Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye '10, Hello '11!!!

I'm going to get cliche here - I can't believe 2010 is behind us!  For me, it was a very long year in a very good way:  my new art life began on January 2 with the beginning of my art relationship with Pam Kueber, owner of the blog Retro Renovation.  I've been working with that fabulous blog ever since, making collages of readers' homes.  It has been an amazing journey, and one that has opened up many doors for me.

Because I'm lucky enough to call myself a full-time artist with a pretty flexible schedule, I have been able to explore many opportunities and learn many new things that perhaps I wouldn't have had the time to do before.  One of those things was this blog.

I only started this particular blog in May, but I love how it has grown!  I've got 42 followers, which just tickles me.  I love that you're out there, loving ephemera as much as I do.  I recently made the difficult decision to monetize the blog, but only on MY terms and with businesses that I patronize and adore.  If you notice, I've got my first advertiser on the right - ATC Quarterly, a wonderful zine put out by Ronna Mogelon out of Dunvegan, Ontario, Canada.  I've subscribed since the Spring of '07 and I read every issue from cover to cover.  If you like Artist Trading Cards, I highly suggest subscribing (deets are on the website).

There were many other wonderful things about 2010 - my "exhibit" at Art e-Zine; my collage winning the grand prize at the Citra Solv site; founding Fond du Lac Visual Arts with 5 other very talented artist friends, including my husby Brian; my artwork featured in a New Yorker blog article; having my artwork exhibited in our first-ever group show at the Windhover Center; teaching collage workshops - I could go on and on.  If my first year in Art Land was this great, how awesome is 2011 going to be?

It's going to be super awesome.  I look foward to putting more time into this blog, sharing stories and ideas about the fabulous intertwining of art and ephemera.  I hope you like what I have in store.

To everyone reading this - I hope you have a wonderful, Happy and SAFE New Year!  I'll see you in '11!  :D

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Subscribe now and SAVE!

I love magazines.  You could say I'm addicted to magazines; that I'm a magazine-aholic.  J'adore les journeaux.

As a kid, I chose periodicals over novels any day of the week.  I had a pretty short attention span back then - my mom says that I could've cared less about a show and only watched when the commericals were on - so magazines fit perfectly with their short bursts of information.

Besides the regular kid fare like "Highlights", "Dynamite" and "National Geographic World", my parents subscribed to National Geographic and Time magazine.  I read them all.  As I got older it changed to Seventeen and Sassy, and then on to the Utne Reader and Atlantic Monthly, followed by Real Simple, Art Calendar, Ready Made, Everyday....well, you get the idea.  :D

One thing I'm not too keen on, though, are those ANNOYING subscription flyers that come with the magazine, even if one already subscribes!  I'm very surprised they still exist - you'd think that by now they could just run ads in the regular magazine that direct the person to the website - chances are one's smartphone is within arm's length.  Perhaps the publishers are afraid that if one is directed to the website, their interest will diminish or they'll forget why they were directed there in the first place.  I don't know.  But ooh, is it ever annoying to find these things laying about the house!
I will make one exception, however (as I always seem to do here) - when they're vintage subscription flyers!  With the vintage type, it just seems miraculous that these little guys survived, doesn't it?  Take, for example, the Better Homes and Gardens flyer here - it's from the November 1954 issue, and it was just resting in the front cover when I bought the magazine at the Kewaskum Antique Mall!  Doesn't that strike you as amazing?  I mean, if I were the one originally reading this magazine, I would've immediately thrown it in the trash (no recycling 56 years ago!).  Yet here it is, right in front of me, all these years later.  I wonder what would happen if I sent it in with a check?  :D

I haven't used many of these guys in my artwork yet, only because I'm trying to amass as many as possible and only use the duplicates.  But here are a couple examples:

P.S.  As I was getting the links to all the magazines, I was inundated by virtual subscription flyers, urging me to subscribe to the print version.  OY!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

An Amazing Gift!

