2. With some light colored markers or colored pencils, color around the outside edge of the faux stamp sheet and inside some of the open areas inside the stamps.
3. If you own any rubber stamps with postal type words or sayings on them, get them out and stamp them on some white or light colored paper to make parts to collage onto your stamp designs.
4. Tear or cut the words out and glue one onto each rectangle.
5. Take some border stamps and stamp them in black ink around the composition to make a border. I used some fairly bold stamps because the black rectangles in the original printout are pretty bold and dark so a strong border will help balance the whole composition.
6. Add some color with other rubber stamps from your collection. I’m currently working on Christmas cards and party invitations so I used some rubber stamps that would fit into use on those kinds of items – either on the actual card or on the envelope.
7. When I make a stamp sheet like this that is designed to be viewed as a whole composition as well as single stamps, I take the original and get color copies made of it. Then I cut out individual stamps from the color copies to use on other projects and keep the original to display intact.
Faux postage is a really fun mixed media project to make because it’s relatively non-threatening to create tiny works of art in a format that everyone is familiar with. There are lots of craft products you can buy that make it easier to make artwork that looks like postage stamps. A long time ago I designed some rubber stamps for this purpose and some of them are currently for sale in my Etsy shop. You can make this project with any other small stamps that you own also and a selection of paper crafting supplies. Enjoy!
1. Download and print out the two-page PDF file Low Tech Faux Postage. You’ll use the first page for Part 1.
2. Cut out some paper rectangles that are 1 3/4 inches tall and 1 3/8 inches wide from dark paper. You will need at least 16 rectangles.
3. Trim the edges with a paper edging scissors and arrange on your Low Tech Faux Postage sheet Page 1. You can think of your sheet as one composition made up of 16 tiny compositions if that helps you to get ideas. Glue down your trimmed paper rectangles.
4. Use a 1″ square paper punch and start by punching out one square for each rectangle from a selection of random scrap papers. Arrange until you are satisfied. If you have similar sized paper punches in other shapes such as circles, feel free to try them out. As you look through your scrap papers, you might get inspired to cut out other shapes. If you are moved to do so, go ahead and cut out whatever you like and glue down on your sheet without worrying about whether or not you’re “inside the lines”.
5. Take some tiny rubber stamps with words, phrases, numbers or symbols that have to do with philatelic stuff like stamps or cancellations. Stamp them in permanent black ink on light colored pieces of scrap paper. When the ink is dry enough to handle, cut or tear out what you have stamped.
6. Glue the torn or cut pieces to the collage work you’ve already done to help make each rectangle suggest a postal stamp design.
7. Continue to add embellishments to your stamps until you think they look finished. Here are some suggestions for what you can add:
More cut collage papers, found or commercial
Drawing – paint and gel markers are interesting choices to experiment with because you can write with them on slick surfaces and sometimes dark backgrounds as well
Stenciling Image transfers
8. When your stamp sheet is done, you can frame the whole thing to display it, cut apart your stamps to make tiny artworks, make color copies then cut apart the color copies, or put the whole thing in an art journal. Your imagination is the only limit and the most important thing is to have fun!
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:
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.
I made this collage right at the time I stopped publishing the Lime Green News in paper form. I’m pretty sure I have a draft written on some floppy disc somewhere about how I made this collage and some others using outlines of black paper that I cut out with paper edging scissors to make compositions that look like postage stamps. I was going to publish the tutorial and a copy of the background for people to make their own stamps. I made several stamp sheets using this background as I recall. Such stamps are also known in the art and stamp collecting world as “Cinderella Stamps”, “Postoids” and “Artistamps”.
