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.
While making items for my wedding last summer I used a lot of nautical themed papers made by Canvas Corp. I saved a lot of the paper scraps to use in one of my favorite card-making techniques. I like to glue paper scraps onto narrow strips of scrap cardstock then apply rubber stamping ink to the edges to unify the strips. They make interesting parts to use in all kinds of paper crafts. I’ve previously written other articles that show this technique in action.
Materials and Tools
Canvas Corp paper sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft CCP2883
Assorted paper scraps with a nautical theme, mostly from collections by Canvas Corp
Black permanent rubber stamping ink
Permanent rubber stamping ink in colors that complement the project
Strips of light colored scrap paper that harmonize with the chosen paper scraps
Pieces of cardstock that harmonize with the chosen paper scraps
Clean scrap paper
Computer with scanner and graphics software
Eraser for stamping the edges of the paper
These very detailed strips tend to look good in designs next to areas with less detail. To make thank you cards to acknowledge wedding gifts and other help people generously gave us for the wedding, I made some scrap paper strips edged in red and scanned them for use in a digital file which I had printed on cardstock at a copy shop. I spelled out the word “THANKS” in nautical flags by making little flag collages with Canvas Corp nautical themed papers and scanning those as well. After digitally manipulating the scanned paper pieces, this is the digital card design I came up with.
The red-edged strips that I scanned were now free to use in actual handmade cards and not just the digital design. I decided to combine the strips with imagery from the Canvas Corp paper sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft CCP2883. The six images on the paper sheet are just about the size of the cards I want to make and the subtlety of the designs will really set off my paper strips. I decided to make six 5.25″ x 4.25″ cards. I selected six pieces of cardstock and cut them to 5.25″ wide and 8.5″ long then folded them in half to make the cards. Next I selected strips of light colored paper in colors that harmonized with my color scheme and stamped the sentiments “just a note” and “thank you” with black permanent ink. I made more strips than I thought I would need so that I would have lots of options. Also, I can use the extras for making other cards and for the card making classes that I teach.
To begin assembling the front of the cards, I cut each of the six images on the sheet Sand & Sea Art Pages on Kraft to just a little bigger than the card front. I cut the image in two then I inserted a strip with the words “just a note” then a scrap strip edged in red between the two pieces of the image. I glued the parts to the front of the card with a glue stick then trimmed away the excess. Then I glued the circular paper punched out piece with the stamped words “Thank You” onto the front of the card.
I recently taught a two-part class to help people get started in the hobby of Letterboxing which combines outdoor exploration and creative expression. Two of the items you need to participate are a rubber stamp and a logbook. In part one, we hand carved a personal stamp and in part two we made a personal logbook. I wrote a tutorial for each class and they are now published on the Schnarr’s Hardware blog. If you want to try letterboxing or just learn to carve a rubber stamp and make a simple handmade book, here are links to my tutorials.
Supplies and Materials
Cardstock and a variety of decorative papers in shades of green
Downloadable templates “St. Patrick’s Day Card 1” and “St. Patrick’s Day Card 2”
Chipboard (can be scrap – for making templates)
Small circle punch
Paper flower embellishments
Craft knife and blades (X-Acto or something similar)
Rubber stamps (St. Patrick’s Day, appropriate greeting, Celtic designs, spirals)
Stamping ink pads and re-inkers in the following colors: dark brown, shades of green
Acrylic stamp mounting blocks
Awl or needle tool
Small hole punch
Optional – buttons, white craft glue such as Turbo Tacky Glue, needle, thread
The first part of the process for the pair of cards is to stamp out St. Patrick’s Day and Celtic motifs onto small pieces of scrap paper. Use stamping inks in various shades of green and dark brown. Mix in some neutrals if you want. You can make the backgrounds more interesting with the use of background stamps or techniques such as brayering.
Once you have a quantity of stamped pieces finished and the ink is dry, gather them together with some scraps of paper in various shades of green. Make a collage by gluing these scraps down with a glue stick onto a 1/2 sheet of white cardstock. You can create interest by cutting the scraps into smaller pieces by tearing while using a ruler as a straight edge or by cutting apart with decorative scissors. Burnish your collage periodically with a bone folder under a piece of clean scrap paper so the glue has a nice tight seal. Set aside for now and let the glue dry.
2. Cut a 8.5 x 5.5″ size piece of card stock to use as the background of your card. Score it and fold it in half.
2. Trace the shamrock from the template onto the back of dark green decorative paper. Cut out the shamrock with scissors. If you want to make several cards, you can trace the shamrock onto chipboard and cut it out to use multiple times for tracing.
3. Trace the half-leaf shape onto chipboard and cut out. Trace onto four different pieces of decorative paper in different shades of green. Instead of pre-made decorative paper you can use some parts of your collage if you want (if you do this be sure to leave at least a 3 7/8″ x 5 1/8″ sized piece intact to use on card #2). Glue the half petals in place as shown on the card sketch in the PDF file.
