Sunday, April 10, 2011

Design Challenge: Vintage Postage Stamps

About a month ago I came across a couple of bags of circulated vintage postage stamps from all around the world. I originally was going to use these in my own scrapbooking and paper figure projects, however, there were THOUSANDS of stamps in these bags, I had no idea! They were from all over: Russia, England, Austraila, France, Germany, Italy, India and more. Some of the stamps are still adhered to envelopes and some are loose. We are always looking for smaller priced items to sell in our booth at the shows we do, so I decided to divide these up into smaller amounts and sell them for a couple of bucks at our upcoming shows. In an effort to get some help in sorting these I told my girls I had a fun and educational project for them to do, but my enthusiasm for how beautiful every other stamp was wore thin in about 15 minutes.  So sorting solo, three days later, I had bagged up almost 100 little baggies of stamps. 

There's at least 75 stamps in each bag from various countries.  I thought what else, besides a lot of the popular uses of these in mixed media projects, scrapbooking and jewelry making, could you do with them? So I challenged myself.  I selected a bag and asked myself -What are some quick and easy ideas I can do with this bag of stamps. For me these are like miniature works of art, and what better way to showcase art than to frame it.  I found an old frame of Denise's, cut a piece of scrapbooking paper to fit the frame and arranged stamps from my bag onto the paper. The total time for this project was about 10 minutes, it took me 5 min. just to decide on what frame to use. It's an eclectic look and I think it looks great as an accent piece on her bookshelf.
So in continuing on with the framing idea, I framed a 1975 stamp from Cuba in a small white frame from the dollar store.  My favorite framed piece turned out to be with three French stamps I found in my baggie.  I had remembered a vintage French military postcard I had and simply added the stamps along one side of the postcard.
Ok, so in these three projects I've used a total of 25 stamps - only 50 more from my baggie to go!  This post may go on forever, so I decided just one more project for these world travelers and I need look no farther than Denise's garage for inspiration.

Of course - a birdsnest with a vintage egg!  This project took me a little longer than the framing.  I have not decoupaged in years, and there may even be a neater, easier way to do this type of project nowadays, but I just pulled out the old jar of modge podge.  From my remaining stamps I just quickly layed out some on a paper plate that I thought might go well together.  I didn't choose any large stamps, nor ones attached to envelopes, they would be too thick to glue.  The egg was a foam egg that I quickly gave a blue coat of acrylic paint to because I knew some of the egg would show through in between stamps.  This was trial and error - the stamps from India were very thin, so you couldn't go over them with the glue too much and the stamps from Italy were on thick paper and those took some extra smoothing down. 
This was a fun challenge ( I still have half of my bag of stamps left!) and I think I'll keep my little framed French military guy next to my bed.  I learned a lot from my vintage bag of stamps - who knew Cuba made such large, beautiful stamps and that the Queen Mother of England looks good in just about every color?!

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