Thursday, February 29, 2024

JAN Rabbit+grid to Jessica

 Jessica's envelopes tend to be in their own category due to the length of both names. Grids are one of my go-to design principles. I did manage to do all the Jan envelopes in an orderly fashion. The goals were to stick to one style/color of envelope and go through all my markers and weed out the dry ones and also use up sheets of stamps to eliminate orphans. The next goal was to photograph all of them and get them posted  in consecutive days so that I have a handle on what has been posted. 

Now I'm thinking about a celebration to celebrate that I didn't lapse into chaos. I will refrain, because all of this happened during the blizzard followed by cold spell - so being house bound is probably 75% of the reason I didn't get distracted and wander off into chaos. 

Or perhaps, I have reformed. Time will tell. Tomorrow we will start on the envelopes that arrived in January.


Real time comment: One of the exchangers emailed me and said they liked the envelope I sent - and I couldn't remember what it looked like - and I can't find a photo of it - so there will be no celebration. Maybe March will be better.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

JAN Rabbit stamps to Janet and Mary

Correction - yesterday I said I thought the lettering idea had come from Cathy - but it came from Rachael. I fixed the post at 3:25 pm.

 These two are the same style as the one to Cathy - and had lots more colors to work with since I had a few of last year's Year of the Rabbit to use up. I'm looking forward to some dragons for this year. This style of lettering is pretty versatile - I'll probably keep it in the stack of ideas that get to live near the top of the piles.

Real time comment: some of the blurbs on the Jan envelopes are short - and there aren't many add-ons. But, we'll just have to deal with it - because that's what we've been learning over the past several decades: not everything turns out the way we were thinking it would. Some days I'm chatty and some days I'm not.

Did I ever tell the story about picking up my first child at a little Mother's Morning Out drop off program? The kids were 2 years old - so every mom would pick up their child, literally - when the kids came running to be reunited - and then we would chit chat for a bit - while holding the toddlers. One mom picked up a little boy and asked him: Did you bite anybody?

The rest of the mom's were startled - and also speechless. The 2-year old boy could feel several sets of eyes boring a hole through him and the silence was awkward - so he shrugged and said: Sometimes I bite and sometimes I don't.

When I made that comment in the first paragraph - it unearthed the story. I just read an interesting article on memory. It's NYTimes - so it might pop up as one free article per month - otherwise it's behind a firewall. If you want to read .

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

JAN Peanuts stamps to Cathy, JeanR and Kate

After I was weary from doing the medieval versals, I had 3 Peanuts stamps left and tried this style that arrived on an envelope from Rachael. It was lots of fun - although it was hard to execute using markers. 

Jean's is ho-hum - and Kate's took forever to do - and was disappointing. As I was scrutinizing the way Charles Schultz drew shoelaces, I was wishing I had just stuck with medieval versals. <sigh>

The amount of time it took to do the lettering on Jean's was absurd. I am mesmerized by outlining (on the name) but is it a good use of time? I can see how much better it is - but nobody else sees the *before*. And then each stroke on the address was a scritchy-scratchy back and forth maneuver that took so much time - and the effect isn't commensurate with the time it took.

The problem with Kate's is: the shoes are way too small. I should have made them bigger and overlapping. Grrrrr.
And some of them should have been tipped up and shown the bottom of the shoe. The success of lifting ideas off the stamp is to do it right. Don't dumb it down.
As a wise person once said: There's never enough time to do it right - but always time to do it over. If I happen to find another sheet of Peanut's stamps - I might. buy them and do this one over.


Monday, February 26, 2024

JAN versals to Patty, Paula and Juliana

I have some pages from a book that might have been a Dover book. I put the individual pages into plastic sleeves and used them in classes - and they have been lost in the stacks for a while. There was a time when I really enjoyed reproducing illuminated letters so it was interesting to try them again. My envelopes were too thin to stand up to wet media so I went with Pima Microns and ZIGs. Pigmas are actually pretty good.

The juxtaposition of Peanuts and medieval versals is silly. 

The Q I was looking at when I did Juliana's had that odd border thing going up and I wish I would have left it off.  Or better idea with my 20-20 hindsight - would have been to have it turn a corner and border the envelope.


