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Archive for February 3rd, 2009

Back to MailArt

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I have not shared here in a long time about the MailArt I used to enjoy sending. MailArt basically is anything artful you can send through the postal mail system, particularly non-paper things sent without an envelope.

I’ve sent plastic fish, paper plates, wig heads, nerf balls, a plastic yard flamingo (without legs) and who knows what else, through the US Postal Service without an envelope.

If it’s not breakable and you can get postage to stick and two addresses to be legible, you can send it. I usually have used Priority Mail for anything large and bulky or odd.

The only thing I’ve sent that did not make it, was expensive/firm paper plates dropped into a public mailbox. They clearly were put through the standard equipment and chewed up beyond recognition. Funny thing, though… soft and inexpensive white paper plates made it, they were flexible enough to get through the mail-processing machine system.

However, if you wait in line at a post office and hand the odd piece to a postal worker, they have a way to process it so that it will not get chewed up. Truthfully, we are lucky in the USA to have a system that is as efficient as it is, and still allows unusual pieces.


The most fun thing I ever sent was styrofoam wig heads. I was able to write/stamp all over them and they stood up to travel rather well. Brian has one I sent him, in his office at work.

I never tell anyone ahead of time, to expect an odd package. Usually I get a delighted note or phone call when it arrives. Often I get a great story about how the package was received. I love those stories.

One thing I learned while enjoying MailArt, was something they call “eraser carving.” You can literally buy a plastic eraser, and cut it with a craft knife or v-cutter (for linoleum or wood block printing), then use it like a rubber stamp. When you get really into it, you can buy special “soft block” medium which is larger, for something more like a linoleum print.

I have not done any eraser carving in too long. Sometimes I do get out the stamps I previously made, and stamp envelopes I mail out, or make a greeting card. This week I did that to make a “feel better” sort of postcard.

I got out my star stamp, and sticky “embossing” stamp ink. I stamped on a black card, then sprinkled colored embossing powder on the sticky spots. I tapped the card to make the powder fall off the card in all places other than where the stamp had been, and melted the powder with a heat gun made just for this purpose.

I also did a similar process with a different color of powder, using a marking pen with sticky embossing ink in it. I followed it all up with some fabric paint dots to fill out the background. It was a lot of fun.

There is something magical in watching the powder melt and stick to the card. I have not done that in a few years. It was great fun.

Next I hope to actually get out an eraser or two, and my carving tools. I miss doing that! I’d like to make a ukulele stamp if nothing else. Maybe also a Heftone Bass stamp, and maybe a sock or two.

Photos: three wig heads I mailed maybe in 2001 or 2002; postcard from this week; “eraser carving” self portrait printed in embossing ink on a sheet of unbaked polymer clay and then baked, year 2000. Notice that the star stamp I used on the postcard I also used on the wig head at far left.

Presenting my new yarn: Resonance Flammegarn!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

New Yarn!

For several years I have been dyeing yarns off and on. For fingering-weight socknitting, I have used a base (white) sock yarn, 80% wool and 20% nylon, which I have been calling Tiptoe.

Well, I tried a new base sock yarn this month and I am loving it. It is 75% wool and 25% nylon. This means longer wear than the previous yarn, but often that percentage is not as squishy and soft as yarns with more wool. In this case, the new yarn is almost luxury soft. I have been swatching with it and my fingers keep noticing how soft and comfy the fabric of the sock feels while knitting.

May I introduce four Flammegarns? Limeade, Robin’s-Egg, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Blueberry! Cheerful, clear colors for your gray winter enjoyment.


I am calling my new yarn Resonance. Diana/Otterwise came up with that name for me, and I think it is perfect. Thanks, Diana!!!

Resonance sockyarn has approximately 425 yards per 100 grams, where Tiptoe had about 440. This translates to a slightly more dense fabric, and 0ne skein still is plenty for ladies and some gents. It’s a bit cushy, a bit luxury, a bit kitten-soft. I am really loving this yarn!

Prototype Colors Available Now

I dyed up some prototype skeins of the yarn and put them up on my shopping cart yesterday. I can not believe how fast the Blueberry sold out! I’m dyeing this yarn in what is called Flammegarn (Flame Yarn) which is a technique historically used in Norway. It’s a tie-dye technique which leaves white dots on the otherwise-mostly-solid background color.

History (lite)

Originally Flammegarn was dyed in either blue or red. The red version looked a bit like fire with the tiny white bits, and thus it was named for the similarity to flames. These days I use the dyeing technique but I use many base colors besides red and blue. Apparently blue is still a favorite, no matter what century we’re in.


Selling Fast

I have been dyeing 3-6 skeins at a time in between other work obligations this week. I was prepared to do another 3-4 skeins in a fifth color, but since I’m already sold out of blue I am changing gears. I will be dyeing more blueberry and it should show up on the site Tuesday or Wednesday.

Violet will need to wait until the next batch is dyed up. I’m not sure when that will be, as I’m running out of the prototype base yarn. (I did not know if I would like it, so I played it safe.)

I’ll be ordering more yarn to dye and hope to be releasing that batch around February 15. For now, perhaps you would like to take a peek at some cheerful springlike colors? Looking and smiling is free, even if you are not buying.

Photos: A peek at the 4 colors I’ve worked up this week, and a First-Time Toe-Up Sock I have started in the Blueberry. The blue in real life looks more like the sock photo, but the other 3 colors look very close to true on my monitor, in that first photo.