FO Friday – First of Many

Since starting full-time work a year and a half ago I’ve been finding it difficult to settle into a good writing routine for this blog. I work as a software developer, so my entire day is spent in front of a computer. The last thing I want to do when I get home at the end of the day is to get back to the computer for another few hours. Still, programming is a different skill than writing, and the good writing habits I built up during my thesis are slipping away again. The blank page is starting to become an obstacle again. 

Of course, the longer time stretches since my last (non-Yarn-Along) post, the more I have to catch up on and the longer my catch-up post has to be. So, in an attempt to break free of that cycle of procrastination, I’m tossing caution to the wind and skipping the catch-up entirely! I have a long (very long) 2016 wrap-up post half-written that has been sitting, untouched, for a month. If I ever get it finished, I’ll post it. In the meantime, I’m going to write some short, easy posts to jump-start my writing habit and get me back into a good routine. I’m starting with a semi-regular “FO Friday” series so I can share my finished craft projects from the last year. (For those who don’t already know, FO means Finished Object). The Yarn Along posts have kept me sharing the in-progress projects, but I’ve missed that final “ta-da!” moment of sharing the finished object. I’m also hoping that the semi-regular nature of this series will be just enough structure to keep me going without becoming overwhelming.

The first Finished Object in this series is from last June (I told you I had some catching up to do). Some context: when I was a kid, I collected stamps. Most I collected the stamps from the monthly Canada Post subscription for kid stamp collectors. Family and friends would also contribute to the collection, and a fair number of them came to me through my Dad’s office. Since we lived in Europe for a few years, I ended up with quite a collection of world stamps, mostly postmarked. A couple of years ago, as part of my endless decluttering, I went through the old collection and divided it into three parts. Thanks to that Canada Post subscription I had a huge number of pristine, still valid Canada Post stamps. I’ve been slowly using these up any time I need to send a letter or card in the mail, although it takes two or three of these lower-value stamps to send a letter at the modern rates. Another huge part of the collection were postmarked stamps or foreign stamps, which I tucked away in a big envelope. I have a vague plan to use them to cover the top of a desk or coffee table, or the inside of a drawer, someday.

The third part of the collection is much smaller: about a dozen of reasonably old stamps from Canada, the US, Switzerland and France. They may have been given to me by my grandmother, I found them inside an envelope with her handwriting on it. There are also three “photo frame” stamps that Canada Post issued while I was in my collection phase. At the time, you could get your own photos printed on tiny stickers, and then buy the “frame” stickers from Canada Post. That way you could send your annual Christmas letter with a stamp that had your family photo in it. I don’t know if they still do it, but it was all the rage at one point in the early 2000s.

I absolutely love this little group of stamps, and I didn’t want to lose them among the larger collection of random world stamps. I decided to frame them so I could enjoy a piece of my old collection without having to keep the whole thing. As it turned out, it was a fairly easy project. I bought a frame and some off-white cardstock from Michaels, then cut the cardstock to fit into the frame. The hardest part was deciding how to arrange the stamps so that the layout was balanced and the similar stamps were grouped together. After much debate, I settled on this layout:

Side Note: There were a few stamps in the larger, postmarked group of stamps from old collection that were still stuck to bits of envelope. The bowl and books in the back of this photo show the process of getting them “unstuck”: first you soak the stamps in water for a while, until they start to separate from the envelope. Then, you pull them off the envelope very gently, and place them between sheets of paper towel and heavy books until they are fully dry. This method works much better on the stamps you have to lick than on the sticker ones.

I chose not to glue the stamps to the card because I wanted to be able to remove them or re-arrange them in the future without damaging them. Instead, I used those clear plastic corners that are used to mount photographs in scrapbooks. My Mom used to do a lot of scrapbooking, so I “borrowed” one of her boxes. I only needed about 50 of them so buying my own box of thousands seemed wasteful. They worked perfectly, although the smallest stamps could only fit two corners comfortably. The rest of the stamps took four corners. To get the stamps in just the right position, I added one corner at a time to each stamp. In this photo you can see the two stamps on the top left with their corners in place:

 

Once all the corners were placed, I popped the card into the frame and hung it on the wall.

 

I actually only hung it on the wall long enough to take this photo. My apartment walls are all concrete, so adding screws for new frames takes more than a little effort. It is much easier to swap out existing art for new pieces. I decided to wait on reorganizing all my frames until I finish the Decorations subcategory of my big KonMari declutter, which I should finally get to in a few months. Once that is done, this frame is definitely going up on the wall permanently. It was a fun, easy project, and one that I procrastinated on for far too long before finally completing.

Even though I haven’t collected them in years, I still love stamps. Each one is a tiny piece of artwork. I love their variety and their beauty. These particular stamps are connected to my family, the years we spent in Switzerland, and my love of travel. I’m looking forward to having them on my wall so they can serve as reminders of those things every day. And I’m so glad that I finally found the time to share it with all of you!

***

In case you were curious, here is the description of each stamp in my framed collection:

 

The six stamps in the top left corner are all older Canadian stamps. The first row has two 3 cent carmine stamps of George VI, one from 1937 and one from 1943, and an orange 4 cent of George VI from 1951. The second row in this group are all Elizabeth II stamps, a violet brown 1 cent and bright blue 5 cent from 1954, and a blue 5 cent from 1967-72 (Regional Views & Art Design, Fishing Port). The large stamp in the top right is a commemoration of 150 years of Canadian Post from 2001. The two smaller stamps in the top right are American, a purple 4 cent of Lincoln from 1958 and a green 1 cent of Washington from 1956.

The third row are all European stamps: three Swiss stamps, two from 1939 (red 20 centimes and purple 10 centimes) and a brown 10 centimes from 1941. The right-most stamp in that row is a 50F French stamp of Saint Remy-Les-Antiques from 1957.

The bottom row are all Canadian stamps. The leftmost is a blue 4 cent of Alexander Graham Bell from 1947. The other three are the photo-frame stamps, the left two from about 2000 and the one on the right slightly more recent, although I’m not sure of the exact year. The photos are of my best friend with her brother and their dog, then another of my maternal grandmother’s dog, and the third is my parent’s cat Archie. He’s a grumpy old-man cat now, but as adorable as ever 🙂

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