June 30, 2009

The First 44 Cent Stamp to Arrive in My Mailbox!

I've gotten several forever stamps, but this little depiction of Marge Simpson is the first actual 44 cent stamp to show up in my mailbox. Whaddya think of the homage?

June 27, 2009

First Letter From a New Penpal!

I find that one of the most delighting experiences is receiving the very first letter from a new penpal. Here is a very creative envelope from a new penpal of mine on the Eastern seaboard.
I believe that my penpal made the envelope out of doubled over wrapping paper, with the edges protected by folded over clear packaging tape. Given the theme of the paper, I thought that the clear tape was a brilliant artistic as well as "architectual" design element. It felt like I was opening a well worn, traveled and patched suitcase, covered in stickers from all the places it had visited.

I was more than happy to oblige the message on the flap of the envelope.

It was a very nice first letter and I've already got a few good ideas for my return letter to this new pal.

As a post script, she added this note:

As you can tell, and I will report to her, I totally dug the envelope.

Lastly, as a courtesy practiced by most fountain pen users, she left a footnote about the pen and ink combination she used to write my letter:

I really like that Galileo Manuscript Brown, offered exclusively through the Fountain Pen Network.

June 26, 2009

Supreme Court Plume

If you haven't been able to tell yet, I'm very big on pens. Aware of this, my boss presented me with a very unique, out of the blue, gift last week: a quill pen from the United States Supreme Court. Apparently, the Court maintains the tradition of placing two white turkey feather quills at the petitioner's and respondent's tables every day during session.

A few years ago my firm worked on a case that went before the Supreme Court and one of the attorneys was given one of the quills from their table. That attorney gave the quill to my boss. My boss then kept it inside a cardboard tube for the next five years. Then, hearing about my love of fountain pens, my boss gifted the quill to me. I couldn't have been more excited or appreciative! He's such a nice guy.

This quill really is a work of art. It must take lots of practice and good deal of skill to get the cuts for the nib just right. When done well, like on this example, the nib can reach a virtually unparalleled degree of fineness. Here is the tip of the quill compared to an Esterbrook 9556, intended for fine writing, specifically for writing records and charts.

That's super fine!

I would compare written lines, but there's no way I'm going to ink this quill... yet. Unfortunately, I'm probably going to stick the plume back in the cardboard tube it was given to me in. I want to keep it safe until I can find/afford something worthy of displaying it in.

I might have to go out and buy a quill pen for myself, for when I really want to add something special to my personal correspondence. Or, maybe for just addressing my envelopes, depending on how good I get.

Have you ever used a quill pen? If so, leave a comment, I'd love to hear about it!

June 25, 2009

Secure Addresses with Beeswax

Use this inexpensive tip to expand your addressing options beyond black sharpie or a layer of scotch tape. Because I like using an ink that suits the contents of my envelope or package, and don't care for marking the front of my envelopes with tape, I rub my addresses with beeswax to make sure that they don't smudge or smear in transit.

In these photos I chose Waterman black ink in an Esterbrook with a 9668 nib to address an envelope for business purposes.

In this photo you can see the clear layer of waterproof wax laid down by a quick rubbing:

Blocks of beeswax can be purchased in many different types of stores, I purchased mine in a hardware store where it was being sold as a drawer lubricant. As an alternative, I have also heard of people rubbing with a white candle.

June 24, 2009

Market Watch: Cross.com Summer Sale

I have no affiliation with Cross, but I thought that some of you would like to know that Cross is having a summer sale, and they've got some great deals on fountain pens.

I picked up an ATX, regularly priced at $85, for $30, and it's in one of my most favorite colors, purple!

If you'd like to take a gander, here is the link. They do have limited inventory, so some pens may be unavailable for order.

J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage Review

When writing letters, I almost always write with a fountain pen. Fountain pens give me versatility in both line choice and ink choice. As such, I have many pens with many different nibs, and I have many bottles of ink. The only green ink I have at the moment is Lierre Sauvage, made by J. Herbin.

I have taken images of my review via scanner and digital camera, unfortunately, neither image does full justice to Lierre Sauvage. The scan is much too blue and the photo does not capture the crispness of the line laid down by the pen and ink combination. So, to best inform you about the ink, I give you both images. Click the images to open full size in a new browser tab or window.

The scan (click to enlarge):

The photo (click to enlarge):

For more ink reviews, visit the Ink Review sub-forum at the Fountain Pen Network.

June 23, 2009

Drool-Worthy Pen Catalog

I have no affiliation with Fountain Pen Hospital, but as a fountain pen enthusiast, I did request one of their catalogs. As it turns out, it's a beautiful volume, deserving of a place on my coffee table.

