Saturday, January 31, 2015

hische-arrific - cathy

on the surface, this looks fine. on closer inspection, the name *cathy* is a hot mess. it was the first word i wrote. i won't bore you with the order of each word. i'll just say that as i kept going, i was liking it better.

and i'm so excited about my new obsession that i am bumping the post for today and inserting this one, in case anyone is inspired to make curlicues all over the place.

this is a g-tec on a crane's lettra envelope....heaven...that W in wilson stinks...and i could nit-pick up one side and down the other....but, i'm so excited about this concept.

Friday, January 30, 2015

finn's celtic - step 2

i repeated the layering that i tried on karen's envelope. this envelope is smooth and karen's envelope had a cool texture that was more friendly to colored pencil.

i wanted to add some gold ink on yesterday's envelope to try to tie in the stamp a little better, and experimented on the back. it looked awful. i figured the white gel pen would be a good addition to this one and i like it. although, the white ink skipped a little on the colored pencil. i was surprised it stuck at all. colored pencil can repel ink.

such a pretty stamp. i like the chef series. seems like i would be drawing more food. but i am stuck on this celt-ish font. the Ns are too wide. maybe i can add some food to disguise that error. or, there are some pretty little lacy flowers on her dress. those would be perfect.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

next envelope exchange

jan agreed to run another envelope exchange.
then i forgot to post it.
here is how it is going to work.

send your:


 janhardt (at) mchsi (dot) com

THEME - Valentines, or hearts, or red, or something of your own choosing
A FUN ENVELOPE - calligraphy not required, digital art is fine, collage, whatever, just not *plain*
no need to put anything in the envelope 

To mix things up a bit, we will have just 5 people on each list, so you will send 5 and receive 5, but you might not get from the same people to whom you send.

Send your info to Jan by Tuesday, Feb 3
Get your envelopes in the mail by Feb 28

Any suggestions for the next exchange?
Do people prefer themes? or just open theme?


i'm terrible at studying historical alphabets. but i love to find quirky writing that somebody else did that reminds me of something old. this is the first attempt of this style. i liked it enough that i pulled out graph paper and worked out some more accurate letters.

this is colored pencil and i blended (smeared) it by scribbling across it with a blue pencil that was lighter than the paper.

the tiger circus stamp was perfect for this envelope, but it was too tall. so, i used up the last of my firecracker stamps because....that stamp always gave me fits. i think it is pretty, but i never found a way to use it that i loved.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

moran for smash

the thomas moran stamps are beautiful. i am hit or miss when it comes to being inspired by very traditional art. merton paintings are beautiful, but, as traditional art, i am never inspired to do a traditional envelope. the previously posted merton envelope to karen was a dud. i thought the neuland was not a good fit. on this one, i used a very extended/stretched neuland and i think this one works better. i would have liked the address better if i had just put all three lines in the lower rectangle. in my world, less is usually more pleasing to my eye.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

love it, smash girl

you knew i would love this one.

and if i were not so lazy, i would dig back through the archives and find the envelope that someone else did that has that exact cow image licking the stamp.

i did a search for *mail art cow tongue* and it did not come up but this image did...
i know i will run across it again some day....
then i will not be able to find this post.....
it's a merry-go-round 
i did run across the envelope a couple days ago, and posted it. i thought this one had already popped up. so, if you scroll down, you will see the envelope i referred to in the second paragraph.

thank you, smash

Monday, January 26, 2015

jeri's orange king and queen

i love these stamps. i love the details and using them in the envelope. i am not in love with how random this is. i have not decided if i will do more or just toss it in the mail. right now, i am thinking that i will just do the address big and loopy, with a white gel pen and be done with it.

silver sharpie, gray G-Tec and white uniball gel pen.

this is the new one for today.
it is late.
somehow today's scheduled post disappeared...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

found it

i finally found the envelope that has been floating around the internet for a while that i thought of when i saw smash's exchange envelope.

