outgoing mail: odontocetes and others

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I spent the past weekend investigating the interior design of 18th century American sea captains’ homes (tangentially for a final paper, but mostly just for the thrill of maritime history) — so I suppose that’s a good thematic excuse to show off some nautical envelopes I made a month ago! My unofficial “academic year blogging hiatus” will continue apace until I finish classes at the beginning of May, I’m afraid, though I do plan on blogging with some regularity in the summer: and in the meantime, I hope these whales and scales will suffice!

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outgoing mail: “the whole world is a garden”

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Three weeks ago, I did the unthinkable and purchased a wedding magazine, drawn to its glossy promises of fairy-tale nuptials while in a weakened shopping-for-groceries state. When you’re planning an elopement with only a handful of close family witnesses in attendance and your idea of “fairy-tale” is more in line with hobbit homes and Arthur Rackham illustrations than elaborate hotel ballrooms, though, mainstream wedding publications – while lovely to look at! – can only help so much.

The pictures inside, however, remained absolutely gorgeous, so I made the best of my $6.99 expenditure and transformed them into wordlessly verdant garden envelopes!

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I considered writing a proper tutorial for my magazine envelopes, but I’ll reveal this arcane secret instead: there’s really no method to my madness. My typical recycled-envelope process goes something like this…

  • I select full-width photo pages – usually intro spreads to an article or advertisements – and literally tear them from the magazine. (I warned you!)
  • Once my desired pages are from their publication untimely ripp’d, I fold over neatly any jagged edges that may have resulted from this violent beginning.
  • I fold the adjusted page roughly in thirds – with the top third slightly smaller – to form a basic envelope shape, and tape the sides shut.

It’s not exactly alchemy, but I can’t think of any other way to do it, as magazine pages aren’t wide enough to accommodate an envelope template (like I use on 12 x 12 craft paper squares).
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The most delightful part, of course, comes when you can match stamps and washi tape to the illustrations! I’m enamored with these “Flowers from the Garden” Forever stamps that I somehow missed last year – but their time with me is only temporary, as the new Bioluminescent Life set came out at the end of February and I might just use only those for the rest of my snail mail days.

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I’m happy that my ill-informed wedding planning purchase did serve a purpose beautifully in its new form, but even with these envelopes complete, we still have a ceremony to plan! If anyone reading this happened to enjoy a very intimate-sized wedding, I’d love to hear about it.

outgoing mail: pure imagination

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Somewhere, lost amid the super-markdown bins of a beloved nearby craft store, the perfect craft paper pad summoned me, singing of its pastel, magical-themed glory. Because I suppose mermaids, unicorns, and tiny sparkling stars are “seasonal,” this collection cost me a mere $5 – a quarter of the original price.

The even more miraculous twist in this tale, though, occurred when I discovered that these papers perfectly matched some of my favorite washi tapes and embellishments, including this beautiful mint bird-patterned tape and Rifle Paper Co. labels – very kind gifts from my future sister-in-law! In fact, I’m so pleased by this absolutely superlative pairing of colors that I almost feel I’ve reached the zenith of my envelope design abilities. However will I best this next time?

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outgoing mail: the golden age

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The most enjoyable aspect of studying eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art last semester was reveling in how downright nerdy many experimental European artists were–in one fascinating example, the German Romantic painters who called themselves the Brotherhood of St. Luke basically cosplayed as medieval monks, and would paint each other dressed up as romantic figures from a seemingly distant past. In Johann Friedrich Overbach’s Portrait of the Painter Franz Pforr, Overbach depicts his buddy in an anachronistic paradise–he even gives him a pious medieval babe for a wife in the background, though Pforr was unmarried!

Perhaps my own romanticized fixation with various aspects of the past — including as the nineteenth-century William Morris designs I transformed into my outgoing Christmas mail — becomes less strange when contextualized within each generation’s endless cycle of “golden age” nostalgia.

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snail mail successes of 2017

all that is gold does not glitter ♡ parsley, sage, rosemary, & thyme 

billions & billions of stars species speaking  woodland wrapping paper

desert dreaming ♡  birds of america  all’s well that ends shell

I boast no particular pride of the speed at which I replied to letters this year (particularly after I began my master’s degree–so it goes!), but I am quite fond of the mail art designs I sent around the world whenever I had a moment to spare. It’s quality over quantity, I hope!

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what’s in my mailbox? mail marathon pt. 2

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Both flowers and ghosts seem woefully out of season by this point, but far be it from me to let my irregular blogging schedule keep them out of the spotlight!

My new patented Grad School Mail Schedule™ (i.e., writing approximately one million letters at once during any break from courses) means that I receive letters in bulk too — I haven’t had much mailbox activity since I caught up on my mail over Thanksgiving. Fortunately, I still have some gorgeous September and October mail to show off: how time flies!

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a very nineteenth-century stationery haul

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These past December days, I’ve felt most frustratingly filled with the holiday spirit – and completely unable to act upon my gift-giving urges!

A cloud of end-of-the-semester papers and grading looms over me, and, meteorologists suggest, will likely stick around for the next few weeks. As Christmas creeps closer, I’d love to devote my evenings to putting together my festive outgoing mail: perhaps some study breaks are in the distant future?

In any case, for convenience’s sake, I happen to work at a historic house museum with an extraordinary gift shop that’s proven a perfect place to finish my holiday shopping. I might not be able to make any envelopes out of that incredible William Morris paper yet – but at least I have it on hand!

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