playing with paper

Monday, January 30, 2012

Baby Shower Invitations

I was pleased to be asked by a neighbor to create handcrafted baby shower invitations for her son and his wife. With just a little information--it's a boy, the parents-to-be like birds, the grandma-to-be (my neighbor) works for the postal service, and I need to make 30--these are my three initial samples.

#1 Traditional, calm, formal pastels

#2 Bright, bold , cute, and fun

#3 Postal theme, because I couldn't resist

And she chose, with no changes, #3! I almost couldn't believe it! She liked my use of security envelope paper. I managed to curb my use of lumpy embellishments to avoid surcharge postage. I spent quiet time today prepping all the parts, so I think I'm ready to begin assembly tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mail Art Answered

Some wonderful mail art I received in December but never posted.
I'm finally getting around to sending proper thank yous!
From Wenchkin, Angie & Snooky, and Mary Has Sound

A few altered postcards I created while cleaning off my desk
and a recycled printing sample collage in a CD envelope.
All will ship out tomorrow!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon

I mailed out my Lunar New Year mail art projects today with the new dragon stamps. I don't want to give too much away, but I packaged most of my mysterious bundles in my favorite PaperSource envelopes, made from "Slow Boat to China" paper. Luckily, I completed most of these packets before all my postal activities last week commenced.

The project itself was inspired by and a homage to Nick Bantock, perhaps my favorite contemporary mixed media artist. His famous Griffin and Sabine books were my first exposure to mail-as-art. My favorite book of his is "The Museum at Purgatory." His juxtaposition of fact and fiction, the actual and the altered, always intrigues me. He creates worlds with such detail, you fall under their spell, and you can no longer separate real from imagined, nor do you want to. That is true artistry.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lancaster Sunday News Article

The Lancaster County, Pennsylvania stamp and I made the front page of the Lancaster Sunday News today, with a photo on page four. You can read the full article here:

She puts her stamp on this first day issue

Last week was crazy busy and a lot of work, but it was worth it to be able to commemorate the new stamp and share my love of Real Mail with others in my community. Thank you all for your encouragement and support!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Wild Stamp Chase

Stamp description sheet with postage stamp and first day cancel

My unofficial Lancaster County postage stamp first day of issue activities officially began yesterday morning at 7:45am, when I received a call from my friend at the Rohrerstown Post Office confirming that the stamps were only available at the Harrisburg Pike Main Office. I arranged to meet the photographer from Lancaster Newspapers there at 9am to purchase my first sheet of stamps and request some first day of issue hand cancels on postcards to send and stamp display sheets I created to give and keep. I stopped off at the craft store for a frame before heading over to the Rohrerstown Post Office to present them with a framed sheet as a thank you for all their help and encouragement. I left a few of the goodie bags I made for them to give to anyone asking to purchase the new stamp.

Quilted Postcard from Naomi (nhigh) Mailart365 #10/366 Quarter Wheel

I arrived home to find this beautiful card in my mailbox! I tucked it in my Letter Writers Alliance bag to use as an example during the rest of the day's activities. After a few phone calls and some lunch, the little one and I were off again to pick up my dad and head over to the Lancaster County Visitors Center to investigate the mysterious Facebook post I discovered late Thursday afternoon ( The women at the desk were very helpful, but knew nothing of a ceremony and were unaware of the stamp's release. One of the women was a retired Postmaster from Gordonville, PA, and she made a few inquiries by phone to her contacts but was unable to get any more information. I shared what I knew and gave them a framed copy of the display sheet to share with visitors. Another stop at the craft store for more frames; this time I just bought all the black ones they had!

Home again for naptime and a few moments of quiet, so I could write up my remarks for the lecture. I knew I needed to have something in front of me so I could share my thoughts coherently. The big girls had an early dismissal and my dear husband came home from work early so I could arrive at the lecture before 4pm for the social gathering. The women from were very accomodating and many of the attendees were interested in seeing the stamp. My parents stopped by to congratulate me and snap a few photos.

My "Write Letters, Write History" display table at the lecture.

Me (sporting my LWA Penpal Award) and my display

The lecture itself was very interesting; I feel like I haven't attended anything like that since college! I gave my little speech at the end, and it actually fit surprisingly well with the topic, as the lecture ended with a discussion of the speed of communication. (You can read my remarks in my previous post.) The framed stamp sheet went back to the office for display to promote the stamp and their February First Friday "Love Letters" event, where I will again have the opportunity to share my postal passion.

One final stop at the Harrisburg Pike Post Office to request a few more first day of issue cancels; I gave away more of those display sheets than I originally planned, but I am grateful I had the chance to share it. I arrived home around 7pm tired but happy with the events of the day.

