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12 Sep / Craftless

The other day I was idly looking through a selection of photos wondering which of them was worth splashing out the princely sum of $1.00 for in order to put it on my next cover, when I made a decision which I will no doubt regret.

I was looking for a photo of old letters, maybe with a red seal on them, maybe typewritten but more probably handwritten. Lots of sepia tones and with the feel of a quill about them.

I knew exactly what I was after. And that was when the fatal idea appeared in my head.

Why don’t I just take the photo myself?

First of all, it would save me one dollar. Second of all, I could take it from a lot of different angles and end up with something that looks exactly like the picture inside my head rather than just the closest I could get.

Brilliant.

Of course it’s not brilliant. Now I have to do a whole lot of work that I didn’t scope out before committing to the project. And don’t think that I can just turn around and change my mind back. That would make me a failure.

So I gathered up a variety of materials that I thought would work. My partner has an old seal with a supply of red wax (no I don’t know why he just does, okay) and I found an envelope that was already sepia toned. A wonderful start.

Then I just needed to get some sepia toned paper and get my handwriting skills on.

Every young child reads at some stage about how to make paper look old-timey. You just get a nice selection of tea and you spill a few drops on the page, and then sweep it about a bit and dry.

I set to work. I already had some strong tea, leftovers from the morning, so I was one-up there. I also had paper, shiny-white and pulled from the gleaming brightness of a newly opened ream.

So white.

Never mind. That was all about to change. I dribbled a few drops of cold tea on the page and wah-lah! I had a bright white sheet with a few wrinkling tea coloured drops on it.

Okay, not to worry. I’d just wipe them about a bit with my hand, and then they’d start to look like old paper. Yip. Nothing to it. Or, since that wasn’t working, I’d just add a few grains, or a pinch, or a quarter-teaspoon, of instant coffee and that would give the right… okay. That just doesn’t really work at all.

Crafts though. You can’t fail. You just find yourself making things you weren’t anticipating. I’m sure they’ll look fine when they dry up.

Oh! Tea leaves. That’s my mistake. I’m meant to use tea leaves, not tea.

Except they kind of adhere to the paper, don’t they? Just a moment. No. Definitely tea. Not leaves. Just tea. And coffee.

Well, that’s all just put to the side anyway because I need to practice my good old handwriting. Just like I learned in intermediate school for one term because we had an old teacher who refused to let go.

First off, I obviously need a fountain pen. A sharpie just isn’t going to cut it.

Who would’ve thought it. I don’t actually have a fountain pen. But, really, do I need one? The photo isn’t going to be in all that close focus – certainly not now anyway, the tea leaves would be a bit too offputting – so I could probably get away with a ballpoint.

Well, not a ballpoint, so actually I will try that Sharpie.

And wah-lah!

Only a $1.00 for one of those pre-prepared photos you say? What a bargain.

By Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog

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