Wednesday, May 31, 2023

From Kristine to Tracy (8)

Kristine has a certain style that I always recognize - and I keep thinking I will do a version of my own -- s.o.m.e.d.a.y.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 8

When I got home, I found another old copy of the certificate (actual size) and marked it up again -  to show them what my original directions looked like - since they had not fiound them. Person C called me and I headed off to see what they had come up with. 

This was the worse moment - because it was still not a hard copy - and I was starting to look like the worst customer in the universe for saying I needed to see a hard copy at the exact size. 

F.i.n.a.l.l.y Person F showed up. F for Familiar Face. F for FireFighter. The guy who can bail all of us out.

Familiar Face understood why I needed to see the proof at the actual size. But the printer was still not working. He had a really good idea - to put my *pencil lines* with the dimentions I needed onto the image on the screen -- and when he did that -- AH-HAH!!!!!! Validation!!!!! Things were *off.* I finally felt like we were getting somewhere - it was still Monday - and the changes seemed pretty simple....

....why - yes - Familiar Face said -- so simple -- let's just do them right here, right now -- and so we did. 

Was I feeling better about the whole situation? I was - until I found out that Person D - the fine art scanner was not going to be able to print out the certificate until Wednesday or maybe Thursday morning? This was cutting things way too close. Familiar Face and I had fixed it -- just print it out - today - Monday - or Tuesday. Or maybe it is complicated to load the various papers, etc into the printers -- I can see how that might have been an issue. So, I thanked FamiliarFace and tried to feel confident that the final would be OK even though I never saw a paper proof. 

But wait a minute -- this has been a crazy path - why would I expect things to run smoothly at this point. I should know that letting my guard down at this point was a StupidJean move. I had signed off on a screen image. I had never gotten my hard copy proof. This was not the time to just *trust* that we'd had enough problems and we were not going to have any more.

At no point should anyone think that I was going overboard with my paranoia. And yes - spoiler alert - I was not overboard. I was a crusty old sea captain with a lifetime of learning experiences. That *worst moment* I thought I was having a few paragraphs before was not the worst. Walking out - agreeing to getting a final on Thursday - with no hard copy proof - and no more days to sort this out. This was the worst. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

From Leslie to Tracy (7)

Exuberant AND lovely. Thank you Leslie.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 7

I got home on Sunday, took a Tylenol PM (the hard stuff) at 7pm and slept until 8:30am - and raced to the digital art place to see the new improved proof. I walk in and meet person C. I ask for Person A. He's not in today. I ask for Person B. Long pause. Person B is no longer with the company. Is this really happening?

We're not even at the worst part of all - but we are getting close. StupidJean really pulls herself together and says to herself, "This is it. This is the last job you will ever do. You've salvaged a lot of disasters over the years. You're going to have to do it one last time. Pull yourself together. This is your swan song. Whatever the heck that means."

Ok -- Person C - I'm so happy to meet you. What can we do to find this proof that I was supposed to look at. C looks up my name in *the system* - and finds nothing. Somehow I pull up some emails on my phone and she tracks down a digital proof with the new fonts - and prints out an 8 1/2 x 11 proof - and it looks OK - but PulledTogetherJean says -- I think it's OK - but I really need to see a hard copy at the actual size to sign off on it - because... because... well because I need to see it because I have to make sure that the space is right for the gold seal and the ribbon.

People who spend their entire life on screens do not need to see anything on paper. I don't understand how anything turns out the way it is supposed to. But, I am content to declare myself a dinosaur and I am eager to go to my tar pit.

I know I looked like I was being obsessive -- but, in the back of my mind, I just knew that I needed to see the full size proof. It didn't seem like a big ask - and Person C seemed to think she could run it off - and I think this might have been the worst part.....she kept clicking things on the printer - and calling people to come help --
and eventually there were 3 people futzing with a printer -- and this is a company that has the most sophisticated printers in our fair city - and they print really cool stuff on the sides of large buildings - but on this day they can't print out a 11x 17 proof on plain copy paper. I almost asked them to send the file to the OfficeMax across the street - but - did not really trust that kind of alternative to work either. In my heart I know I would have been hit by a truck if I had crossed that street. Not killed - just injured enough to be paralyzed from the neck down.

Can things get worse? Keep in mind - nobody knows where my original layout and original artwork is - while they are futzing with the printer - I figure out a way to show them that something is off with the proportions and it needs to be fixed. I mark up the 8 1/2 x 11. 

