Monday, April 23, 2018

Simple Ideas for Lettering and Layout - No. 3 -NOT

Leonardo da Vinci's Drawing Materials

I deleted the last set of examples because they were ugly.
The first two sets were also ugly - but I don't have time to redo blog posts.
You will just have to put up with the mish-mash-chaos.

If you have time - the video about Leo's tools is very interesting.

Or you may have a sneak peak at one of the exchange envelope that I am sending in the April. It's been a wretched month. But, I am using up a lot of stamps.

Mostly wretched weather - but enough other bothersome drivel that I feel somewhat inspired to accomplish better hoard reduction.

Sunday, April 22, 2018


Because today's regular post is a bit lame, I am adding a post about a rabbit hole that may be of interest to some of you who love books.

It is a link to an article with several links to digitized offerings from libraries. If you scroll down, you will get to the U of Iowa and there are two links. One to miniature books and another one to a very interesting book - which I happened to note was donated by someone I am acquainted with who lives a few blocks from me...Fritz James - for those of you who may know Fritz.
Anyhow - here's a good rabbit hole:

Not to mention that atlasobscura has a ton of interesting stuff.....

Simple Ideas for Lettering and Layout - No. 2

More ideas using the geometric shapes of letters to create spaces for the addresses.

Again - I like a lot of contrast in point size.

Other ideas include riffing on the stamp, exaggerating the ascenders and descenders.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Simple Ideas for Lettering and Layout - No.1

Fairly small lettering with no circles
A few years ago I started working on a book about decorating envelopes. I was going to combine it with tips on lettering but I gave up on that idea. It might be better to just study lettering or study design and let them integrate themselves.

There will be three days with 8 or 9 photos. You'll get a dozen ideas per day.

This series covers lettering that is made up of straight lines. If you want to invent your own style, start with graph paper.

I left the pencil lines in the photos. If I were to mail these, I'd erase the pencil lines.

Larger lettering. No circles.
An enclosed space in a letter is called a counter.
Counters offer nice opportunities for addresses or stamps.

Friday, April 20, 2018

From Amy - Birch Trees

Amy S (there are two Amy S exchangers - this is the CA Amy) probably does not know that I love birch trees. There was a note on the back of this that she was less than pleased with the envelope and even suggested that it might not be blog-worthy. It looks fine to me. Yes, I see the up-hill drift -- but, I do that all the time. No big deal.

The whole point of the exchanges is to have fun and putter and not stress - so, if it is easier to just wing it instead of doing pencil lines - and risk being less than satisfied - that's fine. None of us who get 20-30 pieces of mail a month are ever going to complain about minor ups and downs.


Added note in real time - I am halfway through my 27 envelopes for the April exchange and I have been making myself pencil in the lines - and while it takes a few seconds...I can see that it's a wise use of my seconds.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Stacked Banners - Dec Exchange - Finn & Janet

There was something vaguely like this on Pinterest. There are lots of banners these days. While these are both Christmas-y - it would be very easy to morph the holly into any leaf and the tree or candles into flowers for a springtime effect

On both of these, I was trying to make the nasty shimmer envelopes work. I wish I had thought of something that was more *bird-on-head* for the chicken stamps.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

From Elizabeth in Ohio

I met Elizabeth at an IAMPETH conference in Ohio several years ago. As I recall she does a lot of wedding work which means she probably does mostly pointed pen work.

I know this one is still in my stack of envelopes that I need to respond to. The exchanges keep me so busy that I am slow with my other correspondence.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Samples for classes

A couple quick and easy ideas that were presented at a one time class. The one time classes are a lot different from the once a week for 6 week classes. I often wonder how the one-timers do.

Top one is mix and match anything and everything.

Bottom one is -- draw some guidelines. Create the letters using straight lines. Fill in the spaces with colored pencils.

Two design lessons: 1 - left justified, ragged right, and big name is a *just-fine* option. 2 - contrast is our best friend and tiny addresses make the name pop.

Monday, April 16, 2018

From Carol - a Version of Multiple Borders

A while back I was on a binge of making a bunch of borders to fill up the whole envelope. It is always fun for me to receive something that is a riff on one of the ideas that I toss out.

I like this one. It is fun and playful. It is a little looser than mine and I think that helps a lot. Thanks, Carol.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Neon to Lauren

While reviewing the contents of the giant box of pens and markers. Technically - one of 4 large boxes - I found a nice set of neon highlighters. This was the first idea. I was looking at some random font and did not keep track of which one. That R would be the one to spot if I went looking for it.

