the past year, but this video presents the story -- and the value of a letter -- beautifully. It's sentimental, yes, but I do think it demonstrates the value of a simple act and of caring.

I wish you all the best for the holidays and beyond. As my met-via-the-mail friend Pamela often writes, "See you in the mail."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Collage and Congrats

Busy, but very rewarding, days here as I settle into a new job and splitting my time between two places, both filled with people I love and things I enjoy doing. Life is full and very good, but my posts will likely slow down a bit. I'm trying to catch up with correspondence as well, so if I owe you a letter, it's coming! Promise. For now, a few collages I've been working on -- I've tried layering and collaging on top of some of my mono print efforts. I like the effect in the yellow one in particular, but I think I could have dropped the little armadillo-like creature in the red one; it seems a bit stuck in. (I would love some feedback from any readers, particularly constructive criticism. For the most part I work in a bit of a creative vacuum.) I don't think these are finished, but I'll keep staring at them for awhile.

There are several benefits to spending time in the city. One is re-connecting with old friends -- actually having time to spend with them -- and taking part in the many arts event in the city. This weekend I went to two books launches, both of friends. Jude Isabella, my work partner in crime, released Salmon: A Scientific Memoir, on Friday. And my friend Margaret Horsfield, along with Ian Kennedy, did a signing and presentation on Tofino & Clayoquot Sound: A History, a book that the region has long needed, yesterday. I'm so proud of you, my friends. I know how much angst and sleepless nights go into writing projects so it's great to have them out there, released into the world.

And I also received another book from a dear writer friend. So happy to have I Wasn't Always Like This, a book of essays, by Shelley Leedahl, on my bed stand. (The collagist in me loves the cover of that one.) All is good surrounded by so much creativity.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

In Class

As I mentioned previously, I've got lots going on at the moment - new job, new home (for part of the time), new city, etc. and, to add to the mix, I started an on-line collage course last month. Not entirely sure what I was thinking, but being busy does make one efficient! The 8-week course is The Art of Collage with artist Randel Plowman, he of A Collage a Day and one of my favourite collage books, The Collage Workbook. It's been great for keeping the work going and not trying to over think things too much. Each week is a new exercise, a new approach, a new technique. It's been great and I really recommend it, especially if you are just getting going with collage. (These classes are also great for meeting other artists and connecting with people from different parts of the world.)

Exercise: Transparencies and stamps (I cut the circular stamp and stamped it on tissue paper)
Exercise: Seasons in a series (winter)
Exercise: Seasons in a series (spring)
Exercise: Seasons in a series (summer)
Exercise: Transparencies and stamps

Exercise: Rhythm and Symmetry
Exercise: Line and Shape
Exercise: Line and Shape (this was especially helpful as it made me consider writings as lines)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hallowe'en Fun

I had a great rainy day a week or so ago making some Hallowe'en cards. I do like Hallowe'en-related imagery, but not so much the Hallmark, cutesy versions. Bring on actual mummies, bats, spiders, snakes and the like (which I don't find scary, but seem to suit the day). And this year Canada Post put out a Haunted Canada series, so these stamps were fun to pair with the collages. I also had some of older Hallowe'en stamps, which came packaged in a "haunted stamp house." Since (I hope) most of these cards will have arrived at their destination, I thought it would be safe to post.

Here are two stamps from the different collections. The top is from the Haunted Canada series (2014), which was released on Friday, June 13th. These "soldiers" are guarding the haunted Fort George at Niagara-on-the-Lake. The other is from The Haunted Stamp House series. Here's a great post on that series. And the guy with horns? It's from a National Geographic spread on "wild men" of Europe (dressed in some very odd costumes). 
Someone mentioned that she liked the Bride of Frankenstein, so I went from there. And the old stamp is from another Canada Post series on cryptozoology (or, as they called it, Canada's Legendary Creatures). This one was Le Loup-Garou (the werewolf). I think it's great that Canada Post can think beyond queens, dead white men, and flags every once in awhile! 
My favourite. This is a mummified Sicilian priest. Love the velvet cape and hat and the lace blouse. I tried to echo the lace using a doily. I hope it made it through the post.  
Hard to go wrong with a bat and a crypt. 
This is the ghost bride from the Haunted Canada series. It's from the little monthly magazine that Canada Post puts out.  (And you can see part of one of the stamps in the lower left.)
For my niece, so a little tamer. Good use for one of those Harry Potter stamps from the US. 
Not particularly "Halloweeny"...
I couldn't resist this gal. Tried again with a bit of doily in the lower left. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Momentary Radio Silence

Sorry for the radio silence, gang. Lots going on - winding up my existing job, getting ready for a new one (all will be revealed); assignments for a collage course (more on that soon, too, but I've posted a few of the exercises here); apartment-hunting trips, and many more excellent excuses. I'll be back soon; that you can be sure of.

Thanks to everyone who has been sending me fabulous mail, like this from Peter. I have you all in a chronological stack and I'm getting to it, slowly but surely.

And have you seen Red Handed Rubber Stamps? Get yourself on over there! I'm not sure if it's a good thing that there are no retail outlets near my home. I may have to ask my friends in San Francisco to do a bit of shopping for me!

Playing around with my gelli plate. Kinds of '60s abstract, don't you think?
I think we might have had curtains like that!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Collage Clean-Up

I'm tidying up my desktop (the computer desktop; the actual desktop is beyond hope), so here are a few recent collages I've scanned. Varying success, but experimentation is always a good thing IMHO.
I was inspired by the concertina book sent by Jack, which I posted about here. I had several packing tape transfers I'd made, so I made Jack a concertina book in return. This is just the one side. 
I made the transfers using photos from a magazine from BC's public television station. For September and Labour Day they had several shows related to working people. I thought they made very interesting photo transfers.
I'm not digging the green in the Louvre map, but so be it. 

