#LetterMo Stamps of Approval

The Month of Letters community shared many really wonderful stamps on the #lettermo tag over on Instagram, just as we requested. Here are our favorites! You can find more shared on our Instagram feed.

Postcards From The Edge of the #LetterMo tag

Thanks to everyone who posted pictures of their postcards sent and received on the #lettermo tag this year! We re-shared quite a few, and these are the favorites. You can see many more on our Instagram account.

Ever Thought About Making Your Own Ink?

ink making ingredients

Over at The Recipes Project, English professor Amy L. Tigner talks about the process of making ink from scratch. It’s a project she did for and with her students at University of Texas, and involved finding the right centuries-old recipe to try:

I considered several different early modern recipes, but I finally decided on one of the several recipes in the Mary Grenville family receipt book manuscript (Folger V.a.430), because it was in English (some of the recipes are in Spanish) and it was the simplest in terms of ingredients, steps, and time.

…the process of ink making turned out to be more expensive and more time-consuming that I had imagined, though both of these factors were also likely similar in the period and in the end a great learning experience.   I cheated a bit by looking on some ink-making websites that were quite helpful (especially, this one), as it explained about the chemistry of the ink making and also translated some of the recipe terms, such as “copperas” into “ferrous sulfate.”

On the ink-making day, students assembled the ingredients following the recipe. The most surprising and exciting part was adding the ferrous sulfate, which turned the formerly beer-brown liquid into the blackest black.

The ink turned out to be very good in terms of viscosity and color–and I’d argue better than the run of the mill India ink you can buy on the market.  Students really loved the project, especially as they were actively involved, and I am certainly planning to make ink the next time I teach a manuscripts class, though perhaps I will try a different recipe.

Definitely read the whole post for different ingredients, what she spent, and the time involved.

Would you ever try to make your own ink? Have you ever made your own paper or pencils or other writing materials? Share your story in the comments.

Share Your Favorite Postcards

Postcard image of a young Black girl yawning with her hair in curlers under a hairdresser dryer - from @rocaduma on Instagram

I like getting postcards almost more than I like full letters. That’s because postcards are often cool images, and they give me a chance to decorate my walls with small pictures of places, copies of beautiful art, or even text art that’s meaningful, if only because it reminds me of the person who sent it.

I’ve seen some really cool postcards on Instagram so far this month, and I want more! So please share pictures of the postcards you’ve received and the ones you’re sending out in the comments below or using the hashtag #lettermo on Instagram or on Twitter. I’ll reshare them and post my favorites on the blog next week.

image credit: @rocaduma on Instagram

Would You Let A Robot Write Your Letters?

Bond letter writing machine

Here at Month of Letters we’re very pro analog methods of communication. But we don’t eschew all modern technology when it comes to sending things through the mail–not everyone is comfortable writing by hand, sending postcards right from your smartphone is awesome and fun, and keeping a record of correspondence without burying yourself in paper is just good sense.

However, there does come a point where technology takes all the fun out of things, and we may have reached that point with a service offered by a company called Bond. From a Fast Company profile done on them last year:

Bond wants to retain the delight of giving and receiving notes, without the hassle of heading to the stationery store, writing out a letter, finding stamps, and locating a mailbox. “Nobody has ever said, ‘You know what’s awesome? I had the best experience at American Greetings,'” said Caberwal. Bond wants to bring the romance back to letter writing with a more modern experience. “We have really set out to reimagine what that would look like—how we can create a truly personal experience that lets people deliver that personal touch that is truly theirs, but let them do it from anywhere,” he added.

Thanks to Bond’s robots, writing a note is indeed as easy as shooting off an email. That is, after the initial intake process, which involves completing and returning a handwriting sample designed to extract a person’s distinctive handwriting characteristics and style. The bot doesn’t just copy letters; it learns spacing patterns, angulation, how a person connects certain letters, and how far someone veers from the margins. Those details are what make your handwriting yours. For a computer to fully learn the nuances of a person’s penmanship would take pages and pages of samples. To avoid a too laborious a sign-up, the typeface specialists at Bond have whittled the process down to a couple of paragraphs, which allows for a pretty accurate representation of your handwriting, if not a 100% copy. For an added personal touch, there’s also a page where you can draw or select a doodle, like a smiley or peace sign, as your signature stamp.

The service is a little more expensive now than when this article went up as it seems most cards are $5 each. There is also apparently a smartphone app on the horizon that will allow you to send notes directly from there.

Given that I am a fan of sending postcards from my smartphone you’d think I’d be down with this, too. I’m actually on the fence about it. Handwritten notes should be written by hand, I feel. I don’t think sending a typed note is less personal. Thus, I feel like this is not the best combination of tech and note sending.

But I want to hear your thoughts, LetterMo community! Is Bond a service you would ever use? Why or why not? Have any of you used it before? tell us your experience!

Show Us Your Mail Art!

Mail art from Instagram users rocaduma and dovbee

Last year, LetterMo community member Nina shared with us some quick and easy ways to create mail art. Since then I’ve been paying attention to some of the gorgeous envelopes, letter sleeves, wax seals, stamps, and other decoration on the letters people share in the forums, on Instagram, and on Twitter. I’m deeply jealous of those of you with a good sense of visual beauty.

I want to see more and share more of your mail art and decorations, so please post them to Twitter or Instagram and tag them #lettermo. I’ll share them on the social media accounts and post my favorites here on the blog next week!

image credit: Instagram users @rocaduma and @dovbee

Running Out Of People To Write To?

We are entering the final full week of the Month of Letters! Hopefully you’ve started getting some replies to the letters and postcards and packages you’ve sent out or letters from your LetterMo participating friends. However, if you are starting to run out of people to write to, we have some suggestions for finding grateful recipients:

And for penpals you can write to throughout the year, consider joining the Letter Writers Alliance or The League of Extraordinary Penpals or Postcrossing.com.