Thursday, November 29

Holiday mail party wrap-up

I was going to write a whole post about how awesomely the mail-making party went, but when Mary has done it so nicely for me already, why duplicate?  Check out her post on the party and the rest of her fab pictures! (I failed at remembering to bring a camera.)

washi tape and gold stars -- photo by Mary Has Sound
My thanks go out to all those who came out in the cold to make some holiday cheer, LulaMae Events for helping me get everything there and helping me make it look pretty, and everyone who blogged or tweeted about the event to spread the word! 

Wednesday, October 31

Come to a holiday mail party in DC on November 26!

Click to embiggen!
I'm hosting a mail-making party in DC on Monday, November 26, from 5:30-8:30! Since it'll be the Monday after Thanksgiving, you can come bitch about your family get-togethers with us. We'll understand.

Bring your own Christmas or holiday cards to write, or make some there.  It's a way to make what can be a pain in the neck into a fun activity with friends.  Also, you can get the card-sending out of the way early in the season -- and not feel guilty when people send cards to you.

I'll have some mass-produced holiday cards available, along with supplies for making your own.  Donations are always welcomed, but not required, to use either.  (You can bring your own supplies, too, of course.)

The library is located at 3160 16th Street, NW in Mt. Pleasant, on the southwest corner of 16th and Lamont Streets.  We will be in the large meeting room, which as you come in through the new main entrance, is on the right.

If you're the sort who likes to RSVP (which I appreciate) and have this on your Facebook calendar, click here.

View Larger Map

via Metro
Columbia Heights, Green and Yellow lines. Exit the west entrance, walk 1 block west on Irving Street (past the Five Guys) to 16th Street. Turn right on 16th Street to head 1 block north.

via bus 
S1, S2, S4 - pull cord for Lamont. If coming from the north, you'll be on the right corner. If coming from the south, cross 16th Street to reach the library.
S9 - pull cord for Irving Street. Walk one block north on 16th; library will be on your left. 
42 - pull cord for Lamont. Walk one block east on Lamont; library entrance will be on your right.

via bicycle
The renovation of the library came with new bike racks. There are also places to lock up along Lamont and 16th Streets.

Monday, October 29

MailArt 365

If you follow my Twitter feed, you may know that I am participating in MailArt365 this year, producing 365 pieces of decorated mail for 2012. The project has been ongoing since December of 2010, but I thought I was too busy then to get in on the ground floor.

I tracked my outgoing mail for 2011, though, and realized I was already sending more than 365 pieces of mail per year. That made it an easier decision to commit to making mail art in 2012.

Not that anyone's holding me to it; it's more of a challenge to myself.

If you regularly send mail that you could describe as unexpected, I think you'd be a good candidate for joining the project, too.

You can check out my contributions, but be sure to just visit the main page to see what other people all over the globe are doing. There's so much creative work being sent through the post.

Friday, October 26

New card designs!

I'm pretty pumped about these new cards I designed.
The perfect birthday card makes sure the birthday guy or gal knows exactly what they are celebrating.

I love using reclaimed materials in my work; it makes me so happy to see old things have a new life again.  But I'm starting to recognize the fact that I can't only make things from reclaimed paper.  Finding it, storing it, and using it takes up a lot of time and space, and both of those are in short supply for me.  But I love the look of vintage ephemera and want to continue designing with it. What's a girl to do?

You can't get much more meta than mail that defines itself.
Well, she makes some new card designs with it instead, and has them printed locally on paper with recycled content.  Each measures 4 by 5.5 inches and is printed on matte cardstock (which means if your note goes a little long, you can use the back for more writing).

The backs of cards shouldn't be boring.
They are blank on the inside and come with crisp white envelopes.  Plus, I'm offering to ship them out free to customers in the United States for the rest of the year! Stock up and be prepared for all last minute mail-sending occasions that you may encounter.

To order mailman cards, click here.
To order birthday cards, click here.

Thursday, October 25

Coming to Brooklyn this November

I'm so excited to announce that I'll be selling at the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn on November 17 + 18th!

