Guest Post: Creating Stamp Jewelry by Sara Glassman

Today’s guest blogger is LetterMo Community Member Sara Glassman, a bookseller, school librarian, jewelry maker, and passionate letter writer. She has a stationary and postcard addiction that she is not trying very hard to recover from. This is her fourth year participating in LetterMo. Be sure to check out her blog, Twitter, and Instagram.

One of my favorite parts about getting letters is looking at the stamps my correspondents have used. With mail art and general envelope design being so popular it is rare to get an envelope with a simple flag stamp these days. Most of my letters have two or three coordinating stamps of varying denomination. They are tiny paintings on every envelope.

I’m always loved stamps. When I was eight, my mom got me a First Day Cover subscription from the Post Office. Once a month, they would mail me a fancy envelope with a special stamp. They all went into a special presentation book. (Although, there were apparently two Glassmans in my city who were part of the program and we kept getting each other’s packages.)

First Day Cover Bugs Bunny

My mother had a wealth of vintage stamps from her own stamp collecting days. I marveled at the stamps in soft reds or greens, but I never really knew what to do with them except paste them into a scrapbook. As I got older I realized the potential for collage, but it still didn’t quite fill the itch I had to do something really special with the stamps I was receiving. And then much, much later I started making jewelry. And I realized that I had finally found the exact thing that I wanted.

The first stamp I used was an amazing dragon stamp from Botswana. My friend was there with the Peace Corps and she wrote to me frequently. Botswana had some beautiful stamps! I’ve also been active in PostCrossing for several years, which has brought me some beautiful stamps from various parts of the world.

necks made with dragon stamp from Botswana

The actual process of making the necklaces is fairly simple.

  1. Find a stamp you like. If it’s been stuck to an envelope or postcard already, soak it in a bowl of warm water until the glue loosens. Then lay the stamp out to dry. (I usually dry them face down just in case there is some glue left.)
  2. Decide what size pendant you want to make. I usually give the stamp a small 1 or 2cm border. Cut a piece of thin cardboard to fit. (The backing board the post office uses when they ship stamps is ideal!)
  3. Find a background paper that compliments your stamp. Scrapbooking paper or origami paper are my usual go-to papers for this. You can find so many beautiful patterns and colors. Tissue paper will also work, but you usually need several layers.
  4. Coat the cardboard with ModPodge and wrap the paper around the cardboard. You can either leave the seams showing or cut a backing piece to fit. That is entirely up to you.
  5. Use the ModPoge again to stick the stamp to the pendant. You can center it or offset it if you’d like. Coat the entire front with ModPoge and then when that dries, flip it over and coat the back.
  6. eyeletsOnce everything has dried completely, use a scrapbooking eyelet tool to punch holes and then set the eyelets. I often put another eyelet at the bottom so I can hang a few beads. This can dress up the pendant and also give it a bit more weight once you’re wearing it.
  7. The final step is to add cord and there you are! If you want to get fancy, you can use chain, silk ribbon, or anything else you like.

I will warn you, once you’ve seen how simple it is, it can be very difficult not to eye every bit of paper or scrap of decoration on an envelope as something to make wearable. I hope you find some beautiful stamps to wear.

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