Monday, May 25, 2015

6.5 minute video + ms munster's sleighs

if you have 6.5 minutes, i think you will really enjoy this video.

the video is about letters and there was a letter of sorts in this envelope. ms munster had a very interesting critique of the envelope, techniques, stamps, etc.

i'm not sure how it will look on a screen. in person it is really cool. and then the red of the cancel is a nice addition.

thanks for the letter, ms munster

Sunday, May 24, 2015

bonus post

an article about the people who figure out the addresses when they are hard to read.

regular post for today is right below this one.

elizabeth's peony (rose)

when i did the lettering, i had the curly red forever stamp in mind. but after i bought these peony stamps, i morphed into a black and white thing. the address will be extra tiny in the space above the zip code. i can't decide whether to sprinkle some little red hearts around.

i realized that this is a rose, not a peony. i should have looked at the leaf.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

2 bonus posts today

Pinterest just sent this to me. A link to 13 exemplars showing all kinds of fun, beginner-friendly techniques for markers. As I have said before, ZIG markers were the gateway drug for my addiction.

below is a a post about one of my fellow pushers who lured a whole class of elementary students into the den.

and then below that...a couple fellow addicts.

bonus post - morning sun class - sneak peek

penpal-christy was inspired to try teaching a class and it was very well received. the students entered their envelopes in the Graceful Envelope exhibit. i'm guessing there will be more than one of these to show up on the winners list. they each deserve to be a *winner.*

i will post each one individually. right now, i am well into june, maybe even july, in scheduling the posts. but, i was so excited about this group of envelopes that i wanted to post a sneak peek.

today's regularly scheduled post is below this one.

Dear Data

alert reader, jean's brother, sent the link to this article that blew me away. it is so beautiful on so many levels....i won't even try to describe it, you just have to read it yourself. or, not. there will be no quiz.

and one more reminder that if you ever need to surf, brain is a good place to start.

Friday, May 22, 2015

cathy's donkey

the thought bubble says it all

Thursday, May 21, 2015

bonus post - christi payne

yesterday's lettering reminded elizabeth of her friend christi payne who does contemporary versions of medieval lettering. i'm pretty sure all y'all will love the examples on her website.

the new envelope for today is right below this post

photo dots from ms munster

i liked ms munster's note on the back of this envelope. she had leftover gouache in her nib and addressed the envelope starting with the bottom line. she knew she would not have enough gouache for *des moines* so left it out, and it looks just fine without a city. the p.o. does not need it when they have such a clear street and zip.

thanks, ms munster

of course, we all love the multiple types of dots.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

4:30 bedtime (kathy's ramirez)

4:30 pm used to be my supper time. now it looks like i should just go to bed at 4:30. i was trying to address something to cathy o'rear. upon spelling her name wrong, i switched to kathy schneider. but i think it is -ei- in schneider. this is one of those fonts i printed off and i do not know if it is hand lettering or type. the original is much more refined than this.
if anyone thinks this style has possibilities, leave a comment and i will do some more experimenting. time permitting.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

chef from smash

this is so cool. highly annoyed with myself that i didn't do this first. probably because i already know i will have trouble finding S shaped kitchen tools. stay tuned to see what i do. (fingers crossed that i find time)

Monday, May 18, 2015

from michala + 4 from jean

this arrived from the czech republic and i was AMAZED that the heart-balloons were intact. they were only glued in the middle.

michala participated in the exchange, for the first time, so...welcome michala. if you have a blog, let us know.

thanks, michala

and here are the last 4 from the mar-apr exchange. the top two are a circus style where you really need to see the whole address. and the one to carroll shows how i started coloring in the counters on that *wilt* style. and the bottom one to jan was posted when it was just black. i started adding things and then figured i was getting close to ruining it, so quickly tossed it in the mail.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

charlie russell

as a native of montana, i was exposed to the art of charlie russell during my childhood. i recall visiting his home and studio when i was 10-11-12(?) it left quite an impression on me and i remember vividly the examples of his decorated envelopes and letters that were on display. i am also very fond of his art because it reminds me of the lovely visits to my grandparent's ranch. i don't think i have mentioned him in any blog posts. if you like western art, google him and you can see lots more.
the envelope is from this site