Sunday, February 25, 2024

JAN to Sharon and Gloria - Inspired by Mary


I just found a new feature where I can make the background on photos of the envelopes disappear - so now I have to decide if I like that feature. The possibility of me remembering how I did it is slim.

These two were inspired by one of Mary's envelope that ran in mid January. I'll repost it below so we can all laugh at how weirdly regimented I was with my rectangles. I gridded everything off. On Sharon's I used the dark blue for the background which was a mistake. So, I tried a second time - on Gloria's and I like the black background - but I wish I had not been so grid-like.

Also - I need some better pinks and light blues. I should have used the gray from Sharon's on Gloria's. The whole point of these was to go through all my markers and toss the dry ones. Plus, the medium blue on the monster is more teal. It's interesting how the very subtle variations in colors can have so much impact.

Here is Mary's - the looser rectangles are a lot more fun.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

JAN to Sharon, Sharen, Lynne, Maggie - BMX biker


We'll take a break from versals and look at the last 4 I did - at the end of the list of 20. I had run out of steam and had weather, seasonal health bugs and travel to manage. It's all just a foggy memory. Note to self: be wildly happy and grateful about the *nothing going on* at the moment. 
These are ho-hum - but the colors are nice.

Too bad I can't make myself remember that Maggie's name simply does not work in pointed brush - or perhaps I need to try harder.....


Here's another video about someone in Des Moines. We were in the same dorm at Drake. She was a couple years ahead of me. Later, our paths crossed when she was the principal of my kids' middle school. She's 71 or 72 (I think) in this video which is a couple years old - and she's still prominent in the BMX bike racing circles.

Here's an amusing Drake t-shirt and Iowa t-shirt.

Well - that's an overstatement - but, I do appreciate the simplicity of most of it.

Friday, February 23, 2024

JAN - Snoopy to Susan and Leslie

This was my favorite - of the versal/Peanut series - although it has jumped ahead. I actually did it last - but, I have to stick with the order in which I photographed the envelopes because that's how my fool proof system works. I thought I would do the same S for Sharon and Sharen - but I liked the creature enough that if I do it again, I want the background to be gold and the creature to be in colors.

The other Snoopy stamp went to Leslie - and it's not very exciting.
I did enjoy doing the names and addresses in a style that looked a little bit like Charles Schultz's lettering.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

JAN - versals & Peanuts to Irene and Christy

After I did the yellow and purple Schroder designs - I decided to do PigPen - my favorite Peanut. I liked the colors and looked for something without knot work. Irene's I should be a super fun letter. I was still not warmed up - so I should probably give these two another try. 

I seldom do a C that pleases me. Sometimes I think I should just use circle templates and stop trying to do them by hand.

After I had this post done - I added some colored pencil to make the letters closer to Pigpen's outfit - which is a definite improvement.

Real time comment: I just photographed the Feb envelopes - and when I blocked the addresses - I completely forgot that I had done the blocking this way in Jan. Now I can't decide which I like better. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

JAN Peanuts and versals to Troy and Amy

These are literally the first two I did in January. I had taken Dec off and was excited to get back to my desk. I was going to avoid the oft-made mistake of not having particular stamps in mind. It seemed like using up the Peanuts stamps would be a good idea. As much as I love them, I didn't have any good ideas so I did the thing where you ponder - what is the least likely style to combine with Peanuts? Juxtapose the unexpected. Medieval versals seemed like a very odd combo. There will be a bunch more coming up - all I can say is that I had fun. I'm fine with how they worked out - but not wowed. These are 7th and 8th century versals. 

I also tried a different way of blocking out addresses. I copied the city/state/zip and put it over the street address. The knot-work is a lot harder than it looks and the bottom part of Amy's is messed up. If I decide to do more knot-work, I'll need to practice some more.

Troy's really grew on me. Those big dots are so contemporary. Maybe I should work on some other letters that would look like that one. My sample pages never have more than 4 or 5 letters in the same style.


Tuesday, February 20, 2024

DEC from Kate and Sharon

A real time memo to the exchangers: my envelopes are going in the mail today. Many of them have clear addresses. A few do not - so I repeated the address on the back. I ran out of time to enclose notes - and many of them should have had *deeply regret* messages - I'll reserve my nit-picking for the blog posts. I did manage to get out nibs and ink and gouache - so that was a big step. Not that the results were impressive - but at least it happened. 

