Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Survey says......

I love maps.  Most of you who have read this blog for a while are probably aware of this or, in any case, not surprised at all by this statement.  Indeed, I have spoken of maps many times before. Whether it's compass roses or the wonderful class I took from Jill Berry called Personal Geographies (incidentally, the companion book to that workshop is now available at bookstores and online!), or heck, even just discussing my severe lack of directional skills - I will always have something to say about maps.

Take this beaut, for example!  Isn't it wonderful?!  I got it from my friend Kim Geiser when I helped her with her CREATE! classes this summer in Chicago.  There was a vendor night the last night of the retreat and she was selling these.  I'm glad I got a couple before they were gone!

There are so many things to love about these maps - first and foremost for me are the colors.  I am a sucker for map blues and greens together - such a calming color scheme.  Imagine getting your hands on a huge lot of these!  I could see framing the entire map and plastering the walls with them.

Look at how wild and crazy we were!  That's me in the peach-
colored shirt, second from the right.  This photo was taken
on May 5, 1988.  EGADS.
Coincidentally, these also have a little bit of sentimental value for me, as Goodman is the tiny town where my friend/college roommate Sandy's parents' cabin was (is?) located.  As you can see, it is still in the middle of nowhere, nestled in the Nicolet National Forest.  Many a wonderful time was had during the summers of 1987-88, when we would spend lazy weekends hanging out, playing cards, toasting marshmallows and watching movies.  When I look back at this time, it's with great fondness.  We were all 19-21 at this point so we could've gotten crazy, but we didn't.  It was just good fun.  :D

I love that the data for this map was compiled in 1939 (and finished in 1941).  The Nicolet National Forest was only about 8 years old at the time of the map's printing.  I believe this map was created for the Highway System, which as you can see from the link above, is still not exactly a major artery.  :D

Am I ever going to use these maps (I have two)?  Absolutely!  I don't know yet how, but I think to make a collage of the cabin and using the map as a background would be a super fun project.  I'd have to get my hands on a photo of the cabin somehow (how did we ever share photos before digital cameras?).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Shoe-in for Fun Ephemera!

Brian and I were doing some light cleaning this weekend and he decided to throw out the shoe boxes he'd been keeping for, well, I don't know what, exactly.  :D  But when he opened them up, I got all excited in the way that only an Ephemeraologist would be excited -

These tissues!

I've proclaimed my love of commercially printed tissues before, but didn't really expound on the ones with logos.  I'm building quite a nice collection now, thanks to these babies!

It's true what they say - "Little things mean a lot."  It is the little things that make something fun.  I love it when a company goes the extra mile and prints out their logo on tissue - they certainly wouldn't have to, since it's already emblazoned on the box.  But they did, and we Ephemeraologists are richer for it.

The oldest tissue I have in this particular collection has to be the woodgrain-printed sheet.  I got this in a lot of other ephemera and I can't remember where.  I don't have much of it so I'm saving it for the perfect project.

I just did a search on Ebay and WOWZERS! I'm going to make sure that I keep at least a little swatch of each of these - some of the vintage tissue lots are going for as much as 40 BUCKS!

Nevertheless, I'm not going to not use it.  It's so much fun when a project need that extra something, and the tissue paper comes through and finishes it for you.  I LOVE that.  :D

Made with the "deluxe" tissue from a
watch crystal box

"Consensus" ATC made with tissue
from a shirt box

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Holiday Treat for you!!!

It's Cyber Monday -  YEE HAW!!   I heard that 120 million U.S. citizens will be shopping online today.  If my inbox is any indication, there are a whole lot of stores vying for your holiday buckaroos.  And today, we're no exception!

Manto Fev has the distinction of being the very first
place I ever shopped online for ephemera!

Have we got a deal for you!  Sara over at Manto Fev is in the holiday spirit, all right - she's giving 20% off your purchase of $20 or more now through Friday, December 2!  This is HUGE.