I never went back to the idea with this pseudo-postal background because I assumed that with computers and desktop publishing becoming more prominent people would not be interested in making faux postage stamps the “analog” way any more. But looking at this collage now that more than 20 years have passed since I made it I actually like it a lot. After going to that Gauguin show that I wrote about in my last blog post I’m reminded of how much I loved studying other cultures and abstracting some elements from them into and combining them with Mid-Century Modern type of abstraction. A lot of the black line work was made by rubber stamps. The Egyptian hieroglyphics stamp is a commercial rubber art stamp, but I carved all the others.
For some reason if I scan a collage and invert the colors in Photoshop, the results are often better than the original. I needed a new Facebook header so I rearranged the above collage and did a quick inversion. Fun!
I have four free templates you can download to make these card designs!
Tool and Supply List:
Clean scrap paper
Craft knife (X-Acto or something similar)
Palette (could be a real ink palette or plastic lid, piece of freezer paper, etc.)
Rubber stamps (Valentine themed, postal themed, alphabet stamps)
Stamping ink pads and re-inkers in the following colors: Black, dark brown, rust brown, red, lt. ochre, hot pink, lt. gray, lt. tan
Acrylic stamp mounting blocks
Heart shaped punches
Alphabet stencil (optional)
Colored pencils (optional)
Standard hole punch
Decorative scissors with postage stamp perforation pattern or deckle edge pattern
Unused white plastic eraser with flat sides (like Magic Rub)
Small heart cookie cutter (for Card 4) or heart punch or stencil
Cut out the two viewfinders and if you printed out the template on text-weight paper laminate to scrap cardstock or chipboard with a glue stick for durability. Cut out the two centers and keep for tracing.
Stamp background stamps in a variety of light to medium colors on light colored papers. For my samples I used inks in the neutral range on pastel and neutral papers.
Use the viewfinder labeled “Viewfinder for inner piece” and trace in pencil on the backs of your stamped pieces a number of rectangles for the inner pieces. Make more than you need in case you make any stamping mistakes and need extras. Cut out pieces.
Choose ink colors for the edges of the inner pieces. Squirt a little ink onto a palette and use your flat-sided eraser to apply to all the edges. A color of medium intensity or darkness is a good choice.
Next we will be adding the letters L, O, V, and E to these pieces. An easy way is to stamp the letters with alphabet stamps in black.
A variation is to stamp a plain heart stamp in red and pink in the pieces first then stamp a smaller alphabet set in black. Make sure the heart ink is dry first before stamping the letters or the ink may blur (see below).
Another option if you want to use a smaller stamp set is to stamp hearts in brown then glue on heart shaped punch-outs that have been stamped with letters in black (see below).
If you have an alphabet stencil in the right size range you could also add the letters by tracing with marker and coloring in with marker and colored pencil. Markers can make some rubber stamp inks smear so test first before coloring (see below).
Next select some patterned papers that would make good edges for your lettered pieces. This is a good way to use up some scraps if you have them in harmonious colors. Use the viewfinder labeled “Viewfinder for edge piece” and trace in the window in pencil on the backs of your patterned papers. cut out an assortment of rectangles with patterned scissors – stamp perforation and deckle edge patterns are particularly effective for simulating the look of a postage stamp. See what inner pieces look best on which outer pieces and glue down when you’ve made your choices.
Arrange your letter pieces on a piece of scrap paper and stamp some accents with small stamps that reinforce the postal and Valentine themes.
Choose a piece of cardstock that would make a good ground for your card and cut it into an 8″ x 5.25″ piece. Score it down the middle and fold in half. Flatten well with bone folder.
Choose a background stamp that is about 3″ wide and stamp it on the front of the card at an angle according to the sketch. If you don’t have a suitable background stamp you can glue on a piece of decorative paper instead.
Cut a 1″ wide strip of light colored paper with decorative scissors and glue it across the card front according to the sketch. Trim off the edges.
Glue down letter pieces on front of card as indicated on sketch.
Stamp a faux postmark in a dark color at the upper right, or a different stamp that fits the theme if you don’t have a postmark stamp.
If you like, stamp a credit stamp on the back of the card.
