Sunday, December 31, 2017

Indigo Repair to Sohan + Eric

This was the simplest repair on the indigo series. I'll add one below that was not a repair at all. I just thought it needed something extra so I added a bunch of gobble-dee-gook. At first it just had flourishing - then I added some layered names to another one - and that made me come back and add the tiny *Erics* to this one.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Off-Topic Saturday - Dream Car

This would be so cool. I could have a little studio in the back. Drive around addressing on location. Visit my pen pals.

Just need a winning lottery ticket or maybe I should try GoFundMe.

$5,000 - I could swing that.
Bad news:
1963 Willys postal jeep. Low miles, all original. Does not turn over. No brakes. Will deliver for a fee.

Next idea:
Convince our local art museum that it is a work of art and have them install it and let me run my own performance piece by showing up and addressing envelopes. I'd be the only one with a key to get in....

Friday, December 29, 2017

Anything Goes to Inta and Connie

I hope these arrived. If not, let me know. Maybe they are hard to read, but technically each letter is very clear.

In this series of 20, I had two going out of the country, requiring extra postage. It's always hard to decide if I want to use the international stamps or use up old stamps from the pre-Forever days.

I guess the apples are more fun than the globe - but I like the way the circle stamp goes with all the bold circles in the lettering. I did not think about that before I chose the stamp.

That's the fun of Anything Goes - you can let the letters decide who is going to get more attention. I could expand on that thought, but it would take way more than I ever spend on one post. I'll just label this - follow-up and I might add more some day.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Indigo Repair to Connie

This one had a splatter to conceal. I had to keep adding to the doodads until it seemed like the right amount.
Finding the right stamps was helpful. The apple doesn't really go, but, it started to remind me of a whole Adam and Eve thing....or maybe one of those stories where you insert pictures for words.

What are those called?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Indigo Repair to Jeanette

This was the least successful repair to a transposed number situation that I inadvertently covered up so you can't really see and decide for yourself how good or bad this one is.

Jeanette was new to the exchange and I was sad to send her a mishap - but maybe it's fine. I make so many mistakes that it's better to illustrate how mistakes are of no importance. In brain surgery - mistakes matter. But with envelopes, we can be lazy and sloppy and sometimes it helps with all the other things going on in our lives to have a place where we can kick back and relax.

The exact street address and zip code are the only things that matter. And to a certain extent - it's nice to spell the name right....but if anyone is going to get bent out of shape over me spelling their name wrong - then they probably need to find a different exchange.

Note to self---have an exchange where we spell names wrong on purpose.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Anything Goes to Smash and JeanR

Two more early envelopes in the 20 September exchange series. It is hard to know if readers are annoyed when the level of variety dips. Since nobody has complained in 7 years, I'll assume that you are all OK with how things are going.

Yes, I know I have excess *eeee's* in kindly.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Indigo Ink - October Exchange

It is doubtful that these images will look very good on screens, so they will be ganged.

The top one has a spelling error on Mississippi that I am going to ignore. There will be some other errors coming up that I did not ignore.

These also show the range in size - starting tight and small - then getting larger and looser.

There is a spelling error on Kathie's. Her name is McClendon. I will tuck a C into the loop on the L.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Top Ten Presents - 2017 Xmas Story

Last year there was a heart warming holiday blog post about my younger son and his fine sense of humor. When I saw this envelope, it seemed like a good opportunity to post another story about Mr. Haha even though it is not visually stunning.

The 2016 Xmas Story

He made the gift certificate and envelope for my 2015 Christmas present. At the time, my mom had hit her *sell by* date. She had always said that 88 years would be the right number of years to live. Not too long after her 88th birthday in August, she started to deteriorate. Nothing too troublesome, but just enough that my son must have heard some comments from me that indicated I was getting to be a little overwhelmed or frazzled with eldercare. (She did end up dying 9 months after her 88th birthday.)

Here is the gift certificate. I love the globe-map he drew in the background. He was a big map drawer when he was a kid. And he is a southpaw. And he hooks.

