Envelopes: Prepped to Seal, Stamp, and Send

September 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

It’s almost time!

This type-in and letter-writing social is a creative collaboration between Thread Lock Press, typewriter-enthusiast and letterpress printer, and Scribbling Glue, letter-writing champion and envelope-pusher. They are out to reintroduce people to old techniques for creating new and improbable connections.

– event mission statement for Chestertown’s Type-In and Letter Writing Social, Round 2

In anticipation, Lindsay and I got together this week to finish prepping envelopes.  Due to the time and space constraints that come along with presenting this event at the Chestertown Book Festival, we decided to pre-cut handmade envelopes so people can assemble and embellish without having to start completely from scratch.  The result of our flurry of cutting is that we have 70+ envelopes just waiting to be filled with literary musings and bookish thoughts by Book Festival attendees who find the sound of clattering typewriters sufficiently distracting to wander away from the Bookmakers and Writers Exhibition Hall long enough to record their own thoughts to be sealed, stamped, and sent.

From animals and trains to sunsets and fairy tales, there will be a wide variety of envelopes available.

From animals, trains, and nuns to sunsets, fairy tales, and airplanes, a wide variety of envelopes will be available to suit different moods and strike proper tones.


We hope to see you there!




Type-In & Letter Writing Social, Round Two

August 27, 2013 § 6 Comments

As you may recall, last December Lindsay of Thread Lock Press and I teamed up to bring about our town’s very first Type-In and Letter Writing Social.  As a result of that lovely evening, we were invited to present a similar program at the 2013 Chestertown Book Festival.

CBF poster 2013

Did you see?  We’re featured on the poster!  Official and exciting, isn’t it?

Due to logistical factors, this program will be a bit scaled back and more focused than our first event, but there will be typewriters, envelope-making materials, and plenty of good cheer.

How to Write a Letter a Little at a Time; or It’s Okay to Be a Slow Letter Writer

June 25, 2013 § 12 Comments

I recently received a letter from a dear friend.  She said she’d been meaning to get around to writing for months and noted, “I need some kind of Scribbling Glue post on how to write a little at a time.”


I started this post with a misleading statement.

When I said “recently received,” I actually meant “received and haven’t yet replied to.”

The letter in question arrived 57 days ago.

I know that casts doubt on my credibility to offer advice about being a more efficient letter writer.  Let me add to my dubious credentials by saying something that may be seen as letter writing heresy: it’s okay to be a letter writer who does not reply immediately.

A few weeks ago, PostMuse lamented:

I respectfully disagree — I ask you, who wouldn’t want to write to PostMuse after admiring her amazing orphaned postcard database?!  Besides, letter writers love to write letters.  And that feeling of guilt over a letter that sits and waits for attention?  We’ve been there, too, so we don’t mind waiting a bit for replies to arrive.  We write to share and to connect.  We write because we enjoy it, not because it’s an obligation.  Taking the time to contemplate a response or wait for creative inspiration is okay.*

Now–having fessed up to my own sometimes slowness and shown my solidarity with everyone who’s ever agonized over a letter languishing in the “reply to” pile–on to the requested post!

How to Write a Letter a Little at a Time

  1. Keep your pens, papers, and other necessaries easily accessible.  If you know you’re going to have to run around finding supplies before you can start, it might feel like too much work for just a little bit of writing.

    Portability is part of why this works for me.

    Portability is part of why this works for me.

  2. Make sure you have space to write.  My desk currently has a sewing machine sitting on it which renders it useless as a writing surface.  While I can (and do) write on the couch, sitting on the floor, and at the dining room table, clutter or other projects-in-progress can derail my intention to write.


    Lovely in its own right, but not conducive to letter writing.

  3. Find and make use of odd minutes here and there.  Before you check your email, fold the laundry, read your book, or put on a movie, write a little bit of your letter.  Even if you only get down the salutation and your first two sentences, you’ll have accomplished the goal of writing a little bit at a time.  Repeat regularly.
  4. Start, then start again, and again.  Eventually, you’ll find the rhythm of a little bit here and a little bit there that works best for you.

And now, I’m off to take my own advice.


