Success: A Type-In & Letter Writing Social Retrospective

December 9, 2012 § 5 Comments

It finally happened.  The day arrived.  We set up the typewriters and the stationery and supplies for cutting and gluing, then we watched it all unfold.


It is nothing but the truth to say that the Type-In & Letter Writing Social organized and hosted by Thread Lock Press and Scribbling Glue was a huge success.   The typewriters were in constant use and the mailart table was always full.  Over the course of 3 hours, there were 70+ people who stopped by and walked away with typewritten and handmade creations!

If you couldn’t make it (or you did make it and want to relive the great vibe of the evening), here’s a brief photo overview.


Checking out the mailart supplies.

The first wave of typists.

The first wave of typists.


A Royal gets a fresh red ribbon.

Cutting, gluing, writing, and creating.

Cutting, gluing, writing, and creating.

A new set of typists.

A new round of typists.


Best friends creating together.


First time with a typewriter.

Another question for Lindsay!

Quick! Where’s the typewriter expert?


Every time a typewriter was free, a new typist sat right down.

Every time a typist finished, a new one slid into the seat.

And, yes, the evening even included a visit from Santa.

And, yes, the evening even included a visit from Santa.

There were, I think, eight or nine typewriters that made an appearance during the evening.  They were nostalgic for some, novelty for others, and enjoyed by all.

What I enjoyed most was the scope of the event.  The youngest participant was 2 (and the youngest in attendance, who has not quite developed the fine motor skills to write or type, was 4 months old), the oldest were in their 70s and 80s.  Some people came on purpose, others just happened to wander into Evergrain Bread Company as part of their 1st Friday circuit and stayed to make something.  Out of town friends and family of mine made the trip to Chestertown just so they could be a part of the fun–I’m so very fortunate to have such fantastic people in my life!  People showed up as individuals and couples and families.  A man typed a birthday letter to his mother who was turning 94 the next day.  A girl wrote to a friend from school.  A woman typed letters to two of her oldest friends–the three used to work together as typists.  A little boy created a tremendously be-stamped and colorful card when left to his own devices with a glue stick (I missed a photo op with that one!).  I love thinking about all the letters and cards and poems and thoughts that were created and are now going to be sent and shared; the event is over, but its impact is going to continue as colorful envelopes make their way through the mail and are opened on the other end.  This was definitely a happening that lived up to Scribbling Glue’s mission to celebrate how “handwritten letters, jotted notes, and scrawled miscellany add to the forces of good at work in the world.”

I have an inkling that this was not a one-time event.

Oh! And I also have an inkling from the Letter Writers Alliance:

File under: things that made my day

File under: this made my day 

Hooray for being a part of the creative and fun-loving community of letter writers!

Donovan and Kathy of LWA, thank you for introducing me to the idea of letter writing socials!

Huge thanks are also due to Doug and Kelly at Evergrain who gave an enthusiastic go-ahead when asked about holding this event at the bakery.

And, hey, Lindsay, creative collaboration rocks!  I’m so glad we made this happen.


In which there is an unexpected overnight guest and the creative process refuses to be rushed

November 18, 2012 § 2 Comments

We had an unexpected overnight guest this weekend.

Hildegard, Patron Saint of Writers and Unexpected Overnight Guest

We had known Hildegard and Lindsay were coming over to make things, but Lindsay and I underestimated the amount of time that would be needed to complete our project.  After six hours of typing, cutting, gluing, and creating, Lindsay headed home around midnight promising to return the next day.  Not wanting Hildegard to feel lonely, I introduced her to a new friend.

Despite the generation gap, they had no trouble finding common interests to discuss.

After a while, they were joined by a couple more friends.

Everyone enjoyed the bedtime stories.

Then it was time to get comfy…

The youngest member of the group was already in sleep mode.

…and tucked in for the night.

Ahhh…a well earned rest after a full evening of making stuff.

And what, you ask, were we doing that exhausted Hildegard and required ten hours of diligent work over the course of two days?

