Stamps are an awesome form of art, don’t you think? They’re tiny, they’re meant to be marked on, they get put on envelopes and sent out into a cruel world of rain and wind and automatic sorting machines. Some are placed without a second thought, their only purpose as proof of payment for a service. Others are coveted and used judiciously to reflect something about the sender or something about the recipient. Sometimes both.
Every year for Month of Letters I buy a stock of stamps, and every year I end up with surplus because I don’t want to use up the good ones (like the circular Batman logo ones!) on just any old letter and every trip to a new post office means the chance to grab a design I don’t have yet.
It’s a problem.
I bet more than one of you out there have this problem as well.
Even if you don’t, I know you have a stamp or even several stamps you bought for your own letter sending purposes or received in the mail so far. Snap a picture and share it with us on Twitter and Instagram using the #lettermo hashtag. Later this month I’ll share some of the coolest ones on the blog.
A day for love! Whether that love is romantic, familial, or platonic, it should be celebrated. So put aside the cynicism about corporate manufacturing of holidays and look for ways to express your love for someone close today. If you haven’t mailed a Valentine, grab an index card and a pen and write a sweet note to hand deliver. If you want some inspiration on that point, read this post.
Today’s guest blogger is LetterMo Community Member Sara Glassman, a bookseller, school librarian, jewelry maker, and passionate letter writer. She has a stationary and postcard addiction that she is not trying very hard to recover from. This is her fourth year participating in LetterMo. Be sure to check out her blog, Twitter, and Instagram.
One of my favorite parts about getting letters is looking at the stamps my correspondents have used. With mail art and general envelope design being so popular it is rare to get an envelope with a simple flag stamp these days. Most of my letters have two or three coordinating stamps of varying denomination. They are tiny paintings on every envelope.
I’m always loved stamps. When I was eight, my mom got me a First Day Cover subscription from the Post Office. Once a month, they would mail me a fancy envelope with a special stamp. They all went into a special presentation book. (Although, there were apparently two Glassmans in my city who were part of the program and we kept getting each other’s packages.)
My mother had a wealth of vintage stamps from her own stamp collecting days. I marveled at the stamps in soft reds or greens, but I never really knew what to do with them except paste them into a scrapbook. As I got older I realized the potential for collage, but it still didn’t quite fill the itch I had to do something really special with the stamps I was receiving. And then much, much later I started making jewelry. And I realized that I had finally found the exact thing that I wanted.
The first stamp I used was an amazing dragon stamp from Botswana. My friend was there with the Peace Corps and she wrote to me frequently. Botswana had some beautiful stamps! I’ve also been active in PostCrossing for several years, which has brought me some beautiful stamps from various parts of the world.
The actual process of making the necklaces is fairly simple.
Find a stamp you like. If it’s been stuck to an envelope or postcard already, soak it in a bowl of warm water until the glue loosens. Then lay the stamp out to dry. (I usually dry them face down just in case there is some glue left.)
Decide what size pendant you want to make. I usually give the stamp a small 1 or 2cm border. Cut a piece of thin cardboard to fit. (The backing board the post office uses when they ship stamps is ideal!)
Find a background paper that compliments your stamp. Scrapbooking paper or origami paper are my usual go-to papers for this. You can find so many beautiful patterns and colors. Tissue paper will also work, but you usually need several layers.
Coat the cardboard with ModPodge and wrap the paper around the cardboard. You can either leave the seams showing or cut a backing piece to fit. That is entirely up to you.
Use the ModPoge again to stick the stamp to the pendant. You can center it or offset it if you’d like. Coat the entire front with ModPoge and then when that dries, flip it over and coat the back.
Once everything has dried completely, use a scrapbooking eyelet tool to punch holes and then set the eyelets. I often put another eyelet at the bottom so I can hang a few beads. This can dress up the pendant and also give it a bit more weight once you’re wearing it.
The final step is to add cord and there you are! If you want to get fancy, you can use chain, silk ribbon, or anything else you like.
I will warn you, once you’ve seen how simple it is, it can be very difficult not to eye every bit of paper or scrap of decoration on an envelope as something to make wearable. I hope you find some beautiful stamps to wear.
Happy second Sunday in February, all! It’s our second day of “rest”, which means it’s time to take a look back through old blog posts. Ah, I remember the days…
Since we’ve been sharing favorite writing paper and pens this week, I thought you’d like to look through past posts centered around geeking out about pens and ink and typewriters and the like. You’re welcome to comment on these old posts, no matter how long ago they appeared, and re-start the conversation!
Wanna share your typewriter, favorite ink colors, fancy letter press, or other tool you use to write and send letters? Please do so in the comments or using the hashtag #lettermo on Twitter and Instagram.
