Sunday, January 31, 2021

From Ashley to Janet (expressing frustration like an old master)

 Janet kindly shared some images of some of her favorite envelopes that have arrived through the exchange. This one is fun. Looks like a Maurice Sendak character. If you Google *Maurice Sendak movie* or *Maurice Sendak documentary* you will find links to a couple that are available through various sources. I watched one through Kanopy and it was very good. 

Ashley's loose script goes nicely with the drawing and the tall skinny lettering for the address is a good choice.

I can't remember when or if I have posted any links to The History Blog. It is my new favorite rabbit hole. This article about Michelangelo's *other* pieta includes some fun tidbits that some of us can relate to. Mike had that trait of nit-picking at every little detail. 

Obviously, we shouldn't let ourselves get overly distraught or paralyzed by *perfectionism.* I certainly don't think I am a perfectionist  - but I do acknowledge that it is a delicate balance sometimes. After I heard Carol Pallesen say *precise instead of perfect* I have been so much happier. It is not hard to be precise and then you do not have to even think about perfection. I reserve *perfection* when referring to  things like a pretty sunrise. Or flowers. Things that just appear.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Historic Mail (valentine idea)

 Here is something fun. This company creates facsimiles of historic letters and sends them to people. I have not found an image of the envelope that the company sends. It is probably a plain envelope. I doubt they are using a calligrapher. Wouldn't it be fun to have the mail arrive in an envelope that was inspired by the historical envelope. Although, they may not have the envelopes that go with the letters. But, a similar style of writing and similar paper would be fun.

I've had so many ideas over the years for subscriptions to happy mail. Wouldn't it be fun to come up with a cool design for each of the new stamps that are issued in a year? Or a service where people send me all their birthday cards for the entire year and I address them and mail them at the appropriate time. Or maybe I just address them and return them and they do their own mailing. Too many fun ideas - maybe my granddaughter will catch the penmanship bug and I can leave her my list of fun ideas that never went anywhere.

Link to Historic Mail


Here is a cute idea for valentine mail. Although, I bet it is hard to draw symmetrical lightbulbs.

I've spent a few days - at my desk, listening to construction after the demolition and also answering random questions - so I actually have 13 envelopes ready to go for the exchange. I'll be posting them in April. 

Vaccination update: the websites where you go to make appointments seem to be crashing as they are overloaded with people. It is super stressful. I'll keep looking for reasonable suggestions for coping with this ongoing situation. Or I might have to dive into the rest of the names on the list that are old faithfuls on the exchanges. 

Friday, January 29, 2021

Random comment & XL marker to CathyO (Dutch rant)

 Someone left this comment on the blog back in 2018. It cracks me up that anyone would find my advice useful. Whenever I surf/sift through the old stuff on the blog I find way too much stuff that refers to my quest for organization. It is entirely possible that the thought of being organized has faded into that zone with all the other things that faded with the pandemic. Currently, I am going *random.* I just fill up the blog posts in chronological order. 

My only concern is that I will run out of things to say if I am not constantly complaining about the chaotic filing system. On top of that -- I am thinking about deleting all the images off my computer after they are posted on the blog. If they are on the blog - why do I need another copy on my computer?

Here is the envelope for the day. It was sent in October of 2020. I did not add any spider webs or pumpkins. Maybe I should treat myself to another super wide marker in a springy color. 

I wonder if the USPS ever got all the holiday mail delivered (she wrote on Dec 19th, 2020)

Happy rant today.
I'm guessing I have previously posted things about Dutch design and commented that they have a delightfully whimsical approach. Here is another example. This is where we would hold our PushingTheEnvelopes international conference if we ever had one.

We'd invite Ruud Janssen to our conference. He's the guy who runs the the International Union of Mail Artists. He's based out of the Netherlands so I am guessing he's Dutch. Although he might be too much of a rock star to be interested in us.  Link to Ruud's Wiki article

If you ever want to exchange more mail art - join IUOMA - they have all kinds of fun exchanges. Although, they tend to be more about the images and the actual penmanship on the names is very secondary. 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Rust + tea from Faye (pink spider in envelope)

Getting my first covid vaccination yesterday was quick and easy. 
Hopefully there will be some momentum in a positive direction.
I was told that at HyVee, they post new appointments at midnight.
So -- that is helpful for making my second appointment.
If you are having trouble finding open appointments in your area, maybe you can find out what time the new appointments are posted. I'm not keen on getting up at midnight - but might have to.

