Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Dec 2020 from Janet - steal worthy layout

Here is Janet's 2020 kraft paper envelope. I don't even remember these Santa stamps. Looks like they are 32-cents - so that was a while ago. I usually think that black and gold on kraft paper needs a little white. It is interesting to note that the white on the stamps is enough *highlight.* 

I wonder what she used to make that rectangle. It almost looks like a putty knife. Does she remember? Does she want to share her secrets with us?

Below is her collaged card - both sides -- As I recall - she has about 24 people in her family - with offspring, their spouses and grandkids. I think she made everyone a new stocking last year. I think she might have even sent me a photo. I think I might have intended to post it this year. I wonder if I could find it. Stay tuned. And Janet, feel free to correct me if none of what I am remembering is even close to being accurate.



Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Dec 2020 from Hester - Gemma Black

If you checked the blog early yesterday - I had a link to the USPS Operation Santa - where they have been collecting letters to Santa - written by kids - and if people want to *adopt* a letter - and send something, they may do so. I saw an article about the program last year after it was over - and some of the letters were charming. This year --- they were not charming - so I deleted the link. 

A happy pair of birds and a mid-century tree - on kraft paper. While I like mid-century design, I wasn't as crazy about the mid-century elf stamps that came out this year. I'm guessing that other exchangers will be inspired and they will create some really nice envelopes. 


The calligraphers who read the blog will probably recognize the name Gemma Black. I was surfing in a different direction - but ran across her blog - and saw that she is going through a rough patch - rotator cuff - and general weariness with her teaching and artwork. The latest post is sounding more hopeful.

A detail from one of her traditional pieces

...and something more contemporary - I had a heck of a time choosing just one image off IG - and chose this one because if we can't contain ourselves and we need to copy those flowers - we can do it without feeling guilty - because they are so close to Mary Engelbreit's and William Morris's (or that other artist whose work is so similar - and even Frank Lloyd Wright has some flowers that look like a bit like that. His are more squared off.

I took time to find all four of the 2020 stamps - just for fun - I shoulda bought more of them. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Dec 2020 from Lynne -

 I remember asking Lynne what she used for the addressing and I might be able to find the email - or we might have to ask her to tell us again. I love this envelope -- fairly simple - but it screams HOLIDAY. Whatever she used - it is almost like a decal. Very smooth. Thank you USPS for cancelling in the lower left corner and leaving the bird ink-free.


I deleted the add-on for today -- and will post an explanation tomorrow.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

From Kate and Jessica - avant garde cakes

It's always fun to see two envelopes with the same stamp. It happens quite often and usually the designs are wildly different. These two have matching cancels  - one from the state of Washington and the other from Florida. The design elements of stacked dots/stars was just enough to nudge me into posting these two together.


Shout out to myself - it's your daughter's birthday - don't forget to text her a greeting. I wonder if she gets to sleep in. I would have enjoyed treating her to a night in a hotel - but figured her kids would be having none of that. I wish I lived closer - as I could count on the kids being in favor of shipping both mom and dad off for the weekend because Nanna's rules are a very nice change of pace.

How about a look at the latest trend in cakes - avant garde, eh? She calls them abstract expressionist. I'll put in a link to just one of many that you can find on IG. I'm sure the grandkids would enjoy making something like this.

LINK to wacky cakes

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Postal Appreciation Society - Bonus post

Nov 3rd was not a pleasant day. It followed a couple days that were full of challenges too ridiculous to mention - except the one where I burned dinner. Grrr. I was doing all my exercises to snap myself out of the bad mood - when - voila ---- I found the Postal Appreciation Society on Instagram. Shout out to Mr Wilson - who ate that burned dinner. I tasted it and it tasted like charcoal. He's a very picky eater -- so this was a complete surprise. 

Oh.My.Gosh --  who knew there were so many adorable little post offices. I scrolled and scrolled -- and this one is in Iowa - so it seemed like a good one to feature. It is in Promise City, IA - population 88 (in 2020) and it is an hour and a half south of Des Moines - so I probably won't be dropping in.

Here is the LINK to the Postal Appreciation Society IG. There are soooo many cute post offices.

I don't see a contact person - so I'll have to figure out if I can submit my photo of the Point Roberts PO. 

This is a bonus post - scroll down for the daily envelope

Dec 2020 from JeanR - go-to practice names

I love the way JeanR added to the stamp -- so cute. The hats on the initials is a good idea. I'm still pondering whether or not I am going to do a Dec mailing. My latest idea is to use up all those vintage stamps I an alcoholic who fell off the wagon -- I am GRRRRRing at myself.


