Thursday, December 31, 2015

janis stars for chuck

this would have been better if the lettering was filled in with marker rather than colored pencil or if the stars were colored pencil. it was fun finding another style of lettering that was psychedelic. although they always look like cinnamon rolls to me. if i ever form a band, we might call ourselves the psychedelic cinnamon rolls. and we're a rap band and instead of wearing bandannas on our heads we wear dish towels and not just any dish towel, they are really nice hand embroidered ones from the 50's and yes i do have a complete set. days of the week.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

nov exchange - from jean and janet

these were the first two envelopes that arrived from the november exchange. don't they look nice to gether. jean (top one) said she echoed the shape fo the corn in the leaf - very clever idea. then she packed up and went south for the winter, also very clever idea.

janet has a nice assortment of vintage stamps, and designs that are anchored by a strong vertical and horizontal - always a good way to keep many elements corralled.

thanks, exchangers.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

marker/pen swatch book

it seemed like a good idea to make a swatchbook of all my markers and pens so i would know what i have.
this is my set of prismacolor markers.

of course, i did the test swatch on an envelope and when i got to pink, i thought, what-the-hay - make an envelope for alex. of course, if i mail it to her, then i will not have my swatch book.

when i layer my ideas, i usually make negative progress. but, i now have 26 to the 12th power new ideas.  math buddies, please tell me exactly how many new ideas i have and then tell me how many years i can go - posting one new idea per day - on my blog.

math problems. my new way to turn the blog into mental exercise to ward off dimentia.
math-phobics, don't worry....i'll forget about this by the time i get around to my next envelope :-)

Monday, December 28, 2015

bricky peanuts to rehj

i was ambivalent about posting this one. i imagine there are others who enjoy drawing bricks. i just wasn't in a bricky mood this year and i tossed three attempts in the waste bin before this one. i'd dump this one, too, but i am so close to getting all my 2015 posts scheduled, that i'm losing my nit-pickish-ness. besides, the last week of the year is always a bit of a do nothing week.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

off topic - motherlode

this is not an envelope but i sure would enjoy using the concept to write the name and address multiple times. i do have some examples where i layered the name, writing it several times in different colors using different tools.

anyhow, off-topic sunday is a link to this website where you can flip through and see a ton of lovely calligraphy and lettering.  just above the top right corner of the artwork is

and you can scroll through a fairly long list.

in my continuing lessons on how to steal like an artist, the tip of the day is to not limit yourself to stealing from other mail artists. anyone who is new to this blog might not know about my recommendation to read the book, Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon.

i thought i had a whole blog post about this book. but i did a search and nothing popped up. so, maybe i should turn my sunday off-topic posts into more about this book and how to generate ideas. more than a couple people have asked me where i get so many ideas. the truth is, i just look at stuff and it makes me think of other stuff. or maybe i look at two things and put them together.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

from exchangers finn and kathie

these two are an interesting pair. top one from finn is made out of some slick paper and the bottom one is a wild combination of paint splotches with matt stuff, shiny stuff, glittery stuff, markers, and more. it looks like it was a whole lotta fun to make. the stmap colors are very similar. even though the style of the stamp isn't anywhere near the style of the envelope, they still look nice together because of the common colors..
same goes for finn's choice of a black stamp and lettering on the kitty cat. even though these two envelopes do not share a lot of the same color, i really like them together.

thanks for participating in the exchanges.

Friday, December 25, 2015

merry me

 i usually don't coordinate the blog with holidays, but, i ran across this little card i made when i was only 3 years old (turned 4 the following april). it is a greeting card for my doll (i was not creative with names, i just called my doll *baby*) notice that i was already writing in cursive to sign my name. it is less than 2"x2".  one of my parents drew the straight lines for me. i was pretty obsessed with writing from a very early age.

i have a few bits of paper from my childhood and they always make me smile.

best wishes for happy holidays to all my penpals.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

jean's annual (when she remembers) christmas eve post

i'm not sure how many times i have re-run this post. this year i am just sending a link. if you haven't read it, you might want to take a moment.

