Monday, September 30, 2019

Oct 2018 from Maggie

Super cute from Maggie. She has at least one Ed Emberley book. I need to track some down for myself to share with my grandkids.

I think I might have posted that alphabet previously. It is all over Pinterest. You can see the copyright at the bottom, but I could not find a direct link to the alphabet on her website.
two i's in the Tiina.
She has a ton of free fonts - mostly whimsical. But I can't find the halloween one.

Plus you do not have to do her letters exactly the way she did them. You can apply any of the ideas to any of the letters.

Another fun stamp choice. Technically not Halloween - but enough orange to compliment the design.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Oct 2018 from Patty

This one cracked me up. It's sort of a cross between a sugar skull and an owl. She enclosed a note about the problems with centering - but, to me, it looks like the uneven-ness is better. It gives more space for the stamp. I would not have noticed that it was uneven if you had not mentioned it, Patty.

The eclipse stamp was nice for both end of October themes. Last year there were so many good stamps in either black or orange or both.

Eclipse, magic, orange dragons - and then those lucky people who still had pumpkins.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Pumpkins from RachelD and CaroleV

RachelD did a nice job of filling up the space. It looks like hand drawn pumpkins and not a rubber stamp. Not that there is anything wrong with rubber stamps... it's just nice to note drawing by hand.

Below CaroleV sent a fun pumpkin themed envelope.
The image on the bottom is a pre-printed design but she drew the banner and did those tiny pumpkins on my name by hand.

I like the witch on the back - and the sentiment. I, too, can drive a stick. I always felt so proud of having learned that skill. I also have a vivid memory of that very first time of being stuck on an incline, with a car behind me, and needing to know how to get going waaaaay before having mastered driving a stick. Sheer terror. There is a special place in hades for people who think the way to teach standard transmission skills is to *throw them in the deep end and let them figure it out.*

Friday, September 27, 2019

Spiders from Faye, Kathleen, and Jessica.

There were three spiders in the Oct 2018 exchange.

Faye, KathleenRH and Jessica.
There have been other fun spider designs. Feel free to do a search for *spider* and see how many pop up. More than you can count on one hand. Do not search the plural - spiders.... just spider.

Or here is a link:

spider envelopes

From Kathleen RH
From Jessica

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Oct 2018 from KateR and Chuck - Skull & Jack-O-Lantern

Fun bold images from KateR and Chuck.

Both of these could provide inspiration for this years exchange.

Kate's Day of the Dead skull looks like a rubber stamp with embossing powder.

Chuck does all of his by hand and gets them done ahead of time. He probably has all of his Oct 2019 envelopes ready to go - just waiting for the list.

Kate could have done the same thing. I need to ponder some ideas where I churn out a big stack that just need the names and addresses filled in.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Oct 2018 Birds from Lauren and Grace

Lauren is a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. Me, too. She made a lovely coordinated card. The flip side of the envelope is lovely.

Grace featured one dramatic crow who seems to be speaking copperplate. The shimmer ink is very nice.

At the end, there are a couple nice costume ideas. I'd be up for one of them if it wasn't so much work to be a blonde with short hair. I prefer the one with the green suit and larger birds.

I sent one of them to Lauren last year - and she had a seriously disturbing story about the crows in her neighborhood.
From Grace

Flip side of Lauren's

Lauren's card

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

From Susan and KathyS - Aug Exchange

Two black envelopes arrived in August and they both chose stamps from the same set. And both got out real nibs and ink.

Top from Susan and bottom from KathyS.

Note to self: get some of those stamps if they are still available.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Oct 2018 from Janet - Candy Corn Lettering

I asked Janet about this lettering. At the time, she said she did it from memory - and she also sent a scan of another envelope to somebody else that she had done when she did have an exemplar in front of her. I think her *from memory* one is better than the original one - but now I can't find that image.

It is comforting to know that I am not the only person who loses images.

I love this lettering. The image of the witch is so perfect.

Maybe someday I can do my version of this lettering - this post is going to get a reminder label.
Or 4 labels - since I have 4 labels that are general reminders to return to ideas.

Maybe I should make a note-to-self to do some editing of my labels and create some consistency.

That reminded me of the note-to-self label.
And there are two of those - one with hyphens and one without. Lable. Lable rhymes with table. Why are they spelled differently?

