A Lovely Day for Letter Writing

Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in a Letter Writing Social at Indy Reads Books located located at 911 Massachusetts Ave. It is a lovely space and if you live in Indy and have not visited this store yet, you need to check it out.

The Letter Writing Social was hosted in part by The Indy Trade School, which is  has begun its own letter writing group in Indy called The Penny Black Society (more on that name in a minute.) The other host was The Letter Writer’s Alliance, operated by Donovan Beeson and Kathy Zadrozny. Donovan and Kathy are awesome and I’ve mentioned their stationary business, 16 Sparrows, and the LWA on this blog before. I am a member of the LWA, so I was really excited when Donovan mentioned she was going to run a social here in Indy.

The point of the social is just to provide a venue where people can come and write or type letters. The Trade School and LWA provided materials for mail art, envelope templates, stationary and type writers. It was a good time. 


I typed a letter on this machine. The script comes out cursive. Excellent. 

I wrote five letters while I was at the social and I met a lot of cool people from around the city. I find writing and making mail art very therapeutic and fun. Here is a sample of my finished letters:

All to be sent out on Monday. 

As I mentioned earlier, the Penny Black Society is the letter writing group that is getting off the ground here in Indy. The name comes from the first adhesive postage stamp to be used by a public postal system. It was issued in Britain on May 1, 1840. 
Penny Black Stamp.
Indy Trade School

The Elevated Envelope

A few months ago I signed up for the Elevated Envelope project. I found information about the project on the LWA website and I thought it looked like fun. I’ve spent the last few months making my envelopes and they are finally ready to go in the mail (ahead of the May 15 deadline).

I decided to do use a theme for my design but I wanted to make each envelope unique, so because it is National Poetry month and I’m a poet, I decided to use poetry as my theme. I picked 10 of my favorite poems and designed each envelope around that poem. I enclosed a copy of the poem and a brief note inside the envelope. Hopefully, my recipients will enjoy them.

Elizabeth Bishop “The Fish,” Rita Dove “Daystar,” Robert Hayden “Those Winter Sundays”& James Wright “A Blessing.”

Pablo Neruda “Sonnet XVII,” Wallace Stevens “Sunday Morning” & Emily Dickinson “#254.”

Mark Strand “Eating Poetry,” Mary Oliver “Sleeping in the Forest” & Frank O’Hara “Why I Am Not a Painter.”

Love Letters

While I understand that a lot of people have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day, I don’t really have a problem with the holiday. Do I agree that it has become hyper commercialized? Sure, but you have been into a Target around Christmas? Hell, have you been in to a Target around Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter? We’re Americans. We see it as our job to over hype holidays. I’ve never thought of Valentines Day as a day necessarily for couples, which I think is why it’s never stressed me out much. When I was growing up, I had the great fortune of having a father who brought flowers for his wife and his two daughters. My mom always gave us cards and candy. My aunt sent me Valentine’s Day care packages when I was in college and I used to go out for drinks with my other girlfriends to celebrate the holiday. To me, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating people you love. Period. If you attached, that person falls into that category but so does you mother, you father, your grandmother, your sister, your brother and even your pets (yes, I think of my pets as people. We’ve covered this before).

Cards ready to be put on the mail…

This year I wanted to make cards to send out to for Valentine’s Day. It was fun and it gave me a chance to be creative. On Saturday I took all of my cards to the post office, bought some “Love” stamps and sent them off to all corners of the world. I hope these cards bring a smile to their recipients and that they feel loved, because after all, that’s what Valentine’s Day is about.

Letter Writing Kits

This Christmas my family put a spending limit on gifts. I was in full support of this plan because I already had brilliant ideas for Christmas for several members of my family. This idea came to me awhile ago when I was thinking about how I used to write letters as a kid. This particular memory of letter writing happened to coincide with meeting a new friend from Chicago who is involved in something called The Letter Writers Alliance. This all occurred a few years ago and it got me to thinking that I should start writing letters again. However, as usual, life got in the way until a few weeks ago when I could finally start putting my plan into action.

I wanted to write letters again, but I also wanted to people to write letters to, so that’s when the letter writing kits came into being. I thought they would make perfect gifts for my sister, my mother & my best friend for Christmas this year. I would assemble the kits and postmark their first letter on December 22, 2011  so they would receive them in the mail shortly after Christmas. Then they could pen their response to me using their new kit.

What goes in a letter writing kit? Well, this is where the creative side of my brain begins to have fun.  Here I give you a list of what I included:

1. Stamps

I bought these little boxes at Michael’s. Digging in the bins to find the right initials was fun.

2. Gold Seals.

The shopping gods were with me. I found all the right initials. Again.

3. Whimsical note cards (whimsical is such a great word).

Who doesn’t like wine or clocks?

4. A membership to the Letter Writers Alliance & a starter kit

Courtesy of The Letter Writers Alliance.

5. Good pens.

6. A beautiful box to house all of these fun items in.

These are the letters I wrote to my sister, mom & best friend

I did the stamping to make envelopes look prettier. I forgot how much I loved stamps. Those are gingko leaves on my sisters envelope. By the time this post goes up, they will have received their letters and hopefully will be writing one back to me.

Holiday Mail

I bypassed sending holiday cards to the masses this year for a simple reason: I got married. Between my save the date cards, wedding invitations and the the thank you notes (that just went out less than a month ago) I figured that everyone had heard enough from me. However, I did take part in a Holiday Card Swap for fun and this weekend I received my first letter from my pen pal.

Last week I received this in my mailbox:


I sat down right away and penned a letter to my new pal.

A few days later this appeared:

I love Tiger Lilies.

So this weekend, I wrote to my second pen pal. I was full of holiday spirit having just finished a batch of grading, so in addition to to a letter, my second pal received a paper snowflake and a scented pencil that smells like a candy cane.

After receiving my first letter in the mail, I have to say I am completely thrilled with the feeling I get when I get to open a real live letter.

In other news, cards from my Holiday Card Swap have been rolling in:

A sheer bounty of cleverness.

I love receiving mail over the holidays. Support the post office and send letters!

Holiday Card Swap

My friends, Donovan Beeson and Kathy Zadrozny over at 16 Sparrows  are extremely talented and you should all go look at their blog and buy their products. They are also the founders of The Letter Writers Alliance, whose mission statement is “…dedicated to preserving the art of the handwritten letter, neither long lines, nor late deliveries, nor increasing postal rates will keep us from our mission.”

I used to  write letters when I was younger. When my dad lived in Erie, PA few a few months before my mom, sister and I followed him out there, we used to exchange letters weekly. He wrote his notes on this stationary that had little tanks on the front of it and the inside of the card read “Many Tanks.” He always crossed that line out. I also wrote to my best friend, Jo-Anne Venezia, after we left Hartford, CT for Erie, PA. As is the case with most things, I stopped writing letters because life got in the way blah blah blah…

Anyway. Donovan and Kathy are inspiring me to begin writing letters again, which has lead to a couple of projects over the past few weeks. However, while reading the The Letter Writers Alliance blog, I stumbled across this: The 5th Annual Card Swap. I love this idea, so a few weeks ago I made my cards.

I’m not an artist but these were really fun to make…

Noticing a theme? I really like this stamp 🙂

I also really like water color pencils. 

This was a fantastic idea and I just received my list of recipients tonight. I can’t wait to write my greetings and get these out in the mail.