Here is the text in case it is too hard to read on a screen:
G-Free, Inc.
Congratulations, You're a Winner!
Hi, we at G-FreeInc (Grandma Free Incorporated) have hand selected you as our annual recipient of one hired assistant to aid in the day-to-day chores that go along with grandma maintenance. This offer is valid for one full year with the option of a renewal contract for the same amount of time at no additional cost pending the satisfaction of the contract holder upon completion of this year's service.

*Your hired aid may be contacted @ 555-855-6556, however we cannot guarantee their ability to aid at every moment of the day. It is possible that your hired aid may potentially be assisting other grandmas elsewhere. We thank you for your understanding of this matter.

We invite you to exercise your option on this contract and reap the benefits of:
- having more free time
- saving on gas mileage
- going out in the winter...forget about it
- not having to deal with senility
and many more!
Once again, this is a wonderful opportunity and we invite you to join us & free up your life again!
Hunter Wilson
(CEO & Founder)

It should come as no surprise that I am cultivating this kid to be my caregiver in the event that I need one. I've told the other two kids that Hunter will inherit the house if he figures out how to take care of me and doesn't park me in a nursing home.

And he really did make an effort to spend time with his grandma. He even posted pictures of the two of them playing Yahtzee on FaceBook.

Horses for Faye - Oct Exchange

Some years I write a Christmas eve post with a silly story. So far, I have not thought of one. I figure most people are busy this time of year so I don't put too much energy into the late December posts.

I am writing this on Oct 14th - and it looks like today is the day that I am going to fill up all the spots on the blog for the rest of 2017. That will result in a huge celebration here at the 420. Details to follow....

There is nothing to say about this envelope because it is on the nasty shimmer envelope. However, I do love those stamps and it is lots of fun to pull off some doodle ideas.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Anything Goes to Carroll

There were 3 or 4 in this series that were bothering me and I couldn't figure out how to fix them. My most tried and true *life-saver* continues to be colored pencils.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Indigo Ink to Troy - Oct Exchange

On Dec 1st, I posted an envelope using indigo ink and a scroll tip nib. It was right after a loyal and devoted exchanger asked me to send her an exchange envelope in actual copperplate - but only if I had time. Since I have started teaching again I have had more time to pull out nibs and ink and I was thrilled when I found the scroll tip nib. I loved it and was going to do all of the October exchange envelopes using the scroll tip nib.

The bottom envelope was the first one on the list and it had a big blob on the very first letter - and I planned on throwing it away - but thought I would experiment a bit. Then I kept doodling on it and started to like it. I don't love it - but thought it would be fun to send to Troy. There will be other envelopes from this series that show creative ways to manage mistakes and splatters.

His outer envelope (top one) was the first one I did with a Nikko G and I will show the progression of my envelopes from small and tight to large and loose. I prefer the larger looser styles - but the tiny tight ones are probably just fine. Tiny looks better on a smaller envelope. I pondered filling up all the excess space with stamps, but as soon as I start digging through the stamp stash, I get discombobulated with the mathematical chore of getting the right amount on the envelope.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Most Pinned - 4th and 5th place

This one is from 2011. I have several styles in the category called Two-Wrongs-Do-Make-A-Right. It's a very simple idea to just write something once - and then write it again, but wander back and forth and leave spaces. Then add dots.

You might need a few lessons to learn proportions and how to shape the flourishes and curls. But if you know cursive, this one is pretty easy.

Those were mighty fine stamps. Great color options.

And the 5th place -

It made me happy to see that this one is popular. It first ran in March of 2010. The blog was born on Feb 17, 2010 - so it is a very early envelope. It was intended to be sent - but I liked it so much I kept it.

You can read how I did the lettering at the original blog post.

