Saturday, March 31, 2012

P.S. Write Soon: Vintage letter-writing stamps

P.S. Write Soon: Vintage 1980 letter-writing stamps

These letter-writing stamps, released in 1980, are among my all-time favorite stamps. I use them on letters sometimes, and they are always a hit with letter lovers. Since a few readers and pen pals have asked if I'd sell them in my etsy store, I figured I would give it a shot.

P.S. Write Soon: Set of unused vintage postage stamps with letter-writing theme

Vintage 1980 Letter Writing stamps

The stamps all bear various artwork including an envelope, and the text reads:
"P.S. Write Soon"
"Letters Preserve Memories"
"Letters Lift Spirits"
"Letters Shape Opinions"

They are the ultimate in meta-mail postage!

I hope to list more vintage postage in my etsy shop in the coming months.

Happy letter writing!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Black and White and Read all over



I've been having fun with etsy Treasury lists lately, and this is one of the favorites I've made recently, featuring stunning paper goods in black, white, and red, designed for reading and writing.

Each item above should be linked and clickable, but you can also go directly to the etsy treasury:
Black and White and Read all over

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sewing envelopes: extra postage?

A dear friend of mine, a talented artist and seamstress, wants to sew the envelopes for her wedding invitations. She asked me about postage and special procedures for that, and since I don't sew a stitch, it's nothing I've ever considered.

I've received a variety of lovely sewn envelopes, in a variety of different styles, but I've not sent any.

Those of you that sew, or that are far more knowledgeable about this sort of postal practice than I - will that require extra postage? I'm inclined to say, better safe than sorry and throw on that 20-cent non-machinable extra, because I'm worried about the threads catching in the sorting machines. But my beloved suggested taping over the stitches, or sealing them in some way, to make them less inclined to be problematic.

Has anyone done this? I'd love any insights or suggestions, particularly those with experience behind them. As these are to be wedding invitations, there will be a fair number of them, and of course we want to make sure they are delivered successfully!

Thanks in advance for any thoughts/ideas.

CLARIFICATION: The idea is to sew stitches on paper, not fabric. The main component of the envelopes would still be thick paper, just sewn instead of glued.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Soda, feline letter-writing taskmaster

Feline postal brigade awaits

Soda has been very helpful in my return to increased letter-writing this month.

Soda waits on my writing desk

Longtime blog readers know she loves to sit on my writing desk and "help" with mail.

Soda, mail taskmaster

Usually she gets up when I do - letter finished, time to drop it in the outgoing mail slot, etc - but lately she's been staying on the desk and giving me this look: "Are you really finished?" Nope. "Then get back here and write some more."

Okay.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Conform and be dull: incredible map-themed mail art

Recently I admired a fantastic envelope on Pinterest (warning: Pinterest is very, very addictive), the fine work of JellySock, aka Imaginary Mary, aka Mrs. Sawbones. She called it map-themed mail art, and I thought it was breathtaking.

Imagine my surprise when I pulled that very envelope out of my mailbox this afternoon!!

Map-themed mail art from Mrs. Sawbones

I assure you, this gem is even more beautiful in person than it is in a photo, but I had the advantage of some golden afternoon sun on the couch, so I photographed it in a different location than I usually do for letters.

Glitter in the sun!

I had to get an angle shot to show off that snazzy glitter, though it is another thing that must be appreciated in person. (Is that glimmer mist? My vote is yes.) LOVE the frog (I stand corrected - 'tis actually a fish with legs!) bearing the envelope! Is that an Alice in Wonderland image?

Conform and be dull

This mail artist extraordinaire has an incredible array of fascinating rubber stamps. "Conform and be dull" made me laugh out loud.

For more fabulous mail art, please check out her Mail/Envelope Art board on Pinterest, and her Flickr photostream. Her Twitter stream is full of fun mail links, too.

To get a letter, write a letter... stickers!

Closeup on red

I've been sending little "extras" in orders from my etsy shop, and a few people have asked if I'd be selling them. So, here we go with the official debut of another new Missive Maven original: "To get a letter, write a letter" stickers.

8 stickers

I personally have a lot of fun using them as letter seals and envelope dressing, but these 1.5" square stickers with rounded corners have endless possibilities.

On red envelope, side

I now have two items in this design: the pictured stickers, and also a postcard set.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A letter to a favorite writer, hand-delivered

A letter for Jeanette Winterson, hand-delivered

I made a special trip to Boston earlier this week. The purpose of the visit was partly to see friends and family, but the timing was coordinated with a book tour by one of my very favorite authors of all time, Jeanette Winterson. On Monday night I heard her read from her stunning memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, though in her reading/talk she called it an experiment rather than a memoir.

