News of my magazine hunts

Seeking out papers for decoupaging has led me into some interesting byroads of the magazine industry. You’d think I would know something about magazines, having subscribed to them all my life, from Your Big Backyard as a preschooler to my current dozen (Gastronomica, Saveur, Vegetarian Times, Yoga Journal, Smithsonian, The Sun, Condé Nast Traveler, Sunset, Via, Dwell, Martha Stewart Living, and Food & Wine).* But I’ve discovered now that I’d only scratched the surface.

Perhaps the most mainstream of my new acquisitions is W magazine, which I’d never looked at before. I bought an issue at a used-magazine sale and upon opening it, got very excited by the oversized pages full of fashion shoots. These are very, very nice for my purposes… and apparently Ginnifer Goodwin’s costars think she’s very intelligent, how about that? Margene!

At a yard sale, I pounced with glee on a big box full of magazines, only to find that they were all horse magazines: The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Organic Equine, Horse and Rider… I picked up a selection, figuring that at the very least, I could use them for drawing practice (I am more terrible at drawing horses than you might imagine, having never liked them much). Boy, horse magazines are kind of weird. I guess all specialized magazines are weird to outsiders, but as I say, I’ve never liked horses. Organic Equine reminded me disturbingly of my vegetarian and yoga magazines, being full of ads for nutritional supplements and acupuncture and that sort of thing. All the horse magazines were full of info and photos of medicines and treatments, but The Horse in particular had disgusting close-up photos of diseased tissues and infections — and a large ad for something called Equine Semen Transporter. I think I may have cut up the last issue of my horse magazines today… and am I thankful!

Besides yard sales, libraries are another excellent source for cheap used magazines. The El Cerrito branch even has a “free” box, which I assume is full of things the library didn’t think would sell (even for the measly 25¢ they charge). Out of that box I’ve picked up countless golf magazines, which provide beautiful images of verdant landscaping (often on really flimsy paper, unfortunately), and one memorably perplexing issue of Coatings Pro. I confess I still don’t understand what that magazine is about, in spite of leafing through the whole thing with interest. It had a picture of a bridge on the cover. I’m not sure what that has to do with steel substrates (or, honestly, what steel substrates even are), but mine not to reason why. There were some interesting pictures in there of metal sheeting and uneven concrete surfaces.

Another recent library-sale find was Country Life, a bizarre British weekly that has somehow found its way to the Larkspur public library. I purchased all the available issues, mainly because of the large size of the magazine (at 9″ x 12″ it’s only slightly smaller than the 10″ x 13″ W) and its good-quality paper. Today I was going through my first issue and I have to tell you, I am just floored by this magazine. I’m not sure who its target audience is but I suspect it might be these people. The first half of the magazine overflows with full-page ads for country estates of a size and grandeur I had not believed truly existed in real life: “perfect for Oxford schools,” “immaculate old rectory”, “fine Georgian country house in parkland setting,” “stunning Tudor style early Victorian set in grounds approaching 58 acres…” This is aside from the villas in Tuscany and the French and Portuguese properties, of course. This part of the magazine reads like a baronet’s version of those free real estate magazines you can pick up at any American supermarket. But then partway through, we begin to discover components of a normal-type magazine: events, letters to editor, feature articles, performing arts reviews, a crossword… and a horse-racing column, a bridge (as in the card game) column, and something called “Mrs Danvers” which contains such utter gems as the following:

Dear Mrs Danvers, I would like to commission a special large vase for my husband because he has recently been knighted and now has his own coat of arms. Can you tell me of anyone who does such work?**

My jaw drops, and I am simultaneously aghast, delighted, and just plain shocked that such a magazine and such people exist. And really, why is this magazine in a little town library in Marin?

So that’s where I am with decoupaging these days. I’ve got several huge stacks of magazines (and a few books) yet to go through, though I’m still kind of on the hunt for more. I will keep you posted, you can be sure, if I find anything more along the lines of the aforementioned priceless jewels!!

*In my defense, several of these are freebies I picked up especially for decoupage purposes. But even so, yes, I do have trouble finding time to read them all. That’s why I canceled Body + Soul, Real Simple, and the late Domino last year… not that this really helps. Those three have great pictures and I’d appreciate them now for decoupage!

**Should you be pondering a similar situation in your own life, Mrs Danvers suggests you contact Muffet Monro for her beautiful work and long experience.