Person C calls in Person D who does all the fine art scanning. She could see the proportion and spacing/cropping issues and assured me that they could be fixed - but said we needed Person E the graphic design person who could resolve things - but - I could see some panic in her eyes - because I think she knew we were all cleaning up after that Person B who made the mess and *is no longer with the company.* Heaven only knows how many other messes they were dealing with. I was grateful that they were trying to resolve my goofy certificate.

Person C agreed that once the changes were made she should call me on my phone since neither of us trust email or texting any more - and it would be essential for me to drop everything and drive down to look at the proof. The spacing changes looked like they would be simple.

We shared a moment of happiness over the fact that the business is my neighborhood - and I am 5 minutes away. I could tell she was a smart cookie - and knew how to impress upon me that I needed to be on high alert. I could tell she'd been run around the block a few times by customers who do not hold up their end of the process. But, this did not lull me into thinking that we'd turned a corner.

Monday, May 29, 2023

From Lynne to Tracy (6)

Some very nice flowers from Lynne. This confirms once again that black and white with a touch of red is a  very nice color pallette.

 The Certificate Story - Chapter 6

A couple days after StupidJean told Person A to *just find another Old English font* a PDF proof was emailed from Person B at the digital artwork company. Well, if you ever accidentally eat rat poison and you need to throw up really fast - email me and I'll send you the PDF and you'll throw up really fast.

I had no idea that anyone could do such a bad job of replicating something that was pretty straight forward. It wasn't just the font. It was all kinds of craziness in the spacing and proportions. And on top of it -- they kept Connie Wilson in the loop which added layers of confusion that I will leave out.

If you are thinking that we just find new fonts - and adjust some spacing - and everything works out - think again.

StupidJean's adrenalin kicked in and she did a quick search to find a couple fonts that would work and made a concise list of changes - describing the changes that were needed - and it's really hard to describe proportions and margins and spacing changes - in words - through email. In my world - we have layouts and proofs - on actual paper - and we make marks, giving directions, with pencils. I might as well have been communicating with two tin cans and a string. But, I gave it a try.

It was only Thursday - so - it seemed like a minor setback - but not too concerning.

Until Friday - when I ended up with the usual illness that the grandkids bring home from school - and their parents feel so bad that once again, they are sending Nanna home in less-than-optimal shape -- and in Jean's clouded head - she can see the future - and she knows there is no way that the certificate proof is going to be OK on Monday - but at least she has until the following Thursday to sort things out - if she is still alive.

We are prepared for things not being right - but is there any way to anticipate how far off course things are going to go. Even my sleep was interrupted by nightmares where I was on a catastrophic trip. I had not yet resorted to drugs - yup - you know Nanna is in bad shape when she busts out the Tylenol.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

To Leslie, Valerie & Maggie in April

This post is out of order - Chapter 6 of our story will pop up tomorrow.

Apologies for all these same-old-same-old pointed nibs and indigo. I had tons of fun - and that's the whole point of this blog and the exchanges.


Amy sent this very nice link to an actual USPS carrier telling us exactly why we do not want to put our return addresses in the middle of the back of the envelope. I love the way he acknowledges that there are people who want the mail to be *cute.*
You do not need a TikTok account to view it. 

I do not watch or do anything with TikTok - but it seems to be in the news - and I do not have the bandwidth to follow what's going on. I actually don't even know what bandwidth is. When grannies are using these techie terms - it seems ominous. Hopefully - technology will continue to have niches that are simple enough for the grannies to still enjoy ourselves.


Saturday, May 27, 2023

Double chin tuck

 Many years ago, at an IAMPETH conference, there was one class on preventing aches and pains from too many hours at a desk. The chin tuck was a fantastic exercise to learn - and I always passed it along to my students. I've thought about making a video of it to share on the blog - but, it never made it very far up the to-do list. Then - a video popped up on IG - and it is double chin tuck - but is essentially the same thing I learned plus it adds another stretch that looks like it would feel wonderful - so here's the link:

LINK to chin tuck video

Think about how, if you do not work at a slant board, and you lean forward slightly, tipping your head down so you can see the paper - it takes muscles to hold your head in that position. It puts a lot of strain on your neck and upper back. 

Even monks knew that. This image is from the 12th century. There are other images - more recent - and they show a slanted desk - but the scribe is still bending his head down. If I had time, I would look for the seated posture that was recommended by business colleges when they were training people to write all day - prior to the invention of the typewriter. As I recall - we can sit upright and have our eyes gaze down at the paper - keeping our head in a better position. I think our teachers in elementary school used to say things like, "Don't write with your nose," when kids would hunch over.

The regular daily post is below. 

Apologies to CJ for skipping tomorrow's chapter. I think that is the only time I skip a day.

