Tag Archives: mail art

Halloween Mail

I have been very behind in my correspondence–I was responding to letters from June, so it felt good to catch up with some of my pen friends. I think I like Halloween mail more than Christmas mail…maybe it’s just that it feels like there’s more time to attend to Halloween mail. At the last stamp show, I tried to collect some “scary” stamps. I was so excited to score the ten cent Legend of Sleepy Hollow ones, and I also picked up the Movie Monsters, Pharmacy, and Houdinis. I had the Alfred Hitchcock stamps leftover from a few years ago. Usually when I use vintage stamps, I leave the rest of the envelope blank so the stamps really pop, but I also bought a ton of great Halloween washi tape in Japan last year, so I was excited to use some of that too. Everything is still relatively simple…In my Halloween stash, I also found some unused decorated envelopes from one of Donovan’s mail art parties.I pulled this one out because it was basic enough to add vintage postage without too much distraction. The bats are from a torn napkin, so I slid the envelope into a plastic card sleeve (leftover from a birthday card I sent) and put the address on some vintage gummed tape that has the texture of bandages. (So spooky!)

In spite of my many, many stamps, I had Naoto pick up a few sheets of the latest USPS Halloween stamps. Have you seen them in person? They look fine on the website, but they have a bit of metallic shine that is very impressive in person. I’m looking forward to finishing out the month with those!

 

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In My Mailbox: Vintage & Current

Happy October! (Obligatory can-you-believe-it’s-already-October comment here…) It has been so hot and humid here this week, it’s hard to believe it’s pumpkin weather. But, I know that’ll change soon enough. I’ve been super busy the past couple weeks preparing for Brookfield Fine Arts Festival and Music, Art, & Wine at Empowering Gardens, and applying to more shows this fall and winter…this month is going to be busy with preparations for that and some other changes I’ll talk about soon. For now, let’s talk about mail!

Recently in my mailbox, I was delighted with a surprise package from Robyn. She found this vintage Forest Park, ILL stamp at a flea market. Isn’t it fun? I’ve already used it on some mail. I made me curious to know when the post office changed to 2-letter abbreviations for states. It turns out it happened in October 1963 and it was because of the zip code! Apparently, in June 1963, the post office came up with a list of abbreviated state names, but it was too long for the 23-character limit of addressing equipment. So, they had to change it again in October. Weirdly enough, Illinois was Il. in 1831, and for some reason, they added an extra L from 1874-1963 and removed it again for the final 2-letter abbreviations we know today. And we are both fans of Schitt’s Creek and we convinced Katie to try it again when we all got together for gel plate printing, so the keychain is fitting. If you haven’t watched, I can’t recommend it enough. I was not crazy about the first part of Season 1, but I stuck with it and it’s totally worth it…it’s just so fabulous.

Also, how cute is the package Robyn sent?! It just made my day. Thanks, Robyn, for the treats and for prompting a little postal history lesson, too!

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Garage Galleries 2019

My last show for August was Forest Park’s Garage Galleries. It was my second year participating and this year was even better than the last. Our garage host, Mary, was fabulous and welcoming. She created a whole little snack station for our guests to enjoy, even bringing out a tray of pigs in a blanket around dinner time! Naoto manned the food and drink table, offering snacks and water and wine to all of the garage visitors. I shared the garage with Carolyn Dunn and Kennedy Shenberg. The Garage Gallery organizers are always so great about varying the types of work in each garage. I’m really liking my new double rack set-up. I don’t have as much space for my framed pieces though, so I’m still working on making that less crowded, but my cards are the bread & butter of the business so it makes sense to give them the most real estate. I’m hoping to have a new logo and sign before the holiday shows start up in November…eeks!

The top picture is a “limited edition” postcard I made for Garage Galleries. No one bought them so now they’re going to be thank you notes for the GG organizers and our garage host. Sometimes you try something and it doesn’t catch on…I really love that stamp though, so I’m going to bring it back as a “You’re a work of art” card again.

