Tag Archives: snail mail

Galaxie Safari News

GalaxieSafari, greetings from Oak Park, Oak Park, Illinois, Oak Park Vistor's Center, vintage postage, Illinois stampA couple weeks ago, I got some really exciting news. In August I applied to be featured as a local artist in the Oak Park Visitor’s Center shop. Oak Park has a great tourism industry. People from all over the world come to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home & Studio, Unity Temple, and other homes. Oak Park is also the childhood home of Ernest Hemingway (and Betty White!) and there are all sorts of quaint shops, cafes, and restaurants in town. The visitor’s center gift shop is fantastic, filled with Chicago and Oak Park themed items, and many things that are made by local artists.

GalaxieSafari, Frank Lloyd Wright postage stamp, Oak Park, Illinois, Oak Park Vistor's Center, Frank Lloyd Wright, chicago architectureAnd now…a few Galaxie Safari cards will be in the shop! I submitted three Oak Park and Illinois specific designs and they accepted them! I will also be featuring some boxed holiday cards for the season.GalaxieSafari, Abe Lincoln, Honest Abe, Oak Park, Illinois, Oak Park Vistor's CenterSince I won’t be standing in the shop telling people that my cards are all typed on vintage typewriters and that I use real cancelled postage stamps and line the envelopes with pages from old encyclopedias, I’m having a stamp made for the back of the cards to explain those details. Most of the cards at the shop are mass printed, so I’m hoping some locals and visitors will appreciate something that’s made entirely by hand.

GalaxieSafari,World's Fair 1933 postage stamp, Oak Park, Illinois, Oak Park Vistor's Center, My Kind of Town, Chicago World's Fair, chicago architectureI feel like I’ve been in a bit of a lull with my shop this summer, but I have been sourcing some new stamps to work with and I have a bunch of new cards (including Halloween and holiday) that will be ready soon. I’ll share more soon and I’ll be back later this week with my promised origami tutorial!

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Chalk-Full of School Supplies

Chalk pencils, Chalkboard tape, Japanese office supplies, Hester & CookI think my husband’s punning is rubbing off on me…

I have a little chalk theme going on today. I am old enough to remember chalkboards. Our school transitioned to white boards during my high school years. Mrs. Petersen kept her blackboard though. I always appreciated that about her. I always found the marker to be so slippery on the white board. It didn’t have the same feeling as writing with chalk. And the sound! Normally, chalk sounds so pleasing scraping across the board. But then there’s always that one moment when the chalk makes that horrid high-pitched squeak that catches everyone in the room off-guard. I wonder if that sound is why white boards were invented. I ordered this Hester & Cook “Midtown” white pencil because I’m always looking for a new way to write on dark papers, especially this time of year as I gear up for Halloween mail. I was pretty skeptical about it because colored pencils usually don’t show up well on dark papers (in my experience.) But the pencil was really good! I thought it looked very chalk-like and it writes sort of like a cross between a crayon and a colored pencil. It was a little waxy, but it wrote smoothly, and like I said, covered the dark green paper well. (I smeared it a little bit…) Hester and Cook chalk pencilI plan to use the pencil to decorate the table and black place cards for our next Phantom Flight Night. Though I really like the classic green chalkboard look, too. Nihon Rikagaku chalkboard tape and chalk set, bunbougu cafe, chalkboard tape, Japanese office suppliesI picked up this Nihon Rikagaku black chalkboard tape set at bunbougu cafe last year. (The green tape in the top picture is also Nihon Rikagaku. I found that at the Paper Source Warehouse Sale, though it is not carried at Paper Source.) Nihon Rikagaku is another old Japanese company. They’ve been making chalk since 1937 and since 1960 they’ve hired adults with cognitive disabilities to work in their factories. (I didn’t know this at the time of my purchase, but it makes me want to look for more Nihon Rikagaku products on our next trip. You can find their basic chalk on Amazon!) Nihon Rikagaku chalkboard tape and chalk set, bunbougu cafe, chalkboard tape, Japanese office suppliesThe tape is made from Japanese washi paper and it’s coated so chalk can be erased easily. I’ve only used this on gifts (like it shows on the tiny package label) so far, but I think it would be a fun way to label things in our pantry.

