mail art diaries: how i make digital collages

Mail Art Diaries, Personal


I started making digital collages when I started designing stationery. Although I have been making “real” collages for over 10 years now, I have only been doing things digitally for over a year. I always wanted to sell my mail art but it would be so time consuming to create each unique piece by hand; I wouldn’t have time to actually write letters! To make things easier on myself, I scanned in my collection of images, ephemera and whatever paper bits I had, and started creating collages through Photoshop. Well, Photoshop Elements, because I’m cheap.

Watching people create things is seriously one of my favorite things to do. I think that is probably my favorite thing about the internet. I love watching people do things I can’t (or am too lazy to learn). I love watching people paint, draw, write calligraphy, you name it. I even like watching people do things I can do (like mail art!). I think I’ve watched almost every YouTube video there is of people making mail art. I finally found a free program to capture my computer screen by video so now I get to contribute to the world of creative process videos. Check it out below!

To celebrate my first computer-screen video, I am sharing the file for the envelope I created in the video. Check it out! It is a PDF file, you can print it on a regular 8.5×11 piece of paper. You will have to cut it out and fold it!

mail artist spotlight: rhiannon s

Mail, Mail Artist Spotlight


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.


Although I don’t want to play favorites, Rhiannon is definitely high on the list of people I love to receive letters from and people I love to write to. I thought we had met during my time in the League of Extraordinary Penpals but it turns out she actually wrote to me after reading my blog all the way back in 2012 (this is why I keep spreadsheets of incoming/outgoing mail, btw). I honestly can’t believe it’s been that long!


Rhiannon is seriously cool. She shares her book/music/movie recommendations with me and doodles in her letters. She once sent me a mix cd that I listened to straight for months; her taste is exceptional! Lately she is doing the school thing so I don’t get to hear from her too often but it’s always a treat when I do!


I suggest you check out her tumblr and see how cool she is!


What I’m Working On: ATCs




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.


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!




Mail, Outgoing


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!


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!


Mail Artist Spotlight: Supa’flous

Mail, Mail Artist Spotlight


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.


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.


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!


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, Mail


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!




Mail Art Diaries – Carving Rubber Stamps

Advice, Mail Art Diaries


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!


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!


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.


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!





Mail, Mail Art, Outgoing



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.


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.



I hope she enjoyed receiving this!

Mail Artist Spotlight: Alyssum and Mudhead

Mail, Mail Artist Spotlight


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.

To be honest, I have no idea who these people are. Alyssum and Mudhead sent me this envelope with a couple of drawings and a request for mail art about “seeing good magic”. I assume they found my address through my blog, since the envelope is addressed to Dactyl Life. No matter, I love surprises and mysteries when it comes to mail.


I really enjoy these strange drawings. They are different than what I usually receive in the mail and I love that. I’m much more a fan of the weird or unusual over this trend of “happy mail”. Don’t get me wrong, I love anything I get in the mail! This type of art just appeals to me a bit more.


So, I don’t know anything about these people but I did a bit of Googling (gotta love the internet) and found their blogs. Wherever you are, Alyssum and Mudhead, thank you for the mail! I am sending some good magic mail art your way soon.


Mail Artist Spotlight: Courtney C

Mail, Mail Artist Spotlight


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.


Courtney is a really nice lady from Australia. I’m not sure how we started writing each other; all I remember is receiving a really lovely letter from Courtney a few years ago. She has really pretty, cursive-like handwriting. She signs her letters “yours in writing” which I always thought was really wonderful.


We had been estranged pen pals for a couple of years but recently reunited via Twitter! She found my Twitter account and added me. I couldn’t believe it! That is a great way the internet aides us letter writers.


Courtney has an Etsy shop where she sells her handmade envelopes. She has a really awesome selection, check it out!