Thursday, 1 December 2016

return of the birds

From my 2010 archives. It's pretty crude, 'cause I'd only been making collages for a couple of months. Created for a challenge to make a postcard illustrating the "return of the birds" in the spring. I glued a large photo of a robin's nest to a piece of cereal-box cardboard, then cut it out all the way around to make a bizarrely shaped postcard. (You can mail almost anything in the U.S., if it has the right postage on it.) It's not so great, artistically, but it took many hours to make because (a) I checked to be sure the birds are all indigenous to the Washington, D.C., area, where I live, and (b) they are all exactly to scale, from the big red-tailed hawk down to the tiniest wren. I had to do some serious math! =laugh=

Tool used: Two tools, in fact--the Xyron sticker maker in 2.5 inch (6.4 cm) and 9 inch (22.9 cm) widths. You can read all about it, even watch videos of it in action, at those two Amazon links. You just insert the paper & crank the handle--no electricity required.

Let me tell you its advantages and disadvantages...

--strong permanent adhesive that sticks extremely fast & well, even without burnishing
--no bubbles & no wrinkles in the paper you put down
--terrific for mail art: this bizarrely-shaped postcard traveled 3000 miles west, and its Californian recipient said when she got it, nothing had been damaged, including every tiny outside projection; on a separate occasion, I sent postcards in the shapes of fish with lots of fins: they arrived intact as well
--not messy: the adhesive is solid, so hardly any glue gets on your hands or anywhere else
--machine itself is reasonably priced
--the big one is great for making all-over backgrounds in anything up to A4 size
--you can work with really flimsy paper, like that found in today's magazines and catalogs; you can also feed fabric, ribbons, whatever, into the Xyron
Not so good:
--once your element hits your collage-in-progress, it's stuck down for good: no moving it around as you can with other glues
--not kind to Mother Earth, because the empty refills are not recyclable
--the refills are expensive! just as with having to buy expensive ink for cheap printers, the refills are where the company sticks it to you... BUT you can shop around, on the Net and in craft supply stores for coupons, deals, quantity discounts, etc.

Bottom line: I can't live without my Xyrons.


  1. That's the first tool I had never heard about. Looks like a nice tool to play with!

  2. I need to emend something in what I wrote: the glue of the Xyron sticker maker is not necessarily immediately permanent. The one that comes loaded into the machine is indeed permanent, but there's an option for a "repositionable" version. I've never tried it, because almost all of my collages go into the mail as postcards, so I've always wanted the version that will not EVER come unglued. But now I'm thinking I should try the repositionable version and report back on whether it dries to be just as permanent as the permanent kind.

    1. By the way, I had to figure out, by trial & error, some subtleties of technique for how to use my Xyrons. If any of you do want to check out this tool, drop me a line at fionaoceanstar at gmail dot com, and I'll give you a few tips.

  3. A new one on me, too, Fi...interesting and I'll bet you get a lot of use for mail art out these things. Do they always have a white border or does it depend on how you trim them? And HOW do you trim them -- good old fashioned scissors?

    1. Yup, I just use good old fashioned scissors. They don't have to have a white border at all: I chose to leave a little of white around the outside of each bird (scanned from Roger Tory Peterson, I believe) so they would stand out better against the nest. I almost always do all the snipping in advance, and feed them into the Xyron as is. Every once in a while, if a snipped portion is going to be very small and thin paper, I leave part of the image unsnipped, then snip it after it's adhered to the wax-paper-like backing, where it will be less likely to tear.

  4. Great postcard! - Thanks for the info on the Xyron Fi.