My *faults* could be so much worse.
Poor labeling is not nearly as bad as - oh - gee - what?
I don't even want to start *that list*

I found this image that Janet sent to show me what the first round of lettering looked like - the round where she had an exemplar. I'm guessing you'll all agree with me that her *memory* version is better. This adds credence to my theory that starting with a rip-off and then letting it morph into your own thing is a nifty way to come up with ideas. The idea that you'll just close your eyes and really great stuff will pop into your brain is an idea - but people who are labeled *creative* hardly ever use eye-closing to come up with good ideas. And people who sit there looking at a blank wall and wonder when the good ideas will start appearing out of nowhere are probably going to be disappointed when nothing pops up out of nowhere.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

From Holly Z - a little late

Check out the cute note that HollyZ tucked in this envelope. Holly has dreamy pointed brush lettering and the marbling is very cool. It's another one of those envelopes that has details that don't really show up in the photograph.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Oct 2018 PTEX from Rachael T (+my rip-off)

Rachael sent an envelope in the Oct 2017 exchange that caught my attention and tripped my plagiaristic tendencies.  Then she disappeared from the exchanges for several months. When she popped up for the Oct 2018 exchange I emailed her and told her how much I had loved her 2017 Oct envelope and how I would be stealing it. She said something like, "Fine with me - but now the pressure is on to do another stealworthy design." Those were not her exact words - but I knew she'd have a tough time topping 2017.

She certainly did. The minute it arrived, I started pondering ways to morph it into something quite different. This is what I ended up with. Yes, those look a lot like Mary Engelbreit flowers. I did not want to do skulls and needed a simple geometric shape. The main thing I needed to do was figure out whether or not it was going to be fun to color in all the background with gouache and a paintbrush. It was. It's on my list of things I will do when I actually get caught up.

Then, I botched the address. I forgot to pull hers out for reference. If I had done that, I would have realized that it did not need that pink line. I should have done a fine black line like she did.

On top of that - I could not find a decent stamp. So, I ended up using one of my Italian stamps.

A better photo of Rachael's.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Another Bonus Post - Assignment for Lauren

Today's regular post is right below.

Quick thank you to JeanR who gifted me with markers that she says she never uses. Perplexing. Who doesn't love markers? I grabbed them and ran before she had a change of heart.

I recall the very first marker ever invented (I think - I'll research and follow up) was called a Magic Marker.

In 1944, Walter J. De Groft patented a "marking pen" that held ink in liquid form in its handle and used a felt tip. This is the patent that will become a “Sharpie” pen in 1964. First modern (and usable) marker pen was Sidney Rosenthal's “Magic Marker” which he invented and started selling in 1953.


Then I saw an adorable font on Pinterest

I might use the frog stamp.

Now - onto the business at hand. Lauren, as you may recall, sent a fabulous envelope to Mr Wilson, honoring his love of Cheerios after I posted my shock and horror at finding Cheerios in the living room under his desk. We've always had a corner of the living room devoted to a desk and computer so he pretty much lives there.

This link will take you to both the whiner post as well as Lauren's very cool envelope.

Well, after Mr Wilson was outed over the Cheerio incident, it seemed as though he was being more careful. Sadly, I spotted a blueberry today. That's much worse than a Cheerio. And then, when I knelt down to photograph it, there was something dark under the foot rest thing. Blue corn chip shard. Double fault, Mr Wilson.

Lauren --- your mission (entirely optional - but I have a theory that people are at their most creative when someone tosses out a random idea) is to send an envelope that reflects something. If you feel like a sympathy card because he is married to a shrew - that's fine. I can take it. I just know he hasn't gotten any mail in a long time - so maybe a reminder that his infractions are being posted on the internet will be helpful.

Or not.

Ya never know.


Mr WIlson keeps a very tidy desk.

Wait. What's this?

Holy moly! There's more!
Got home a couple hours after I scheduled this to run.
Obviously, he was gone when I was taking photos.
Found him - at the computer - eating the chips right out of the bag.
This is wrong on so many levels.
If my head explodes - will it be just manslaughter or do you think it's more sinister than that.

Oct 2018 PTEX from Lynne (+1)

This one came from Lynne. One of my favorite details is the little tipped square that is used on the lettering as well as the *spear* thing. Those little shapes pick up on the teeth in the jack-o-lantern. The row of adorable bottles of poison are also another complimentary design element.

Lynne found some of the jack-o-lantern stamps and sent some to me in this envelope.

I'm writing this on Nov 20, 2018 and pondering a new twist on the exchange where I am not on the lists and only respond to mail that I receive. I'll be curious when this pops up if I ever got around to trying that. At the very least - I plan on sending some lovely jack-0-lanterned envelopes to Lynne as a thank you.