Updating Post Office display (5)


Lovie, the manager of the clerks at our main post office knows my son and asked him to ask me how much it would cost to have me address a new set of envelopes for the current clerks at the main post office. I should have said, two sheets of stamps - but, I said I would be happy to do it for free. I tried to make them very scanner machine friendly. I will post the photos of the actual envelopes in late June or July.

LINK to some other Lovie envelopes

Here are some more that were on the earlier display LINK to postal clerks


The Certificate Story - Chapter 5

We are going to skip some of the additional complications and challenges that went on in Chicago. Let's just say - it's a big city. Sometimes they just need to shut the water off for a few hours - but at least they put a little post-it on your door to warn you. And Chicago thought that The Windy City would distract people from the reality that it is The INSANE Weather City. Or maybe it's global warming -- but - good grief - the weather is unpredictable - which is a polite way of saying - two solid weeks of winter weather - at the end of April. I am not exaggerating. It snowed.

During my down time while the kids were in school - I updated Person A, who had taken my order to make the entire certificate digital that I would be out of town for an additional week - but could OK the certificate online and look at a hard copy proof on Monday the 8th. No problem he says -- and then he responds pretty promptly - telling me that the fonts that the original graphic designer (Connie Wilson) sent over will not work with their system.

There was a flurry of emailing - as Person A, Connie, and I discussed why the fonts she sent over would not work. It's not worth trying to explain. It has to do with fonts and how people own fonts and try to make a living off the use of fonts. Connie could explain it - but the details don't really matter - the bottom line is that periodically - she has to re-purchase fonts as basic as Helvetica -- and they are not cheap - and yes, I know there are alternatives that might look like Helvetica - but when you can tell the difference - you can't make yourself use the cheap imitations. It's like telling me that the margarine tastes just like butter. No, it does not.

Another fatal mistake - made by StupidJean - she told Person A to *just find a similar Old English font.* I am embarrassed that I said that. All I can do is plead temporary insanity. Everyone knows that you do not turn font selection over to anyone unless they are a close personal friend and even then - opinions could clash.

So - we know exactly what's going to go wrong at this juncture.


Friday, May 26, 2023

From Mary to Tracy (4)

This is clever - to put apple blossoms with the Shel Silverstein stamp - very clever as well as lovely.

The Certificate Story - Chapter 4

What could wrong? All I did was book myself into Chicago for two weeks to help out while my granddaughter had her tonsils and adenoids out. They warn parents that the first week can be pretty rough (true) and even the second week can be a bit painful (also true). The Saturday between the two recovery weeks was the day of a HUGE school fundraiser that my daughter has worked on for enough years that she had worked her way into a position that entailed a ton of work and her husband had a work trip scheduled for the following week. Having Nanna on board for a couple weeks seemed like a good idea. 

What could go wrong? Well, dad could twist his ankle on his way out the door to the hospital for the tonsillectomy and it could end up being a broken bone. And he's one of those dads who actually does a ton of stuff around the house. Actual helpful chore type stuff. Stuff that my daughter and I would never do - like plant flowers and water them. So daughter and I end up without Mr Helpful - and she had tickets to meet up with a friend - for a mom's weekend on the weekend that I was supposed to go home. HelpfulDad could have easily covered that weekend on his own.

HelpfulDad felt really bad about being incapacitated - and said that if I was willing to stay an extra week he'd really like WearyMom to go on her mom's weekend. I didn't think it would be any problem to stay the extra week. I could approve the certificate online - see a proof on May 8th - and still have time to make changes and get it run off by May 11 - for meeting on May 12. What could go wrong?

Thursday, May 25, 2023

From Ming to Tracy (3)

This sweet little design is from Ming. Her copperplate is lovely.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 3

Details and digression. The story needs some details about the certificate. The who, where, when, and most of all WHY?

Who the heck wants a big stupid certificate thanking them for being the president of a state level  organization? I don't want to talk about what kind of organization is still presenting a certificate to a past president. Part of me wants to find out where they are having their ceremony to present the certificate and get a job as a bus boy and walk around filling water glasses during the meeting where they present the certificate. I really don't want to talk unkindly about them -- but, I can't imagine anyone really wants this big stupid certificate. They probably stuff it in a closet. I can't imagine anyone hangs it on a wall. Although many of them live in small towns - so maybe archaic framed certificates fit right in. Maybe *quaint* is their thing. That's fine with me.

IMHO - it is time for this organization to come up with something different. But, there is no way for me to actually talk to them. Actual members do not actually deal with this certificate themselves - and for all these years, it has been some kind of secretarial administrative assistant person who handles the process of getting the certificate and then taking it to the framer - and I imagine the frame is about $300. 