Then, I remembered that I had a Cinco de Mayo job coming up, so I decided to work on figuring out a style of writing that would work for long names as well as short names.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Repost from Eric's Blog - Xmas Leaf

When this popped up on Eric's blog I'm sure I smiled out loud. Or whatever you do when your reaction to something is like LOL - only it isn't funny - it just makes you happy.

I spent many years teaching a class called Art for the Intimidated and to convince intimidated people that anyone can learn to draw (contour drawing) we would draw a leaf. It was so much fun to see people follow the simple directions and then be flabbergasted at their success. I always brought in oak leaves. So, that is part of what I loved about this card. I also love the decorations and the teddy bear and the tiny writing in the border.

You may check out the envelope here - it is very festive as well.

Eric's blog

If you wanted to morph this idea into an envelope, I can see it in landscape orientation with a smaller leaf. If you had a rubber stamp of a leaf, that would be a nice alternative to adhering actual leaves to your envelope and hoping they made it through the mail. I'll label this follow up and hope to do my own version eventually.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Feb Exchange to Susan and Troy - Rainbow

I really liked Susan's. I wasn't crazy about Troy's. Although the overall shape of his name and address was rather heart shaped. I pondered working with that idea and quickly discarded it. There are some envelopes in the archive that are very elaborate heart shaped designs.

If you do a search for the word *heart* in the search feature that is right under my name - over there on the right - a variety of old posts will pop up.

If you are looking at this on your phone, you have to go to View Web Version to find the search box...I think. Do not depend on me for technical advice.

Or any other advice - for that matter. Although I will stand by my recommendation to not take a Pyrex dish out of the oven and then let it come into contact with water or a bunch of liquid. It will explode.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Paper Bag Owl to Eric

Eric invited mail artists to send envelopes made out of paper bags in 2017. This was one I sent. For 2018 he has two new invitations. Science fiction and miniature. I have some great ideas for miniature mailings. I only have one idea for science fiction. I will not spoil the surprise by announcing what they are. Anyone who wants to participate may do so by going to his blog or just send him something miniature or science-fictionesque to the address you see on this envelope.

Link to his blog:

I must have put this inside a different envelope because that is one of my Italian stamps that my sister-in-law brought when she was on her way to Italy and asked me what I would like her to bring back.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me (rainbow series to Lynne and Alex)

It's my birthday. I am in Chicago, celebrating with Alex, my granddaughter. These were two experiments when I was coming up with a style to go with the Harvey Milk stamps.  These two ideas did not show much potential.

Alex(andra) is a 4 year old girl. I remember when I taught 4 year olds that during the time the kids could draw whatever they wanted to draw - the girls drew a lot of rainbows, flowers and hearts. Basically wallpaper. The boys were more inclined to draw a scene with figures, action and a story. If I asked the girls to draw figures, action and a story - they would do it - but when given free reign -or is it rein? it was wall paper. And I do not recall seeing boys drawing patterns.

I even had a table full of boys who collected all the pink markers at their table and asked me to remove them from their table. OK.

One time when Alex and I were making pictures together she looked at mine and said:
"Nanna, you draw bester than me."

It sort of broke my heart. I love her drawings way more than I love mine. I've started drawing everything up-side-down so that it looks more like her level of drawing. Or I use my left hand. I don't want her to be like my kids who would just look at my pictures and walk away. They told me that it annoyed them that they could not draw as well as I could. But they all found other things they seemed to love as much as I love art - so I don't think they were destined to be artists.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tina's Mail Box

This very clever mailbox arrived in January - from Tina. You can tell it arrived in the winter because of the snow on top. Most of the January incoming envelopes are posted in May - but it is early February and I just discovered that April 10th was pre-filled.

I apologize for this complete drivel - about my posting problems. My intent is to have helpful tips for people who need helpful tips - or ideas.

I LOVE this idea and hope to do my own version one day.
That day will come as soon as I finish the grand-organization-of-the-38-year-accumulation.

I hear the collectively sighing.

And on top of it - I can't actually figure out if I already scheduled this one - so, it might be re-run at some point. It's so dang cute - it deserves to be run twice.

C'est la vie.

For fun - I Googled English post box.
Lots of happy images.
Even some with snow.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Feb Exchange to Janet & Patty

Patty's is a little to plain but I am showing it to illustrate how it is pretty simple to add one more element to finish things.

Writing over the rainbow lines might not be the best idea. It will be challenging for the PO.

Patty deserves a better envelope. The black marker was a little dry and I did not do a good job of layering a second stroke. Patty will get a better envelope - maybe tucked inside.