Let me first point out that I have the best husby in the world.  I mentioned this book about Kurt Schwitters once about a month ago, and Brian filed away that information as a gift idea.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the gift and I got that amazing book!  :D

To be honest, I don't know that much about Kurt Schwitters, but I'm about to find out much more.  The book that I got is called "Kurt Schwitters: Color and Collage" by Isabel Schultz.  It's got wonderfully large photos of his work, from 1914 to 1947. 

Mz 601 (1923)

What I already know about his work is that it embodies much of what I love about collage - his use of ephemera! 

I mean, check out these amazing collages:  Mz 601 (1923) and Prikken paa I en (Dot on the I, 1939).  THIS is the kind of work I try and emulate, in my own way.  The way the ticket stubs, old calendars, newspaper bits, flyers, stamps and his own painting mesh so fluidly - it's magic!

There's also something so perfect about the use of color in these pieces.  I love that patinaed look of old paper - to me, it's a color you can't replicate with paint; it only exists with weathering and time.  And call me weird, but there also seems to be a sort of melancholy to these works too - maybe that's just me.  :D

Prikken paa I en (Dot on the I), 1939

I can't wait to dig into this book more and read about his life - it sounds fascinating!  To be continued....


Friday, December 24, 2010

Wrap it up

I've been talking quite a bit this week about ephemeral Christmas/holiday items - how about wrapping paper?

How many of you out there really take care when you wrap your gifts?  I am one of those people.  I like to either do wrapping themes (this year, all of my sister's gifts are wrapped in different nature-themed papers) or color-coordinate the paper with the gift that's inside.  I love using fancy ribbons too.

Seems like an awful lot of work for something that gets ripped open in a matter of seconds, doesn't it?  :D  But I can't help it, and now it's turned into a friendly contest!  My sister Jen usually wins.  :D

From an ephemeral standpoint I think wrapping paper ranks right up there with the tape that's used to wrap the gifts (you can see that post here).  It is sort of criminal how much of it we throw away - my family does try to reuse as much of it as we can.  Same with the bows - we use real ribbon because we know it'll get reused or saved - in fact, my mom saves every ribbon that we've ever used on her presents and ties them to her bedpost to give her sweet dreams.  :D  But remember when you'd use that funky nylon-y ribbon to make your own bows?  I think I was born at the tail end of that craze and then all of the store started carrying the bags of the ubiquitous self-adhesive ones.  I love those too, and we reuse those as well (hey, why not?).

A little explanation of the vintage wrapping paper in the photo - on the left is some Santa wrapping paper.  I'm not 100% positive that it's true vintage, but the paper is really thin and brittle and it sure feels vintage.  The polka-dotted wrap is pure vintage, and I got that at my friend Kim's shop that closed in September.  I love that you can still see the manufacturer at the bottom.  And that super-funky day-glow 1970s wrapping paper on the roll to the right?  That's a roll that we unearthed when cleaning my Grammie's house when she moved into assisted living and the house was being put up for sale.  I'm sure no one else wanted it - we were some of the last people through the house - but I just love it.  I'm afraid I just can't touch it yet - I'm emotionally attached to it and every ephemeraologist knows how hard it is to use old stuff in your art that your're attached to.  Maybe someday.

While we're on the subject of the holidays yet again, and it's 10 p.m CST on Christmas Eve, I'd like to take this opportunity to say Merry Christmas to all of you (or belated Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa) and yours.  Thank you so much for your support of this blog the last 7 months or so, and I look forward to writing many more posts in 2011!  You all ROCK.  :D

And with that, I'll leave you with some of the artwork I've done with wrapping paper (the one with the funky trees was actually made by my sister Jen!):

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry *COUGH COUGH* Christmas!

I wish I could say that this image is from my own stash - I have some vintage Christmas Chesterfield ads with celebrities wishing us a Merry Christmas and a happy 1949, but this just takes the cake, doesn't it?

