Saturday, June 6, 2015

An Embarrassing Confession

So call me clueless, but when did the postal rate for postcards go up? I missed it, I think. Or maybe it's a function of the fact that we use Forever stamps for first-class letters, and so I don't notice when that rate goes up. Anyway, I am here to tell you (in case you have been under this rock here with me) that the current rate for a normal-sized postcard (you gotta be careful there too!!) is 35 cents.

And I apologize if I have sent any of you postage-due postcards -- although I have long suspected that my mail lady is my postal guardian angel. Since I do send and receive quite a bit of mail, I think she must go behind me and correct my postage when I do boneheaded things like send a postcard with 34 cents of postage on it. Or maybe you all are too polite to tell me I am an idiot. :-)

Anyway, the point of all this is to sing the praises of the USPS, because they have finally seen the light and issued some really great Forever postcard stamps. Check them out! I love them, and just ordered some. (My local post office might have some of these, but I am way too lazy for that.)


Now I don't have to worry about how much postage to put on a postcard! Cue the singers...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Always with the envelopes, huh?

I had a couple of birthday cards to send yesterday, so of course they cannot be addressed normally -- it's time for some fun with lettering!



Some days I would rather do this than just about anything. But it doesn't pay very well. (ha!)

In case you are curious, these were done with Micron pens. Keeping it simple.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lettering on painted paper

This is an experiment I did this afternoon. One of my favorite things to do is to paint papers that might otherwise be thrown into the landfill and then do creative things with them, such as lettering on them. This is a bulletin insert from church, necessary because our old hymnal did not have "Rock of Ages" in it. What a travesty, you may say -- although I actually don't like this hymn. It can get slow and mournful and is just not uplifting to me personally. (If this is YOUR favorite hymn, then you'll be happy to know our new hymnal does have it -- so the error was corrected!)

So -- I painted on this paper some while back with some ordinary acrylic paint, and then set it aside for some time.


It caught my eye today, and I wanted to letter something on it. The "music" was done with a black Flair pen, and the rest of it was done with a black Sharpie. I found it interesting that neither one of these pens played particularly nice with the paint. I wonder if there's some kind of chemical reaction? I know Sharpies contain alcohol-based ink. Not sure about Flairs, but I would suspect they have the same. Anyway, this is not great art -- I was just fooling around, after all -- but I thought it turned out kind of interesting, so here it is!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Restocking the stash

Recently I have been sticking my toe.... or maybe pen.... back into the writing by hand waters. I started slow, with some mail to some long-neglected pen friends, who, although I was not writing to them, were ALWAYS ON MY MIND.



OK, well maybe not like that.....

Anyway, another toe-dipping venture is Postcrossing, and if you are not familiar with this website, you need to be. So I have been sending out postcards, and my "local color" cards have been running low. I do not live in a tourist mecca, by any stretch of the imagination, so getting postcards here is difficult. Whenever I make a short jaunt out of town, to the coast or New Orleans, I like to look around for postcards to stock my stash.

Today I went to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a Saturday outing, and wandered all over -- Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Waveland, Gulfport, and Biloxi. Much of the wandering was done on Highway 90, which travels right along the beach for miles and miles. It's not the prettiest beach of course, because 1) it's entirely manmade (although it is supposedly the longest manmade beach in the entire world); and 2) it doesn't access the Gulf of Mexico directly -- the beaches in Gulfport and Biloxi face the Mississippi Sound -- so this means our beaches don't get what they call "ocean dynamics." I think this translates into: we don't get nice waves and the beaches can get kind of trashy with debris. BUT! It's a BEACH. I love to look at the water.

Satellite view of the sound, with the Mississippi barrier islands

A view of the beach/hotels/casinos

Long story long -- when I am on the beach I generally like to hit one of the souvenir shops there. There are not that many down there, but they are pretty sizeable. And there's one -- Sharkheads -- that has lots and lots of postcards. I came home with a few:

OK, this is more than a few -- it's a pile of 72 cards, to be exact.

I think I am stocked up now and ready for some more Postcrossing. If you want one of these, leave a comment and I'll send you one too!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Incoming and Outgoing Mail

I'm having fun with the Month of Letters so far.  Keeping my fingers crossed that I can stay on track with it!