 

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Washi Weekend: Back to School Edition

washi weekend, MT tapes, sparrow notebook, school suppliesI’ve been in 100% neon mode for my mail and my planner this summer. I’ve been using all of my neon washi tapes, pens, pencils, stickers and papers. It’s been fun, but I’m ready for a change, a change to school supplies. Even though I’m not going back to school, I ordered myself a few pencils from CW Pencil Enterprises last week. Those new pencils got me in the mood to refresh my desk space and break out some back-to-school treats from my washi and Japan stationery hoard. I have a “Japan drawer” in my desk that holds a bunch of washi tapes and backup pens. Since we most likely aren’t going to Japan this year, I’ve been dipping into my stash more and more. It’s like having my own little store to visit. washi weekend, MT tapes, sparrow notebook, school suppliesI bought a few limited edition washi tapes during our last trip that fit the back-to-school bill perfectly. The top two are collaborations between mt and two iconic Japanese brands, and the bottom one was a special tape created by bunbougu cafesparrow notebooks, sparrow washi tape, japanese office suppliesThe first tape (similar) comes from the Tsubame Notebooks in Japan. These notebooks are iconic in Japanese schools, kind of like composition notebooks here in the U.S. Except, as usual, Japan Does It Better! The paper is high-quality and works really well with pencils and a variety of pens. (This JetPens video shows it all nicely!) Tsubame Notebooks have been hand-bound since the 1947 and have remained unchanged since then. I just love the graphic sparrow logo. And here’s a little secret: I bought the notebook after I bought the tape. Fueki glue, Japanese glue, washi weekend, MT tapes, school suppliesFueki glue is another popular Japanese school supply. Fueki-kun, the little yellow mascot, is a pot of glue. It’s made from 100% corn starch and is safe for young children. Fueki has been around since 1925 and offers a large line of products, including (grown up) glue sticks, India inks, paper supplies, and even cosmetics. I’m a bit older than the Fueki-kun market, but I thought the little pot was so cute and it was only sixty cents so I bought a few. The little dog makes such a cute tape, don’t you think?

bunbougu cafe, tokyo office supplies, tokyo stationery, washi tape, pencil sharpenerAnd lastly, a little bit about the bunbougu cafe tape. It has drawings of pencil sharpeners, pencils, and pencil marks. Next to the pencil sharpeners, it says, “gari gari” which is the onomatopoeia for “grate grate.” (Things sound different in Japanese–all of their animal noises are different too!)

presley with Fueki nori on her head, things on my catI’m looking forward to some back-to-school mail this week!

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Postmark from the Path of Totality

solar eclipse, postmarks, Makanda, IL, path of totalityOn Monday, Naoto and I made the trip to the southern part of Illinois to be in the “Path of Totality” so we could see the full eclipse. It was incredible! I’ll have a post about the full day soon–I’m just trying to recover from driving over 800 miles and thinking about how fleeting it was…

But today, I’m sharing the special postmark from tiny Makanda, Illinois. This is where we watched the eclipse, alongside locals and hundreds of other people from Chicagoland. post office, Makanda, IL, path of totality, solar eclipse 2017The Makanda post office created a special postmark (seen in the top picture) to commemorate the day. They had a tent outside where they sold the special eclipse stamps and cancelled envelopes and postcards for everyone. There was always a huge line (our viewing spot was across the street so we could see the line ebb and flow throughout the day) and it was hilarious because a lot of people were not postal “nerds” so they didn’t understand how the whole thing worked.

“So, I can just buy one stamp and then they’ll cancel it?”

“How much is a stamp?”

“Can I mail it?”

“I have to bring my own postcard?”

