100 cards

Just a quick glimpse at yesterday’s work – 100 cards. I started stacking them next to each other and I cut, sliced and stuck paper to card. I then looked behind and saw a satisfying chunk of different papers, edges next to each other, striped.

They still need to be written on, put in plastic and labelled for selling.

If you’d like to have a proper look through, please do come to one of my markets this weekend. I’ll be at  Of Cabbages and Kings on both Saturday and Sunday, and Mile End’s Park Life on Sunday too. I might be at another market too on Sunday, but I need to recruit a lovely helper, so I’ll update you at a later date.


Mail Art

Mail Art could have been invented for me – paper, paint, collecting little items together and exciting surprise post on the doormat. A perfect combination.  It’s one of those things you’re excited to discover – like a perfect place to drink tea or a band everyone else appears to have heard of – but that you’re a little disappointed about, because it’s been going on all this time, and you’ve only just found out about it.

I owe that discovery and my first piece of mail art to the lovely Katie of As Petals Fall. As a twitter follower, I spied her call for mail art partners; someone to send lovely packages of handmade goods and lovely papers to, and to receive packages from in return. I signed up straight away, and a little time later, received a lovely mail art package.

She sent me  a lovely piece from a vintage magazine book,  some fabric flower cut outs and some fabric stars, sewn with book pages in the centre and text just visible through the fabric, some ribbon and a felt heart.  A pile of loveliness, eh? I mentioned to Katie that I have a craft project in mind for the ribbon and heart. Which I do. It just quite hasn’t come to fruition yet – card making and paper goods are taking up my time at the moment, in the loveliest way possible. I’m really busy making a stock pile of stock – I’m doing three markets next weekend. It would be really good if you could make it along. Have a look at the Find Moll and Mostin section for exact details, but I’m in Stoke Newington and the Mile End Fair.

In return for the envelope from Katie, I sent a bundle of goods.

I had originally intended to paint and collage together an envelope, inspired by this beautiful collection by famous illustrators. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, when I gathered together the hair piece, cutting from a 1920’s magazine, bookmark, little paintings, fabrics and outsize button, there was no possibility of  fitting them in an envelope. And being the type of person I am, I took this as an excuse to cover a box in some vintage paper and ribbon and send it along too.

Not to ruin the mail art surprise element for Katie, but next time I definitely want to make an exciting envelope.

It will have to be good though as Katie’s second mail art package was equally exciting. This time, on return from holiday, I found an envelope made of map, my address in a circle of paper and written by a typewriter. She typed me a letter too. I am now salivating at the thought of a typewriter, although I have vague memories that my relationship with typewriters tends to be similar to that of sewing machines – thorny . According to Katie, her typewriter takes paper up to A3 size. Any surprise that I nearly imploded with jealousy?  A typewriter that takes A3 paper is sitting firmly at the top of my list of desire.  It’s a changeable list though, so it probably won’t reign long.

She sent me a lovely line drawn illustration of an owl, a brown paper luggage label, printed and illustrated, stamps, tea, a printed key and a little garland of paper map circles and the beautiful botanical picture below.

I’ve just moved into a new office space, which is very exciting. When I’m organised and decorated, I will take some photos and give some details. But certainly, the map garland and botanical picture will take pride of place around my desk.

If you fancy a mail art exchange, comment here or email me at mollandmostin at gmail dot com.

Speak To Strangers

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It’s getting past a couple of months now since I quit a job working front of house in a cafe, a few minutes walk from where I live.  Some months before that I’d quit a more stressful office-based, at least 10 hours a day in front of a screen and down the phone, on call at weekends, kind of job.

I didn’t really know what would come up, if anything, when I quit the cafe. It may seem like an arrogant thing to do, current economic climate and all that, but with admin and teaching experience under my belt, and some savings from the office job (don’t worry indeed, I’m taking none of your taxes), I’d thought I’d probably muddle through if needed. London, is afterall, a bit of a bubble. No mortgage, no children, no better time.

After quitting and working my last shift, the most important thing for me was to do interesting things. I didn’t really know what they would be, but I signed up for lots of different things via the intriguing Tower Hamlets Opportunities and Requests list. It has a great range of things available to those who are able to work for little or nothing, as well as information about sponsorships, offers and competitions, where you can submit all manner of art – film, painting, writing, probably even expressive dance. In fact, there’s even a puppet based sexual health education project. Who could ask for more?