I get a fair number of exchange envelopes with a note tucked inside explaining the flaws that the person regrets sending - but they have run out of time. I completely understand....
it's not the content - it's the process.

I would be featured on the program of hoarders if I kept every single piece of mail I received. So, in some ways - you are doing me a favor if you mail something that is not worthy of being saved. There - I hope that takes all the pressure off anyone who thinks I get all nit-picky about quality.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Thankful border from Maggie

This was a Noember exchange envelope from Maggie. She wrote the word *thanks* in several different languages. A clever idea and one that we can steal and tailor to other events. For example, you could write Happy Birthday - in a variety of languages. Or congratulations...

The overprinting by the PO is unfortunate. Maybe it would work to inset the border by a half inch. Although I really like it the way it is.

Marking this one stealworthy.

I also like her use of dots - three ways. All the way around the very outer edge - details on the small lettering - and layered on the name in white.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Off-topic Saturday - Tiny Writing

As I write this, it is Jan 15th, 2018. The wind chill is 21 degrees below zero. I'm pretty sure we are F people. I get F and C mixed up. We are the 32 is freezing people. I would rather be a 0 is freezing person. It's weird how I can't remember the most basic things any more. I know we are not metric. But, I can't remember the word for non-metric any more. Maybe it will come to me.

Anyhow, on this frigid day, I am wading through the stacks of mementos that have piled up over the past 39 years. When my daughter was in high school she was preparing for a test where you could bring one page of notes into the test. I saw her writing small - and said - "Oh, let me do that, I can write a lot smaller." I managed to cram all of her notes onto one page. You can see that I even confined them to an area where the notes could be enlarged a tiny bit on a photocopier.

After the test was over, I asked her how she did. She got an A. I asked if the notes were helpful. She said she didn't even look at them. It was just comforting to know that they were available.

So, now that I have this page scanned for posterity, I should throw the original away. But, I do struggle with throwing some really weird stuff away. Maybe I will allow myself one box or one notebook of weird stuff.....

I'm thinking when this pops up on April 7th I will be enjoying some beautiful spring weather.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Shiny Sharpie to Jessica

Sharpie on shimmer is starting to grow on me. The photos are not very good - or maybe I need to try some different ways of positioning them.

The style of writing came out of my big stack of examples that I collected and -sadly- did not record from whence they came. If anyone recognizes it --- let me know.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Valentine Exchange to Faye & Chuck

Chuck's would have been better with a stamp with a heart on it.

Faye's would have been better if she had more letters in her name. Five or six letters is perfect.
Four is OK - but I prefer 5 or 6.

I like everything left justified.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

3 Exchangers Who Illustrate

Bug, with birds, Sara with watermelon, and Connie with a bunny on a cloud are all exchangers who enjoy fun drawings.

Reminder to anyone who is pondering the idea of signing up for the do not need to be a traditional calligrapher. Fun little pictures qualify as *mail art.*

All three have very nice penmanship.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Birds to Kathy - Jan Exch

Poor planning during the use-up-the-stamps session.

Did the name first, then the birds, then couldn't get a good stamp to fit.
Settled on golf ball since Kathy's husband is a golfer. Would have liked funnier comments from the birds. Left the word bubbles in pencil in case I think of something better.

Really tempted to add more detail and color. Not really tempted to tempt fate and make a big fat mess.

Monday, April 2, 2018

KateR's Flan and JeanR's Abstract

Nice use of stamp elements on Kate's (top).  This is another set of stamps that I have not purchased yet. Not sure they are even available....

Below, JeanR used the colors on the stamp to embellish the lettering.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Exchange Sign-up + Patty's First Exchange Envelope

I do not recall if I have ever posted Patty's first exchange envelope. It makes me happy when people who are very new to lettering and calligraphy are not afraid to join the exchange.

It is time to sign up for the April Exchange. Beginners are welcome. You will get a list of 4-5-or-6 people to send envelopes to. One of them may be out of the US and international mail requires $1.15 postage.

No theme, any medium, digital is welcome. Enclosures are optional. 

If you love making cards - type CARD MAKER after your name and that way the card makers can identify each other and enclose cards.

Please put your return address on the back and write OPEN if there is an enclosure or EMPTY if there is none. It is also nice to write Apr.PTEX on the back of the envelope for those who may participate in more than one exchange. PTEX stands for Pushing the Envelopes Exchange.

To sign up -even if you have signed up many times- I need the following information typed (please do not type in all caps). 