A very pretty card and envelope from Kate. The collage has stitched details - and back in December Kate and I emailed about what she was going to be making - and then I was delighted when it arrived - but - I've forgotten exactly what it was. Forgive me for not digging back to figure it out - but, I have only one Dec envelope left to post - and I am determined to get it done today - so that I can put 2023 to bed.

You know what? I'm going to go ahead and put the last one in this post. That way I don't have to look for an add-on. This is from Sharon and there was a bonus envelope inside with a snowflake done with a pointed nib as well as a very pretty card.

Tomorrow - we'll start the envelopes I sent out in January. 


Monday, February 19, 2024

DEC from Leslie and Juliana - Oregon Trail


Leslie's reindeer is fun - and the spot of red - and the snow globe are nicely coordinating elements.

Juliana's penmanship is lovely - and that snow globe on the cancel is one of the clearest images I've ever seen on a cancel. So many of them are weird inky blobs that I can't decipher.


I had mixed feelings about mentioning this book - but after watching the video yesterday that included the very detailed miniature wooden wagon - I decided to talk about it. The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck.

Two middle aged brothers decide to travel the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon - in an actual covered wagon pulled by mules. Antics ensue. Who knew that there are still large chunks of the trail to follow that have not been paved. And it wasn't just a single set of ruts in the ground. There were many places where the road fanned out and there were multiple trails that would eventually come back together. 

I choose books like this with the idea that they will put me to sleep - but this one really grabbed my attention and I'd find myself staying awake to find out what happened next. There were also plenty of details included from the journals that the actual pioneers kept when they were on their journeys. What people endured back in the day is far different than the images we have from movies and TV shows.

What the brothers endured is a combination of comical and "Oh.My.Gosh - even I would have had better sense than that." But, it made for some good storytellin'. When I researched the author - he's been an adventurous guy since he was 15 and flew across the US with another brother - in a Piper Cub with some maps, but no radio and a compass that barely worked. Yikes. 

Here is a very good review of the book -

While I think this story might be interesting to kids - I don't think many parents would approve of the very salty language. It might be fine for teenagers - and probably depends on the teenagers.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

DEC from Paula - Wyoming miniature maker


I was happy to hear from Paula in December and then she signed up for the exchange in January. I am writing this before any of the January mail has arrived. It's a day after the second blizzard within a week (in January) and it is 7-below. The card is a purchased card - so this is a good example of getting some envelope inspiration from a card. The *dotty* strings and the *dotty* stamp are also an excellent combo.


Here is a 25 minute video from Wyoming PBS about a 91 year old guy who makes miniatures as well as other items. The subject matter is what you would expect from a guy in Wyoming - so maybe not all that interesting to some of us. The part that is worth watching is his attitude about his skill at making things and how he delves into the projects. Then he talks about teaching people how to make some of the things he makes. And I don't want to spoil the punchline - but - it does dovetail with my opinion on the value of making things with your hands (which are connected to your eyes and brain).

Saturday, February 17, 2024

DEC from Mary - Bobble-head guy


I wonder what kind of markers Mary used. They must be alcohol markers because they don't show the layers. It's a really nice effect with the stamp. This is another idea that would be fun to appropriate. She ran off one of her own illustrations for her cards (below) which is adorable. 

This is the 14th birthday for the blog. Instead of a.n.o.t.h.e.r mushy thank you to the people who read, comment, exchange, etc - I will post a fun little video about a guy from my neighborhood.  I'm pretty sure that MrWilson has a bobblehead of himself made by this guy - if I figure out where it is - I'll post it. It was a gift from people he worked with.


I suppose if you have a lot of time to kill, you could watch the other videos in this series. Also, I do not know if the videos stay up indefinitely. If this link does not work - I'll find something else to drop in.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Dec env from Cathy - Korean street food + odds and ends

Some nice stamping and what's-its-name lettering from Cathy. Her card has a mid-century feel. I approve of the easy to read address.


Another batch of videos showing people making things. They are edible and considered street food in Korea. I sent this to a friend who had lived in Korea in the early 70s and asked if she saw street food like this and she said she had not seen anything remotely like this. I'm beginning to have mixed feelings about food being turned into art. While I understand the temptation - it seems like the statistics on food insecurity should nudge things in a different direction. 