Here's what came in the mail yesterday from a penpal that I actually met through LetterMo, Ria, and have kept in touch with over the past year:


The front of the envelope is covered in washi tape, and it's really a fun idea.  I have a lot of washi tape that I have bought because I liked the designs, but then I never know what to do with it.  This could be a possibility!!

And here's today's outgoing mail: a postcard to a LetterMo contact (a new one this year, just basically a postcard swap), and a reply to the above letter.


As you can see, I got a little creative with the washi tape on the reply letter (creative for me, anyway).  I searched for something suitable to put in the lower left box that I created with the tape, but I couldn't find anything or think of anything.  One of these days I will throw all caution to the winds and just doodle something there!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Month of Letters 2014


Greetings, all!  I know this blog has been dead for months now, but I am itching to change that.  And what better way to (gently) wake up a blog entitled "Writing By Hand" than to celebrate the first day of the Month of Letters 2014?  In case you are not familiar with this, it's a month-long challenge which is actually probably one of the most do-able challenges out there: just send a letter or postcard to someone every day the mail runs in February.  So Sundays are out, as well as February 17, which is the President's Day holiday.  That adds up to only 23 pieces of mail.

In case you don't have anyone to write (and a lot of people don't these days, I suppose), the members of the LetterMo site would be glad to swap addresses with you.  You might not (and probably won't) get many life-long penpals out of the exercise, if that's your goal, but you just might!  However, the good news is that any kind of letter or postcard or greeting card would count -- and surely you have some family members or friends that would enjoy a "just because" letter or card?  Or send a thank you note to your favorite author or musician or even just your kid's teacher.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

So I am in, of course, and here's my first day's mailing:


Leave a comment and some contact information in the comments section if you'd like, and I'll make sure you get some mail too!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wedding calligraphy

Many of you know that my daughter is getting married soon (because you have heard about it in letters from me).  And soon means Saturday.  This Saturday.  (gulp)  We're ready, though!

However, I have talked a lot about doing calligraphy for her wedding, so I thought it was time to show it all off.

Very early in the process of wedding planning, I decided I would do the calligraphy for her invitation envelopes.  So I got out the pointed pen and the ink and started relearning my copperplate hand.  I had learned it years and years ago, but had not really used it since then.  However, it was much like riding a bicycle -- a few wobbly starts, and then it all came back to me.

Then we went shopping for the invitations themselves, and we fell in love with a particular style that just happened to include a spot for custom calligraphy. So I thought, SURE!  Why not?  Add that to the list!  The advantage was, I only had to produce a master copy of that calligraphy (the couple's names on the invitation) and send it off to be mass-printed on the invitation.  But I probably wrote those names about 50 times to get them as perfect as possible. By the way, the invitation came from Crane's. THE BEST CUSTOM STATIONERY, HANDS DOWN!

An inner envelope and the invitation.

An outer envelope.  These were huge, by the way, requiring extra postage.  Didn't think about that!

We sent out 144 invitations.  They took about four months to do.  (Yes, this was HORRIBLY slow, but I just did it on the side, in spare moments, so I wanted as much time as possible to get them finished on time.  I could have done it faster.)  I started at the first of the year and finished by April, a few weeks before it was time to mail them out.  Once I finished with that little project (ha) I started looking around for something else to do.

Another obsession of mine is chalkboards.  Specifically, the decorative kind, which is just really another form of calligraphy.  Lots of people use these chalkboards as decorative/informative elements of weddings, receptions, parties, etc.  So I thought, let's try this out!  My wife and daughter were certainly supportive of my efforts -- free calligraphy, right?

Drinks menu (small chalkboard) for the bar area at the reception.

Large chalkboard that will be placed on an easel to welcome guests to the reception.

Smaller chalkboard used for the wedding favors area -- my (future) son-in-law makes a mean grilling rub that he put into test tubes (because he's a scientist) to give to the wedding guests.

And then, there's going to be a bridesmaids luncheon the day before the wedding, so why not do a couple of chalkboards there to label the drink dispensers?


So there you have it -- my calligraphy journey to the wedding day!