Friday, October 31, 2014

happy halloween

thank you, jan. i love this envelope. she didn't draw the whole thing, although she could have. the stamps with the little path are so perfect. i guess hospice care (the stamp topic) is appropriate, too, since halloween and day of the dead make this a deathy time of year. not to mention my yard foll of dead plant material. i forgot to do some sugar skull envelopes this year. dang. guess i could get started on my 2015 envelopes. maybe the p.o will issue a day of the dead stamp. i'm just like the *jerk* in the movie who is so excited about the new phone books, except, i'm that excited to see what the 2015 stamp designs will be.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

from smash

smashgirl hardly ever makes comments on the back of her envelopes. this one said *not the best* and i suppose she was referring to some very slight jiggles in the curves. in my opinion (and i am right) the overall idea is so wonderful that the jiggles in the curves are of no significance.

one thing i do, when i am doing designs along these lines --- is to use all lower case. there is something about all lower case that sets up the whole design to be a little out of whack. so if there are other minor defects...they don't really bother the eye, because all lower case sets the stage for *anything goes* which includes jiggles...which means.....i can't wait to appropriate this idea :-)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

from sandy

this one is from sandy, for the exchange. that stamp is spectacular on black. sandy's pointed pen work is just lovely. her flourishing is just the right amount and i love how big it is. the name is slightly larger than the address, which makes it all perfectly balanced.

i know i will struggle with my envelope to sandy because she has an address with one of those really long street addresses. i'm curious to know how she would have addressed this envelope if it was going to her address?

thanks, sandy

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

betsey dunlap knock off

betsey dunlap has been around for quite a while. her style is very distinctive. if you google her and go to images, you will see many. you will also see a couple of my envelopes that for some reason have been linked to her style, through pinterest. i have no idea how that happened.

even though none of the stamps have teal, i am ok with how they look on this envelope.

Monday, October 27, 2014

happy autumn

this was a full page illustration i did for midwest living magazine last year. i thought i had posted it on this blog, but i couldn't find it in the archive. i was discussing chalkboard writing with someone and could not find the image. so i thought i should have it on the blog, so next time i want to show it to someone, i can tell them to just go to the blog and click the label for chalkboard.

sadly, jan did not jump on my offer to organize all my images. maybe she is out of town and will be getting back to me shortly.

p.s. this whole article won the top award at the art directors yearly awards event. Tara Okerstrom-Bauer and Hannah Agran deserve 66% of the credit. or more....they come up with the words and concept. i just figure out a way to fit things together and choose styles of lettering that work.

scroll down to the post below to see today's envelope. this post is an extra one - not in the pre-scheduled  group.

from hester

a fun zentangled bat adorns this envelope from hester, who participated in the exchange. her intuition was correct that i would be thrilled to receive the american gothic stamp. that little house is still standing in eldon iowa. the renter recently moved out and they are pondering what to do about re-renting it. it attracts a lot of visitors and while the renter who moved out grew weary of tourists peeking in her windows, there is a part of me that wants to move in and start my own correspondence school. i love the idea, but my family hasn't quite voted me off the island, so i'll be in des moines a while longer.

thanks, hester :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

nibs and ink blog - update

quick update on the nibs and ink blog i started a couple weeks ago. i have added a couple more easy tutorials and will continue to add some. they will all be very quick and easy. i keep finding other tutorials that are already produced that are very well done. i will continue to post links to those as well.

to the right is a sample page from Erica McPhee. i met Erica (online) many years ago. she has started The Flourish Forum which is a fast growing internet group for penmanship and calligraphy. you can cruise around and read all kinds of information and check out the tutorials. and you can join the group and participate in conversations and ask questions.

there may be Fourish Forum members who are finding my blog for the first *HI* to anyone who has just found my blog. i have posted one new envelope every day for nearly 5 years. i have over 50 new envelopes lined up and ready to go. so if you enjoy mail art, this is a fun place to snag some ideas. sadly, nothing is organized. but, maybe i will find a volunteer to organize them into categories (i'm lookin' at you, jan - she has a PhD in organization)

the new envelope for today is in the post below this one - so scroll down :-)

here is the link to Erica's website:

and here is the link to The Flourish Forum   click on the teal button that says Enter the FORUM, on the right

from karen

karen said she wasn't crazy about the way the j, leaning into the e, looks like a k. it didn't bother me. but then i pondered what it would look like if the a tilted into the n, so that they shared a stroke. that might make it even more abstract and resolve the issue. i just sketched it on paper and it looks nice....if time permits, i will do an actual envelope with that variation.

