Monday, November 30, 2015

red snowflake for smash

the only new thing about this one is that i had to really dig to find a burgundy colored pen/marker. so it has a bit of shading which the earlier *lessmore* envelopes did not.
the burbundy marker is a - stabilo point 88 - and it is in a really old set - so i don't know if they make them anymore. the only good thing about having too many markers is that sometimes you find one you need. otherwise, they are just a gateway drug.

NOV EXCHANGE reminder.
you should have your envelopes in the mail today. i have a stack that are going in the mail on the last day.

note to Maite in Spain: i sent yours a couple weeks ago and it came back - so yours will be pretty late.
if anyone is missing envelopes - wait a week or so and then let Jan know. she'll contact senders to make sure they were sent.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

bonus post - envelope ideas for the non-letterers

this is a link to the website - Oh So Beautiful Paper. it has several ideas for envelopes. i hope it convinces any of you who have no interest in honing your calligraphic skills that the most untrained lettering can still look fun on an envelope. the secret is to pack things in tight.
write tall and skinny, unless the words are very short, then they can be boxy. add some lines and dots and voila- fun envelopes.

at the end of this blurb, you click on the link to her eBay guides. there is no additional info on these envelopes. she gets into brush lettering and lining envelopes and what not. i didn't look at it very closely. i guess she is selling something....but, i am not doing promotion for whatever it might be.

off topic - laurenish

third in my series of sunday surfing to see what's out there. laurenish has a shop on Etsy. Etsy is a great place to surf for ideas. if you go to the link and then click the button to go back to her home page, you can see lots more.

this image is handmade mail you may purchase. she has some mugs with hand lettering. i've done some of that and it's really fun. good idea for holiday gifts. there are tons of tutorials out there. just google *writing on ceramics.* don't bother with any of the sharpie suggestions. use the products that are specifically for writing on ceramics and baking in the oven.

here's the link to laurenish's Etsy shop!etsy-shop/c1w7/en/product/id/237565153

one of her envelopes. i wish i had renamed myself jeanish - a long time ago.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

peanut idea for jan

at some point, there will be an idea for each of the 10 different peanut stamps. in a perfect world, i would post them on 10 days in a row.

in a perfect world i would do a version of this where the address is written on a little crate, like the one snoopy is standing on - but i'm just not in the mood to do more little faux-peanut cartoons.

Friday, November 27, 2015

idea for peanut stamp

i'll fill in somebody's name when i get the list of names for the december exchange.

and i'm not sure what kind of writing to do on the name and address. i am leaning towards tiny, since i like white space.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

holiday tomatoes

still trying to make those tomato stamps work for the holidays. not sure who i will send this to. the image was something i saw on pinterest and while i had fun trying to replicate it, i will not be doing any more of these. it was fun, but took too much time. maybe there are ways to morph the idea. there are strings of lights on the peanuts stamps, so a variation of this idea might be popping up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

oct & nov exchange + jeri

 i decided to add color to the limner outgoing exchange envelope and thought it was worth reposting so you could see how it looked with the witch cropped.

the lovely lady is from finn to wilma for the oct or nov exchange - i'm confused.

plus i added this one from jeri.
she has paper that is printed to look like stamps. i like the ones she chose to use to actually pay the postage. i have some of those. they are in the stack of hard-to-part-with stamps. i'm honored that she parted with some.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

from scarlet blue

 a while back, scarlet made a comment on The Flourish Forum that she did not like uncial, so i did a couple examples of pastel+doodads and sent them to her. i am happy to report she responded favorably. plus she sent me this nice envelope and the note enclosed has some of her own unique penmanship. i love-love-love the way she makes her d's and r's. it's too late for me to re-learn my personal penmanship, but this is going in my file of cooler-than-heck penmanship samples.

on the back of the note was the quote you see below. superb *real* calligraphy done with a scroll nib and filled in with something pretty and sparkly.

so pretty.

thanks, scarlet.

(bah to the UK p.o. with that yucky *Stroke* on the postmark. it really detracts, but i suppose it is better than a nasty grease pencil scrawl)

shout out to carol, who did a *Mean Jean* envelope.
my husband brought in the mail and said, "Oooh. I think your penpals are getting carried away." i had to explain that it wasn't serious. i am all the way into March with my posts, so all y'all will have to wait until march 10th to see's uber-cute.

