Thursday, July 30, 2009

PFF #4 – LARGE Letter & FREE Mail!

As I noted in my last Postcard Friendship Friday post, I did the lower example usually one an evening at least the last two months I was in Vietnam. This is one that did not meet requirements for the Free Mail privilege because my return address is not in the upper left hand corner. But – who cares? I know I didn’t! This is one that for whatever reason has not lost all of its color although it hasn’t been treated any differently.

The first one is in response to Marie Reed's post of a LARGE LETTER postcard from her home town last Friday. I thought I’d toss this one in as a bonus. Have I done any Old Paper Art lately? The answer is a resounding NO. I’m busy doing Federal Duck Covers to support my old paper buying habit, and just wait until you see my most recent purchase!

I've received several comments already this morning regarding the 'postcards'. I have to admit that they are really NOT postcards. They are really 'mail art' masquerading as cards. They are envelopes. The LARGE Letter did not go through the mail. It is called a First Day Cover. I have subscribers who purchase one of every issue that I do when the USPS issues new stamps.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Kilner Paper

Seth at The Altered Page, alerted me this AM via his own post that this is Inspiration Wednesday. I had no idea. I thought to mark the occasion, I'd post an image of a piece of paper that I just acquired to put my art work on, and let you see what kind of raw material I look for.

The clue on this piece is not what's on it for line items, but what isn't.

So - that's what inspired me and caused me to purchase it on eBay.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Constructing Art

Mary Green has Deconstructing Art, so I figured I could have Constructing Art!

I’m going to participate in my very first Quick-Draw/Quick-Finish event on the 7th of August and my second on the 8th. So where to begin?

I was notified a couple of weeks ago that a couple of pieces of my art work on old paper had been juried into the Blackfoot Valley Art Auction. The notification came in the form of a nice letter and a business envelope with a corner card. They also invited me to participate in the Quick-Draw event, and I reluctantly said yes. The reason I say reluctantly is because I’d never done it before, and I have no idea if I can actually finish something in an hour! Because both letterhead and envelope had a Western Swallowtail Butterfly as part of the design, I at least had somewhere to start.

I decided to do a Mini-Poster because although most of my art work takes at least a day, there are a couple of things I can do fairly well including a generic landscape of mountains and trees. I started with a palette on which I put the particulars for the event using a couple of vintage lettering styles. All of my design and preliminary work is done with a pencil. I did perhaps six layouts in pencil of the palette and lettering before I was satisfied with what I had. I left the day area of the date line blank, intending to do the same basic thing for both events, but change three things: I’m going to use a different Red Rose Tea Trading Card, the day will be changed, and the landscape – trust me – it will be different. I simply can’t repeat it.

I purchased some heavier 30# scrapbooking paper in ivory, scanned my layout, and printed two copies of the layout. I proceeded to complete the lettering on the palette and since I used two different trading cards, the color of the lettering will follow the colors present in the butterfly wings.

Using the template again, I produced a layout on the same ivory paper, and did forty-five minutes worth of ‘landscaping’.

Using the Bog Fritillary butterfly wings as a color key, I finished the lettering on the palette for the Friday Night Event, and using the Western Tiger Swallowtail as a color key, I completed the lettering for the Saturday Night event.

The third image is as close as you or I are ever going to get to seeing what the finished piece looks like, or at least I hope it is. I realized by the time I was done with this one that I need more trees in the landscape, but that's easy to do.

Hopefully, it will walk out the door when the Auction is over!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Postcard Friendly Friday #3 – FREE Mail!

I started putting art work on envelopes when I was a kid. My folks took us to the opening of the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana, in 1953, and I saw what Charlie was doing with his letters and envelopes. I was a really great letter-writer, I tell ya! I mean, what young kid really likes to write letters, right? Charlie put art work both on the letters and oftentimes the envelopes, and my folks encouraged me to do the same. Sooooo – when Grandpa and Grandma were supposed to get a thank you for birthday or Christmas gifts, what they got from me was a very short-winded note with an appropriate illustration. I never stopped.

I spent a year in Southeast Asia, Vietnam specifically. Six months in the bushes with a Marine unit, and finally, three months at the Company Aid Station, and finally the last three months at a Battalion Aid Station. I took night duty by choice. Sleeping at night was next to impossible, so I spent my eight hours of duty ‘minding’ a surgical ward. Although I sent occasional letters in decorated envelopes to my fiancĂ© while I was in the field, it became almost a necessity while I was at the Battalion Aid Station.

Oftentimes, I’d send only a short note, and the last 52 days I sent her a card from a miniature deck of playing cards. I tried to send her something, however – every day. Most of these envelopes I could finish in eight hours. I used a Rapidiograph pen and some of the ‘new’ (back then) felt-tipped pens that came in a variety of colors. I look at them now on their album pages, and the colors have faded. The ink was not lightfast, and they weren't always hidden away.