Do you have an Ephemeraologist to shop for? Perfect!  You'll save some money!   Even better - e-mail the Manto Fev link to your friends and family and say, "THIS is what I want this year - and you get 20% off when you use the coupon code SAVE20 !"   You can get a TON of stuff for $20 - believe me, I know this firsthand.  :D

In fact, all this talk about ephemera being on sale has given me the shopping bug.  I'm going to head over to Manto Fev myself and check out all of the new goodies!  I'll see you there!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, so it says "2009" on it.  Call it 'nostalgic'.  :D
Well, here we are again, at the beginning of the Holiday Season.  Can you believe it?!  Am I the only one who thought this year alternately flew by/crept by at a snail's pace?  Maybe that's everybody.  :D

Thanksgiving is my FAVORITE holiday.  Of course it is!  What other holiday has, at its core, the fine mixture of nostalgia and food?  That's really all there is to it (and around here, football).  No overt religious tenets, no gift-giving pressure, no annoying (after a while) holiday music - just giving thanks and stuffing.  :D

So today, my dear readers, I'm going to give thanks for YOU.  I've seen the blog really take off in 2011 and you are the sole reason for that.  Because after all - I could be writing the Next Big Blog but if I don't have you, it wouldn't matter at all!

Thank you for sharing my love of ephemera.  Thank you for retweeting my posts.  Thank you for "sharing" this blog with others who you think may enjoy it.  I have met so many wonderful folks through this medium, people I never would've met in real life were it not for this amazing vehicle we call the Internet.  I am so very grateful for your support and I appreciate every comment you leave for me.

I wish you and yours a peaceful, reflective, delicious holiday.  I'll see you back here on Monday with a fun Manto Fev surprise (yep, even I take a day off every now and then!)!  Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adding to the Box

Over the last eight months or so, I've been occasionally mentioning my Perpetual Ephemera Depository, which is a box that I created back in March to house all of the modern-day ephemera that I deem interesting enough to keep for future generations.

I don't know if it's the season or what, but lately I've been hitting the jackpot with fun ephemeral items!  Of course, "fun" is in the eye of the Ephemeraologist, but I think these things qualify.  Check 'em out!

First up is this little slip that arrived with my FREE box of Fundamiddles, a new cupcake mix from Betty Crocker (yeah, I got the box entirely for free. Nada. Zip.  They even picked up the shipping!).  I subscribe to the Betty Crocker newsletter online and if you're on the ball you can get free stuff every month or so - just shows you how many folks don't read the newsletter!  But what I found the most interesting about this little slip of paper is the lack of a Web site.  Here it is, 2011, and there's not one mention of a or a QR code or anything!  Maybe that shows the average age of the newsletter reader?  Am I getting old?  :D

Here's something that I think future Ephemeraologists will enjoy - this Starbucks lid plug!  Actually, I will probably do an entire blog post about Starbucks ephemera - there's a LOT of it to talk about.  They have a fabulous design team and it shows in their brochures, their insulators, napkins - everything.  But I digress.  I've always enjoyed design for design's sake and here's a great example.  Starb's could've just made the plug green with no design but instead they chose to use their mermaid on top.  Genius!  Usable in any language!

One of my favorite arts centers is the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan (yep, the Kohler is the same family who founded the toilets.  They have a TON of money and are very generous).  This wonderful facility has been open for 44 years and keeps getting better and better.  I love spending an afternoon there, just wandering through the very thoughtful exhibits.  They too have a fabulous design department - check out the postcard I just got in the mail!  So nicely done.  And James DeVita is one talented guy - he's in the core acting company of American Players Theatre in Spring Green and his rendition of George from Of Mice and Men could've earned him a Tony.  I hope to check out his one-man show!

Lastly, this State Farm pocket calendar is really nothing special, but I love it anyway.  Fifty years from now someone is going to wonder what life was like in 2012.  What are they going to think is primitive?  TV?  Radio (which I doubt very highly will be around in 50 years)?  QR codes?  The Internet?  I'll be 93 in 50 years so I doubt I'll be around to answer their questions.  Which is a shame, because I'd love to know what future Ephemeraologists will be throwing into their P.E.D.s in 2062.  :D

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Font Geeks Unite!