Monday, November 23, 2015

OK october - 3

limner's september exchange envelope had an illustration that wrapped around the envelop onto the flap. i assumed she wanted me to steal her idea. so here is what i did.

i hope you can see that the fold is right below the hemline of the skirt which makes her legs and broom into a really tall N.

and debra's is some more of that font that i posted a couple days ago.

i'm sorry i can't get the seasonal stuff to show up until the season has changed. my only alternative would be to post all the incoming of one year to show up the following year. it's an interesting, i might do that...i'll have to ponder a bit.

and thank you to the people who enclose really nice notes. i appreciate hearing from you -but- most (all) of the time, when i am making and sending envelopes, my note-writing-braincells are sleeping.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

from smash-student jamie

this is the third envelope from a student of smash's. the stars are rubber stamped with a gold ink pad and make me want to pull out my rubber stamps. i know i have a hand carved star that is very similar. it looks great with the stamp.

i like your curly flourishes and fun-flinging flingers on several letters.

thanks :-)

today's regular post is right below.

off topic - iskra johnson

second in my series of sunday off topic posts. the first one featured abbey sy who is completely self taught. at the other end of the spectrum is iskra johnson a lettering artist/designer who lives in seattle. you could spend a couple hours just wandering through her blog. she has studied with the masters and also manages to do some very thoughtful writing about a wide range of topics. if you dig back into the archive of blog posts there is a lot to learn about the world of lettering. or, if you are devoted to puttering, just soak up some of the gorgeousness and get back to your puttering.

this post mentions that she does have some treasured mail but won't post it on her blog:

the first page of her blog is here:

below is a sample of her more formal work. i chose the first example because it looks like something we could attempt.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

OK oct - 2

after i did elizabeth's, i was losing interest in following the exemplar, so i started to just do the shapes i liked. brooms and bats.

i rather like the arrangement of the letters in kathleen's.
you have to work to figure it out.

Friday, November 20, 2015

OK october - 1

eventually, i found a font on pinterest that had some stealworthy ideas and did these two.

of course, i have the never-ending problem spelling alyce's name correctly.

these were ok enough that i figured i could finish out the list for the exchange using this style.

here is a link to pinterest if you want to see the original font. i followed the link to the website but could not find it, so i don't know if she's taken it off or what. i'm not sure if pinterest will let you in to the link if you do not have a pinterest account. accounts are free - except for the information you share.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

peanuts for susan

this isn't the first peanuts envelope i have tried, but it might be the first one i've blogged. i'm working way ahead on everything and bumping all kinds of halloween envelopes to feb and mar.

i always like taking tiny little elements off the stamps and using them for the lettering. it would be fun to make a little blue dog house card to go inside. susan has an adorable dog.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

uber spider

due to the full day of errands, i get to plead temporary insanity. by the time i got home, all i could think of was making an envelope for elizabeth with a lot of spiders. there are at least 3 elizabeths who participate in exchanges and leave comments, so i am not outing a specific elizabeth. but, i just couldn't resist. if you-know-who-you-are wants this, let me know and i will mail it. otherwise it stays in the stack of ideas that i like.

i took a screen shot of the page of images that popped up when i googled *cute spider.* before i substituted the airplane for the spider, i was trying to find a friendly spider. none of these went with that envelope. it should have been a ladybug.

it is always fun to do searches for images on google. and this would be a fun way to do an envelope with other images. finding one that went with a stamp would be fun. there is a great spider stamp, but it is not a forever.

today's regular post is below.

to eric in oct

i knew that it would be past halloween when eric received his exchange envelope so i wanted to do an example that showed how you could do very, very, sloppy lettering and still make it look fun. the france is not finished. it shows chunky letters made with highlighters. then the name shows an outline that leaves some space and some mouths and a few dots.

it's playful. you could do other kinds of doodads.

you really do not need to be good at lettering to do fun envelopes.

maybe leave a little extra space between things....
and have the address lines small, and easy to read.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

my spider (airplane) for lilli

i did a terrible job on the spider.
but i always like those curly cartouches.

