Monday, February 18, 2013

Making Envelopes: Hello Friend!

I don't know why, but all of a sudden I have this fascination with handmade envelopes.  It could be due to all the wonderful mail I have been getting from LetterMo participants over the past week (I'll show those in another post), or it could just be because this is an easy way for me to be creative -- and I'm always looking for easy and quick ways to be creative.

Either way, I have been experimenting with making envelopes out of scrapbooking paper, which is fun.  But it can also be problematic if the scrapbooking paper is too thick -- it makes folding difficult and it also makes the envelope heavier than it needs to be (although VERY protective!!).  So I have been thinking about making envelopes out of regular printer/copier paper.

I hadn't gotten very far on that idea, however, when I also started experimenting with the Slow Journaling technique as presented on Daisy Yellow's awesome art blog.  I did a page in my journal and was so pleased with the result that I suddenly had a brainstorm to do the same thing with some envelope art -- and came up with this:

There's a blotch at the bottom of the page, but I left it rather than redo the whole thing, because it's unlikely that that part would ever get onto a meaningful part of a finished envelope.

I scanned it not only to have a record of what it looked like before I folded it up into an envelope and mailed it, but because it occurred to me that I might not want to take the time to do this every time I wanted to send out a letter.  (It didn't take forever to do this, and it was certainly a relaxing, semi-mindless activity, but it doesn't jibe with the whole "easy and quick" creativity thing.)  So since this is a scan, and even though the resolution on the image above might not be great, the original is very high resolution, and I can print it out to my heart's content and make this over and over again:

Pretty cool, if I do say so myself!  Slap a label and a stamp on that thing, and you've got instant mail art!  Someone will be seeing this in their mailbox soon, I'd be willing to bet.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Curve Balls and Tornadoes

Here's what I hate about life... curve balls.  I never know how to respond to them.  (I suppose if I did, they wouldn't be curve balls, now would they?)

I was enjoying LetterMo, sending mail out every day, and waiting for letters to come in (which they finally did, many thanks -- and I'll be responding as soon as I can), and then this happens:

That's my church.  In ruins.  Hit directly by a tornado yesterday evening.  The tornado also passed to the north of my house, several miles away from the scene above, but thankfully nothing was damaged although it certainly scared us.

The damage to the church hit us hard, of course, because we have been members there for close to 20 years.  But it hit us especially hard for two other reasons.

A few years ago the church acquired a magnificent pipe organ from another church in town that was moving to a new campus and not taking the organ with them.  It was a scary and expensive thing to acquire and install this organ, but we did it because we felt it was the right thing to do.  And since I am the church organist, I was completely involved in the project, and I have since enjoyed playing the instrument every Sunday.  That's over for now.  The organ is largely salvageable, it appears, so its thousands of pipes will be put in storage for safekeeping and will (hopefully) be reinstalled in an even more beautiful sanctuary one day.

The other reason my heart is tight in my chest right now is this:  the church was to be the site of my daughter's wedding this summer.  We have been planning this wedding for the past year, and she grew up in this church.  It's a totally selfish thing to be upset over something so trivial in the big scheme of things, I suppose, but to see my little girl's hopes for a wedding in our beautiful church be dashed in a moment by a tornado's fury is really hard for this daddy.  (I hope that sentence makes even the remotest amount of sense, because I don't know how to fix it and don't have the heart right now.)

Life will go on, and buildings will be rebuilt, and messes will be cleaned up.  Witness our recovery from Hurricane Katrina years ago, which at the time seemed like the end of the world.  But in the meantime, I think the coming days and weeks will be hard.  There are lots of people all over the city with damaged houses tonight (and the rain is pouring down like crazy), and the damage on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi (right across the highway from my church) was even more horrendous.  I'm ready to get to the part where yesterday and today are unpleasant but distant memories.

