Monday, October 27, 2014

Scraps to Stamps

Over the last six year of JackBear Stamps, I have carved hundreds of stamps.  I haven't counted lately, but I'm confident it's over 500, maybe higher.  In the course of carving an image, I generate a fair amount of scrap (that's "crap" with an "s").  As you can see from my old pistachio containers pictured, it comes in all shapes and sizes.

My parents grew up in the Depression, so they weren't the kind of folks to throw stuff away unless it was beyond repair or worth.  So I keep the bits of corners that get cut off when making a larger image, or the long line that is leftover from trimming something square.  I do throw out tiny bits and shavings that can't be used again, I'm not a total hoarder!

But over the years I have generated quite the stockpile. The thought in my head was I would use this material to carve tiny stamps.  The size of which could probably be mounted to a penny or a quarter. So into the extra jars this material went.  I certainly have enough, and I am more confident in my abilities to carve smaller details.

Some of my letterboxing or stamp carving friends immediately notice the difference in colors of the material above.  The pink stuff is the tried and true, "smooth as butter", material from Speedy Carve from Speedball.  They also will notice the white material.  This is hard to tell apart, but I'm sure the containers are full of PZ, MZ, NZ, OZ, and Firm Kut (as I have carved a little bit of all these) from  Of course the one that would bring the most attention is the now defunct Orange PZ Kut from  Carvers think back to the days they carved on this material like they think back on their favorite Christmas present from their youth.  I still have a few scraps of it left.  I usually just stare at it wistfully.

With one of my biggest shows of the year on the horizon, Mayday Underground, I decided it was time to put the scrap to good use.  So I have been busy carving some sets of stamps to use it up, though honestly I haven't even scratched the surface yet (no pun intended).

Some of the scrap I used to make fault washi tape stamps.  Washi tape is decorative tape used in crafting to decorating just about anything you can tape, from clothespins to clipboards.  So I used a bit of the scrap to make sets of three designs that can be stamped side by side to create a washi tape effect.

I found this font online of all kinds of sci-fi ray guns.  Being a Sci-Fi fan, I was immediately drawn to them, and figured I could downsize them onto my scrap bits of carving material to create a set.  They are small enough that I think you could use them with other stamps of people or aliens and get it to fit snugly in their hands.  The one pictured in black reminds me of Han Solo's blaster.  The purple and green ones pictured remind me more of the Flash Gordon or art deco style sci-fi ray guns.

I have to say I am a skeptic.  I believe in proof, not intuition. However, there is a small part of me that wants to believe.  I hope aliens are out there.  I can't totally rule out that Illuminati are secretly controlling the world.  Is Bigfoot really wandering around the forests of our continent?  I don't think any of these things are true, but the lack of evidence does not immediately disprove it's existence.  So I totally get sucked into shows on the History channel that speculate on the treasure of Oak Island, or the hidden troves of Templar artifacts.  I guess my older brother and sisters watched a bit too much of "In Search Of..." with Leonard Nemoy and I got sucked in.

Pennants and chevrons are all the rage.  You see them all over craft shows, and all over Pinterest. So some of my scrap is going toward some pennants with patterns.  The cool thing with these is that you can use just one from the set of three, or you can use two, or all three, to create a line of banners. You can ink them up in any color you have, or even multiple colors of the rainbow.  They are VERY versatile.  I have fun printing with them, and then taking my pen and drawing a line to connect them. This could not be easier.

If you are interested in one of these sets drop by Mayday Underground this Saturday or Sunday at the Village Gate in Rochester, NY.  Or if you aren't local, drop me a message on my shop and I'll carve you up a custom order.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Art in a Cart

Imagine an artisan of old pushing around a cart from village to village full of his handmade wares. He peddles the treasures to welcoming faces who have never seen the likes inside the borders of that their town. Screeeeeeeech!  Wait, that isn't how this is supposed to start.

The story begins with an opportunity.  At the University of Rochester the student commons is called  Wilson Commons. Within the depths of the bottom floor lies a candy counter that sells candy by the bulk, as well as house made fudge, called the Common Market.  It is run by the Student Activities Office, which in full disclosure, is where my wife works (the office, not the counter).

The Student Activities Office had an idea to sell some items by outside vendors in a cart to be built next to the Common Market.  The cart was built to look like... well, like a cart.  It has wheels (though flat now), doors, and even lights.  First it was originally designed to sell plants, then imported hats, scarves, and mittens.  Those early vendors blazed the trail, ran the risks, but couldn't sustain.

Enter the idea.  What if the cart could sell handmade goods by local artists and craftspeople ?  I'm not sure who's idea it was, perhaps it was the Student Activities Office fearless leader Anne-Marie Algier.  Maybe it was the ever professional Laura Ballou (yes, that's my wife).  Or was it the cart's current supervisor, Michael Dedes.  Let's give them all credit.

Who could provide such handmade goods?  Who could work on such a small scale?  Who could bring enlightenment to the darkness?  Sorry.... getting carried away.

Along comes a man who knows a few people who could be of service.  Let's call him Jack.  Jack is a member of a group of local heroes artists who call themselves the Rochester NY Etsy Street Team (RNEST). The group is very diverse: jewelers, knitters, painters, illustrators, designers, photographers... you name it.  Though diverse, they all share three things in common: 1) they are local 2) they make things by hand 3) they have shops on Jack say's that he could get an artisan to set up in the cart for a month at a time.  They could call it the RNEST Art Cart.

New plexiglass doors were installed, new signs were made, contracts got written and rewritten. The RNEST Art Cart opened in the Fall of 2013. The first year was the trial.  Could this work?  Would there be enough interest?  Jack and Michael tried to pick artisans who might succeed.  Taking into consideration the time of year, students' interests, artisans with adequate inventory.  JackBear Stamps was first, since it would be important to work out some of the early kinks.  Next came Circuit Breaker Labs, Papersaurus Creative, Pure Bodycare Essentials, and DuncanClay.

The first year's trial taught Jack and Michael many lessons.  The successes outweighed the failures, so a second year was planned.  Leading the pack with her incredible letterpress-ed masterpieces was Chris Charles of Fly Rabbit Press.  Jack had hoped for a knitter to provide some warm hats and scarves in October, but he couldn't get one in time.

So coming full circle, back for the month of October 2014, JackBear Stamps will be in the RNEST Art Cart again until October 30th.  To finish off the semester, and throughout the holiday season, the Art Cart will feature Sunshyne Silverware's amazing repurposed jewelry and accessories.

How does the story end?  Will the RNEST Art Cart continue to flourish?  Can they keep local
handmade goods available to the University of Rochester community?  Will the mass produced forces of darkness take over? (Sorry, slipped off the edge there again)

The end is, "To be continued."