Here's a conversation in my series of conversations from my emails that are worth repeating on the blog.

When I sent out the Nov lists for the exchange, I put my daughter's name on the list. It occurred to me that the blog is full of the name Jean - and perhaps people would enjoy more variety. I was thinking that I would not be putting my name on the exchange list any more -- until I heard from one exchanger who said they wrote Jean all the time on practice pages - because they know both of the Jeans on the list - and they are pretty pleased with how nice their Js are.

That made me think about which names I write the most often when I am doing practice writing. I always start with Kate Riley - because her name does not have any of the letters or issues that I struggle with.
Cathy, Carolyn, Chuck, Leslie, Lynne and Lauren are all names I avoid because L and C are hard for me. I'm not even that fond of J - so that keeps me away from Janet, JeanR and Jessica.

So -- the M and S people get a little more practice -- if anyone has any suggestions for names that I should put on the list -- let me know. I think I will put Peggy on the list. It is a very challenging name with the ggy.

Elizabeth and Christopher were always my two favorite names to write. Maybe I will put them on the list.


Friday, November 25, 2022

Nov 2020 from Chuck - comparisons

I wonder if Chuck mailed his Dec mail early. This is clearly postmarked Nov 18, 2020. I am writing this on Oct 30, 2022 - I dabbled with my watercolor pencils yesterday because I could not find my Cotman set of watercolors and was too lazy to do a serious search.
Lucky for the readers, I have a ton of fabulous in-coming-mail to post - so you will not have to put up with my endless whining about the sorry state of my own work. 


To anyone who was reading the conversation about makers/artists/hobbyists/etc - and made a note when I got to the part about comparing skill levels - and muttered - That Jean is so inconsistent. She's said numerous times: Comparison is the thief of joy. 

So what's the deal? Should we compare or not?

Well, if you are enchanted by something and you want to give it a try - a certain amount of comparison is required. A few people - out at the very end of the bell curve - can do their own thing from day one and end up creating something amazing - but most of us see things or hear thing or watch things or taste things - and say, "Hey, I wanna try that." And then we do. The results vary. Comparing one's output to the inspiration is part of the process.

When we are inspired - there are a few different paths available: 1) exclusively imitating, 2) learning and then going off on one's own, 3) dovetailing disparate things. There are probably many more paths. Hopefully you find a path that you enjoy. If you are not enjoying your path -- you are free to bounce over to a new one. 

That's the gist of my blog -- some people who have bounced over here have found kindred spirits. There might be others who are appalled by this perspective - so far, they have not left cranky comments - but, it is highly unlikely that I would ever come up with anything that was agreeable to *everyone.*

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving and Housekeeping

The blurbs I write which will appear on holidays rarely relate to the holiday on which they appear - but, this year I am offering a random gathering of items found in my files along with my best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving or my sincere condolences if anyone is dealing with a rough patch. Let's call this a  celebration of leftovers. My favorite part of Thanksgiving = leftovers. The following are leftovers or orphans or maybe repeats. 

Apologies to Carolyn -- I think I sent her another metallic on brown vellum in November --She will be happy to know that I only have 2 of those envelopes left and I will probably remember to not send another one to her.

Mystery solved. This was from Debbie Gallas - another disappeared exchanger.

OK - I figured out who did this one (above) -- and it might be Debbie Gallas.
Below, I'm 99% sure it is from Kristine.

Card above, envelope below - from JeanR -
I neeeeeed to sit myself down and do some medieval stuff.

Janet must have sent this (below) to me -- but I have no idea who it was from. I'm sure she told me -- but, the chance of me finding the email is 0.0%

Another person who gets too many apologies from me for the ho-humminess of what I sent to her is Smash. I suspect this was a Dec env inside a Nov mailing -- 

We have not talked about Legos in a while.
This looks like something I would like to do

Something else in a random folder that I was going to add to the blog in the off-topic category. It is the broach bouquet I made for my daughter. She carried it at her wedding rehearsal. I used up all the random old jewelry from my grandmothers, mother, me, and even things that had been hers. One item is the remaining earring from a set that had been a favorite - until she lost one. If you have never seen broach bouquets - you may Google and see lots more. I had so much fun making it. And now - it can just sit on a shelf like a little topiary.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Nov 2020 from Maggie - enclaves/exclaves

Maggie's pointed pen envelope with florals. Rotating the long word (Thanksgiving) is a fun way to fit it in and make it more of a design element -- than just a greeting. 
Marilyn wondered what the license plate said in the Monday post. The nameplate on the car was ELEMENT - and the owner took off the T and added an OP and then the license plate was QRSTUV. ELEMEN - sounds like the part of the ABC song that blurs LMN - So reading them all together sounds like part of the ABC song.