thanks, karen :-)

i like the stamp in the landscape orientation. it looks nice to rotate your stamps so that the rectangles of the envelope and name and stamp all echo each other.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

from eric in france

eric bruth was the only international participant in the exchange. he has a wonderful blog and i was happy to receive this handmade envelope. he creates his work on a computer which would be one of my favorite tools, if i allowed myself to buy all the fun programs that allow you to arrange letters and color in the spaces. my return envelope to him will be inspired by this one and it will appear at a later date. today is devoted to posting every single envelope that is in my *in* box.

thanks eric!

eric's blog

Friday, October 24, 2014


i love the design, even though i do not love mosquitoes. or maybe this is a dragon fly? but it really looks like a mosquito to me. i love the stylized version of whatever it is. there is something wonderful about the proportions. i'm thinking i need to steal this idea.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

this just in from ruth

 that crazy scanner sure doesn't want to reproduce orange. the phone photo gives a better impression of the color. isn't this adorable? i love it.

the card folds into a 6-pointed star. the upsidedown cancel on the envelopes is pretty funny. the hand, that is turning off a light switch is a little spooky. the tree looks like it is looking down at the spooky hand which is in a grave.

love the drawings. they look like they were inspired by ed emberly (?) i have to go back and look in the archives....

thanks ruth!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

from karen

this is from one of my newer penpals. there will be 4 showing what karen did while she was spending time out of the house, but parked in waiting zones. she included a note that she was not thrilled with the results. and i know how she feels. i frequently take pens, markers and envelopes when i know i will have some free time. but, they hardly ever turn out as well as the things i create in my own nest.
i'll have to pay attention and see if i can figure out why that it. my first guess is that waiting zones are usually full of distractions.

thank you karen for the mail. everyone enjoys seeing examples from other artists.

oh...i like how she had a nice hand cancel....and *boo* to the p.o. for sending it through the machine. we didn't need that extra wave pattern at the top. although it is not as bad as some of those wacky tire tread cancels they apply once in a while.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

the rest of the exchange envelopes

these are the ones i made after i used up the winter flower stamps.

 i am still hooked on the wrought iron lettering and it is getting looser and looser.

i dropped them in the mail yesterday. i think the deadline to mail the exchange envelopes was the end of october. you still have a few days to go.

thanks again to jan for doing all the work. i have been lining up (queuing up - for my international readers) posts  and am all the way up to the end of november, so it will be a while before you see all the fun envelopes that i received. thanks to everyone who participated.

today's post is below. this is an extra post.

guest artists every day - for a while

 for a while, i have managed to alternate my work with guest work. then, thanks to jan and the exchange, i ended up with a huge stack of mail. so, i am going to schedule all the mail that is on my desk and then get back to posting my own work.

or, i will add a bonus post on days that i have something to share in addition to the post of the day.

this artist did not say whether or not it was OK to post the name, so, i will leave it anonymous for now. he or she can always leave a comment :-)

a very fun sharpie design, lovingly outlined. the address was on the flip side with the stamp.
it takes a lot of self control for me to keep at the chores and not take a vacation day to do sharpie and outline designs...

speaking of markers, ruth asked me to discuss markers.
i never met a marker i didn't like. i remember the very first Magic Marker that my dad brought home. a little glass bottle with a felt wick. i only got to use it once in a while. most of the time, i had to satisfy my addiction to lettering at my chalk board. i'm sure chalk was cheaper than the marker.
but i digress.  click to see the rest of the comments on markers. i didn't want this post to be too long.

Monday, October 20, 2014

from jan

this one is adorable plus the p.o. was nice enough to not mess it up. it is ironic that they would forgo the cancel on a design that is actually anticipating a pretty cancel.  oh well, i guess i can always put a faux-cancel on it.

it is very 3D - layered and makes me want to take a trip.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


i feel like this one has already been blogged, but i can't find it in the archive. it's one where you might be able to see her name in red and then i tried to cover up all the flaws with flowers. not sure what i think about this one. not stellar, but not the worst i've done. i don't think i did a single envelope that i liked that looked good with that stamp. i like the stamp and wish i had found something perfect to go with it, but sadly, i have not. maybe a purple envelope would have been nice.

exchange update

i was hoping to use up all the winter flower stamps because they had given me fits. after doing these 9 names, i decided they were not blog worthy, but the stamps were on them, so i had to mail them. i will be doing another mailing to these well as the other 4 participants. i am so stuck on the wrought iron lettering.

i will mail the exchange envelopes today. thanks to everyone who participated and big thanks to jan for organizing it. :-)

on a side note, i will be doing a blog post on flourishing that will be on the nibs and ink blog. maybe that will jolt me out of my wrought iron rut.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

from smash

thank you smash girl for this pretty envelope featuring those beautiful stamps. i have a full sheet and have been hoarding them, but with this as inspiration, i think i will launch them.