OK...this envelope had a spider. it creeped somebody out, so i covered it up with an airplane.
i was happy to do it, since i really didn't like that spider either

Monday, November 16, 2015

batty fur shur - my oct exchanges

tried a few bats. probably won't be doing any more unless they are in arrangements with other spooky stuff.

so....big news on the Pinterest front. i made an appointment with my minister of technicalities and *we* tried to insert the red Pinteret button into the images on my blog to make it easier for people to pin their favorites.

it was exactly like brain surgery without the blood and we got into the deep inner sanctum of the blog and after following directions explicitly, we had an in-you-face comment pop up telling us that blah-blah-blah. so i made the executive decision to just leave the little row of buttons by the comment option and forget about putting Pinterest buttons on each image.

then, the next day, i opened the blog to make sure it was in order and -voila- the Pinterest button is on each image. so, that will make it way easier for pinners to pin. those of you who do not pin, think twice about joining. it is a super-slippery slope.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

new penpals via smash

these arrived in my mailbox a couple days ago and i wanted to share them promptly. they are from new penpals who are taking a class with Susan Mashman, aka smash-girl. it is always a treat to meet a new penpal. i tucked Vanessa's (top one) under Liz's because Vanessa wrote her return address on the bottom edge of the envelope which i have never seen before. IMHO that is a very risky place to put a return address. we've had quite a bit of discussion on the blog about how confused the postal *readers* can be. happily, it made it to me along with all the others.

thanks so much ladies.

there will be a third one from Jamie showing up next sunday. i have prescheduled all my sundays for the next few months. they are all things i find while surfing. since i don't get many reader comments on my surfing finds, i will use sundays for posting current mail that i do not want to put into the lineup that is now well into february.

there will be a big celebration when i get all my blog posts scheduled through march. blogs: easy to plan ahead.....everything else, not so much

today's regular post is right below

off topic - abbey sy

 i am toying with the idea of having every sunday be slightly off-topic because there are interesting topics that come up in the comment section. i ran across this blog and interview with a young lettering artist and thought it was worth sharing.
she does not have much mail art, but, i think you can find some envelope-ish ideas.

the topic in the comments was from rehj about the layouts that fill up all the space and seem rather random. abbey sy frequently fills up the space. so, if you want to see a ton of examples, you can flip through her blog. there is also an interesting interview with her that describes her journey.

her blog


jan sent the lists for the november exchange on thursday, so if you did not receive yours, email jan.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

oct exchange hot mess - to cindy and florence

we are back to my october envelope debacle. i'm just fine with the ideas but sometimes the names don't work well with the idea. by the time i was on the stamp portion of the nightmare, i was thinking that i would not sign up for exchanges any more and only send mail to people who have names that are conducive to decorative lettering. but that would be really mean and i'm only a little mean. (my teenagers nick named me MeanJean and yes, i will welcome MeanJean themed mail.)

the smith is too similar to the cathy.
probably should have colored in the pumpkin.

adding more candy corn to florence did not fix anything - made it worse.

learn from my mistakes, grasshoppers.

in case you missed it, i added a step-by-step diagram to the flourish i posted yesterday.

Friday, November 13, 2015

holiday idea to elizabeth

this flourish was in my stack of things to finish. then there is the stack of orphan stamps to use up. and these two seemed to go together. if you have leftover tomatoes you could probably pass them off as a holiday stamp...a bit out of the box, but i like it.

that row of flourishing is something i toss out as a way to practice your flourishing. you can do just a band, or you can do a border.

 rehj keft a comment that she wanted to try flourishing, so here are the 4 steps. feel free to experiment with color. dots and curvy dashes.

on this one you can leave the page in one orientation. after you get some of the motions down, you can turn the page and add layers in different directions for different effects.

looking forward to seeing what you do.

oops, i see that i forgot one of the *leaves.* there is one more leaf that shoots out of the spot where the s-curves meet in step one. to do those leaves, i would turn the paper a quarter turn, counter clock wise. it is the same motion as step 2, but done in a different direction.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

louise cole

louise sent this to chuck and chuck shared it with me because he knew i would love the way she made the branches. they don't have to be literal, they just follow the directions suggested on the stamps. i also like how she combined the 1-cent bird with the other two.

so pretty. thanks louise and chuck.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

ray + pablo

the top one looks like a letter, but the address is at the bottom. it is ray johnson - the father of modern mailart.
the lettering is wonderful and the layout is intriguing.

no stamp, but it could be turned into an envelope. not sure if it was by ray or to ray from someone else.

below is an envelope from picasso to gertrude stein.

i love surfing and finding things like this.

