Posts Tagged ‘post and letter-writing’

Fashionable Friday: Postally Yours

FF-PostallyYours

It all started with the “Yours Truly” dress covered with airmail envelopes. I bought mine at Donna’s Dress Shop here in Kansas City but there are online retailers that stock it as well.If it wasn’t 4ºF outside, I would have even considered modelling it so y’all will have to wait until the Atlanta Pen Show in April to see it up close and personal. But, it did inspire this week’s Fashionable Friday — in all its airmail glory. For tha last push to finish InCoWriMo and A Month of Letters with just one more day left!

  • Isobel dress, Yours Truly pattern in red £79 (via Emily & Fin)
  • Mailblok Blue Airmail Paper $8 (via Kikkerland)
  • Airmail Via Paper Plane Mug by Kim Vervuurt $15 (via Society6)
  • “Good Mail” Round Rubber Stamp 2014 $10 (via Well-Appointed Desk on Big Cartel)
  • Kaweco AL Sport fountain pen blue aluminum €59 (via Fontoplumo)
  • Airmail washi tape $4.90 (via April103 on Etsy)
  • AIRMAIL Washi Tape in Red and Blue Stripe Air Mail Pattern $2.25 (via Pretty Tape on Etsy)
  • Mark’s Flake Air Mail Stickers $7.50 (via Jet Pens)
  • Wanderlust Airmail Flexi Journal by Troy Litten for Chronicle Books $9 (via Amazon)
  • Pilot Letter Pad for Fountain Pens – Horizontal Lined $14 (via Jet Pens)
  • Custom “Sealed By” Stamp $35 plus lifetime membership $5 (via Letter Writers Alliance)
  • Sheaffer Sentinel Signature Ballpoint Pen with geometric engraved design in chrome $15 (via Pen Chalet)

(Supplemental design elements from Graphics Fairy and Pugly Pixel.)

Social Preparedness Kits from Egg Press

social preparedness kit

The Social Preparedness Kit from Egg Press is a new collection of tools and materials to make keeping in touch, postally-speaking, an easy and good-looking option. The site will be selling products that span the range from canvas pouches to contain your correspondence to paper goods like letterpress-printed Write-On-Velopes  (a foldable letter sheet that doubles as an envelope) and card sets.

Products will be available for sale soon so check back on their shop or on their blog to find out when they will be officially released.

I love the document-sized pouches and the Write-On-Velopes.I can’t wait until they are available for purchase.

I hope the Social Preparedness Kit product line is successful for Egg Press because I get lots of questions about where to buy good and interesting stationery sets beyond notecards so maybe SPK will expand to letter sets soon!

SPK from Egg Press

LWA Book Club

368916Did you know there is now a Letter Writer’s Alliance book club? Its true! The group is over on Goodreads and Letter Writers Aliiance members and non-members alike are welcome to join. Starting January 27, 2015 (that’s actually yesterday) we will be reading 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff and there will be a discussion live over Google on Sunday, April 12, 2015. I’ve been invited to be one of the panelists, along with Donovan and Kathy that will discuss the book on Google Hangouts live on Sunday, April 12 at 3pm Central Time.

84, Charing Cross Road is a short book of real life letters between the author, a New Yorker and a London bookseller over decades. With fewer than 100 pages its a quick read and if you feel you can’t commit to it, there is a film adaptation starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins that was made in the 80s as well if you want to supplement your reading.

In between your February flurry of letter writing, pick up this book and give it a read then join us in April to discuss it.

Postage Frame Stamps from Anticipate Invitations

postage frame stamps

The release of the postage frame stamps from Anticipate Invitations have been burning up the Twitter feeds of many a letter writer this week. Six frame designs are available and each is available in four sizes to accommodate the most common US postage sizes. Prices for the stamps start at $14.30 and go up to $20.46 for the largest square size. Or a set of four can be purchased for $52.38.

I would love to assemble a mixed set of four stamps to make envelopes look like a mismatched gallery wall.