6am - report - very slight ache in arm - no other side effects.

Card above and envelope below that (as I recall) was made with rusty metal and black tea.
I am resisting the temptation to Google *rusty metal and black tea* but maybe I will when this post pops up on a chilly winter day. 

I think you can do this technique on fabric which appeals to me a lot. I am very fond of the colors.

I keep forgetting to mention how much I liked the postmark that the USPS came up with for the fall. It looks like a scary little face and on some of the Halloween envelopes it contributed nicely to the overall design.

Thank you to Leslie who found this image of the envelope that contained the *card* that I posted a few days ago. It shows how the card opens. It ran on Feb 17, 2011. That was the one year birthday of the blog. I enjoyed reading the post again. There are 4879 posts - and I hardly ever go back and reread them. 

The video of the accordion card opening and closing is in the Jan 23rd post.
During my organizational project, I found a box of these velum envelopes -- at least 100. Yay.
I think today is the day I do a rough count of how many envelopes I actually have on hand.

Apparently, Jackie and I were having a hard time figuring out the day of the week and also the year.  The top strip is from a letter that Jackie sent to me. And the bottom strip is me - commiserating. And this was made 10 years ago. 


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Blueberries + Dennis from Lauren (Bernie)

Lauren provided one more themed card and envelope for Mr Wilson. If you are new to the blog, Mr Wilson is my spouse as well as the neighbor to Dennis the Menace. He has a problem keeping his blueberries in his bowl. I find them here and there around the house. I find other food items here and there but I've learned to shrug it all off. 

One of the gifts of the pandemic is that I stopped caring about all kinds of things. Will the pendulum ever swing back? I dunno. As I write this on Dec 19th, there is a NYTimes editorial that says:
The Next Three Months Are Going to Be Pure Hell.

Okay. Now we know. 
At this point, I don't think the details matter that much.
Dazed and confused.
That's all that came to mind.


Once in a while, I toss out an idea for an optional theme for the monthly exchange. I thought of tossing out Bernie - but, maybe the Bernie photo has run its course. Valentine's Day is an obvious theme. Also Hunter (my USPS son's birthday) and Viola, the BigHelpfulBrother's MIL is turning 101. So, exchangers have lots to ponder. I restrained myself to only doing about 5 Bernie pictures. 

Leslie saw this on IG
The name on the account is georgemailsart
which is funny -- because Mr Wilson is a George
and he definitely does not mail art.

Here is link to her account with more mail art.
Her name is Kristin. Maybe George is the cute little dog in the photo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

From RachaelT (French sheet print)

Rachael came up with this adorable card using old family photos. The lettering on the envelope is so cool. I might have to figure out the rest of the alphabet. It would be fun to do two versions of each letter, one that slanted forward and one that slanted backwards - although, on second look, the slant ones are all slanting back. Hmmmmm. Rachael and I have discovered that we are both fond of puzzles. We still do the Guess My Word puzzle every day. The font looks a little bit like those fancy paperclips.

This post is being written in that weird week before Xmas when there is a bunch of stuff going on and my way of coping is to fill up the blog. I really need to fill up all of January and February as well.
When everything else is out of control, it is nice to have the blog which is generally *under control.* It's likely that I derive some peace of mind in tending to the blog because it is not exactly essential.

It is now Sunday, the 24th.
If anyone noticed the sheet in the photo from the day I was trying to organize my envelopes, they might have wondered what it says. Me, too. Does anyone want to translate? I suppose I could type it into Google translate, but, I am drinking coffee and hoping to make a dent in the organizational project.

It's now later on Sunday. Wow. All the envelopes are organized. And so are all my greeting cards. What next? It is 4:48 pm - not quite bedtime.