Next week, I will follow up with the Lancaster Public Library about hosting a letter-writing social and make sure Lancaster Creative Reuse has enough mail art zines and labels to last them through February First Friday. I anticipate a story in tomorrow's Lancaster Sunday News. On my to-do list this weekend? Relax, play in the snow, and get some more mail ready to send!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lancaster County Postage Stamp Presentation

This is the text of my presentation of the newly-released Lancaster County postage to the group gathered for a lecture titled From Frick's Lock To DuPont - How The Industrial Revolution Saved America. The response was positive, and I was grateful for the opportunity. I will recap the day's events in a separate post, but maybe tomorrow. It's been a busy day!

"Thank you to Melynda and Felice of for offering me a few moments today to share my postal passion with you. I have no affiliation with the United States Postal Service, except as a patron, so I am here unofficially as a representative of the Letter Writers Alliance, the International Union of Mail Artists, and Postcrossing to introduce to you the new international rate postage stamp featuring a photograph of my home for almost 35 years, Lancaster County. I would like to read the Postal Service’s brief description of the stamp.

I initially contacted last Friday after I learned there would be no official First Day of Issue Ceremony for this stamp. I had a love of letters, motivation, and a vague idea that I could somehow organize an event to properly recognize this small but beautiful piece of postal and Lancaster County history. I have always loved mail—everything about it intrigues me—pen and paper, postage and postmarks. Airmail is particularly fascinating with the added allure of foreign lands, the real or imagined mystery and romance. My grandma still has all the letters she exchanged with my grandpa during their engagement while he was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. I am sure each of you here today has at least a few letters tucked away for safekeeping.

When you write a letter, you are writing a piece of personal history, whether you are reporting a once-in-a-lifetime event or your everyday activities. You are creating a record of your relationship with another person, you are giving them the gift of your time and yourself, a story no one but you can write. Personal and business correspondence of our relatives and those who go on to become figures of larger historical importance is one of the greatest resources we have for studying our personal and collective history. boasts an extensive collection available for use in our research.

So many people lament that no one writes letters anymore, and I worry and wonder what future histories will look like when emails and tweets are the only remaining records of our communications. I certainly do not expect everyone to share my level of enthusiasm for Real Mail, as my parents and I came to call our cards and letters exchanged while I was away at college. But as lovers of history, I encourage you to make time this weekend to put pen to paper and share a piece of yourself with a family member or friend, and perhaps you will want to mail it off with the new Lancaster County postage stamp as well. Thank you."

Thursday, January 19, 2012

UPDATE: Official Unofficial...

It's been an interesting day here. I began the morning with vague plans for tomorrow, by early afternoon they were set, and after dinner, they were in shreds.

First, I found this interesting tidbit on Facebook during this afternoon's Google search:

Lancaster County First Day of Issue Ceremony
Public Event By USPS Community Connection
When Friday
Time 12:00pm until 3:00pm
Description Join us as we debut Lancaster County, the 2012 international rate stamp and Scenic American Landscape honoree!
501 Greenfield Road, Lancaster, PA 17602

Good grief! When was this decided? And who is this USPS Community Connection? Assuming my little one is up for an adventure, I guess we'll go see what this is all about!

An email after dinner alerted me that due to a delivery delay, the new Lancaster County stamps have not yet arrived at my local post office on Rohrerstown Road. (See, they definitely should not shut down Lancaster's processing facility.) The only location to receive them as of the end of business hours today is the Harrisburg Pike office. I will not be hurting myself to get there at 7:30AM when they commence retail sales. (I am not a morning person.) I hope to make my way there by nine, after I get in touch with the photographer from Lancaster Newspapers who expected to meet me at Rohrerstown at eight. (Are you following me here, because I'm not sure I am!) If and when the stamps arrive at Rohrerstown, I still plan to take my postal party there (see previous post.)

I need to go sort out my day and address a few more postcards.
Good night and good luck.

The Official Unofficial Stamp Ceremony

Here's the deal: I will be at the Rohrerstown Branch Post Office, 153 Rohrerstown Rd.
Lancaster, PA 17603, tomorrow, Friday, January 20, 2012 when they open at 8am to purchase my first sheet Lancaster County postage stamps and to mail some extra-special first day of issue postcards. I will have postal goodies for those who purchase the new international rate stamps, and all attendees can sign up for the chance to a win a Deluxe Mail Art Travel Kit. The friendly clerks will happily hand-cancel upon request with their Lancaster Pennsylvania designation date stamper, and Lancaster Newspapers promised to send a photographer to the celebration.

Later that afternoon, I will present the stamp before a lecture given by at the Manheim Township Library. Lancaster Creative Reuse will extend their Make Mail Art program through February First Friday, and will feature "Love Letters" at their February First Friday event, giving me another opportunity to promote the Lancaster County stamp and my love of letters.

