Saturday, November 30, 2013

smash bonus

love the layout
love the idea
love-love-love the intersecting names to create the grid

don't love washing out the paintbrush several times. but i don't know what the paint is. maybe it is something that is not dificult to wash out. i'm lazy with respect to cleaning out brushes.

thank you, smashgirl :-)

jan - thank you landscape

nothing new about this idea. i have shown it many times. i am just cleaning off my desk in anticipation of the new, improved, highly organized posting system that will begin on jan 1.

how many of you sprained wrists when you fell off your chairs laughing?

i guess the part where i insert a thank you is new. this might be a post card. i can't remember. it's not her address, so it will have to go in a bulk mailing.

i like the part where the address hits the bottom. i always advise people to leave the bottom 1/2 inch clear for the bar code.
but...i like to have the design go all the way to the edge.
and the city-state is not essential to the mail reaching its destination, so, it's fine to bury it at the bottom. maybe miss cathy, our postal-guru will weigh in.

Friday, November 29, 2013

2 cathy - 5 borders

i saw these stealworthy borders on the internet. at first, i thought of putting the address in an unexpected place. then, i thought of another option, but i still have to figure out where to put the zip code.

i'm thinking i should stack them clear over on the right. a *rule* of design - once again quoting peter thornton.
return to a unit you already have. i stacked cathy's name, so, when i am looking for a solution to the zip, i look for something to repeat.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

spacing - step 1

finnbadger mentioned that he thought it would be beyond his skill level to space a name evenly across an envelope. i hope to show him that it is not that complicated.

here are 9 different names, showing how they would fit on an envelope. i couldn't think of a name with 10 letters. (finnbadger came to mind after i was done with the page)

this should show you how you can easily visualize the spacing. and divide an envelope into equal spaces.

if your envelope is 6 inches wide and you have six letters, it is a piece of cake.
if you only have 5 letters, you can just have a little longer intro and exit stroke.

you may also be wondering about wide letters like m and w
and narrow letters like i and t
yes, you sometimes need to adjust the spaces a bit.
but, if you are going for something loose and loopy, you really can just force each letter into the same amount of space.

step two will show an easy way to divide the envelope into equal spaces. dividing 6.75 by 9 would be ridiculous. i have a system that does not use a ruler. i've shown it to a lot of people and they think i am a genius. i did not invent this system. i'm sure it was invented a couple thousand years ago.

i may not get to step two today.
there are people expecting me to show up with dessert.
happy t-day


this is my latest envelope from finnbadger. he found a perfect continuation of the swirl onto a stamp. plus he has me on a make-your-envelope-out-of-a-magazine-page binge. i was doing so well at getting rid of stuff - now i am hoarding magazines and catalogs. aaarrrggghhh.

put a bird on it

i can't remember if i posted these.
the top are two that i sent to stella and smash girl, they would have had to get together to make the whole picture.

this was the inspiration image for the bird i used on the envelope to stella. as you can see, the inspiration piece is much better - took more time.
but, i was in a messing around mode. i hope readers are picking up on the idea that you can surf and look at drawings and shapes and use ideas that you see -like the oversized eyelashes. the style of the bird inspired the style of the lady.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 + thornton

this is from the day i was writing quotes on envelopes. this was my quick and sloppy copy of something done by peter thornton. i think it might be from his class on texture. then, i found the west va stamps (whilst cleaning off the desk) (peter is responsible for me saying whilst - he says it and for some reason, it stuck in my head along with a lot of other really valuable stuff.) anyhow, i found the stamps that cathy sent and i will be sending this along with her actual address. it is such a simple layout, but, i like it. it goes with the stamp. the soft curves in the lettering echo the hills.

the other quote from peter that i use endlessly....steal and conceal.
in this case....i just did the steal part. i'm pretty sure peter wouldn't mind.
if he happens across this and wants me to take it down, i will be happy to do that....
after i remind him about the time he looked at something i was working on and said, "oh, that's nice. i'll be stealing that later. i know a lot of beginners really can't wrap their heads around all this stealing...when is it ok and when it is plagiarizing? ... i don't know that there is any one answer... for me.... when you give the source, then it becomes an homage....and not a rip-off. plus, i am pretty sure nobody would look at my work and mistake it for peter's work. just as, i see work where i know people were trying to make it look like something i did....but, i can see the difference. sometimes it is better. that's fine, too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

just move stamps

these stamps were on the wall chart of stamps that were supposed to be issued in 2013.
after printing them, they were all destroyed because someone decided that three of the activities were unsafe.  cannonball jumping into the pool. skateboarding without elbow pads. and standing on your head without a helmet.