I received several interesting letters in return, one of them from the Military Mail Distribution Center in San Francisco, and to paraphrase: I didn’t really need to put much more than the Zip Code on my envelopes – they knew where they were going.

For the next few weeks, I'll post one of these envelopes with the word free in the upper right hand corner where the stamp belongs. Abe Lincoln, over at his Brookville Daily Photo blog and Pick a Peck of Pixels blog has been posting images of envelopes from a Canadian artist by the name of Howard Davis of late. Seeing them sort of nudged my brain a little.

I look back at them now (she’s my wife, and she’s kept them all), I’m thankful I did them, not so much for her, but for me. I’m selfish. I enjoyed doing them. I’m still a bit crazy, but HEY! That’s what friends are for.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Buried Treasure RELOADED

Dawn’s First Cup of Fascination

About a week ago, Seth Apter of The Altered Page Blog posted a second call for hosts of Art Blogs to repost one or two of their ‘ancient’ posts and then link to his Blog (as I did above) where he would post a list of all the Art Blogs that agreed to participate in his Buried Treasure, Part Deux. Since I’ve only had the blog up since February, I doubt any of mine could be considered old. The first time around I got little work done at my own drawing table while feasting my eyes on all the eye-candy I’d been missing in the blogosphere, and I don’t expect anything different this time. Let’s get on with it!

I was perhaps four or five years old when my folks took me to the opening of the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. That trip started me on a fabulous artistic voyage that continues even today.

It wasn’t an easy task to get me to write a Thank You to Grandpa and Grandma for the presents they sent, but after seeing what Russell did on envelopes and letters, I was hooked – for life. From that day forward, as long as I could draw something on paper to “go-with” the thank you, I was a happy, but not very wordy letter writer.

In late January of this year, my wife and I made a fascinating trip to Seattle that included a side excursion to Saltspring Island, BC. We stayed in Seattle with my sister Penny and her husband Chuck, and she and her daughter Dalwyn graciously agreed to guide me to Canada to meet the author and artist Nick Bantock in his studio. Penny was the tour guide and Dalwyn the pilot. Myself, I was just along for the ride.

For those of you who don’t know who Nick Bantock is – he’s the author and artist of the best selling Trilogy, Griffin and Sabine, two artists that exist only in Nick’s world. Griffin lives in London and creates postcards. Sabine lives on one of the (fictitious) Sicmon Islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and creates postage stamps for the islands. They carry on a correspondence, and the reader is allowed to ‘share’ it.

How did I end up in Nick’s studio? My oldest sister Penny and my youngest sister Judy were shopping one day in Seattle a number of years ago and saw Griffin and Sabine, took one look at the cover, and decided that this was a book that I would appreciate – and I did.

Nick has also written a book called Urgent 2nd Class, which is truly an artist’s guide to utilizing ephemera as a part of your art. We spent the afternoon looking at his art firsthand, and I came away from his studio with the idea of giving old paper a second life with a different twist than Nick’s.

The first thing that I did after returning to Helena was to visit the local antique shops. Whereas Nick was incorporating various pieces of old paper into his art, I struck upon the idea of finding old paper that had references to something I could portray visually – on the paper itself.

The second shop I visited had no paper but for a large two gallon baggie full of sheet music for the princely sum of $7.00. I hadn't intended to even look through it, but it happened to be the only paper that was in this shop, and I was somehow compelled to look. I leafed through the contents and near the bottom I found what amounted to a ‘book’ entitled "Un Giorno In Venezia", or “A Day in Venice”. It included four songs "for the Pianoforte", which was the forerunner to the piano. This small music ‘book’ was published in 1898, and although there were no pencil marks or penned names included, the lower right corner and entire bottom edge of all the pages were badly foxed and the lower right corner of the opening page, "Dawn", was stained from being thumbed as that first page was turned - perhaps hundreds of times. It hooked me.

I contemplated what to do with this find for several days and remembered that my sister's husband, Chuck Pefley, had been to Venice and perhaps had some pictures which would help me give this music a second life that didn't include being stifled in a large baggie. I perused his site until I found this picture of a cup of coffee, taken while it perched on the railing of the balcony outside the apartment he stayed in while he was in Venice - at Dawn. I immediately knew what Dawn needed - and that was a cup of coffee.

What you see is the result of "wedding" the vision of one artist with that of another, and "First Cup" now hangs on the wall.

And while you're at it, you might want to look at Chuck’s Blog Post for June 18th to see what the Fascination is all about.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Start the week off right - CORN FLAKES!

I'm busy this week prepping my entries for the Quick-Draw/Quick-Finish event at the Blackfoot Valley Art Auction to be held the first Friday (and the following Saturday) in August. I'm also busy putting the art work on the Federal Duck stamp covers for this year.