You can't judge a book by its cover - or can you?  If you're a font geek, you can surely try!

I love fonts!  I have ever since I didn't even know what a font was.  I remember watching "Matinee at the Bijou" on PBS when I was 12 or 13 and LOVING the font they used for the titles (I believe it was some sort of  "Broadway-esque" font - now they use a diner-like Harlow type).  Because I was such a huge reader of magazines even then, I got pretty good at deciphering what the ads where trying to convey just by looking at the type.  The business-y ads in the National Geographic had a far more serious look than the Handi-Wipes ad in the Ladies' Home Journal.

Doesn't it seem like each decade has its own font style, too?  For example, the aforementioned Broadway font has a 30s look to it.  The Forties seemed to use a lot of very linear, serious fonts - which was totally appropriate for the decade.  I don't think it was used much then, but the Harlow font I mentioned earlier has now become a font poster child of the 50s, due to its use in "diner culture" scenarios (think of all the Marilyn Monroe/Elvis/James Dean stuff you see for sale and you'll know what I mean).  Personally, I think it's a lazy choice for font, considering that the time period it's supposed to portray was two years, tops.  But it's immediately recognizable, so it's used often.

When people talk of "The Sixties", they're usually generalizing about the last three years of the decade (1967-69) and they'll use the most psychedelic font they can find.  I'm going to do my own generalizing here - for me, the Seventies were all about Cooper Black.

I'm trying to visualize a typical Eighties font, and I can't.  Maybe just plain old Helvetica?  It seemed to be everywhere.  The Stencil font seemed to be used quite a bit as well.  Someone help me out.  :D

Then we get to the Nineties.  Sorry to say, when I think of the Nineties I think of Comic Sans.  I can't help it! It was everywhere.  I'm going to admit something shameful - I liked it when it first came out.  I know there's a lot of backlash of this poor font (there are even whole Web sites devoted to the hatred of it) but for a short time it served its purpose.  Thirty or forty years from now future hipsters will enjoy it ironically.

Because of the Internet, design in the last 15 years or so has exploded.  It seems to me that there are more fonts than ever and there exists a perfect font for any project.  I love the time we're living in!

Check out these fantastic typeface specimen books - see what I mean about awesome design?  I got these from Ebay and there's a great array of them.  The gentleman from whom they were purchased is a font geek as well - far more advanced than I, to be sure!  They're loaded with cool images and fun articles for designers (but non-designers [like me!] can appreciate them too).

I've used typeface specimens in my art work, too!  Using text is a fun way to add some depth.  The specimen is pretty straightforward in this ATC I created:

And a little more subtle in this collage that I made for my sis and brother in-law of their home (used as the white trim):

Here's to more great font creations in the future!  I wonder how the 'Teens are going to be remembered?  :D

Monday, November 21, 2011

Boring Postcards

I love getting postcards in the mail - who doesn't?  It doesn't seem to happen as often anymore - why would you waste the postage when you can just post your photos on Facebook for all 1100 of your friends to see?   And let's be honest - even without the aid of social media most of the time you beat your postcards home, anyway.  By the time the card reaches its recipient chances are they've already heard all about your trip.  Seems sort of anti-climactic, doesn't it?

The postcards that I've received in the past decade or so have mostly been scenic ones with the name of the city or destination on the front - San Diego, Door County, Puerto Vallarta, etc.  But it seems there was a time when even the most pedestrian of locales enjoyed a fame of sorts - and that's where the "boring postcard" comes into play.

Just check these babies out!  Aren't they marvelous?!  My favorites are the postcards with dining rooms of restaurants or the interiors of motel rooms!  They always make me smile.  I think I love them because it reminds me of how good we have it - really!  Let's think about this for a second:  how thrilling and rare must trips have been 50+ years ago if folks were so excited about their room's interior they sent a postcard?!  And I'm willing to bet that for most of us, a trip to a "fancy" restaurant is literally nothing to write home about, even on vacation.  Even something as awe-inspiring as a chocolate fountain is now available at your nearest Golden Corral, where the site isn't met with wonder and amazement, but with germophobic panic.  Dining out is de rigeur for most of us, not a special occasion (how sad is that?).