I have often considered writing a letter to various authors (I've even blogged about such contemplation in the past), generally just to praise their books and say how much they meant to me. Surely writers like to hear that? And I would suppose they would appreciate the charm of a hand-written letter instead of an email? I don't know for sure, everyone is different, of course... but I had never written any author before. Part of this was because the prospect is daunting, and part is because I wanted to write to Jeanette Winterson before anyone else.

A public that reads

I was so excited when I read that Boston was included on her 10-city tour to promote the new book, and even more excited when it actually happened at a time when I could attend! The opportunity to hand-deliver a letter to her finally prompted me to write an intense and intensely thankful letter. I wasn't sure I'd actually give it to her until I did, but we waited in line to have the book autographed, and I handed her the letter after she signed our book. It was a pretty fast-moving line (and a long one!! We waited a long time!), but she did ask me how to pronounce my name and where it came from.

I don't know if she even read my letter, but she took it, and I hope my bumbling letter is more of a gift than a burden. I know she is very famous, but her books changed my life and I wanted her to know it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Handmade envelopes: dreams and fantasies

12 Dancing Princesses envelopes, 2 up close

I've been listing all kinds of new items in my etsy shop over the past couple of weeks, but two of the humblest are those of which I'm most proud, because I made them myself. I've had the urge to make some handmade envelopes for ages now, and I finally sat down and went on an envelope-making spree.

12 Dancing Princesses envelopes

First we have a set of envelopes from The Twelve Dancing Princesses, a classic fairy tale. The artwork in this children's book took my breath away, and when it came into my hands, I was so excited to make envelopes out of it.

12 Dancing Princesses envelopes, backs with borders

Each page has a beautiful, ornate border that I incorporated into the flaps on the back. I can't get over how rich these colors are...

Max and the moon

Also, from the classic children's book, Where the Wild Things Are envelope set.

A pile of wild things

Max cavorts in his wolf suit with some Wild Things, terrorizes his dog, watches his bedroom become a forest... the fun of the book comes back to me as I look at these envelopes.

Where the Wild Things Are envelopes, backs

I managed to get a nice green tree inside the flap of one of the envelopes, a treat for the sender, too.

Both sets include 5 envelopes, and they have a water-reactive glue as an adhesive sealant, so all you have to do is moisten the flap and it will seal. No adhesive required!

Twelve Dancing Princesses upcycled/handmade envelopes

Where the Wild Things Are upcycled/handmade envelopes

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rainbow pens are back...

Rainbow Zebra super marble gel pens

I thought they were gone for good, but I stumbled on some more of these great pens. I now have a few more of these awesome Zebra super marble rainbow gel pens back in my shop... which I'm also using a lot of myself! They're great on postcards, and the rainbow colors really stand out. I was kicking myself because I sold my last pens and didn't save any for myself, so I'm doubly glad I found some more of these!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Helping kids send mail: Scribble It! Postcards



I've blogged before about my favorite (and youngest) pen pals. They are still both writing me regularly, and their letters and postcards are among my most cherished mail. I always give them mail-themed gifts at birthdays and such - usually stationery. The two girls are great about sharing their stationery with each other, and one of the gifts I gave Scarlett for her 5th birthday was such a hit that I had to blog about it.

That is a cat

Scribble It! postcards by Taro Gomi, published by the fantastic Chronicle Books, are a magical way to encourage kids to send mail, even if they can't write yet. I thought the gimmick was cute so I sent it along with some other stationery, but being a foreigner to most interactions with young children (with a few exceptions, like these lovely young ladies), I hadn't realized what a hit it would be. Each postcard has a prompt on the front for artwork and such, and room on the back to write. Scarlett chose the "Her pet is so cool" postcard, and drew me a lovely cat... and captioned it "That is a cat." I'm glad she specified - now I know for certain! :-) She added one of the stickers I'd also sent her for her birthday into the artwork. So it's clearly mixed-media: crayon, marker, and sticker.

She wrote it all by herself!

This was a 5th birthday gift for Scarlett, and she is in pre-kindergarten. She has previously dictated all her letters to her mom, and her mom handwrites them -- but this was the first item I've received from Scarlett that she wrote all by herself! I was so impressed. She and her sister both used stamps I sent them, made via Zazzle, featuring a photo of us last summer when I visited them and we all went to a petting zoo together.