i think all the rest of the activities are dangerous, too. and don't even get me started about paper cuts.

there are articles about these stamps if you want to google and find them. google just move u s stamps.

jan - purple xmas seal

i found a box of old christmas seals. so now i don't have to use up all the stamps i am hoarding on fake mail. i rediscovered my galaxy markers. they are dreamy as well as metallic. you can buy them from john neal. i added the white lines with a uniball signo. then, i used a pair of scissors for the oval for the address because i was too lazy to get out of my chair and move three feet to the right to get my circle templates. if i get any lazier they will have to feature me in a reality program about pitiful people who make everyone else feel really good that *at-least-i-am-not-that-bad* selective-hoarders. on the surface, the house looks tidy, but delve into those neatly stacked boxes, bins, and bureaus and oh-oh....

Monday, November 25, 2013

candy's 2nd halloween

did i already post this?
if i did...lemmekno.

candy alerted us to ed emberley's art drawing books...and it would not be hard to turn this into a gingerbread house to go with the holiday stamp. i need to get started on some holiday ideas.....

this just in

cathy said this lettering took a long time and she was not all that happy with them...and she is curious about what i will come up with. off the top of my head...i'd go for something scribbley.

and all the excess sticky paper that you get with the stamps is going to be fun.

i have not read the books so there will be no references to the actual book or characters.
maybe some punny stuff.... i like the colors :-)
thank you....maybe the harry potter series will be jan 1-20...hmmmmm there's an idea.

thanks cathy :-)

stella bird + guest artist

i can't remember if i posted this one or not.

so, i will add a second one today, in case this is a repeat.

this came off the internet. sometimes i just google *envelope art* to see what's new and fun. images pop up, but they don't always take me to a place where i can give a link....but i can't resist posting this without giving the artist credit. maybe someday i will find it....i bet there is a lot more good stuff by the same artist.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

international mail artist

congratulations to finnbadger. one of his envelope is featured on a TV program in france.
yesterday the link took me to the program
today it seems to go to a different program.

this is the one you will see on finnbadger's blog today.
he is also attentive to the flip side of his envelopes.
i use the flip side to mention things that i would fix on the front.


 there is a trend in calligraphy - naive, non-traditional. i would like to meet some of these people and see what they think of the truly amazing stuff. the M in Mr looks like she was looking at Bernard Maisner's work.

and this reminds me very much of the kind of lettering that first caught my eye when i was in high school and made me pick up a pen and ink.

i'm happy that i had the opportunity to study the more traditional hands.... but, i have not had time to really practice enough to be *amazing*  -
close, but no cigar.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

bonus - from elizabeth

this is from elizabeth in washington, the state. she had one of those leftover iowa stamps and some others that go nicely. i covered up her return address in the upper left corner.

the JEAN is nicely tucked into that space created by the L. the O is a reinforcement circle on top of a gold circle on top of a black circle. nice echo of the earth shapes. and then the p.o. was happy to add to the design with their random black bars that echo the black stripes in the layered main lettering.
very nice...thanks soooooooooo much

saturday stuff

i carried the sharpie layering to a ridiculous extreme. there's a bunch of gel pen in there, too.
apologies if this is a repeat. i can't find it in the archive, but the archive is pretty random.

and the second one is one i just found today and the third one was in my download file and i can't remember if i have posted it or, i am throwing it in

the second one is from this blog;

too many readers think this blog is about handlettering and being an applied artist. i want everyone to know that i welcome anything made by hand. my only requirement is that it be *polite.*

Friday, November 22, 2013

Last call for exchange

I was just about to send out the lists and had one more person respond. So, I will wait until Sunday in case there are people who only catch up with the blog on the weekend. Email me at jmwilson411 (at) and let me know how many envelopes you would like to exchange
pick a number between 2 and 20

it is just an envelope
no card, unless you want to add a card
everyone is is not just for calligraphers and lettering artists
although, some kind of creative concept should be a hand made envelope
or exotic stamps

no theme
deadline to send envelopes - Jan 15th

inspiration :
she is from columbia and lives in chile
i did not look at any of her other work....
just snagged the first image that caught my eye :-)

design pondering - hirshfield stamps

i ran the top envelope with an eames stamp. then, when i filled in her actual address, i liked those two stamps better and i loved the idea of the address in the ticket. i would have spent more time making the address a stronger hunk of red if i had not been in my clean off the desk campaign.  then i had the stack of envelopes with quotes. i liked the idea of a quote on an envelope. the quote and the stamp are fine with color. but they are the same size, so i have to figure out how to make the address tie the two together. i don't think i want the address to be the same size as the quote and the stamps. this was one thought, i just cut a piece of paper to visualize a huge hunk of red. i don't think it is working. if i come up with a better solution, i will post it. or if people want to make suggestions, go right ahead.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

nancy - lavender cruz + appleton

a very fun envelope and doodle from nancy. this one is another example of using the minor color in the stamp for the major color on the lettering. very pretty. the kitty in the corner is covering up an error in the return address. nancy frequently puts the return address in the upper left corner... i actually like it better when i don't  have to blot out an address... i think i was sending a psychic message to her to somehow get that return address on the back.