February is Letter Writing Month

letterwritingmonth

Once again, its time for InCoWriMo (pronounced as “Ink-o-rye-mo”), International Correspondence Writing Month. The goal of the project is to write one letter, card, note, or postcard everyday for the entire month of February. Just 28 little bits of correspondence.

LetterMo2015

February is also known as LetterMo, as in A Month of Letters, a project started by author Mary Robinette Kowal several years ago but whose mantle has been taken up across the blogosphere, myself included. LetterMo gives you the leeway of not writing on Sunday since there’s no postal pick-up so the requirement to complete this challenge is just 24 pieces of written correspondence.

For me, February is my chance to get all caught up on my letter writing AND even send some new letters and cards. Are you planning to participate?

With a week to plan, be sure to stock up on some stationery, postcards, note cards, stamps and, of course, have all your favorite pens and inks at the ready. This is a great chance to use up some of that paper you have squirreled away and try out ALL those inks you’ve been hoarding.

Need something for your upcoming month of letters?

(image modified from a WPA poster from the 30s available at Free Vintage Posters)

Book Review: Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing

While I’ve been under the weather, I’ve been catching up on my back log of reading, including Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing by Liz Williams. Its a pretty book with short pieces about the history of letter writing as well as common references, quotes, books and movies where letters feature prominently and other tidbits about our favorite paper missives.

“Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.” – Lord Byron

This book is definitely for the letter enthusiast though it will not probing new information on the subject. As a gift to a young person, it might spur them to start writing but does not necessarily provide compelling analysis or deep investigation about the topic. Kind Regards is written in short blubs, often less than a page, which makes it easy to thumb through or read an entry or two over coffee in the morning.

Williams clearly loves the written word and provides enough interesting facts to inspire me to tackle that pile of incoming correspondence again. If you’re looking for a little something to nudge you back on to your letter-writing path, then Kind Regards: The Lost Art of Letter-Writing might be the ticket.

LWA Fountain Pen Laboratory

LWA Fountain Pen Workshop

The Letter Writers Alliance is hosting a Fountain Pen Lab next Saturday in Chicago at the amazing Greer Stationery Shop. The lab is limited to 6 people and the lab fee includes a Kaweco sport demonstrator pen with a medium nib as well as all their experiences and knowledge about using fountain pens and improving penmanship.

Fountain Pen Laboratory
Saturday, Oct. 11th from 1-3pm
Location: Greer, 1657 N Wells St, Chicago, IL
Fee: $75

Go to the Letter Writers Alliance blog to register.

World’s Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

World's Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

When I heard about Leaf Cutter Designs’ Tiny Mail Activity Kit Kickstarter project, I had to invest in it. I missed the chance to buy the kit when Chronicle Books released the first kit. But what is so awesome with the Kickstarter project is that Leaf Cutter wanted to make a new kit EVEN better than the original release. The kit added more die cut envelopes, envelope liners, newspaper wrapping papers with real news stories printed on them, a super fine line Sakura Pigma Micron, string, a magnifying glass, tiny postage stamps and tiny rubber stamps to mark the parcels “air mail” and such.

World's Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

Everything is incredibly well-produced with plenty of pieces to send lots of teeny tiny letters and parcels. The boxes used to organize the kit can be used to wrap small parcels as well which is extremely handy.

World's Smallest Post Service Tiny Mail Activity Kit

Kits can now be purchased directly from the Leaf Cutter website. The standard kit is $32 and my deluxe kit is $49. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Its absolutely fab!

Typewriter As Art

Olympia Typewriter print

Olympia Typewriter Print by SloeGinFizz (via Etsy)

While not everyone might be as inclined as I am to have a pile of old typewriters at hand, the image of a typewriter inspires the writer, poet and correspondent in all of us. Today I discovered several “typewriter as art” pieces to inspire and compliment the paper aficionados desk.

(Click on images to visit the sources or purchase images.)

