What I’m Working On: ATCs

Personal

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Last month, I won a little Instagram giveaway the talented Stephanie hosted. I barely ever win anything like this so I was super excited. She was sending out little packs of ephemera to make ATCs. I was even more excited because I was just getting into ATCs at that time!

I love receiving mail from Stephanie because she is so creative and always send really awesome things. She happened to use my favorite stamps on her envelope, too! Hooray.

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As you can see, she sent me a ton of paper elements! I was looking forward to using all these up by making some really cool ATCs. I’ve been really diggin’ bright, loud colors lately so this selection was right up my alley. I love all the dots and fun colors.

Here are some of the ATCs I made with the bits Stephanie sent. I’m pretty happy with them!

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Outgoing

Mail, Outgoing

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This is a letter I sent to another person I met at the Portland Correspondence Co-op, Leslie. I didn’t get a chance to talk to her for too long but she gave me one of her artistamps. In return, she received some mail art from me!

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I wasn’t too sure of her mail art style so I included some staples of mine in the envelope. I feel like she was more into the rubber stamping mail art style, and not so big on collage so I didn’t want to send too many images!

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Snail Mail Tips: What To Write

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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If you’re not new to the letter writing game, it should probably come pretty naturally what to write about in letters. If you are new to the writing game, you might find it difficult to start a letter. Shoot, sometimes I struggle with things to write about! I don’t lead a very exciting life; I work, hang out at home, and don’t go on many adventures. If you don’t really do a lot, what are you supposed to write about? Here are a few tips to help!

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Yourself

Duh! One of the best things about letters is that we have the opportunity to share a part of ourselves with someone we may never meet. It’s so great to learn things about people you don’t know or might not be friends with in the first place. We are all unique, why not share your quirks, likes and dislikes with someone? Write about your hobbies, your life, your past, your love or your favorite foods. Share yourself!

Emotions

It’s one thing to share facts about yourself with someone in a letter but it’s a whole different ballgame to share your feelings behind those facts. One of my favorite things about writing letters to strangers is that there isn’t any fear of being judged. I could write the weirdest shit in a letter to some random person and the worst thing that might happen is that they write back. It’s helpful to tell people what you are feeling. Don’t bottle it up!

Tell Stories

I’m really bad at this. Like, really bad. In general, I’m just not a story teller but those are my favorite kinds of people. I’ll start telling more stories if you do!

Weather

Okay, this is actually something I don’t want you talking about. I’m incredibly guilty of bringing up the weather. A lot. But, can we stop? I think it’s totally acceptable to bring up the weather when it relates to you or your life but quit asking, “How’s the weather?”. It’s boring! I tend to bring up the weather a lot in relation to how I’m feeling. If winter makes you depressed, bring it up! If you’re super unproductive during the summer, let’s talk about it!

Be Nice

If you truly value a pen pal’s friendship, don’t make it your goal to offend them. If you know the person you are writing to might find something offensive, try your best not to bring it up. Unless, of course, if that person is a bigot. By all means, offend a bigot. My views on having children are less than favorable but I’m not going to rain on someone’s parade if they have, or want to have, kids. Just be nice!

Mail Artist Spotlight: Supa’flous

Mail, Mail Artist Spotlight

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I receive a lot of amazing things in my mailbox almost daily. I thought it would be nice to feature some beautiful mail art here and there.

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I’m super excited to introduce you to Samantha, aka Supa’flous. I met her, in person, at the Portland Correspondence Co-op. We just happened to sit at the same table, and she was there with no prior knowledge of mail art but with a love for sending mail. After the event started, we ended up talking a bit and exchanged stories of how we started sending mail. I told her about mail art and the kinds of things I sent and received in the mail. We ended up exchanging addresses (because that’s what you do!). I sent her the first letter, and I went all out to introduce her to mail art.

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She sent me two lovely envelopes in return! Quickly, too. Don’t you just love her little characters? She drew some at the event, and they are so cute! She also sent me that super cool necklace she made. What a generous person!

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You should definitely check out Samantha’s website! She also has an Etsy, but it looks like she is on vacation at the moment. I’m sure there will be some super cool things for sale soon!

