Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Sticky Situation

Note from Mel:  I'm running this oldie today because I'm on my way to Chicago with my friend Nicci to pick up some art work from a show we were in!  I'll be back tomorrow with a new post - in the meantime, enjoy this tape-filled adventure!  :D

I'm going to make a bet that more adhesive (or as we oldsters call it, "cellophane") tape is used in these last five days before Christmas than the rest of the year combined.  Alas, I couldn't find any stats to back up this idea, but I'll bet I'm right.  How's that for scientific?  :D

I have always loved tape.  If this sounds like something Bert from Sesame Street would say, you're not far off - I'm kind of a geek (I'm pretty sure that "I love tape" is one of the geekiest sentences ever uttered, but not as geeky as Bert's "I love linoleum").  Seriously, though - I've always loved the promise that a roll of tape holds - all those gifts!  All the adorable kids' craft projects!  All of those books/newspaper clippings mended!

And then, along came online shopping.  I had no idea there were so many different tapes out there.  It staggers the mind.  I am also a HUGE fan of vintage dispensers; of course, 3M is probably the forerunner of these, considering the amount of the adhesive market they command.  They're surprisingly easy to come by at estate sales - I mean, who doesn't have a roll of tape in their drawer?  And if you've lived in the same house for 55 years and you're a Depression baby, why, that's perfectly good tape!  Sure, it doesn't stick anymore, but it's still not going to be thrown out!  Elmer's will help with that problem!  :D
The way I see it, adhesive tape is about as ephemeral as it gets.  No one I know (not even Yours Truly!) saves the tape from packages (if you know of anyone who does, I'd love to hear from you!), even if it is low-tack adhesive.  Considering the amount of time it's actually used, we sure like to decorate with it!

Here is some artwork that I've done using adhesive tape:

Monday, July 30, 2012

I can Dig it!

Happy Monday, Ephemeraologists!  What did you do over the weekend?  Whatever your plans, I hope you had a wonderful time.  :D

I had a great time presenting/demonstrating at Prairie Fest on Saturday, where I (hopefully!) got people fired up about upcycling items in your home to make art AND how to make paper with recycled materials!  It was a great turnout and a wonderful day.

Ah, but then came Sunday.  I knew what I had to do yesterday, something that we haven't had time to do in about a month - CLEAN.  Or, more appropriately, UNEARTH.

My studio is an horrific disaster (notice I didn't say "was").  With the amount of excavating I had to do yesterday, I'm thinking of changing the name of my blog from Ephemeraology to Archaeology.  Yeah, I'm afraid it's that bad.  And no, I'm not posting photos!  :D

One of the best things about cleaning the studio, though, is the rediscovery of items - it's like Christmas in July.  :D  Here are a few of the things I found during my "dig":

This awesome coupon for a root beer at A&W!  This is OLD - notice the ancient logo!  I can't even remember that logo, can any of you?  In looking through the history of A&W on their website, I'm going to put this in the early 50s.  This particular coupon is good at the A&W on Forest Home Ave. in Milwaukee, which no longer exists.  There are a lot of them in my neck of the woods - the one in Fond du Lac has been in business for over 50 years, and is seasonal - they're closed from November-February, because it's the old-fashioned drive-in style (we love drive-ins in Fondy).  I got this at Ephemerafest back in May.

Here's another Ephemerafest item - this Johnson Wax booklet!  It's all about how to care for your shoes using Johnson's line of shoe shine products. What's the reason there are monkeys involved?  Simple - "monkeyshines"!  :D   And I don't know why - maybe it's because of the "My Three Sons" open - but I am a sucker for a good drawing of a wing tip shoe!  It's really specific, I know.  But I know my friend Vivienne knows what I'm talking about.  :D

Here's a great item that was very thoughtfully given to me by my friend Carolyn (she of ATC fame!) - this exercise booklet from the Royal Canadian Air Force!  Because Carolyn is far more disciplined than I, she actually tried these exercises.  Me?  Pfft.  Not on your life.  But oh lordy, these photos are fantastic!  I've amassed quite a glorious collection of excercise booklets and programs over the last year, and I'm getting some ideas as I write this (apologies in advance for the stream-of-consciousness writing) - a handmade book?  A line of snarky greeting cards?  ATCs (for sure!)? A triptych of collages?  The mind reels, and it's all Carolyn's (and my friend Nicci's!) fault.  :D

Thank you, my dear readers, for allowing me to share with you my less-than-ideal housekeeping practices.  (eep!)  I feel better, and I hope you like my "artifacts".  :D

Friday, July 27, 2012

Handmade Paper Love!