Typerwriter Spring Flowers Framed Print

Poetry Typewriter framed art ($46) by Kata (via Society6)

Typewriter note card

Typewriter Greeting Card ($4) by Michele Maule (via Etsy)

Eccentric Envelopes

Make Eccentric Envelopes

Stephanie Fishwick posted some loose but lovely envelopes with her tips and techniques for creating fun envelopes for non-calligraphers. She recommends using watercolors but ink samples would also work and i a great way to use up all those samples you’ve accumulated.

Her best tip is that imperfections make it more awesome. Use a limited color palette and repetition to pull it together. No one will complain if they got a hand lettered envelope in the mail ever. It will make their day. So,  start playing.

She recommends good quality envelopes like Original Crown Mill cotton or Crane. Big box office supply shops usually carry 100% cotton envelopes in the section with invitations and resume stationery.

Maybe your kids will want to make some of their own envelopes too and send a letter to Grandma? That would be a fun, rainy day activity this summer.

If you do want to improve your writing, Stephanie also has some recommendations for getting started with calligraphy and the tools, web sites and books she uses for great calligraphy.

Most of all have fun and be inspired!

(via Stephanie Fishwick)

Smart Travel Tips for Pen Geeks

P7019597

I’m about to embark on a little holiday getaway which always leads to seeking out good travel tips. Buzzfeed posted one of their silly lists called 13 Travel Tips to Make You Feel Smart. There are a couple good tips on the list but most will be things you’ve probably already heard.

My favorite tip: Ask the desk at your hotel for cords or chargers if you forgot to pack yours. It sounds like their is inevitably a box of random cords and chargers that get left behind so they might have one for your device.

Now for some travel tips for the pen-and-paper inclined:

  • Check the locations you’ll be visiting and find out if there is a pen shop nearby. Make time to visit the shop. This will improve even the most boring business trip.
  • Stop in local drugstores, book shops, truck stops or tourist shops (museum shops, state park offices, etc) to seek out postcards. I find these are the best places to find cheesy tourist postcards to send home or keep as souvenirs.
  • Tourist destinations can often yield cheap, fun souvenirs in the form of pencils. Isn’t it time you started a tourist pencil collection?
  • If you’re worried about fountain pens leaking on flights, store them in a plastic ziploc bag for the flight. You can also travel with the cartridge removed and pack a few spare cartridges to use at your destination. For more pen travel tips, check out the article I posted awhile back.
  • Put together a Letter Writing On The Go kit.
  • Don’t forget to pack stamps. Or plan to visit the local post office to pick up stamps and meet the locals. If you let them know you’re visiting, they might just hand cancel your postcards if you ask nicely.

every trip should include a stop at the local PO #showandmail

I discovered the Rock County Historical Society in Janesville, WI which is on our route this summer and home to the Parker Pen Collection. And I might get a peek inside the Coudal/Field Notes HQ in Chicago.

Are you traveling this summer? Business or for fun? Did you find any great pen-related goodies? Can’t wait to hear!

Photo of the day: Genine Zlatkis

genine zlatkis studio

Genine Zlatkis is a prolific illustrator with a great style and her studio is amazing. She posted these pictures of all her supplies, organized so neatly, I couldn’t resist sharing them with you.

I recognize a cup full of Sakura Pigma Microns, Pink Pearl and assorted erasers, and the recognizable ferrule of a Dixon Tocnderoga pencil.

Genine Zlatkis Rubber Stamps

Genine also created some rubber stamps recently that would be perfect for decorating letters and envelopes and sold here.

genine zlatkis studio

(via Genine Zlatkis)

Neatography: Paper Good Subscription Service

Neatography Paper Goods

Neatography offers a monthly or quarterly subscription packages filled with paper, letter-writing and office goodies. I received the May kit entitled “The Good Ol’ Days” which included an assortment of pencils, a His & Hers list notepad that is perforated down the middle to split up the tasks, a Rifle Paper Co. Thank You card, Telegram-style postcards, postcard stamps, a calling card, a sharpener and a self-addressed stamped postcard to send back to Neatography letting them know if you liked the latest kit.