The scheduling is interesting, too. There are members of the organization all over the state - and the officers meet in DSM in mid May. While officers are in town, they sign the certificate so that it can be framed and presented in September. So - it's never a rush job - although it's a hard deadline to get the signatures at that mid May meeting. Yes, I know we could mail it to people to sign - but there was that one time when that one certificate ended up punctured and soggy - and had to be reproduced - so - we don't want to try that again.*

I am going to suggest that they send the signatures to be scanned and dropped in -- or maybe I won't. I once had another certificate job - where in a time crunch - they just had me replicate a signature - which was fun.

I knew I was going to be out of town from April 13-29 - but that left 2 weeks to make sure the new certificate was fine prior to the May 12 meeting. What could possibly go wrong?

* and it would have been a UPS employee who went *postal* on the certificate. It was not a USPS employee. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

From Mia to Tracy (2)

 This is lovely - and the stamps coordinate beautifully. I wonder if she used a ruling writer. Is it paint or ink? Either way -- it's just lovely.

The Certificate Story - Chapter 2

Could-a. Would-a. Should-a.

I could/should have done the exact same artwork to fit the exact same space. But, StupidJean thought that she could improve upon the scrolly doodle design along the left margin. She also thought that artwork often times looks better when it is slightly larger - and then reduced when it is scanned. This was a very bad decision - to make slightly different art and slightly larger than needed. But that's what StupidJean did. 

StupidJean took the original artwork and a very detailed layout to the digital art and graphic company. She has done a ton of work with them and they are the very best people in town to scan artwork and print it on fine art paper. They do all kinds of things with art and fonts. They literally cover large important buildings with images. I apologized for even bringing such a ridiculous little job - but they know me - and they have one other stupid little certificate job that they do every year. So - they made me feel OK - about a really archaic looking certificate. We chuckled at how pitiful it was that people were still stuck in a medieval aesthetic. 

I have a friend, Connie Wilson, no relation, who is the graphic designer who converted the certificate to fonts when I switched to printing the lettering and adding the swirly doodle by hand. She's been updating the file for at least 15 years - and we both figured that she could send her files and the fonts over to the big company and they could scan the scrolly doodle art and drop it in.

 Connie and I are both 71 and we know how to anticipate problems. This seemed like a piece of cake. What could go wrong? 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

From Patty to Tracy (1)

By process of elimination, I deduced that this is from Patty - who did not put a return address on the envelope. I also recognize her manuscript printing. It's a lovely composition and the USPS did an excellent job with their non-conforming cancel. Way to go USPS.


The Certificate Story - Chapter 1 (of 10 - for those who do not like surprises - and will get tired of the story and want me to just wrap things up) It is not even worth 10 chapters - and it does not even approach the quality of my annual Xmas eve rant/story - so - keep those expectations low. Unless you were a graphic designer - in the previous century - and then it might strike a chord.

Many years ago - at least 20 - probably 25 (maybe more?)  someone called me and asked if I could hand letter an entire certificate - not just fill in a name. She had a photocopy of what the previous person had done and I deeply regret that I did not save that photocopy. It was bizarre. The person had not even ruled straight lines in pencil. It was astoundingly inept on so many levels - and that is not an overstatement. I was excited to take on the job because it was going to be sooooo easy to do an improved version. There was a scary, gold swirly-doodle design adorning the left margin.

I hand lettered it and added an actual gold leaf swirly doodle. Each year I refined the swirly doodle a little bit. I morphed it into a green and blue acanthus leaf design and added gold gouache dots, details, and drop shadows to the lettering. After a few years of doing the whole thing by hand - I decided that it was too time consuming (based on what I was charging) so I switched to a printed font and had the acanthus stems printed in black and added all the leaves and color by hand.

After I bonked my head, I decided that it was time to retire the account - so last year I told the client that it would be my last year and for the 2023 certificate - I would come up with a design that could be entirely digital. The first year would cost the same as the hand done certificate. After than it would cost significantly less - since it would be entirely digital.

The client was happy with the proposal. They understood that these old school styles of certificates are relics from the past - and were pleased that I had an alternative for them.

What could go wrong?

Monday, May 22, 2023

From Smash to Tracy

 This is one that probably needs to be seen in person. There is something about the layers and the actual ink on paper that just *glows* - that's not the right word. There is something about actual stuff that has a look - if anyone knows a better word - please let me know. I'd forgotten how pretty that stamp is. The bluish highlight on the right side of the bell is so perfect with the brown tones.

I could go on a long rant here about a job I did for at least 25 years - that I had to morph into a digital job because there is nobody in town who is available for original calligraphy any more. In theory - it would have been simple. In reality - it was one of the most complicated and confounding ordeals I have been through. I'm almost tempted to tell the full story because I know there are few of you old timer analog people who will appreciate the challenge of converting to digital. 