"Boring Postcards" are so pervasive that there is actually a book by the same name - which of course I HAD to have.  :D  It's chock-full of those wonderful aforementioned postcards, all Technicolor-y and garish.  They make me want to simplify my life to the point where I'd truly relish a meal in the hotel dining room (even Howard Johnson's) again!

P.S.  Yes, I realize that this post is similar to one I did back in August, but I just got some new postcards and they're more boring than ever!  :D

Friday, November 18, 2011

Touring the Town!

Thanks to Amy Jarvis of Jackson Creative for the great logo!
Hooray!  Tonight is our third consecutive "Tour the Town", a gallery walk that a handful of us started back in September.  Well, actually, we started meeting in June and after a summer of working on the logistics with the downtown businesses (and NO money), we launched on September 16!  Our first two were major successes and of course we're hoping tonight is no different.

I took October off so I could actually walk the tour but I'm back as an artist tonight!  Tonight I will be stationed at Fond du Lac Seafood Co., LLC and because of that, I wanted to do some fish/seafood-related art.  Here's what I came up with:

Both items were done using handmade paper and my vintage Golden Guides.  The pendant is about an inch square and the clock is 4" square and 1.5" deep, just to give you an idea of scale.

Part of the reason I want to do "themes" (loosely interpreted) is to showcase the businesses that are participating in our gallery walk.  Many of them usually close at 6 or 7 p.m. so for them to stay open until 9 is fantastic.  All of us on the committee want the walk to be as beneficial for the businesses as it is for the artists.

I know this blog post isn't really about Ephemeraology today, so thanks for indulging me.  Here's to a fun evening and supporting local artists - wherever you live!  :D

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I Blew it....

My nose, that is!  :D

If you know me personally, then you know that part of the whole Melster package is me having Kleenex on hand at all times.  I have been an allergy/sinus sufferer for the last 39 years - so basically, ever since I can remember.

Did you catch that?  That I used the word "Kleenex" for tissue?  In my case, I wasn't using it in the generic sense - I actually do use Kleenex brand tissues.  And no, this blog post isn't brought to you by the good people at Kimberly-Clark.  :D

My family have been Kleenex users all of my life and I suspect all of my parents' lives, too (or at least my mom's family).  For one thing, when we here in Wisconsin use Kleenex, we're using a local product - Kimberly-Clark is based right in Neenah, about 30 miles south of Green Bay (in the heart of the paper-making Fox River Valley).  And I really do prefer Kleenex (no, I'm seriously not getting any money from K-C!).  :D

Because it's a brand for which I'm loyal, I really dig these two items in my ephemera collection.  As ironic as it is, these most ephemeral of products won't be used by me, probably ever - unless there is some art project that so requires their use that I'd be compromising the piece's integrity by leaving them out.

Aren't they cool?  I'm going to guess that the Pocket Pack is from the 50s or early 60s.  According to the Web site the Pocket Pack was introduced in 1932, but I think this one's newer than that.  It's funny - the wrapping is more like a wax paper than the stretchy shrink-wrap we're used to today.

I'm going to say with 98% certainty that the Lipstick Tissues are from WWII-era.  How can I be so sure?  Well, check out the back of the matchbox-like package -

the soldier in the Baby Ruth ad is sort of a giveaway. And while we're on the subject, how totally awesome is it that there's another advertisement on the back?  Genius!  That's probably why the price of the tissues was only a penny.  Imagine that!

I hope to find other wonderful Kleenex products in my searches, but I doubt I'll be this lucky, especially in the pricing (the Pocket Pack was 50 cents at my friend Kim's shop and the Lipstick Tissues were 2 bucks, I think).

So tell me - what's YOUR favorite vintage-but-current brand?  :D

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Magazine Addiction

Help!  I'm drowning!

I am drowning in a sea of periodicals!!!  Does anyone else have this problem?  Please tell me I'm not the only one!