* Are there letters that should be answered promptly?  Yes, of course.  Should you strive to send celebratory notes in advance of special occasions?  Absolutely.  But it’s also okay to cut yourself some slack when you fail to be a perfect and prompt correspondent.  Are there people who will be affronted at a slow response?  Sure.  As in any type of relationship, not every letter writer will mesh with every other one.  If a discrepancy in response time exists and distresses one party, it may be best to address it frankly and make a decision about whether or not to continue corresponding.  It’s nothing against either writer, just a gracious acknowledgement that the correspondence isn’t mutually agreeable for both people.

Write a Letter to the Pigeon

September 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

I love this idea so much.  So much!

Lexington Park Library has recently implemented a new learning center for kids that is centered around creating and delivering mail.  When they visit the library, kids are encouraged to write letters to well-known characters from children’s books.  After the letters are written, the writer hand-delivers the letters to the mailboxes that are mounted in different places around the department.  There is even a letter carrier costume for kids to wear when they are delivering the letters.

Building literacy skills + writing to story book characters + playing letter carrier = nothing but WIN!

Dabbling in Making Stuff

August 4, 2012 § 5 Comments

I am more a writer than an artist.  I still marvel at how illustrators, comic book artists, and others with that incredible set of spacial-visual skills can replicate the same character repeatedly.  My own forays into art tend to be one-off creations and it’s not uncommon for me to feel like I don’t quite manage to capture how the idea looked inside my head.  But I like making stuff.

Here are some of my recent creations:


Cutting and pasting is just my style.  What’s yours?

Paying bills is fun!

July 6, 2012 § 6 Comments

The quarterly municipal water and sewer bill arrived this week.  While not my favorite kind of mail to receive, I do love working utilities, so I sat right down and paid it.

Since the bill arrives in postcard form, I had to supply an envelope for mailing the check.  When I went to raid my stash of random plain envelopes (thrifted for pennies in anticipation of just this sort of postal moment), the first envelopes I saw in my stationary drawer were the ones I recently made from an old calendar.

And I thought, Why not?  Maybe it will make the Utilities Commission’s mail opener smile.

It did cross my mind that this was an unusual idea and might be considered odd, but when I saw that I had an envelope made from an aerial shot of my town, I took it as a sign that it was a good unusual idea.

I went all out and tucked a note in my fancy bill-paying envelope:

Thank you for all you do to keep this town running.

Saying “thank you” makes the world a better place.  Truly.

Contains Fairy Dust

February 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Clearly this was sent by a very dear friend of mine:

Not only did she sprinkle her note with fairy dust, but she knew I was in danger of ending up with fairy dust in my tea and gave me fair warning.   Since imbibing magical substances almost always has unexpected consequences, this is just one more gesture in a long string of kindnesses she has shown me.  And also, she sent me fairy dust – how cool is that?!

The Life and Times of Mr. Zip

February 18, 2012 § 5 Comments

If you’ve ever looked at items that were mailed a generation ago, you’ve probably noticed that something is consistently absent.  Here, take a look:

Do you see what’s missing? (hint: look at the end of the address)

The reason behind this omission is that the Zone Improvement Plan Code system hadn’t yet been invented.  First proposed in 1944 by postal inspector Robert A. Moon, it took nearly twenty years for the idea of a national coding system to be adopted. Hoping to improve the efficiency of sorting and delivering mail, Mr. Moon submitted several additional proposals over the years.  He is now recognized as the father of the first three ZIP code digits, which are used to divide the country into roughly 900 geographic areas.  The 4th and 5th digits, proposed by postal employee H. Bentley Hahn, were added to more precisely pinpoint locations, allowing a piece of mail to be placed on the most efficient route to its final destination.

Improved efficiency and faster delivery were clearly winning ideas, but the USPS still faced the challenge of convincing a whole country of people to buy in to the notion and start tacking five digits on to the end of their addresses.  And change, even positive change, can be difficult to enact.  So how did they do it?

Image courtesy of the National Postal Museum's virtual exhibit Flashing Across the Country: Mr. Zip and the ZIP Code Promotional Campaign

They introduced Mr. Zip!

