outgoing mail: my gallant star

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The almost-equitorial skies of my childhood dazzle me every time I return home. Thanks to the welcome lack of light pollution intervening between my eyes and the heavens, the sky sparkles with a clarity unmatched in any suburban setting.

I made these envelopes just before I left on my trip – during one fleeting moment of post-semester freedom! – and their stellar sensibility seemed to prefigure the celestial adventures awaiting me here…

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my year in letters, 2018

 

pure imagination  ♥  the whole world is a garden  ♥  odontocetes and others 

diving into the wreck    lost worlds    pastel imperfections 

It might be tempting to characterize 2018 as a “Dark Age” for my snail mail productivity and hope that a glorious Renaissance awaits me in 2019. Given the surprising amount of medieval art scholarship I’ve done in the past year, however, I would never bandy about the reductive stereotype of the “Dark Ages” lightly. In fact, just as the Middle Ages featured some truly remarkable artistic and architectural developments, I would argue that my low-letter year has included a few instances of rather satisfying envelope-crafting.

Looking back through these posts has been honestly a little frustrating, though: I remember, for example, excitedly making those dinosaur envelopes in July with very particular recipients in mind (you may know who you are) – and then not actually having the time to send the letters until months later. What a difference from January, when I put together those envelopes from the most glorious mermaid-themed paper pack and sent them off into the world days after!

I considered deleting this blog altogether a few times this year, but I think I’ll give it another concerted try and see what happens. It’s now officially been four years (four!!) since I started my pen pal journey in January 2015, and it’s always been a joy to document the art I send and receive, the friends I’ve made, and the massive assortment international stamps I’ve collected as a result. I don’t want to stop!

I know I have not been the world’s most reliable correspondent this year, but I have not stopped thinking about you, pen pals who might be reading this! And to anyone who used to write to me but hasn’t been able to for a while – please feel free to get in touch with me. I’d love to hear from you again, and I promise I won’t judge: I’ve been there myself!

(It’s probably no surprise that I’ve enjoyed reliving the Golden Age of my snail mail days by reading through my 2017, 2016, and 2015 “Year in Letters” posts – here’s hoping 2019’s list will join their illustrious ranks!)

outgoing mail: pastel imperfections

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Perhaps the reason why the stereotypical fairy tale/ fantasy romance closes with the wedding scene is because the alternative–“and then after the marriage, they proceeded to live a quiet and wonderful life together as the princess spent her days reading primary source texts from the nineteenth century, studying the history of ceramics, and otherwise navigating her second year of graduate school”–while delightful to me, lacks the charm of the more celebratory happy ending.

Which is all to say: hello! In the two months since I vanished from this blog, I’ve enjoyed the wedding of my dreams, spent a two-day maritime mini-moon by the coast in Salem, and subsequently found myself very reluctant to return to real life. Living with my husband/best friend/former pen pal for the first time has been absolutely incredible, but it’s also coincided with a very busy fall semester. Needless to say, I’ve not only fallen behind on my letters once more, but have also barely had the chance to experience mail-related post-wedding activities – like sending out thank-you cards and announcements!

Because we “eloped” (which is to say we had 10 people in attendance at our enchanted Hobbiton-esque venue), there are many friends and relatives around the globe who were not able to share in the festivities, and we planned on sending out some photos and cards to spread the word in a way that’s a little more personal than a Facebook post. Combining my husband’s illustrations with some Tolkien-friendly typefaces quickly resulted in the ultimate elopement postcard! To keep them safe, though, we will nevertheless send them in envelopes – which I took upon myself to create this past long weekend.

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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

what’s in my mailbox? pegasus & puddle-jumping

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Everything about this set of incoming letters fills me with childlike joy and whimsy. Winged horses and rainbow hearts? Flowers beyond belief? Beachbound seagulls and puddle-swimming ducks? Just what I needed to escape a week of very grown-up transitions and emotions!

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snail mail favorites: sirens & sand dollars

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Even though I spent my idle teen years as an insufferable hipster–loath to like anything vaguely popular– today I’m utterly delighted that all of pop culture at large appears to share my fascination with mermaids. The way I see it, the mermaid trend is just another opportunity for the amazing mythology and folklore that surrounds these alluring sirens to be appreciated by a wider audience!

A bonus? It’s really easy to find stationery supplies that fit within a similarly enchanting theme – even if said supplies are almost too beautiful for me to dare use. (I’m looking at you, glimmering sand dollar washi tape!)

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extreme enveloping: woodland wrapping paper

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Hey, remember back in the days of yore when I wanted to make “creating envelopes out of unusual materials” a thing?

In November, I showed you, gleefully, the envelopes I’d crafted from a recycled roll of wallpaper, hoping to kick off a glorious new age of extensively eccentric envelope fabrication–and then I proceeded to spend the next eight months making envelopes out of nothing but magazine pages.

There’s no time like the present, though, and I’m happy to say that in my continued quest to catch up on all the pen pal letters I owe (if you’re still waiting on me, you should have yours soon!), I decided to turn my manufacturer’s eye to a new substance: wrapping paper. (Specifically, ridiculously cutesy forest creature wrapping paper probably designed for literal babies but I don’t particularly care.)

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