Saturday, May 16, 2015

ann-margret (bold coco)

this is the one i mentioned on april 10th as one that wowed me. all i did was the same-old-same-old stuff that i had been doing with the Cocoiros, but i used a 1.2 mm ZIG writer. then, i added details with a 01 pigma, which included squaring off the end of every single stroke. that took more time than the lettering. i am getting better at fitting letters. as always, if you spend 10,000 hours doing something, you get better. that's what malcolm gladwell says. although, recently someone disputed his theory. finn will research this and submit a full report.

the address will be in small clear lettering in the white space at the bottom.
extra postage is because it is going to canada.

there was a question on the last envelope from christy - asking how the P.O. feels about stamps that are not in the upper right corner....this was my reply:

there are some postal workers who will tell you that the stamp has to be in the upper left corner, but if you put a stamp on it, they pretty much have to deliver it. they can tack on a surcharge if the address is not level with the landscape orientation of the envelope. a non-conforming stamp position may delay the envelope. the machine may kick it out and it may have to wait for a human to OK it. some postal workers love mail art and welcome all the variety.

maybe cathy, our resident postal worker, will add to or correct that comment.

Friday, May 15, 2015

from smash - jimi

this one is really pretty in person. any reproduction will not do it justice. i had to go with photos rather than scans for a bunch of envelopes.

the jimi stamp is so brown, i never thought of putting it on black - and it looks great. i always like seeing things that i never would have done- or even tried. it reminds me to be more experimental.

thanks, smash

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pigma Calligrapher

This is the marker I used on the Wilt lettering. I also used a regular Pigma Micron on the very thin strokes.

jill's cream-style

jill left a comment on one of the cream-style envelopes and legend said he did the cream-style in green for st. patrick's day. so, i tried some color variation on the cream-style. and the branchy-ness got away from me. not sure where to go with this one. seems like it has potential. what i really need to do is contact the designer. i need someone to ghost write the letter for me. any volunteers?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

from christy

whenever i get an envelope from christy, i feel like i should spend more time on my envelopes. she clearly puts a lot of time into her envelopes. i used to, but i have too many irons in the fire these days. i have met christy and in one conversation, she mentioned a multitude of activities - so, i know she is one of those people who packs about five times as much into each day as i do. if you know someone like that...don't feel jealous or intimidated. i have no idea what makes some people so much more productive. that's just the way it is.
i also knows she has an art background (degree) and i am pretty sure she has not taken many formal lettering classes. so, this lovely envelope shows how she has integrated lessons from other creative activities into envelopes. i really like this one - and i recommend lifting as many ideas as you can :-)

thanks, christy

and a HUGE thank you to the p.o. for not putting nasty sharpie marks on the stamp.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

finn's wilt

i wasn't going to blog this one, but maybe it would give someone an idea. it does resolve the problem of making things fit perfectly. another option would be to letter on a sheet of paper and then fold the envelope afterwards.

the second row of address is because the first one (that is right-side-up) was rather clunky and i just wanted to show that i can do better than that.

slow and clunky or fast and sloppy.
the only two options i have these days.

Monday, May 11, 2015

from smash-girl

smash has a way with birds. this is a nice stylized version of the one on the stamp. the cancel lines are pretty cool, too - running off the opposite end of the envelope.

thanks, smash

Sunday, May 10, 2015

skip's wilt

i should have found someone who had a better set of letters in their name for this idea. the gray is a prismacolor marker and i love them, but the fumes make me a bit queasy, so, i'm not going to make any more of these. plus it is too hard to make the letters come out just right. there is one i did before this one, that i didn't like but, now i think i will add it to the roster.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

from alyce

this is a fun curly style of lettering to go with the hische stamp. the flower looks like it was a rubber stamp - stamped with black and embossing powder, because it is raised and it looks like it is colored in with copics. lucky alyce, to own copics.

thank you :-)

and i owe alyce a few Ns. i kept leaving them off her envelopes when i sent mail to her....

the cancel looks so nice.