OK - time to get back to my Point Roberts report. After visiting my son in Whistler, BC, we went down to Point Roberts, WA. I had heard about it when the border was closed and knew it was one of the 4 enclaves on the US-Canada border where the land of one country is surrounded by a bordering country. Some sources call them exclaves. 

This map shows the top-left corner of the US - the northwest corner of Washington - and you can see where the 49th parallel sliced off the tip of the hangy-down portion of the Canadian peninsula. There is a very fun story about how decisions were made. I need to dig - and find that video of the history of Point Roberts for the serious students of historical geography.

It takes about a half hour to drive from Point Roberts around the bay to the border to get back into the US. When the border was closed due to covid - the community was seriously isolated. Here is an interesting video describing the situation and it also shows how pretty the community is.

This map might give you a better idea of where it is.

The other 3 enclave/exclave/pene-enclave - whatever you want to call them.... there are a few different articles if you are interested in more info - through Google.
 Angle Inlet, on the Lake of the Woods, in that odd appendage protruding from the northern border of Minnesota
Campobello Island in New Brunswick is another pene-enclave. In this case, the only land route is through the United States.
Hyder, a tiny town, the Easternmost in Alaska, near the southern end of the Alaska panhandle.


and ---- if you just can't get enough of this type of stuff --
here is a town in Alaska where everyone in town lives in the same apartment building

The Wiki article has more info - like this:

Completed in 1957, the building has a rectangular plan and a flat roof. It is 14 floors high and is made up of three modules connected together. The north side has two protruding modules that form two square towers. Inside, sets of branched corridors and elevators allow residents access to all areas of the complex. The school is connected to the towers via a tunnel.

In addition to the residential areas, the building contains the basic services for condo owners and guests: a post office, a general store and a laundromat. There is also a small Baptist church, two floors of bed and breakfast daily rentals, a conference room, and an indoor playground at the school.


Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Nov 2020 from Patty - makers/artists/rock stars

Patty is so lucky to have those stamps. The colors she chose for the blue-gray envelope are perfect. She was able to see the undertones in the stamp. The cancel in both upper right and lower left is nice. 
Let's circle back and wrap up the discussion (for the moment) on who gets to label themselves an artist. There's a wonderful *next chapter* coming up in early request for *conversations* has brought forth some really good stuff. 

Quick review: We are all makers. Some of us think spending time on a piece makes a person an *artist* - but others think that the word artist should be reserved for only some of the makers. Bottom line - anything having to do with art is going to be hard to define - and that IMHO is the essence of art as well as artists. They both defy definitions that work for *everyone.* 

What have we accomplished? 

Chore avoidance and the news.

I think I was going to come back and talk about who gets to be the illustrious artists. But that's another rocky road with booby traps and random things falling out of the sky that we don't need to bother with. I guarantee none of us are all that illustrious. I've had the great fortune to rub elbows and hang out with some of the illustrious rock stars- and ya know what? They are not any different than the rest of us. NOT ONE BIT. Their work is different than ours. It's freaking awesome. But, they are 100% typical as people. Well, typical, compared to me. Maybe I'm not typical. If anyone wants to do an assessment - lemmekno.

I suppose you think I'm going to back that statement up - the one that the rock stars (as people) are typical. I would - but, I don't think it would be interesting.  I might circle back with a couple other observations -- but someone will have to remind me to do so.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Nov 2020 from Smash - retracted topic

Smash used some vintage stamps and it looks like the square envelope went through sideways. Wouldn't it be fun to get a square envelope, with a stamp in each corner, and 4 cancels?

I had a post about something that was interesting - but - the BigHelpfulBrother left a comment that I should rethink what I wrote about - so, I will be pondering - and then try to figure out a way to talk about it - that does not leave it as a mystery.

Apologies for the shortness of todays post. I could insert something funny. I generally resist reposting things that are just jokes.

It took me a while to figure it out....

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Nov 2020 from Janet - artist label and skill level

The Nov 2020 envelopes were found in a folder on my computer which means the hard copies are hiding somewhere which means I can only guess - but I'm pretty sure that Janet went to town with her X-acto knife. I'm guessing paper was self adhesive. Both the front and back are super stealworthy. The combination of the very geometric name with the swirly address is a wonderful combo. 


Another thing that people use to decide who the artists are - is - has their work been sold or hung in an exhibit. Once again - if that's what people want to use for their litmus test - I won't argue with them. But, it  is not something that works for me. There are artists who keep all their work to themselves -- and they are artists.