they are on this Pinterest board

it is a motherlode of envelope art as well as illustrated letters. it would be interesting to see how many hours i would need to explore all the ones that caught my eye. i saw 3 of my own - as well as chuck's snowman, susan's owl in a tree and alyce's dangles - 3 of the most pinned envelopes that first appeared on my blog.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

sept exchange from carroll and christie

it's interesting how the exchange envelopes seem to come in pairs. these two go together. carroll's, on top has a stealworthy idea - use a foreign stamp to tie in the colors as needed. i like the J in jean - with the crossbar that stops when it hits the vertical stroke. i don't know what you used to color in my name but it must have taken a long time

christie's W in wilson is the same as the W in Watermelons. i like how she popped the S up in the middle of the name. nice variation from the stamp.
the cartouche on the stamp became the cartouche for the zip.

thanks, penpals.

Monday, November 9, 2015

scrolly-doodle to jan

this was done on the day i was trying some different nibs. i mostly use Nikko G nibs and tried some different ones. they were pretty nice. it took me about 8 envelopes to get to this one. i always need to warm up with nibs and ink.

i had to dig into the stash of italian stamps to find one that goes. luckily i can hand deliver this one as a trip to italy is probably not going to happen.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

off topic - paper on trees

these are not envelopes, but they could be. wish i had time to do artist-in-residence things like this.

link to more photos of this installation

i like how the letters are torn rather than cut
although cut would have been very nice with a different font.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

september exchange from limner

this is from limner, a pen name of a new exchanger. limner is the job title for people who worked on illuminated manuscripts, the books that were written and decorated back before the printing press was invented. this envelope has a lot of the elements of an illuminated page of a manuscript with a very contemporary twist. tidy writing and fun detailed drawing.
and the back is just as much fun.

really fun.
thanks so much for joining the exchange limner.

Friday, November 6, 2015

sept exchange from florence

i don't have a clue how florence made this background. but i love it with the stamp. i would never buy those stamps because i have trouble with characters i don't know. but these colors are so perfect with that stamp.

i like the triangular based lettering, too. she took the triangles in the pattern and morphed them into letters. very good idea.

thanks for participating in the exchange.

look below for a lettering lesson

lettering lesson for bridget

bridget was interested in some tips on improving her block lettering. i recommend working on graph paper and filling each space with a letter. *i* will give you trouble, but you can skimp on the letter right before and right after, and just put it on the line between the two squares.

it is heresy to good lettering to cram every letter into the same size box. so, i may be in big trouble. however, if you try this method, after you get some consistency going, then, when you switch to regular lines (not graph) paper, your brain will adjust and make the wider letters a smidge wider and the narrower letters a smidge narrower.

i recommend using that tipped oval shape rather than a circle because it is easier and more forgiving than a circle. if you have a lot of patience and time, you can always work on precise circles. but, my *lazy* style can be rather stylish. it can look like architects writing, from back in the day when they actually wrote. nudge-nudge to someone i know who is a budding envelope artist with a degree in architectural design (ivy leaguer, too)

now....i'm not sure this will be easy if you are left handed. i have to find a lefty who will try it and give me some feedback.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

november exchange sign up

the image is one of those items on pinterest that won't let you trace back to the origin. but it is a very fun idea.

if you want to sign up for the november exchange
send your name, address and email to
janhardt [at] mchsi [dot] com

ask for 5 or 10 names
lists are randomized
you do not always receive from the same peope you send to

all the details about exchanges are listed on a page you may access by clicking on the tab near the top of the blog [ to the right of the Home tab] called:
[envelope EXCHANGE *rules*]

sign up by the 11th, lists will be sent on the 12th
envelopes are to be mailed by the 30th of november

themes are optional, but i am going to do an envelope based on what i am thankful for.

today's regular post is right below

sept exchange from cindy

it's really cool how the background on the stamp starts getting darker on the top. i would not have thought to put the stamps on the bottom, but it does something with the lighting that is just perfect. cathy said her catouche is out of control. that's not unexpected. they look so easy, but they really do have a lot of *rules*

your flourishing on the name is pretty dreamy. and the colors are great.

thanks for participating in the exchange.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

block lettering 911 - bonus post

bridget left a comment on her own envelope that she thought her handwriting was cringe worthy. there was nothing wrong with her handwriting, it was the where the writing was placed.

