Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Don't you just love it when you get a new book and when you open it for the first time, you just know it was a worthwhile purchase?

That's precisely how I feel about "Scraps".  This is one of the newer publications from Lark Books, who, along with Northlight, publish about 80% of the collage books on my shelf.  Originally written and published in Danish in 2006, it was translated and resold to an English-speaking audience last year. 

Being a sucker for any sort of foreign ephemera, I immediately fell in love with this book.  Because the original author (Elsebeth Gynther) is Danish, there are plenty of European items that are vintage and/or just plain awesome enough to make me drool.

One of the best parts of the book is where the authors show examples of papers, thumbnail-style, that can be used in collage (i.e., pretty much anything).  It's funny - even though I've been collaging for nearly five years, I forget sometimes that any item is fair game.  I suppose that happens when you get comfortable with one particular style, but that is precisely why I continue to buy new books on the subject.  It's not that I need any technical advice; I need to relearn how to play.

A (VERY small) selection of my stash

Copyright laws prohibit me from showing anything in the book, so I've taken the liberty of showing som
e of my own comparable ephemera.  In doing so, I was reminded how lucky I am to have my
 collection!  It's not that it's worth a lot of money - far from, or I'd never use it in my artwork - but how fortunate I am to live in an area with GREAT resources (access to the Interweb sure doesn't hurt, either!)!

Here are some of my favorite collages that I've made with my ephemera stash.  These are cards that, as the book puts it, "made themselves".  The authors are right - THIS is when the fun begins!  :D

This is actually my name tag for the live trades!

I LOVE it when pieces just fall into place!

Probably my favorite collage of mine EVER.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Labels, Labels, Labels!

I LOVE labels of all kinds. I love peeling labels off of anything in front of me.  Some of you may remember saving Campbell's Soup labels for your elementary school - we ate a lot of Campbell's growing up so taking that huge stack of labels to the teacher was thrilling to me.  I liked neatly piling them and sorting them - the labels are kind of slick, so they had that nice feel to them.  Yeah, I was a weird kid.  :D

I've already mentioned the scene in "Catch me if you Can", where Leo DiCaprio's character peels the labels off of everything around him and saves them in his fake wallet - I SO wish I could've been on the prop team for that movie!  To be surrounded by all those vintage labels, well - that's sheer heaven in my book (yeah, I'm a weird adult, too).  :D

One of my favorite types of labels is food labels.  I have some gorgeous vintage labels for sardines and vegetables - they're actually lithographed (I love that most of them say where they were litho printed, and of course they're all printed here in the States.  How quaint).  Some of the labels in my collection have raised illustrations - this kind of printing hardly exists anymore and when you do see it, it's expensive.  I would bet that most labels today are thermal or laser printed.

Whenever I see food labels for cheap online, estate sales, antique stores or any other place I try to snap up as many as I can.  If possible I try to get doubles of each label - one for using in my artwork and one for saving.  You can get some amazing labels for pretty cheap if you know where to look - some of my favorite places are Manto Fev, Collage Stuff, and Paper Flea Market.  The seller "inkpainter" on Etsy also has some wonderful stuff.

Here is some of my work that I've done using labels - as you can see, they're VERY versatile!  :D

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Magic Bus

On the scale of items being truly ephemeral, I'd have to think that bus tickets and transfers would be WAY up there, wouldn't you?  I mean, I kept a lot of things when I was a kid but my city bus transfers were not part of my pack-rattery (is that a word?  It is now!).  Of course I kick myself now....

There have been many times in my ephemera collecting when I've marveled at how alike we all are, regardless of whether we live in India or Israel.  One of those ways is the unifomity of mail; the other is public transportation.  And the bus seems to be the most ubiquitous around the world.

Oh how I wish it were more convenient to take the bus where I live!  It's sort of hard to justify taking a 45 minute bus ride, though, when I live about 6 minutes from most places I need to go.  I'm very grateful it exists, though!  It's a service every city should have - and while we're on the subject, how cool would it be to bring back the streetcar?  :D

Check out these lovely specimens from around the globe (and around the century!).  Aren't they wonderful?  I am just in awe of the design on something that is essentially meant to be thrown away.  Design for design's sake!  They almost beg to be kept, don't they?

And of course, I love using these beauties in my artwork!  Firstly, most of them are made from ultra-thin, almost tissue-like paper, so they're very easy to collage.  And secondly - well, just look at them!  The ticket designs are amazing!  :D


Friday, November 5, 2010

On the Map

WOW!  It's been far too long since I've written - what a crazy couple of months October and November are turning out to be!  But I'm glad to be back!

With all of the things happening in and around Fond du Lac, where I currently live, neither I nor Brian have been able to travel much.  In fact, we haven't really taken a trip far away at all this year, which in one way is good because we were able to save more money.

But in so many other ways, that's bad!  I love to travel.  Hotels, new restaurants, fun sightseeing - I love it all.  So I suppose it's no surprise that I ADORE maps.

I love maps of all kinds.  I even took a fabulous workshop called "Personal Geographies" with the amazing Jill K. Berry last year.  It taught me to see my own journeys in a cartographic sense.

I am terrible with directions.  I always have been.  And I come by it naturally - my mom and Grammie are not so hot, either.  Good thing I married Brian - I always kid that he has a steel plate in his head - the man can go somewhere ONCE and remember how to get there.  I wish I had that ability!  Sometimes it takes me five times before I remember!

But oh, do I love the design of maps.  The compass roses, the little scale lines, that gorgeous light blue that seems ubiquitous on road maps, the tiny highway signs, beautiful globes - it's all wonderful.  I suppose some people may argue the validity of maps in the ephemeral sense - we do use them more than once, after all - but more and more, they're becoming dinosaurs.  Now that so many people are using their GPS devices to find their way, maps seem almost quaint now.  Which is a shame, in my opinion.  Map-reading will eventually be a lost art if we rely on electronics and satellites to tell us where to go. 

It sure is easy to obtain old maps!  I find them all over the place - junque shops, antique stores, closeouts - you name it, you'll be able to find old maps.  And, as you probably have surmised by now, I LOVE using them in my artwork - so much so, in fact, that I started my own Flickr group called Map Art (I was shocked to learn that a similar group didnt' exist!).  Here are some of my favorite collages I've done with maps: