The Stranger

The Stranger

"What to do with your Bowie cuttings! / Stranger's 'Blue Peter' bit."

Cuttings. From newspapers, magazines, you name it.

Compiling and filing them can prove tedious at times, as I am a near obsessive about collecting such things, and not just on Bowie. Loads of artists.

A tip for looking after them (as opposed to letting them pile up scrappily) from my own experience.

If you are thinking of using a 'scrapbook', don't.

The trouble with scrapbooks is you glue stuff in, you cannot 're-file' anything, cannot expand easily.

Having committed some of my nice pictures from Q etc of The Fall and Bowie and others to a photo album, then subsequently realised that I could not remove them from there, I have learnt the hard way so I speak from experience.

With my examples, the A4 stuff is easiest and most user friendly. The A3 example not quite so user-friendly, but immaculate presentation of your valued cuttings!

Either, get an A4 file (standard or lever arch file) up to 2 quid at WH Smith, and some 'punch pockets' - WHSmith and Woolworths are the best for these. Other shops do them, and cheaper, but all the other suppliers tend to sell 'punch pockets' which are slightly 'frosted'.

If you are putting together cuttings which are bigger than A4, try this...

A3 clear plastic binders, at Office World. Not cheap - £8+ a throw, but the 'pocket' (or whatever they are called on these binders) are totally clear (like the examples above, and unlike the similar product sold by Staples).

The above have proved to be great presentation/storage for old NME and Melody Maker articles and covers featuring The Fall.

I have yet to collate all my Bowie cuttings.

Oh how the winter evenings will fly by!!

NB, if you're not based in the UK, hopefully they'll have similar facilities wherever you live.

Some more hints, for anyone who wants to while away the hours on their cuttings!:

Small cuttings are best backed by some black or coloured paper. You can get reims of about 500 for three quid or so from places like Staples. Office World might have something similar - I don't know but I wouldn't be surprised.

It is worth hunting around for cheap varieties.

WHSmith does stock coloured paper or card, but it tends to be expensive, and for this purpose the backing paper for your cuttings does not really need much finesse, so not worth wasting your money on expensive card or paper (another thing I've realised through experience).

Another bit of advice - something I've not got around to trying yet, but I believe it'll work well.

Because at times you may wish to 'upgrade' cuttings (for instance some pictures of your favourite pop stars may be later reprinted in other publications larger, in better quality, in colour as opposed to black and white etc etc), or simply get rid of excess cuttings, a flexible approach to small cuttings (ie smaller than A4 size) is a good idea.

Fix them to a backing sheet with blu tack! Glue means your pretty much stuck with them (pun almost intended) where you have fixed them y'see (as per my photo album problem).

One last thing...

If you have pictures from newspapers, often due to the thin paper, you can see through to the picture or text behind (similar to the see-thru creatures in Barbarella).

If you have obtained coloured or black card, simply fix or place such pictures against dark coloured or black card accordingly. Hey presto! your picture will now look ok.

If you wish to slice many cuttings to size, trim edges of magazines pages to fit A4 size, try this -

Either knife set from a cheap shop. IE about a quid to £1.50, contains various knives in plastic casing.

Or if a shop like the above not in your area, Stanley knife from your hardware shop, should come with excess blades.

The blades on both the knives above should be the snappable ones which you break off about a centimetre or so of the blade each time it becomes blunt (keep doing this as bluntness means you tear up your precious press clippings).

Then get a chopping mat.

This is a Japanese mat, I forget the correct title, should be found for about six quid (A3 size) in an art supplies shop, about a tenner for A2 size. These are brilliant, you can slice away but the mat 'absorbs' your slicing.

These last requirements may seem excessive, but I had another of cutting out things with scissors, giving my cuttings a jagged edge.

The method I suggest above is quick and neat.

Simply put the trimmings in the recycling.

My Blue Peter broadcast over.

Good luck!

The Stranger.
November 2004.