Correspondence Envelopes + Mail Art: Letter Writing Club Tonight
These days, I've been really enjoying taking a few moments after Caleb's gone to bed to write, both in my journal and keeping up with my correspondence. It's in part a conscious decision to slow down a bit, but in part also because my failing laptop has now reached its boiling point, and has spent the last week and a half at a Mac spa, with some vague hope for it returning early next week. I realize there's some irony in running an "analogue" business that requires so much computer work, but at the very least having to share laptops and computers with Jon and the staff has forced me to at least attempt to prioritize my computer work - sorting photos, blogging, research, orders, emails. The slowing down and taking care has been a nice change of pace from sometimes long evenings-turning-into-nights on the computer trying to catch up, and then the very last few minutes spent rushing around to finish up letters or scribble a few sentences in my journal while brushing my teeth. There's a sort of mindfulness that comes in taking the time to put thought in crafting words and stories for whoever is reading your letters, or even just for your own mind.
Part of it has also meant taking more time and care in gathering and selecting a few analogue supplies. I'm using the small first aid box from Classiky - while I've hinted a few times to Jon I could use an upgrade to the medium (or help, me, the large), I think I'm going to try and stick to this size to force myself to be a bit more thoughtful in what I'm using. As you may imagine, I have no shortage of papers and tools to choose from, but it's also nice to have a box of supplies that have been carefully chosen for this season of writing: as with children, I suppose, sometimes too much choice can make it difficult to things done, ink onto the page, and I hope over time that I can rotate new and fresh supplies in for some new inspiration. Along with the efforts of spending time writing my letters, I have also been using some of my supplies to make my envelopes and journal pages more reflective of my relationships to the recipients and events and daily energy. While I normally treasure the stories and friendships through the words of correspondence the most highly, I have been the lucky recipient of many beautiful double window envelopes over the years and I want to get some of my own to send out now. There is already something heartwarming and surprising about receiving a handwritten, physical letter in the mail, but to see extra care put into even the envelope is truly a treat, and to know I have such talented correspondents is often a good boost to get me started. If you search up "mail art" on the internet, you'll find lots and lots of artistic and crafty ways to make your envelopes stand out - I love seeing the way people collage magazine bits together, in particular. But you don't have to be an artist to send out thoughtful and beautiful mail, and so I thought I would share a few tips on easy ways to give your envelopes some inspiration.
Of my many weaknesses in life, washi tape is right up at the top. These are a few of my favourite ones - I love the brown and earthy ones, a bit vintage, a bit like old paper. The grid tape is actually a bit different - I think Classiky describes it as packaging tape - so it doesn't peel off as easily, but you can write on it with most fountain pen ink, unlike on washi tape. The other two in this picture are two that I can't live without: the camel pattern is like old, yellowed paper, and the gold man is good for every situation. Now sold out, we used to carry Santa Claus washi tapes that I love to use year round as well. A few strips of washi tape here or there is all you need! This could be a life philosophy for me. You can also use magazines or vintage books to collage or add some images to your envelope. I once convinced Jon to drive across the city to pick up a few boxes of old National Geographics for me, which I love, and which we have been dragging around from place to place, but I sometimes just find random scraps around our shipping area, and these can also tell a bit of a story of where my letters are coming from, behind the shop. On the envelope below, the brown paper is torn off some of the Japanese writing off some of the packaging paper we must have received from one of our packages from Japan, and the top yellow scrap is from an old receipt book we used to use to track pen repairs.
Stickers are also a great way to add something extra to your snail mail (yet another of my many weaknesses). These swallow stickers are also a favourite of mine to use on snail mail - they're technically swallows, but they're reminiscent enough of pigeons and early snail mail to go on any envelope, and even just one or two of them alone on an envelope adds a nice touch.
The blue Air Mail stickers on the bottom corner are free from Canada Post - you can go in to your post office and ask for a few, and they might even give you a sheet of 20 (I'm not really sure about this, but you can always ask!). We still have a few of these PanAm sets from Midori Traveler's Notebook 10th Anniversary/PanAm release - I'll be sad to see the last of them go, but I'm using them while I have them. I'm someone who is sometimes too precious with these special edition supplies, not wanting to "waste," but more and more I'm enjoying putting things together, sending it out into the world, and knowing that its journey from me to its recipient is part of the gift. When it's gone, it's gone, and I will have some new special-edition-something or regular-edition-something to keep me crafting, but hopefully I'll also have had the time and experience of creating something.
Other last tips include
- wax seals (of course!)
- vintage stamps
- rubber stamps - in these envelopes I used the Wonder Pens stamps from our packaging operations, but I've seen lots of airmail related ones on Etsy, and there are many, many beautiful stamp designs from Japan
- watercolour washes (or watered down fountain pen ink)
- scraps from old newspapers, or vintage books from thrift stores
***This blog post is a bit in celebration of our Letter Writing Club, which is on again this evening, from 7-9 pm. I'm hoping to see a few of you here! It's one of my favourite nights of the month, as you may already know - it's somehow a different world in the shop at night, with the lights on, and the evening falling, and it's sort of a special thing to share it with a few kindred writers making their way through the city to us. I love that Caleb gets to stay up past bedtime with us on these nights, roaming around the shop between our guests, and scribbling his own undecipherable missives. He often gets one treat, along with a cup of milk, and I think he's beginning to look forward to the routines of these rare nights. One of the most unexpected and incredible gifts this shop has given me in particular is this time, in general, with Caleb, while still allowing me the opportunity to "work," and to be a part of the operations and the excitement. It's a sometimes rare thing in this age, the flexibility to take Caleb to the park or to walk through the halls to look at the motorcycles during the day, and then tap away at my computer late at night, answering emails or finishing up a blog post. I sometimes feel like I need to keep reminding myself of this, so as to not take it for granted, or let it slip away - although of course it's slipping away faster and faster everyday. As Caleb approaches three, we are thinking hard about preschool or daycare before he enters Kindergarten, but while I still have him here, I'm treasuring every minute.