read about this envelope here

today's regular post is below

from exchanger limner

i just love limner's style. i can't really recommend stealing her style because it's too personal and would be too difficult to steal.

maybe you can be inspired by the layering of elements. or maybe not. either way, it's a very fun envelope.

thanks for participating in the exchange, limner.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

from exchanger florence

here was another opportunity to post two from the same person. florence must have a nice stockpile of vintage stamps. i love the quilt one and how she mixed in a stamp that was quite different but still complemented the quilts. very nice.

then on the ships, she used some non-u.s. stamps. once again, there is one stamp that does not follow the theme, but the colors and shapes make it a perfect compliment. it's interesting how the stamps are over the name...bold move.

thanks for participating florence

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

from rehj

this was one of wilma's favorite envelopes. i believe i posted a postcard with my name, but i'm pretty sure this is not a repeat. rather than a scan, i shot a photo to catch the reflection off the shiny coating of embossing powder (that you melt with a heat gun, so they should call it thermography - it has nothing to do with embossing - but nobody lets me name things - sorry about the little digression rant) anyhow, if you look sideways, you can see that the name wilma is the reflection and has been stretched using the computer. i wonder if all the people who received this design in the exchange noticed their name in the reflection.

thanks rehj

and there is a second new post today below this one.

from exchangers kate and rehj

kate's (top) is done by hand and looks like the bones style of writing. i can't tell if she wrote in gold and outlined in white or did something else. paul looks pleased. the silver dots are a very cool addition.

i thought kate's paired nicely with rehj's which is a computer generated design. it looks like she used the pattern on the stamp to fill the letters. the outlining looks like copper colored sharpie - done by hand.

thanks for participating, kate and rehj.

Monday, December 21, 2015

from exchanger lilli

it's fun to have two from one person and these two are an interesting combination because the sky fits nicely over the scene. canada has some great stamps.

thanks lilli for participating in the exchanges.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

off topic - diana sudyka

this is not an envelope, but the way diana sudyka uses stamps to build a larger picture is cooler-than-cool.

you can see more at her website.

click on the tiny images under the large one

then, if you have more time to surf, you can check out the rest of her work through the tabs at the top

tomorrow i will show a cool envelope from an exchange that uses this technique

Saturday, December 19, 2015

last call for mail art - roland halbritter

one last reminder to send some mail art to roland

this is by Fraenz Frisch

not exactly an envelope but there is plenty of space for a stamp and address.

here are the details on what to send and where to send it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

from limner

i'm leaving limner's address on because i discovered she has a blog and i added it to my list over there on the right - and scroll down -  if you are looking at a regular computer screen - (i don't know if you will see it on a phone)

it appears she welcomes mail art.
this is so stealworthy. i'm not sure how she feels about us stealing her good ideas. i hope she leaves a comment.

thanks so much.
this is lovely.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

font ideas
this is a screen shot from MyFonts.

there is a new font that you could use as a template to draw your own letters. in some cases, you could make improvements. that 2-stroke Y leaves too much white space. a more traditional Y with a straight lower stroke might look better. just making all the strokes a little looser (more organic) would be nice.

i trust everyone knows how to put in your own copy and see any word or name in any font.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

from jeri

jeri is my penpal who loves orange, tiny writing and vintage stamps. i'm not sure i have seen her do those overlapping letters before. super stealworthy.
thanks, jeri - as far as me being sweet - if you say so...i know better than to argue with you ;-)

change the pumpkin and candy corn to snowflakes and this one is uber-decemberish - and coordinate the colors to the snowflake stamps (you knew that)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

from elizabeth o

yup, we are back to halloween, but you could imagine this in other colors with a different holiday image.

thanks elizabeth - very pretty.

i expect to get my dec exchange envelopes in the mail today. so i hope they arrive.
i realized that i never do the other holidays, just christmas. so i am making a note-to-self for 2016 to do all the other holidays.
best wishes to everyone for a happy holiday season.