All week long I've taken a "vacation" of sorts from my usual collaging - I've been practicing for my big handmade paper demo debut tomorrow at Prairie Fest, a Fond du Lac festival in collaboration with our Gottfried Aboretum, celebrating all things earth-friendly!  My husby Brian is on the board, which is how I came to be involved with the festival.
I've spoken of my love of paper-making before, but this is the first time that I'll be the 'do-er' instead of the viewer.

The stack shown above is a cross-view of all of the papers I've made this week, and my "waste not, want not" idea of saving scraps (no, it's NOT hoarding!) paid off big-time!  Take, for example, this piece:

I made it with the leftover scraps I had from these projects! 

Here is the close-up of that particular sheet of paper I made: 

I call it "Note Paper" - get it?  :D

Here are some other papers I made this week!  I made them with vintage phone book pages (left), a pint-sized fruit crate, like the kind you get at farmers' markets (center), and recycled envelopes that I painted with pulp, made from tissue paper (right).  

There is something so relaxing about creating something new from something in the trash.  I am so happy that I met and became friends with the Grummer family (yes, THAT Arnold Grummer family!) last October at the Friends of Dard Hunter conference in Appleton because without their wonderful products to use, I don't think I ever would've tried making paper at all (have you seen the directions for how to make paper from scratch?  VERY time-consuming and can be costly). All I need is a blender and this kit, and I'm good to go!
Did you know that I am a Certified Paper Maker with Arnold Grummer, Inc.?  It's true!  I am actually authorized to sell their products and do demos and workshops using their techniques!  And I'm the only one in my area that will be a Certified Paper Maker, so within a 25-mile radius of Fondy, I'm the It Girl with the company.  How cool is that?  :D  

So, those of you in Fond du Lac, stop on down to Prairie Fest and see how easy it is to make paper!  :D

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Star Struck

Museum of Ephemera (MOE), Naskup, B.C.
What's your idea of a "celebrity"?  Is it a movie star?  A football player?  A Broadway actor?  Or could it be a guy who lives in Naskup, British Columbia and started his own museum?  :D 

Yesterday morning I got a message on my Ephemeraology Facebook page from Don Mabie, AKA Chuck Stake.  He said that he had posted a video on my ATCs - Artist Trading Cards and Ephemeraology pages about his museum, the MOE (Museum of Ephemera) that he operates in Naskup.  What he said next floored me, because he said it so offhandedly that I had to read it a couple times: 
"I am also involved in ATCs, I am the guy who brought the idea of ATCs from Zurich to North America after my friend vanci came up with the idea - I attended the first trading session in Zurich."
You know, no big whoop (!!!!).   :D

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I wrote him a rather praise-filled reply to that message, filled with over-the-top hyperbole about how he unknowingly changed my life (he kind of did, though!) by introducing ATCs to us, and how I would be one of those annoying hangers-on at his museum if Naskup weren't on the other end of the continent.  He never wrote me back after that, so I can only assume he thinks I'm a wack-job.  :D

Mr. Mabie's resume (CV) is impressive - he seems to know trends before they're trends!  He began doing mail art in 1971 and founded Chuck Stake Enterprises in 1972, which is when he became Chuck Stake.  At the risk of just copying and pasting the rest of his VERY long list of adventures and accomplishments, check out everything Chuck's done in the last 40 years here.

Alas, Chuck has no website or Facebook page about the MOE, but he does have a You Tube channel featuring not only the aforementioned video, but this one about his "stickyback" collages from last year. Chuck's been collecting stickers for 40 years and that's how these collages came about.

But more about the ephemera!  Here is a shot of one of the walls of the MOE, which he wallpapered entirely with this own ephemera collection:

I guess when you've been collecting for over 40 years, you can do this easily!  Keep in mind that this was just an installation, NOT permanent.  Now that's dedication!

I really would love to visit this place, as I'm sure we all would!  :D  After reading Chuck's message, I seriously considered updating my passport and taking a trip with Brian out west next year.