Maybe I'll tell the story in chapters - to fill up these Tracy posts -- since I will have mostly the same thing to say about each one -- isn't this pretty --

Yesterday I pointed out the unfortunate red rubber stamp stating that the envelope was *non-machineable.* It happened when I went to branch post office and asked for hand-cancels and the clerk assured me that she could make sure that the envelopes did not go through the machines - but she did not tell me that she was going to add her own *non-machineable* stamp after I left. A different clerk at the main PO thought that the other clerk was trying to be helpful - by avoiding the machines that would have put a second cancel over the top of the hand cancel. 

I still need to have a conversation with someone who can tell me if there is a way to get a hand cancel and avoid the machine cancel - without the *non-machineable* rubber stamp. I'm guessing that the only way to make that happen is to have someone at the main PO who can walk the mail to the place where the non-machineable mail is gathering - and put it into the queue. I have more to investigate and will keep you posted. Way back in the previous century - my PO pal, Dave, who ordered a special cancel stamper - JUST FOR MY MAIL - that used black ink (instead of red, self-inking) - and he had to change the date by hand -- I'm pretty sure he told me that he would walk my mail down to *somewhere* and I'm guessing he was going to where he could put it in with the non-machineable - but it was also beyond people who had any kind of rubber stamp to add to the letters. Just a hunch. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

To Sharon, Mary, Janet in April

This was written a while ago - and got bumped. After this - we'll have a steady stream of Tracy's mail.

OK, we're back to the pointed nib with indigo ink that I did in early May. Sharon's might be the best - partly because it looks so nice with the stamps. It would not have worked with just the tole stamps. It needed the blue on the clown to tie it all together.


I had done those bands of flourishing on a whole stack of envelopes and then when I started filling the names and addresses - I started making a lot of mistakes. For me -- 3 is a lot. I suppose I should compare the number of mistakes to the overall number of envelopes...seems like it was about 9 or 10 - so that's around 30%. That's really bad.

Rather than attempt corrections on Maggie's and Leslie's, I put theirs into outer envelopes. Then I spaced off on finding (and fixing) the third error -- and didn't even think about it until I got home from the PO. Grrrrrr. I started looking through the photographs to find the one that had an error - and I knew it was in the zip - but I couldn't find it. It was driving me a little crazy that I couldn't find a wrong zip in the photos -- and I just figured that I would wait and see if it was returned. Technically - if the zip is wrong - the correct address - street+city+state - should get the letter delivered.

Thankfully, Mary sent me a photo of hers - so I knew that it had arrived - and then - I realized why I couldn't find the zip error - because it was covered up when I photographed hers with Janet's.

So what's with the NON-MACHINEABLE rubber stamp?
This was in the stack that had some square envelopes - and some multiple stamps - that I took to a clerk -- and that  particular clerk sounded like she knew exactly what to do -- but she must have added that non-machineable stamp after I left -- because I sure as heck would not want a standard shaped envelope with a clear address stamped with that red stamp. 
I asked a different clerk at a different station and got a bit of an answer. Which will appear tomorrow.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

From Valerie to Tracy

Well - the cancels do not add to the design - but - I like the flowers. The choice of colors looks nice on the kraft envelope. That's a very pretty stamp - which I should have purchased. I saw it when I went in for the Tomie dePaola stamp - which they did not have yet - but then I bought the Roy Lichtenstein stamps - and now I am not sure I like them.....luckily we have 3 weeks of Tracy envelopes before we have to look at what I did for the May exchange. The end of April and the first half of May were chock full of bad weather and too many unexpected events - although, I am not complaining ---- just filling space - because the days are flying by and I have those weeds to conquer. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

From Chuck, Jessica and Amy to Tracy

I thought it would be fun to gang the bunnies. Bugs and the troll from Chuck - and a close up from Jessica and a stamp inspired pose from Amy. 

I am continuing with my *thing* where I put someone other than myself on the list for the exchange. For the April exchange I chose Tracy Levine. I'm wildly excited for you to see all the Tracy envelopes. Tracy is another one of my art-friends. She was the director of a program that promoted local artists (including singers, dancers, musicians, poets, puppeteers, etc) and booked them into teaching and performing gigs. 

When I put Tracy's name on the list, I mentioned that she is a serious gardener - so there are lots of flowery envelopes coming up. She has a birthday in May - so there are some birthday greetings as well.