So - I think people who shy away from using the label *artist* on themselves - while they are actively engaged in *making art* are trying to show respect to those people who are really proficient at their art. I can see that. It's nice to acknowledge skill and that *extra* something that some people have. 

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Nov 2020 from Jackie - artists/hobbyists (craftsmen)

 From JackieM (not Jackie Davis)

Quick reminder of what part of the longer quote we are going to talk about next.

My pen pal said:

I am not even remotely referring to myself as even close to an artist!

 I ran into that a lot when I was teaching. Students did not want to call themselves artists. I'd quiz them about what a person had to be - to be considered an artist. I know of some calligraphers who do not think calligraphy is an art and would not consider themselves artists - they prefer craftsmen -- but that is a whole different conversation.

In my world - if you make things where you are putting in extra time and effort - you are in the world of art. If it is just a functional item - then it is what it is. But the minute you start doing some extra thing - you are making the decisions that artists make. What color, what texture, what layout, what size, how much contrast, and on and on and on. All those decisions are aesthetic decisions. 

I wish there was a word - other than student - to describe people who are working on all those aesthetic decisions - but who don't want to call themselves an artist. The word *hobbyist* is out there. It seems like it fills the need for someone to say that they are participating in an art but they are not an artist.

My gripe with that term - is that it implies that a hobby is *less than* or *other than* what an artist would do. There are some hobbyist who do much better work than I will ever do -- so, I'd prefer they call themselves artists. But -- I respect their freedom to decide for themselves.

*Maker* is another word - currently popular - but it seems like an updated way to say hobbyist.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Oct 2020 from GraceE - critique vs criticism

Here is an envelope from Grace when she was taking a break from her sublime pointed pen work and doing something for fun. I hope she still finds time to do envelopes like this. I think it's a good counter-balance to the traditional work.


OK - here is the part of the conversation that inspired me to start sharing conversations.
I had probably written some kind of critique about my own envelope that I had sent to this person and they  included this in their sign-up email:

Loved your Halloween envelope.  I’ve decided that there isn’t an artist out there who is not critical of their work. (I am not even remotely referring to myself as even close to an artist!)  It is merely my observation.  I am only happy to be included in this exchange with so many incredible artists!

There are several things to talk about -- and I'll start with the one that has come up several times -- critiquing vs criticizing. I keep promising to keep my comments about my own work in the world of critique - which is honest evaluation of the components of the work instead of just badmouthing whatever I did with harsh criticism. 

It's hard to tell if I would be able to keep my comments in the critique world instead of criticism. But, it's worth a try. Tomorrow we will talk about who gets to be artists. And the following day we will talk about who gets to be an incredible artist.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Nov 2020 from GraceE - fewer rants

Grace Edmands sent this in 2020. You may view more of her work at her IG.
She's a busy lady.

Before I get back to the conversation that inspired my sharing of conversations - I want to talk about ranting. As you may recall, I have had a few. And quite a few readers have mentioned that they love a good rant. Others have said they enjoy the *musings.* I feel like I don't have much to rant about any more. Except, I sorta do. What brain rehab *Emphasized* (with a capital E) were these coping skills to alleviate the distress caused by my impairments and the freaking idiots who.... oops... we scurry away from that path. See. I can rein myself in. But, now I am concerned that I am boring. Or maybe I'll get used to it. 

I rewatched that viral Ted Talk by the neuroscientist who knew what was happening as she was having a stroke. The part where she described the *voice in her head* going completely silent fascinated me. I *fur shur* do NOT want a stroke -- but, those 2 voices/perspectives in my head sometimes wear me out. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Oct 2020 from Gloria - conversations

 Gloria does beautiful pointed pen work - and somebody at the post office must be paying attention because the house number on the envelope is 440 instead of 420.  The vertical band on the left might be popping up on my envelopes because it's a good way to work ahead. It looks like she used some kind of removable tape to keep a straight edge. I need to do that. Letting the edge meander can distract me as I try to make it an *interesting* edge.

One of our loyal exchangers just gave me a really good idea for filling up the blog with something other than drivel. I have so many interesting email conversations with exchangers (and readers) and it seems like some of them are worth talking about here on the blog. Since very few of us actually meet up in person - I can't imagine anyone would figure out who said what. I'll keep them all anonymous - unless they are so clever I need to give the person credit. 

If anyone wants to submit a rant/topic, either with your name or anonymous - feel free to email me. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Nov 2020 from Chuck & his 2022 jack-o-lanterns - MT and PR post offices

 A whole row of pumpkins from Chuck arrived in 2020.