Well, at various times, it looked like this:

And this:

Eventually, it resulted in this:

Tomorrow some lucky letter carrier will start these on their way to spread the word about the fast-approaching letter-writing social and type-in:

Won’t you join us, too?  If you do, you’ll have the fun of putting together your own super-special, totally unique, custom created typed-and-handwritten masterpiece.  (Added bonus: experiencing Evergrain Bakery will make your taste buds happy.)

Matching-Optional Stationery & Envelopes

November 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

A couple weeks ago, I got together with Lindsay, of Goose Hill and Thread Lock Press fame, to print stationery that she designed for our upcoming Type-In and Letter Writing Social.  It was my first time using a printing press and I had a blast!  This is partly because Lindsay did all the challenging parts and I got to do the fun bit, but also because it’s really neat to try a new way of being creative.

I could spend this post telling you all I learned about the process of printing.  However, since I have the option of referring you to a thorough and concise outline of all the steps involved, I will instead simply share some photos and recommend that you direct any questions about what you see to Journeyman Printer Lindsay. She’s much more well-versed than I am and knows all the proper vocabulary while I’m still at the “it’s a metal thingy” stage of understanding.

The chase (one of many metal thingys involved) is filled and locked!  We’re almost ready to print.

Even application of ink is key.  (Are you admiring Lindsay’s printer’s apron?  If you’re in the market for one, check out Thread Lock Press on Etsy.)

Was it really that exciting?  Yes.  Am I often silly?  Definitely.

My first attempt was a success!

We went on to print a stack of stationery in a variety of sizes.

Stationery, of course, needs to be paired with envelopes, so we will include an envelope-making station as one of the activities at the Type-In & Letter-Writing Social.  I brought stationery samples home with me in order to create templates for making envelopes that will fit the stationery.

In a world where Pinterest exists, it’s easy to feel that plain cardboard just won’t cut it.  However, after a failed attempt making a more aesthetically pleasing template, I decided that I was cool with plain.  They are more utilitarian than beautiful, but they’re a means to an end and what they help to create will be lovely.

Voila! Template + page from a picture book with a damaged spine + scissors + tape = envelope of the perfect size!

I realize that the bright and shiny envelope does not exactly match the elegant stationery printed on quality paper, but it was what I had handy at the time.  And, hey, who said things always have to match?  However, those who feel the need for more decorum and coordination of their letter-writing materials should not be scared off by my jumping-june-bugs-kissing-katydids envelope.  There will be an assortment of materials available for making envelopes and other mailart on December 7th; I’ll endeavor to include some more refined options. ;)

Stamps by the Pound

September 13, 2012 § 2 Comments

Recently, because of the upcoming type-in and letter writing social, I’ve been searching for information and browsing for inspiration.  Somewhere along the way, while thinking that collage would probably be the best approach for offering a mail art activity, I discovered that you can buy canceled stamps on eBay.  By the pound.  Since I have a weakness for ephemera, I placed a bid.  I now have a bag containing hundreds (thousands?) of stamps from all over the world spanning decades of postal delivery.

With the more unique and interesting designs, I can see a single stamp becoming the central element of a work of art.  The more monochrome stamps with run of the mill designs give me ideas for color themes.  I am so excited to see what people do with them!  And I have a feeling I’ll be using a few in projects of my own before December 7th.

Put It on Your Calendar: Type-In & Letter Writing Social

September 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

Back in January, I decided I wanted to do less just thinking about doing things and more actually making them happen.  I even made a list of ideas to bring to life in 2012.  I’m am thrilled to announce that #2 on my list, hosting a letter writing social, is going to be checked off before the end of the year!

Lindsay Lusby, the mind and hands behind Thread Lock Press and the blog-keeper at Goose Hill, recently inquired if I might be interested in co-hosting a type-in.  I asked if she might be open to making it a type-in and letter writing social.  A flurry of emails ensued and less than 48 hours later we had a date chosen and a location booked!  The moral of this story: bouncing ideas around can result in  fun, creativity, and new adventures.