There is a part of me that wants to hire a film crew to capture Tracy opening her mail because she gets wildly excited over anything that is done by hand. While she is not an artist in the sense that she works at producing artwork - she is a consummate cheerleader for the arts - and will be delighted with her mail. Her home and garden qualify as *works of art.* 

I am debating whether to give them to her all at once - or sneak over to her house and deliver one piece per day for 21 days. Decisions decisions. 

Thursday, May 18, 2023

From Janet to Mary & from Leslie to Nela

Two nice examples found in my folder of art that people have kindly sent for me to share. 

Here is a book that may be of interest - not to buy - to check out from the library. All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley. I'll run this excerpt from the NPR review of the book because it does a better job of describing the book than I could. He spent 10 years as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. He weaves his views of art/guests/co-workers/grief/etc into a very nice read.

But Bringley's guard's-eye view is unique, and he presents his personal story with a refreshing sincerity and absence of edginess or posturing. In the wake of his 27-year-old brother Tom's death from cancer in 2008, Bringley, two years his junior, gave up a prestigious "high-flying desk job" at The New Yorker, where "they told me I was 'going places,'" for a job in which "I was happy to be going nowhere." He explains, "I had lost someone. I did not wish to move on from that. In a sense I didn't wish to move at all."

Drawn to "the most straightforward job I could think of in the most beautiful place I knew" — a job that promised room to grieve and reflect in the wake of his loss — Bringley arrived at the Met in the fall of 2008. He explains his state of mind when he pivoted toward this union position for which he donned a cheap, blue, polyester uniform and received an allowance of $80 a year for socks: "My heart is full, my heart is breaking, and I badly want to stand still a while," he writes.


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

To JeanR in April

 The idea is not too bad. The tiny writing has the amount of the stamps added up for the postal workers. Of course - this is in the batch of envelopes that probably should have cost more because of the height of the envelopes - but this might have slipped through.

There was major grrrrr-ing at myself when I saw this image pop up. I had efficiently put all the April envelopes in the mail - promptly - to free up the end of the month - and I photographed and loaded the images. It is now April 25th and I am in Chicago - filling in blurbs. 

I did not notice until right now that I had left the H out of ROTHFUSZ. Grrrr. And the way I did not have guidelines is strange. I must have been distracted by the stamps. Jean let me know that there were several stamps that she had never seen before. Me, too. Thank you to PenpalPP who sent me her stash.

Apologies for how I might be repeating myself - be forewarned that any glimmer of hope that I'd get myself on track or that these posts would have any rhyme or reason is gone. Randomness reigns. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

To Carolyn and Grace in April

I'm impressed. Mary read about the *snowball sentence* yesterday and wrote an excellent one:

A no can feel sadly abrupt, turning sunshine instantly fuliginous.

 I had to look up fuliginous. Pertaining to soot; sooty; dark, dusky

More Pop-Art fonts - and I'm not sure if either of these is better than the other. Grace's might have been better if I had not let the EDMANDS run uphill. I am not going to post this font because I do not know where it comes from and there might be someone who owns it and doesn't want me giving it away.

If you want the full font - Google *Pop Art Font* - and you will see it in the images.
Or maybe you won't. I have no idea how Google works. I just know that if I Google those 3 words - I get it and many others.

I deeply regret that S in Edmands -- and I deeply regret that we do not hear from the originator of that line - "I deeply regret..." If you still check the blog, Rachael - we'd love to hear from you.


Monday, May 15, 2023

To Kate in April - pop art font

Here is a new type of puzzle - or *new to me* I should say.
It appeared in Morning Brew - something that pops up in my email every morning to offer tidbits of news which often times get my blood boiling -- and then at the bottom they have a variety of puzzles and quizzes. 

The *puzzle* blurb said: what is *unique* about this sentence. I didn't spend any time trying to figure it out - and will post the answer in a paragraph below - but, I need something to fill the space before I post the answer - so I will talk about that envelope.

This is the *puzzle* - What is unique about this sentence:
I do not know where family doctors acquired illegibly perplexing handwriting.

I'm  auditioning styles to go with the Roy Lichtenstein stamps that will come out one of these days. I just read the Wiki article about Roy. Lots of details - mostly confirms that his work was controversial when he did it and it's still controversial. Somehow - being controversial is sometimes *the subject matter* of art. And even that is controversial. OK - here is the answer to the puzzle: It’s a “snowball sentence”: The first word is one letter, the second word is two letters, etc. Can you write your own snowball sentence? This is as far as I got.

I am not blue about orange jumpers 


Sunday, May 14, 2023

To Smash in April

Here it is with the gold dots - and. below - before the gold dots. It is probably too hard to see in the photo. IMHO, the gold was a nice touch. 