Interesting hairstyle

Her older sister, Annalise, is 7 years old and in 2nd grade - she is my original pen pal and we've been writing for a couple of years now. She writes very well all by herself, though her mom sometimes helps with addressing envelopes and return addresses. She chose the caption "What an interesting hairstyle!" and created a fun hairstyle, with the addition of another sticker. I love the stripes in the background! I would never have had the artistic sense at that age to fill up the space like that.

Colorful writing

She wrote a very colorful postcard, changing colors every line. Her thanks for keeping her letters was in response to a question she'd asked me about whether I kept the letters she sent, and I assured her that yes, I keep every one of them! Her handwriting is always so neat. I wish I could read all my pen pals' handwriting this easily.

Not only did I want to share these adorable postcards with you, my blog readers, but also to encourage those with children in their lives: start 'em young! My mother made me write thank-you notes as a child, as soon as I could write, and other adults in my life gave me gifts of very cute stationery to make that process fun. And so, my love of mail was born by the time I could write. If you're looking to encourage some kids to send mail, I highly recommend these Scribble It! postcards. I'm linking to Amazon instead of Chronicle Books here because Amazon lets you "look inside," and you can see a number of the cute prompt options. The postcards are large enough that there is room to fit some writing (even large writing from small hands) on the written side. They are over 4x6 so they require first-class letter rate postage and not postcard postage, but they're well worth it. This is now my favorite go-to gift for young children!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kirk and Spock as Lone Ranger and Tonto

us-1591528

I sent this postcard to a Postcrosser in the Netherlands who is a Trekkie (i.e. someone who loves Star Trek). I wrote that I don't know whether I'm knowledgeable and dedicated enough to call myself a Trekkie, but I am certainly a Star Trek fan.

This fun parody postcard shows Captain Kirk and Spock in garb that I think is meant to spoof the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and there is a bit of a romantic tension going on, don't you think?

The work is "Besame Mucho," oil on wood from 2005 by Isabel Samaras, from the fantastic "On Tender Hooks" postcard book via Chronicle Books, home of so many fine postcard collections.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vintage original WWII V-mail stationery

UPDATE:


Now I really do have these back in stock, and a few sets to sell so more than just one. I love these things!!

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WWII V-mail stationery

More shop listings promised, and now I'm finally delivering. I am so, so, so excited about these WWII V-mails!! I've been writing letters on them for a while, but I just came into a fresh stock of them, and have more than I can use, so now I'm selling lots of 4 in my etsy shop:

Vintage original WWII V-mails

WWII V-mail

During WWII, one of the best ways for U.S. soldiers to correspond with their loved ones back home was a new-fangled invention called the V-mail, short for Victory-mail. One wrote on the sheets included in this listing, and in order to save space on airmail planes, the V-mails were microfilmed, sent on film via airmail, and then reproduced at the destination.

V-mail's victory V

My etsy listing is for four (4) original WWII V-mail letter sheets. They are still usable in the postal service -- I've written many letters on them myself! They function as an aerogramme or fold-and-mail; you simply write on the writing surface (shown unfolded in the last photo), and then fold and seal as directed. My items include the original gum, which should still be good (but for modern postal sorting machines, I do recommend reinforcing the seal with tape or something, just to be on the safe side - and I tape the sides shut, too, so they don't get caught in the sorting machines).

These are NOT reproductions, but actual papers from the 1940s printed during WWII. There is even a field for the censor's stamp. They take fountain pen ink beautifully, and the paper is of a good quality for all kinds of writing instruments.

V-mail unfolded

They measure 5 5/8 x 9 3/8 folded as shown, and I will send them folded as shown (original packaging folds) in a large envelope.

Write a letter on a piece of history!
Vintage original WWII V-mails

If you want to see examples of some of the letters I've written on them, check out these past blog posts:
Modern letter on vintage V-mail
V-mail with vintage stamps

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Vintage Current notecards

Vintage Current cat notecards

Now that I'm coming out of my horribly busy winter season, I'm jumping back into lots more letter-writing... and also listing some items in my etsy shop that I've been meaning to list for months. I just listed some lovely vintage Current notecards in their original packaging. My favorites are shown above: vintage Current housecat notecards. There are 9 cards in 4 different designs, in their original packaging.

Vintage Current thank-you cards

I also have a lovely combination pack of vintage Current thank-you cards. This one also has 9 cards, but in 3 different designs. (The butterfly pictured is far and away my favorite.)