While designing for a maker of hand quilts in the 1930s, Jefferson County native Loraine Neff (1899-1994) saw two Chinese postcards depicting a man and woman dressed in clothing made of cancelled postage stamps. Fascinated by this unique art, she put the cards in her “Retirement – To do” file, then returned to them 25 years later to take up the craft herself.
Five of Loraine Neff’s stamp collages are now part of the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives collections of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections. Delicate and colorful, they feature a bonneted country woman churning butter, hanging laundry, airing a patchwork quilt, rocking a cradle, and taking a winter stroll. The elements of each, of course, are carefully cut from uncancelled postage stamps, which Neff would purchase from a dealer after sketching her idea and deciding on the colors to use. “It has given me contentment because I lose myself in the art,” Neff wrote in a magazine article about her pastime.