It'll be the perfect way for NYC-area friends to come get all their shopping out of the way before the holiday season gets too crazy.  Plus, you can see the Manhattan skyline as you shop, which makes it pretty much fabulous.  If you're worried about the weather, fret not -- our shops will be in heated tents! So fancy.

(I don't know my booth number yet, but I'll update this space once I have that info so you can come find me.  Hooray!)  

Friday, September 28

Find me at Fenton Street Market this weekend

sweet logo, right?

I'm excited to share that I was chosen as this week's featured vendor for Fenton Street Market! You can read the little interview I did with them here.  (FSM interviewer Amina also put together a sweet little Etsy Treasury of FSM vendors and was kind enough to include my apple journal.  Thanks, Amina!)

I'll be there this Saturday, September 29 with my wares, including the NEW(ly packaged) AND (slightly) IMPROVED aerogramme sets in both bibliophile and philepistolist themes for your letter-writing pleasure. Come visit me in booth 57, right in the middle of the action.

Wednesday, September 19

Aerogrammes now in the shop!

My newest venture in stationery.
One thing that has been requested multiple times over the years at craft shows has been aerogrammes, or fold-and-mail stationery.  I love them too, so I've had ideas forming in the back of my mind for a while about what I would design if I made my own. 

Knowing that I had the September DC Meet Market coming up motivated me to get cracking on them and I was pleased to debut my first batch of them on Saturday.  I made two designs to start with: books and mail. Big surprise, I know.  
You can see the exterior and interior in this picture of the opened bibliophile aerogramme pad.
The binding on this first batch is done with bookbinding glue and covered with book-themed washi tape, allowing the letter writer to simply pull a page out when they'd like to write.  The guidelines on the inside indicate where to cut the corners out.
The address area on the book themed ones is based off an old bookplate.
Also, the spines of the books line up on the back when it's folded (!).
The flaps already have adhesive on them so once the aerogramme is cut out, the flaps just need to be folded in to give it its shape.
Of course there are mail-themed aerogrammes. Philepistolists unite!

I think the binding is fine on these, but I'm a perfectionist and wasn't totally satisfied with the way they came out.  The next batch might be in reuseable boxes.  (Don't worry; the first-run versions on Saturday were sold at a discount.)
It would be pretty ironic if I made stationery decorated with fountain pens that didn't take fountain pen ink, wouldn't it?

You can see the instructions for the letter writer on how to assemble their aerogramme in the lower left corner.  And luckily for those among us who use fountain pens on a regular basis, these are printed on thick part-cotton, part FSC-certified eco-friendly paper that takes fountain pen ink with no trouble.  It took only a couple seconds for the ink to dry.
I mailed one to Dan to make sure they'd work alright. Whew!
Based on some feedback from friends I mailed them to, I may add a small line on the back instructing recipients how to open them.  Apparently aerogrammes are too rare a sight in one's mailbox!
To order an introductory set of 6 for $8 on Etsy:
Bibliophile Aerogrammes
Philepistolist Aerogrammes

Wednesday, September 12

Come see me on Saturday!

I'm psyched to be a vendor at September's DC Meet Market this Saturday!  It'll be on the corner of 15th and P Streets, NW in lovely (and ever-cooling) DC.  The show will have over 30 other fabulous vendors, and will be open from 11 to 5pm.  I hope you can come visit us!

Monday, September 10

postal products

Benita of Chez Larsson put a post up on Friday that immediately caught my eye.  See if you can guess the reason:

Has the USPS ever issued posters of their old stamps?  I can think of several that I'd love in poster form.  Right now, I have to settle for framing the blocks of stamps themselves.

While we're at it, here are some Royal Mail products that I own and love:

 First Class Machin mug, available in several other color schemes:


First Class Chef oven mitt, available in one other color scheme:

I feel like other countries do marketing and sale of products featuring their postal service better than we do; I'm not sure, however, if it's that the USPS is just bad at it, or if it's that they're not allowed by Congress to do so.  The way our postal system is set up is so flawed for the world we actually live in.  I love them and want them to flourish, and they're so stymied by such ridiculous rules.

Any other well-designed postal products that I ought to know about?

