Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mail Art: Hollow Books

I am so excited to stop hoarding these painstakingly hollowed books and send them out into the world! 
 This one is for an open mail art show in Sacramento at a new gallery, Milk. It's sealed with glue and it rattles because it is full of little treasures. Revealing all the treasures in a photo seemed wrong so I pried it back open, added a secret treasure, and glued it back together.
This next one-- Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit-- was quality paper, not the lightweight pulp, which meant that it was super hard to hollow.
I have been waiting for an excuse to make this for one of my pen pals, and when she sent me a too awesome collage I seized the opportunity. There's a letter behind the feathers, but I doubt she'll be able to read it.
This one is for my sweetheart. I won't say that he picked his discipline because of Robin Hood, but they go together perfectly.  I have my heart set on using the Love stamps that are getting released on the 14th to send this. I think they will complement the fun printed cover better than any stamps that are out right now. And so, even though I finished this in January, it won't get to its destination until well after Valentines.
 Of course I tucked in a love letter before I sealed it.

Feathers are so frustrating to work with, and there is no substitute. I just love them. I think these cheap feathers look as good as the dyed guinea fowl ones in the Eat Right book, but they were harder to work with. In this packet, about a third of the feathers were unusable, and lots more were sort of chewed up looking, but fine for layering.

These are an absurd kind of decadent, with layers of surprises for the recipient. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Fantastic Mail Week

This week my mailbox was filled with an embarrassment of riches. In one week, I received a month worth of wonderful mail. I got postcards and letters and mail art and my own birth certificate and some things I'd ordered- my first fountain pen and my first passport.

 Here is a detail of the lovely two sided collage I got from a stranger in a swap.
 A detail of my passport, which I signed with my brand new fountain pen.
 A detail of my postcard from a Valentine Swap- Thailand does a great job with their stamps!
 A lino print valentine from my mail art penpal Dawn. I should have taken a detail picture of this, because the  orange paint or ink creates a little raised line around the details, like embossing.  I did not know we were exchanging Valentines, so I sent her a regular mail art letter made from pieces of my shoes and stuff. At least I tucked in a little heart woven from patterned privacy envelopes.
 A glittery blue olive branch seal.
This one is a Valentine that I sent to myself via Valentine, Texas. They couldn't fit the special postmark on the postcard without obscuring the note I wrote to myself, which read, "C- Happy Valentines Day! <3 C." Sending myself a Valentine turned out to be a totally unnecessary precaution against sadness. But, last year I sent a bunch of friends re mailed Valentines without sending myself one, and then I didn't have one around to show people. 
Lastly, this "message in a bottle" arrived weeks ago but I got to open it on Valentine's and it was 6oz of lovely treats. Stickers, candy, ribbons, and a lovely letter, among other things. The one I sent arrived took two weeks to get from California to Ohio, so it arrived on the 16th, but I think my swap partner was happy with it. First Class (stamped) mail has to be under 13 oz, and I was so nervous that it would weigh more than 13 oz that I filled the bottle with feathers and old postage stamps. Well, it weighed 1.75oz. 
I don't forsee having a week like this again, but it was neat! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Post Office Update

I feel like I am not getting very much out of my job, but that is not quite true. I will probably leave it off my resume someday, but I think it belongs there right now since in an interview I might be asked where I currently work. So, I was working out how to frame the job, and I can honestly say I am glad I took it.

Since I love the mail and mail is amazing, I am glad that I got to spend two weeks in the Oakland sorting facility, seeing all the machines and the handlers and the tragic art and signs. I got to listen to dozens of hours of non-public speakers assigned to ramble to the new hires- it was a lot of work to glean anything useful or interesting, but glean I did. I've gotten to dust a crystal ball award that someone got for accruing 1,000 hours of unused sick time- 1,000 hours he could have spent nursing a headache or resting on the couch, which he spent at the post office. One time? I picked up the crystal ball to wipe dust off the shelf under it, and the crystal stand turned out to be a separate piece, attached only by a weak vacuum. I almost broke someone's 1,000 hours of unused sick time... now I let it get dusty.

I have never met so many people who consider their job their forever job. I've just begun to see all the ways that affects people's behavior. They're careful, very into following protocols. They can't work too hard, because they have to do it all over tommorow, and 5/7ths of the next ten thousand tommorows. This is very foreign to me. I have had eight jobs in the five years since I started working, and I feel proud of myself for each half day that I don't drive away forever without bothering to resign.

 I've gotten to meet the Hayward postmaster and dust the letter she has from the City of Hayward proclaiming a particular day a city holiday in her honor, and the pin she has thanking her for 40 years of service. I've learned loads about the different unions, especially the one I am eligible to join (I joined but they lost my info and aren't taking my dues out of my paycheck and are hassling my union rep to get me to join).