(Written Sept, 14, 2019)
It's fun to see when I first pondered the concept of not putting myself on all the lists. It took several months to actually implement the idea.
So far it is working out better to leave it up in the air as to whether I will be on the lists. Nobody has complained. So, it looks good that the exchanging will proceed. I definitely get plenty of thank yous from people who continue to enjoy the exchanges.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Bonus Post - fan mail from Paris

I get a fair amount of mail - mostly from my fellow exchangers. A couple days ago this one showed up - from Paris. One of my loyal readers took time to do an adorable drawing and include a thoughtful thank you note.

I get between 300 and 400 hits a day. I doubt there are people who check back multiple times each day. So, there must be around 300 people who check daily. That number has stayed pretty consistent for a few years now.

That's a lot of people considering I do nothing to promote the blog. Thank you, Catherine, for taking time to write. I will be sending you something soon - probably halloween related. I assume Catherine knows that I post nearly every piece of mail that I receive unless people make a point of requesting that it stay off the blog.

I guess this means I can put Paris on the list of places to go when I make my grand tour to visit all my pen pals in person.

Today's regular post is right below.

Reminder to do some versals / sneak peek to Chuck

On Sept 8th I was checking to make sure that all the blog posts were scheduled through the end of the year and randomly - Sept 19 was empty.

So, I am inserting this because it would have been a lovely envelope.
It is by Holly Monroe.

If I remember, I will add an actual envelope. If not, all y'all will just have to deal with it. And be grateful that I am staying somewhat on topic instead of lapsing into the utter drivel of everyday life.

(A couple days later)

Sneak peek.
I like the idea of putting sneak peeks on the blog.
I have had a couple jobs to address party invitations. One, for 12 year old girls who are having a camping themed party. The frogs seemed appropriate, so I was pleasantly surprised how much fun I could have with frogs.
The little sister is having a party with a neon theme. I was trying these neon gel pens on different colors and I would have needed something really bold if I was going to use white envelopes. Black was the back-up plan.
I am liking the frog stamps so much I might need to work them into my holiday mailing.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Oct 2018 PTEX from Tina

A very fun envelope from Tina. I can see that she drew the cat by hand and the lettering looks hand drawn as well. If you have trouble deciding if something is hand lettered or a font, look at two letters or numbers that are the same. The 44 and ee in Street make it very clear that she did the lettering by hand.

She kindly included a card - even though I do not participate in the card exchange portion of the exchanges.

I have a huge black TV that sits on the bridge portion of my desk. I have recently been photographing things while I am at my desk rather than going to places with better lighting.

Could I get lazier? Probably. Does anyone care? Probably not.

I left the reflection in the photo because I thought it looked sorta cool.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Oct 2018 PTEX - from Finnbadger (Walmart-Target photo)

Finn's 2017 was a darling bag from Target. He returned to Target in 2018 and found this perfect bag along with two others that were inside. I love those stamps. Several people used them for Halloween themed envelopes.

Below are the two goodie bags he enclosed along with a note that suggests I could put treats in them for my grandkids. The hardest part of growing old (for me) is that sugar is currently on the hit-list. It reminds me of the scene in Sleeper, where the guy wakes up after a long time being *frozen* and the fantastic good news is that there is new research showing that high fat foods are actually good for us. It was hysterical and absurd - at the time. Then it happened. I was stunned. While I have made a ton of progress in curbing my sweets intake - I miss so many things.

I am writing this two days before Thanksgiving of 2018 and pondering whether or not to make the chocolate chip pie that my son requested. I suppose I could try to convert it to a sugar substitute recipe.

Below the goodie bags is a funny photo of some friends of mine.

Love these bags.
Oddly, these items are not available at Target. In case you can't see the fine print, they are at Walmart.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Oct 2018 PTEX from Trish

Sadly, the sparkles do not show up. The lettering seems to be done by hand. The pumpkins look like a rubber stamp. It's hard to tell if the bats were hand drawn or a rubber stamp. I love the cantaloupe stamp because it is perfect from a color and design standpoint - even though it is not generally a Halloween motif.

I'd steal those bats and pumpkins in a minute.

There is a bonus post below.

Bonus post - DuBosch + ink sticks

Two opportunities to surf the day away - or perhaps the whole week.

First - Carol DuBosch posted this image of MonkeyBarCaps on Facebook. If you do not follow her on Facebook - you might want to do a search and surf through all her images.

Also - Marie Fredriksson posted a link to YouTube video that shows a man making ink sticks. If you have never had the opportunity to use ink made by grinding an ink stick on an ink stone, you are missing out on the best ink ever.