Of course, when they learned it was only forty-nine cents, people were really excited to buy a few for their friends to commemorate the day. And when they saw how neat the eclipse postage stamp is, they were even more excited! It was fun to see the post office getting some well-deserved love. The two postal workers couldn’t have been more delightful, sitting out in the heat and patiently explaining everything to postal novices and then cancelling hundreds of postcards and envelopes for people. Oh and they were giving out Moon Pies! Hammerpress total solar eclipse postcards, solar eclipse 2017I ordered a few of these Total Solar Eclipse postcards from Hammerpress that I brought with me. And I sent some mail themed cards from my stash and these Tiny Post Office cards, which fit in nicely with Makanda. The Tiny Post Office and Hammerpress cards took the ink of the cancellation way better than some of my other, shinier cards, but the post ladies were great about setting them out to dry for a bit before stacking them up.

If you are interested in a special eclipse cancellation, the Letter Writers Alliance shared a list of participating post offices. I didn’t see Makanda on there, but according to this article, they will perform the cancellation for up to thirty days after the event. Send your addressed and stamped postcards or letters to:

Makanda Postmaster

709 Makanda Road

Makanda, IL 62958

 

I ran out of time to write postcards to everyone on my list, so I may still send a few their way. And I didn’t see any cheesy eclipse t-shirts I liked, so my cancelled postcard is the only souvenir I have. That’s enough for me.

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The Royal Society of Venturesome Parcels

Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailOnce in a blue moon, the Letter Writers Alliance will release a small subscription series called the Royal Society of Venturesome Parcels, or RSVP. It’s a four-week themed mailing of postal and vintage surprises. Most recently, the theme of the RSVP was Pigeon Fancier and I managed to get one of the subscriptions. There is so much mail love in the mailings…Donovan and Kathy really go all out curating the perfect items for each theme. And the design and the details–like the pigeon stamp and wax seal on the address label–just make it such a treat to find in your mailbox each week. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailLetter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe first mailing included a Pigeon Fancier membership card. Subscribers received an email asking us what our pigeon’s name should be. I chose Dorothy Zbornak of Golden Girls fame. And there was a bag of tea (that I haven’t tried yet) and a bag of delicious coffee, too.  Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailAnd! There was a pigeon espresso cup! (I believe it’s made by Circa Ceramics here in Chicago.) Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe second mailing was a sweet little box. This is what it looked like inside. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThere was a pigeon patch, two tiny pigeon rubber stamps, a pigeon washi tape, and a pigeon tape dispenser. (OK, it looks more like a dove, but you get the idea…)Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe third mailing was Dorothy’s papers. It arrived in a personalized kraft folder with some pigeon stamps. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailInside, there was a stack of vintage pigeon awards and diplomas that can be used in mail art (or added to my paper collection.) Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailAnd, Dorothy has her own personalized stationery…she will be penning a letter shortly. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailThe final mailing–surprise!–was Dorothy herself! Donovan’s calligraphy adorned a banner on the top of the box. Letter Writers Alliance, RSVP mailings, Pigeon MailEach pigeon was hand painted according to our specifications. (I requested a blue pigeon based on this information.) For now, Dorothy is living on my (messy desk) but I have plans to hang a shelf for some of my mail things and she’ll probably live there. Or maybe I’ll mail her someday…

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Stamp Out Hate 

Stamp Out Hate, resist, #resist, political postcards, Paper Pastries, sakura moonlight gel pens, letter writers allianceDonovan of the Letter Writers Alliance has taken letter writing to another level with her latest project, Stamp Out Hate. Stamp Out Hate is a “project devoted to spreading hope through the mail.” It encourages positivity and kindness by writing letters and postcards. Each month, there is an action item where Donovan shares the story and address of a person or an organization who could use some positive mail vibes. So far, it’s ranged from mosques and women’s groups to individuals who have received hate mail for speaking out. Stamp Out Hate, resist, #resist, political postcards, Paper Pastries, sakura moonlight gel pens, letter writers allianceDonovan has also been hosting mini letter socials for each action. This month I had a chance to go to one at the Read/Write Library in Chicago. There were pens, rubber stamps, stickers, a stack of postcards, and plenty postage. She had the addresses and stories ready to get us started writing. It took about fifteen minutes to write three postcards. It felt good to be a part of something positive. Sometimes writing elected officials brings out anger and stress. Writing people and organizations who are helping make the world a more welcoming place makes my heart a little bit lighter. (Not that I’ll stop writing my elected officials…it’s just not always fun.) If you’re interested, here’s the Action Items for July. Obviously you don’t have to meet Donovan to write a letter. You can write on any postcards or stationery you have at home, or print out some official Stamp Out Hate postcards or stationery. And there’s stickers, stamps, and postcards available to buy in the Letter Writers Alliance shop. But really, I think just writing is the key to Stamp Out Hate. The other stuff is icing on the cake. Spinning J's pie, raspberry lemonade pie, pie and coffeeSpeaking of cake…or pie…if you DO end up going to one of Donovan’s Stamp Out Hate Socials, they are often in her neighborhood which means you will be close to Spinning J’s Cafe & Bakery. I highly suggest you treat yourself to a slice of pie.