Friday, May 8, 2015

jan's wilt

i am calling this style of lettering *wilt* even when i don't use the wilt stamps.

i thought i was going to make one last envelope with this style and then be done with it. but, i messed up the D in hardt, so i had to experiment with making a middle weight stroke, instead of just thick and thin. then i thought of putting in those diamond shapes and i really liked them. i do not like the double strokes and i made a complete mess of the IA, but then i put a stamp on it, so i will go ahead and mail it to jan as a thank you for running the exchanges. but i will request that she compost this one.

thanks, jan, for running the envelope exchanges for us.

if you participate in exchanges
and if you ever come up short - and do not receive the number of envelopes that you were expecting
please send an email to Jan and let her know
or, you may email me and i will forward to jan

Thursday, May 7, 2015

from jadi

a bonus envelope from a new penpal. those wintery cardinals look great on valentines.

there are three tiny hearts on the flap on the back with her return address. it's a very nice touch

thanks, jadi

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

marguerite's circus ribbon

i've done ribbon writing before. but this is white gel pen and colored pencil which might be a new variation.

apologies for spelling the name wrong, but that's something that happens and this blog is about embracing your mistakes.

i wish i could buy a whole sheet of that clown.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

jeri's donuts

this just makes me want to go buy a donut. jeri said she *stole the idea from paper source.* i'm not sure what that means. it looks like she used a page from their catalog....
at any is quite lovely and her tiny printing is so *sweet* to go with the donuts

thank you, jeri

Monday, May 4, 2015

circus lettering - rehj

i hope i don't get obsessed with this style because i do not have the patience to do a good job. but, i like the puzzle part - fitting everything together.

white gel pen and colored pencil.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

florence's heart with dots

i saw someone add the border to this stamp by using the border that comes on the sheet of stamps. so it has a straight edge rather than the zig-zag stamp edge.

this is a repeat alphabet, but it might be the first one where i added white gel pen dots.

finn's wave

this is lovely.

oops - technical difficulties with the posting of this - margins are all goofed up.
more later, if i can figure out the problem

Saturday, May 2, 2015

cathy's fade

i set this one to appear really small because i think it is uber-ugly. after doing a couple versions of the stealworthy envelope i received, i thought i should at least try to branch out from red. but, i chose an envelope that is too large and then i chose cathy's name. i am not that good at C and O - and i'm especially incompetent when they are large. so i tried to fix it with a Pentel Brush Pen. not a magic fix. then i wondered if i could save it with a good stamp. the tennis balls are rather fun. i still give it a D-minus, but it gets to stay in the series in case i learn something valuable.

the next day, i came close to tossing this one in the waste bin and deleting this post. but i decided to try one more technique - little white lines - and now i don't dislike it quite as much. you can see i was careful with the lines, then lapsed into lazy zigzags and then returned to some more careful lines.

final product

Friday, May 1, 2015

finn's latest

another pox on the p.o.

although, the double stroke echos the two chairs with double lines. maybe the sharpie-fiend is actually drawn to the mail art and his or her inner artist is being drawn out.

finn should go down to his local p.o. and offer to do a lunch-and-learn. address is 420 - not 440

Thursday, April 30, 2015

smash - fade

so much better than alyce's. toothier paper made all the difference in the world. i'd like to do a bunch more of these, but, all y'all would get bored and storm my studio with your pitchforks. did anyone hear the big controversy about the 3 pronged pitchfork in the painting, Americn Gothic? gosh, i love a good pitchfork debate.

as usual, i started adding dots.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

kathy's ramirez flowers

coulda-shoulda-woulda spent more time on the red flowers, but more interested in cleaning desk. tried a few ways to shade the leaves. started on the left but don't really think any of them are quite right. like the concept and would be interested in trying another version of this - time permitting.

white gel pen and colored pencil.

the rest of the info will float above the flowers in tiny black lettering.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

alyce - fade

i named this style *fade* because of the way the red fades out. the last two envelopes i sent to alyce had her last name spelled incorrectly., i was finished with this one when i realized that i had forgotten the l in alyce. so i stuck it in. the paper was too smooth and the S is too wide and the S should have a curl on the top...but, the point is to toss out ideas the readers might use. hopefully you look at some of my doggy-er envelopes and think, "Jeesh, I could do better than that." and then you pick up pens and markers and do so.

