28 April 2011

Fictional Mail: Making Faux Postage Stamps

Example of Artistamps/Faux Postage by mixed media artist, Lisa Vollrath

The making of the Summer Wizarding Event is starting to pick up steam.  My designated area is the contents of the Post Office.  This means I am having insanely-fun fun making all kinds of fake mail!  Or as our Headmaster refers to it, wizard junque mail!

Two samples of mail art by John Fellows.
The more "really real"* it looks, the better.  My father-in-law, Professor Science, asked me if I wanted some old postage stamps he had.  (He'd taken them to be appraised and was told they weren't of much value.)  They are of value to us, I told him gratefully.  So our postage will mix truly real with the really real.

Once I get a decent array of stamps made, I will post some images here. But you don't need my examples to get started!

Making faux postage (also called artiststamps in the related universes of rubber stamping and mail art) is pretty straightforward and a lot of fun.  There are several ways to go about it.


Stores like Michael's and JoAnn's sell rubber stamps, but they are often aimed at folks doing scrapbooking or weddings.  I happened upon a trio of faux post cancellation mark stamps at Michael's the other day, but the pickings were mighty slim.

There are lots of rubber stamps companies to be found, most of them selling online now. One needs to do a lot of browsing to find companies selling postage related stamps, but they are out there.  Here are a few I found by Googling. (Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of them.)


Making postage is not just fun, it's tremendous creative play. You can do it by hand, or using rubber stamps, or via computer.  The perforation marks can be drawn in, or made using a dressmaker's tracing wheel, or running the sheets through a sewing machine sans thread. Craft scissors with "postage stamp edges" are also used (I found one for a mere 99 cents at Michael's the other day.).  Or you can go top level with pre-perforated, dry gum paper designed especially for artistamps, special rubber stamp templates, plastic stamping templates - the whole show! 

Tracing Wheels (available at places like JoAnn Fabrics)

 One brand of postage-edge craft scissors (Fiskars)

Cathe Holden, at the endlessly creative and generous site, Just Something I Made, had a 2009 post on how to convert a standard sewing machine needle so that you can "sew" more realistic stamp perforations.  Here's that link.

There are so many folks out there who have posted on the making of artistamps/faux postage, that rather than try to not-plagiarize their work ;-) I will show you some examples of what I found and give you their links. 

Lisa Vollrath, a mixed media artist and designer, is a veritable queen of faux postage and a gazillion other powerfully and playful creative stuff.  Her artistamps are exquisitely precise and "really real."  She also makes "art money."  Her own website is here.

But if you go to her extensive article here, you can get a full rundown on the how-to and where-for of making faux postage.  This page includes a video on how to make faux postage rubber stamps.

Beate Johns wrote up a short, illustrated piece on making faux stamps  She includes two templates in PDF format to get you started.

Tangledom Stamp

TangleCrafts is a blog devoted to mail art and faux postage.  In addition to this article on making stamps, there is a list of mail art and postage-making links.

Bill and Kathy Porter, of the site called The Olathe Poste, provide a lot of stamp making supplies, including pre-perforated, dry gum paper for stamps.  The folks at the above-mentioned 100 Proof Press also have pre-fab paper for stamps, in smaller amounts.

* The phrase really real was gifted to us by one of our soon-to-be new wizarding students after he got his copy of the first issue of the event newspaper, The Monthly Seer. See this earlier post for that report.

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