Postcards for a Swap

One of my must-read blogs is iHanna–and she is running a postcard swap again this year. Last year, the group made 2,800 cards, and this year, joining seemed to be loaded with potential, so I signed up. I’m making a lot of loose leaf pages for an art journal, so postcards are not that different.

First, I asked artist Bo Mackison if I could use Pottery Row, one of her Southwest photographs, to alter and work with. Lucky for me, Bo is generous and said yes.  The first thing I did was print out the photo on a piece of cotton fabric and ironed it on a piece of paper. To make sure it stayed, I zig-zag stitched around the edge. Thanks for art-pal Rosaland  Hannibal who taught me how to zig-zag to make a good-looking edge.

Bo Mackison's photo printed on cotton fabric, then stitched to watercolor paper.

The image looks soft because it’s printed on fabric. I like the sweep of color; it looks like a watercolor painting.

Next, I isolated one of the pots and printed it off in different sizes. I combined it with a disc of mica and placed it on top of an inked page.

Printed photographs, mica, ink-stained pages, stitching.

The curve of the pots seemed so interesting, I wanted to focus on them. For the next card, I printed out the single pot in a series of sizes and different papers and overstitched them, using an undulating stitch that mimics a paper cut-out I use frequently. (It appears on pgs. 63, 90-91 in my book, Raw Art Journaling.)

Photographic print, stitched onto watercolor paper.

The pot series may continue, but I wanted to try some other objects. Peacock feathers are a favorite object of mine. I bought one and took the dye out, and then bleached it. The effect is interesting on a wonderful subtle fabric that blends several browns and a hint of blue.

Peacock feather on fabric.

Now I needed some more color. Rosaland taught me to save all the clean-up paper towels and see what they look like dry. One was soaked in bright colors. I trimmed off a piece, attached it to watercolor paper, and stitched over it in bright colors. This technique will get a lot more exploration, but this first try is fun.

Dyed paper towel stitched on watercolor paper.

iHanna’s swap will require 10 postcards, and I may not use these, but it’s a great beginning. I also recently joined Postcrossing, and while I haven’t found someone who wants to exchange handmade postcards, I’m enjoying sending Arizona postcards to people around the world.

Quinn McDonald is deeply absorbed in mixed media art journal pages. She will be teaching these and other techniques at Valley Ridge Art Studio on May 5-6, 2012. There is still room in the class.

23 thoughts on “Postcards for a Swap

  1. I hadn’t thought of the heavy napkins, but I’m thinking I’ll be asking for extrass the next time I’m someplace that uses them! What fun!
    Today I’m sending a take out bag as some mail art – it’s going to have a postcard inside!

    • I didn’t trust glue with the peacock feather, so I used fusible webbing–Misty Fuse, for it’s delicacy. And I’d send it through the mail, sans envelope. I love the way postcards look when they’ve been through the mail. Even when it doesn’t work well, it tells its own story.

  2. Those are beautiful. I am in the middle of a very small 10 person exchange with some of my classmates from college. It is always fun to send arty postcards. It is such a delight to see what other artists make.

  3. Quinn, your postcards go great with the new Arizona stamps! I just picked up a bunch this morning.. they were already almsot out of them. the clerk and I were trying to decide if they are actually Monument Valley or just Sedona. It looks like a bit of both to me!

    I have used painted paper towels for a few years. There are a few ways to use them. I seperate them and when you use glue or gel medium to attach them they are kind of transparent. You can also use a plastic wrap and iron them to cardstock also.

    I enjoy postcard swaps and will be joining Hanna’s also! Art House Co-op has started one also and one of the yahoo groups I’m in has a mail art swap going, so my visits to the p.o. box will be more fun for a while!

    • You are right, the stamps would be perfect. I’m glad you are joining iHanna’s swap, too. I love a good international swap. We’ll have to try some of those techniques on the paper towels–did you see Paula’s idea with the napkins–the thick paper kind you get at a restaurant? Ohhhhh. . . .ideas!

  4. About papers and collage: paper napkins usually come in two or three plies. They can be used as the paper towels here. I use the first layer for bold colours, or the second one for a more subtle look. Glued with decoupage glue they take wet media well.
    About the postcards: cool site! Reminded me of my teenage penpals, same system. I might start closer to home with people I know. Fancy a card from Buenos Aires? 😀

    • There are restaurants here who use napkins that are almost like cloth–I hadn’t thought of those at all. And using the color fades is a brilliant idea, Paula! Ohhhh, a card from Buenos Aires? Yes, please! I sent my address to your email.

  5. I love what you have done with the photographs, Quinn. The pot on a pot on a pot is fantastic.

    The postcard swap does sound like a fun way to get inspired to make art. And a lovely way to share the art with others. Might need to do a few photo postcards myself!

  6. I don’t have enough time for iHanna’s swap, but thank you for reminding me about Postcrossing. Several years ago I was a member but then kind of forgot all about it. I just registered and will be sending my first one to Ukraine!

  7. I finished reading Martha Beck’s book and may have to do a reread right away-thanks so much for recommending it. All I can say is that I am deeply grateful to the Spirit that sent you my way..I read your blog the way you read Hanna’s, I suppose. I have yet to do anything other than read Raw Journaling and salivate daily over your posts, but….one day…maybe….

    • You are sweet, Pam. Without readers, I’d be writing into the ether, so thanks for stopping by regularly. I am reading Martha’s book slowly, so I can get it as I go along. So far, I’m loving it.

  8. Thank you for joining the DIY postcard swap and writing about the swap Quinn! Your posts are always full of inspiration! I haven’t even started thinking about what I’ll do on mine this year and here you are already with lots of great ideas! Yay!

    • Well, Hanna, I am working on a project, and it fit perfectly with your postcard swap. My postcards will be oversize, and I need to get busy so I can have more to choose than I’ll need. You are doing a wonderful thing–the mechanics of the DIY postcards are very well done.

  9. I signed up for the swap today, too! I love Hanna’s annual swap. And i love your work on the card. One of my major loves is painting paper towels with vibrant paints and using them ply by ply in my collage.

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