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Stationery, Not Stationary 

greer chicago, stationeryI wanted to share a little round-up of the things I bought at Greer during the LWA anniversary toast. In LA, Margaret and I talked about our stationery collections/hoards and how we have enough for a lifetime of letter writing and how we try to impose buying moratoriums on ourselves…yet we still buy. It just means I need to write more letters more often.

I am running low on my Original Crown Mill stationery (a lovely grey cotton paper and envelope set) so I decided to replace it with some classic white cotton paper. And at the register I snagged a “Stationery not stationary” key tag. (I couldn’t find this exact one online but how great is the “Stationery maven” one?! I want that one now too!) Mnemosyne paper, Greer Chicago, grid paper, Japanese stationery Donovan and Kathy both suggested this Mnemosyne paper. It’s a top spiral notebook with perforated grid sheets of the smoothest paper I’ve ever felt. Of course it’s made in Japan. Like I mentioned earlier, the paper is great for fountain pens and other pens. (I mostly use gel pens and LePens in my letter writing.) And…pencils glide across this paper like butter…sigh. If you are my pen pal, you may be receiving a pencil written letter soon. I had Naoto translate the yellow introduction page for me and he basically summed it up in a rough translation as “Great for creative expression, tool for group discussion, easy to carry in a purse, and good for capturing inspirations while you are out and about.” I think that’s why Donovan likes it so much–she’s an on-the-go letter writer!cheree berry dear/PS stationery, greer chicagoAnd I fell in love with these flat cards from Cheree Berry. It’s a super-thick letterpressed card with a tiny extra card and envelope for a little P.S. message. Genius, right?

I am in the middle of a giant desk clean out. My living room is a mess of stacks of mail, stationery, greeting cards, pens, paper…all in the name of getting rid of some stuff and getting the desk organized better. No visitors please…but maybe I’ll share pictures next week…or next year when I get it all done. Oy.

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LWA 10th Anniversary Toast

Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoRight after returning home from LA, the Letter Writers Alliance ladies hosted a 10th Anniversary toast at Greer in Chicago. White Oak Tavern, chicagoNaoto and I made a date of it and ate dinner in the neighborhood. We enjoyed incredible cocktails and a fantastic dinner at White Oak Tavern, a few blocks away from Greer. Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoAt Greer, we toasted the LWA with sparking wine and milled around shopping and talking. Donovan shared all of her favorites from the shop and she and Kathy introduced us to a new-to-me paper that works with both fountain pens and other pens (which I’ll share in a future post.) Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoIn addition to the local crowd, two of Donovan and Kathy’s faraway friends came to town for the party and one LWA member came from Champaign, Illinois (about 140 miles away!!) As you know, I always love a letter writing crowd. The people and the magical atmosphere of Greer made for a fine night.

Cheers to the next 10, LWA!

P.S. Thanks to Naoto for taking pictures!