It is messages like Chuck's that make me realize what a close community we Ephemeraologists have developed.  There are a lot of us out there and now, we're easy to find!  It is so life-affirming when you can share your ephemera and collage passions with others regardless of location, age, station in life, gender, or culture.  It is a connecting force!  


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I've been Needled!

No, I wasn't taunted by anyone - just the opposite!

Last night the committee for our gallery walk (of which I am a member), Tour the Town, hosted a gathering for the artists and venues who are or would like to be participants.  It was a wonderful evening of mingling, meeting new friends, and strengthening our downtown.

During the festivities one of my newer friends, Mary Waters, handed me a little bag of treasures.  It wasn't until I got home that I discovered how true that word "treasure" describes my gift:

WOWIE!  This collection of needle cases is a veritable museum of early 20th century advertising!  I'm going to guess that the newest of this collection (the very sweet little girl on the Samoset needle case) is from the early Twenties.

Check out these "Broadway" needles and that gorgeous navy tissue-like paper with the gold filigree printing - gorgeous!  As you can see, one of the packets is still housed in half of a beautifully lithographed booklet.  Why don't people take the time to print like this anymore?

And how about this Dix and Rand's teeny little needle case?  The fact that there is even a snippet of label left is amazing!  And those stars!  You can tell how old this case is by the copy on the inside - first of all, even in a much larger space you never see that much copy anymore - people don't want to take the time to read it.  You can also tell by the fonts used that this is probably from the first decade of our previous century, as with the style of writing.  When's the last time you read the word "thereby" in an ad?  :D  In case you're wondering, the copy reads: "These needles are warranted to excel all other brands in finish and quality.  The eyes are beveled and gauged, thereby making sewing much easier".  Today, it would read something like: "Dix and Rand - the eyes have it."  (Get it?)  :D

Isn't this little Samoset Laundry premium cute?  This is a great set.  The little girl makes it wonderful but so does the back - this great advertisement for the Samoset Laundry Service!  The four-digit phone number kills me, as does the Native American mascot.  It also makes me laugh when I see proprietors' names on ads or premiums - even in our smallish burg of 40,000, no one really cares enough to see the owner's name on something - everyone doesn't know everyone anymore, even though it seems like it sometimes.

Last but not least is this H. Milward and Sons case, which is British.  I love the directness and stark quality of the little label!  Again, there's a lot of copy in a small space - today, no one would bother saying, "Buy 'Milward's' Needles, which are all Warranted Genuine in Size".  All of this advertising is before agencies told companies they had to make it "snappy"; these little ads are essentially salespeople yelling out in marketplaces!

I don't know how I'm going to use these yet, but I really have my eye (nyuk nyuk) on that navy tissue with the gold stars.  Look for it in a collage soon...  :D

Thank you again, Mary, for your generosity and thoughtfulness!  I love my new little needle treasures!  :D

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Road Trip, 1940-Style!

Well, here we are, a little more than halfway through the summer already!  I for one will be thrilled to see it come to an end - it's been miserable here in Wisconsin, as it has been in much of our country.  For my friends in the Pacific Northwest and the Southern Hemisphere, I'm jealous of you.  :D

But for all of my complaining about our 100+ degree temps, I have to admit that most of us have it SO good.  Can you imagine what it was like 72 years ago?  Well, let me paint you a picture:

You and your husband and your three young daughters are headed west from southern Illinois, all the way to California - by car.  Without air conditioning.  In August.

I can't even fathom this trip!  But it's a true story - my Grammie was one of those three aforementioned girls. :D  She would talk about these trips quite a bit and laugh about the happenings on the trip, one of which were the swimsuits her mother made the girls wear.  I don't know - looks like the height of fashion to me!  :D

My great-aunts Lou-Lou and Julia, 1940

My great-great-great
 Aunt Toog
The reason they did these trips (one in 1936, the other in 1940) was because my great-grandmother had these two elderly aunts, Toog and Clyde, who lived in Los Angeles.  Neither one had ever married and they lived together - or that's the story my Grammie was told (wink, wink).  I guess they were quite eccentric and fun (wink, wink!).  Check out this photo of Toog - is that beach wear, or WHAT?  :D

My great-great-great
Aunt Clyde

These little photos were accompanied by this wonderful brochure from the Big Sur Lodge, where my Grammie's family stayed before they reached L.A.  It keeps going....