Monday, January 25, 2021

Bonus post - saving envelopes (hoard-rant)

 This is a bonus post - scroll down to see the regular Monday post.

The topic of how to make books or albums out of envelopes came up on CyberScribes and Eliece posted directions for one of my accordion books. I have yet to find an image. Yesterday I spent a few hours organizing my envelopes and came across this booklet. It is a spiral bound book that I had done at Office/Max/Depot/Kinkos. I had done 40 envelopes for a birthday and made photo copies before they were mailed. You could do the same thing if you wanted to slice all four edges of envelopes that were all the same size and just bind the fronts. I have not taken in a stack of actual envelopes to see if the coil-binding machine will accept actual envelopes. I might do that and report back.

The cool binding machine can accommodate much taller stacks of paper. However, the coil is also much larger. I do not know what the max is. If I get there, I will ask.

I also found an unfinished project.
I have a stack of A7 envelopes and I have been cutting an opening in the envelopes so that I can stack them around a clear box that greeting cards came in. 

Then, I will use one or two envelopes for the lid.
It will just look like a stack of envelopes, but it will be a box. It is reminiscent of the secret boxes inside of books that have had the pages glued together and an a square opening cut in the middle.

I saw something like this that also had a ribbon wrapped around the lid and the box. It lined up, so that the stack of envelopes looked like it was tied with a ribbon, but you could still open the box. I rather like that detail.

This is just a rough idea of how it would look with the *lid* opened.

Will I ever finish this project?
I'd love to know.

This was the scene when I was organizing the envelopes.

And, sadly, this is the entire stack of envelopes that I was able to part with. It might be time for an intervention. 

I am trying to keep my collection from expanding beyond those 4 drawers in the corner. Eventually, each one will have a name on it so that my survivors will have one drawer of mementos. They will not have to sift through my stuff. If Mr Wilson starts pushing daisies sooner than I do, I will have his drawer divided into thirds and they can each collect their third without sifting. 

Perhaps I should take requests from younger exchangers who would be interested in having a portion of the collection and leave directions for my heirs to send *final mailings* to my dear pen pals. 

Or perhaps, I could get myself back to the job of organizing that room.

Where's Florence - 2 to Chuck (writing on cookies)

Once in a while I remind people to send photos of envelopes to me and then sometimes those emails get lost. Eventually, I focus on my stack of emails and find them. Today is Dec 10 or 17. I know it is Thursday - just not sure which one. Probably 10. Are we still all in the same boat? How many typhoons have we been through?

Anyhow -- I can't see the postmarks, but, I know Florence has not exchanged in a while. If you search Florence, you will find one of my all-time favorite envelopes as well as my effort to mimic the style. I love-love-love it. That's triple love.

I love these two as well. Single love on the top one. It's pretty, but I so not do anything like that other than note that it is lovely. Double love on the flowers because I like loose, fun flowers and borders. And I could see myself doing something like this. 

So, if you still read the blog, Florence, we would love to hear from you. Covid makes us curious about people we've lost touch with. Feel free to ignore us if you do not feel like  responding. We understand completely. 


Instead of a rant - here is an adorable idea from Country Living

Writing fun notes on cookies shouldn't be just for Valentine's Day. 

I promise I will not veer off into recipes - but if you have never made royal icing before - is is so much fun and so easy. You can make it with regular egg whites - but it is so much easier with meringue powder.

And the edible ink pens (food writers) are available online or at craft stores.

Royal icing creates a firm surface that's perfect for writing on with food-safe markers. To make, blend 2 cups confectioners' sugar, 2 tablespoons meringue powder, and 3 tablespoons water using a mixer set on low speed for 12 minutes.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

Monoline foundational (Font rant)

There was no rant yesterday because I was busy figuring out how to make an appointment for a vaccination for COVID. I will keep you posted on whether or not there are any complications. I do not guarantee a daily rant -- but, I do know there are quite a few that are already written and ready to pop up.