The days have been whizzing past and there are very few posts scheduled - so bear with me as I hunker down and fill up May and hopefully get into June. The jabbering might be pretty minimal. But at least I have a solid set of exchangers who are providing enough mail for me to keep the days filled. I love the April envelopes that arrived. You will like them, too.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

To Maggie in April - postal vehicles

There was a better envelope inside this one - and this one does not deserve to be posted. Somehow it snuck in while I was distracted. As I write this, it is 5pm - but, the days are whizzing by - and I'm vigilant  about getting the posts filled up. 

Chuck sent this photo and as always - I'm happy with any and all postal tidbits.

One of these was posted recently on CraigsList. My son and I dream of owning/sharing a retired postal vehicle. This one would have been perfect during fair weather - which doesn't seem to be happening very often. It's a 1964 Rand...whatever that is.


Friday, May 12, 2023

To Lynne in April - more sign painter talk

Stamps with tiny little details in the images are delightful. The colors are also welcoming. These letters are similar to the one to Irene - and seems like they are more squared off and Irene's were rounder. I do not even remember which I did first - and do not prefer one over the other. If I were to do a third - I think I would smoosh the letters closer together and make them more 3D - like little pots sitting in a row. Although that is probably a bad idea - my looser more abstract stuff tends to be better.

I remembered another sign painter story. It was from a sign painter who was giving a presentation on the very first guild meeting that I ever attended. In addition to sign painting, he did hand lettering on trucks. He talked about how preparing the surface was step one whenever you were hand lettering. He then told about the people who came to him for real lettering on their semi tractors - those huge vehicles driven by truckers. They valued the shine on the paint job on the truck - and it was essential that the shine be preserved. 

He said - something along these lines:
Well, if you want the paint to stick - you have to give the paint something to stick to - which means you need to *de-gloss* the area where the lettering will go. 

I'm not sure that's the right term, but you get the idea. Of course, when the sign painter explained this - the trucker would often object - saying NO. To which the sign painter would reply: Do you want the paint ON the truck or OFF the truck?

That line inspired me to ponder debatable issues - and get better at determining when there are some baseline requirements ---

Thursday, May 11, 2023

To Patty in March - to Patty and Chuck in April


Well -- Patty deserved better than this for her birthday - but sometimes I just have to go with something that is dovetailing with what I feel like doing. I love filling in grids. I had so much fun doing this. It was tempting to keep adding doo-dads - but, I didn't want to ruin it - so hopefully Patty wasn't too disappointed. 

When she sees the rest of the wretched rainbow failures -- she might be happy that she got this one.

I goofed up and had two March envelopes scheduled for the same day - back in mid April, so I bumped this one. I will add the envelope that I did for Patty in April - because it was a lot better. I grouped it with Chuck's because they are so similar. At least 10 people received something along these lines - it's McCaffrey's indigo ink - done with a Nikko G nib. It was nice to get the nibs and ink out for the second month in a row -- even though a lot of them are redundant.

It was the first time I had done the caps - and they were really hard - but the type of hard that was actually enjoyable - if that makes sense. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Valerie - to Peggy and Jean

Here is an envelope that Peggy was sure was pre-printed. This was Valerie's first exchange and she signed up for April as well - so - hopefully the exchange is providing a good fit for her creative outlet needs.


I'm adding blurbs while I am out of town so I might not remember to fill in a picture of her note inside the envelope. She used cancelled stamps as a decorative motif - cutting them off an envelope and leaving a small border of the paper around the stamp. It's a very clever way to get one more bit of use out of the stamps. 

I Googled *reuse postage stamp art* and *recycle postage stamp art* and there are all kinds of ideas. Feel free to look around on your own. 

Here is a video (under 4 minutes) featuring one of the art directors who works on the USPS stamp designs. I would say that it is required watching for everyone who reads this blog - but, I have no way of enforcing that decree. So, I'll just have faith that all y'all have some clarity about your priorities.

It is 6 years old - and there are many more videos along the right side of the screen - which I may or may not get back to s.o.m.e.d.a.y.


Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Lauren - to Peggy and Jean

Lauren sent a card and envelope to me - even though I only had Peggy on the list -- and several other exchangers did the same -- and I deeply regret that I do not make a point of thanking each person who sends an extra. My excuse(s) is(are) valid. To be honest - the amount of stuff that goes right is quite surprising.

