Tag Archives: craftsy pics

Operation Bloodhound

Okay guys, I call on your superior postal wisdom: How do I track down a letter that has been lost in the mail?

I made my former roomie a rather fabulous (if I do say so myself) birthday card, envelope, and small gift of paper cranes strung together with beads and buttons. Sadly, I quite forgot to upgrade the postage from 44c to 64c because the envelope was lumpy.

I mailed it on the third of March, and it still hasn’t arrived or been returned to me. Is there anything I can do besides cross my fingers?


81. Becky (@ Send Something) -Bethlehem

82. Lamar M. -Chicago

83. Laura E. -Chicago

84. Jessica K. -Chicago

85. Cat B. -South Hadley

86. Roy R. -New York

87. Olivia W. -Clinton


In which I have too many things to say

When befuddled, I make lists.


(click for better view) References were Celtic Design Spiral Patterns by Aiden Meehans, and The Book of Illuminated Letters By Morgan. Thank you, New York Public Library!

In all sincerity though, projects like this are good for my soul. I learn new things from new sources, and it gives my head a break from all these words that letter writing, and blogging, and tutoring in liberal arts demand from me. Studying designs, trying them out, discarding or modifying them, and then sketching and inking are all part of a process that exercises my intuition and puzzle-solving faculties while my brain puts on the auto-pilot and takes a much needed nap.

And I have 50 of them!

2) After years of being sort of peripherally aware of it I have finally discovered ebay, and its treasure trove of stamps and stationery. Check out these 29c space stamps! I don’t like my total (price + shipping) to exceed the worth (in this case, the face value of the stamps) of the item I’m paying for, which means that I haven’t had much luck with stamps on ebay. These cool ones, however, ultimately sold for less than face value so that I think I even made a bit of a “profit.” I feel so pleased with myself when things like that happen!

It’s a dangerous feeling though. One thing led to another, and when I was fed up looking at wonderful stamps I didn’t want to pay for I began to search for stationery. Well, there’s a lot more stationery that sells within my standard budget—in this case, the total cost must come out to less than a dollar per paper/envelope pair—and I’ve been a slave to the bidding screen all. day. long. On the upside, I have a much more affordable way to add some very cool stationery to my collection without paying through the nose at Papyrus. On the downside, I definitely don’t make enough on a tutor’s wage to support the kind of buying habit I’ve fallen into this month.

3) The mail is starting to trickle in slowwwwwwwly, but with enough frequency that I have hope when the mailman comes now. I received a letter from Alex in Chicago a couple of days ago that is the subject of today’s response. I know my sister is in the process of writing to me, and Lee, Ramya, and Jamie have all promised me letters soon. Hopefully blogging about their assurances will make it come true! (Are you out there guys? See—I’ve said it to the world! Now you have to make it happen!)

4) I had a thought that bears more thinking on: the slow trickle of mail may actually have nothing to do with my letters now, in 2011. In fact, this may just be Karma, come back to set things to right. My 55th letter was sent to an old friend of my mother’s, a nun she met when she volunteered at an orphanage for severely disabled Arab children in Haifa, Israel.*

The subject matter? Responses to the letters she sent me circa 1997-98, when I asked her to be my pen-pal. I was 8 or 9, a terrible procrastinator, and may have only sent one rather disappointing note back to her. I knew I was a horrible pen-pal and that I wasn’t living up to my end of the bargain, and I did quite honestly burn with shame whenever I thought about what Christian must think of me for not being polite enough to write her back. (I placed a lot of stock by politeness at that age, having an investment in being a favorite of adults because I didn’t get along with kids my own age. There was just often a an wide chasm between what I knew I ought to do and what I made time for.)

In any case, I came across her letters in my box of correspondence and thought, “Fourteen years later is still better than never, right?” So I wrote her a letter that touched on everything from her stamp collection and fountain pens, to books from then and now (she sent me some great ones!), to more obscure topics such as the elementary school’s international food festival (what did I bring? That would have been Irish sodabread) and the young deaf Hatian boy that had lived with her briefly. I can only imagine how surprised she will be to receive such a letter out of the blue!