....and going....

...and going.....

....and GOING!  It's exactly 2 feet long!  :D

Part of the back of the brochure gives a little history of the Carmel-San Simeon Highway, which cost 10 million dollars to build!  :D  Oh, and check out the nightly rates - my great-grandparents shelled out FIVE WHOLE BUCKS for a double cabin!  :D  For all of the pomp and circumstance, it's easy to see how spoiled we've become with our accommodations when we travel!  Be honest - judging by this brochure, how many of you would jump at the chance to stay here now?  Show of hands?  No one?  That's what I thought.  But in 1940, this was AMAZING.  

Here's the cool part - it still exists, and it's been beautifully kept up.  There's another thing that has drastically changed - the room rates.  That 'double cabin' will now cost you upwards of four HUNDRED dollars.  Hey, at least they're air-conditioned now!  :D

Monday, July 23, 2012


...and Dennison!  :D

I wonder if it's some law of the Universe that young girls love stickers?   It seems to transcend generations, too - my sister and I collected them and when they were younger, and my nieces did as well.

Of course, the subject matter changes over the years, but the "bug" seems to be prevalent.  Back in my day, it was those "3-D" (we called them "puffy") stickers made of vinyl and later, the Mrs. Grossman's stickers, which you bought by the inch.  My nieces loved anything with puppies or kitties, or Justin Bieber.  But before any of those stickers, there were these:

Eureka and Dennison seals!  Aren't they wonderful?  :D

What I enjoy so much about these is the variety.  Animals, birds, holidays, people, history, flora - there were so many subjects from which to choose!

I know most of you will think I'm crazy, but I liked the gummed adhesive stickers, the kind you have to moisten yourself (like we all had to do with postage and trading stamps).  I actually enjoyed that taste!  I'll even go so far to say that if ephemera had a taste, it would be that gummed adhesive.  If someone could bottle the smell via the flavor of labels or stamps, I would buy it!  What, is that weird?  :D

Okay, back to the stickers (or "seals" - there's a word you rarely hear nowadays)!  They have everything going for them - they're tiny, they're in booklet form, there's a whole bunch in a pack (more bang for your allowance buck), and you can collect 'em all!

I got my booklets in two places - the Kewaskum Antique Mall (one of my favorite antique stores ever), and Persimmons Studio, my friend Kim 
Geiser's place in Manitowoc (and these I picked up during Ephemerafest!).  I have mainly birds but I LOVE the fruit and Thanksgiving booklets!

Oddly, I have only done one collage using the labels - this Thanksgiving ATC whereby I cut out the turkey from one of the Thanksgiving labels and stuck it on her plate.  This card has a very happy story attached - it was the card that Pam Kueber found on Flickr and used on her very popular Web site, Retro Renovation, for her Thanksgiving 2009 post.  It was that ATC that launched our collage contest collaboration there in 2010-11!  Maybe I owe much of my success to that one Dennison seal?  :D

One last thing - if you haven't already, be sure to enter the "600" contest, going on right now!  You could win some fabulous prizes!  :D

Friday, July 20, 2012

Quiz Kids!

I'm so excited - it's Tour the Town night here in Fond du Lac!

For those of you who don't know what that means, it's our monthly gallery walk that my friends Julie and Liz started about a year ago.  I was thrilled when Brian and I were asked to be on the committee - it's a group that gets things done!  I am participating this month at As You Wish, one of my favorite downtown shops.  We always have a great time!

This seems to be the year of the gallery walk, because I was able to participate in another one last month!  One of my favorite little cities, West Bend, also began a Gallery Night this year!  I showed at the PERFECT venue - a gift shop/antique store called Apple Barrel.  I had frequented Apple Barrel before, every time I visited West Bend.  So when I learned that I was showing there, I was thrilled!  What better place than an antique shop/general store to showcase my ephemera-based artwork?  :D  Laurie, the owner, couldn't have been more wonderful.  It was a truly fantastic experience!

Of course, while I was there, I just HAD to peruse the items for sale!  I didn't get very far, however, because it was BUSY the entire night.  So I just looked around my area and even then I found about 20 things I wanted to buy.  This gem was a given:

Oh yes.  This was goin' home with me.  How could it not?!  And it's COMPLETE!  How many 72 year-old board games can you say that about?

