Making Mail Art — How I Collage

Mail, Mail Art, Personal

I’ve always wanted to do a video like this! Watching people create is one of my favorite things. I finally busted out my tripod and set my camera to record. As usual, I was watching something on Netflix while doing this, which is why I keep looking to the right. Haha.

This shows a typical process for me when I am creating mail art. I don’t often (ever) set out to make anything in particular. I pick a paper that appeals to me and then set out on finding other things to paste on top of it. I like making one thing be the focal point of the collage, and I love layering papers. I’m often not satisfied with straight edges, which is why I rip a paper’s edge or use those scrapbooking scissors before pasting a paper down.

This is actually really fun for me to watch, too. I do things without even thinking about them, and I fidget a lot more than I thought! Surprisingly, this collage took me about 50 minutes to complete! Thank god for time-lapse to condense it down to 8 minutes.

I really want to do more of these! Maybe of something other than collage; carving rubber stamps?? Do you have any suggestions? Anything in particular you would want to see?

Here is the finished envelope, all ready to be sent out!


Sneak Peek: My Workspace


You guys, my desk is basically always messy. I have no clue how to keep it organized or clean. The top photo is what it looks like after I get done doing collages. I’m usually too lazy to put everything away once I’m done, and then I just keep piling different things on top of it. When it’s messy, I have no desire to do anything because I hate looking at it!

I clean it when I have a good bout of inspiration and really want to make collages. A clean slate for creating! The after picture doesn’t last for too long, unfortunately. One day I will learn to pick up after myself and keep things clean. Clean spaces make for a clear mind.

Finding Myself

Advice, Personal


I often lose sight of who I am and put my passions on the back-burner. I don’t know what causes me to do it. It’s just so easy to not have to worry about anything. It is hard to keep up with everything I love. My passions take a lot of work and time, but that doesn’t mean I should constantly ignore them. Are they passions if you do?

Speaking from personal experience, I think they are. I’ve gone through the majority of my early twenties with significant credit card debt. That has always been my main reason for not pursuing the things I love; these things cost money.

When I younger, living at home and working full time, I could afford to spend paychecks on new albums, postage, things I like to collect, zines and chemicals to develop film and photos. I had the space to have my own (temporary) darkroom and all the room in the world for mail art supplies. Then I moved out and everything changed!

So, how do you stay inspired and keep doing the things you love?

► If you can’t afford to do something right away, save up for it! Admittedly, I’m very awful at doing this but you should definitely save up for the things that make you happy in the long run, rather than those things that give you instant gratification.

► Find other people who are passionate about the same things you are. The internet is the easy way to do this! I love following blogs about mail art because it gives me a look into the processes of other people. It inspires me, even if I’m not directly doing it.

► Don’t procrastinate! Set aside time to do these things. I used to study programming and German in the beginning of this year because I had a schedule to do each daily, and made sure I set a timer to remind me.

► Recognize when you need a break. When I find myself putting things off for another day, I know that is when I need a break. Schedules are easily tossed aside, especially when life throws curve balls at you (like getting sick for a month!). Just make sure to come back to your schedule!

► Do something inspiring every day. I participated in the Month of Letters challenge and wrote 1 letter every day for the entire month. It was definitely a challenge but it was so inspiring. I love writing letters so why don’t I write them every day?

► Make it easy to do the things that inspire you. I’ve always loved photography but I don’t often take pictures. Whenever I’m out and about with my analog camera, I can’t stop taking pictures. It just feels natural!

► Do it. The strongest advice I have for being, or getting, inspired is to do whatever it is that you love. I find that when I start collaging an envelope, I don’t want to stop. It’s just a matter of just going for it. Once you start, you will not stop!

A Brief History of TARAdactyl Mail

Mail, Personal


Welcome to the new Dactyl Life blog. I was at my old blog for years and finally decided to move on up! I don’t think I ever properly introduced myself on my old blog so I thought I would take this as an opportunity to do so!

The basics can be found on my about page, so I won’t bore you with those details. I created Dactyl Life this year, with the intention to spread my mail art throughout the world. I’ve been involved with mail art and sending letters since 2000.


My first mail adventures started out when I was 12 years old. I had a ton of friends online, back in the days of AOL. I would have trusted my life with these people and we were always looking for new ways to communicate. Even as a kid, I always enjoyed checking the mail and being the first one to open, and read, the letters my grandmother sent us. My AOL friends and I decided to start writing each other letters, in addition to the hours we talked to each other online.

The letters were strange and lovely at the same time. I mainly exchanged silly thoughts and frustrations with two friends, Krissy and Jen. Even as kids, we always found ways to decorate our mail, or thought to include something nice for the other person. A big perk for us was that we could send each other pictures through the mail. Back in my day, it was incredibly cumbersome and expensive to send pictures to people online.


Jen was the one that unofficially introduced me to mail art. She was constantly covering her plain, white envelopes with pictures and doodles. I attempted to step my mail game up but failed miserably because I didn’t know what to do or where to start.

Shortly after that, I found out about zines and that led me to sign up on This was the start of my official mail art adventures. I honestly have no idea how I first heard about postcardx, but it really changed my life. It was such a fascinating place for me. I loved the idea of sending and receiving mail from strangers. Especially because most of them seemed interested in sending more than letters. I wanted to

receive (and send) mix cds, secrets, to do lists, ephemera, and anything in between. Since I was still a kid in the mail art world, I mostly imitated the art of the people sent me. I remember receiving a letter written on a piece of paper that was cut into the shape of a star. That blew my young mind! In responding to that letter, I cut my own stationery into different shapes.


Eventually postcardx just stopped existing. came in to take its place, in a way. By that point, I pretty much stopped sending mail. I started my first relationship, had real life friends, and was working full-time. It wasn’t until I didn’t have a mailing address did I get fully involved in sending letters again.

In 2010, I left Las Vegas for three months to road trip around the Southwest with my then-boyfriend and his best friend. I spent my nights on the road looking at mail blogs and longing for the day when I would be able to have an address again.

Eventually I came home and jumped into mail head first. I sent as many things as I could to strangers on sendsomething, hoping to make a connection with anyone who would respond. For the first time, I had my own style for decorating envelopes. Since then, it’s just been growing and growing. My ideas and style change on the daily, although the things I use to collage with (typically) stay the same.


Now I’m here. I have my own stationery shop and pen pals all over the world. I don’t know if I could ask for much more!

What’s your mail story? Were you active on postcardx? Who did you send your first letter to?