4. Cut out a narrow strip (3/4″ wide) of light colored paper and stamp or glue a sentiment onto it. Glue this onto a slightly wider (1″ wide) paper strip. Glue to front of card and trim.
5. Glue the shamrock down in place on the front of the card.
6. Punch out a flower shape with a punch and glue down in center of shamrock.
7. Punch out a small circle and glue in place on the strip near the bottom of the card.
8. Punch two holes for eyelets in the center of where the two flower embellishments will go. You can use a small hole punch or a needle tool or awl to start the hole. If the hole is not large enough to accept the eyelet you can enlarge the hole with paintbrush handle or other handy tool.
9. Push the eyelets through the holes and set with the eyelet setter.
Variation – use buttons as embellishments instead of the paper flowers. Attach by gluing with white craft glue then further secure by sewing.
2. Cut a 8.5 x 5.5″ size piece of card stock to use as the background of your card, score it, and fold it in half.
3. Cut out a 3.75 x 5″ size piece of dark green cardstock.
4. Trace the shamrock from the template onto the back of the dark green cardstock. Cut out the shamrock with a craft knife. If you cut carefully, you can use the cutout to make another card. If you want to make several cards, you can save your first cutout and use it multiple times for tracing.
5. Get your collage out and cut a 3 7/8″ x 5 1/8″ size piece out of it. Position your dark green cutout piece over it and place those on top of your folded cardstock card base. Make sure the three layers line up correctly. If you decide you want a sentiment or other embellishment in the lower left area where there is some space, now would be a good time to add it.
6. Using the printed out template as a guide, poke holes in all three layers with an awl or needle tool.
7. Push decorative brads through the holes and spread prongs on the back side. You’re done!
I recently made some abstract painted backgrounds for a class I’m going to be teaching at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts. I will be demonstrating how to make mixed media pages for journaling with acrylic paint, watercolor paint, assorted markers and Fiskars gel pens. I embellished my sample pages further with decorative scrapbooking paper, stickers, paper tape and rubber stamps. The binding rings I used in these samples are by 7gypsies.
I hope these samples inspire you to take a class with JoAnn or experiment with mixed media journal and planner pages on your own!
To design these handmade cards, first from assorted paper scraps I punched out a whole bunch of hexagons in two sizes. I used a lot of geometric patterns and for extra interest some vellum paper printed with black and gold designs. Then I cut out some 1″ wide strips of paper and stamped on the the word “congratulations” from a rubber stamp set made by Tim Holtz.
To the front of my cards, I added other paper accents then glued everything down with glue sticks. I’m pleased with how a touch of translucency here and there from the vellum paper helps add some depth and interest to the simple card designs.
The cards you see here are currently offered for sale in the shipping department at Schnarr’s Hardware in Ladue, MO.
Paper crafting supplies include things you use in scrapbooking, rubber stamping, journaling, card making, planners and more. Paper craft companies make coordinated lines of products that are designed to look great together. Recently I made samples for a promotion at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in which I used only products sold in their store. Within that criteria I did a little mixing of brands. I’m continuing to work on the journal prototype because I’m still having major fun with it. I’m developing some templates to help combine the Heidi Swapp journaling products I was demonstrating with making a custom planner. I’m bringing in more product that I already own from other brands. It’s challenging to get the different product lines to harmonize together but it’s satisfying and fun too. I’m getting some results that please me, anyway!
I’ve been having lots of fun and keeping busy since I joined the teaching team at the JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts store in the Deer Creek Shopping Center in Maplewood, MO. Last weekend we were having a rubber stamping and paper sale, so I came in to demonstrate how to make greeting cards with rubber stamps. On my demo table I also showed some products that are good for card-making and in the shadow box are samples of upcoming classes that I will be teaching. My upcoming classes include Kid’s Hand Sewn Initial Letter, Kid’s Beaded Wish Bracelets, Make an Art Journal, Easy Button Bracelet and Kid’s Hand Sewn Bee Art. Go to my Classes and Events page for my schedule of classes and demos.
My own sewing skills can always use improving, so I took the Comfy Pants class from instructor Miss Kate. I had a great time and made my first ever handmade clothing item (unless you count the Barbie doll clothes I made when I was young). I did a lot of sewing when I was a kid but I was afraid to use a sewing machine and did not learn how until I was around 40 years old. I have done some sewing on a machine but I sewed simple things made from my own patterns such as table runners, scarves, fabric pouches, laundry bags, pillows and the like. Making clothing from a commercial pattern was something I had never done before and I’m thrilled to learn how to take my sewing to the next level! Kate knows a ton of things about making high-end clothing or simple clothing like my new Route 66 themed pajama pants!
I hope you can join myself, Miss Kate and the other teachers at our Open House this weekend!
Teacher Open House Date: February 11 and 12, 2017 Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm Location: Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts
3200 Laclede Station Rd.
St. Louis, MO, 63143
Join myself and other members of the teaching team at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts for an open house! See what projects we’re working on and find out about upcoming classes.
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.