I’ve been out of the Mail Art and ‘Zine scenes for over 20 years now, and to my surprise for some reason I’m getting nostalgic about it and thinking about getting back into it a little bit. I’ve never stopped making faux postage designs, rubber stamped art and Dada-influenced collages, but I stopped networking except through my web site because I got spooked by some of the extreme networkers I was occasionally in contact with. I figured I no longer had the stomach to participate in the “underground”. I mainly was networking for art and creativity and I’m still inspired creatively by what I did back then. I was not in it for anarchy, political change or social change except for some social commentary that I occasionally included.
I think part of the reason I feel like possibly participating again is that when I got spooked, I was in the middle of a couple of Mail Art group projects that I didn’t finish and I never sent out the documentation. I’ve felt guilty about this for a long time. One was called the “Turn Off Your Television Project” and another was called the “Fish Tapestry Project”. After writing the research paper I just published yesterday, I think I might want to finish that documentation and fulfill the obligation I took on myself 20 years ago. I probably won’t be able to get in touch with all the people who participated but I can try.
My friend Mark Reed who co-hosted the fish tapestry project with me passed away late last October and it would be a great tribute to him if I could finish that one too someday. I have only this week been able to bring myself to look again at some of his artwork that his family gave to me. I always thought he threw away too much of his old work and I’m glad that I have some of it. I may even finish some of the stuff that is unfinished. We collaborated and shared ideas a lot back in the day. I think he would like that.
I would be pleased if someone finished my old work after I’m gone. I’d rather have that happen than it be thrown away. I always have a lot of unfinished projects that I take up and put down at various times. I’m sure I’ll be leaving some unfinished ones behind someday. Actually it’s been painful for me to look at a lot of my old work and archives for a long time because so many of the people that I lived that time of my life with are dead. Maybe now I’m finally able to start dealing with the memories. Also I felt like much of my old work was an embarrassing failure. Looking at it now, some of is indeed embarrassing but some of it is not so bad! A former abusive relationship made me feel like I should not do any art because I was no good and didn’t deserve to do it just because it was good for me and made me feel alive. There was a time when I wasn’t sure I was ever going to take it up again.
My Mail Art name was Carolyn Substitute, my ‘zine was called the Lime Green News, and my faux postage was produced under the name “Lime Green Post”. I decided today to do an online search and see if I could find any references to my old Mail Art activities.
If you would like to explore this world I found the following:
John Held Jr. – Collection of Mail Art Periodicals
A Little Introduction to Mail Art
Links of Mail Art / Visual Poetry
Welch. 1995. Eternal Network. A Mail Art Anthology. Part 2.pdf
IDAC Jas W Felter’s “The International Directory of Artistamp Creators”
The Translinguistic Collaborative Poetry of Serge Segay, Rea Nikonova, and John M. Bennett – I can’t find specifically why my search turned up this web site but I did used to correspond with a couple of the people mentioned here so maybe a deeper search would be fruitful!
ArchivesSpace at the University of Iowa – Looks like they have at least a few issues of the Lime Green News in their archives.
stardust Memories Mail-aRt-Links and projects – bless this person for putting a link to my old web site on archive.org! I haven’t seen it in so long. I redesigned it in 1999 and I don’t think I looked at the old one since then because it made me so embarrassed!
Lime Green Evolution World of Art – 1997-1999 – My first web site, how I transitioned from analog networking to digital networking. Thinking back on it, printmaking class in 1987 led to rubber stamping, rubber stamping led to Mail Art, Mail Art led to ‘zines, ‘zines led to taking a class to get better at desktop publishing, which led to published a web site, that led to being a web designer, which led to doing marketing which led to me working on a marketing degree. No wonder I called my first web site Lime Green Evolution. And I didn’t even put in all the other tangents I followed along the way! I used to stay late a lot after my web design job ended at 5 pm to work on my personal web site and wait for the traffic to die down.
One of the things we are studying in my Mass Communications class is how people make media meaningful for themselves. Back in the ‘zine / grunge / Mail Art era we used to do a lot of collages, small press publications and mixed media projects. I’m sure there are still people out there doing these things and with technology we have a lot more options available. Most likely I’ll be exploring this in a future research project.
Edit: here is my new page on the International Union of Mail-Artists web site. I’ll be putting some old and new work there.
3 thoughts on “My Former ‘Zine and Mail Art Days”
Fascinating back history, keep in touch…
I’ve been gone many years also and I totally get your reasons. It has been calling me again too. Thank you for having this article available with the links. I lost all my supplies and collections when I lost a storage unit. It’s daunting thinking of starting over knowing I can not replace all the one of a kind stuff I had. Do you have any of those black and white faux collage sheets left?
Margo, that’s so heartbreaking, losing old art projects and supplies. I’m sorry you had to go through that. It’s fun getting new stuff, but I like having the old stuff too!
That particular faux postage sheet shown above – I will have to look and see for that one. I’ll have to think about where to look. I usually would save the originals so I could make more if I wanted to. I know there are a lot of originals that are still in storage that I haven’t seen in awhile. I wish I had kept better records and archives back then, but I had so many ideas (and still do) that I work a lot more on that than proper documentation and archiving. I’m getting a little better at it though.
Here is an album I made on Facebook with old and new black and white collages for coloring and making new things – a few are from the era of the faux postage you’re talking about – https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10222335620243630&type=3
Of course if I have a scan of the stamp sheets that is high enough resolution to print, I don’t necessarily need the original. Some of those old scans are on floppy discs and zip discs and I’d need to set up an older computer that can read old media to get to them, if that turns out to be the only way. That’s a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Probably will do it someday but it will take awhile!
I’m going to put a few more links here to online albums I’ve made on Pinterest and maybe a web site or two. Earlier this week I worked on fixing some old broken web pages. As I continue to fix old broken web pages, I think I’m going to find and remember some old stuff. Some images are in more than one album.
This is my IUOMA page if you haven’t been there – https://iuoma-network.ning.com/profile/CarolynHasenfratzWinkelmann
https://www.pinterest.com/chasenfratz/graphics-and-fonts/ – this is mostly other people’s images but if you have a printer this will help you get started with some new work maybe! You can also get things printed at Office Depot if you don’t have a printer at home.
I apologize if you’ve seen those links before, I don’t know what route you took to get to my blog, but thank you very much for coming to visit and leaving a comment! I appreciate it!
If you want to trade some mail art, if I can’t find the original for that one, I have two other originals from the same time period that I could make more copies of! Thanks for asking!