It was a very, very long letter, but quite fun to write. Whether by sheer luck or thoughtfulness (my bet), her letters often talked about interests that we had in common in ’97-’98. And since Christian wrote to me like an adult her letters have aged well; they even seem to say more in 2011. With the passage of time I’ve become a better listener, and some things she wrote of mean more now than they did then.  How interesting her stamp collection seems now! And how kind of her to pray for me by virtue of her friendship with my mom. An 8 year old doesn’t really get the significance of someone saying, “I care about you and know all about you, even though I’ve never met you!” Now that I’m in the position of caring for and following my friend’s baby son, despite having never met him, I can much better appreciate what Christian wanted to tell me. I think it’s important to acknowledge that.

*My mom has hardly left the States since she got married and had three demanding kids, but those weeks in Haifa left an indelible impression on her. Photos of those children stand next to our own and the three of us grew up with stories of these kids, all of whom have since passed away.

55. Sr. Christian M. -Chicago

56. Becky (@ Send Something) -Bethlehem

57. Anna M. (@ Postcossing) – Odessa, Ukraine

58. Renee & Family (2011 Letters Project) -Roanoke

59. Alex C. -Chicago

Birds of a Feather

41. my soldier in Iraq

42. Cat B. -South Hadley

Here are a couple of envelopes I sent a while back. I can’t take credit for the design elements of the red one, but it’s something I want to keep playing with. The black one is one of my favorites to date, despite being much simpler in concept. The wrought iron look didn’t come out quite as I had imagined it, but I loved the contrast of the gold and silver against the black, and the colorful silhouettes of the birds. I imagine I’ll be doing variations on this theme for a while yet.

Henna Fowl:

Lot of issues with blots this time around

Bottom corner of the address

That neck reminds me of birch trees

How would you even classify something that looks like this? Goose?

The Birdcage:

Cut the black paper into an envelope, and made an inner lining out of the colored paper that department stores wrap your clothes in

Birds were cut out of painted tissue paper

Dip pen; silver and gold ink

Why is formatting these pictures so hard?

34. Megin F. -Seattle

A recent envelope to Chicago.

I wish I could have fit in Sebastian and some lyrics to Under The Sea

Clown fish, queen angel fish, betta fish

Betta fish and algae

Eel fish, jelly fish, silly fish

More ambitious?

Blow fish. So attractive.

He was fun to draw

Just the imperfections my sister would love

Food is fast

Hello February

32. Liz C. -Chicago

33. Suzanne P. -Plant City

Quick note and resolution: It’s begun to get really hard to balance writing long letters, imagining and designing cards and envelopes, and getting on with my other, arguably more important, responsibilities. This month I’m going to try do less drafting before I commit a letter to paper and go back to using my letters as a reward for good behavior (i.e.: after completing some not-fun assignment). I also fell into a habit of starting letters late at night and becoming too tired to finish them. I still did roughly a letter per day, but it would be two halves of different letters rather than a single accomplishment. It doesn’t feel good, so I’m also going to try to start my letters before 10 pm.

Ok, sounds good.


Now here are a couple of the other envelopes I sent off last month. I really like doing the collages!

Ziggy Zaggy painted tissue paper over sponged black paint


I've also been playing with an ink pot of gold ink and a nib dip-pen

Love the colors!








One more! I feel more comfortable with collages since I don’t have a lot of confidence in my drawing skills, but my sister mentioned that she prefers the drawn envelopes because the imperfections are interesting. Huh.

I like the contrast with the awesome blue stamp

You can see where the surface was scratched when I tried to fill in thicker lines

Super fine nib

24. My second collage envelope: made from newspaper, painted tissue paper, and mod-podge.

Now I can finally send that letter from the 21st.

Front detail

Tempura paints on tissue paper, cut and paste, finish over with mod-podge

Onto the back

This was the front page of the business section in a recent NYTimes

I love the details!

mod-podge finish on the newpaper, but not the tissue

Thinking hard about that return address

Trying new things

21. my sister the second. -Boston

22. Joe O. -Denver

23. My first non-written project! It took a little more than an hour to prepare the paper, and then a couple more to actually make the card. I’m pleased with the result though! The shine is from the mod-podge I used to tack down loose corners. Next time I think I will use heavier paper. I don’t know how Eric Carl made it look so easy, since the tissue paper was difficult to work with.

magical bird delivers card in a jungle

A couple of close ups

Jungle tree with cool textures

Dense jungle brush





The back

Lion and mouse move in the same social circles


And more details