I ADORE magazines.  I do.  It's an affliction that has plagued me since I've been old enough (as an adult) to have lived at an address for longer than 9 months.  I come by it naturally - my mom and sister Jen are also afficionados.  I would love/shudder to see our combined stacks of monthly (or in some cases, weekly) reading material; Brian and I subscribe to 6 magazines alone.

I'm going to stop you before you tell me that the Kindle/Nook/other reader has downloadable versions of my magazines.  I don't care.  I'm going to kick it old school until it's no longer a possibility and then I'm going to go down kicking and screaming.  I tried a digital magazine once and I hated it - I want the paper in front of me.

You would think that our six magazine subscriptions would be enough to sate my desire but oh, no - there are always new titles to entice voracious readers such as myself.  Some of them are expensive enough that I'm only going to pick them up once a year (case in point - the New American Paintings mag in the photo above - it's 20 bucks an issue!).  But the ideas and inspiration contained therein are worth the price.

Still, it KILLS me to see the magazines being recycled.  I give my old copies of Entertainment Weekly to my sister, so they at least have one more round.  I have dumped oodles of old magazines off at our Senior Center and elementary schools - they always use them for projects.  But then again, so do I!

I have mentioned magazines in at least 45 blog posts (I checked this morning).  Clearly, they're always on my mind and a major part of my life so it's not like I'm going to stop receiving them anytime soon.  That's when the cutting starts.

I have used countless old magazines in my art work - the colors are gorgeous and glossy (I'm not even talking about my ridiculously huge collection of vintage magazines here - just the ones from about 2003 on).  They're great for abstracts or for "painting", when you need just the right color for a project but you don't want to go out and buy paper.  You don't need to!  You have a veritable palette right in front of you when you have old magazines!  Case in point:

This collage was made in large part with an old tomato sauce ad.  I'm serious!  Much of the red from the leaves was thanks to that one ad.

This pendant was made with nothing but my old Real Simple magazines, my shredding scissors and some tiny rub-on tranfers (the numbers).  See what I mean about being perfect for abstracts?  :D

Here is one of the very first ATCs (Artist Trading Cards) I ever made.  Again, it's made entirely of torn-up and cut-up magazine pages.  Thankfully, my photography (and collaging!) skills have come a long way since then.  Oh, and did I mention I adore autumn leaves?  :D

The next time you're sitting on a pile of old magazines that you love but that you're also ready to chuck, think about donating them to an artist that you know.  Or if you're an artist yourself, hopefully this post gave you some collage fodder to ponder!   

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Love these Little Guys!

Every once in a while we Ephemeraologists come across an item that is so vintage and so cute, we just have to have it.

That happened for me when I saw these little things!

I stumbled upon these lovelies during one of my jaunts to the Fox Valley Antique Mall a few years back.  They came in the pack of three and I believe I paid 2 bucks for the entire thing.  I didn't exactly know what they were at first but then I surmised that they were used for rewarding piano students for a particular part of a piece that may have proved to be difficult.  The stickers themselves are really tiny - about a half-inch square!  :D

In looking around on the Internet I notice that they're not quite as rare as I had previously thought - and they're still made!  You can get one of these little booklet with 80 labels for only a dollar!  

As you can see I have the choir boy, puppy and Schubert stickers.  Judging by this Etsy listing (that sold, darn it!), many other composers were also available.  There's a great blog called Dave's Vintage Stuff and he also talks about these, but I believe he's off by a couple of decades when he says they're from the 70s.  Judging by the fonts used and the silhouette on the front, I'm going to put these in the 40s or 50s, unless it's one of those products whose look never changes.

Although many of my stickers have been bonded together by time and humidity, I have managed to use them in my art work.

See Herr Schubert hanging out by the giant "7"?  :D

This time I just used the "S-15" tiny tag
from the sticker!  :D

Monday, November 14, 2011

In a Flash!

Quick!  What's 9X7?

As I was writing this, I almost said "72", but caught myself.  It's 63!  I always got mixed up on the 9-times portion of the multiplication tables.  Maybe if I would've studied my flash cards more I would have these down pat.

