Friday, August 22, 2003

This entry looks super long, but the main bit is a feature I wrote for Mille Feuille, the webzine of The Bakery collective. As the site isn't up yet, you get to see it first...

Thought for the day: What's the most unnattractive thing a person can carry? Small dog-in-a-bag? Burger bought from a street vendor*? Nope, I'll tell you what really kills it for me: the latest Harry Potter. I saw a really cute girl walking in front of me yesterday: cream swishy skirt, white tank top, looking all summery and individual, but what was that tucked under her arm? A book? Ever nosy, I speeded up so I could take a peek. Yep, Harry five. Don't even get me started.

*(I know in America street food is an institution, and you see eating it in films all the time as a cool, young and carefree thing to do, but in London: JUST SAY NO)

Crafting in the workplace

Have you been on any of the fab craft sites which have sprung up in recent years? Get Crafty, She Made This, Thrift Deluxe? I am addicted to them. I print off interesting projects, I have a ring binder I keep them in, and I never make any of the stuff. Why? Oh, don’t get me wrong: I want to, it’s just that the outlay seems so huge, and even the simplest of projects seem to require basic carpentry/DIY skills which I do not possess. And how much of a steal is something if I had to buy a glue gun, rubber cement and an industrial stapler before I even begin? Then I hit upon something I could do, and, I am slightly ashamed to say, enjoyed doing: pinching stationary and discarded stuff (doesn’t count as theft, I suppose) from my workplace. The things people throw away! Perfectly good netting, bubble wrap, postcard-sized pieces of cardboard, look-books (I’m sure that’s not the proper name for ‘em: like a giant book filled with nothing but photos, which our Art dept get and can buy images from to use for book jackets), magazines. So I have decided to craft using office supplies. Here are some things you may be able to pillage from your place of employment:

Double sided tape (my new favourite thing)
Envelopes – brown, white, padded, small, large
Stapler and staples
Regular sellotape
The use of a b&w photocopier, and maybe even a colour copier (how the last two issues of my zine came to have full colour covers…)
Use of a printer
A4 and A3 paper
Coloured paper and card
Hole punch
Elastic bands
Ring binders
Cardboard boxes
Marker pens

As you can see, I could go on and on…and on. Anything that isn’t nailed down and can fit into my bag is fair game as far as I’m concerned. That doesn’t mean you can leg it with the boss’s laptop, but you get the picture. Cheap office supplies which non-crafters take for granted can be used to decorate your pad and to make pretty gifts for your pals. Anyway, enough of this speculative jibba-jabba: bring on the projects!

Mounted art for free

Why pay through the nose for mount board and professional enlargements (heh heh) when you can use stiff (heh) cardboard and the copier for free? I spent an hour or so at home a few days ago, making A5-ish pictures for my kitchen. Here’s how:
1) Get some nice photos: I used old family photos from the 70s and 80s, cos my parents look really cool in them. As I didn’t want to fuck about with the precious originals, I blew the photos up by about 20% on a colour copier, and used bits of discarded 5.5” x 4.5” cardboard (probably packaging) I found in the paper bin on my floor at work.
2) Trim the pictures to the size of the cardboard. Or, and this looks really good, trim them so that about ½ an inch of the pic overlaps the card. Using double-sided tape (again, courtesy of my employer) stick the pics on the cardboard. If you’re doing the trendy overlap thing, stick the tape right to the very edges of the picture (not the card) and then wrap the picture over the card, making sure the edges are taut and the back is smooth. You can prop these ‘mounted photos’ on the mantle, on a ledge or shelf, or stick them to the wall in a row (use more for a bigger impact) using blu tac (again, don’t bother paying for it).

Labels, gift tags and anything texty

Well, this is fairly obvious. A printer of one’s own is a joy to behold. The possibilities are endless: make some old-school THIS INSULTS WOMEN stickers and plaster them all over the sexist advertising in your town (my personal bugbear is those postcards of breasts made up to look like cats. What the fuck?); make cool flyers for your zine, gig, etc. etc.; make a sheet of To: From: gift tags which you can stick on a piece of coloured card or piece of cut-up photo (there are a few in every roll of pictures which aren’t nice enough to keep, but who can bear to throw away a photo? When cut up they’re strangely beautiful). Thread through on a length of ribbon or embroidery thread and they look right purty. Hmmm. What else?

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