design lesson:
grids rock

Friday, October 17, 2014

pastel janis

after all those neon markers with the janis stamp, i tried a pastel to go with the sunglasses. i don't remember which marker i used. it might be a tombo. i like the mixed fonts. i should probably do the navy shadow on all the letters, but i am running out of time. so...imagine it, please  :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

karen's carlish tan

love the notecard too. this was inside the first envelope from karen which is why there is no postmark. she noted, inside the notecard that she was not happy with the EA space. i can see why it bothered her. but it doesn't bother me at all. her solution to fill up the spaces with some color is a very good remedy. loose lettering is always lots of fun...but, you have to be prepared to manage the consequences of just diving in.

love that notecard. wonder what kind of tool she used?

thank you, karen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

neon janis for cathy

i tried the neon highlighters on bamboo paper. some of my pencil lines won't erase. i should have used colored pencil for the pencil lines. i've gone back and forth on posting this one. it has a multitude of problems. but, i think it would be fun to do some envelopes with the name on the top, the zip on the bottom and the rest of the info in a neat line through the middle. i even repeated the zip code for the p.o.
so, i'm ok with that portion of the idea. maybe one day i will redo the idea and make it more lovable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

karen carlish

this is the first one from karen. i called it *carlish* because it looks like something one would do in a carl rohrs class.

perfect with the stamp.

thank you , karen.

Monday, October 13, 2014

new stamps

be sure to check out all the fun new stamps at

Celebrity ChefsWinter Fun
one of 4 winter designs

there is an envelope below - in the daily post. this is an extra post for today.

potter rant no. 4

the top one looks ok in real life. the writing is in silver gel pen, so it will not show up in the scan. i like the idea of the guy standing in a window.

the bottom one...i could rant about how ugly it is (because the creature is some kind of mutant)...but we can just look on the bright side...i only have 6 harry potter stamps left.

maybe i will have some crazy wonderful brainstorm.
or maybe i can find something heavy to mail to miss cathy ...  anybody have any good ideas?

p.s. i pondered several ways to make these two into envelopes that i would just love. since i had left the street addresses as the last element to add, i had basically painted myself into a corner. sometimes, i love the challenge of being in the corner and figuring out a solution. with these two, and with the knowledge that there are 6 to go, i decided to just leave them very simple. there is nothing wrong with simple. and then i pondered how the whole set will look together. my gut tells me that if cathy ever decides to put all of them in a grid - and make a pleasing arrangement of the entire group, these two will have a purpose. somehow they will fit in with all their siblings. they will be the two quiet ones that offer some visual relief. i will refrain from pontificating about the value of having a variety of personalities in any given family or group. (unless someone really wants to hear it - hahaha)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

smash's cherry blossoms


i'm thinking she dipped an ear of corn in her ink or paint to make those very cool marks.

love it.

thank you smash-girl :-)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

potter rant no. 3

i really don't need to rant about this one. it's an adequate example of multi-tasking. checking all your white pens to see which ones are dried up. and it is a pretty stamp.

p.s. since i am on a roll with the design tips, i will mention that on this one, i used contrast in size to tuck the address in - under the stamp - and it looked very nice. very tiny white lettering that became the third element.

i only used contrast in size. i knew that i would not like to include contrast in color. the stamp has contrast in color.
i want to make it perfectly clear that i am not suggesting that the ways i chose to make my design decisions are in a any way the only choices or the best choices. there is no right or wrong or cookie cutter formula. things like contrast are simply vocabulary words that you utilize when you make decisions about where you are going with your composition. i frequently put 3 elements on an envelope. but not always. looking at this again, i can see that a big bold black address (rather than tiny and white) could have worked out just fine.

Friday, October 10, 2014

miss cathy's spectacles

love the spectacles. they might have been inspired by the harry potter glasses.

but this is so perfect. i might have to do some more spectacle envelopes. the i in wilson is so much fun.

of the people currently exchanging mail with me...finnbadger phil and elizabeth are the only two who have an i in their name

amy, jan, cathy, karen, jack, alex, - none of you have an i --- although a double cracked x for alex would be fun. i shall be stealing this idea. thank you very much.

i have been LOVING the janis joplin stamps. once again, they did not appeal to me at first glance, but they evolved into favorites. (yes, jeri, i just remembered that you are a frequent exchanger with an i in your name :-)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

potter rant no. 2

i'll spare you the rant on this one. there's just nothing nice to say about it. normally i would have a lot of fun with a witch hat. it should have been the A in o'reAr or cAthy.