i would give you the link to the site where this is [according to pinterest] but everytime i clicked on it, my computer forze, so i don't think anyone should even try it



i have so much mail to scan and post - if you have sent me something recently, i received it and i will be responding asap

from jeri

red on kraft paper is just as pretty as white on kraft paper. the ball point scribble by the mailman is not as bad as the angry sharpie  or grease pencil scrawl, but it is unattractive. at least he put it in the mailbox. on the flourish forum, someone posted that their mailman was putting the mail under a boat in the front yard. that's bizarre.
although, i am not sure that person is in the u.s. - if i were not so lazy, i would check it out. i wonder if i am too lazy to work in a reference to being lazy in every single post.
i'm pretty lazy.

there was a bonus post yesterday, so be sure to look at the post just below this one, in case you are an early bird, and check the blog before 6am CST. i just checked my stats and it says that 299 people had visited the blog by 6amCST - so, i am flattered that i have so many readers.

thanks, jeri

Saturday, January 24, 2015

bonus post

today's post has a rerun of a fairly recent i thought i would add in a bonus post today.
today's scheduled post is below this one.

this arrived from alyce and i was very happy to receive a second one with my crazy request to just give directions to my house and not include the house number. i am so impressed with the USPS.

also, i really like the soft shadowing around the edge of the envelope. it looks like it might be chalk. and the use of red on just three words is a nice tie-in with the stamp.

thank you alyce

here is the latest from jessica hische.
looks like she is channeling my obsession with wrought iron lettering.

desk cleaning

 the late december purge of all my half-baked envelopes included these. the batman envelope appeared earlier. just before i mailed it, i decided to take the time to make a ziggy-zaggy edge with a white gel pen to tie the lettering to the stamp and i think it helped a lot.

there have been some examples from the day i was using up the chalk markers. the one to karen was ho-hum and it got a little better after i added a few layers. but, i think the neuland is not friendly with the painting, so, i'm just going to send it along and hope karen tosses it in the recycle bin.

the other two are unfinished, and i have no idea if i can improve them before they head out the door. if i work a miracle, i will repost them. if you never see them again, that means they were duds. actually, that top one to cathy was something i did when i was pondering the feasibility of trying to teach cola pen writing online. i'm still pondering.

Friday, January 23, 2015

chuck's exchange envelope

 i don't know if chuck reads my blog. he might know how much i like polka dots. or maybe he likes them. either way, i was happy to find this in my mailbox.

i like the variety of sizes of dots.
and i love the way he addressed the envelope. the left margin is cut off because it has his address.

the triangle tree address is stealable.
thanks, chuck

finn made some comments about how the finger turning off the light switch on the pre-holiday cancel image was creepy. i agree. but, i think this little elf is pretty creepy, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

cathy's soldiers

darn scanner won't work. bad choice of background paper, but i am not going to re photograph these envelopes because the blogger is giving me fits (turning the photos upsidedown.
so -
another example of me making people shaped letters. i need to go back and see exactly how many different categories of people i have made into letters. i'm really liking these people. and they were just my very first rough attempt. imagine how much fun they would be if i actually spent time on them. or maybe they are better when they are wonky.
i'm trying to decide which one is my favorite. they just seem so....i don't know....what?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

from tome

white on kraft paper is one of my favorite combinations. if you have not splurged and bought a bottle of white ink, please do. it's the best. if you are afraid of ink and nibs, just get a white gel pen.

tome's been practicing for years, so her thicks and thins are lovely.

thanks, tome

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

jan's grid thing

jan gave me a grid thing a while back and i just thought of a way to use it. so simple. just write one letter in each hole.

this is the grid. the photo does not do the envelope justice. the shoe box full of mail in the background is the stack of unfinished ideas that were on my desk on dec 21st and my goal was to get every single one out the door by the end of the year. who thinks i accomplished the task?