I made this for a Swap Bot exchange (a postcard with a postal theme). Love this historic image of the fellows in the mail room. Not so crazy about the rubber stamps I used. The red ink in particular is kind of wrong. 
I put this one and the next three in a little book, sent to Dori. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Writing to My-se-elf...

Remember that Billy Idol song Dancing with Myself ("My-se-elf")? No? Okay then, here it is! Now that you've established my approximate age, be reassured I have, for the most part, moved beyond dancing with myself. Instead, I'm writing to myself. Not so very punk, but so be it. 

I try to keep a journal when I'm travelling, but on this year's summer vacation I decided to make a collage every day and mail it to myself. It was a way to keep the collage bug alive (no worries there, really), but I was also curious to see how these collages make it through the mail and whether they'd all arrived. I'm pleased to report that they all made it home fully intact. Yeah for glue sticks (UHU rules) and invisible Scotch tape.

Honestly? I was getting a bit bored at the end because I was trying to use materials at hand that had something to do with where I was. Tourist brochures start to look a lot alike after awhile. I had a bit of washi tape with me, but other than that, used what I had at hand (primarily maps and brochures).

Here's the result:

You might notice that I added a blood pressure test here? I was "optimal!" I wish I'd taken one at the end of the trip!
Fun  day. I hadn't been to Telegraph Cove for a lot of years. Very busy, but still charming. 
Our cushy ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Bella. The next ferry was about 1/20th the size. ..
The card above had a cool cancellation. Our ferry up the snaking fjord from the coast to Bella Coola stopped briefly in Ocean Falls, "home of the rain people," which is a coastal town far from its heyday. Apparently about 18 people live there full-time, but they have a post office, so of course I had to mail a card. Here's the cancellation (and a crazy "Haunted Canada" stamp):

Yes, I did bring that postage stamp from home. Nice to juxtapose the petroglyphs of the Nuxalk people with the rock carving of an explorer, Alexander MacKenzie who perhaps left the first graffiti in Canada on a rock on the Pacific coast in 1793.

Here's a close-up of the stamp:

I was really hoping to get some interesting cancellations along the route. Somewhat by chance I read that the post office in Bella Coola has its own unique cancellation. I'm over 50 and pretty much beyond worrying about people think about me, so I marched into the post office and asked the nice lady to stamp my journal. Good thing I did, because the franking on the actual stamp was hard to see. Here is the cancellation with art by a Nuxalk artist:

I had my first ever job in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. I was about 16 or 17 and was part of BC Park's "youth crew," a program that had unsuspecting youth volunteering (I honestly can't recall if I was paid) in provincial parks, painting outhouses, grubbing trail, washing stacks of awful pots, tubing down rivers, raking the sand of volleyball courts…". I had brought a few letters I wrote home (thanks Mom, for being a pack rat) and read them out to my husband and daughter (who happens to be 17). Hilarious and slightly embarrassing.  
The background here was actually from a large glossy tourist magazine promoting the Chilcotin area, but the art was done by a Tofino artist, Mark Hobson. We watched fishermen use these large nets (beside very swift moving water) for quite awhile. The pictographs were a bit tough to find (poorly written directions; bah), but worth it. 
I haven't been to Barkerville for over 17 years, so I was worried it might have become too much of a tourist trap. It was busy, but we were pleasantly surprised. And, yes, there was a historic post office. 

The PO boxes were quite lovely and it looked like the boxes were actually being used. I thought they might have an interesting frank, but it was a fairly plain frank, much as you would have expected from the era (1800s). We watched the postmistress use her long metal "wand" to whack the cards I sent from there.

I have a soft spot for Barkerville because my parents went there on their honeymoon, back in 1958, just around the time it became a provincial park and historic site.  I do have one BIG beef though. There were no good cards - not even good postcards - that you could pick up there. Craziness. With all of that historic fodder you think someone would come up with something! I did pick up this photo of one of the famous Cariboo camels that were part of the BC gold rush. Not exactly Barkerville, but perhaps they were were on their way there when this photo was snapped.

A little travel tip if you go to this area: stop in Wells first, especially if you like to write letters and send postcards. It a similar era as Barkerville, but people actually live there today and many of the historic buildings are restored and painted in fairly funky colours. There are several excellent artists in town and lots of options for picking up from art and cards (and great coffee, too). We had a great visit at two churches converted into galleries: Amazing Space and St. George Gallery.

One very cool thing about the Wells-Barkerville area is that they have an annual Sled Dog Mail Run. The last weekend of January, they re-create the the Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run and mail is cancelled with a unique cancellation at Quesnel, Wells, and Barkerville. Every year there is also a artist-designed envelope. You never know. I might get it together to get some envelopes in next year's run!
We visited friends in Valemount who have just opened a new brewery, Three Ranges. Thus began about five days of visiting with old friends from our mountain days.  
My old office in the lower left. Maligne Canyon everywhere else. Parks Canada? Your "Proper Awesome" slogan is dumb. 

I was starting to lose steam here and the materials were not "proper awesome." We did see a wolf one day though (not this one exactly) and the next day saw six bears - a grizzly and her two cubs and a black bear and her two cubs. Okay, maybe that was proper awesome.

Miette Hot Springs day. And the goofy guys in costume? Just watch this and you'll understand.  (Thank you to my little buddy Keeley for introducing me to that.)

Okay, I'm tired and so are you (if you've lasted this long). We DID have a great time #exploringBC! Hope you had a wonderful summer as well.