Incoming

Incoming, Mail

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Phew! I received a lot of mail within the last week. I tackled all but 1 of the replies on Friday night. Now I just have to put them in envelopes.

In this batch of incoming mail, I received mail from 3 new people! One of them I exchanged mail with a few years ago, but it didn’t stick. She is doing LetterMo this month and decided to send me a postcard. It’s so fun to reconnect with mail friends. The other are from two people I met at PDXCC. I sent them both mail first but this is my first time receiving mail from them!

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Mail Art Diaries – Carving Rubber Stamps

Advice, Mail Art Diaries

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Rubber stamps are amazing. They have quite the history within mail art! They are fun to use and even more fun to make. Some mail artists create their mail art exclusively with rubber stamps. I don’t know how they do it but they do, and they make it look amazing. I’ve never had a huge collection of rubber stamps due to cost. If you have the same problem, you should definitely consider making your own!

To start carving stamps, you just need a few supplies.
Rubber carving block
Linoleum Cutter
► Pencil (or pen)
► Rubber stamp ink
► Tracing paper (optional)

I had carved this shape before and used it so much that it started to fall apart! I decided I wanted to make another. My pen pal actually drew the shape (and all the other drawings you can see on that paper). We had a huge stamp-carving sesh when she was in town awhile back. I absolutely love carving stamps but I’m not the best at drawing so it was super awesome she could draw!

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We drew everything on tracing paper and then rubbed it onto the carving block to start carving. You can totally draw straight on the rubber and avoid that step. I find it a bit difficult to draw directly on the block, especially with a pencil. The white carving blocks are very soft and a pencil ends up digging into it. I imagine you could avoid that with a nice ballpoint or gel pen. If you draw directly on the block, be sure to flip any lettering!

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Carve out your image! You should have an idea of where you want your negative and positive space. My entire shape is positive space so I just had to carve all around the shape. If you have a more detailed stamp, I would suggest shading the areas that you don’t want to carve out, or something similar. There have been times I get my image on to the carving block and then end up cutting out a space that I shouldn’t have. Oops! It’s nice to have a little reminder once you get into the flow of carving.

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After a bit of carving, I like to put some ink on the stamp and test it out. This is very helpful if you have a more detailed stamp, as you can plainly see what areas might need a bit more carving. Keep doing this until your stamp is how you want!

See? It’s pretty simple, especially if you just want to make a bunch of shapes. Which I totally recommend because it looks awesome on a collage, especially when you make a nice pattern out of it! I also highly recommend using tracing paper as it is an easy way to store your designs. It really comes in handy if you ever need to make a duplicate stamp!

Here is an example of lettering. I traced over a printed image, put the tracing paper pencil-mark side down on the carving block, and rubbed the paper until it transferred on to the rubber. This is the only way I can carve out letters. Free-handing that is way too complicated for my brain!

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Vintage Postage Collection

Personal

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I’ve been rummaging through my vintage postage collection. Some days I feel like I would have no problem just using it all up, putting stamps on each and every envelope I send out; other days, not so much. The collection is actually my father’s. While I do not have any connection to my father in any way, I feel like this collection was the first thing to spark my interest in mail as a child. These stamps don’t hold any special meaning to him. He was the type of person who bought collectibles and random things with the thought that they would be worth money some day. I have never intended on making money off of these stamps so why can’t I just use them? I think it’s because I just like looking through them.

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There are so many different designs and themes. I love each and every stamp. I’ve actually added to the collection, over the years, with recent USPS issues that I absolutely love. Nothing beats a vintage design though. There are so many factors that go into the old stamps that make them much more special. I love the colors, the gummed backs, the fact that they aren’t glossy, the perforations, the texture; everything.

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One of my favorite things about vintage stamps are the markings on a sheet of stamps. I don’t think I’ve seen any newer stamps with these kinds of markings (but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!). With the ones pictured, you can see the Mr. Zip character, which the USPS needs to bring back, the dinosaur, and some general information about the stamp. It almost seems like a lost cause to do this because most people will probably never see the markings. They are there until you rip the sheet apart and throw it away. I’m happy to have several sets of full sheet stamps. I don’t think I could ever part with them!