I am finding it easy to spend my breaks studying Japanese- I can't relax at work since there is no private space, not even any space where it's polite not to talk to each other, like in a library or a grocery store. Between this small discipline and the audiobooks I listen to all day, I am learning kind of a lot besides what the job itself presents. And yet, apparently I secretly possess quite an aptitude for boredom, and just hadn't had the proper environment to nurture it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Valentine Remailing

It's the 5th today, and I am sending out my Valentines for remailing from Valentine, Texas. I left it kind of late, and I didn't address it to the Valentine Postmaster very clearly. 
 Here are the valentines, which I put in their own envelopes. I did one for myself as well, a postcard in pen and ink. When it arrives here, I will go over it with watercolors.
 They are all stamped and in a bigger envelope.
 Which is in turn stamped. I think this address should read:
Valentine Postmaster
Valentine Remailing
Valentine, TX 79854
but I couldn't write that, so I looked up the street address on google maps and I'm sure it will get sorted. Since there is a lot of paper in there it might need a 20c surcharge stamp. I'll weigh it at work to make sure before affixing the stamp, though.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Anaktuvuk Pass Postmark

I sent out a round of postcards to get postmarks for my growing collection. The first one to make it back to me is from the remotest post office in the US. Anaktuvuk Pass is a few degrees north of the Arctic Circle. The population is 250 people, but they have an airport because there are no roads and they're quite far from the coast. Wikipedia tells me their name means Caribou Droppings, so I just drew a caribou, and will paint it now that it's back. 

 I sent it on the 22nd of January, then it was postmarked (at its first destination, Anaktuvuk) Jan 30, and I had it in my hands Feb 2nd. That system of airplanes and $9/gallon heating fuel really works. I was going to make a tortured joke about overnight mail and polar night, but I am not smart enough:
At 68* polar night lasts 20 hours, and at the north pole (90*) it lasts from September to March. And Anaktuvuk is at 70*. So, I don't know whether 1/22/2012-2/2/2012 is overnight there, although I intuit that it's not. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mail Art- Valentine's Day Message in a Bottle

I've read that people consider themselves immune to advertising. I certainly do, but tonight I was entirely taken in by a billboard. I was driving home, thinking about the naked (sans packaging) mail I recently swapped. (I sent the one on the right and was given the one on the left):
 I filled a plastic bottle with feathers and cancelled postage stamps, and it looked kind of sloppy so I painted it gold with the sign enamel I use to paint my car. Well, it looked good but it was too much work. I was trying to figure out another way to get the effect and I saw a billboard for the Coors Light Aluminum Bullet Pint. I really don't like Coors*, but I really do want a cheap, very lightweight, sealable metal bottle. I'll look for it at the grocery store. I will be able to tell if the label is printed on plastic or right on the aluminum, but not whether the aluminum is thick enough for the rigors of the mail system. For that, I will have to drink it. I know beer can be used in bread and in marinade, but I think I would rather just consume it straight than get my hopes entangled in a culinary project. 

I am glad I typed this out, because I've realized that REI probably has aluminum containers of various sorts. 

*I went to college; I know that alcohol that tastes bad should taste bad like fire. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Valentine Postcards (Tutorial)

I made some valentines from a sheet of thickish clear styrene, and it was harder than I thought it would be. I used spraypaint, and x-acto knife, scissors, deco tape, and a fine tipped sharpie. 
The styrene has a layer of plastic protecting it, so I cut away the parts I wanted to spray paint white. This was the hard step. The part with plastic on will stay clear, and the part without will be white. My design had a lot of tiny scallops and the plastic film was clingy but not adhesive, and couldn't see the tiny clear pieces. 

Then I spray painted the styrene with two coats of white spray paint. This picture was between coats. 

When I peeled off the plastic, the cards looked great. They were impossible to cut apart with the x-acto (it only scored the styrene), so I used scissors, which was kind of hard since I didn't want to snap the plastic by bending it too far. 
I was going to do a second layer of spray paint, in red, but the cans were in a cage at blick and no one opened it for me when I lurked near it for a while. So, I put lacy red deco tape from daiso on them, as an accent. 
I addressed them on the non spray painted side, and wrote little love notes on the back of the stamps since they'll show through. 
 Here is a finished front.

 One of them is going to Italy, and I am a little worried about that one holding up, but my flexing and scratching tests made me think these will still look great after their trip through the mail.

2/1/12 Resolution Post

January- Nutrition: I did not finish my January resolution! I tried three of five new recipes. Trader Joe's didn't have any spinach, and then I didn't really want to try Black Bean Brownies in case they took all day and came out gross. But, I managed the part of my resolution wherein I took supplements and (mostly) didn't miss meals. This is the postcard I sent to Hershey, PA for the postmaster to postmark and remail. I sent it as a line drawing and was going to paint it if I succeeded in my resolution, but I need more colors in my January so I painted it anyway. 
 Next up: February- Yoga. I had a hard time drawing this since classic yoga postures look generic to me and I didn't have a model to make it fresh. I drew a pretty fair imaginary half moon pose- the toes are planted in the actual posture, but it looks more like a moon to have them pointed. It is going to Half Moon Bay, CA, for its postmark. I think this is the only postmark I'm sending off for this year that will be from a town I've visited. HMB is pretty, like everything on the 1, and I believe it does not have a craft store or art store.
I managed several minutes of yoga this morning by running a hulu beginner's yoga video in the background while I got ready for my passport photo. Putting on nice clothes and doing simple makeup took a long time since I'm not used to it any more.