copper contact cards

I’m interested in how something hand-made, that we’ve creatively laboured over, is somehow different than something mass-produced by a machine. The human effort and care, and the direct personal touch behind an object, can imbue it with a bit of warmth and softness.

I arrived in London for a month-long visit in the summer of 2023, and met new people, often in passing at an event, whom I wanted to connect with. It was clear that it would be helpful to have “contact cards” — pre-made pieces of paper with my name and contact info — rather than stumbling in the moment to try to exchange info with our smartphones. It’s a bit different than a “business card”, as when I travel I’m focusing less on business networking, and more on personal and artistic connections.

At a boutique art supply store in London, I was blessed to stumble across the hand-made inks by Polly Bennett. I used two of her inks — an ink that she made from copper scraps, and an ink she made from acorns she gathered near her home in Kent. I painted a self-portrait with the copper ink onto thick watercolour paper. (This felt like relevant imagery for a contact card.) I enjoyed how this hand-made ink had variation within it, and was less predictable, that it darkened a few moments after I applied it to paper. I painted this in the dining room of the family home I was house-sitting, in a quiet neighbourhood of northeast London, while listening to Björk’s podcast and various new music discoveries.

I then cut it up into 90 cards. Using a vegan inkpad, I applied a custom stamp of my Rocketday emblem, and then wrote my info individually onto each card — and then finished it with a brush stroke of Polly’s acorn ink.

Now when I meet someone, I can easily share my contact details, while quietly sharing a small piece of me and the space I was in, summer 2023. Most recipients will never know that the rectangle of teal brushmarks are a piece of a copper self portrait. I’d love it if this was a common thing, so I’d also receive cards like this from several people, each with different inks and secret self-portraits and personal handwriting.

painting & graphic design Emrys Damon Miller

journal entry by Emrys