Pigma microns for the black and Cocoiro for the red - or anything else you might have on hand.

Monday, April 27, 2015

new n.c. penpal

i never know if people want to be identified on the blog. this is such a cool font. i shall be working on a version of it.

stealworthy detail: the border around the top stamp.

a pox on the p.o. for the nasty black marks.

thanks to my new penpal, feel free to leave a comment if you want everyone to know who you are.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

kathy's wilt

this will probably be the last one in the series. i finally did one where i penciled and planned so that there was better interlocking of letters. i was tired of the wilt stamp. but now that i look at it, the shape is so round, i guess i will use the wilt stamp when i mail it. this also looks like the cliche *western* lettering. so any cowboy stamp would look good. and johnny cash would be perfect.

OT - upcoming stamps

off topic today, although stamps are 33% of this blog.
nice article about the design process behind these stamps.

Summer Harvest Booklet

surfing around Michael Doret's site, it was fun to find that he has posted free guides for how to use his fonts. lots of valuable information.

my personal favorite tip, because i have mentioned it a few times, usually when i have *broken* the rule - and whenever i break the rule, it looks dreadful.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

2 ho-hum ramirez ideas

still not finding any ideas i like that go with these stamps. but enjoying the idea of posting via email. this is an email from my computer, not from the phone, so it is not inserting caps for me.

ms munster

ms munster and i have never met in person, but i feel like we were college roommates. we like a lot of the same things, like red and black and contrast in size and drop shadows. so pretty.

thank you

i decided to add another one from ms munster - her envelopes are inspirational on many levels. if you are a beginner, look at the arrangement of the elements. to write like ms munster, you are going to have to take a bunch of workshops with rock star scribes.

bonus post

a second attempt
not spectacular.
maybe i should start drawing the train

Friday, April 24, 2015


I just discovered that I could post to the blog from my phone. This is a test to see if it works. It is my latest lettering and little drawings to appear in Midwest Living magazine.

they put the recipes online in a format that works for the internet. it does not include the artwork that is in the magazine. i also have the inside scoop on the Midwest Living recipes. they are not the quick and easy ones, but they are super yummy. the name of the article is baby cakes, so they are small in size. if you want a regular size cake, they have more recipes on the website.

smash's wilt

here is the solution to the problem of too linear and not enough interlocking. i also did one that was all dots and that is a very nice option, too. i'll only show that option if i have requests. i suspect this will not be a popular style.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

next envelope exchange SIGN UP

it looks like everyone got their last exchange envelopes in the mail, so, jan and i decided to do another exchange.

please send her the info by Friday, May 1
lists will be sent out promptly
mail your envelopes by May 25

decorate the envelopes
no theme
calligraphy optional
computer art is fine
beginners are most welcome
envelope may be empty (enclosures optional)

each person will get a list of 5 people to mail to.
each person will receive 5 envelopes, but not necessarily from the same 5 you send to.

send your info to
janhardt  (at)


there is a new envelope in the post below

ramirez arch for alex

sometimes when i am in the middle of a big envelope job, i stop and surf. and sometimes i see something that is so cute, i just have to do my own version. the original had rain and also a spiral shooting up, which was lovely...but, after i did this much, i thought it was enough. i did not have any stamp in mind - but like this one. the street address would go under the line. the buildings were made with a prismacolor marker. the details are g-tecs, pigmas and a white gelly roll.
it would be fun to do some actual skylines of actual cities.

my envelope is a kindred spirit with finnbadger's envelope.
finn has some good examples of pairings on his blog.
you know how there are *wine pairings*? well, we have invented the *envelope pairing.*
we're so *on trend.*

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

wilt - hester and chuck

hester's looks better because the letters pop up and down and do more interlocking. but, i figured out another layer that resolves the problem of too-linear. this style is meant to interlock, but i would have to pencil and plan for that to happen and i'm lazy.