Tuesday, July 10

Today I learned that during World War II, the American government committed German mail fraud

Part of Operation Cornflakes, as it was called, air-dropped bags of correctly-addressed propaganda mail that the US Office of Strategic Services had created into areas where German trains with mail cars had been bombed.  The idea was that the Germans would collect all the mail bags that had been thrown from the train and put them back into the mail system.  They forged the German stamps at the time, and included a Cinderella stamp inside for the receiver that had Hitler's head drawn as a skull, with a slight rhyming alteration to the words: "German Empire" was turned into "Destroyed Empire." 

It totally worked; 3800 of these propaganda mailings were air-dropped and picked up by the Germans in January of 1945, and subsequently delivered to their intended recipients.

Wikipedia doesn't say if it happened more than the one occasion, but I can't imagine the OSS went through all the effort of forging German postage, making their own Cinderellas, acquiring accurate German addresses, typing or hand-addressing all those addresses, and stuffing the envelopes with their propaganda newsletters just to test it out once.

I also found this site, which talks a bit about different propaganda campaigns the Allies had in various European countries.  According to their article, the OSS got the addresses from the German public death notices of Nazi soldiers, and sent propaganda to the grieving family members.  Harsh, but probably pretty effective.  It says they sent hundreds of these by "clandestine means" every two weeks from 1942 on, so that would make it a larger-scale operation than the Wikipedia entry would lead one to believe.  Possibly they got the mail into Germany by means other than air-dropping it before 1945.

Saturday, June 30

Wherein Mrs. Morrigan comes home to roost.

You might know that I live in a basement apartment.  Our steps are super steep, so it's a mini-hiking trip every day when I leave the house.  I don't usually look up; I'm generally concentrating to make sure an ill-placed foot doesn't send me back down into the seven foot well that is my entryway.

So when I got about forehead-level with my mailbox and spotted this out of the corner of my eye, I'm not ashamed to say that I jumped.  Just a little.

Unexpected pigeon mail is unexpected.
Luckily, I've loved from afar the Pigeon Post kit from the Letter Writers Alliance, so once my heart stopped racing from the half second of thinking a real pigeon was on my mailbox, I knew exactly what she was doing there.

The view of Mrs. Morrigan from my upstairs neighbors' perspective as they ascended their stoop.
You can read all about Mrs. Morrigan's past life as a fortune-teller here.  However, this week she was helping Kim send a message to me that could not be delayed, nor could it be rushed by false electronic means.

She took exactly the right amount of time to arrive. 

Many thanks to Kim for sending her my way!  I fed her (well, I put her next to the cockatiels' seed bowl, thus terrorizing both Roo and Bigsby, who thought she was real and eating their food), and will let her relax here for a little while before figuring out where she should go next.

Friday, June 22

Craftgasm at the Eco-Chic Pop-Up Shop this weekend!

I'm excited to be selling my Earth-friendly stationery and prints at the Benevolent Media Festival's Eco-Chic Pop-Up Shop tomorrow at Mova Lounge! Click here to see my fellow eco-conscious vendors.

Mova Lounge is on 14th Street just north of W Street, NW. There will be a happy hour for the last hour of shopping, so come in and cool off tomorrow!

Thursday, May 3

Letter-Writing Social Wrap-Up

Did you ever get a pony for your birthday while you were at Disney World? Me either, but I had the postal equivalent of that on Saturday.
The letter-writing social at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum was a huge success. We had three mostly-functional typewriters, TONS of free stationery designed by yours truly, and the creativity of hundreds of people who came through and made mail. It can't get much better than that.
Our inspiration board of supplies and completed mail art.
There was also some blogging royalty who traveled across state lines to be with us. Mary of Mary Has Sound, Becky of The Snail Mailer, Bonnie Jeanne of PostMuse, and Amber of A Thoughtful Blog all came from their respective states. Plus my dear friend Bethany of TeaOlive came from South Carolina with lino blade in hand to carve rubber stamps for a lot of attendees at the stamp table.
The only photo I have of her working is this slightly blurry one.
Partially-functional typewriters.
Answer: Whatever you can make it.
The stamp table -- both the rubber and postage type.
Collage materials laid neatly in their bowls -- at first.
This soon became a huge, awesome disaster area.
Crayons, markers, pencils, and more cancelled stamps.