Monday, January 19, 2015


the top card and envelope is from a friend who was not in the exchange. she had her design letterpressed.

the bottom envelope is from my french penpal, eric bruth. he creates digital designs.

thanks sheryl and eric

snowflakes are so pretty. i was just talking to A. Nonnie Mouse about how much we like things found in nature. we did not mention snowflakes, but they would totally be on my list of favorite things in nature that make me wonder why i even bother making things. if you have never taken time to surf through the actual photos of snowflakes that you can find on the internet, i encourage you to take a moment to look at some. they are breathtaking....

i had another conversation with a friend - where we were trying to one-up each other on just exactly how lazy we were. or maybe we were trying to one-down each other. whichever way it is, i'm guessing she is too lazy to surf around for some good snowflake macro-photos. so here's a link:

i'm so lazy, i just chose the one at the top of the list.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

ok, dr finn..... post backs and innards, which is something i thought i would not be tempted to do, but then as i forged ahead with my purge of all my incomplete envelopes, i had the irresistible urge to post this. it's not even a good design. it would need many more layers to be decent...but, i am also in just-pitch-this-stuff-out-into-the-world it is.....the part where i was sealing the flap and accidentally created the word NOW out of an upsidedown MODERN is just begging for more...but....sorry...i am pitching you out into the cold cruel world. the recipient has my permission to burn this one or shred it or compost it...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

karen's skiers

two problems with this one: i don't like how i have three caps and then two lower case. i like to mix them, but not first one and then the other.

can anyone guess what the second thing is that really bugs me?

i like the idea....but there is a glaring inconsistency.

and no, it is not the ugly sky. i guess that is a third problem.

this is an idea that i think is fine, but it just needs a lotta work.

Friday, January 16, 2015

cathy's loaves

i pondered making an entire name out of bread.  then i came to my senses. not that it couldn't be just wasn't going to be quick enough. so...the C-a connection is very clumsy. but- all together now *it-just-doesn't-matter*

i am a big fan of bread. but, sadly, bread has now become a big debate. i had a long coffee-fueled rant about gluten, but i deleted it and will just rant about how [pause] i couldn't think of anything i wanted to rant about. ominous. do you ever feel like there is someone else in your head over-riding your thoughts? is that question going to get me sent to the office? i'll just wait patiently for dr finn to set me straight. and the tail on the y bothers me a little.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

ho hum

this was one of the earlier ones in the whole series i worked on. it doesn't thrill me and there isn't anything new. but it wasn't bad enough to toss. i know if i carve a little batman logo and rubber stamp them all over the place, i will like it better, but, sadly, the items on my to-do list that are higher than carving stamps are going to stay right where they are and unless some nutty person pays me to send invitations for their batman themed wedding, no rubber stamping. finnbadger: your task for the day is to google *batman themed wedding* and report what you find. yes, my new hobby is thinking of things that finn can't resist researching for me. too bad i already researched DIY brain surgery and found out that it does in fact exist. so, you don't have to research that. unless you think i am pulling your leg....which you know i would never do.

a little better

i can't remember if i reposted this after i fixed the edges.....

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

does it work?

my gut told me that the wrought iron lettering would never go with the batman stamp. i dunno. i rather like it. anyone care to weigh in?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ho hum

this one needs something else. i tried to make batman pointy shapes on the zip, but they don't really work. i might look for something to add today...