Back in July I did an entry all about smoking, but this image is just truly disturbing, isn't it?  I mean, even during MY childhood in the Seventies, you'd never see an ad like this (this is from one of those viral e-mails, so I don't have a date on it, but I'm going to guess based on the cigarette pack that it's about 1938).

Isn't it amazing how times have changed?  Can you even fathom the type of backlash that would occur if anyone deigned to advertise this today?!?  It staggers the mind.  Cigarette smokers are already so vilified in the movies (and pariahs in real life), there would be a zillion class-action lawsuits as a direct result.

Just think how easy it was back then to get a smoker something they'd really like, though - I mean, if  Santa prefers Luckies, then shouldn't they be your brand, too?

I'm just sayin'.  :D

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Showin' some Love

As you've probably surmised by now, I love ephemera.  :D  I love everything about it, and as you've seen, I love using it in my artwork.

Of course, I'm not the only one to use ephemera in an artful way - SO not the only one!  There are thousands of collagists/designers all over the world who adore using old paper as much as I do.

Here are a couple of examples of some awesome pieces done with ephemera - both amazing, yet completely different styles and feels to their work.  I love both pieces so much!  These two works were done by Randel Plowman (Fall Leaves) and Viv Strauss (today's scraps).

In Randel's piece, I love how the bird is the focal point but the kid's work somehow defines the piece, at least for me.  In Viv's collage, those muted colors are what I love the most.  I also love the little snippet that says "Curvallure" on it - you just know that was from some mid-centuy medieval women's undergarment. 

Just like other media, there are as many styles of ephemera art as there are artists creating them.  An artist is always going to bring their likes and experiences to the piece.  To me, the fascinating part is how a hundred artists could take the same piece of ephemera and it would be used 100 different ways.  I love that.

While I'm aboard the Love Train, I have to mention a few of my other favorite ephemera artists (these are people whose MAIN focus is ephemera):  Kim Printz, Jennifer Mullin, Emmanuelle Boissot, Richard Russell, "Mask", Cecil Touchon, Susan Fiebig (also a dear friend of mine!) and the list goes on and on and on.  I also love how the collage community is pretty tightly-knit, and you can get to know other artists really easily!

If you're at all interested in taking those old magazines or brochures in your house and doing some art with them, all I can say is DO IT.  Come join the ephemeraologist ranks!  :D

P.S.  Don't you love how these pieces were framed?  I have to give a special shout-out to the Gallery & Frame Shop in Fond du Lac - they did an AWESOME job!  :D

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Rational Moment....

Okay, I'll be the first to admit - I have a LOT of stuff (er, I mean, ephemera).  I'll be going through my various drawers and cabinets and say to myself, "Oh YEAH!  I totally forgot I had this!", which is like a mini shopping trip where you don't have to spend any money!  But something happened yesterday that made me hum the "Twilight Zone" theme song....

I have a box of fibers and sumptuous embroidery threads from my needlework days.  This box unfortunately came about when my former husby Dan and I were dividing up our stuff when we separated, and all of these fibers got thrown in a box.  As we were dividing up things, Dan threw in some old postcards and things that he knew I liked and he had no use for (he was always great that way).

I never took the fibers out of the box, because aside from the occasional patch on an ATC where I use these fibers, they're hardly used at all (but I'm certanily not going to throw them OUT!).  The other day I had the box open because I was looking for some silver thread to use for an ornament hanger when I came across this:

Isn't this incredible?!  And I swear I'd never seen it before the other day.  I KNOW I would've remembered it, because look what's inside:

I nearly let out a "WHOOP" when I saw them.  I can't believe what great shape they're in, and there's still FIVE left (I will NOT be using these little stamps in any collage anytime soon, unless commissioned to do so and the commissioner pays a hefty sum!).

I just looked to see when they're from and found this auction online - I guessed WWI judging by the Doughboy hat and the name on the front, and I was right.  So this coupon book is nearly 100 years old.  Here's another cool thing - it was Dan's grandfather's (his name's on the front - if you're wondering why his grandfather would've been in WWI, it's because he would've been nearly 80 when Dan was born).