Originally named “Mr. P.O. Zone,” he’d been rechristened (good decision!) by the time he made his first public appearance at a 1962 convention where he posed for photos with all the attendant postmasters.  In the 9 months leading up to the official implementation of ZIP Codes, Mr. Zip popped up all sorts of places–buttons, letter satchel decals, the side of mail trucks, posters, TV ads, rubber stamps–touting the benefits of using ZIP Codes.

Although ZIP Code implementation got underway in 1963, citizens were given several years to acclimate before ZIP Codes became a hard and fast requirement for sending mail.  During this time, all sorts of promotional materials were created to encourage acceptance and use.  Give a listen to the ZIP Code Ballad and see if it doesn’t endear you to those five special digits!  (More ZIP Code PSAs can be found here.)

By the 1970s, USPS mail was nearly 100% ZIP Code compliant.  Mr. Zip, having achieved his objective with great success, began making fewer appearances.  Although not often seen in official capacity these days, Mr. Zip has been spotted here and there recently.  So keep an eye out for him!  And remember:

Image courtesy of the National Postal Museum's virtual exhibit Flashing Across the Country: Mr. Zip and the ZIP Code Promotional Campaign

Sources* for Info about the History of ZIP Codes:

Curtin, A. (n.d.)  Flashing across the country: Mr. Zip and the ZIP Code promotional campaign [virtual exhibit]. Smithsonian National Postal Museum.  Retrieved from: http://postalmuseum.si.edu/zipcodecampaign/index.html

Martin, D. (2001, April 14). Robert Moon, an inventor of the ZIP Code, dies at 83. New York Times.  Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/14/us/robert-moon-an-inventor-of-the-zip-code-dies-at-83.html

Stein, L. (2003, July 14). Post haste.  U.S. News & World Report, 135(1), p. 15. Retrieved from EBSCO MasterFile Premier.

“What does ZIP Code stand for?” (2011, September). Journal of the Retired United Pilots Association, 14(9), p. 13. Retrieved from: https://www.rupa.org/uploads/RupaNews_09-11.pdf

If you are intrigued and want to know more, I highly recommend checking out the National Postal Museum’s virtual exhibit.  It has lots more information, as well as many examples of the promotional materials used to get the public excited about using ZIP Codes.

Month of Letters Check Up

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Well, it’s day 13 in A Month of Letters and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  (If you’ve been thinking about playing along, but haven’t gotten around to starting, don’t despair!  Read Mary’s post about starting late.)  Before the month began, I printed the official calendar and scheduled my first week of letters, which made it so much easier for me to make sure the letters got written, even on days when I felt sluggish.

Bookmarks! Three library-related and one–shameless promotion–from Scribbling Glue.

So far, I have written and sent out: a birthday card, a few bookmarks to a bookmark collector, a quick note to a friend who I’ve not seen in a while, a congratulatory note to a friend who just had her first child, a note to my grandmother, a letter to someone I met virtually during 30DC, a reply to Leah at European Paper Company who wrote to me as part of EPC’s celebration of National Letter Writing Week, another installment in my epistolary story collaboration, a letter accompanied by part of another story that I’m writing for a young friend, and a handful of Valentines.

Five of the letters I sent were letters I’d been intending to send for quite a while, but hadn’t gotten around to actually writing.  In one rather embarrassing instance, I’d been intending to write since October.  And now I finally have–success!

This week’s line up will include several more birthday cards, a note to another Month of Letters participant, and a couple letters to people I just haven’t written in a while.  And I must get the rest of my letter-writing schedule plotted out for the month.  I’m having such fun with this!  Have you written any letters that have made you happy lately?

Because Saying Thank You Is Fun

January 18, 2012 § 4 Comments

I am a firm believer in thank-you notes.  Acknowledgement and appreciation are just plain important.  This year I was inspired to draw several of my thank you notes!

Does this amuse you? It cracks me up!

Yes, that's right, I got a year's supply of laundry detergent. It was exactly what I wanted!

I am pleased to report, the recipients of my thank-yous were greatly amused.  Am I a brilliant artist?  No.  But do I have lots of fun with markers!  And you can, too, if it strikes your fancy.  Next time you want to express your gratitude, try doing it colorfully.  You’ll be sure to make an impression.

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