Its a lovely package and a great way to discover new paper goods brands and receive a lovely little pick-me-up in your mail box. A monthly package with cards and stamps is $17 per month or on a quarterly schedule, and a paper good subscription is $27 per month or on a quarterly schedule. Shipping costs for the US are included in the costs but international subscriptions require an additional shipping fee.

I like that there’s an option to receive a package every three months. I acquire a lot of other office supplies, cards and writing tools that if a package came every month, I don’t think I’d ever get a chance to use everything and it might accumulate.

I love that the kit includes some stamps so that I can immediately write out a few cards and pop them in the mail.

Neatography package unwrapped

Once I unwrapped the His & Hers notepad, I was able to see the perforation and started to really like it. There is a magnet on the back of the pad to attach to the refrigerator making it easy to make lists of tasks that each person can tackle. I’d also love one that was “groceries” on one side and “everything else” on the other since our trips to Costco, Target, and the hardware store usually happen separately from the grocery buying but its still a clever pad and will probably get a lot of use at our house.

NEatography Pencil Close-Up

The pencils in the kit were a Palomino Blackwing 602, Golden Bear #2, Ticonderoga EnviroStik #2 and a Ticonderoga Laddie #2. I look forward to trying a few of these new-to-me pencils like the Laddie and the Envirostik. More about those in the coming weeks. But, yeah! Pencils!

The apple Thank You card from Rifle Paper features a gold foil apple on the cover on soft ivory paper. Its lovely and general enough to be sent to anyone though it would be perfect to give to a teacher.

Sharpener & stamps close-up from Neatography

The sharpener is a brushed aluminum from Maped and looks like a decent little sharpener with a reomveable/replaceable blade. The postage stamps are the new hummingbird design postcard stamps that will go perfectly with the Telegram postcards from Girl of All Work. I’ve used these before and I quite like them. The paper has a bit of tooth to it but ink stands up nicely to it and the look is classic postcard/telegram.

All-in-all I think a subscription with Neatography would be a great opportunity to explore some new paper goods. Looking through the Lookbook at past offerings, each paper goods kit looks to include at least one small-press card, a notepad or other larger item (one kit included Rifle Paper Co mail stickers), some postage stamps,  and a small selection of office supplies (pencils, thumbtacks, washi tape, etc.). They value of the items seems to add up to the asking price pretty closely and includes domestic shipping so it is a good value. Everything is packaged beautifully too so it feels like a little gift.

I wrote a previous review of products in October of 2013.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Neatography for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Parcel Ghost Postal Whimsy

Parcel Ghost postcard

Marissa, creator of the postal spook know as the Parcel Ghost, sells fun and informative zines like the Parcel Ghost’s Guide to Post and the Parcel Ghost Zine Fun Pack. The Parcel Ghost is one of the most delightful promoters of postal whimsy so if you’re feeling inclined to write and receive letters, you will surely appreciate the Parcel Ghost.

Parcel Ghost's Guide to Post

Follow the travels and adventures of Parcel Ghost on Tumblr or follow him on Twitter as well. Long live Parcel Ghost!

New Hammerpress Letterpress Cards

hammerpress

Kansas City Letterpress-ati, Hammerpress, have recently updated their web site and added a lot of new products. Their letterpress cards are gorgeous and if you can’t make it to Kansas City to shop locally, ordering online is the next best thing. Prices on cards are $4-$5.50 per folded card, and are blessedly blank inside and ship with a kraft or coordinating envelope.

But the best shopping experience is to stop in to the Crossroads store in KC and browse posters, postcards, and ephemera.

Kickstarter: Leafcutter Designs’ World’s Smallest Post Service Kit

As a diehard mail enthusiast, I could not possibly resist the new and improved Smallest Post Service Kit from Leafcutter Designs. This might look a bit familiar to you because several years ago Chronicle Books published a version of the kit but this new, Kickstarter version will be exactly the way Leafcutter Designs wanted the original kit to be, with all the bells and whistles including tiny stationery, tiny stamps, tiny envelopes, a tiny newspaper and a super-fine tipped pen for writing your letter. If you purchase the deluxe kit, you’ll also receive tiny rubber stamps, stamp pads and glassine envelopes to mail your tiny mail through the big postal service.