Elizabeth's flag

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Anything Goes to AmyG

I've never found an origin of this style. If anyone knows where it came from please let me know. I put the name Anything Goes on it quite a while ago. Basically, you mix and match tall skinny letters - ignoring the rules about caps and lower case. Before I picked up the Paul Newman stamps, I had a couple round ball stamps to use up - so this is early in the series of 20 Anything Goes envelopes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Most Pinned for the past 30 days - Chuck's 2nd and 3rd place

No surprise this one came in second. I remember that it was way ahead of the pack when they were giving us a total number of times it had been pinned. I think it arrived in 2011

And in third place....a very pretty design....arrived in 2015.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Re-running Top Pinned on Pinterest

Pinterest used to tell us how many times an image had been pinned. They no longer share that information and I'm glad. I spent too much time tracking what was just a silly popularity contest. However, they have a page called analytics where I can see Top Impressions for the last 30 days. This image is at 18,000+. So, it is winning the Dec 2017 popularity contest.

These are envelopes that arrived in 2015 and that I saved to post in Nov of 2016. Top one is from Lynne and bottom one is from Rachael.

Congratulations - you beat me by a lot. Chuck has both 2nd and 3rd place. I finally show up in 4th and 5th place.
Roughly 5,000 plus 4,000 for Chuck's and 3,000 plus 2,000 for mine.

Below is the regular scheduled post for today.
It was off topic. I'll post Chuck's and mine in a day or two.

Eclipse Photo - by Nancy (off topic)

My sister-in-law snapped this photo during her trip to the path of totality. It would make a very cool envelope.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

AnYtHinG goEs to B.sKott & jaNeT

This style of writing appeared on about 20 of the outgoing exchange envelope in Sept. The goal was to schedule October through December (92 days) of posts and take a break.

Then I had to decide if I would show the progression of what happens when I take one style and start playing around. It's impossible to know if anyone even likes this style - so I am just going to sprinkle them here and there.

For some reason the letter E kept popping up in *kindley.* I think I did it on 8 envelopes. On several, I did not notice it. On this one, I did notice it before I even wrote the name, but decided to go ahead and just make several spelling errors for the fun of it.

I also used up a half sheet of Paul Newman stamps. When I ran out, I switched to Andrew Wyeth. The colors are very pleasing to my eye.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gina's Eclipse Mail to Natalie

Back in early September, Gina sent me an email and these images. She had seen my request for mail to be sent to Natalie.

This is from her email:

My husband and I were in the Path of Totality at Alliance, Nebraska and were stunned and amazed. Of course, I had to make the cards and envelopes ahead of time, but our family and friends were quite pleased to receive them.

There were 2 very nice postal worker ladies at the Alliance P.O. who carefully hand-cancelled each stamp, catching it just on the lower corner. Mailing them was a very satisfying end to a rare experience.

And---the photo of the couple is Gina and her husband.
In my last class we had a conversation about arranging the elements on an envelope. I advise people to stay away from arrangements where there is focus on the corners - and strong diagonals - unless you are looking for a lot of movement. This might be the all time best example for why you would want to create a strong diagonal and put the strongest focal points in the opposite corners.

I also like the way the lettering creates a backdrop.
It is the right scale and fills the right amount of space - by creating a suggestion of a horizon.
Very cool.
Thank you so much for send this, Gina.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Random Scribble to Limner

Something I saw inspired this. I feel like I might have blogged about this already - but maybe not.

So here it is.

I'll flag it [FOLLOW-UP] and hopefully get around to some variations.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bonus Post - Neiman's Catalogue

Bonus post today because the regularly scheduled post is so boring.

I remember the first time I saw a Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog which they call The Christmas Book. It was at the ad agency where I worked after college. They always had a few big splashy over-the-top items that sometimes made the news.

Recently,  a piece of fabric (from my dwindling stash) that I had hoped to make into something for my granddaughter resurfaced, but, sadly, she is cut off the same bolt as both her mother and myself. The fabric is Pendleton wool and it is very similar to the Burberry plaid. I thought I could knock off a cute Burberry jumper for her. But it is basically camel with black and white and a bit of red. She would recoil in horror. When her mom was 3, her daddy came home from a Grateful Dead concert with a brown t-shirt for our daughter. She threw it on the floor and stomped on it. And when I was little, there were epic battles when my mom tried to get me to wear navy blue anklets with those little red May Janes. The horror.