Of course, now that I know this exists, it's Dan's if he wants it back.  But I kind of hope he doesn't.  :D

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sharing a Life through Ephemera

Back this summer, I wrote a blog entry about my love of estate sales and how, if the sale is set up just right, you can get a glimpse into the life of the person(s) who used to live there.  It is quite fascinating, peering into one's personal effects in such a way.

But there's another way that can happen - almost directly!  Last Tuesday my friend Carolyn made the 90-minute trip up to my place and we had a marvelous play date.  If you're reading this and you know Carolyn, then you know how prepared she is.  And last Tuesday was no exception - not only did she bring all of her ATC supplies, but all of her soldering equipment and a HUGE box of ephemera for picking (YAY for me!).

And it was in this box that I could see a story unfold. 

Carolyn was given this enormous box of stuff by her parents, whose friends thought she might like all of it.  (funny thing about we ephemeraologists - when word gets out that you like old paper, you're bestowed with an abundance of it.  It's marvelous).  And oh my lord, did this man save EVERYTHING!

I don't even know the gentleman's name, but there's an amazing timeline set before me:  Penn State programs from the 30s, Civil Service brochures, and a TON of Westinghouse engineering magazines and pamphlets, where he was a civil engineer, from wartime through the Fifties.  There is even an entire folder of lawn care brochures.  Keep in mind, this stuff was probably just thrown in a box; it was Carolyn's meticulous museum-quality organization and categorization of the ephemera that made the timeline come to life.

In my last post, I talked about how generous Doppelganger Brian is.  Now it's my turn to say the same about Carolyn.  Thank you for coming up, and THANK YOU for sharing your wealth (even though I didn't take enough, according to you!)!  :D
P.S.  I didn't even begin to touch on the fact that Carolyn taught me how to solder that same day!  She has now created a monster.  Maybe Santa will bring some lead-free solder!  And check out the awesome ornament I made under Carolyn's tutelage (it's Carolyn's design too, by the way):

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Generous Doppelganger

Want to hear a great Facebook story?

First, you have to admit something to yourself - that you've Googled your name.  Go ahead, there's no shame in it.  :D  It's kind of fun (and sometimes important!) to see where you show up on the interwebs, and it's also fun to see who shares your name.

Here is just such a story.

I'll have to ask my husband Brian who made the first move, but a couple of years ago he "friended" Brian Kolstad (CRAZY - he's a great photographer too!).  Now really, "Kolstad" is not a popular surname, unless you're in Norway.  Every Kolstad where I live is related to us.  But come to find out, more than halfway across the country, there is another Brian Kolstad.  And he turns out to be the coolest guy (I know of a third Brian Kolstad - he's a cop in Vegas.  But he spells his name B-R-Y-A-N, so it doesn't count.).  
How cool is "Doppelganger Brian", as I like to call him?  Well, he is the one responsible for this AMAZING stash of matchbooks.  I mean, seriously - how awesome is it that he would just do this because he knows I like stuff like this?!?  He asked me a while back if I'd like some matchbooks, and I said, "Sure!", thinking that he'd include like four or five in the package of t-shirts that he was already sending us (check out Duck Duck Goose Shirt Co.!).

But as you can see, he sent a few more than four or five.  WOWZERS!!!!  I am going to have FUN!!

So this blog entry is really just a big giant "Thank you" to the guy who shares my husby's name.  But he's become a friend of Brian's and mine as well, and that's just so cool.

I truly believe this kind of thing is why social media exitsts.  :D

While I'm here, I have to show you how much I love making art with matchbooks!  :D

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's Christmas Seal Time!

Sometimes I feel, being the age I am, that I straddle the generations.  I was born in late '68 so I'm technically a Gen-Xer, but there are times where I feel like I relate more to my mom's generation, or even my dad's (my parents were 26 years apart; my late dad was born in '20 and my mom in '46).