Three cheers for Real Mail!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stamp Presentation on Friday

I am slowly gathering responses to the emails I sent out concerning the new Lancaster County stamp, but I feel I am losing my focus and momentum. (It doesn't help having a kiddo home sick from school.)

I spoke with a reporter from Lancaster Newspapers yesterday afternoon, and he seemed interested in my story, as well as a follow-up with Lancaster Creative Reuse, so I hope they get some good press.

Today I spoke with, but my mind was a jumble. She did offer me a display table and five minutes to present the new stamp at the social gathering before a lecture this Friday evening, and I accepted. Now I need to prepare for that. They may have a "Love Letters" theme for their First Friday display on February 3, so I may get a second chance to display the stamp and promote letter-writing, so I better get thinking!

I have never been a good public speaker. I prefer writing letters. I find it so much easier to squeeze my words through the tip of a pen than to try and tame them on my tongue.

Interested in attending? Here's the information:

Friday, January 20,
Manheim Township Public Library 595 Granite Run Dr. Lancaster, PA 17601

4:00 pm - Social Gathering & Book signing of Abandoned Address - The Secret of Frick's Lock

4:30 pm - 5:30 pm - Lecture: & Manheim Township Public Library partner to offer From Frick's Lock To DuPont - How The Industrial Revolution Saved America presented by Gene Pisasale, author, historian and Delaware Humanities Forum speaker.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hurry Up and Wait

Well, I have contacted everyone in Lancaster I can think of concerning the Lancaster County postage stamp release. Now, it's just a waiting game I guess. While I wait, I'm hanging up flyers wherever I go. I also made up some goodie bags to share with anyone who joins me at the Rohrerstown Post Office to purchase the stamps this Friday morning.

My girls and I enjoyed a two-hour visit to Lancaster Creative Reuse yesterday morning. They are very excited about Mail Art Week. (Me too!) I just spoke with an employee of the Lancaster County Library, and while it's not feasible to hold a letter-writing social this week, there is interest in crafting a program for a future date.

I appreciate all the encouragement and support I've received on this project. Special thank yous to Donovan of the Letter Writers Alliance for her contributions, and to Su of TangleCrafts for sharing her creativity across the pond.

The postage stamp is such a small thing, but I believe it has the potential to make a big difference. If I don't stand up for what I believe, who will? And how can I expect others to care? If I don't do it now, it might be too late. I know I'm not going to save the world, but I can make it a little better, one stamp at a time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mail Art at Lancaster Creative Reuse!

I am excited to announce Lancaster Creative Reuse will promote making mail art this week in honor of the Lancaster County stamp release! This is the perfect place for mail art creation. I encourage everyone to join in the fun! A big thank you to Andrea for her exuberant support. I hope this will be a great week for Real Mail in Lancaster!

Friday, January 13, 2012

No First Day of Issue Ceremony for Lancaster County Postage Stamp?

I am hard at work to remedy that situation!

Thank you to Donovan of LWA and Deb at my local post office for all your encouragement!

Do you know any mail-lovers in Lancaster PA? Send them my way! I can use all the help I can get!

Letter to the Editors:

I have read with interest and concern the Lancaster Newspapers stories concerning the demise of the Postal Service, the swift death of letter writing, and the few editorials that followed.

As an avid letter-writer (, Postcrosser (, and mail artist (, I was thrilled to see that a photograph of Lancaster Country would be featured on the new international rate postage stamp to be released on
Friday, January 20th. After speaking on several occasions with Debra at the Rohrerstown Post Office Branch, I was frustrated to learn that the Central PA District Office passed on the chance to have a First Day of Issue ceremony.

Lancaster County has been my home for all of my 35 years, and I am proud of its history and heritage. I am also a firm believer in Real Mail, sending letters, postcards, art, and interesting parcels every chance I get.

I am awaiting a reply from the Director of Education & Public Programs at because Debra suggested they may be able to offer a space on Friday the 20th the celebrate the release of this beautiful stamp. I believe the local Post office missed out on an opportunity for much-needed good press, but perhaps you can help me support our local postal workers and commemorate a postage stamp that will send an image of Lancaster County all around the world.

I am willing and able to organize and lead a small celebration and to provide letter-writing supplies to attendees. I realize this is a last-minute request, but I am grateful for any assistance or advice you can offer.

Thank you kindly for your consideration.

And THANK YOU for sending Real Mail!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bright Birthday MOJO 223

My littlest flower turns two today. I am amazed.

