For this swap we’re going to be creating our own fake postage stamps – otherwise known as Artistamps.
|Photo of some of my own stamps, taken by Pamela Gerard|
“The term artistamp or artist's stamp refers to a postage stamp-like art form used to depict or commemorate any subject its creator chooses. Artistamps are not valid postage and typically the creator has no intent to defraud postal authorities or stamp collectors. “
You can find all kinds of info by googling “faux postage”or "artistamp"– including the history of artistamps, leading artists in the field, ideas for perforating, designing and adhering stamps, and thousands of examples for inspiration. Here’s a particularly nice FAQ about the art form.
There are a lot of ways to make artistamps. The easiest and fastest way is by using a computer.
I’m computer savvy, but do not own or know how to use Photoshop. Everything about Photoshop intimidates the heck out of me.
When my dear friend Gina Visione told me she made hers using Microsoft word I realized this was something within my skill set. If you’re familiar with Word and comfortable using the “text box” feature within word, you should be able to do this too. To get you started, Gina made us atutorial!
You can use any kind of image for your stamp. I used scanned images of my own artwork . They weren’t originally created with stamps in mind, but I found some that worked perfectly. I digitally added text to the art to make them look more like stamps
For the sake of maintaining good relationships with the US Postal Service, please do not include the words “US” or “forever” or use other markings or symbols that could be confused with actual US postage.
Those of you proficient in Photoshop can make a 100% new digital image just for this purpose, or you can import/alter any of your own artwork or photography.
If you don’t want to tackle this on a computer there are plenty of other ways to do it.
- You could draw or paint a row of stamps by hand, and photocopy them multiple times.
- Another option is to hand-carve a rubber stamp, designed like a postage stamp, and stamp that multiple times across your paper to make a sheet of stamps. Stamp in different colors, or stamp in black and embellish with markers. (just please don’t buy a commercial stamp and stamp it by itself on a small square piece of paper and call it an artistamp)Here’s a great example, or here, or here.
- You could take one of your drawings or paintings and reduce the size on a photocopier. This will probably take multiple reductions to get it to the size you want, and even more copies to get a whole bunch on a single sheet, but it’s doable.
To make you stamps look more authentic, consider perforating them. There are several common ways to perforate artistamps:
- You can use a sewing machine (without thread) to make rows of holes in the paper. Gina’s tutorial has a video demonstrating this technique.
- You can roll a dressmaker’s pattern wheel over your paper
- You can buy special “stamp edge” scissors that simulate the perforated edges
- You can poke holes by hand (if you have the patience of a saint)
- You can make a series of black dots around the edge of your stamp so that when it’s cut it gives the illusion of perforation.
- Some paper trimmers have a perforating wheel, which doesn’t really give you the look of a stamp, but does allow you to tear the paper into individual stamps.
If you don’t have the means (or the patience, or the coordination!) to perforate, you can send your sheets without it. Your recipient would still have the option of perforating when it arrives.
If you're still with me, you might be asking,
"This is all really great information, but what about the swap, Karen?"
I’ve been thinking a lot about the best way to swap these so that everyone gets a variety of stamps. For the sake of my sanity, I need to keep the stamps intact as sheets. Swapping tiny individual stamps is beyond my organizational superpowers.
But.... full sheets of stamps suck up a lot of ink, and color copies don’t come cheap, so you might not want to make too many full sheets. (Plus honestly, you don’t need a full sheet of my head, right?)
I personally would rather have a wider variety of designs from as many artists as possible.
So here’s what I’ve decided:
We will each send 6 half-sheets of stamps, with at least 10 stamps per half-sheet.
And by half-sheet I mean half of a standard sized piece of copy paper. (8.5”x11”)
That way you’ll get back at least 60 stamps from 6 different artists.
I’d suggest printing 3 full sheets of stamps and cutting each sheet in half. (Duh!)
You can get all fancy by printing your stamps on sticker paper or special gummed paper, but regular old copy paper is just fine. It’s cheap and easy to come by. The light weight is easy to cut or perforate, and it’s easy to glue down to an envelope.
- Send six half-sheets of stamps with at least 10 stamps per page. (again for the sake of my sanity, I want us all to send the same number of sheets, so no more than six, no less than 6)
- Please print/copy your stamps in color. Black and white photocopies are not acceptable for this swap.
- Perforate your sheets if you can, but don’t cut them into individual stamps or I will go mad.
- Please don’t fold your sheets. Stick them in a large envelope, and add some cardboard or something so that the envelope won’t bend and damage the stamps in transit.
- As always, include a label with your name and address so I can stick it on the envelope I mail back to you.
- No need to send me a second envelope. I will re-use the one you mailed your stamps in.
- Whatever it costs you to mail that envelope to me is what it’s going to cost me to mail it to someone else. Include that amount in stamps or cash inside the envelope. Or send me the money via paypal. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Get them in the mail to me by June 16th. (I don't need to receive them by the 16th, they just need to be postmarked by the 16th)
PO Box 532
Shrewsbury, MA 01545
If you are already a stamp maker and have tips, links to your work, or links to good tutorials, please leave them in the comments, and don’t forget to check out Gina’s tutorial.