The details of where and when:

Not only are we wildly excited about hosting the type-in and letter writing social, but it’s going to be a First Friday event, which means there will be lots of people meandering downtown looking for interesting things to do.  They might not yet know that they are letter writers or typewriter aficionados, but we’re going to give them a chance to discover it.   Added bonus: we’re staging Type-In Type-Out at Evergrain Bread Company, which fully deserves the Best Bread on the Eastern Shore award it recently won and is home to a brand-new shiny espresso machine.

Hooray!  This is going to be so much fun.


For more information about letter writing socials, visit the Letter Writers Alliance.  Kathy and Donovan, who get the credit for putting this idea into my head, have put together tips and ideas for planning and hosting letter writing socials.

For more information about type-ins, ask Lindsay–she’s the typewriting part of this equation!  Find her at Goose Hill or join Thread Lock Press on Facebook.

Scribbling Good: Make the World a Better Place

June 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Lately I’ve come across a number of letter writing-related opportunities to do good in the world.  As a result, I’ve added a new page to the blog so I can compile projects into a quick reference for anyone looking to do a daily good deed while also writing notes, sending packages, and generally spreading sunshine.

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce:
Take a look, let me know about other great projects I should add, and make today’s daily good deed a postally inspired one!

USPS: Protecting Your Privacy for Over Two Centuries

May 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

You might not know this, but we’re in the middle of Choose Privacy Week, which is an initiative of the American Library Association.

Choose Privacy Week (May 1-7, 2012) is an initiative that invites library users into a national conversation about privacy rights in a digital age.

The right to privacy is a big deal in the field of librarianship.  Working in a public library, I spend a lot of time thinking about privacy issues––protecting users’ privacy, advocating for continued strong privacy practices, providing materials that will help users make informed choices about their privacy, etc.  I also spend a lot of time considering both logical and unexpected ways in which things can be grouped together.  This goes with the territory of librarianship, but it’s also something my brain does naturally.  I thrive on finding points of connection.  Thanks to these factors, my mind managed to work its way around to pondering the intersection of privacy and letter writing.

Based on my gut instinct, I quickly came to this conclusion: when the news is full of stories about how online privacy can only ever be semi-achieved and even that requires constant individual vigilance, it seems that the tried and true pen to paper, tucked inside an envelope, sealed, stamped, and sent is a hands-down winner for sharing your thoughts discretely.

Then, lo and behold, on the first day of Choose Privacy Week, I found myself at the National Postal Museum (check that off my list of Things to Do in 2012!) studying an exhibit panel entitled Freedom of Speech in the Mail.

It turns out that privacy was one of founding principles of the U.S. Postal System.

For anyone with a smidgen of knowledge about the American Colonial times, it will come as no surprise when I say that the original 13 colonies were under British rule.  What you may not know, though, is that the colonial British Post Office was not run with an eye to the privacy of letter-writers.  In fact, it was quite common for agents of the Crown to scrutinize the mail looking for hints of treason.  The wrong words in a letter could result in a death sentence.  Needless to say, this didn’t go over too well with the feisty revolutionary minds of the day, many of whom resorted to engaging private carriers in order to ensure that their personal correspondence and the latest newspapers were received.  In 1774, William Goddard, a printer who had “formed a partnership with Benjamin Franklin to publish the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a paper sympathetic to the revolutionary cause” presented a petition to the Continental Congress (Pope, 2006). He was motivated by a local postmaster who took it upon himself to disrupt Goddard’s mail delivery and prevent him from receiving newspapers containing critical information.  Goddard’s proposal made the case for founding a postal system that would be an alternative to the colonial British Post Office and would be based on the “principles of open communication, freedom from governmental interference, and the guaranteed free exchange of ideas” (Pope, 2006).  Less than a year later, the Constitutional Post was up and running and the foundation of what would become the USPS was in place.

You may be thinking, “But that was centuries ago!”