Ah, flash cards!  Now there's a blast from the past!  How many of you had to use flash cards as a kid?  I distinctly remember using the aforementioned math cards in 2nd grade and I believe we also used them for English or spelling, but I never had a problem with those subjects so it's not as ingrained in my brain.

According to Wikipedia, flash cards utilize the mental process called active recall, whereby one produces an answer when given the question.  Given that I'm not so good under pressure (which is why I had to take my driving test EIGHT times before I passed), I'm pretty certain that flash cards didn't work for me.  I tend to blank out when forced to answer quickly, unless I know the subject material like the back of my hand.  Too bad they didn't test us on music trivia!  :D

I have quite a collection of flash cards and find them fascinating, even if they don't always work for me.  I love the little math ones especially, and the foreign language ones are neato.  I also love the ASL flash cards and the picture ones too!

These cards lend themselves perfectly for ATCs and collages!  Here are some that I've done using flash cards:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day

All over the world today, people will pause and honor their veterans.  Whether you call it Veterans Day, Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, it's good to stop what you're doing for a moment and realize all that our vets have done for us.  

I have/had three vets in my family - my dad was in WWII (he served as a Marine in the Pacific on the USS Yorktown II aircraft carrier), my brother was in Viet Nam (he did two tours in the Army - the first in Germany and the second in Viet Nam) and my father in-law, who served stateside in the Air Force during Viet Nam (it was by his intelligence that he was able to stay here instead of being shipped overseas; only the two men with the highest scores on the test could, and he finished first).

All three of these brave young men, along with the countless others who've served in our military, have made it possible for all of us in this country to enjoy freedoms that others only dream of.  We cannot take their sacrifices for granted and today is the perfect day to thank them for their service to their countries.  Let's not forget the current troops, too - someday they'll also be veterans!

I think I speak on behalf of my entire readership today when I say "thank you" to the brave men and women who have so thoughtfully given their time and service to their country.  We owe them so much.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Very Model of Ephemera

Normally I wouldn't categorize models as ephemeral - they're not meant to be thrown away (far from!) and they're usually made of structurally sound components (for a model) like plastic or metal.  But on my last trip to our local antique mall (sniff) I encountered this box and when I opened it I KNEW I had to have it.  It didn't hurt that it was 20% off!

Isn't it SO cool?  What's even better is that the entire contents of the box, which are all intact, consists of paper.  It was put out by a company called Wm. K. Walthers, Inc. from right in Milwaukee - so it's local, too! And the company is still in business!!  I was very happy to see that.  This product is copyrighted 1960.

The box says that the models are for HO Scale model railroads, but they appear smaller than that.  That made it even more appealing!  Check out the "bricks" for the building exterior:  They're REALLY tiny!  It's hard to tell from the photo but the paper is essentially just that heavy construction paper.  I have four sheets in various colors.  I love these!

Here's something else about the kit that I love - these tiny "signs".  Because the product is made in Milwaukee, of course you're going to include Schlitz and Blatz beer signs, Oscar Meyer (headquartered in Madison) and G. Heilemann Brewing Co. from La Crosse (former makers of Old Style).  It's a little model railroad nod to the great mid-century companies of Wisconsin!

The instructions are equally fabulous.  I love that they allow the builder to configure the buildings more than one way - flat top, gable front, peak roof, false front with porch, etc.  The box includes enough cardboard cutouts for up to three buildings, depending on how they're created.  The cardboard in my kit is perfectly flat - actually, all of the materials are in perfect condition, which leads me to believe that wherever they were stored for the last 50 years was a cool, dry space.  There is no buckling whatsoever, which I consider miraculous.

Now for the $64,000 question - will I be using this kit?  ABSOLUTELY.  I already have plans for it.  I think it was waiting for me all of these years to come along and liberate the cardboard from its box.  And when I'm done, I'll post photos.  I don't know if I'll be using the signage (I have other plans for that), and the buildings may be doctored a little, but I hope I can do them justice.  It would be an honor to make something artful out of this wonderful little kit.  Stay tuned!