i have no idea where i am going to put the street address.....

p.s. once again, i used *contrast* to solve my problem and i was very pleased with the results. i used a tiny .25 G-Tec pen and stacked the number and name of her street, flush right, up against the stamp. the witch looked like she was staring at the address, which was just the element that made me very satisfied with the results.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

8th of the month - folon envelopes

this blog has 4 images from the best envelope book ever. quite a while ago, i posted an image from this book.

kathy actually has the book...and i forgot all about the blog post. the blog above only has 4 images

but if you google
Jean-Michel Folon Lettres a Giorgio
you will see a bunch more

sometimes when i google that, i see items from my blog, too....not sure why, but i am delighted to be lumped in with him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

potter rant no. 1

o.k.  all y'all know that i have been having a heck of a time getting this harry potter series done for miss cathy. at least she helped me along when she sent me a bunch of brown envelopes. they solved my color problem. but, i just can't get my goofy little drawings to compliment the stamps which are photos. this idea is plum-pitiful. but, i just have to get harry potter off my desk. and brace yourselves, the next three are just as pitiful. the part of me that likes naive and outsider art is OK with this one. but sadly, i would not be eligible for true outsider art status. apologies to anyone who is offended by the use of the term outsider. i remember that it has been updated, but, the new term has not been sticking in my memory.

p.s. as you know, i write these posts a few weeks in advance and have them scheduled to pop up every morning. when i filled in the space with the rest of the address, i actually liked it a lot better. i actually *fixed* it. so the tip for today is to pick out one thing that does not bother you, ask what you like about it and then use that answer to insert more of what you like. in this case, i liked the contrast of the x-height of the lettering, so i used that contrast to finish the envelope - instead of trying to add another element. peter thornton teaches a whole weekend workshop on contrast. if you ever have a chance to take that workshop you will probably find it chock full of very useful information.

Monday, October 6, 2014

karen's elephant

karen has sent two envelopes and each one had a second envelope inside. this was the inner one. that j has a marvelous trunk. and the stack of jeans is a very nice element to unify the composition. very nice. thank you, karen.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

neon janis for smash and alex

 these are both done with ink highlighters on bamboo paper which is very nice paper. i feel like i already posted the top one, let me know if it is a repeat. i am going to add some navy to the top one and i might ruin it. the bottom one needs something else, but i am going to let it go so that i can make some headway with my endless decluttering project.

after i did the chunky easy blocky lettering, i did some outlining with gel pens.

i don't think the scans do a very good job of capturing the neon-bright quality of the ink.

the brand of highlighter is zazzle. they are very old. i remember buying them back when i did travel teaching gigs. wow, that was a long time ago.

i added a navy shade to the top one and then took a phone photo to see if i could get a better impression of the color. the navy shade helps. it is still a little blah, but might get sent just to keep up my de-clutter-momentum.

[several days later - i put two more stamps on the envelope to smash-girl and like it so much better. wish the scanner did a better job with the colors]

also, there is a new post on the other blog
for anyone who is trying the nibs and ink

Saturday, October 4, 2014

smash - ode to ingmire

smash called this one *ode to ingmire* - thomas ingmire is a very well known calligrapher who teaches. i have never studied with him, so, i do not see exactly what is ingmire-esque about this one. but, i like the melange of it. i hope melange is the right word. i'm still scrambling to meet deadlines and don't have time to research.....

thank you, smash ---

Friday, October 3, 2014

elizabeth inspired

the top image is the top of an invitation to an exhibit. elizabeth sent it as an insert in an envelope that will appear in november. i was immediately inspired to make an envelope with the neuland outline and textured background. the janis stamp seemed like a good fit. fun idea. i'll keep it in my stack to do again when i have more time.

thanks elizabeth

Thursday, October 2, 2014

karen's mosaic

the second one from karen, although it is showing up first. karen is a new penpal who took time to send me some mail. i always appreciate hearing from readers. it gives me things to talk about. on this one, she lamented a smear on the first stroke of the N. i covered up the smear with a white gel pen. i hope that is OK with karen. i am not opposed to covering up mistakes.... uniball white gel pens are very good. sometimes you need to let it dry and do a second layer.

thank you, karen :-)

bah - to the post office for sending it through a second machine. you didn't need to do that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

mail art

one more. the stamps are nice. but i'm not completely thrilled with the overall result. i like mixing styles, but these just don't really harmonize.
not doggy enough to ditch.

 there are some new posts at the other blog that will have lessons on writing with nibs and ink.

be sure to check out the books and decide which one you want.