The fabric is really pretty and I figured I could knock off something from Burberry for myself. Yowza. If you want to see some wild stuff, go look at the current items that Burberry has online. There are some coats that I would wear in a minute. But the actual clothing is way too avant-garde for Des Moines. Neiman's popped into my head when I didn't see anything appropriate at Burberry.

At the Neiman's website, I saw that their Christmas *Book* is available online, so I flipped through to see what they had as their over-the-top gifts. They have a section called Fantasy Gifts (pg 124) - which makes me wonder if anyone ever buys them. On pages 138-139 they have some origami ornaments that are supporting an organization that brings water to people in need of water. You may buy one ornament for $50 or 250 ornaments for $50,000 + you get to choose two locations where they will drill wells + you get an origami master to come to your home and give private lessons and make 5 more ornaments. Interesting gift. I know Mr. Wilson will be very disappointed that his gift budget will not allow him to get this for me.

Link to the catalog - if you think you need those ornaments.
The Christmas Book

Regular post is below.

That Lingering Border Idea (Bumped)

This was left in my stack from the May exchange.

It's funny how crazy I can be for an idea and then a while later it offends my delicate sensibilities. What was I thinking.....

I should learn that when nobody leaves a comment - the idea is a dud.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Exchange Straggler from August - by Eric

Eric sent this in August. It would be fun for me to do a digital design someday...not sure how I can arrange to do that...but Eric's envelope always make me want to at least give it a try.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lynne's Kraft Flowers

I took a picture of this envelope when it was a muddy mess and I was not sure I could save it. I thought of using this kraft sticker paper and ended up liking it.

However, I can't find a stamp that I like with it....

Below is the icky muddy mess - before I covered it up.

 Here is an off topic tidbit that I like to run during the holidays in case any of you are introverts and need good excuses to decline invitations to holiday gatherings. I did try to find out who wrote it so I can give credit - but, alas, Google has let me down. There are tons of activities that you could insert - in place of the "climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro." Some of us are compelled to tell the truth, so we need to come up with activities that seem plausible. Or actually do things.

 I am somewhat sorry to say that I will be unable to attend your haute holiday gala. I will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and thus compelled to miss out on the warmth and joy that always fill your parties. Once the holidays are past I hope to have a good long visit with you and find out all the party highlights. Please give my sunniest, "Hi there and hello," to your party guests. My best wishes for a happy and utterly Norman Rockwellian holiday.

Remember to wear your mittens.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Dino-dots to Jeanette

Nothing says holidays like a dinosaur.

This is not my favorite of the series. Maybe it just needs some snowflakes. Yeah. That's the ticket. Snowflakes.

Again - there is another post right below - and it is partly or entirely repeat from November when I was having one of my lapses. Or more accurately, when I was in my normal state of chaos.

July Exchangers Rachael, Amy and Nanski

It's fun to see how people arrange stamps when they are using up vintage postage. It is so difficult for me to center the writing that I hardly ever go for the centered arrangement, but IMHO centering makes a very nice envelope. Rachael above, Amy below.

Below, Nanski did some nice centering, too.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dec Exchange to Smash

Another one that has probably not arrived. I was liking this one - and then did a wretched job on the tiny street/city/state/zip - that is in black ink directly on the envelope under the white bar.

 You'd think that by now I would remember to test any pen or marker before writing on the final envelope - but you would be wrong.

I suppose I should tell the story about how these wacky December envelopes evolved. After a 4 week ordeal of travel/illness/more travel/more illness/houseguests/family obligations/sensory overload....
I seriously contemplated skipping the December exchange. Then, I came to my senses and remembered that puttering at my desk is the antidote for everything. My desk is in the guest room and there was a guest for several days - so I could only sneak in and work when the guest was off doing something. There was no time to do roughs or figure out something that was going to work. I grabbed random envelopes, a tube of gold gouache, a junky paintbrush used only for mixing, and proceeded to do the most random, wonky lettering. I figured I'd do something wacky - like painting myself into a corner - just to see how creative I could be in my effort to get out.