i hardly ever write without somekind of guidelines. and when i do, i often times regret it. i use the jean-o-matic quite a bit. but i also use lines.
they can be:
made with a ruler
made freehand (wavy)
then the writing can be:
all caps
caps and lower case
all lower case
variable width
tall enough to touch the lines
slightly within the lines
tiny, within the lines

so there are 17 different things to try.
leave your lines in
erase if you wish

you can also make lines with a stylus (or bone folder) that are embossed into the paper which is pretty easy

i hope that helps, bridget.
i thought your lettering was just fine.
if you'd like, i can dig out some examples of how to make your block lettering a little more stylized.
when i look at the envelope, the A in wilma (also Ave) is just fine. the A in IOWA and USA has a down stroke at the beginning. you might want to lose that extra stroke - or if you like it keep it, but you might want to be consistent with which one you use. or not. sometimes it is fun to have variations of letters. there really aren't any hard and fast rules
placement will be a pretty important part of the overall look.

today's regular post is right below

sept exchange from chuck and nancy

chuck sent me a page with this entire alphabet. i'm pretty sure i have it somewhere in my files because it jumped out at me. it has a very circus-y feel to it. even without the full alphabet, there is plenty in these letters to inspire the other letters you might need.

i like the way nancy put the stamp over to the left and added to the train and then had some more tunnel, too.

nice white space on both of them
thanks penpals for participating in the exchange.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

mail art call - roland halbritter - bocksbeutel

somehow i ended up on the mailing list of roland halbritter. last year he had a call for entries for an exhibit to be held in the Malerwinkelhaus, a popular sightseeing destination in Markbreit, Germany. i loved the look of the house and sent several envelopes. then, a few months back, i received a full-color 85 page book of some or all the other pieces of mail art that were submitted. it is chock full of lovely images.

this year he has a call for entries for another exhibit. it commemorates the bocksbeutel, a classic shape in wine bottles. wine does not agree with me and the shape made me cringe. so i was not going to send anything....but then i had an idea that i rather liked.

so, if anyone is interested in submitting some mail art to Roland, all the info you need is at his blog. you can see the mail he has already received. looks like 468. i have flipped through half of them and do not see that anyone has done the idea that i have - which surprises me- because it is a cliche.

i do not know if he will publish as nice a catalog of this exhibit. it says onthe blog that he is still looking for sponsors. it had to have been an expensive piece to produce, plus the cost of postage to send one to each artist. but, for the price of an international stamp, you can be an official international mail artist and your mail will be posted on his blog.

one of my envelopes is in the upper right corner. it was not one of the most creative. there are 4 more entries in the archives of 2014 (not 2015) aug 27, aug 28, aug 29, and aug 30.  i know there are more. will have to dig to find them.

sept exchange from bridget + molly

i thought these two looked nice together.

bridget does all her envelope decorating first and then uses labels. molly uses the name as her decorative element.

two entirely different approaches. obviously, i only do the second one, but i'm thinking i should try the decorated envelope first - with something super simple for the name and address. i know i'll need to find some super inspirational stamps...
i just turned my nose up at the charlie brown stamps. maybe i need to reconsider them....stay tuned....sometimes my least favorite stamps end up solving problems.

Monday, November 2, 2015

sept exchange from lilli + eric

lilli from canada and eric from france were both in an autumn mood for the sept exchange. both envelopes are hand made. lilli did hand lettering on the orange leave, added some gold gel pen and adhered the leaf to the envelope.

i'm not sure how many different elements eric used to come up with his composition. i can't even tell if the lettering is his or a font... i also like the wavy lines on the postmark. they are dotted lines, and very graceful curves.

canada's postal system get's a nod for the nice stamps.

thanks penpals for participating in the exchange.

i'm so excited for the nov exchange to start...i'm going to toss out an option to do a theme - "what are you thankful for?" can anyone guess what i am thankful for? i'll be announcing the next exchange in a few days....

Sunday, November 1, 2015

sept exchange from finn+kathie

finn and kathie sent envelopes made out of calendars. finn (top) referenced a photo i posted a while back that we are not going to revisit...but, yes, finn, i knew why you sent it before i opened it and read the note LOL.

kathie's note says she has been doing postcards for a couple years and this is her first venture into envelopes. it's always fun to lure those postcard people into the more *need-an-adjective* world of envelopes.

any ideas on what makes envelopes more *what?* than postcards. and, no, i do not want any of you to point out that i'm pretty lax about putting anything in the envelopes.....they might as well be postcards. i've tried postcards, but they just don't feel right. i need those folds along the edges. what's with that? anyone care to analyze this particular quirk?