Monday, December 14, 2015

peanuts for elizabeth with hair

this is how it looked when i added hair.

i think the ones with dark sky might look better with sky all across the envelope

peanuts for alyce and elizabeth

on the top one, i don't like the way the letters are standing up straight, they should look more like they are really skating. i should not have done the whole name. i would have had a much better result doing just the first name. sorry alyce, you get a clunker this time, but at least you know that i put in more time than i usually allow myself...

the next one - i figured i should try something that would be faster. the little coats need some colored pencil and i am pretty sure i need to put hats and hair on the *heads.* when i do that, i may ruin the envelope. but i already have the stamp on the envelope, so we are in treacherous waters here. wish me luck. if i make it a whole lot better, i will repost it.

check out the mail art call in the bonus post below.

bonus post - mail art call

reader Eva left a comment yesterday about this peanuts mail art call.
thanks Eva - i hope to send something....
 it would be fun if i found a few of these in my stash.....

Sunday, December 13, 2015

bonus post - lucy-lucy

they did not include Lucy on the Peanuts stamps. maybe someday she will get her own set of stamps. i was a huge fan of Peanuts, growing up. they still tickle my funny bone. and when i received the last two names on the exchange list, i realized that Lucy might enjoy a Lucy envelope. it is very subtle, but the illustration spells out LUcY

today's regular post is below.

off topic - sunday surfing with linzie hunter

i have not found any envelopes on linzie's blog yet. she is an illustrator and lettering artist from the UK. these two people with postage stamp details are so cute.

the comment that goes with the image says she was passing time on a rainy day. and it looks more like gouache than watercolor.

there are endless cute images and words on her blog.

and don't miss the *bird-on-nose*
logical variation of the bird-on-head series, eh?

i surfed a little longer and did find this image of some envelopes. looks like the flip side with her return address.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

peanuts for chuck m

i'm not sure i will add any detail to the blanket. part of me wishes i would have written out his last name in blanket, but it might not have made sense. any stamp with little pictures is pretty easy for me to do...the problem is that i *can* do simple drawing, but i am lacking in the patience to really take enough time to do a good job.

Friday, December 11, 2015

peanuts to amy

the pine needles were a logical variation on the fine lines. again, g-tecs are my go-to pen for fine lines. although real nibs and ink would be lovely....if i had time.

then i added lights to eric
and i noticed i did not include a stamp with the sad little tree, so eric might not understand those trees. hopefully he will look at the blog posts with the other stamps....notice the tree on amy's envelope...that's what the tree in the video looks like.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

peanuts to finn

this variation has the fine lines, but in two colors. i did not have a stamp in mind and was pleased with how the red and green on this stamp looked with the lettering. again, would have preferred the stamp in the upper right corner.

bonus posts

eric: do you watch charlie brown's christmas in france? if you do not know the story, this might seem like a very odd picture. it's an ugly duckling story. sad little trees and sad lettering deserve love. and this is the first time i have ever found a perfect stamp to add to the 2 forevers to make $1.20. of course, my arithmetic skills are pitiful so, i'm not sure i have the right postage. i'll brave the P.O. and have them double check it for me.

and this one is a variation on my first idea for the skater stamp.
E fell down. after it was done, i realized that it would have been cuter to have the E rotated a quarter turn so that the vertical stroke was horizontal and the three legs were sticking up in the air. or even better, toss the E up in the air so that it was caught in the middle of the fall.

tell me a gain why i can't have a desk at the P.O. where i address fun mail for people who are standing in line.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

blue snowflake to miss cathy

i said i was going to try some variation on this style. first one was to put in snowflakes instead of fine lines, which is what the original ones were. i like it, although i would prefer to have the stamp in the upper right corner.

i used a g-tec

scatter lesson

alyce wondered if there was a trick to scattering doo-dads. she's noticed there is a tendency for them to cluster unevenly. hopefully this system will make sense.

i think there is a tendency to just go up-down-up-down in a zig zag pattern and they end up on the ends with nothing in the middle.

my method scatters from left to right and most letters get two dots. skinny letters get one. wide letters get 3 or 4. there may be some variation depending on which letters are next to each other.

then, there are 5 different positions (or levels) from bottom to top. they are numbered to the left of the E in elizabeth.
i literally say to myself 1-3-5-2-4-1-3-5-2-4
as i make the dots.
the first dot is at the bottom of the first stroke. the next dot - to the right jumps up to the middle or level 3
then on the next stroke the dot is at level 5 (top)
then back to level 2 then level 4 and so on.
the way W worked out, 4 hit on the first stroke which allowed for a 1-3-5
on H, if it was time for a 2-4, it would have only had 2 dots.