What is unique about this waybill as this piece of ephemera is called is that the Corn Flakes traveled either from Toronto, Canada, or Battle Creek, Michigan, on at least two railroads that no longer exist. The last one being the Butte & Anaconda Rail Road which existed only because of the Anaconda Copper Company and the need to move ore from the mine in Butte to the smelter in Anaconda. The package depicted is proper for the date which is indicated on the waybill itself - February 11, 1916.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Postcard Friendly Friday #2 - Legends

First off, this ain't a postcard. I've done a couple of postcards and may share them in the future - if I can find them! It isn't that I don't like doing them, but a postcard is usually a bit smaller than this, and a postcard has a 'view' side and a 'message' or address side.

This is properly called a COVER. It began life as an envelope and most covers have no gum on the flap for they will never contain a message (although some do, but then that piece is called a 'stuffer'). I belong to an organization called the American First Day Cover Society. Members collect old and new covers just like some people collect stamps - or postcards - or anything for that matter.

Secondly, this is not what I would consider a piece of Old Paper Art. However, it has vintage lettering on it, and I now realize that I liked it back then for the same reason I like it now - The Lettering!

I do not remember where the First Day was held for these stamps, as generally, the Postal Service designates one city for the First Day of Issue, and that's the only place where you can buy the stamps. I know that we made arrangements with the Postmaster in Cody, Wyoming, to purchase the stamps there, so I believe that in this case, it was a Nationwide release. There were not a whole lot of people in the Post Office when I purchased (and canceled) some of them, so I don't believe that Cody was the First Day City.

Although there is a longer backstory to this issue, I'll save it for next Friday! For now, I'll just share the cover.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

BURIED TREASURE – Gus Wants to Polka-Polka

About a week ago, Seth Apter of The Altered Page Blog posted a call for a collaboration of hosts of Art Blogs to repost one or two of their ‘ancient’ posts and then link to his Blog (as I did above) where he would post a list of all the Art Blogs that agreed to participate in his Hunt for Buried Treasure. I decided to go with this piece for more than one reason, but I’ll give you those after I tell the musical tale of Gus Smith, Musical Connoisseur Extraordinaire.

On the 28th of February, 1903, only four short years after the introduction of the phonograph, Mr. Gus Smith walked into the Montana Music Company at 119 North Main Street in Butte, Montana, and purchased three records. What’s really nice about this billhead, as such pieces of ephemera are called, is that this would not normally be a piece of ephemera that I would purchase for the simple reason that it’s just too fancy. The only saving grace was that when I first saw it, it looked like it had spent at least seventy years on the floor, and was so dirty and stained I had to spend a couple of hours cleaning it up before I even dared put a pencil to it.

My first thought was to use ”His Master’s Voice”, which came to the United States via Berliner's disc records. Victor was a partner to Britain's Gramophone Company (of "His Master's Voice" fame) and eventually used the same dog-and-gramophone trade mark. Victor was America's main record company and evolved into RCA. When I thought about how common the little pooch really was, I went looking elsewhere for visual ideas. After looking at thirty or forty labels that predated February of 1903, I decided to settle on a more obscure record label that Gus might have purchased. I found this British label with a colorful and almost Art Deco Parrot on it, and after looking at the title(Echo Polka), I knew I’d found THE label for Gus and the title for this piece all in one fell swoop. So… Gus Wants to Polka ------ Polka came to be.

The other reason for reposting this one is that it just very well may be the very first piece of ‘altered’ old paper that I sell. I entered this and Sody-Licious!!! in the Blackfoot Valley Art Auction to be held August 7th and 8th in Lincoln, Montana. Gus is Lot number 135 on Friday evening, and the Sody-Licious Bottle is Lot number 220 on Saturday evening. The proceeds of this auction are split between the artist and the Parker Medical Clinic in this small town. So, I get some good ink, (hopefully) a good sale and some exposure for some art on old paper that most people have never seen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Wow. Wait 'til you hook this one.

This is a letter to Mr. Lundeen of the Mercantile in Fort Peck, Montana, inquiring whether or not he was aware of just how expensive it was to ship FRESH Dolly Varden Trout - from Seattle to Fort Peck - in 1937.

Have you ever heard of Swedish Fish? Have you ever heard of Dolly Varden Chocolates? Consider yourself duly educated.

I of course, went looking for Dolly Varden using Google Images, and guess what I found? A 1928 GMC delivery van with Dolly Varden Chocolate advertising on the side of it. And I'm not talking about "When Words Fail"...

Here's the sales slogan: "Chocolate Creams for the Girl of Your Dreams".

Now you get mine: "Chocolate Fishes for the Girl of Your Wishes".

What do you think? Would you buy a box of Chocolate Fishes from me?

