Timber’s not the first material that pops into the head when thinking about postcards – thus my surprise when I came across an image of a Siberian tiger printed on birch veneer at the Helsinki zoo about a decade ago.

Siberian Tiger recto

It’s thinness and flexibility caught my attention. Moreover, its condition doesn’t seem to have changed much since that first encounter.

Siberian Tiger verso

The producers promoted it as an ecological postcard. Though no scientific statistics accompanied the product, the back of the card claims that this card uses only 20% of the wood needed to make traditional postcards.

The idea never caught on and the company distributing the cards is no longer in operation. But the idea of wooden postcards, however marginal, has been around for quite some time.

Wikipedia notes that wooden postcards were sold at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri. There are numerous instances of artists who have run with the idea too.

One such project was Joseph BeuysHolzpostkarte (1974), which attempts to subvert the idea of what a postcard and a limited edition can both be. More wooden brick than card, this object is still available from Edition Staeck.

Jenny Holzer also produced wood postcard sets. The Truisms and the Survival series features her signature provocative statements.

One of my favourite images stems from 2007’s Goin’ Postal, an exhibition of mail art curated by Miles Collyer for Art Metropolejo.

Wooden envelope/postcards sent to Art Metropole anonymously by Lucy Pullen and her class. Source: http://www.digitalmediatree.com/sallymckay/comment/42712/

Just imagine the sound, smell and weight associated with this method of correspondence as multiple pieces of mail fall that the slot in your apartment door!


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