Earlier this year, while recovering from foot surgery, I spent some couch time sorting postage stamps. When my sister, Sharon, moved to her new condo, she asked if I would make her a vintage postage stamp table like mine. We’d both had one of my father’s stamp albums on the shelf for years. It was an emotional journey from album to table, but a healthy one. It was time we pulled our grief off the shelf and brought Dad’s gorgeous collection into the light of day.
As project planning goes, 2020 was a strange year. Just as I started to literally get on my feet, we entered a three-week lockdown. Casual trips to the hardware store became a thing of the past. When we eventually made it there, I waited in a long line, just to order a small quart of paint. Once home, the simple act of painting the circular wooden top alluded me. Mike eventually offered to paint it for me, and from there, I found some momentum.
When I made my own table-top back in 2015 I had the benefit of four triangle-shaped stamps to use as a center. From there I worked my way outward, placing stamps in rainbow order and using multi-colored postage for the border.
Lacking any triangle-shaped stamps for Sharon’s table, I had to come up with a different approach. I sorted through dozens of stamps and eventually came up with this:
The red stamp is marked Nov, Sharon’s birth month. The next two stamps are 50c and 9c (Sharon’s 59th year), and the stamp below that is from Canada (our birthplace), and the year I made the table (2020).
I sorted the postage by color, setting aside the multi-colored stamps to use along the border. I divided the painted top into pie-shaped sections and filled each one with one color, moving from the center outward. I really enjoyed seeing it take shape.
I adhered the stamps as I moved from the center outward using Mod Podge decoupage glue. It’s easy to apply and it acts as both a glue and a varnish. I continued to build up layers of the water-resistant finish over several days, smoothing out any bubbles and allowing it to dry.
In the interim, I assembled this flat-pack black table purchased online. I originally planned on scouring some thrift stores for a table to use as a base, but it was a good alternative since that was out of the question. Mike helped me attach the postage stamp tabletop to the black table’s underside using wood screws.
The table sits between Sharon’s two velvet chairs. A slightly taller table would have been nice, but the colors are perfect. We’re both happy with the final result.
Check out what these artists are doing with vintage postage:
Artist Juan Carlos uses postage stamps to beautiful effect.
Donna Boss creates gorgeous cards using vintage stamp art.
Philatelic fans, please note. These stamps are sentimental and are of no inherent value. I understand that for some of you, this amounts to destroying a piece of history. For us, it’s a way of valuing our father’s legacy and a way to celebrate and honor his beloved hobby. We were 8 and 9, respectively, when Dad died. These tables mean the world to us.