Friday, February 8, 2013

LetterMo: Days 6 and 7

One of my favorite styles of addressing an envelope:

It's hard to tell much about it from the blurred out addresses, I just realized, so here's mine in the same style:

Quick, easy, and interesting!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

LetterMo: Day 5

Today's envelope was an experiment with pointed pen (Zebra Comic G nib and Moon Palace ink) and some funky-style copperplate.  I like the way it turned out!

In other news, the February Carnival of Pen, Pencil, and Paper is up at The Pen Addict's blog.  Check it out -- there's a review of Noodler's Nikita Ink there by yours truly.  :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

LetterMo: Day 4

Today -- a simple letter addressed in some quickly-done copperplate.  On Crane's stationery.  (Still the best, in my opinion!)

In other news -- no incoming letters or postcards for a few days now.  How have I angered the Mail Gods?  I really need to know...

Monday, February 4, 2013

LetterMo: Day 3

Day 3 of LetterMo (although it's the 4th day of the month, LetterMo does not count on the days when there is no mail service, so Sundays are not official LetterMo days).  Going out today is a reply to a previous letter, and I am quite pleased with the result I got from the modest use of some Tim Holtz tissue tape, a little calligraphy, and one of the awesome weather vane stamps from the USPS.  (Alas, they are only 45 cents, which is not enough postage as of last week, but a 1-cent Tiffany lamp stamp - ha - fixes that right up.)

The "hand" I used for the name on the envelope above is called "Alphabet Nouveau" and I got it from this wonderful book: Calligraphy Alphabets Made Easy by Margaret Shepherd.  It really does have a different calligraphic hand for every day of the year.  Some fun and funky, like this one, and many traditional and beautiful ones, like italic (and its million variations), blackletter, etc.  If you are interested in calligraphy, I recommend that you check it out!  Plus, Ms Shepherd posts a different hand on her blog every day, so check that out too.  I plan to learn more hands from this book to dress up my envelopes, in lieu of getting all fancy with the mail art -- although in my opinion, a beautifully addressed envelope counts as some of the best kind of mail art!

I also am sending two Postcrossing postcards to recipients in Russia.  I suppose it sounds bad, but I groan inwardly when I draw Russian correspondents in the Postcrossing lottery, because I know it will take 2 or 3 weeks (or more) for my postcard to get to them.  Oh well, I suppose I should be awed that it can get to them at all, for just the price of a stamp!

Greetings from Mississippi, and a postcard showing Stanton Hall in Natchez, Mississippi.

Hope your mailbox is happy today!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

LetterMo: Day 2

Here's my outgoing mail for day 2 of LetterMo.  I'm getting a little more adventuresome with the front of the envelope.  Back of the envelope?  Still a little boring.  I'm thinking of some possibilities, however.  Mainly involving stamps.  (If anyone has any creative suggestions, I'm all ears.)

And incoming from yesterday: a letter from Steve at RecordingThoughts, showing off his new Downton-Abbey sized envelopes.  I have to admit, the experience is just like you see on the show (assuming that you do watch this show, and if you don't, YOU MUST WATCH IT NOW!! You won't regret it -- it is so addictive and really, really good).

An unassuming-looking envelope, sent to Lord Grantham -- uh, I mean, me -- but wait!

 This small envelope releases a huge piece of stationery -- just like the ones delivered to Downton Abbey!

Friday, February 1, 2013

LetterMo: Day 1!

Here we go!  Today is Day 1 of LetterMo (Month of Letters).  Below is my feeble attempt at some decorations on an envelope.  Washi tape on the side -- I never used it before, so it's pretty interesting.  The only problem with it is that most of it in the stores is pretty feminine-looking.  Not that I expect to find any camo washi tape or anything like that, but surely there's some kind of market for guys that like to write letters.  OK, maybe that's stretching it just a little.  The rest of the decoration is some simple calligraphy done with a monoline pen.  Not bad, I think!  (And obviously I need some practice on using Photoshop to blur out addresses, but I can figure it out.)

And on the back, one of the Month of Letters participant "stickers" used as a simple seal.  I like this a lot.  I considered doing some stamping or other decoration on the back, but decided against it.

Have a happy Month of Letters!  And please feel free to write me!