Mail Art Dabbling

September 4, 2016 § 10 Comments

There are some truly spectacular mail artists in the world.  Me? I’m more of a creative dabbler.

Recently, I’ve tried my hand at a couple projects inspired by tutorials generously shared by Lindsay at The Postman’s Knock.  Lindsay’s examples are gorgeous and precise.  My creations are rather more wobbly, but it’s such fun to play!

If you look at Lindsay’s How to Draw Lace tutorial, you can see that she has worked with great care and achieved a very balanced design.  In contrast, if you suspect that I did not follow the direction about using a ruler to measure the spacing of the ovals (or anything else), you would be correct.


My Hand Drawn Frame attempt turned out more true to the original.  I used the ruler this time!  I wasn’t sure how the envelope at hand would take watercolors, so I jumped right into bold color at the start.

TPK2Regardless of whether my attempts look like the original example, when I make mail art, my goal is to create something that didn’t exist before and enjoy the process.  Achievement unlocked!

What about you? Have you dabbled creatively recently?


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!



Alice Through the Pillar-Box and What She Found There

July 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Oh, oh, oh!  Have you ever had the good fortune to come across Alice Through the Pillar-Box and What She Found There: A Philatelic Phantasy by Gerald M. King?  If you appreciate either Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland or the world of letter-writing, letter-sending, and philatelic pursuits, it’s worth tracking down a copy.

In 1965, Gerald M. King decided that since the G.P.O. was not celebrating the centennial anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland with a commemorative stamp, he would create his own set of fantasy stamp designs.  This idea grew until it evolved into a book brimming with clever references to the story and showcasing Mr. King’s clear love of philately.  In it Wonderland stamps and envelopes sent through the Wonderland post to and from various characters are paired with relevant quotes from the books and various notes about the fantasy artifacts and their origins.  The detail and cleverness are a treat!  The scan below is not of superior quality (I had to be gentle with the spine of the book), but it should be enough to pique your interest.


The Versatile Garden: Availble In Dirt or On Paper

May 12, 2013 § 10 Comments

On a recent rainy day, I found myself–not for the first time–flipping through a bulb catalog and being seduced by the gorgeous photos of brilliantly colored and artfully arranged flowers.  Because I have ordered bulbs from this company in the past, there was a coupon promising $25 of free bulbs if I ordered $25 of bulbs.  Very tempting.  But then I remembered that the catalog was designed to take advantage of my spring flower-madness.  While it shows much gorgeousness, it glosses over the fact that the bulbs will not arrive until the fall, often during a stretch of terrible weather or at a time when I am unusually busy, and that they will look like bulbs, not visions of springtime loveliness.  It makes no mention of how my garden will be an end-of-season mess and I will have neglected to mark or make notes about which bulbs I currently have planted where.  But I have faced this catalog before, you see, so I’m onto the wily ways of this spring-drenched siren.  I know–I know–that spring-time catalog flipping can very easily lead to me stalking laps around my yard in blustery November weather before plunging in willy-nilly and wedging the new bulbs into a space that may seem illogical and ill-chosen in the light of the following spring.

So, this year, instead of ordering bulbs, I got my scissors and cut that catalog into bright and joyful little pieces.  No cold and muddy fingers, no crowded plantings, no delay.  Just flowery goodness ready to share immediately.





These fresh specimens have been sent out into the wider world and I’ve laid by a stash of cheerful flowered envelopes that are just waiting for a moment in the sun.  In other news, my garden in the dirt is blooming, too.  Growing things makes me happy.  You?

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. ;)

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.

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