I went ahead and purchased the deluxe option because I always want the rubber stamps. Lea is super cute in the video above so, if for no other reason, make a contribution to her Kickstarter just to see her sweet, happy smile.

Leafcutter Mini Post Office

(via Make Everyday A Good Mail Day)

April is National Letter Writing Month

(Original photo from Silvebluestar on Flickr)

(Original photo from Silvebluestar on Flickr)

While it might be a bit late in the month to bring this up, April is National Letter Writing Month. In 2001, the USPS released a statement to encourage letter writing by designating April as Letter Writing Month. We all already know and may have participated in February’s A Month of Letters or InCoWriMo but why not use April to reply to all those letters you got in February? That’s what I’m doing.

If you wrote to me in February, don’t be surprised if your reply arrives this month or in the early part of May. I’ve been spending each day writing at least one reply, usually over my lunch break in an effort to finally respond to the many cards, postcards and letters I received in February.

I did receive a few cards and letters without a return address. If you sent me a letter in February without a return address, I assume you were not anticipating a reply. If not, please send me an email using the Ask The Desk link at the top of the page and send me your mailing address so I can send you a proper reply.

There’s still more than a week left in April — plenty of time to dash off a few letters and cards.

Keep writing!

(for more info, check out the post over on the Letter Writers Alliance blog)

Ask The Desk: ID Protection Stamps

Ask The Desk Header

Sandy asks:

Think this is good idea?
50931

I assume the question regards any sort of blotting stamp for security purposes. Folks seem to like these as an alternative to paper shredders as they are smaller, quieter and portable for obscuring personal information on printed material. While shredding makes sense for a lot of papers, sometimes you just want to throw those credit card offers in the trash and the only incriminating information is your address. A quick stamp, stamp, stamp might be enough to make it possible to throw the papers in the recycle bin.

The general term to describe these stamps is ID protection stamps or ID Guard stamps. I definitely think that the Max Korkoro model, with the rolling stamp and ability to refill the ink easily makes a good option. The price for any ID protection stamp seems to be about $10 which seems reasonable.

The only thing I don’t know looking at the photos and description is whether the ink is water resistant when dry. That would be the winning feature. If its water-soluble, then someone might be able to wash the ink off reveal your address or account numbers.

So I suppose I ought to order one and put it to the test, huh?

Timbuk2 Terracycle Mail Bag Messenger Bag

Timbuk2 Terracycle Mail Messenger

Ever wanted a bag made form old USPS mail bags? Well, now’s your chance. Timbuk2 has introduced the Terracycle messenger bag made from old canvas mail bags. Each bag is unique and this option will only be available for a limited time. They are available in small ($99) or the medium ($109) and in original white canvas or in an overdyed brown (seems more UPS than USPS, but who am I to judge?).

I REALLLLLLLLYYYYY want one.

Timbuk2 Terracycle Mail Messenger in brown

Paper Pastries’ Custom Return Address Stamps

Paper Pastries Custom Return Address Rubber Stamp

Paper Pastries just created some new custom, hand-lettered return address stamps featuring animal silhouettes. Margaret asked if I’d be a volunteer address for her new creations since she knows I’m a cat lover. She created a lovely hand-lettered rubber stamp with my return address inside a big fluffy cat silhouette. Looks like my big ol’ Maine Coon Milo!

Paper Pastries has a dozen different, animal designs available: cats in various poses,  dog silhouettes, and even a bunny! Or you can send her a clear photo of your pet to be turned into a custom silhouette stamp. Then she’ll hand letter your address and make this fabulous wood, art block stamp for you. Each stamp will cost $70 but they are original designs, made just for you and, seeing one in person, it’s clear that its a great value.

Paper Pastries also has state silhouettes, custom calligraphy and unique hand-lettered rubber stamps available as well.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Paper Pastries for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Kickstarter: Tiletto

Tiletto

By now, I’m sure you’ve probably already heard about the Tiletto. Tiletto is a Kickstarter project that’s a multi-function letter opener made from titanium, of course. It can also be used as a bottle opener (my favorite additional feature), hex wrench, straight edge, pry bar, box opener, and the list goes on. Its durable, functional and pretty elegant looking. You can get in on the ground floor for $30. The project has just eleven days left.