ALYCE had a tricky sequence. after the first 1-3-5  i went 4-2 because it is nice for Y to have 2 dots.
C is tricky, too. it usually only gets one dot.
maybe you can start with a 2-4 and then 1-3-5

after you have your first set of dots, you can go back and fill in empty spaces with something different.

let me know if this system works for you.

for filling in stars or snowflakes on wide open space, i always avoid a level grid pattern. i offset the grid so that it is a diamond pattern, but not elongated, just a grid at a 45-degree angle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

repost - ed emberley

since the snowflake lessons were well recieved, here is a re-posting. this page from an ed emberley book. i do not have the book, the page is out on the internet.

ed: if you want me to take it down, i will. but, you should know that you are my inspiration for how to spend my next 20 years.

ed is 84, i'll be 64. he has written over 80 books. many are how-to books and i think i should compile my how-to handouts for lettering and envelopes into a book.

in the meantime, let's all make some fun santas and reindeer. and go buy an ed emberly book. they really are a recipe for fun. or check one out from the library.

his website redirects you to amazon.

more halloween

4 more october exchangers and there are still 3 more to post.maybe you can think of ways to holid-ify these. make that witch into an elf. and slap a santa hat on top of those three eyeballs. very festive.

the planets are good any time of year.

the last one is not from an exchanger, it's from a penpal and i was very happy to see her spooky-shaking writing.

thank you to carol, marti, bridget and catherine.

i added one more tree to the tree calligram post that i posted yesterday. it is not mine, but there is a link to the artist's website.

Monday, December 7, 2015

this just in - national letter writing day

thank you, elizabeth w for sending this to me.
 it's all about writing letters -
i am going to make a note to observe national letter writing day in 2016.
i am not sure if it is *national* only in england
if it is, maybe we can help make it international letter writing day

not exactly me with my stack of outgoing mail for this month - but close.

oct exchange for finn (exchangers, please read the note at the end)

i was surfing and saw this easy tutorial on drawing this tim burton character so i tried it. i think i forgot to finish the eyes. this was one that was giving me fits because i let the stamps go until the end. but, i sorta like the james beard stamp. the bald heads are enough of a tie in for me. funny...i never came up with any good ideas for the chef stamps...then when i find myself in a bind, the ones that didn't inspire me end up saving me. thank you stamps.

time to work on my ...i am thankful for...envelopes for november (i am writing this in oct, scheduling envelopes ahead)

it is now dec 2nd and i am adding labels to my previously scheduled posts. i worked really hard on an idea that i loved - for the thankful-theme - for the nov exchange. eventually, i decided to save it for next year and started working on december ideas. hopefully, i can shift things around so that i have ideas that pop up earlier in each season.

please let Jan know if you did not receive all your envelopes for the November exchange. I am missing a couple. if you are late sending your envelopes, please let Jan know that they are going to be mailed soon. or if you can't get them done, let us know and we will take care of them for you. we just don't want anyone to receive fewer than they send


Sunday, December 6, 2015

tree calligram

someone on the flourish forum asked for people to make christmas tree calligrams. this was a quick 2 minute attempt with colored pencil. it has potential , but -alas- i probably won't have time to work on it any more...unless we get a blizzard and i am housebound.

had a phone call, so had time to do second version

original source -
artist is aron jansco

it was his 2013 holiday image

snowflake lesson - bonus post

alyce left a question about the snowflake envelope to marti - yes, i started with a mostly dried up zig calligraphy marker. i keep my dry markers because they usually have enough juice to write one name. and the non-dry tip usually has a lot of juice.

i need to experiment with storing them on-end to see if more juice will drift into the downward tip.
and somewhere i read how to refill markers, but i'm pretty sure i will never get around to that.

this is a crayola marker. i thought you might like tips on drawing snowflakes. simple ones, like an asterisk are easy, but anytime i try to fill in other strokes, they seem to be harder to do than one would think. it might be because the real ones are super perfect with the angles.