Below is what Chuck sent in 2022 - I love when he sends me a preview of his envelopes. It's so much fun to see the variety of expressions.

My add on today is a photo I found whilst surfing. It's in Montana, my motherland. I wonder if there are any other post offices who share space with a church. I wonder if they open up on Sunday so people who drive a long distance to church may tend to postal matters because people who live in remote areas like to minimize the number of trips they make.

It's in Helmville, Montana - which is way off the beaten path - unless you want to take the scenic route from Bozeman up to Glacier National Park.

I'll be posting more about the Point Roberts post office - this post is long enough for now.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Nov 2020 from Cheryl - Lisa Congdon

A set from Cheryl. Nice vintage stamps. The double stroke name on the envelope reminds me to do more double stroking.....the ribbons yesterday inspired me to try ribbon writing - and the results were less than impressive. Do a search (on the blog) for ribbon writing - if you do not know what I am talking about.

I was curious what a Goole search for ribbon writing would offer -- and saw that there were 3 envelopes from my blog - with many other random examples of ribbons - more than just writing.


Here is a little Halloween back-track to a video of a dog in a mailman-carrying-a-package costume - on Lisa Congdon's IG. I'm guessing she does all her work digitally - but, I like the whimsical aspect -- and might be working on an old school way to get the look.
LINK to Lisa's IG if you want to see more of this style

 I see no reason to limit dogs dressing up like mailmen to Halloween. I hope they let their dog dress up for every holiday.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Nov 2020 from Leslie - ribbon wallpaper

Here's another clever handmade envelope from Leslie. The tilting is fun - and then I starting wondering how it would work to have the grid on the diagonal. I wonder if I will remember to find some grid paper and give it a try. 

And then this wallpaper popped up - which is a grid on the diagonal...hmm....more ideas.....

Once in a while I surf around neighborhoods looking at houses that are for sale. I found this wallpaper in a house in Chicago. It is a print based on those bulletin boards that have ribbon - where you tuck your mail behind the ribbons. I've always wanted to do an entire wall with a padded cloth covering and ribbon - to display my favorite mail. If any of my readers have a bulletin board with ribbons - it would be lovely if you shared a photo with us.

If you are interested in the rest of the house - it has a spectacular yard.
It's early Prairie style and beautifully maintained, so the main rooms are fairly traditional. But, they let loose in the kitchen (calligraphic wallpaper) and bathrooms (one has architectural drawings, another seems to be entirely hand-painted).
LINK to the house for people who are looking to kill time.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Dec 2020 from Lauren - More printmaking


Another very clever card and envelope from Lauren.
The card reflects the mid-century vibe of the Rudolph themed envelope.
Sheer perfection - the way the bar code fits under the name and address - not to mention the placement of the stamps...and no cancel. Yay.


Apologies to anyone who is tired of the printmaking topic. I thought of another form of printmaking that simply MUST be included. Fingerprints. Remember our dear friend Ed Emberley and the delightful fingerprint pictures? I'll post a couple examples in a future post, if I find them. 

And even better - here is a link to a NYT article about a Native American artist, Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds. 

LINK to the full article

Here are the excerpts that resonated with me. Somewhere on my blog I ran an intaglio print I made of an alphabet. I ran the plate through the press and then before inking it again, ran it a second time, with the image flipped, to make a ghost print. The double image was much better.

<ghost prints>. OR <or in the case of our envelopes, whatever comes out of the pen, we mail>

I'll highlight the parts that are things I have been saying for years - and enjoy finding other people who say the same things.


The artist Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds, of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nation, embraces mistakes. His Native perspective taught him to be accepting of nature. His version of printmaking, as evidenced in his latest exhibit, “Old Indian Tricks,” rejects standardization and believes in the alchemy of art.

<ghost prints> became this great metaphor for where Natives are today in this country. They’re very faint, they’re very diminished. 

The tribes accept the weather, accept things that happen, the water, the heat. They’re going to accept it and work with it. We accept everything that comes with the prints and don’t ever remake it again. Whatever comes out of that press, goes up.  <or in the case of our envelopes, whatever comes out of the pen, we mail>

I watch the news and I research, and there’s so many horrible things going on in this planet. If I wasn’t making something, I’d be ashamed of myself. 

I don't say that I am ashamed of myself if I am not making things. He is talking about his obligation to lift up his community. My perspective is more along the lines of remembering to turn to art (an art) as a remedy for the challenges we face.

I am drawn to the simplicity of the words as well as the straight forward lettering.