Punch eight small hearts out of variety of paper scraps in harmonious colors and glue down.
Stamp a variety of postal and Valentine themed stamps in a medium color such as rust brown. This type of collage can be used in a variety of projects so while you have all the parts out you might want to make several collages.
Use viewfinder to choose and cut three pieces (1.25 x 1.5 in) out of your collage.
Glue these onto three pieces of paper (1.5 x 1.75) cut out with decorative scissors.
Stamp edges in a dark color with the flat sided eraser.
Highlight with postal themed stamps in a dark color.
Choose a piece of cardstock that would make a good ground for your card and cut it into an 8″ x 5.25″ piece. Score it down the middle and fold in half. Flatten well with bone folder.
Glue a 5.5 in x 2.25 in piece of decorative paper across the front of the card.
Stamp a border accent stamp above and below the paper strip. You could also use a sticker or a rub-on.
1. Download and print out one of the faux postage templates.
2. Tape a piece of acetate over the printed template.
3. Using a metal ruler as a guide and with the self-healing cutting mat underneath, use your mat knife or X-acto knife to cut out the squares on the template. You will cut through both the acetate and paper layers as you do so.
4. Remove the paper from the acetate. Now your template is ready to use.
Make the stamps
Tools and materials
Dye-based rubber stamping ink
Light colored cardstock
Faux postage stencils
Rubber stamps in a spring theme such as flowers and butterflies
Word rubber stamps for backgrounds
Tiny faux postage rubber stamps or other tiny word and number stamps
Decorative edging scissors
1. Tape a piece of light colored cardstock down on your work surface. Tape your acetate faux postage stencil in place over it, hinging it at the top with tape so you can lift the acetate between steps.
2. Squirt a few light analagous colors of rubber stamping ink on a palette. For example, light yellow, ochre yellow and light orange, or light pink and light peach. Sponge these colors inside the openings in the stencil while blending. Try to get the colors lighter toward the middle and darker toward the edge.
3. Lift the acetate (this is so that you don’t melt the stencil) and dry well with a heat tool. Stamp a word stamp as a background in a light taupe or light tan color. Dry the ink again.
4. Outline the inside edges of each opening with an analgous color of colored pencil – for example orange with the yellow inks, magenta with the pink inks.
5. Select a stamp for the main part of your image and stamp it toward the middle of each opening in burgundy ink.
6. Select some tiny faux postage stamps and stamp them in black around the edges.
7. Cut stamps apart with a decorative paper-edging scissors.
Following are the stamps I used in each sample.
The background stamp is by Stampington. Butterfly stamps are from 7gypsies then in black I stamped the following stamps from Carolyn’s Stamp Store:
Yes it might seem a little early to talk about Halloween crafts – usually in early August I feel like I’m just getting used to the summer lifestyle. The Fall 2015 issue of RubberStampMadness is out and I want to let you know about it because my article “Stamping Halloween Postoids” is featured within! If you want to read it check the newsstand at your favorite craft retailer or go to the RubberStampMadness web site to order a copy. My four-page article will guide you step by step in creating your own Halloween Faux Postage stamps to decorate your Halloween mail and crafts.
I also have a selection of Halloween and Faux Postage rubber stamps available in my online shop Carolyn’s Stamp Store. I have complete postoid stamps and parts to help you design your own artistamps. Check out my newest designs featuring skeletal animals, crows, creepy bugs and more!
Sometimes it’s fun to get back to the basics – rubber stamping and making faux postage! I don’t have any actual “Halloween” rubber stamps but I used what I had to make some disturbing postal imagery for Halloween.
I had some fun this weekend using stamps from the faux postage collection from Carolyn’s Stamp Store to make postal art for Valentine projects.
Images with an all-over design like the one above work well for header
graphics because you can accommodate it to several different sizes and formats. I like to change headers on my various web accounts seasonally. Here are the image sizes you will need for some popular web sites: