Playing With Junk Mail


I’m a couple days late on this prompt, but I loved the idea so much I decided it’s better to be late than not participate at all.

Courtesy of The Daily Prompt: Bookworms:

Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.

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After opening Elegy for Eddie (Maisie Dobbs#9) to a random page, I counted ten words and ended up on the word “porter.” This is one of the images that showed up in a Google image search:


Magdalene Cambridge Porters Lodge
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

When I was a kid, my sister and I loved to play post office. My grandfather took a cardboard box and added slots along with labels, so we could pretend to sort mail like they do at the post office. To make it even more realistic, we’d go to the post office and take all the junk mail out of the trash cans so we could have “real” mail to put into the slots. Looking back, I can’t believe we dug through trash cans and took other people’s discarded mail. My grandmother, however, justified it by telling us it was trash and therefore belonged to no one. I laugh about it now, but as an adult, I never ever throw anything into a post office trash can!  After all, there could be a child with an overactive imagination digging through the trash.

We got envelopes that were stuffed with everything from coupons, credit card offers, insurance pitches, product advertisements, charity mailers, and Publisher’s Clearing House entry packets. When we weren’t sorting the envelopes into the slots, we were opening them and playing with the contents. I must have filled out hundreds of credit card applications (in a way this prepared me for adult life!) and completed dozens of Publisher’s Clearing House entry forms.  Publisher’s Clearing House envelopes were my favorite because they were filled with so many fun things! Back in my day, they sent a folded sheet of magazine stamps or stickers to stick on the entry form. I played with those stamps on the entries, but I also pretended they were postage stamps for my play mail.

After playing with the insides of the envelopes, we’d seal them back up again and sort them as if they were coming into a different post office.  This little game of imagination entertained my sister and I for countless hours. It’s amazing how something so simple can be so much fun.

While children today enjoy incredible technology, I often wonder if they are missing out on simple imaginary play. My sister and I could play all day without a battery charger or a lit up screen. We played everything from office, grocery store, salon, and restaurant. They were games to us, but they helped us face the real world with a creative spirit and a certain element of fun. To this day, going to the post office makes me smile.

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c.b.w. 2013

Project Art Journal: Page 6


Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest places . . . like credit card junk mail.  For a while, I was getting a steady stream of American Express card offers in the mail and frankly I was pretty annoyed with the daily barrage of thick, paper wasting envelopes.  One day, I opened up one of those envelopes on a whim and spotted a brilliant piece of printed paper.  Part of the campaign was how American Express was my passport to whatever and they included a paper passport full of stamps.  I was instantly inspired to use it in my art journal!

A motto for those brave enough to wander.


  • Brown card stock
  • various printed papers (maybe from junk mail!)
  • tag or tag template
  • word stamp
  • black ink pad
  • brown ink pad
  • ribbon
  • silver thread
  • glass beads
  • paper piercer
  • sewing needle
  • hole puncher
  • eyelet
  • decorative fibers
  • metal tag
  • double-stick tape
  • small glue dots
  • standard tape
  • scissors or paper slicer
  • hammer
  • marker

Layer 1: Foundation

  • Measure and cut a brown card stock square slightly smaller than the paper bag journal page.

Layer 2: Word Background

  • Using printed paper, measure and cut a square slightly smaller than Layer 1.
  • Ink up a word stamp of your choice and fill the square from top to bottom.  Tip:  Test your stamp on a test paper of the same pattern to see how the ink and stamp look before putting it on your final piece.  Also, remember sometimes less is more when it comes to word stamps!
  • Attach Layer 2 to Layer 1 using double-stick tape.

Layer 3: Passport Frame

  • This where my junk mail makes its artistic debut!  Any printed paper, however, will work.  Measure and cut a rectangle slightly smaller than the height of Layer 2.  Leave about a 1½” clearance along the left-hand side.
  • Crumple the paper over and over again, until it starts to feel “soft.”  Then, lightly drag a brown ink pad over the whole thing.  This gives the paper a worn, antiqued look that really adds some character to the page as a whole. Tip: Memories makes a translucent series of ink pads that work really well for this technique.  My favorite for antiquing is a color called, “Sand.”
  • Attach Layer 3 to Layer 2 along the right hand side, using double-stick tape.

Layer 4: Quote Tag

  • This layer can be achieved by using a pre-cut tag or simply creating one yourself.   To make a tag, its as easy as cutting out a rectangle that is smaller than Layer 3 and nipping the top two corners at an angle.  Punch a hole in the top and you’ve got a tag!
  • Cut a square from printed paper that fits the middle of the tag from edge to edge, but leaves considerable space on the top and bottom.
  • Cut a smaller square that fits from edge to edge on the tag and previous square, but leaves clearance on the top and bottom to allow for a framing effect.  On this square, pencil in the quote and then go over it with marker.  Attach this square to the larger square with double-stick tape.
  • Attach quote block to the tag using double stick tape.
  • Grab some silver thread and wrap it around the top and bottom of the smaller quote square multiple times.  Secure the ends with standard tap on the back of the tag.
  • Add metal “wisdom” tag, using glue dots.
  • Insert eyelet through the tag’s hole and hammer into place.
  • Thread several strands of decorative fiber through the eyelet and secure into place with a simple slip knot.
  • Attach tag to Layer 3 using plenty of double-stick tape. Don’t be shy about loading it on pretty thick!

Layer 5: Ribbon and Beads

  • Any ribbon will work for this part, but I used a thin silk ribbon because it bends and lays flat with more easily than standard ribbon.  Trying to plan this layer is like trying to pour water in a straight line, so you’re better off  just going with the flow.  Let the ribbon decide where it wants to go and where it wants to bend.
  • At each bend or curl the ribbon takes, tack it into place by stitching a glass bead into place.  To make this easier, keep a needle pre-threaded (with left-over silver thread, maybe?) nearby and use a paper-piercer to make a hole through all layers so your stitch has an instant place to go. Come up through the hole with your needle, catch the bead, and then go back down through the same hole.  Tip: Instead of making a knot at the end of your thread, hold onto the ends and tape them down with standard tape.  Knots can tear through paper!
  • Continue your ribbon path until you’re happy with how it frames your page.  Secure the ends of the ribbon on the back of Layer 1 with standard tape.
  • Attach the completed page to the paper bag journal with plenty of double stick tape.

Junk mail has never been more beautiful!  Stay inspired!

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c.b. 2012