Next week, I’ll start preparing for the Brookfield Fine Arts Fest and Empowering Gardens Music, Art, and Wine event. I’m trying to be more proactive with my preparations so that I am not cramming at the last minute, or so I have time for last minute ideas. “Always trying and failing to be more organized” is going to end up on my headstone, I swear.

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Gel Plate Printing

A couple weeks ago, I spent an afternoon with my friends Katie and Robyn learning about gel plate printing. They are both experienced gel plate printers, but I had never done it before and didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t have any stencils or tools (except paper!), but Katie and Robyn generously let me use their things and I had so much fun learning techniques and experimenting with layers of paint and stencils. Above is my stack of prints, all of the stencils are Robyn’s, so I won’t take credit for those. I’m going to cut down my prints and use them as postcards or backgrounds and accents in my Travelers Notebook. As usual, I wish I’d taken more pictures, but we were having so much fun and I pretty much always had paint all over my hands. As someone who makes things that require some precision and attention to detail, it was really fun to let loose and try something that is experimental and imperfect.

Last week I treated myself to a gel plate and some new paints so I’m looking forward to trying it out on my own. I think my biggest challenge will be cutting my own stencils. I’m confident I’ll ever have Robyn and Katie’s x-acto knife skills, but I have some ideas for new stencils I’d like to try to create. I’d better buy some new blades for my neglected x-acto knife first!

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Vintage Postage Mail

Happy Monday! It is gorgeous out today and I’m looking forward to some lanai time this afternoon. We’ve been enjoying cooler temperatures and no humidity all weekend and it just feels so good to open the windows and take a break from the air conditioner. Today I’m sharing some of the mail I’ve been sending out lately. I’ve been using a lot of vintage postage on my letters instead of washi tape and other decorations. It’s been fun piecing together random stamps or theme stamps. I’ve been able to take some time to sift through my collection since I reorganized everything after last month’s stamp show. I don’t think my system is perfect by any means, but it has helped me use up more of my stash, so I guess it’s working for me. Maybe I should share here? It’s also helped that I’m pretty caught up on my mail, so writing a few letters and finding stamps for them isn’t overwhelming me like it might when I have a huge stack of letters to return. And Naoto has been taking my letters to the River Forest Post Office for hand cancellation. He’s made friends with Paul and Vicky who are both amazing and friendly and efficient dreamboats. You don’t have to have your vintage postage hand cancelled, but if you don’t, your stamps are at risk of getting a big black sharpie mark swiped across them…it’s very sad. (I was trying to find an example in my mail but I can’t so I’ll send you here if you’d like to see what I mean.)Sharpie mail makes me so sad, but I get it…time is of the essence at the USPS and they have to cancel the stamps so that people won’t re-use them. To me, it’s worth saving up a few letters to get them hand-cancelled. I have broken into a number of complete sheets and it feels so good! I use a tape runner to attach the stamps. I am a bit of a germphobe so I try not to lick things that have been handled by many people. (Some of the vintage postage comes in plastic protector sleeves, but some comes naked.) Also, I’ve had stamps fall off on the way to their destination so a permanent adhesive ensures all postage survives the trip.  These were some of my favorites–thank you notes to book club friends who I know would appreciate the literary stamps! Fun fact: out of all of those stamps, we have read everything except Emily Dickinson (because we don’t read poetry. Oh, and I guess we didn’t technically read Little House on the Prairie but we read Farmer Boy and The Long Winter so it counts in my book!)

So that’s my mail for the past few weeks. I’ve sent some letters with the new Sesame Street stamps too…they are so cute and I’m just really excited to see Guy Smiley get his due.