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Shopping at Paper Pastries

Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shopsI was so excited for my trip to LA, obviously to celebrate the LWA, but the cherry on top was a visit to the Paper Pastries shop. I’ve ordered online before and some wonderful friends have sent me Paper Pastries gifts, so seeing it all in person was a delight. Paper Pastries is filled with the sweetest stationery, gifts, wrapping paper, pens, rubber stamps (that Margaret designs and makes in house,) and one of the most incredible selections of indie greeting cards I’ve ever seen. Most of the shop consists of independent artists’ and designers’ work, which always makes for unique finds! Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shops Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shopsLook at all of the fun greeting cards! There are tons of letterpressed options and most have bright colors and funny or cheerful greetings. There’s even an entire section of CAT CARDS! things I bought, Paper Pastries, Glendale, CA, LA stationery shopsPictured above (on top of one of my favorite (now discontinued) donut papers from Snow & Graham) is what I bought at Paper Pastries: sushi stickers, a travel journal, a neon notepad, greeting cards, a cat stationery set, rubber stamps, resistance postcards, and a postage stamp pin.

I’ve been sending a lot of neon mail this summer, but I think cat mail may be the next trend!! Stay tuned!

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Letter Writers Alliance 10th Anniversary Party

cake, letter writers alliance 10th anniversary, paper pastries, LWAinLALast month Naoto surprised me with a trip to Los Angeles for the Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary party hosted by Margaret from Paper Pastries. Margaret and I have been pen pals for a few years now but we’d only met briefly at Ex Postal Facto. So I was really looking forward to seeing her again and meeting her sweet family. The trip exceeded my expectations. There wasn’t a ton of time for sight seeing (especially since my Friday was cut short thanks to flight delays, womp womp) but I loved the time I spent with Margaret and celebrating ten years of writing with the LWA.Los Angeles City Hall viewLos Angeles City Hall mailbox

On Friday afternoon, Margaret took me to the top of City Hall for a view of LA. Then we shopped around Little Tokyo. Chicago doesn’t have a Japanese neighborhood so it was such a treat to go to these little shops and restaurants. We haven’t planned our 2017 trip to Japan yet, so I’m feeling a little Japan withdrawal so it was great to immerse myself in the cuteness of Little Tokyo. I bought some stickers and a fuurin, which is a Japanese wind chime. (I’ve been wanting one for Tanabata next month. I’ll show you soon!)

Honeymee, Little Tokyo Los AngelesWe also had Honeymee which was amazing and is making me rethink my summer treats. It’s a special soft serve that comes topped with a real honeycomb. Seriously, what a combination! It was so good and worth the sticky hands that followed.

Poketo, LA, stationery and home goodsPoketo, LA, stationery and home goodsI also got to go to Poketo which has been on my list for some time. I only bought some greeting cards but I just love their style. ​

On Saturday morning I went to brunch with Margaret, her husband Tony, and their adorable daughter Ellis. (Sadly no pictures of this…)

Museum of Neon Art, Glendale, CAclayton plumbers at the MONA in Glendale, CA Pep Boys at Museum of Neon Art japanese katakana, neon, neon art, museum of neon art, monaThen I killed time at the Museum of Neon Arts in Glendale. It was the smallest museum ever, but it was packed with neon signs and modern art. I liked the old neon signs the best but I was smitten with the Japanese katakana in the last piece above. (It says “neon” and was made for an art installation in Japan in 1998.) donovan and kathy, letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake, paper pastriesletter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake

On Saturday afternoon, a few dozen people showed up at Paper Pastries for the official Letter Writers Alliance anniversary party and letter writing social.  letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CA letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CAI shopped, I wrote a few postcards, I chatted, I drank champagne punch, and I ate the most delicious cake ever–white cake with white frosting and COVERED in festive sprinkles. It was perfect. It was so amazing to see people come from far and wide to celebrate letter writing! The letter writing community is so diverse and friendly!

bubble martini Clifton's cabinet of curiosities After the party we all went out for dumplings and drinks which was the perfect ending for a day with pen pals who’ve become true friends.in-n-out burgerin-n-out burger

On Sunday my flight left pretty early so I just had time to finish some postcards and eat an In-and-Out burger, my first. (It was good…I didn’t get the fries because it was 10:30AM.) Burbank Airport, Bob Hope AirportWhew…it was a whirlwind trip. Now I’m home and looking forward to the NEXT LWA party, tomorrow night at Greer!

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