outgoing mail: lost worlds

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Of late, I’ve found my thoughts straying to dinosaurs: or more specifically, the Dinosaur Court built for the relocated Crystal Palace Park in the mid-1800s, where models of Megalosaurus, Iguanadon, and a number of other prehistoric beasts struck awe into the hearts of nineteenth-century audiences. In all the time I’ve spent in the U.K., I’ve never had the opportunity to visit these strange relics of historical science, and I dream of one day wandering through their lost world in London.

In one of my thrift-store expeditions, I discovered a beat-up – and relatively unreadable – copy of dinosaur encyclopedia (this one, if you’re curious, except the one I found was a Spanish edition). It was already missing a few pages and had suffered some damage, so I worked my envelope alchemy to salvage what I could for crafting. In the end, I was so pleased with how these collages turned out: and glad as ever to offer new life to a dying book!  Continue reading “outgoing mail: lost worlds”

the lord of the weddings: tolkienesque bridal charm bracelets

the lord of the weddings: tolkienesque bridal charm bracelets

Tolkien wedding bracelet (3 of 6)Tolkien wedding bracelet (5 of 6)

With our wedding just over a month away (seriously!), I find myself overwhelmed with strange desires – a bizarre attachment to the notion of programs that double as hand-fans, a craving for customized bubble wands, and a yearning for a stereotypical T-shirt printed with some variation of “Bride.” (Even though I never wear T-shirts: not even Emily Dickinson ones.)

A little while ago, I became fixated on the notion of wearable gifts for the “wedding party” – which consists of me, my mom, and my sister – that would capture the spirit of the event and lend our appearances some small element of cohesion. I spent hours transfixed by the bridal charm bracelets on Etsy, but nothing really won me over: and, to be honest, I became quite convinced that I could make one myself.

Enter these Tolkien-inspired bracelets, which I cobbled together from bulk-bought charms curated by a whimsical eye!

Continue reading “the lord of the weddings: tolkienesque bridal charm bracelets”

outgoing mail: diving into the wreck

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Over the past week, I’ve written and mailed upwards of eight letters: far surpassing the unimpressive number I sent within the past few months. Isn’t summer break grand?

In fact, I worked through my inventory of available envelopes with such great speed that I soon found myself in need of more — and equally in need of an excuse to take advantage of sales on ocean-themed crafting supplies at a particular local vendor. Glimpsing the gem-like radiance of these colors — like the brightness of a coral reef seen when you first dip your eyes below the waterline — fills me with an energy I’ve not felt since I last left the Pacific an August ago.

coral reef mail (3 of 7)coral reef mail (2 of 7)

As I approach an upcoming anniversary of my college graduation, I’ve found myself both strangely nostalgic and bewildered at how quickly the time has passed. I’ve been living in this town for almost four years, writing letters for three and a half, and blogging here for about the same amount of time. To satisfy my curious yearning for the past, I’ve plumbed the abyssopelagic depths of my old journals, planners, and letters, searching for some distant meaning like a diver on the hunt for algae-covered treasure.

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Perhaps the style of these envelopes reflects my sentimental mood: back in the days before I knew how to make my own, I often decorated envelopes with various taped layers of patterned papers! I hope to see these real-life version of these oceanic spectrums of blue in person very soon – even if only on the shores of the Atlantic.

the lord of the weddings: our diy wedding invitations

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Like Sauron forging the most powerful ring for his own purposes, it’s probably no surprise that a snail mailer would reserve her most delighted crafting energy for her wedding invitations. (Except, you know, these cards are much less evil.) Since my future husband and I met by happenstance in the glorious mail art universe, elaborate invitations seemed essential: even though only about 10 people will attend our nuptials.

Of course, the wedding stationery market relies on bulk orders, and since most vendors wouldn’t let us purchase anything under a minimum of 25, we decided to assemble our own! Some laser-cut lace bases, an enchanting custom design by my fiance, and jewel-like wax seals proved the necessary ingredients for invitation alchemy.

(This marks the first post in what will no doubt become a series of wedding-related posts on my blog! Our theme is part Tolkien-inspired, part “elaborate fairy tea party in the forest,” and entirely us. We’re a crafty couple on a budget with a shared flair for the whimsical, so expect starry-eyed DIYs in great numbers!) 

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I’ll admit to some initial healthy skepticism about these inexpensive laser-cut card bases, but they arrived looking appropriately pearlescent and adequately detailed.

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Creating a unique design for the card itself proved easy enough – considering that I’m lucky enough to have a talented illustrator as my betrothed! (The otter must be wondering why disembodied text has appeared in the midst of his quiet pond.)

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Though I’m sure this comes as a surprise to many, I do not actually possess a wax seal kit of my own. (Yes, it’s right up there on my “impractical anachronistic novelties to buy one day” list, perhaps just a step below a flower press and a spinning wheel!) I found a wonderful seller on Etsy* who offered elegant seals with adjustable backings that fit our needs perfectly.

*This is not a sponsored post, I promise! The quality of her service and the impeccably fast shipping inspired me to share my sources.

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We ordered the elven fern design in green and gold–naturally–but the seller added in a few extra freebies: this stunning pink rose seal may never leave my clutches.

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Together, they make a fairly complementary set, don’t you think? I added the piece of gold card as a barrier to keep the otter-filled contents a surprise to the recipients.

Now if only I could master the art of perfect Hobbit-inspired calligraphy…

outgoing mail: odontocetes and others

whale mail part 2 (1 of 6)whale mail part 2 (2 of 6)

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!

Continue reading “outgoing mail: odontocetes and others”

outgoing mail: “the whole world is a garden”

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

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?

Continue reading “outgoing mail: pure imagination”