Number 44 and number 45 from Philippe Charron

Two more contributions from Phillippe for my FIFTY call. Absolutely stunning.



More paper bag exchanges with Phillip Lerche

Exchanging envelopes made from paper bags has become a nice habit between Phillip and I. Here is the last one I got from him, an envelope made from the paper bag of an Italian Food company call Piada
I love how the color of the stamps matches the envelope.



And here is the last one I sent to him, using a bag from the department store Le BHV / Marais.



Phillipe Charron’s series continues

We are slowly reaching the end of the series of 50 sending from Philippe Charron, and believe me, there are some absolute beauties coming. So be prepared! For today I’m sharing number 42 and 43 in the series.

Number 42 pays tribute to Leo Ferré, a famous singer that I love. “C’est extra” is the title of one of his most famous songs.


Number 43 raises the question: what gives 100 cut in half? 50 of course…



A new envelope in the old movies series

To continue my series about old movies from my youth, here is an envelope illustrated with the poster from “The creature of the black lagoon”. I remember that this movie was the first one (I think) that was given on French TV in 3D! This was a long time ago and I remember that weeks before there had been a buzz around this 3D effect. The TV newspapers were sold together with the needed cardboard glasses (you know the ones with a red eye and a blue eye?). Everybody was very excited about it, including myself. And the day came and I could see nothing with the 3D glasses (I have a big unbalance between the left and the right eyes, so I don’t think these 3D glasses can work for me). So I removed the glasses and watch the movie in traditional 2D (you had to do something to the color settings of your TV set to be able to see it clear without the glasses). Anyway I have completely forgotten the movie, I don’t think it was really good. But I wanted it anyway to be part of my series. So here is the cover that I sent to Jon. 


Another FIFTY from Phillip Lerche

Phillip Sent me another nice first day cover for my FIFTY project and he again had a sort of postal misadventure: the cover was sent to him instead of being sent to me directly. This is very strange. So Phillip took the time to send it back to me in a very nice cover franked with wonderful UN stamps.

So here is the first day cover.



And here is the UN cover.


MMSA card swap on Halloween

I hadn’t participated to a swap on Mail Me Some Art since a very long time, but in October there was a swap on Halloween postcard and therefore I could not resist and I sent these two postcards made using the digital kit “Spooky” from Jen Maddock Designs. 




And I received this very nice card from Sara Cavanaugh


Received from Thomas Burn

A very nice envelope from Thomas received in the scope of the October exchange. The envelope is much nicer in real life than on this scanned image, because the “moon” is done using metallic paint. This gives a nice shimmer.


Mushrooms

I remember that when I was a kid, I got as home work the task to do some spore prints. We were studying mushrooms and it was a fun activity for kids. Whe I decided to answer to a mail art call about mushrooms,  I immediately thought about doing something  with spore prints. I ended up with this envelope.




FIFTY received from Iryna Barysava

A nice contribution to my FIFTY mail art call from Iryna.


All you wanted to know about digital kits.


!!! WARNING THIS POST IS RATHER LONG !!!

From time to time, I like to share with you some more « technical » details about my mail art activity. In a previous post I explained how I create my envelopes. In this post I would like to speak about digital kits. If you read my blog regularly, you know that I like using them. I got several questions from readers and also from people on Facebook about Digital Kits to know what they are, where they can be found and how I use them. So I thought it could be interesting to share all I know on this subject.

Digital kits, or I should say, Digital scrapbooking kits, are sets of graphic files that are made primarily to create digital scrapbooking pages. They contain all you need to create the basis of a page and to embellish it as much as you want. I will come back more in details on the various types of items you can find in a kit. If you are into scrapbooking, the only thing you will have to add is your pictures. The advantage of these kits is that they are consistent: they contain items that match well together according to a specific theme. They save you the time of research and sorting of digital elements. I don’t use them for scrapbooking but instead I use them for mail art and even for art journaling.

There are plenty of resources on the web where you can purchase digital kits, the price is usually quite low. Just to mention some of them I have already used : Scrapbookgraphics, The Digital Press, The lily-pad, Mischief circus… But there are also sites where you can find free kits, for instance: My Memories

When you download a kit you usually get one or several zip files (be careful that a kit can be very large. You need a good internet connection!). When you unzip them you get the files organized in folders. There is also a set of files describing the TOU (terms of usage). Read them carefully to know what you can, or cannot do with your kit. Usually these kits are not for commercial usage, unless explicitly stated.
For the purpose of this post I’m using the kit Bricolage 104 from Jen Maddocks Design. I selected this one because it contains a wide variety of items that illustrate quite well my subject. When you get a kit you often get also one (or several) file(s) that gives you an overview of all the elements of the kit at a glance.

In this post, I’m using Paint.net, which is a free software. I use the basic version, without any plug in, which means that there are some limitations.

Background papers
Background papers are the basic items in a kit. They are comparable to the sheet of paper you would use as a background of your scrapbook page. Usually a kit contains several of them, some are very simple, some are very sophisticated. The choice of the background is important as it will drive the whole envelope. I usually start by selecting the background I want and then I let my inspiration flow. The background is almost always my starting point in the creation of an envelope.

Traditional scrapbooking is usually done using a 12 in x 12 in piece of paper. So a background paper file is a .jpg file containing a 3600 pixels x 3600 pixels image at 300 DPI. My template for a standard envelope measures 2480 pixels by 2480 pixels. So I have plenty of ways to use the background paper: I can crop it, I can resize it, I can rotate it, I can even use only pieces of it. Depending on the result I’m looking for.