After contemplating this one overnight, I remembered a post that Chuck Pefley had done a few weeks back about a chocolate shop on Pioneer Square. Now I just revisited that post, and what do I find but a whole school of picture perfect Sardines!

I now direct you to the Chocolate Box for Poissons de Chocolat and other fine Chocolate goodies. I will no longer attempt to sell you Chocolate Fishes.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ya Need A Rooster To Pick Up Chicks!

Bessie B. Carswell claims she knows the secret to MAKING every hen lay and pay. GUARANTEED. I could not resist, although I've used the image before. This piece of paper is dated October 20, 1919, and I really wonder if every individual who received one of these letters thought much about just the eggs. If you want a renewable food supply with chickens - YA NEED A ROOSTER. So... I gave her what the hens want, and it has nothing to do with Rockledge Poultry Tonic.

And once again, Mary, of A. J. Smith & Company Antiques, is the source for a great piece of old paper. And thanks to my sister Penny (the Paper Sleuth) for finding this gem.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Christ Lived In Anaconda (Part #2)

When I had color copies made of the original document, I made two - copies. I visited the local antique shops looking for perfume bottles (I found only one), and the photographs I took were of the (one and only) bottle in the preceding post. This bottle is an alabaster bottle which I found on the web, which is what I was looking for locally and could not find. Alabaster bottles and jars are a bit hard to find in this neck of the woods. Christ Marchion got his perfume in glass bottles. I have the original document, and one of these days, I'll put an image of an alabaster bottle on it. I simply haven't found one I could take pictures of that would serve as an appropriate model.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Christ Lived in Anaconda

Well, at least this billhead says that He did - in 1931. Not only that, but he got his perfume from L.A.!!! This is a color copy of the very first piece of paper that I purchased. It is very light, thin and a carbon copy at that, so I got scared about putting my art work on it. I went to our local print shop and had them make color copies of the original, and then I put my art work on the copies. I then 'aged' the paper with an emory board and light sand paper. I have a portfolio of all the pieces that I've done - actually copies, and this is the first piece in binder. It's an opening when I go looking for old paper in places I've never been before. I ask if they have any old paper, and they ask "What kind of old paper"? That's when I open the binder... This is a perfect example of a textual hook to hang a visual fish on.

Friday, July 10, 2009


We had a Cracker Factory in Helena. As a matter of fact, we had more than one. The National Biscuit Company, now known as Nabisco, filled an order for the C. W. Rank & Company Mercantile in Virginia City, Montana, in late November of 1899. Included on this order were Zu Zu Ginger Snaps. You can see that line item just above the first 'Zu' on the face of the box that Zu Zu is sitting on. I found this nice advertisement for Zu Zu Ginger Snaps on the web.

Zo... Deliver Zome Zu Zu'z and make it Znappy!!! And let it Rain, of course - they were packaged in the famous waxed paper In-er-seal!

Postcard Friendly Friday #1 - Mickey Rides a Texas Horse

Cpaphil Vintage Postcards: Postcard Friendship Friday #24 - Marianne and the Phrygian Cap

Once again, Chuck Pefley leads me to unexplored territory!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Marianne, This Ball Is For You

On the third of July, Marianne Dow wrote a very nice post on the Findlay Antique Bottle Club Blog about my art work, and my fascination with glass. In particular, what she pointed out were the various pieces I've done this year on old paper. Although this piece isn't very old, only having been done in 1999, I thought that since it hasn't been seen but by those who collect my First Day Covers, I'd post this one and talk a little about the glass itself.

The stamp issue was called Art Glass, picturing four different types of collectible Glass. My mother-in-law was born and raised on a homestead South of Havre, Montana, and her mother canned fruit and vegetables to tide them over the winter months. Among those jars were Atlas and Ball jars, some with rubber rings and bales, but the colored Ball jars were my favorites. As I do with all of the pieces of art that I do, I had to give it a title. A Ball jar is not exactly Art, but to me it was beautiful - and utilitarian, so I titled it Working Glass. I've a few photographs of paintings that I've done which I may post here, but for now - you get to look at a Ball jar - on an envelope!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Like A Rock!

A Billhead from the Highway Garage in Oilmont, Montana, for services provided to Hardrock Oil Company in January, 1930. Local Historians could come up with no photographic examples of the company fleet, so I went looking for a Chevrolet truck older than 1930 - and found this one. The name on the tank is my contribution to what was probably a likely vehicle to be seen in and around Shelby, Montana, where I grew up. The Marias Museum of History & Art In Shelby held their Grand opening for their new building today. I matted and framed this piece, and it should be hanging on the wall by late this afternoon.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Sunny Monday

No, not the song - the SOAP! The advertising person who came up with this slogan should be given some kind of award. I found this ad in a newspaper dated 1910, and thought I couldn't improve on it in the least - except to add a little sun.