It was fun talking to Peggy about all the different mail that arrived - and how things were made. Lauren does digital art - and some of it - like this - looks convincingly hand done. The flourish on CathyO's was not convincingly hand done. I had to point out to Peggy how we could tell that it was not printed on the envelope. The initial on the inside was a lot more convincing. And coming up will be some rubber stamping that Peggy was sure was preprinted on the envelope,

With her master's degree in printmaking - Peggy is familiar with every possible way to put images onto paper - or other substrate ?? Is that the word? There is a word for *anything* that you adhere an image to - I think - we have just entered a foggy area of my memory - and I have no idea where to go to get some accurate definitions. I do recall having a list of vocabulary used in printmaking and being gobsmacked at how long the list was. But -- we are beyond re-searching that rabbit hole.


Monday, May 8, 2023

CathyO - to Peggy - Cecelia Boschi

Well - you just have to see this in person. If you have ever exchanged with Cathy - you might want to send her an envelope and a stamp and ask her if she will do one for you. That little flourish-y motif on the envelope looks like it might be a rubber stamp or a design on the envelope - but it is all hand done. 

And then she did more of it on a card on the inside. I can't begin to tell you how pretty it is, She took a class with Cecelia Boschi called Pretty Paisley Letters.

Here is her website - I do not see an option to switch it from Italian to English - but there's plenty to see without reading.

Here is the card.  


Sunday, May 7, 2023

To Gloria at the PO

Quite a while ago - I made a display for our main post office - using the names of the people who worked at the counter. I think that most of them have moved to different positions - and my son said that Gloria  (who is newer) was wondering if I could do an envelope for her. She's the person who helps people get their passports and she had just helped Hunter renew his. 

So - I did these two for Gloria. I did the gray one first and thought it was a little subdued. So I did a second one. Then after it sat on my desk for a while, I decided to go around the edge with white dots on top of the heavy black line. It gives an edge that looks like the zig-zag edge of stamps - which I rather like.

Those perforated edges on old vintage stamps are cool. I like them better than the self adhesive zig-zags.
The ENERGY stamp is such a nice stamp. The colors alone pretty much guarantee a fun envelope. Of course, it only works on envelopes that are not going through the mail. Back on April 26, there is a big square envelope with 4 of these - which was OK - it also had an international stamp. Then on April 19 - there is one where I had to use 8 of them - and that's just too many.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

From Grace in March

 Another steal worthy idea - this one from Grace. I do not have any Shel Silverstein stamps. Seems like there might be a way to combine the idea with a different stamp. I guess I have to count the letters in all the names - both first and last. And I have a feeling that the first name only works because I have a boring name with no ascenders or descenders. Imagine any name with a y - it wouldn't work - unless maybe it started with a J - this one descends - so a y at the end would work. 

The last names need to be 5-7 letters - or maybe I could flip it and do something like SHARON in the leaf letters and Fite in the script - but the script would not look good over on the right. Would it look OK to have the last name ahead of the first name? Spoiler alert, Sharon - I think I'm going to try that......


Chuck sent this spectacular link to the Louvre - so we can browse their collection online.

20,544 items in the writings and inscription section -- this is going to take a while ---

Thanks Chuck!

Friday, May 5, 2023

From Mary in March

 I would definitely label this one stealworthy - and my version might come up with something other than a fox sleeping in the lower left corner. There are all kinds of things that could be going on down there. I am writing this on March 31 - so the April sign-up starts tomorrow - maybe I'll ponder some ideas off this one - from Mary. (That didn't happen)


So - we had a new person sign up for the April exchange -- Amy Fox. How perfect would this have been for Amy?

You can imagine what kind of panic I went into - pondering how to make a super fun envelope with those six letters. In the end - I added her name to an envelope that had been filled up with a bunch of pointed nib flourishing. I think I had about 10 envelopes ready to go before the sign up even started. 

If Amy signs up again, I think I have a better idea - for a 6 letter design.

(Update - Amy did sign up again - but now I have forgotten the idea I referenced. Guess I can just steal the entirety of Mary's design.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

From Janet to Mary in March

 Here's a new twist on how my blog works -- people (like Mary) send me images of what they receive in the exchange. I have posted photos from others from time to time - so it is not unheard of. I only mention it as a reminder that if you get something you love, you might want to send a picture to me - because some of the exchangers come up with a different idea for each envelope on their list - so there are a bunch of ideas out there that we might be missing.

I still wish there was a way to catalogue the 5,000+ ideas I have already posted. It takes too long to scroll through them. There used to be a way to look at just the images on Blogspot or Google - but, they switched things around and now I can't find it. If anyone knows where Google is storing all my images - please tell me -- they might be available to all of us.

Below is a very clever card from Janet that was in her envelope for Peggy - that ran quite a while ago. I love the mix of all the styles. Peggy did not recall that she had anything to do with launching my career in teaching. She's mentioned that other people credit her with launching their careers. I think people who are good launchers are gifted at helping people find things to do that are a good fit.