This is for KateR - and anyone else who thinks that foundational isn't ____ (?)
I'm not sure which word Kate used. People often remark that foundational is a rather blah style of writing. There are alternatives to the word blah -- but blah is good enough.
At some point, after Kate and I were discussing the blah-ness of foundational, these two examples popped up and caught my eye. 

IMHO foundational has its place. For envelopes, it is very nice for the address. It is a good alternative to penmanship that has some problems. I'd rather see foundational than block printing that is full of inconsistencies. 

Chancelleresca on IG has some good examples. 
In this case, it is formal. It is also a good choice for the words in the quote.

Here is one more detail (I think it is also from Chancelleresca) that shows some super nice serifs.

Since this is an envelope blog, I will go to Google and see what pops up when I Google foundational envelope.
You may surf around on the site.
Jessica in the UK.
Lots of nice traditional calligraphy.

That amount of centering is impressive.

Today's rant is about the use of the word font - for a calligraphic style. Some calligraphers insist that you can't (should not) use the word font unless you are talking about an actual font. If you are talking about a calligraphic style of hand lettering, the traditionalists insist that you use the word *hand.* 

They also won't allow the words majuscule and minuscule in place of upper case and lower case. They think UC and LC should be reserved for actual fonts.

I understand where their opinion is coming from, but, I think it is pretentious. There are multiple words for many things. IMHO, it would be better to simply let people know that there is more than one word. I assure you, in all my years of teaching, it was a whole lot friendlier to explain the options rather than tell people that there were *rules.* 

Vellum and parchment is another example where the words are blending. Vellum is usually calf skin (veal) and parchment is usually sheep skin. But for a lot of people, those words are interchangeable. There are other animals that can be skinned and stretched into substrate for books. Goats. Fetal pigs make really nice *stuff to write on.*

There is no way that the word *membrane* is going to make sense to anyone other than *scholars and custodians.* Regular people are going to use the word that comes to mind.

This is from Wiki:
Modern scholars and custodians increasingly use only the less specific if confusing term "membrane".[4][5] Depending on factors such as the method of preparation it may be very hard to determine the animal species involved (let alone its age) without using a laboratory,[6] and the term avoids the need to distinguish between vellum and parchment.

Or, if you want to read more:

Saturday, January 23, 2021

From Lauren - scary fish (hot pink spider video)

You can say that again. The *Boo.*
I keep forgetting to ask Lauren if she chooses one design and does the same thing for everyone or if she does something different for each person. Or if it is a combination.
Lauren's cards and letters are always fun. 

I have misfiled the photo of this card inside its envelope.


Friday, January 22, 2021

Amanda Kammarada (The Gardener)

Good news. Paul Antonio in feeling much better. He posted a video (or two?) on his IG. 

Link to message from Paul Antonio


Link to Amanda's blog 

There are tons of youngsters who love lettering and have websites, blogs, and tutorials. I am always on the lookout for places to send the beginners. Some of the old-timers like to snag ideas from the youngsters, too.

There was a pin on Pinterest that linked to Amanda about ideas for mail art. It was ok - but, I thought all the links she offered in this post were a better opportunity for surfing.

The image that caught my eye was this one:

She doesn't have a stamp - so I would insert my 2-cents that you should have a stamp in mind first. 
Below is an idea for the back of the envelope that is lots of fun.

After that warning a few days ago about the movie that I didn't even want to admit I had watched, I am happy to report that I found a movie that I can recommend if you like gardens that are larger in scope than your back yard.

WARNING: the first 1/3 of the movie is painfully slow because they give all kinds of preliminary information about a garden that is going to knock your socks off. At first, you do not see much of the actual gardens - just a few close ups. Finally ---- they start wandering down the paths and it gets interesting. And then about 2/3 of the way through - your jaw is dropping.

By the end, I was in love with the story and I will not spoil the punchline. I ended up appreciating the slowness of the beginning because the whole point of a garden is that you have to have patience. You have to wait years to see how it is all coming together. So watching the film gives you a taste of patience. There are some features other than plantings that took a long time to build, too. If you are opposed to gardens, you might want to just fast forward to the non-plant items.