I could care less if anyone likes what I ended up with. I like some of them. A few are a bit weak. But (sorry - I gotta shout here) IT'S NOT THE CONTENT, IT'S THE PROCESS. And I would put some expletives in there if I were an expletiverator. I don't care if anyone agrees with me. I am committed to the concept that Kurt Vonnegut put into these words:

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

This is just our opinion, but we are right.

July Exchangers KateR, Kristin, and Faye

These might be repeats from November. There is another post for today with something new.

A pretty purple envelope from Kate with dots - very pretty *real* calligraphy done with nibs and ink.

Below Kristin collaged actual strips of fabric. Faye used tape. Below those two is an envelope off Pinterest that gets pinned a lot.  I thought of it when I saw these two and thought you might like some ideas from another blog.

Here is a link to Jillian Schiavi's ideas for envelopes.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

An Absurd Book

I usually avoid stores during the holidays but I needed to find a kid's cookbook and figured it would be better to go to a real store where I could flip through the choices.
Browsing through the books was fun and easy. But then I had to stand in line to check out.
It was painful.

There are very few perks to living in an aesthetic wasteland like Des Moines. The main one is that there is hardly any traffic and you never have to stand in line for anything. So, I was in shock when there were 7 or 8 people in line. Most of them had their phones out to amuse themselves. I try to avoid the screen as a tool to kill time. Instead, I glanced around at items that were for sale.

I almost yelped when I saw this book. Instead, I thought I would just snap a photo and share it with my pen pals. Even though many of you are not calligraphers - I would hope than anyone with a shred of common sense would see the absurdity of this title. I will refrain from further comment. I'm just shaking my head.

There is the matter of the author. I had a fleeting thought of finding out who he is and where he lives and what his background is - but I snapped out of that misguided thought very quickly. And now I will return to my exchange envelopes. Six left to do. I might post a few this month to make up for the pitiful mess that I see popping up.

I had an envelope scheduled to pop up today - but it already ran in November. I have a whole bunch of repeat posts scheduled. What a mess. I'll try to fill in with some new stuff....  Whew. I found time to put in something new. It is right below. One of the rare times when an exchanger will see their envelope before it arrives. Although - I might add something before it gets out the door.

White Space to Rachael

Yesterday in a class, we critiqued exchange envelopes and on a couple we all agreed that the envelope had too much white space at the bottom.

It's challenging to talk about exactly how much space is the right amount. I have a whole series of crazy envelopes in the December exchange and most of them will appear in Feb or March of next year. Obviously I was using up random stamps and experimenting with wacky lettering. Some of the envelopes are way better than this. But, I don't consider this a dud at all. I like things that line up - and fill space - but also leave space.

I am so tempted to add something along the bottom - but I think I will resist the temptation. Since none of my exchange envelopes have anything *holiday* going on - maybe a row of evergreen trees would be fun. Decisions. Decisions.

Friday, December 8, 2017

July Exchangers Smash and Lynne

Two black envelopes arrived in July - Smash on top and Lynne below.

Smash left some space while Lynne filled up all the space.

As I keep saying - the pairing of the exchange envelopes is a bonus to the exchanges. I put myself on all of the lists, which is why I get 20-25 envelopes each month.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

July Exchangers Maggie, Jannie, and Debbie

These three were the plant based designs that arrived in July. I paired the two trees. Maggie's envelope is featured all by itself because I am wildly crazy about her lettering and plan to steal it.

Below, Jannie's envelope is on top and Debbie's is below. They both had clever inspirations from the stamps.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

July Exchangers Kathy and Eric

The pairing of these two is a bit of a stretch. They don't have a lot in common, but I like them together.

Someone asked me to do an exhibition of my work. Years ago, I did a yearly exhibit - but have not done one in years. It was a ton of work because everything had to be framed.

My response to this latest request to do an exhibition was, "Hmmmm. I would consider doing an exhibit on just mail art." I have no idea if they will follow up with me on the idea. But, I am putting these two in my new stack of - *Exhibition pieces if I there is an exhibit.*

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

From Limner - July

The Limner does not participate in exchanges, but we do exchange notes, letters, etc. I like how she labeled her design.