Alas, it won't be complete for long - just look at the myriad ephemera just waiting for me to use in my art work!  There are:

question cards,

letter tiles, 

map pieces, 

the original instructions - 

even the inside of the box cover is covered in vintage graphic-y goodness!

If this is the companion to the radio/TV show of the same name, that makes it even better.
As you can see, the box is in near-mint condition, and it's always harder for me to use stuff when it's intact.  But these pieces are so great, I don't think I can let them sit.  I'll leave the box alone, though!  I promise! :D

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Finds from the 'Fev!

You know, sometimes I get caught up in the paper so much that I forget to show some love to my fabulous advertisers!  WHAT?  You didn't know I had supporters for the blog?  I sure do!  Look to the right of this post - you'll see them in all their glory.  :)

A few weeks back I paid one of these fabulous places a visit.  Manto Fev is amazing and, as always, I came away with some wonderful stuff!  Allow me to show you what I got (and what's available to you!):

I am REALLY excited about these items - vintage Indian postcards and telegraph receipts!  SWOON!!!  I've always thought the Indian alphabets are so beautiful (I don't know enough about them to decipher which one this is), and when they're handwritten, even better! When the stuff's vintage, to boot?  MAJOR score.  These prices are insanely inexpensive, so you can afford to get some of each.  I can't wait to create something with these!

And speaking of Indian items, I also bought a hand carved stamp!  These are new stamps using traditional Indian patterns.  Older stamps were used for textiles but you could use these with paper, too!  I love mine!

You've heard me talk about this before, but I can't get enough of vintage school worksheet pages!  Sara sent me some great ones - I LOVE the clock one, and the fruits and veggies one would be perfect in a collage.  Part of the fun of these pages is that you never know what you're going to get - I like to think of it as an art challenge!

Okay, I've saved the most unusual item for last - check out these vintage glass teeth!  Sara thinks they were either samples or used in teaching methods.  They are so unique, I had to buy some.  I'm think I'll probably use them in a fun assemblage piece, although I'm not quite sure how yet.  But come ON!  How can you pass these up when you see 'em?  :D

If you don't have any shops near you that sell vintage ephemera goodness, why not have some fun and check out Manto Fev and all of my other wonderful advertisers?  I'll forewarn you - you can easily get lost in the sites.  :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We Did It!

Happy Hump Day, everyone!  I have exciting news....

We reached the "600" mark on our Facebook page!  You know what that means - it's GIVEAWAY TIME!

Here's what you'll get:

Our good friend Trina over at The Paper Flea Market has agreed to give 60% off your order.  That's right - SIXTY PERCENT.  So if you buy $10 worth of stuff (and that'll buy you a LOT), you only pay $4.  Sounds like a fantastic deal to me!  

You will also receive a very lovely goody bag from yours truly, full of the things I feature on the blog! Newspapers, stamps, general ephemera paper, checks, trading stamps, school stuff, coloring book stuff, paper doll stuff, decorative paper, and other assorted goodies - expect to find it in the package.  :)

And as an added bonus, you'll get something from my very own Web site, melkolstad.com!  I don't know what it'll be yet, as I don't know who will win!  If you like my art work, then it is my hope that you like your prize.  :)

Here's what you have to do:  In the comments below (or on the Facebook link to this blog post), tell us what  you would do with your ephemera collection if money and space were no object.  Would you buy a ton of one item and create a large art installation?  Would you take your cherished uncirculated currency collection, frame each one individually, and create a "Bank Note Palace"?  Or would you buy beautiful leather-bound books to lovingly hold your prize ephemera?  These are just some ideas I came up with off the top of my head, but I want to hear what YOU would do!  Get creative!

You have until 5 p.m. CDT on Monday night, July 23, so get commenting!  :D

Lastly, but not leastly (tee hee), I would like to thank you all for your constant support.  I have the BEST readers in the world, and it gets me every time one of you says (or writes) to me, "I really liked your post today."  WOW.  I never considered myself a 'writer', so the fact that I'm stringing coherent sentences together well enough for you to read my posts is still mind-boggling.  I just started this blog because I love ephemera, so to find so many of you like-minded souls, in EVERY corner of the globe, is just fascinating and humbling.  Thank you all again so very much.  I truly appreciate every page view I receive here.  :)