There are several things in the 8 1/2 minute video that are amazing (to ink nerds) and one thing that struck me as resonating with many people who were drawn to the arts as youngsters. We liked to play in mud. I've met so many artists who remember fondly how much fun it was to play in dirt or mud. He has a couple other comments about the stubbornness of being an artist/craftsman and so on and so forth.

Japanese ink artisan

Here is the link that will fill the rest of the week. All kinds of videos on cool stuff in Japan. Some is art and craft related - other is more tourist related since the videos are done by ANA - Japan's largest commercial airline.

Happy surfing.

Is Japan cool

That ink in the DuBosch example is Bister ink - a new ink available through John Neal. People are raving about it. You mix it yourself from powder - like walnut ink. Or maybe it is colored walnut ink. No time to digest all the info. You can Google it and go to the page on the manufacturer's website if you need even more info.

Here is an article about it:

Here is where to order it:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

STARTING the Halloween Ideas - my skull to Finnbadger

At the beginning of Oct of last year I realized that it would have been more helpful to run the 2017 exchange envelopes in late September so that exchangers had a wide range of stealworthy ideas.

This was the idea that I appropriated from Jannie. Hers is way better than mine - but the PO would have had to work at finding the address and after all the issues that had been going on with the PO, I decided to take it easy on them.

Jannie's envelope

  After doing 15 really difficult envelopes with a pointed pen - that had been appropriated from RachaelT, I needed something that was going to go faster. I used some neon highlighters to do sugar skulls. They were a lot of fun.

I had a book of the Peace rose stamps and the colors were nice. Then I forgot to photograph them before they took off. Happily, Finnbadger posted this on his blog. He posted it back in October. He also mentioned that the neon was hard to photograph. I agree - but I also went into the settings and pumped up the contrast and saturation which gives it a more neon look.

There are endless skull ideas on Pinterest. So you do not need to steal from something that was already a rip off.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

OK Kelly to KathyS - Aug PTEX

Maybe I overstated my dislike of how the Kelly stamps turned out.
This one isn't so bad. But it is hardly inspired.

I had to decide whether to fill in just one loop or all 5 - I am pretty sure that filling in all 5 would have upset the balance. but maybe not.

It will frustrate me to read this and I will be tempted to do another version. I will resist the temptation.


That might be the most frustrating part of being creative. Realizing you have an infinite number of options but knowing that you have a finite amount of time.


Friday, September 13, 2019

Least Blah Kelly to Susan

Maybe I should have saved this one for the end. I actually like the way it turned out.

One thing that I think helps is that I used a bolder line for the vertical strokes. I think it helps a lot. If I made made the entire grid with fine lines, I think it would have been wimpy. If it was all bold it would have been blah.

The lesson here might be to pull some of the ideas off the stamp, but tweek it. In my list of things to remember every day - this is no. 3.

I will recap, in case anyone is forgetting to take notes:

1. Things change
2. I forgot this one
3. Close is good enough

I went back and found the post.
No. 2 was - everything has an opposite. I am going to change that to yin-yang.

1. Things change
2. Yin-yang
3. Close is good enough

Maybe no. 3 needs an edit.
What is a simpler way of saying that?

Does this list already exist somewhere - somewhere that I can just go get it instead of figuring it out myself?

New label. Life Lessons.

Ah, I see that I already have a label that says - BEST LESSONS in all caps. I wonder which lessons those are. Snarky Jean has a couple to add. Maybe I need another list. Snarky lessons.

Then there are the Pyrex lessons. Do a search for Pyrex if you somehow missed those lessons.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Aug - Kelly to Jane and Jolene

It will be boring to read how blah all the Ellsworth Kelly envelopes are.
But here goes.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

The only thing that interests me is the origin of the word blah. However, I do not have time to research.

Part of my problem in August was that I did a big job using a pointed brush and I held the brush too tight. After I finished the job, it took a full 5 days for my thumb to recover. It was completely numb. Gosh, I hope I learned my lesson.

Apologies to Jolene and Jane for the blahness. I had such high hopes when I first wrote the names and then I just choked.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

From Gloria and Carolyn in June - maps

Gloria has some very pretty flowers and she included a nice note about a pen pal she started corresponding with when she was in high school. She still has a lovely embroidered hanky sent by the pen pal who lived in Cedar Rapids.

Below the image of the hanky is an envelope made out of map - by Carolyn.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

From Anthea and Inta in June

Two from Anthea and then one below that from Inta. I need to look at all of Inta's together. I have a funny feeling that many of hers look like something really yummy - even though they might not be actual edibles.

Anthea has fun with collage. I always picture collage artists sitting in a wild studio where every square inch is stacked with boxes of paper.