One of the ways I feel older is when I remember something from my childhood that is now becoming obsolete.  It's weird when you realize that the world is changing, especially when it feels like a whole bunch of new inventions or ideas are pushing out the old ways pretty rapidly.

Take Christmas Seals, for example.  I haven't seen a Christmas Seal in ages - have you?  Yet as a kid, it seems like they were the little stamp that held together the top and bottom flaps of every Christmas card envelope! 

Being hooked on ephemera from a very early age, I always loved Christmas Seals.  There are some designs I remember more than others, like this one to your right (thanks to my friend Carolyn for finding these for me!).  The graphics are so bold, it's no wonder that they made an impression.  I'll bet many of you remember this one.  There are hundred of different types of Christmas seals but when I think of Christmas Seals I really think of the American Lung Association.  Did you know that they've been doing Christmas Seals for 103 years?!  In fact, you can see the entire collection of stamps on their Web site (my funky ones shown to the right are from 1973)!  As you can see, I also have stamps from the 30s, 40s and 50s.  Another wonderful thing about these seals is that they're quite a time capsule of design, from the very Art Deco stamp of 1939 to the fantastically quirky (and far more fun) design of 1958.
These days there are so many different ways to keep people mindful of charities around the holidays, and so many of us don't write Christmas cards anymore.  It makes me wonder how many more years of Christmas Seals we have.  Maybe in the future we'll just send them via text!

Because they're seasonal I don't have artwork using these beauts (yet!), but maybe I'll try one today.  In the meantime, Happy Holidays to you and yours!

UPDATE:  I finally made an ATC with my Christmas Seals yesterday (12/9)!  :D  Here it is:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Be Rational!

 I want you to imagine something for a moment:

It's December 22.  You're planning your holiday menu.  You've got the green beans for the casserole, the raisins for the stuffing, the beef tenderloin, sugar, coffee, cheese and....what's that?  You aren't allowed the beef tenderloin, coffee, cheese or even SUGAR?  You're kidding, right?

Welcome to 1943. 

In the midst of WWII, products were scarce.  Many items were saved or rationed for the troops (as it should have been).  If you were the primary cook/baker for your household, going without was just a fact of life for a couple of years.  And it didn't matter if you were the richest or poorest on your block - that's just the way it was.

I sometimes wonder how a ration would be viewed today, what with so many believing they're "entitled" to whatever they want.  Can you imagine the uproar if you were told that you had to ration your gasoline intake?  There'd be MAYHEM and rioting!  Yet somehow, for the common good, people just dealt with it in the Forties (I'm generalizing, of course - I'm sure there were instances where this wasn't the case; but overall, people knew what had to be done).

My dad served in WWII, so it's probably why I'm so interested in this era and these marvelous ration stamps that somehow survived in someone's dusty attic.  I have both American and Canadian rations but if you look online, you can find Israeli, French and Chinese rations too.

And, like always, I like using these items in my artwork!  :D

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ephemera Giveaway on Facebook!

A couple of days ago, I began a page on Facebook that correlates with this blog.  I love ephemera and I know there are others out there who love this stuff as much as I do.

To celebrate our shared passion for paper, I'm doing a giveaway.  My goal was to hit the 50 mark on our new Facebook page (you can join too, if you haven't - just "like" here!) and we did that just this morning!  If you'd still like to qualify for the giveaway, become a fan of the page before 3 p.m. CST and I'll count you in.

And WHAT, pray tell will you get?  Well, I don't want to show you - it's a surprise! - but I can tell you that you'll receive some of the following:

vintage office paper
vintage coupons
price tags
background papers (new)
some durable ephemera (i.e., made of metal)

The package will be sent to the winner sometime next week.

Good luck to all of you, and thanks for "liking" Ephemeraology!  :D

*UPDATE:  Congratulations to Laurie Alliger Hansley, the winner of the ephemera giveaway!  :D