Another reason I loved the story is because the gardener did not have formal training so he followed his intuition and the garden is now recognized as a masterpiece in gardening.

I found it on Amazon Prime.
You can also get it on DVD through Netflix.
The Gardener -- is the name of the movie.
The man is Francis Cabot and the garden is Les Quatre Vents in Quebec.
While you can see a lot of images and read more about the man and his garden, it might be more fun to watch the film first. Or perhaps everyone already knows about it -- and I am living under a rock.

It reminded me of another film, A Man Named Pearl, who created a remarkable garden on a smaller scale. I can recommend that film as well. And when I was checking Kanopy, they have some more films about gardens. Nothing like piles of snow to get me in the gardening mood. The mood always melts right along with the snow. But, it's a nice diversion for now.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Bows on envelopes - possibly inspired by RachaelT (to Hudson penpals) no rant

 OK. Here are some bows that do not thrill me. The problem was that I did not go back and look at Rachael's original. For all I know, it wasn't even Rachael's envelope. But, I see it on Pinterest all the time and I thought I could do a decent bow and tag without copying exactly.

Here are the other bow-themed envelopes. Bows would work for birthday envelopes. Or any holiday for that matter. Hopefully, someday I will have some better bows to post. First photo shows what they looked like before names.

I love that Italian stamp with the envelope. I'm thinking the Santa stamps, with their gold border are the way to go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Rachael's gold wreath series (no rant - KateR's b-day)

I forgot to mention -yesterday- that the design I stole from Alison could be done in non-holiday colors. I hope I think about making something springy or valentine-y. I wonder if I could turn RachaelT's wreath into a springtime wreath.

 RachaelT's original idea is top left. The other three are my attempts. My first attempts were too tight. They did not feel organic. I counted how many sprigs of holly she had -sixteen- so I tried doing 16, then I tried 8. I think my version was improved by only doing 8.

Do, I have any suggestion on how to do a nice wreath like Rachael's? Yes. Take tracing paper and copy her's exactly. Or, if you want to save time, copy my version. But, I think her version is better.

I deeply regret the way I wrote McElroy. I owe the McElroys a better envelope.


Instead of a rant, I will add an image from the folder of random stuff. I think I forgot to photograph this, and Kate kindly sent me an image. It looks like her birthday is in February. I have been toying with the idea of keeping track of my pen pal's birthdays. I'm pretty sure I already missed Chuck's. Belated wishes.

I like the way the bar code at the bottom looks like ground that the candles are standing on.
Something else I need to do is create a place to scan through birthday ideas. 

One more item.
Ground hog cupcakes for people with way too much time on their hands.

Warning: Bakerella can be a crazy rabbit hole if you like to make stuff out of food.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Alison's scroll - second round (silly/absurd game)

 That envelope (on the left) from Alison stays pretty near the top of my stack of *ideas-to-steal.* I believe I tried to steal it in Dec of 2019 and was not too happy with the results, so I tried again. The second one is better. However, when it came to addressing them, the design was too low on the envelope.

I used two of them for my bulk mailing to our new pen pals at Sam's post office in Hudson, NH. Shout out to Alison and RachaelT for the stealworthy ideas. Rachael's gold wreath idea appeared yesterday.

Oh -- I put the 5 envelopes to the NH pen pals inside another envelope and figured they could choose their own stamps - since they work at the post office.

If anyone puts a flag stamp on their envelope please don't tell me about it. I used some of my Italian stamps for the photographs. 


Instead of a rant, we will have something silly.
On second thought - it might be dangerous.
On third thought, I don't think I even want to link to this thing.
But on fourth thought, after I've talked about it, I can't really not say what it was.
To be honest, I am writing this on the 11th and looking at the date that this will pop up -
and unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware that there is a certain amount of unpredictability in the air. So - for what it's worth here is a link to something that is either silly or absurd or something else:

This is the line that makes me wonder if it is silly/absurd/dangerous:

Habitica can help you achieve your goals to become healthy, hard-working, and happy.

Ridiculous claims. Reducing the amount of time I (we?) surf might be a better option.