In My Out Mailbox

Which do you find more rewarding, sending or receiving mail? The days that my mailbox is full of cards from Postcrossing and other mail art friends are fantastic, but it’s also a big thrill to make or select pre-made cards to send out into the world. Last week I jammed our mailbox with cards and flipped up the flag.

Postcards

This one went to a Postrossing friend in Singapore, who said that he liked photography and that self-made cards were just fine with him. It’s a photo of the sunset over San Francisco Bay that I took from our deck. I added the “El Cerrito” because there are no commercially-made postcards for my little town – so of course I had to make some!

El Cerrito sunset postcard

When Postrcrossers specifically say they don’t want self-made cards I search through my large collection to find the perfect pre-made card. A person who likes castles is getting the vintage card you can see in the bottom right corner of the photo at the top of this post.

I sent my photo-card of a hummingbird at a fuchsia flower to a young girl in Taiwan who has a really upbeat profile. She said she’d like to see something beautiful or an interesting thing that happened in my life. A visit from a hummingbird to our garden is always so special to me, so it fit the bill.

Hummingbird at flower postcard

This photo-painting I made of an Epipactis orchid grown by George went out to a pen pal who likes flowers. When I make postcards from my photos I print on extra-thick cardstock or Epson velvet-fine art paper, which has a wonderful textured surface and is thicker than normal photo paper.

Epipactis orchid

Finally, I made this postcard from discarded books and ephemera. It’s going to a pen pal I met through the San Francisco Correspondence Co-op.

Upcycled postcard

Anything fun going out your mailbox these days?

Upcycled Decorator Fabric Bowls

I love making useful things out of my artwork. When I started printing my own photos and designs onto fabric it opened up a universe of options to use the material — for scarves, sachets, pillows, and so much more! One of my favorite things to make with my fabric is bowls and vases.

Fabric bowl

If you’re clever enough to come up with your own patterns I’m envious, but I need some direction, and this C&T Publishing book was perfect: Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric Vases by Linda Johansen. I also love her book Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric BowlsThat one’s out of print but C&T sells it as an ebook or you can find it used. These are two of the first vases I made using a pattern in Linda’s Vases book.

Fabric vases

When I scored a stash of amazingly beautiful fabric in decorator sample books at the Oakland Museum White Elephant sale I realized that the larger pieces would upcycle perfectly into bowls. If you’re in the Bay Area SCRAP-SF usually has a great supply of sample books at very reasonable prices. I’ve made three of the bowls so far from fabric I got out of one book. The fabric’s richly embossed and overstitched with divine floral patterns. I used a template for a 9 inch bowl with six leaves, the same one I used for the bowls in the first photo above. This is my current favorite, made from the gold-toned fabric.

Upcycled decorator fabric bowl

The red one is gorgeous too. Here’s the bottom. They’re easily reversible, all you have to do is push on the base and the bowls turn inside out.Upcycled fabric bowl red

The front of the red bowl.
Upcycled fabric bowl red

The easiest way to make these is to construct a sandwich with 2 pieces of fabric, good sides facing out, and slip between them a piece of thick stabilizer that’s fusible on both sides. Bond the sandwich by ironing to activate the adhesive. Place the template or pattern from Linda’s book on top, then mark around and cut. Depending on your template or pattern you may also have to mark the base.
Upcycled fabric bowl white

Sew up the bowl and you’re set! I double satin-stitch around each of the leaves and the base. Bowls are great gifts, perfect to hold keys and coins, dry food, beauty and bathroom items, at your bed side or on your vanity, etc.

Sorry,  I can’t find a link to show you the template I used for these because I bought it years ago, but click here if you want to see an example of one you can use to make a small basket.

Interested in upcycling?

This is my blog post about upcycling books into art.

In this one I talk about using upcycled fabric in an art hanging.

I show an envelope made from old paper in this post.