True.  However, the USPS hasn’t backed away from making privacy central to its operations.  In the Ponemon Institute’s 2007 Privacy Trust Rankings of U.S. Government Agencies, the USPS, for the third year in a row, ranked #1 out of 74 agencies that collect information about individuals.  83% of respondents perceived the USPS as trustworthy when it came to safeguarding citizen’s privacy and personal information.

And so, in celebration of ALA’s excellent initiative and the USPS’s longstanding record on protecting your right to communicate freely and without interference, here’s my advice to you:  Choose Privacy–Write a Letter

International Mailbox Exhibit at the National Postal Museum.
(Off-topic?  Yes!  But still very cool.)

Sources for Info about USPS & Privacy Protection

American Society for Public Administration. (2007, March). 2007 Privacy Trust Rankings of U.S. Government Agencies announced. PA Times, 30(3).   Retrieved April 29, 2012 from MasterFile Premier.

Hentoff, Nat. (n.d.) Case in point: Freedom of speech in the mail.  National Postal Museum exhibit, Washington D.C.  Visited May 1, 2012.

Pope, Nancy. (2006). Goddard’s petition to the Continental Congress [National Postal Museum online exhibit].  Retrieved May 3, 2012 from

Postcards Seeking Adventure: Adopt One Today!

April 13, 2012 § 4 Comments

Yesterday I received an unexpected piece of mail from PostMuse.

Post Muse Envelope

When I opened up the gorgeous envelope two things happened.

First, I was tickled to discover that it was made from an old calendar page (note to self: spend some time making envelopes), which made the back of the envelope make sense.

Second, I was reminded that, in fact, this was an expected piece of mail.  I had offered to adopt a couple postcards from PostMuse’s Orphaned Postcard Project and she had sent them my way.

If you haven’t heard of this project, here’s the gist.  Several years ago, PostMuse decided that she wanted to do something above and beyond accumulating dust with her enormous postcard collection.  So, she created an amazing database to inventory her collection and invited people to adopt postcards that they relate to in some way.  I trolled through the list, found two that appealed to me, and sent her an adoption request.  Now that they have arrived, it’s my job to write and mail them back to PostMuse.  One more way to achieve Action #7 for 2012.

Intrigued?  You, too, can adopt postcards and be a part of this neat project!  Even if you’re not interested in participating, take a look at the Orphaned Postcard Project blog to see a selection of the postcards that have been sent out, had a postal adventure or two, and returned with stories to tell.

Postal Packin’ Mama

February 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

For all of you who love getting mail and want to keep the USPS going strong, take a look at (and a listen to) what Postal Packin’ Mama has to say about the USPS’s current financial situation and the proposed fix that doesn’t include cutting jobs, facilities or delivery days.

Then get in touch with your congressional representatives and urge them to support H.R. 1351.

The Most Awkward Note

January 28, 2012 § 4 Comments

Never think, because you cannot easily write a letter, that it is better not to write at all. The most awkward note that can be imagined is better than none…

~Emily Post, 1922

I found this quote on A Month of Letters and it struck a chord.  I sometimes delay writing letters because I feel the need to create The Perfect Letter.  What is The Perfect Letter?  Who knows?!  Despite aspiring to it, I can’t even define what it is I have this notion I “ought” to be creating.  This is why the the idea of an awkward letter being an appreciated gesture appeals to me.  And to take Emily’s thought a step farther, I’d say that the perfection of a letter is likely best determined by the recipient rather than the sender.  Therefore,  any letter has the potential to be perfect…except for the one that is never sent.

To encourage myself not to put writing on hold until the days I feel capable of perfection (they are so few and far between), I’ve signed up for A Month of Letters, which invites participants to write a letter a day for the month of February.  Having done–and loved–a 30 Day Challenge last October (the end result of which was the beginning of this very blog you are reading), I’m looking forward to success and enjoyment with this month-long letter writing challenge.  Intrigued?  Take a look at the details and join the fun if it appeals to you!

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