And here are some very random photos that were hiding and I couldn't find them on the blog - but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

Lauren's is inspired by illuminated versals. I did more in January that are nothing like this.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

From the other Janet

 This is from non-exchanger Janet. I have not seen her in a few years. Note to self - plan a visit. Another note to self - do some white detailing on some colored letters.

Here is how SueTangoMango amused herself during a 6 day stretch without electricity.
Details on her IG

I need to try this on some envelopes.....
Her name is Sue Greenseth. I do not know where the TangoMango comes from. While I have filled up the 12 posts that I discovered - and started working on them at 6:30 am - it is now 9:30 and just I realize I have forgotten to eat breakfast. Not that I spent 3 hours doing 12 blurbs - there were interruptions....


Wednesday, February 14, 2024

From Janet in Dec - Newberry - Part 5

I get such a kick out of Janet's enclosures. 
She did her version of MishMash - and has given us another example of how versatile it is. 


More Newberry memories:

After the box with the Kleenex box, I swapped that box for another box. The first box was just a simple flat box with a lid. The second box was more like a vertical file and there were smaller pieces in file folders. The librarian handed me a *place keeper* thing ( a piece of heavy card stock ) to use to keep my place when I removed a file folder - so the folders, which were numbered, would be kept in order.

As I went through the box - you can imagine my horror when I found folders that were not only out of order, they were up-side-down - so that the items in the folder fell out and stayed in the box. I gathered my wits - and put everything back in order. Rest assured, when I was finished with that box, I reported to the librarian what I had found and that I had restored order to the box - and raised my eyebrows and sent a telepathic message - "How hard would it be for people to keep things in order." It was another bonding moment. I thought it was important to confirm that one should never assume that a patron is capable of maintaining order. I wonder if I was a librarian in a past life. Or a scribe. 

I'm still on a high from my trip to the Newberry. If anyone is going to be in Chicago - let me know. It would be fun to cross paths with other pen pals.


Tuesday, February 13, 2024

From JeanR in Dec - Newberry - Part 4

Troy's Bonus Post was well received - I heard from a few people directly and there were a couple comments left. I hope this encourages Troy to submit some more stories. Also - this is a reminder to Troy that a few years ago, I tapped you as my blog-successor after I settle down for the inevitable dirt nap that I will be taking at some point.  FOJ - Fear of Jean - I'm still laughing.....

These are lovely swoops from JeanR. Swoop isn't the right word - but, I'm not coming up with better words - so we'll go with swoop. Once again - black and white and red - a stellar combination.

Here is what I found at the very bottom of  the box of *papers.* I was expecting the box to be full of the random stuff that calligraphers collect. And I was right. There was no rhyme of reason to the order of the items. Half of them were interesting. They included many pieces with personal notes written from famous calligraphers like Sheila Waters and John Stevens. When I got to the bottom of the box, I found this:

There was nothing written on the back - no other insert with an explanation. It is definitely a deconstructed Kleenex box - and the sides were cropped, so it's not the whole box, but enough of it to tell what it had been. I held it up for my pen pal to see - and said, "As strange as this will sound, finding this in a box of someone's important papers - is close to being the highlight of this visit." 

I went on to explain that a long time ago, I had purchased (and hoarded) 4 of these actual boxes of Kleenex. They were on a shelf and I would periodically give them to people I knew who had a thing for old wooden type. Years ago, my file cabinets were chock full of stuff like this. 

It's possible the guy had designed the box or perhaps he owned the wooden type and a designer friend had borrowed it to photograph- so maybe there was some significance to it being in a box of important papers. Suffice it to say, it is always comforting to see ephemera that's been saved by someone else that makes me feel like the odd stuff that I collect is not all that odd. For those readers of this blog who are not graphic  designers - you might not realize that every single product that is for sale is packaged by someone who is mildly obsessed with fonts - as well as other things - but the packaging of products is a huge industry that is very much behind the scenes. 

Ironically - it was just last fall when I decided that it was silly to be saving my last box of wooden type Kleenex and I put it out - and used it up. It would have been fun to have a photo of my *hoarded* version of the box - but, I'm proud of myself that I've was able to part with my all time favorite Kleenex box.