The Limner and I are kindred spirits on a few different levels. And polar opposites on some others. Sometimes I think we are participants in some kind of virtual support group for obsessive-correspondence-disorder. Yes the *other-ocd.* The one that's technically really healthy.

Every time I get a new sample of her penmanship I grab paper and pen and start copying it....

I have no idea how she feels about being called The Limner. I hope she's OK with it - if not, she can let me know and we'll see if I can remember to stop it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

July Exchangers Chuck and Troy

A nice pairing from Chuck (top) and Troy (bottom). Highly annoying that the PO scribbled all over the pretty WPA stamp.

Chuck has been a dedicated exchanger from the very beginning. He usually gets all his borders done by the end of each month so that when he gets his list, all he has to do is fill in the name and address.

If you would like to share some of the pages from your sketch books, Chuck, I'd love to post a few on the blog. I've known Chuck for close to 20 years. I'd have to dig to see exactly when I met him. He was a member of the local calligraphy guild and it was always fun to peruse his sketchbooks at the monthly meetings.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

July Exchanger Alison

Alison gets a solo post for a couple reasons. Color-wise, there was nobody else who worked with the color palette. And the envelope is HUGE. It would dwarf any other envelope. It looks like she folded a piece of scrapbooking paper.

The layout is super stealworthy. It reminds me of the binge I was on when I was filling up the envelopes with mixed borders. It's a great way to use up a lot of vintage stamps. I see myself doing this as I continue on my GSP: Great Stamp Purge.

Or should it be GPS: Great Purge of the Stamps?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

2016 Holiday Mailing from Susan

Happy December.

Susan is a pen pal from the days when we had a local calligraphy guild. Her holiday *cards* are always spectacular. The flip side of the tag that says O Tannenbaum has a personal greeting in her tiny little writing.

That same tiny writing is on the envelope. You'd need to see it in person to really appreciate just how cool it is.

Every little detail is so perfect. The little loop that holds the tree together. Even the spacing on the numbers in the address is way-cool.

Gotta go with a stealworthy label on this one.

She sandwiched the wire ornament between two pieces of that thin foam-paper - plus there was a note enclosed. So there was enough packing to protect the wire, but not so much that it exceeded the postal requirements.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December Exchange Sign Up - scroll tip to Kate

Very faint, still has pencil lines. I found a scroll tip nib in my stash. It's old - came from an estate. People tend to leave items on my doorstep. Mostly they are old and worn. Now I have to get some new ones because it was so much fun to write with it. I had trouble finding the right stamps to go with my indigo ink.

Time to sign up for the December Exchange;

Beginners are welcome. You will get a list of 4-5-or-6 people to send envelopes to. One of them may be out of the US and international mail requires $1.15 postage.

No theme, any medium, digital is welcome. Enclosures are optional. This is an envelope exchange.
Please put your return address on the back and write OPEN if there is an enclosure or EMPTY if there is none. It is also nice to write DEC.2017.PTEX on the back of the envelope for those who may participate in more than one exchange. PTEX stands for Pushing the Envelopes Exchange.

To sign up -even if you have signed up many times- I need name-address-email typed, in upper and lower case. Please follow this format:

John Doe
123 Oak Street
Ames, Iowa 50010

Non-US exchangers - please follow the format that your postal system prefers.

Email the above information to me at;
jmwilson411 (at) yahoo (dot) com

If you are having a birthday in December, let me know. Exchangers have the option to send a birthday themed envelope.
If you are agreeable to be on two lists, let me know. It is nice to have a few people willing to do ten envelopes in order to make all the lists come out even.

Deadline to sign up is December 4. Lists will be sent on Dec 5th or 6th. Please get your envelopes in the mail by Dec 31st. If you are going to be late, please email the people on your list so that we know your envelope will be late.

Any questions - email me.
Beginners welcome. You do not need to be a skilled calligrapher.