Name CARD MAKER (if you truly are a card maker and plan on sending one)
Your email

Non-US exchangers - please follow the format that your postal system prefers.

Email the above information to me at;
jmwilson411 (at) yahoo (dot) com

If you are having a birthday in April, let me know. Exchangers have the option to send a birthday themed envelope.
If you are agreeable to be on two lists, let me know. It is nice to have a few people willing to do ten envelopes in order to make all the lists come out even. Or three lists. If you wanted to do 15 envelopes, that's fine with me.

Deadline to sign up is April 4. Lists will be sent on April 5th or 6th. Please get your envelopes in the mail by April 30th. If you are going to be late, please email the people on your list so that we know your envelope will be late.

Any questions - email me.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Walnut border and 4 Art Stamps to Tina

You'd think that I would love the opportunity to use up $1.15 worth of stamps on mail going out of the US. I would if I had more stamps where 3 of them added up to $1.15. I always need 4 or more and that creates all kinds of problems.

The photo is silly with the mouse - but it does give me the idea of using up my leftover mouse stamp from the unusual pet series.

Anyone who is just getting started with nibs and ink should consider scrolly-doodle borders for practice. They are very forgiving and fun to do.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Exchangers Maggie and Connie (Oct ginko+peace)

Ginko leaves from Maggie . Ginkos are very popular with artists. I've mentioned before that a beautiful ginko lives next door to me. I really appreciate that I can enjoy the tree and not have to deal with the leaves. They are like leather and they usually fall off all at once - within a matter of hours. Very unusual.

And below - some nice flowers from Canadian pen pal Connie.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Two Dangling Two Beaded

I think this one already ran. There are 4 in this series. Inspired by zen-dangles on Pinterest, I did Sara's first. Then I did Tina's. I was a little more thorough in filling the lines and wasn't sure that it was an improvement. I might prefer Sara's with a little more air or space between the beads.

Then I decided to do beaded names.
I tried Rebecca's first and wished I had used a larger envelope. Then came Inta's - which might be my favorite since it is a little looser. When I do multiples, I tend to like the later ones better.

Please excuse the hodgepodge of photos. If I have time, I will return and do a better post.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Vintage Stamps and a Squirrel from Janna

It was really fun to see these three stamps on an envelope. I have all three of them in my own stash. I wonder if I can get it together and send Janna an envelope with the same stamps.....

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

December DuBosch Jubilee to Connie

This photo was hiding and I don't think it's been on the blog.

I found my Pilot Parallel pen - filled with red ink. December turned into a chaotic month - so I did not get all my vintage holiday stamps used up. Maybe this year.

I love love love those red ones with the white tree.
And the Santa....

Monday, March 26, 2018

Leaves from Janet

Janet has been an artist for years. I'm not sure what all she has done - but her leaves are superb.

Even the back of the envelope is a treat.

It would be nice to get some images of some of her other envelopes. Lots of illustration. Maybe she'll send us some scans....

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Three Hendrix Envelopes

In using up the last three Jimis, I went with a big loose script. I tried a couple different layers on two of them - and then left Janet's very simple. I can't decide if I like one better than the other.

Ooops - I already posted Chuck's.

Here is how the three looked when they left the 420.
I don't remember when Chuck's appeared....

Saturday, March 24, 2018

November Exchangers Who Make Envelopes **

Finnbadger on the top, Jeanette on the bottom.

I enjoy all the envelopes that arrive. For some reason, I'm not very chatty about the ones that are folded out of printed matter. I like them - but can't really figure out what to say. Obviously, the choices of stamps are very nice. But you don't need me to point that out.

It is nice to show some variety - and probably nice to take a break from my yammering.

Nuf said.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Sunshine Quote for Sarahi *

This quote jumped out at me (on Pinterest) but after I did the envelope I figured I should see who wrote it. Anthony J. D'Angelo. You can Google him. He seems to have also written another quote that I like: The best things in life aren't things.

While I like those two quotes - a lot of his stuff is way more optimistic than I tend to be. I recently read that pessimists actually do very well at coping with adversity due to their reduced expectations.

At first I liked the sun. Then I had second thoughts. This was one of the first envelopes I did in the Jan exchange, so it is a warm up.

I will start putting an asterisk on posts that are just so-so - and if I need to insert something into pre-scheduled posts, I'll know where to insert.

Note in real time: I write these posts 8-10 weeks ahead of time. Then a week or two before, I review them to see if I sound nutty (and sometimes take time to edit). On this one, I loved the idea of the asterisk - but I had completely forgotten about it. So - another Post-It note to clutter up the front of my if I ever look at them....