thank you nancy :-)

 also, there is a nice hunk of hillarian lettering for us to contemplate and try to absorb some of the details. i see a nice balance of patterns between stripes and squares and circles. the red *candies* are interesting....three large and three smaller (or 4, if you count the green one).
cool touch where she pulled a flower off the stamp. lucky people who send me mail will be getting their own versions of this style. thanks for sending nancy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


this one from miss cathy made me happy on multiple levels.
1. i like getting mail
2. i like gingerbread houses
3. i like when the holiday stamps are not red/green (not that i don't like red/green, i just appreciate the opportunity to use a variety of colors during red/green season)
4. i like those big speedball b-3 nibs
and have some, so i can start ripping off this idea promptly.

thank you sooooooo much

5. i like that i have something better to post today. i liked that ribbon idea below...but, it just didn't make me happy when i saw it on the screen this morning. design lesson for the day: sometimes it is hard to figure out what is wrong....and on that one, i am still grappling with what's wrong. i think i know. but will wait to see if anyone tells me in the comment section.

cathy - yellow ribbon

this envelope was done during one of those sessions where i was tired and just sat and copied ideas off the internet. i made the yellow ribbon with the faber-castell big brush marker. then outlined with a pretty bold marker, probably a .5 zig. it sat in a stack waiting to be finished. cathy sent me some star wars stamps and i liked the way C3PO is looking to his left, so, i gave him something to look at. and i liked how the add on stamp had something to do with earlier aviation... a bit of a connection... but i think i need to put the rest of the star wars stamps on dark colored envelopes. not a winning design, but that style of ribbon is something i would do again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

cathy - raven on head

i like how mississippi rep, cathy, has been inspired to offer another one in the *bird-on-head-series* started by SC rep, smashgirl. someone at the P.O. decided that the beautiful pencil address that is very clearly written in the spider web, was not clear enough ---so they wrote the street address on the envelope. sad. it was not necessary to do that.

thank you cathy for the stamps...i have really enjoyed coming up with johnnycash ideas.

Monday, November 18, 2013

jackie skyline

jackie sent this as a thank you for something i mailed to her and now i don't even remember what i sent. i imagine it was an envelope. she googled to find a des moines skyline. her husband was surprised that we have a skyline. jackie captured it. 4 or 5 blips rising out of the cornfields. i can make fun of des moines because i am not a native. what i like about it is that no matter where you want to go, it takes 12 minutes or less. if it is rush hour, it will take 15 minutes. and once you get there, you can park right in front of the place you are going and you never have to wait in line. if there are more than 2 people in a line at the checkout, they will quickly open another lane. so, i looked for a skyline photo of jackie's town....


"Hand-decorated envelope and tie sent by Pablo Picasso to MoMA director Alfred H. Barr, Jr.. 1957"

this one makes me feel a lot better about some of my very sloppy samples.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


it is very hard for me to share this idea. i want to steal it and pretend it is my own idea. it does remind me of the satamp with the little girl turning on the light switch stamp....reposted below. i would have put the name and address, tiny, along the baseline.

sadly, i just saved the top image from somewhere...and do not have a link. so...there is it....i usually run across things multiple times, so when i find it again, i will add the credit line.
thanks to reader, liberal sprinkles, here is where the image originated

i'll be mentioning her blog in an upcoming post

Saturday, November 16, 2013

finn + tony, french mail art

if you go to finnbadger's blog, you can read his story about this very cool envelope and the very cool french post office allowing  faux postage stamps to be allowed on mail going to tony.

and then click on his link to tony's blog.
i'm trying to stay focused on my mission, but, i'm pretty sure i will have to send something to tony....
thanks finnbadger.  :-)

star of may

i saved this - lost it - found it - named the image *starofmay* - but that goes to a rubberstamper's blog - and i guess these look like rubber stamps. the ideas are stealworthy, and this is one more baby step towards clearing out the stash of ideas. i would rather just draw -rather than use rubberstamps.