(1) so, here are my tips. start with a flattened X
(2) add the vertical stroke
(3) put 6 dots to guide the second layer of strokes
(4) make a pointy-u or V shape - and I have to rotate the flake each time to make those angles symmetrical. i am never happy when i just leave the envelope in one position and try to make 12 even lines going in 12 different directions
(5) then add another V at the tip of each stem. again, i have to rotate to get them nice.
(6) shows the whole process with one marker. i did steps 4 and 5 with a g-tec so they would show up better. i like both options.
(7) is with a g-tec and it starts with a circle and an attempt to make 6 nice stems. not that easy
(8) i tried a pencil outline to get the stems all the same length - probably not a bad idea - but requires more patience than i have on a typical day
 (9) started with a brighter tombo that was toned down with  softer pink tombo using both the brush tip and the bullet tip.
(10) shows how bad it looks when you don't get your first X flat enough.
(11) the first X is actually too flat, but it does not bother me the way no. 10 bothers me.
(12) the stem pointing to 4 o'clock was too long, so i evened things out with a three prong set of strokes at the end of each stem.
(13 would probably be OK if it were a little smaller.

getting the weight of the strokes in the right proportion to the size of the snowflake seems to be the trick. snowflakes pack a lot of detail into a very small space.

happy snowflaking

regular sunday post is right below

later - i layered tombo and blurred everything and it looks better to me

off topic - envelope surfing

i'm liking this off topic every sunday - only this isn't really off topic. i was surfing and found a link that i can't figure out - but it has a bunch of links to a wide range of envelopes

some are very traditional others are wonky.

i wish i could send envelopes with string tied around them. the p.o. will not even allow string tied around regular packages any more. i bet there are a ton of youngsters who have never even seen a brown paper package tied up with string.

i like the way the name is slightly larger and the line spacing is very tight. it's a lovely layout.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

preliminary peanuts mailboxes & dec exchange sign-up

i'm not sure where i am going with this one. the bottom one has a tiny envelope heading into the mailbox.

i bet some of the exchangers will have better ideas.


today is the day to

click on the tab above
envelope EXCHANGE *rules*
to get all the details

this month, the deadline to sign up is the 10th
and Jan will send lists on the 12th.
do not sign up if you are always overwhelmed with too much to do in december. envelope exchanges are supposed to be for fun. there will be another one in january when you are puttering about looking for something to do.

send the following to jan at
janhardt [at] mchsi [dot] com

your name
your complete address
your email address
if you wish to do 5 or 10 envelopes
if you prefer to mail to only US addresses ( from the US, it costs $1.20 to mail an envelope to foreign countries)

first timers, please sign up for only 5 envelopes the first time. thank you.

Friday, December 4, 2015

bonus post - north pole mail

you can write letters, send them to alaska, and have them returned with a north pole postmark.

details at the link below.

today's regular post is right below.

purple snowflakes for marti

a fairly easy idea to go with the snowflake stamps. it helps if you have an assortment of pens and markers in the same shades. the scan probably does not show that there are snowflakes in Gelly Roll Clear Star. they are very sheer but have wonderful sparkle.

that big MARTI is neuland, but any big bold style would work.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

green snowflakes for jeri

this one was fun, pretty fast and it appeals to me a lot. if i find the right colors in my markers and pens, this might be my official holiday design for 2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

bonus post

today is crunch day, so i can't stop and steal this idea an put it on an envelope. maybe someone else out there has time to play today.
this is a blog that sends out really good postal news. you can subscribe.
the box was in a recent post.

today's regular post is right below