It was here I found the brilliant London Word Festival. For all those people who thought literary festivals involved watching a middle-aged man in rumpled shirt talk to another middle-aged man in a rumpled shirt, about his latest book – a book that explores the experiences of a middle-aged male writer in crisis and unable to use an iron, the London Word Festival is a revelation. It is a collection of events, performances and pieces inspired by a love of books and words and writing.  Rather than pompously stating the importance of literature, the festival runs on an earnest enjoyment of books – reminding us of what it feels like to read and have a voice in your head produce a running commentary as your eyes scan the page in The Quiet Volume, or a celebration of the ludicrous plots of Sweet Valley High books in The Goodbye Library. The festival has finished for this year, but I highly recommend it. I highly recommend volunteering for it too – they’re nice and liberal with the biscuits.

One of the festival organisers, Tom Chivers has a small publishing company called Penned in the Margins.  We spent half an hour one day, in the London Word Festival offices, chatting and he looked through my box of tricks – a collection of cards, book marks and boxes I was taking to some shop visits. He emailed me a day later and asked me to make 50 bookmarks, to slip inside the first 50 copies of a new book they were publishing, Speak to Strangers by Gemma Seltzer.

It’s one of the most exciting projects I’ve been offered, made even more by receiving a pdf of the book to read for inspiration. So, in one of those heady sunny days towards the end of May, I took a couple of hours in the afternoon, and lay on my belly in the grass, head in the shade and feet in the sun, and read Gemma’s 100 stories of 100 words, describing her chance meetings with strangers.  And reader, luckily, I loved it. Each story is a small absorbing description of a meeting, a person, a circumstance.  Some are familiar – the story of the irritated bar tender who hates your presence at the bar, and hates your choice of drink more, made me smile with recognition. Others are snapshots of people unknown – a glimpse of a mannerism, the curve of a profile, a few spoken words.

It has now been released and is available to buy. I highly recommend it. It is an absorbing and evocative book. Have a look at the rolling quotes at the top of this post for inspiration.


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Those of you who have been paying attention will remember that I’m doing a free invitation designing service at the moment. It’s still up and running, so if you have an event coming up, let me know. Have a look at the invitation section for more details.

A few weeks ago, my lovely friend Katherine and her husband Justin requested an invitation for their summer barbeque and K’s birthday celebration. Much as you might appreciate birthdays and barbeques, you might think it’s a bit over the top to post out invitations for such an occasion. You’d be mistaken.

Firstly, post is generally exciting and should be encouraged in every situation, as far as I’m concerned. I love post.

Secondly, as Katherine said, in today’s age of facebook events and groups, it’s easy to forget or miss invitations, or even to not feel very personally invited – your name is just another ticked on a list. No wonder then that Katherine wanted to bypass that and send everyone a personal invitation; a beacon of excitment amongst envelopes of bills, take-away menus and general doom.

Thirdly, this is a barbeque celebration with history. I can’t remember when the tradition started – over ten years ago now – but since our dark and distant teenage years, we have been gathering in a garden in July to eat, drink, and be generally merry, and, with varying levels of expertise, to put tents up and sleep in them, in order to celebrate Katherine’s birthday, the summer and life in general.  Oh, and in my case, develop a distinct and continuing dislike of Jack Daniels.  Up until a couple of years ago, the barbeque was held at her parents’ house in the middle of the Welsh countryside, with a small tree swing and just enough of a slope to tumble down when the need or inclination arose.  Who could refuse to design an invitation for such a historical event?

Justin is from across the pond, but the event was still all about the great British summer barbeque.  I have been admiring classic circus poster designs for a while now, and that was the initial mental starting point, when I started sketching ideas. Which will give you some idea of how much my final designs tend to differ from the images in my head.

I love screen prints, typography and graphic design, and I often start with those types of images . I’m not a graphic designer though, so invariably I can’t produce the images in the way that I want and become frustrated. This period of frustrated drawing, piles of paper ending up in the bin, does eventually lead to experiments, new ideas and, once I allow myself to relax and sketch, the designs come good in the end. It definitely makes it a more exciting process – I end up a hop, skip and a jump away from where I first thought I’d be, and with new ideas I didn’t know I had.