Cork Stamps 12

My mother, if you didn’t know, is an artist.  So when I was a kid, instead of playing around with construction paper and crayons (well, I still did that), I also got to experiment with India ink, French curves, and etching plates.  Let’s just say that for someone with little artistic skill I know my way around an arts supply store.

My mum and I tend to go off on artistic tangents when we’re together, and on a recent Skype conversation we got stuck onto stamps.  I have been collecting champagne corks for a few years now with the intention of turning them into nice little rubber stamps, so I figured, what better occasion than my mother’s birthday to try them out?

Cork Stamps 1

Generally when you make your own rubber stamps you use a special set of wee chisels that make your life so much easier.  Since I am incapable of doing anything that logical, I have a specialty set of craft blades instead. You also tend to use rubber, which has a more uniform consistency and is easier to cut. But what the hey.

Cork Stamps 2

So first you draw a design on your cork. I’m going with an A (for my name, natch). The bonus is it’s a symmetrical letter so I don’t have to worry about putting it on backwards or anything. Conveniently the Pie’s name also starts with an A so I’m killing two birds with one stone here. I will consider doing our last initials, B and F … some other time …

Cork Stamps 4

After I finalized the design I sent it to management for approval. Fortunately management was sitting on the arm of the couch while I was doing this so it didn’t take long for the paperwork to go through.

Cork Stamps 3

Then I set to with my wee knife, carving away at the negative space. Just remember, if you are using cork, that it’s a conglomeration of natural fibres, so things tend to come off in chunks. Also, please don’t cut off any of your fingers or stab yourselves. Blood does not make for a happy crafting occasion.

Cork Stamps 5

The finished A.

Cork Stamps 6

Testing it out. The uneven and pocked surface of the cork makes for that texture. If you use rubber (say, a Pink Pearl eraser), then you’ll have a much more solid fill on your stamp. Also now that I have three As in a row it looks like the sound someone makes when they fall off a high surface.

Cork Stamps 8

I tried to carve out a corgi. But then I accidentally cut off one of the eyes. The Pie said it just means that this corgi is winking.

Cork Stamps 9

So because this made me sad I made another stamp. I wish I’d had this one around when I was teaching and marking the papers of students who had not been paying attention. I like the deep disappointment that this stamp conveys.

Cork Stamps 10

I’m going to try this out with real rubber and tools eventually, but this is a good start, and I still have some blank corks left to try!

Cork Stamps 11

Going Postal

Going Postal

You may recall that in the spring I acquired several envelopes of vintage postage stamps once belonging to my great grandfather and I was casting about, trying to figure out what to do with them.

In the interim, my dad found some more of them in a filing cabinet, and now I have lots.

Going Postal 1

It took me a good hour to sort them from his weird Scottish code to something that I could understand.

Going Postal 3

And now I’m going to show you two things I did with them.  I’m sure I’ll do more in the future.

The first idea I had was to enlarge two of the stamps I liked very much.  To do this, I took a close-up photo of each using my macro lens and some bright light.  I was originally going to scan them instead, but I found they lost a lot of their depth that way.

Going Postal 5

This is my improvised light box: a bright window, a white sheet of board, and a clean surface.

Going Postal 4

I touched up the images to improve the contrast and remove imperfections. I love the sheer size of my new computer screen for doing this. No more sticking my nose to the screen!

Going Postal 6

After alterations:

Going Postal 7

So here are the two I want to blow up. The mountain goat:

Mountain Goat 1956

And Expo 67.  You can see that by taking a photo instead of scanning you can pick up the slightly raised red ink on the expo67 and the 5.

Expo 67

Then I had the Pie take the images to our university’s printing services and he came home with these nice big printouts.  I bought a special pair of scrapbooking scissors at Michael’s that resembles the edges of a postage stamp, so I cut out the stamp image to look like a giant stamp.

Going Postal 2 1

Then I simply inserted it in a photo frame of the appropriate size and shape.

Going Postal 2 2

This extra one is for Rusty, because he’s an ice maker (and does curling ice), so I thought he would like it.  Three stacked one on top of the other I think makes the colour contrasts stand out nicely.

Going Postal 2 13

The other thing I did involved a stamp series, which I simply placed in a collage on black paper (for contrast) and inserted in the frame.

Going Postal 2 10

This is actually two series together, both of Queen Elizabeth, both representing certain elements of Canadian culture and industry.

Going Postal 2 12

For added interest, I did a little research on each stamp (Collections Canada has a comprehensive list) and printed out the information to accompany each framed picture.

Inviting Inspiration: Vintage Postage Stamps

Vintage Postage Stamps

I have here an envelope.

Vintage Postage Stamps

Inside this envelope are a bunch of old postage stamps.  Each one is valued at 5 cents.

Vintage Postage Stamps

Each one is from Canada.  And I’m assuming most of them date from the late 1950s through the 1960s.

Vintage Postage Stamps

Vintage Postage Stamps

Vintage Postage Stamps

Vintage Postage Stamps

I want to do something awesome with them, so maybe you can help me come up with some ideas.  I’ve seen a lot of things on the internet that are postage-stamp inspired, but the three most common projects that seem to turn up using the actual stamps themselves are these:

I’m not that into découpage, but this stamped table is intriguing (though I don’t have a small table at the moment).

Vintage Postage Stamps

This postage stamp monogram is also interesting, and the Pie and I do share the same first initial (heck, I could probably do ALL of the Pie’s initials with the amount of stamps I have — and he has two middle names).

Vintage Postage Stamps

I also really like the collage of postage stamps, framed and based on colour.  Though I feel like this might be better suited for a collection of stamps from all over the world, or one where I don’t have so many stamps of the same design.  But we shall see.

Vintage Postage Stamps

This one is my particular favourite, from 1956.  I kind of want to blow this one up to poster size and frame it.

Vintage Postage Stamps

Vintage Postage Stamps

Please let me know if you have any ideas!

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