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Compex 2019

Earlier this month, Naoto and I attended COMPEX 2019. We attended last year, and I went alone the year before and it is one of my favorite events of the year. The bourse consists of stamp and postcard sellers from all over the country. Almost everyone is super friendly and helpful, even if you’re not a stamp expert.  Because I’m not a rare stamp collector, it was a little intimidating when I first attended because I didn’t feel like I was really there for the “right” reasons. I was just attending to find vintage postage stamps I could use on my mail. But I quickly got over the intimidation because everyone was so nice and helpful and really, the show is all about getting stamp collectors together, no matter what kind of collector they are. I always visit the Stamp King because he sells full sheets, partial sheets (for when you don’t want to commit to a full sheet,) and even mixed bags of stamps. He’s also a local stamp celebrity. There’s a seller who has boxes and boxes of first day covers and random postcards where I can always find a few gems. This year, I found some pre-stamped postcards and first day covers of some of my favorite stamps. Naoto found the book stamps (top left corner) for me…he’s such an enabler! The first time I went to COMPEX, I made the mistake of buying a ton of low value sheets, so now I have a ton of one, two, and three-cent stamps. Last year, I decided I’d better buy some higher value stamps so that I didn’t have to put twenty-five different stamps on an envelope to make fifty-five cents. I got a nice mix this time, and now I need to use them up, and maybe make some stamp packs to sell in the shop, because my collection is growing out of control. It’s hard to break up a pristine vintage stamp sheet, but once I do, it feels so fun to use them up.

I didn’t take any pictures, but there are also exhibits of stamp-related things, usually by theme. And there are meetings for local philatelic groups and a table for young/new stamp collectors. The audience at COMPEX definitely skews a little bit older (and male, and white…) but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for the rest of us!

P.S. I just need to point out that it was Naoto’s idea to wear his Mr. Zip t-shirt to COMPEX…I love a man who appreciates a theme!

 

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My Tidied Letter Writing Spot

It’s Monday and I’m finally feeling human again! It feels so good to be able to breathe out of both nostrils again and to be free from the amped up feeling I get from being on cold medicine. I spent some time recovering on Saturday by clearing off the sunny side of my desk so it would be ready for writing this month.

(Please note that I have only shown you the tidy third of my desk…the rest is still a work in progress. Always…) I made a little shelf of mail knick knacks. They won’t live here forever because they are taking up too much desk real estate, but I like them here for Letter Writing Month. For now, I have plenty of space for writing letters, but when I’m making cards, I need a clear deck for production. Eventually I’ll probably hang a shelf for my mail toy collection. And I switched out my supplies in my Classiky box…I went with a mail theme for now, but I also have all my spring and Easter things waiting in the wings…so many choices for April! I wrote three whole thank you notes on Saturday before I had to take a rest. It feels good to be participating in life again!

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National Card & Letter Writing Month

It’s April and my favorite month of the year: National Card & Letter Writing Month!

As usual, I will be participating in the Write On campaign, and trying to write a card or letter every day this month. I have a little set-up on my desk with some cards and stationery, all easily accessible for a quick note or letter. I am ready to write this month and I’ll share my set-up here soon, along with some other letter writing related posts.

Happy letter writing!

P.S. I found this vintage Dennison (I think?) letter carrier decoration on eBay last month. Isn’t he dreamy?

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International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! I’m celebrating by sending these great postcards by Natalie Harney to a few of my pen pals. It’s also Women’s History Month, so I plan to honor women all month long (here on the blog and in my everyday life.) I was also going to try to only read novels by women writers, except we’re reading George Orwell for book club so, I’ll be reading him too.

Three cheers for women!

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Snow Mail, No Mail

The weather has been insane in Chicago lately. After a very snowy weekend, we had sub-zero temperatures on Wednesday with wind chills of 45 below. It was colder here than it was in Alaska. It was so cold, the entire area was pretty much shut down. No school, no work for many people, no Metra trains, even no Trader Joe’s and no mail service since Tuesday! (Update: mail arrived Saturday night!) It was almost as cold on Thursday and it snowed some more Thursday night, but now this weekend it’s warm and rainy. Now every thing is a mess of slush and dirty snow. (Dirty snow is my least favorite part of winter.)

I took some inspiration from the weather and used some of my wintry Japanese stationery to kick off the Month of Letters. The snowflakes are an old Midori set I bought a few years ago and the polar bears are from Maruzen. And the washi tape is old mt and I was kicking myself because I have other snow washi, but I packed it away with the Christmas stuff…

I sat under a blanket right next to my space heater while I wrote the letters…a cup of hot tea and a warm kitty nearby. It was a cozy to kick off the month.

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