In Paint.net I create a background layer containing my background paper:


And I create a second layer containing my envelope template:



I then change the blending mode of this layer to “multiply” so that I can see the black lines on top of my background and then I crop my background paper if needed.


(Note that if I have a very dark background, the black lines won’t show. So in this case I create a negative image of my template and I use the “addition” blending mode to get white lines instead.)

I will put all my embellishments in layers located between these two first layers. A tip: rename your layers so that you can easily navigate through them, this is very useful when you have 10 or more layers at the end!


Brushes

Not all digital kits contain brushes, but the most sophisticated ones do. Brushes are .png files that contain a black design on a transparent background. They can be compared with the image obtained with a rubber stamp and black ink. They can be used to add texture to the background. Sometime the brush itself can be the focal image of your creation. They are called brushes because they can be used as “brushes” in Photoshop (if you now Photoshop you understand what I mean). The basic version of Paint.net does not support brushes (I think there is a plug in for that), but you can add these .png file in a dedicated layer and then manipulate then to reduce the size, to rotate them and even to change the color (in case black is not what you want). Then by playing with the blending mode you can also obtain a lot of different effects.

For my envelope I added a first brush picturing a female portrait.



And a second brush picturing a tree and some birds.



For these two brushes I did not do anything else than resizing them, putting them where I wanted them to be and crop them to fit the rectangular of my envelope. Sometimes I let them go over the boundaries of the envelope.

I added a third brush picturing a fern and playing with the blending mode to create some texture.


Elements (embellishments)

They are usually .png files with transparent background. They can be added on a layer and then modified, rotated, resized.
They often come in two versions: one with shadow, one with no shadow. Using shadow helps to make the embellishment pops (mainly when the background is busy) and also give a bit of depth. Adding shadow with Photoshop is quite easy. The basic version of Paint.net does not handle shadow (I guess there is a plug in for that) but it’s quite simple to do it.

First add the element in a new layer. Then duplicate the layer containing your element. Select the bottom layer and by playing with contrast and light you transform your image into a black silhouette on the transparent background. Then you add some Gaussian blur. You then get a black halo all around your image. You can move the layer containing the black silhouette if you want to shift a bit the shadow and you can play with the opacity of the layer to get different effect.

Here is what it gives with a simple rectangular that I will use as an address label.
Using a dedicated element to put your address is really good as it will help you to design the rest of your envelope around this address label. In the case of this envelope I just used a rectangle which is a piece of the paper background but there are plenty of embellishments you can use as an address label.

Then I’m adding a moon.
Playing with blending mode (here I used Superposition) I get an interesting effect.


And I add some ferns to decorate a bit more the envelope, playing also with the address label.


Word art

Some kits contain elements called word art. They are words, sentences, quotes already written in an artistic way. For this envelope I selected a quote that fits my design. I just changed it to white color and position it in the image.



Then I just add the address and my return address and the envelope is complete. I can do the steps described in my previous post and I get this as a final result.


Other items

A kit can contain a lot of other types of items such as masks, clusters, overlays but I think you got the idea.






































FIFTY received from Angela Behrendt

A nice card received from Angela for my FIFTY mail art call. As you can see the FIFTY has been embroidered and the T has been slightly torn during the transport. But overall the card was in very good shape which is a miracle.


2016 Digital Art Journal: You never know how strong you are…

Several weeks ago Mike Deakin, one of the mixed media artists and YouTubers that I follow regularly, has participated to a video hop with two other artists that I also follow, Paul and Aaron. The subject of their video hop was an intriguing one: Men in heels. If you are interested in mixed media art journaling, then I invite you to watch Mike’s video, Paul’s video and Aaron’s video, as they are really great. They have very different style and this is really interesting to see how they covered the same subjet. 

After having watched the three videos, I asked to myself: how would you have covered the same subject? And then, I decided to challenge myself and to actually create a page in my digital art journal on this subject.

And here it is.


Received from Shana Oshinskie

An envelope sent by Shana as part of the October exchange.


Received from Nancy Dickson

A nice Halloween themed envelope and card sent by Nancy.



Received from Nicole Carnes

To thank me for the happy birthday card I sent her, Nicole sent me this very nice card.




A new FIFTY from Phillip Lerche

I am not the only one to be fifty this year. The TV series Start Trek is also fifty, as it appeared for the first time on TV in the USA in September 1966. For this occasion, USPS has issued a set of Start Trek stamps and Phillip sent me this absolutely fabulous first day cover that fits perfectly to my FIFTY call. I love science-fiction as you know, and I love Star Trek so I was thrilled when I got it. Thanks a lot Phillip.


The envelope also contained this very nice postcard picturing rubber stamps.


FIFTY from T.E. Larsen

A fantastic contribution to my FIFTY mail art call from T.E. Larsen.







Received from Mudhead Reynolds

I received the first card without being able to identify the sender. Some water had dripped on the sender name and address so I could not read it. I was looking for some clue on the Web when I received the second card which obviously comes from the same person. So here are both of them.



Received from Jean Wilson

A very nice envelope from Jean for the October exchange. It is a pity that somebody in the postal service thought that these stamps needed a biro cancellation!


Frog cover from Louisiana

I don’t know if this is the revival of my frogs of the world challenge, but Hester proposed me to send me one frog cover from Louisiana to add to my collection. Thank you so much Hester.


Halloween chips bag envelope received from Phillip Lerche

This envelope from Phillip is made from a chips bag. This gives a very nice Halloween themed envelope that matches perfectly the stamps. This stamp issue is the first issue from USPS dedicated to Halloween. This is rather strange that USPS did not issue Halloween stamps before, when we know that French post has already issued at least three stamps for Halloween…



Sent to Naomi Bulger

A digital collage sent to Naomi.