More Than Just Pens

Washi Tape from JetPens

Sometimes I forget there’s more to JetPens than just pens. I recently went on a hunt for some cool non-pen goodies on Jet Pens. First, Jet Pens is now stocking an assortment of washi tape. I got a roll of MT red cross tape  ($4) and a roll of Pine Book Nami Nami deco tape which has keys and locks printed on it and a wavy edge ($3.65).

MT is THE original brand of washi tape and the best quality by far. The printing on the tape is always very good and its stickier than some of the other brands. I do hope that Jet Pens continues to stock the MT tapes and offers a wider selection of prints and sizes in the future. Those $3 and $4 rolls are a great way to bump up to that free shipping and great for adding a little color to your workspace, notebooks and letters.

Kurochiku Japanese Pattern Eco-Bags Sugar Candy

I also decided to try out the Kurochiku Japanese Pattern Eco-Bag ($10). There were about a dozen different patterns to choose from but I chose the simplest which was navy blue with colored dots on it. The pattern is Konpeitou which translated to “Sugar Candy”. I guess the dots do look like little candies.

This is one of those reusable shopping bags that fold up into a small carrying case. The carrying case was pretty heavy duty with the same fabric as the bag with a padded lining. The actual bag is shaped like a traditional tote bag (a big rectangle) with straight straps and a wide gusseted bottom which will allow it to hold lots of books, groceries or other shopping goodies. The material is considerably heavier duty nylon than other reuasble bags I’ve had and the seams are all nicely finished. I can definitely see using this for a long time. It seems durable enough to stand up to a trip through the washing machine if it gets dirty.

I might have a little trouble refolding it properly to fit back into the carrying case but I’ll cram it back in for awhile. All in all, I’m quite impressed with the bag and can see why its $10 and not $1.99. It is made to look good and last.

Kurochiku Japanese Pattern Eco-Bags Sugar Candy

So, there’s more to Jet Pens than just pens. Happy shopping (and don’t forget to bring your own bag)!

Review: G. Lalo’s Vergé de France Writing Pad

G. Lalo Writing Pad

For some time now, I’ve kept and ear and an eye open for good quality writing paper for letter writing. Stationery (not note cards) is getting harder and harder to find so I’m always on the look out for it. I’m familiar with the French line G. Lalo but had not tried out their paper until recently. It’s a textured paper with a classic laid finish which gives it some toothiness. I was concerned the toothiness would cause ink to bleed or skip but I should have expected that an upscale French paper would be as luxurious as it sounds.

G. Lalo Writing Pad

I’ve used  the G. Lalo Vergé de France pad for a couple weeks to write letters and found it easy to write on. The pad is a standard A5 size (5.75 x 8.25″) with a glue edge at the top to easily tear away sheets. Each pad had a cardstock cover with a metallic finish and gold embossed logo. It folds back easily. Each pad has 50 sheets.

The pad I purchased is listed as white but I found the stock to be a warm white/ivory color which is pleasingly warm but not so dark as to alter ink colors dramatically. The paper is blank but I use an undersheet with lines or grid under it to keep my lines neat and straight.

G. Lalo Writing Pad

The best thing about the paper is that not one single fountain pen I tried on it bled or splined or did anything untoward. This is THE paper for writing letters for sure. The paper is thick enough (100 gsm)  to use both the front and reverse of the stock too so its economical — relatively speaking.

I purchased my pad at Patrick & Co. Office Supply in San Francisco but can be purchased online through European Paper for $11.50/pad (if you purchase two or more, the price drops to $11) and they stock a range of colors including a lovely pistachio green. I might have to grab another pad. Matching envelopes are also available.

Link Love of Epic Proportions!

Clampersand (via Domesticated Desk)

Clampersand (via Domesticated Desk)

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