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I remember being a kid and always begging my mom to bring out the box of stamps for me to look through. There was nothing better in the world to me than to look through all of these beauties! I don’t know if my mom ever official gave me the collection. I’m pretty sure I just claimed ownership of it, even before I started sending mail. I have no idea what attracted me so much to them, or to mail. Even as a child, I was adamant about being the only one to check the mailbox every day. If a letter from my grandparents arrived, I would have to be the one to open it.

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Outgoing

Mail, Mail Art, Outgoing

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Here is a little something I put together for a new mail friend, Samantha. This seems to be the year of me sending out mail to new folks. I’m diggin’ it! I haven’t had much of a chance to look for any new pen pals for awhile. Mostly due to my own lack of motivation, but I also thought I’d hit my max pen pal limit. Turns out, if you respond to all of your letters in a fairly timely matter, you are able to write to more people! I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune once I get bogged down by replies.

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I met Samantha at the PDXCC. Although she regularly sent letters to her friends and family, she was new to the mail art world. We talked for most of the meeting, and I shared my experience in the snail mail community with her. She seemed super intrigued by receiving mail that was more than just a letter so I wanted to send her something special; a nice introduction to the world of mail art.

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I hope she enjoyed receiving this!

Snail Mail Resource: Spreadsheets

Advice, Freebies, Snail Mail Tips

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In addition to my post on logging mail, I thought I would share my spreadsheets with you!

So, download away! Please do not redistribute these without permission, and they are only for personal use. You are welcome to alter these in any way! Add columns, delete columns, whatever you need. I was just thinking that adding a “Replied To?” column for incoming mail would be pretty helpful!

Click on the below link to download the files. Shoot me an email if you have any questions!
http://www.mediafire.com/download/4grf336zkw8yif5/Spreadsheets.zip

Snail Mail Tips: Logging Mail

Advice, Snail Mail Tips

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For an active snail mailer, one of the most important things to keep track of is all incoming and outgoing mail. Keeping track of your mail is the easiest way to make sure you’re replying to letters promptly and not forgetting to do so! If you love making lists, you should definitely be logging your mail. It just takes a few minutes to do!

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to keeping track of their mail. I know a lot of people keep paper logs or journals. I used to do that but I found that I didn’t have a very uniform system and I was often forgetting some information for every entry I made. I quickly switched to logging everything in a spreadsheet. I could have a header of all the information I was looking to log and I wouldn’t be able to forget that information.

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I created four spreadsheets; two for incoming and two for outgoing. Each set, incoming and outgoing, is separated into domestic and international mail. As I don’t receive a lot of international mail, I add countries to the spreadsheet as I receive them. No way am I going to look up every country in the world and add them to my spreadsheet! Although I don’t receive mail from every state in the US, I do list every state in my domestic spreadsheets.

For my logs, I like to track what was sent or received in a letter. This is helpful so I don’t end up sending the same stuff to the same people. I also write a brief description of a postcard’s image. I also love noting how I “met” the snail mailer. It’s nothing crucial but it’s fun to track!

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One thing I recently started doing is keeping a space where I can put incoming mail during the different stages of receiving it. I have a “To Reply” spot for all letters that I have received and logged but still need to reply to (obviously). Once a letter has been replied to, I place it in the “To Photograph” spot. In addition to logging mail on my spreadsheets, I also photograph all incoming and outgoing mail. It’s a bit excessive but I like doing it! After everything is said and done, the piece of mail goes to the “To File” spot. Right now, filing my mail means putting it in a reusable shopping bag. One day I will have a more official mail storing system!

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Here are a few tips to get you started logging your mail!

Figure out what you want to log

If you’re looking for something super simple, I suggest logging a name, date, and what was sent. If you’re looking for something a bit more, log a name, date, what was sent, postmark (incoming), when it was sent (outgoing), when you wrote it (outgoing), when you received it (incoming), when it was written (incoming), and how you know the person.

Use a system that works for you

If you know you love writing things down and keeping journals, opt for a paper log. If you’re looking for convenience and something that is easily searchable, create your log on the computer.

Log ’em as you get ’em

I should probably take this advice! If you don’t log your mail as soon as you send it, or receive it, it’s likely you’ll forget to do so. Plus, if you log the date of when you send or receive something, you’ll end up forgetting those dates if you don’t log it right away!