Thanks to all of you who shared your favorite paper for writing letters. Keep the replies coming! In keeping with the theme of letter writing tools, today we want you to share your favorite pens. because we know y’all all have favorite pens.
I know many of you are like Month of Letters founder Mary Robinette Kowal in preferring fountain pens. While I do enjoy them and even have a few (it’s Mary’s fault), I am still a gel pen girl at heart. It has the smoothness that I like in fountain pens but isn’t as messy and there’s no maintenance.
That’s not to say I will write with just any gel pen. There are some truly terrible ones out there. After many years I settled on two favorites. The first is the Pentel Energel .7mm. I used to only deal with the Black and Blue ink, then I saw someone on a pen blog raving about the purple ink and then I got the multi-color pack and fell in love with that and the green. Smooth writing, quick drying, thick line.
My other favorite pen is one that the company doesn’t make anymore: the iWalk Amphibian (pictured above). It takes Parker gel pen refills, and I’d say that half of my love for the pen is the refills and half is for the pen body itself. I originally got this to test the phone screen stylus on the back end and found that I really liked the feel of the pen and the weight. I don’t use the stylus bit that much, but I am never without this pen tucked into my journal.
What are your favorite pens? Do you have different ones set aside just for writing letters? Share them with us in comments or, even better, post pictures of them on Instagram and Twitter and tag them #lettermo. I’ll share my favorites on the blog later this month. Just be sure to say the pen name when you post!
Valentine’s Day is less than a week away and I know many of you are out to earn the Valentine badge (and I see several of you already have!). We need more love in the world right now, no matter what kind of love it is.
As you send out and receive Valentine cards, letters, and other goodies, take a moment to snap a picture and share them with us using the #lettermo tag on Instagram and Twitter. On February 14th we’ll post some of our favorites here on the blog.
In the meantime, you can share something else in the comments: the most memorable Valentine you ever sent or received in years past.
Did you know Month of Letters is on Instagram now? Yes, indeed. There are so many of you there sharing your beautiful envelopes, handwriting, stamps, and more, that we thought it would be fun to highlight our favorites. Such as the image above, which comes to us courtesy of @adamihasegawa on Instagram.
Are you new to the Month of Letters challenge? If so, you might not know how many great posts we have on the blog from past years. Each Sunday we’ll highlight some favorites, and you’re welcome to comment on them, no matter how old they are, and re-start the conversation!
Last year we opened up the blog to several really awesome guest bloggers who shared their snail mail stories, their love of mail art, and dropped wisdom about pens. Here are a few of my favorites:
One of the things I love about the Month of Letters community is how much you all love to talk about your letter writing tools from the paper you love to the pens to the stuff you use to make custom envelopes. So several of this month’s blog posts will be about sharing the tools you love with each other and the world. Let’s start with paper, which is essential to the snail mail letter writing process.
Now, there’s a reason I didn’t title this post Share Your Favorite Stationery — it’s because one doesn’t need paper that is technically stationery in order to write letters. I prefer to use paper out of notebooks for my letters, and my favorite notebooks to pull apart for this are the 6 x 8 Clairefontaine staple-bound ones. There are just two staples, easily removed, and then you have a stack of folded paper that gives you 4 pages for writing. That’s often enough for a whole letter, though if I go long I will use two of them.
I started doing this because many people give me journals, but I have very particular needs for my journals. Perfect bound ones don’t really work for me. As this type of journal piled up in my house, I realized that I could easily pull them apart without losing too many of the pages and have paper that would work for letters. I even bought envelopes to fit.
What paper do you use for writing letters? What is your favorite, and what do you grab in a pinch? Share it below (you can include links!) or share it with us on social media using the hashtag #lettermo. We’re @LetterMonth on both Twitter and Instagram.
I’ve just written my first letter for the month, which was a thank you for a lovely, lovely hand-knitted sweater. There’s something so beautifully personal about things that our hands have touched. I think this is one of the charms to mailing letters. Even if you aren’t writing it by hand, knowing that you touched gives the letter an ephemeral beauty.
Meanwhile, we are also creatures of the Information Age, and do like our computers so… I have some new badges for you.
Now, if you’re a newcomer, to log your letters, click on the “Fun Stuff” menu and then “What have you mailed today?” Just fill that in once a day with what you’ve sent out. And make sure to check out the badges page for some other fun.
And finally, some housekeeping… I’ve just learned that the LetterMo email has been broken since early January. We’re trying to fix it, but bear with me. I’ve attempted to reset the contact form so it goes to my personal email address as a temporary measure. I’m so sorry for the confusion and frustration that’s caused for folks looking for help. I wasn’t ignoring you on purpose.