i looked again....and found that this is from a blog
there is a video, which i have not watched
and she says in her FAQ that it is fine to link to her blog without asking
here you go

i think she is more about making cards than envelope addressing

Friday, November 15, 2013

stats and an exchange

i just passed 200,000 views on my blog.
thank you. there are 174 followers listed on my blog'

the envelope to the right is from

read the [about] tab, if you have time, about how this is a blog of two people writing back and forth. they have 10,000 followers.

i am thinking about doing an exchange, since this is the season of mailings.
if anyone is interested, send me an email jmwilson 411 [at] yahoo . com  [but don't leave spaces]
and i will see what kind of response i get.
let me know a rough idea of how many envelopes you would like to send and receive.

for those of you who do not know how an exchange send me your snail mail address.
i make up lists of participants and mail the lists out and participants have until the middle of january to send an envelope to each of the other people on the list. don't sign up if you already have too much to do. the envelopes may all be different, or they may all be the same.

post questions in the comment section and i will answer them and decide next week if there are enough people to do an exchange. i guess i only need two people, unless i decide to participate, then i only need one. :-)

please do not post your address - or sign up for the exchange in the comment section.

your serve

i don't think i posted this one yet. it was my return to the one cathy sent with 2 altheas playing tennis on a tennis court. i like both of our ideas, it's a tie.

 and an off topic topic from chuck. anything with letters is almost on topic

Thursday, November 14, 2013

cathy fine lines

this came from my mississississippi rep, miss cathy. i furshur will not be able to top it.....unless i just do more of what she did...and i really like this amount of name to, cathy wins this round. it's good to know that there are others who are not afraid to leave some white space.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

miss cathy - west va

another one from miss cathy from mississippi.
it looks like colored pencil. that is such a pretty stamp and the post office was so mesmerized by the loveliness they did not cancel it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

2 2day

 i love that top one, but can't remember if i already posted it...

and love love love the black one from smash-girl. i think she was spackling and had a little spackle left over on her putty knife and schmeared it off on the envelope. and then did those lovely flowers...very pretty. thank you.

i didn't open it...she usually just has blank paper inside and this was fragile paper. so...smashgirl, if you recall that there is something to read inside...lemmekno and i will open it.

thanks :-)

off topic

i hardly ever go off topic. but we use punctuation on envelopes, so i thought i could sneak this in. plus we are heading into a busy time of year and i want to provide plenty of diversions for those of use who do not participate in the bizziness or who have nothing to do during the holidays
and need fun stuff to distract ourselves.

so here is fun blog:

and i intend to do a few punctuational envelopes...
i might even repost that one with all the screamers that i made for kathy who has some unexplained aversion to screamers, aka exclamation points.

Monday, November 11, 2013

ruth multi-stroke

i'm not sure i can pick a favorite from the stack that ruth sent...but this one is in the running.
i just love it. i like the way the letters JEANW are worked into a square. i've never thought of that configuration. LOVE IT!!

love the lettering!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


i guess i didn't mail it and decided to rescan cuz i love that little sleigh w/ reindeer.

i also added some better loops to some of the letters but i think i can resist the temptation to scan a third time.

monkey + oops

 i saw that quote/proverb on pinterest and thought it was charming. i lettered it with the pilot precise deluxe and had no idea it took a long time for that ink to dry. when i made the first smear, i thought *oops* and then just hoped that all the ink was equally un-dry. so i ended up liking the effect. then i didn't know who to send it to. amy came to mind because she's been dealing with *monkeys*  who have been causing her some problems. so, i thought she might get a chuckle out of the whole mess.

and on this one, i had chuch, instead of chuck. so i fixed it. i wanted to do some ed emberley drawings without actually checking out one of his books. i didn't get very far. hopefully i will have time to dig for some of his adorable, stealable images.

update: i googled his name and found an adorable santa, sleigh and reindeer image that i added, but, no rescan. today is purge-day. this puppy is going in the mail.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

faber castell big brush

another spin with the faber castell big brush markers. i also had a brand new uniball white gel pen that was really fun to layer over the top. i am not excited about this lettering. but, her birthday is coming up so that's always a good excuse to experiment. she is not a scribe, so she will not nit-pik at the quality.

 and another way to use the big brush. the jeri has some extra lines in both black and white. i'll wait to see how this looks on the blog before i decide it is necessary to do all the extra work. i'm thinking polka dots might be more interesting.

i ended up adding white details, but didn't rescan it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

ruth - bearden

more walnut ink and it looks like she dropped some blue gouache into it while it was still wet. i like the inventive letters. i can imagine her writing my name and then thinking, it needs something else...and then adding the second JEAN below. once again, a simple repetition is a very quick and easy design element to make a fun envelope design.
on monday, you get to see the last of the series from ruth. it's spectacular.
yesterday i drove over to see ruth and jeri in iowa city.