Some "after" photos of all these tables. Remember, messiness is the sign of a good time.
Three typewriters, three kids. Start 'em young!

A lovely mess of making.
A patron hard at work on an artful letter

An especial thanks to Erin of the NPM, whose hard work made this awesomeness happen.  She's super-supportive of the letter-writing and mail art communities, and her backing of this project is what made it so successful.

Were you able to come make mail with us? What did you think of the afternoon?

P.S. Did you know about the #showandmail topic on Twitter that @postalmuseum popularized? It's a great source of letter-writing inspiration.

Tuesday, April 24

Letter-Writing Social at the National Postal Museum

I'm thrilled to announce that I'm co-hosting a letter-writing and mail-making event at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum on Saturday, April 28th from noon until 3pm! I've always thought the atrium of the museum would be perfect for a letter lounge, what with the fabulous philepistolist tile under one's feet and the exhibit of mail trucks, trains, and planes around the edges of the space. (If only we could move a couple of fireplaces and comfy couches in there, too...) From their description:
Amaze a friend by sending an artfully handwritten, paper-based message instead of the usual tweet or text. They might just write you back!
One-of-a-kind stationery, unique postcards, pretty paper, ink stamps, retro airmail labels, cancelled stamps, a somewhat functional typewriter, and mailable supplies are provided in this veritable letter-writing lounge. Postage stamps available for purchase in the museum's Stamp Store.
The "one-of-a-kind stationery" is designed by me and will be available exclusively at the event, so be sure to drop by to take advantage of it! (A little preview can be seen above.)

I know of a few of the well-known mail artists who are active bloggers will be there, too, so don't miss your chance to meet up face to face. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 11

Coining a word is nerdy work.

I've always been curious about what to call myself as a lover of all things postal. While I enjoy Donovan's colorful "postal pervert" moniker, I didn't want to be too high on the Google search results for that one. "Philatelist" is the perfect word for postage stamp aficionados, but its popular meaning is too specific. I like stamps, but I also like mail art and letters and envelopes and stationery and post office buildings, which aren't understood to be covered under "philatelist."

As someone who majored in English, I have often claimed that I am qualified to make up words if I wanted. Usually they're of the "ricockulous" variety, but after I complained about the lack of a word for postal love one too many times, Dan told me to put that claimed-expertise to work, and then helped me look some etymologies up.

I liked the idea of keeping the love of all things postal-related to the already recognized love of postage stamps, which, as I said above, already has a word: philately. Turns out that since the postage stamp didn't exist until 1840, the word was coined by Georges Herpin in 1864 who was having the exact same problem I am in wanting a better word to describe his hobby. He joined the Greek "phil," meaning "brotherly love or affection" to the closest word to stamp in Greek that he could come up with, "ateleia," meaning lack of taxes, since stamps at the time were used for both postage and as proof of payment of duties.

Georges Herpin, that sexy, word-coining bastard.

Of course, since an official, government-sanctioned postal service wasn't invented in ancient Greece, there isn't exactly an ancient Greek word for it, either, so I'm back to where our friend Georges was, and needed to find something that fit the general idea I was going for.

I started translating mail-related words into Greek to see what popped up as possible fits. "Mail" transliterated roughly into "taxidromeio," which seemed too close to the literal translation of "philately." Once I transliterated the translation of "letter," though, I knew I had my answer. I had no idea that "epistle" was already based in Greek ("epystol"), and I already have affection for the word since it relates to a form of literature; an epistolary novel is one of my favorite genres.


Phil*e*pist*list (fil-ih-pis-list)
One who enjoys writing and receiving letters & postal mail.

No longer shall we have to describe our hobby as "well, I really love mail and mail art and pen pals and pretty stationery and making my own envelopes." We have a word! Go forth, my fellow philepistlists, and proliferate our new moniker!

Edited to add:
The incredibly smart Ashley came up with adding a resting syllable in there to make it "philepistolist." I like it being easier to say, but then the T will be pronounced instead of silent like in "epistle." What are your thoughts?