Monday, January 12, 2015

sometimes it matters

i hope you enjoyed the it-just-doesn't-matter clip yesterday. it echos something i learned very early on from joan gordon. she has been a faithful attendee of calligraphy workshops and conferences for many years. i was obsessing over the quality of my work and she said something along these lines, "you know, jean, at a certain point, i just decided that i was far enough along on the learning curve to be content with my level and, sure, i could do more work to get better, but i don't feel like working that hard. i feel like creating things and being satisfied with them." if you are reading this blog, you will never be sheila or peter or denis or jake or jean larcher or john stevens - (all rock stars in the world of lettering - who work rather than read blogs) but, it just doesn't matter. anyone who knows their alphabet can benefit from mindless doodling or serious study. what does matter is that you fully appreciate the time you get to spend learning and experimenting. don't compare yourself to others. if you are drawn to envelopes....then make them and send them out into the world and enjoy the feedback.

i had an earlier version of this envelope. i missed the bump on the h and went straight into the y which made it read *catly.* i pondered a fix - but i knew i was looking for a nice, simple, fluid line. so, in this case, it did matter. i did not want any layering or extra stuff. and i boldly threw an envelope in the waste bin without even trying to fix it. then i wrote o'rear and i really don't like the size of it....but it-just-doesn't-matter. i was on a roll, i was not going to let a small disappointment derail the whole envelope. so....i'll resolve the problem of the o-rear when i put in the rest of the address.

and here is a nice interview with one of the rock stars i mentioned above. this kid is practically in diapers and his skill is ree-dik-a-lus.

anyone wondering why i am reading columns on a site called the art of manliness need not worry that i am gender confused. it just popped up when i googled *IAMPETH master penmen* because i wanted to include jake on the list but couldn't remember his name...and then, when i read the interview, i really liked his perspective.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

it just doesn't matter

i needed to come up with some ideas for the batman stamps. my first thought was big bold black. there are at least 10 things about the basic lettering that are *wrong.* but i want this to be a lesson in

there is a time for perfection and then there is a time for just frogging around. a time for this a time for that. (that sounds like a song, eh?)

so, instead of me ranting about how i wish people would just toss off more stuff without nitpicking, i will direct you to my favorite rant on film. it is from the movie *meatballs* which takes place at a camp for underdogs. every year, they have a competition with the fancy-schmancy camp across the lake and every year they lose. but, bill murray manages to convince them, that when it comes to winning and losing, it just doesn't matter. [except when it does - which we will cover tomorrow]


Saturday, January 10, 2015

message in a bottle - exchange envelope

once again, i am not sure if this exchanger wants to be identified by name, so i will not include the artist's name unless he or she lets me know that it is ok to do so.

one of my best little mail art grasshoppers was at my house on the day this arrived and it thrilled her to no end. she wanted me to be sure to tell the artist that she has a BIG FAN here in iowa.

make that two. it is always fun to hear from readers. i think this envelope pushes things just the right amount. it is fun, whimsical, and legible. thank you for participating :-)

and this was the fall exchange. it was supposed to show up earlier, but, i had to bump it forward  because something needed to be stuck in earlier....blah blah now, i assume nobody is concerned about the random disorganization of my blog, eh?
you just want one fun thing to pop up every morning.

tomorrow i shall have a humorous rant.

unless it gets bumped....

expect the unexpected

Friday, January 9, 2015

elizabeth - gingerbread

whilst clearing out a very large stack of unfinished envelopes, i found this one, and i was into my white gel over marker binge....and oh-my-gosh...i wish i had an excuse to sit and do ten more of these.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

finn house

very nice. i really like the envelopes that finn makes and he is very talented at finding the perfect stamp.

but, i am also faithful to my readers who come here for lettering, so i hope to find time to show how i would have lettered this particular envelope.....
i may not get this done before this post pops up, but, it is on my to-do list.

nope.  i did not get that done. but i did manage to post a new alphabet on the nibs and ink blog.
i have started posting lessons that i use in classes for kids because one of my readers is going to offer a class for kids. grown ups may have fun with these alphabets, too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

smash - experiment

i was having so much fun writing in white gel over the top of marker, i thought of doing this. there is a cardinal SIN in traditional calligraphy -  writing in all caps with a flourished set of caps. it is a popular style in prison tattoos, but the rest of us frown on it.

sometimes i like to experiment with breaking cardinal rules. it's not something i plan on trying again -plus- i did not have a stamp in mind when i started.

