I love to send postcards to my friends. It’s something I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid. Whenever my family traveled (infrequently), my goal was to find the least expensive postcards and send them to people I cared about.
As an adult, I still like to send postcards, especially when I want my friends to know I’m thinking about them but am too busy or tired to write a real letter. I like to find inexpensive postcards at thrift stores, so my friends often get mail featuring gorgeous color photos of places I’ve never visited.
I also like to make my own postcards.
The last time I was in Las Vegas, the Activist and the Poet offered me a thick stack of cards from events that had already happened. I took them, figuring I’d eventually use them in some art project.
Recently my artist pal Coyote Sue sent me a fat priority mail envelope stuffed with collage fodder (as she called it). I played with the magazine clippings for nearly an entire day, sorting through them and filing the images I planned to use in future collage projects. Many of the images were bigger than I typically use in collages, so I decided to make postcards too.
The first step was to cover the words printed on one side of the postcard. I used sticker labels I had on hand. (I don’t remember where I got the labels, but I always look for stickers at Goodwill Clearance Centers, where I pay for my purchases by the pound. Sometimes I also find stickers cheap at small-town thrift stores.) Although the stickers did not totally block out the printing on the postcards, once I wrote on the stickers, the printing was pretty well obscured.
Next I found images to cover the other side of the postcards. I used my paper cutter (also given to me by the Activist and the Poet) to make (more or less) straight cuts to remove the excess paper around each image. (I could have done this more quickly, easily, and accurately had I marked the images with an outline of a postcard before cutting. I was too lazy to get up and fetch a writing instrument, so I ended up doing more, less accurate work. Learn from my mistake!)
After an image was cut to the proper size, I put glue on its back side. I used glue I had on hand, something I’d bought for some project I worked on a couple of years ago. (Whenever I use glue, I end up with it on my hands and lots of other places I don’t want it. I’m convinced people who attend fancy art schools learn the secret of clean glue use. Lord knows I’ve never figured out the secret.) Once the glue was on the back of an image, I stuck it on a postcard, rubbed it down flat, and made sure the edges and corners were firmly in place.
The last step consisted of letting the glue dry.
With minimal work, I ended up with a stack of postcards at practically no cost to me.
Whenever I’m at thrift stores (especially thrift stores offering excellent prices), I look for materials for art projects, including postcards. Magazines are the obvious choice (many of the clippings Coyote Sue sent were from issues of National Geographic published in the 60s), but small calendars are also good finds. I recently made postcards from the nature scenes in a small calendar of images from Yosimite National Park.
I particularly enjoy using materials that other people might look at and consider trash. Making my own postcards is a fun way to stay in touch with friends while keeping discarded items out of the landfill or recycling center.
I took all of the photos in this post.