July 15, 2012

Around Town: Postal Modern Handi-Hour at the Renwick

HandiHour 3

I never thought I'd be asked to prove my age in order to attend a letter writing event. And I still would, but for a postcard I received from Melissa, of Craftgasm, inviting me to attend a Handi-Hour, hosted by the Smithsonian American Art Museum at the Renwick Gallery, across the street from the White House. The event, which changes themes, costs $20 and gets you two craft beers, a souvenir glass, hors d'oeuvres, and all the crafting you can handle for two and a half hours. The July event was co-hosted by the National Postal Museum and the theme was "postal modern" so, of course, I had to attend. 

I really didn't know what to expect. I thought maybe there would be 10-12 people with a few cold brews around a large conference table. I was wrong. 

HandiHour 5

The event filled a ballroom sized space within the gallery, called the Grand Salon, and the crowd spanned all demographics. Beer flowed, a musician played, and crafting was had by all. Between the Renwick and the Postal Museum, the crafting supply table overflowed with quality supplies: colorful calendars, fabric swatches, cool first day covers, canceled stamps, envelopes, stationery, and more. They really brought their A game. 

I made several envelopes from cool calendar pages, and wrote a letter (while somewhat under the influence) to the Missive Maven. All letters placed into a box at the event were then posted for free by the Postal Museum!

HandiHour 1

I would have crafted more, but I ran into awesome people from the internet. Melissa stopped by to say hello, and Erin, from the Postal Museum, introduced herself. They were two of the masterminds behind the July Handi-Hour. Turns out, we read and adore many of the same letter writing blogs. 

HandiHour 6

In meeting other people from the internet, I was pleased to meet Ashley, an intern at the Postal Museum, who shared her fantastic tattoo. By the time I'd crafted, chatted, and used both my drink tickets, it was eight o'clock and the event was over. So, I packed my bag with a few extra craft items and my commemorative Handi-Hour glass, and called it a night. Just like that, the Handi-Hour came and went, a whirlwind of crafting and creativity in a town otherwise known for its buttoned up demeanor.

Letter writing is almost always solitary activity, its a warm feeling to do write with others. Our community would do well to have more letter writing events. While the Handi-Hour was a good time, this collaboration with the Postal Museum was a one time event. I know other communities have letter writing socials, but I haven't heard of any in my area. I feel a project coming on.  Are any of you, dear readers, in the Washington, D.C. and interested in moving forward the idea of setting up a writing social in our area?

April 1, 2012

Correspondence Shop, an Etsy Store

Write to Your Mother Postcard

I'm pleased to announce the opening of the Correspondence Shop, an Etsy Store. To keep it simple, I need a way to fund my pen, paper, ink, and mail habit. And, I want a way to provide further benefit to you, dear readers. Hence, the store. Available for purchase are postcards based on content previously published here on Everyday Correspondence. The above postcard, appropriately titled, "Write to Your Mother," printed on luxurious 130 lb. paper stock, is based on a picture I posted of my Royal Portable Typewriter, Agatha.

Insulting Emily Postcard

The 4.25" x 5.5" postcards come in packs of five and arrive in some classy packaging. Emily Post, featured in the "Insulting Emily Postcard," would approve.

Hotel Mecca Postcard Back

Satisfying fountain pen and rollerball pen enthusiasts, the back of each postcard is friendly to the inks used in those pens, although those inks will need a minute to dry. 

Sometimes you just want to send a brief message, sometimes you don't quite have 45 cents. Whatever your reason for sending a postcard, spruce it up and send it on one of these from the Correspondence Shop, available for purchase through the link at the top right of the site.

March 29, 2012

Let's Talk Paper


Loving letters, I've grown very particular about the paper on which I write. If you've received a letter from me in the last year, chances are it was written on ivory G. Lalo Vergé de France laid paper. It is hands down my favorite paper to write one. I like it so much, when I got my first job out of law school, I ordered 250 pages of it with matching envelopes for writing thank you notes.

The Vergé de France is a luxurious French paper. Differing from the American preference for 100% cotton in premier papers, the French prefer a blend. I read some time ago the French prefer 30% cotton and 70% wood pulp in their premier papers, as the cotton fibers add a nice feel to the paper but, because of the long fiber length, 100% cotton paper is too limp for French sensibilities. By blending cotton fiber with wood pulp, the French produce a stiff paper with a fine feel.

Possibly because of this unique composition, I believe Vergé de France is 25% cotton 75% wood pulp, the paper takes fountain pen ink very well. Ink dries on the paper almost immediately, even when applied with the wettest of nibs. 

Letter on G. Lalo

As it's sold through several online stores, popular with the fountain pen crowd, I thought everyone knew of the Vergé de France. And, naturally, I assumed everyone loved it the way I do. So, when I began listening to the Fountain Pen Geeks Podcast (which I highly recommend), I was confused when they gave all their devotion to Clairefontaine and Rhodia paper. I was also thrown when the hosts expressed their displeasure with J. Herbin inks. 

So, I took it upon myself to write the Geeks a letter. To make a point, I wrote the letter on Vergé de France with J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil, using my favorite pen. I noted the paper on which I wrote, and as to the inks, pointedly asked, "What gives?"

Well, I was positively tickled when the Geeks read my letter on the air. It spawned a ten minute conversation on the Vergé de France and J. Herbin ink. The consensus was: the ink is awesome, and the paper is superior to Rhodia and Clairefontaine for writing letters. Appropriately, the Geeks gave away a pad of the Vergé de France during the show. To top it off, Geek Eric sent me a response, written on champagne Vergé de France, in a matching envelope, with Cacao du Bresil, which he purchased after receiving my letter. Please forgive the Charlie Sheen reference, but: #WINNING.


Postal Museum Tweet

The National Postal Museum "likes the looks" of Everyday Correspondence. The museum tweeted me two weeks ago, but I'm still pretty jazzed about it.

March 14, 2012

Waterman's 32A, Back in the Saddle

Waterman's #32A

I'm so glad Martin Ferguson let me sneak in at the end of the day at the Baltimore Pen Show. In a few minutes, Martin was able to re-sac my current favorite fountain pen, my grey and red Waterman's 32A, armed with a delicious 14 carat gold flexible nib. I've sincerely missed writing with this pen. To welcome the 32A back into the fold, I filled the new sac with J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil - my most favored ink - and wrote a letter to my pen pal in Australia on some smooth white Clairefontain Triomphe paper.

It doesn't pick up well in photographs, but Cacao du Bresil is one of those inks which evades classification. On first glance, it might look black. On second glance, possibly brown... or grey, maybe even sepia. It's very complex. Cacao du Bresil is the perfect color for the 32A, a pen from the 1930s which reflects the dignified austerity of its time. Seeing that I had a color scheme on my hands, I had to follow through. I bound the letter with a shiny Levenger clip, and packaged the letter into an envelope I made from a Waterman pen ad.

Multiple Stamps

I posted the letter with a few great stamps. I hope this letter sticks out as much as my first letter to this pen pal, which arrived in much flashier packaging. It was a real joy writing this letter, I hope it's the beginning of a lengthy new era with my 32A.