Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Well, I've just finished my first stamp using Mastercarve.  Generally speaking, I don't think I would use it again.  The material itself is far too spongy for my liking making it difficult to carve (the small parts move to get away from the blade).

Potential spoilers below (I may or may not be actually planting this carve; I don't think anyone will actually know what the carve is supposed to be.)

For your viewing pleasure, some badly taken pictures of the carve as well as the first stamp - all prior to be cleaning the image up:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Came Early!

So last Friday was like... well, Christmas.  I finally received a big package from the US filled with a variety of new (to me, anyway) carving materials thanks to Stampeaz.  As you can see, I ordered the new Firmcut, Speedy Carve, a wee linoblock and a block of Mastercarve.

I was super busy last Friday night and over the weekend, but was just itching to carve something with some of the new materials... I now have a number of projects underway.

So far, the only material I have used  is the Firmcut which I actually quite like. I had seen some comments elsewhere that folks felt that it was not picking up ink due to its shine and that it was difficult to carve.  So, I tried it out so that I could see for myself.  I carved a stamp that has a lot of ink space and it worked marvelously.  [If you want to see the results, all you have to do is find But They're Starving!]

The material upholds its namesake: it sure is firm, but I quite like it.  You do have to intentionally end a cut with it, but I think sometimes I mess up the ends of carving strokes by letting the pieces break off at the end.  So, I consider this a plus.  I would definitely use this material again... I have lots left, so I anticipate many new boxes of this to come.
I plan to use the other materials and let you know what I think, but I'm not quite there yet.  But I will leave you with an open letter to the Staedtler company:

Dear Staedtler;

I am given to understand from your international website that you are an over 100 year-old German company specializing in arts and stationary products.  I thank you for your contributions to the arts community and efforts to improve the products that bring such joy.

However, I must insist that you cease and desist with your inaccurate descriptions of the sizes of your artist carving blocks.  As a German company, from a nation that operates under the metric system, I would have expected that if an error in measurement occurred, it would have been to the imperial measurements, not the metric ones.

It is a shocking to suggest that 2.5 inches is equivalent to 6.4 millimetres or that 0.75 inches equals 1.9 millimetres.  Both of these measurements are inaccurate by an order of magnitude. Now, likely, you have mis-labeled your products with millimetres when it should accurately read centimetres.  However, this is a grave mathematical error the effects of which have far reaching implications!

For example, would you ever consider a fox to be the same size as a bird? No, it's ten times larger! Or a cat the same size as a mouse? No, it's at least ten times larger!  What if a mouse thought, "Why should I be scared of that old cat? Staedtler says we're the same size! I think that we should be friends!" I think we both know what would happen to that poor mouse, Staedtler, I think we both know.

And so, I implore you to recheck all of your size measurements.  The dramatic impact of your wanton misuse of the metric system can have impacts that no one could even anticipate.  

And please, think of the mouse.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where it all started...

Probably like 99.99% of Ontarians, until July 20th of this year, I had no idea what letterboxing was.  And if I hadn't been reading the paper at lunch that day, I still wouldn't.  But as I already have a love for carving, I'm very lucky to have seen the article.  Within 48 hours, I had carved my first signature stamp and had found my first letterbox.  It's only been a few months, but I'm already pretty addicted.

My favourite box so far has been The Secret Garden by Fiddleheads in Guelph.  Without getting too spoilerish, I loved the clue, loved the location, and the stamp was yet another great carve by Fiddleheads.

I don't have any least favourite boxes - every box has been worth the find.  I'm still trying to figure out In the Great Green Room by Fish Below the Ice in Markham.  I've been back to the location - thrice - once with book in hand - can can't figure it out for the life of me. I'm missing something and I'm hoping that one day it will just *click*.  I am THIS close to kidnapping a random child off of the street to help me... I kid.

My problem right now is that I'm coming up with ideas and carving faster than I can create boxes/logbooks and go out and plant... I'm pretty sure I actually like planting better than finding (although I suppose this also largely depends on when you ask me - as cold as it is right now, I'm not really in the mood of hunting down boxes).  Lots of ideas for plantings, no time to plant.  Sheesh.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hello, no one in particular...

Welcome to my newly-found addiction.  I didn't exactly prepare this blog for you, dear reader, but more for me to chronicle and remember my letterboxing escapades.

If you're a fellow letterboxer, welcome.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then (a) how did you get here? and (b) go to - quick!

Happy trails!