after i found the hanukkah stamp, i thought it would work, but then after i adhered it to the envelope, i was wishing i had started over and made the green rectangles more similar to the proportion of the stamps.
but, it was done, so it went in the mail.
and it is at the bottom of the list of ideas to explore further.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

still catching up

A. Nonnie Moss sent this one back in october. the p.o. decided it was too cool to cancel.

it is in the category of *fills up all the space* -which i seldom do, so I am not good at explaining why it is successful.

i like that word.
and it has a mysterious story going on. it would be fun to have a bunch of different people write the story....and then compare them.

thanks, nonnie

and thank you to the PO for working so hard to find the address. i'm thinking the PO might forget to scribble on the envelopes if they have to work really hard to even find the address.

Monday, January 5, 2015


this one ran earlier, but i thought it was worth re-running after i added the colored pencil. i realized i needed to do something very festive for the holidays in red and green and what says *holiday* more than people dashing around and odd stuff lined up? [and...i mailed it just like this. i forgot to add her street address, so it came back - and i hand delivered it]

and this is how i resolved the one from yesterday. how fitting that my director of purging inspired me to part with 6 uber-favorites.

also, there is a history update in the post below that i inserted yesterday.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


anyone who has taken a class from me might have heard me say that early writing was in *all caps* (or majuscule) and that *lower case* (or minuscule) was *invented* by scribes during the time of Charlemagne. that's what we read in history books.

it looks like the lower case appeared earlier. and in the future, i am going to shy away from any history lessons, since nobody really knows anything for sure.

today's envelope is below this post.


i'm using up square envelopes and most of the time i refold the top to make it a standard size, but now i like all that white space  - but i don't want to put a second stamp on the envelope. rats.

this was done in late november, when i was finishing up my exchange envelopes and i started layering white gel pens over tombo markers.

it was interesting that after doing nearly 20 envelopes, using about 4 or 5 different ideas, i had a tsunami of additional ideas. so, those will be coming up over the next few days.

if i cut this one off, the address will go in the space just above the bird.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

bonus post today

be sure to go to  eric's blog and see some of his mail from the exchange 
you might have to scroll down

my polka-dot-fiend-personality wants to do a bunch of these

finn's lettering

another sample of finn's wrought iron lettering. i wonder if i will ever come up with another style that he will be compelled to try.

i am also impressed with his bat flying across the moon. that might be the first illustration he has done. maybe there are other examples on his blog....

once again, we are all disappointed in the postal worker with the big fat sharpie. boo.

note: the lettering yesterday on my envelope to christy is what evolved from the style that lured finn into letttering. i eventually added my own lower case. so, the fun of this lettering is that it had some fun details and you can really stretch it and morph it. it seems so orderly on the surface, but, it gets better as it gets looser.

Friday, January 2, 2015

christy - exchange

this is the last one from the winter exchange. i kept running out of stamps and needed to come up with something new. this one is a little scattered, but it's not the worst thing i've ever put out. the name Christy is full of opportunities to fling loops.

those dotta-riffic markers are so much fun. too bad i don't have time to buy a full set and really spend some time experimenting with them.

it bothers me a little that the blues clash. but, i the parts i like outweigh the parts i would change.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

one of the best of 2014

this envelope arrived in september. it was clearly marked *empty* on the back. (see below) i could not make out the postmark, so, it was going to drive me crazy if i did not figure out who sent it. happily, finnbadger responded to my question posted on the blog...
i was surprised to see hand lettering from finnbadger, because if i had time to go read earlier messages, i think finnbadger said that he was going to be making labels on all his envelopes and he would not be into lettering.

so, i'm really happy that at least one person who never had any interest in lettering - actually saw something that looked do-able -tried it -  and then actually sent it.

he did a great job for his first try at lettering.
thanks. and congratulations. i hope it inspires others.