There are 90 thick, glossy pages of beautiful fountain pens.

Out of pure coincidence, the pens I find to be most attractive all happen to be from German brands: Lamy, Pelikan, Faber Castell, Reform and my favorite, Graf von Faber Castell. Curiously enough, although I love the aforementioned brands, I don't own a pen from any of them. Maybe in time, when my budget will allow.

At the moment, my collection of fountain pens (which I use to write my correspondence) is heavy on American made pens such as: Parker, Cross and Esterbrook.

If you're in the marker for fountain pens, or if, like me, you just enjoy high quality window shopping, I suggest you order this catalog. You can request a free catalog on the Fountain Pen Hospital website by clicking the "free catalog" button next to the header on their website.

June 22, 2009

Comments Activated

My apologies to those who have unsuccessfully attempted to leave comments. I believe that the problem has been solved, comments should now be functional.

June 21, 2009

Envelope How-To

It sounds really rather easy, just fold and glue? The good news is that it is, the bad news is that it took me a while to figure out exactly what folds I should be making, and where I should be gluing. So, here is a pictography of an envelope that I made for a penpal this afternoon.

Step 1: Find a piece of paper you really like and select a size for your envelope. Mine is purple and measures 4" x 6". The paper under the fold is my template for sizing. I then folded the purple paper almost perfectly in half, leaving a bit of space
between what will become the back of the envelope and the fold line for the flap.

Step 2: Make the appropriate folds.

Here, I folded the ends of my envelope, on the left and right, to make my envelope 6" wide, and then made the fold for the flap in the middle of the paper so that my envelope will be 4" tall.

See how that little space I left in step 1 gives a bit of a window for a letter to peek out?

Step 3: Make the appropriate cuts, I use an X-Acto knife for this.

The only cuts that are really necessary to make are to eliminate the fold overs on the bottom third of the sheet, leaving a plain square bottom. All others are really personal preference.

This is what my paper looked like after all my cuts were made.

Step 4: The lining.

This step is (obviously) entirely optional. But I like to line my envelopes. Usually I use colorful scenes cut from magazines as a delightful surprise for my mail recipients. But I could find anything suitable in the stack of Time magazines next to my desk, so I chose a lavender colored piece of paper, cut to size, to glue into the backside of the inside of my envelope. If that doesn't make sense, please excuse my poor word choice and reference the picture.

Step 5: Glue tabs and fold!

This is where the envelope really comes together. With a touch of common sense, this step can't really be goofed. However, in my case, I accidentally glued the tops of my middle tabs instead of the insides, so the middle tabs in my finished product are on the inside of my envelope, rather than decoratively on the outside.

Oh well, this way, when sealed, my envelope will have a modern feel to it. At this point, further decorative cuts may also be made. i.e. flap corners.

Step 6: also optional (sense the freedom in the envelope-making process?), exterior decoration.

Wanting to keep my envelope simple and minimalist, I cut rectangles from the scraps of my lavender colored sheet of paper and glued them to the front of my envelope. It adds visual interest, makes the address easier to read for the mail carrier, and by adding a lighter colored background - frees up the ink options I have for addressing my letter! To keep with my monochromatic theme, I think I'll use some Waterman Violet.

As a last note, the envelope can be sealed simply using a glue stick, or with a sticker, or wax seal.

Although not earth-shattering, I hope that this little how-to helps you get the basic elements of folding and gluing down. Now get out and there and mail a friend or family member your very own work of art.

June 20, 2009

Fabulous Rubber Stamp

One of the many great personal touches that people add to their stationary are stamps. Sometimes stamps can be used to create a border to turn regular paper into personalized stationary. Other times, like this fabulous piece, a stamp can be used as an accent to add personality to a piece of correspondence.

June 18, 2009

Homemade Envelope

One of my favorite things about receiving a personal letter is when I first discover it while sorting through my daily mail.

So, I try to make the most of that experience for those to whom I send letters by making my letters stand out. Often times, I'll make my own envelopes from colorful magazine pages. I just sent this homemade envelope to a dear friend:


This fold-and-mail from a penpal is business in the front...

and party in the back!

Snail Mail!

I am a firm believer that a handwritten letter has the potential to mean infinitely more than any other form of communication. To maximize that potential, I like to be creative in my everyday correspondence.

That is what this blog is all about.

This is a piece of snail mail that I just sent off to a new penpal. I just love the visual pun. Not surprisingly, it is from the Snail Mail series by Kirsten Ulve, available at Things From Another World.