In the past few months I've been playing around with making postcard art experiments. I didn't think it was anything artistic, but everyone else did. Maybe I just don't think I'm an artist, but that's another story for another time. This is about the next iteration in the series.
What started out as a way to goof off and see if awooden card could survive a trip across the country has turned into a series of"postcards." With only one or two exceptions, everything has made it. All sorts oflaser-cut acrylic,etched records, andbendy fabric items have found their way to new homes.
With the 10th version coming up I figured on trying something new. No laser-cutting, just going back to my roots of stencils and trying out painting with acrylic, something I'd never done before. To be honest, I've never painted before at all, unless you count poster paints in kindergarten. So I stocked up on some cheap acrylics and borrowed some old brushes from my fiancé and got to work.
With painted backgrounds and a stenciled image on top I can quickly create a series of images for the postcards that are unique and coherent. After that it's just a matter of applying some postage and shipping them to addresses around the world.
Step 1: Find Some Destinations
My hope was to have the cards travel long distances and get messed up in the process. Logically, that meant that the further it went the more scuffed and scratched it would get. So I put together a list of friends in far off places. These mostly turned out to be different neighborhoods in Brooklyn like Williamsburg, Park Slope, and Red Hook.
I still needed more names so I posted in the Instructables forum. People love free stuff and I found some new places in exotic locales such as Australia, Germany, and Nebraska. So with a total of 17 places in all I had work to do.
Step 2: Gesso Action
The choice for the material was pretty clear from the beginning: masonite. It's a good hardboard and I could get it at the local art supply store for a decent price. I cut up boards into 9"x12" pieces and was ready to rock.
Being clueless about paint I tried to just start doing some spray painting on the boards. This was a disaster as it beaded and clumped on the surface. Then I tried acrylic paint and the color was drab.
My fiancé saw what I was tying to do and let me use her gesso to prime the surface. So I glopped a couple of coats and let them dry overnight.
Step 3: Acrylic and Alcohol
If you don't know how to paint, you'll have an easier time of it with a glass of cheap red wine or a beer at your side. Turn up some music (Squirrel Nut Zippers were fantastic) and unleash that paint!
I'm not sure when it happened, but I decided that gaudy is great. Some crimson on gold? Kinda classy, I guess. Bright pink clouds on a blue sky? Now you're talkin'! Green stars on a pink field? Hells yeah!
At first my goal with the paint was to provide color. Which makes sense, right? As I drank more and painted more and worked on the boards I decided that this paint was cheap and I'd go for some texture as well. Delicately balancing great globs of paint on the brush, I'd then slop it down and give it a little curl or twist. Delightful.
Step 4: Stencil a Guy on Top
The reason I wasn't too concerned about the painting was that I knew that I'd be spray painting one of my stencils on top. This plan failed miserably because I got a lot more excited about painting than I thought I would. It was too much fun to stop that I even redid a few boards, something I swore I wouldn't do.
Register one stencil, spray it black, then register the next and spray it white. Easy.
Step 5: Goin' Postal
People seem to think that if you put something goofy through the mail that the postal workers will get pissed. I'm guessing that those people have never had a boring job and hurray for them. I once spent a few days helping an attorney alphabetize his filing cabinets. The shining highlight of that work in his smelly little office was when he lost the last little bit of his calzone onto the gray carpet and we both burst out laughing.
When I drop off weird things at the post office they usually smile a bit and take it in stride. When dropping off the last two boards of the group off at the post office the lady at the counter asked me, "Is there anything dangerous or perishable inside?"
Me: "Well, there's really no inside."
She looks at it for a couple seconds.
Her: "Oh, well then you've got everything in order then!"
It really was that thrilling.
Step 6: Wait
After everything is off and gone on trucks and planes and cargo ships, just sit back and see what happens. Nobody I know uses the post office any more for personal messages and getting something in the mailbox that isn't a catalog is pretty damn cool.
So what happens? A few friends loved the cards and got back to me quickly while it's as if many others were sent into the void. Can't win them all. Of all of them, my friend Samirhad the most fun. I love you, man.
After sending everything out I just have to be content that I had fun doing what I wanted to do. Which is good since I have nothing to show for it except some pictures and memories.
Right, time for the next thing.