I was just going to pull a card from my stash and personalize it a bit, but them I got inspired by the Mojo Monday card sketch and glitter chipboard flowers. My Sweetie Pie carried that bag of heart buttons (flower centers) for me at Goodwill, such a good helper. I'm curious to see if she remembers. She's such a sponge right now, soaking up new words and ideas every day.

I think my older girls were impressed I used a texting-type message on the inside. Tonight, cupcakes with sprinkles and presents wrapped in Sunday comics. She does love parties!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Special Edition

Hooray! The United States Postal Service 2012 Stamp Issue dates are finally available at Beyond the Perf, the USA Philatelic website. January 20th is a BIG release date. Oh my, I can hardly contain myself. That's the day the Lancaster County international rate stamp will be available!

I talked to the friendly clerks at my local branch, and they think there won't be any big fanfare here because management is too busy trying to close the local processing facility. I might just throw my own little party if they are agreeable. They've gotten to know me, you know! A bunch more new postage stamps will be released the 23rd of January, including the Chinese New Year stamp, so I better get working on some dragon mail.

They are little bits of art that help get my mail where it's meant to go. **sigh** So lovely! Send more Real Mail!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Beauty Received in Error

A few days ago I found two postcards from China in my mailbox. I was in a hurry as I leafed through the mail and assumed they were both Postcrossing. I put them aside with the Good Mail to register later that evening. When I finally had a chance to enjoy my mail, I realized this Chinese New Year card wasn't meant for me. It was from China but was intended for a woman in New York.

I put it back in my mailbox the following day, but I had to scan the beautiful image and postage stamps before letting them go back into the world. I hope by now they have arrived to the addressee. I wonder if any of my cards have ever been misdelivered, and what became of them? I wish I could let the sender of this card know that it brightened my day before continuing its journey.

HAPPY: Mojo Monday 222

The first time I saw the beautifully coordinated papers and embellishments from The Girls' Paperie, I was smitten. Unfortunately, by the time I discovered them, they had already ceased production. I am slowly collecting all the goodies I can find, many of them on clearance. I do love paper, especially on sale!

I created this card bases on the Mojo Monday 222 sketch, using papers from The Girls' Paperie "Kitch" collection. I discovered these on Etsy at Discount Paper Crafts, a classy shop with a polite, helpful owner. The embellishments are from my collection of collections: brads, stick pins, ribbon flower, button, and vintage ric rac. I distressed and inked the edges of the papers and added some machine stitching. I like to have some non-holiday-specific cards on hand, and this is such a cheerful card!

Hope you have bits of HAPPY in your day too!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fly Away with Me CPS 249

For some reason, I thought I might keep working on winter holiday cards; you know, get a head start for next year while I still have all the supplies at hand. My, do I have a lot of supplies for Christmas cards. When I cleaned it all up, I needed one of my old suitcases in order to store everything together (and I haven't tried to close it yet.)

Front of card, CPS 249

But alas, I remembered I had one more new Tim Holtz Sizzix die to try, the winged heart. I was saving it for Valentine cards. So, I've let go of Christmas (though I'll listen to the music a few more days) and I made a few Valentines. I used a simple sketch from Card Positioning Systems (#249) and went wild with glitter, vintage lace, buttons (French glass) and postage stamps. The paper is 7gypsies "Lille" and Papertrey cardstock on a PaperSource Luxe card. So many lovely bits collected and brought together on this card!

Interior of above card

I did some machine sewing around the edges, a straight stitch with zigzag accents. I had a few comments on a previous post where I mentioned machine stitching, and I am embarrassed to say I have yet to answer the questions, so I'll do that now!

I have a sturdy old Singer machine, Model 401A, that I use for all my sewing (fabric or paper.) I use a ball point needle when sewing on paper to avoid dulling sharps. (Ball points are normally used for sewing knit fabric, something my machine refuses to do.) Sometimes thread tension can be a problem, so I recommend sewing on a scrap of paper and then adjusting before sewing the final project. Longer stitch length will make fewer holes and therefore create less chance of tearing the paper. You can use an unthreaded machine to create perforations, if that's what you're trying to achieve. I have mailed postcards with machine stitching naked (without an envelope) and they seem to travel well. If I add buttons, the cards always go into envelopes. Better for the cards, better for the postal machines!

Happy crafting!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Last Cards of 2011

I began cleaning up from Christmas crafting this past week and created a few more cards with bits and pieces I collected from my desk. Finding just the right mix of new and vintage supplies to create a pleasing design really makes me happy.

These are the last few cards I have to send in 2011. I wouldn't say I'm caught up answering mail (especially mail art,) but for the holiday season, I'm feeling pretty good about things. One more letter to finish before this last card can travel through the post.

I hope everyone enjoyed a safe, happy New Year's Eve.
We toasted to many good mail days in 2012!