Monday, February 19, 2018

Purple Calligraphy Stamps to Tina + Donald Jackson Video

Super hard to part with these stamps.

Simple colored pencil Romans.

I have not done much study of Romans. They are beautiful....and deserve more attention...maybe someday....if any beginners care to listen to my good advice - it would be to take some time and really learn your Romans.

Also, I ran across this video by Donald Jackson. It is one of two. I have not watched them yet - but I'm guessing they are interesting, if you are curious about the history of writing.

History of Writing

above - parts 1 and 2
below - part 3 and 4

History of Writing (second hr)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Spencerian Envelope Addressing - JFK

This is an example of Kathy Saunders' writing. It'a more copperplate than Spencerian. She's a long time member of IAMPETH. You may see more of her work here:

Kathy's Website

I chose this example to illustrate the link to an article about an envelope addresser who was timed at 20 seconds per envelope.

If you do the math on the claim of doing 10,000 envelopes in 40 days at 18 hours per day -- that would allow 4 minutes per envelope - and she certainly went faster than that.

It comes to 250 envelopes per day - and I know I have done that many. I would not want to do it 40 days in a row. But, I can see how it is possible.

The envelopes were for JFK's inauguration.
Fascinating for those of you who address envelopes.

Spencerian envelopes

So far I have 5 people who have responded to the survey - and the answers are very interesting. There are some strong similarities as well as some differences. I'll wait a bit to see if any more come in and then post all of them.

In case you missed it - the survey is here:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

hApPy bIRtHdAy to the BLOG - 8 years old

Oh, to be 8. I'll try to dig out a picture of me at 8. That was the year we moved from a little town on the Mississippi River (Winona) to the big city (St. Paul - not to be confused with Minneapolis). I think I was still in a good mood back then.

On this envelope, I wrote INTA. Then, somewhere before I got to SWEET, there was a spelling error, so I turned it into SWEET. I wish I had made the second INTA larger. I think these were really nice envelopes and I did not want to waste any of them. And I figured anyone who lives in the Netherlands must love sweets - and I love to draw candy. Plus, the colorful circular stamps seemed fun. Pretty random.

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my third off-spring, Hunter. He turns 30 today. Three kids - all in their 30's. Way better than having 3 teenagers, eh?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Jackie Landscape No. 5 + SURVEY QUESTIONS

Scroll down to a previous post today if you did not know that the postal rates have gone up.

The last 2 envelopes in this series do look like landscapes. I have forgotten to mention Jackie's nicely lettered addresses. I am not sure what style I would call her caps. They are very stylish. Reminder to my students to work on your simple manuscript lettering. Hopefully you can see how the loveliness of the lettering is a huge part of the success of this envelope.


If any of my readers have time - please copy and paste this list of questions into an email - and send your responses to me at
jmwilson 411 (at) yahoo [dot] com
Feel free to add details and stories to any question that triggers either the joy or anguish associated with writing.

For anyone who is not familiar with my personal definition of penmanship, calligraphy, lettering - for the purposes of this survey, this is my definition:

Penmanship is your printing or script that you use for everyday writing with regular pens or pencils and there is little or no variation in thicks and thins (called mono-line) - unless you use a brush tip.

Calligraphy is when you head into the territory of changing your penmanship to reflect something very specific. It may range from very traditional to very contemporary - but the contemporary has some relationship to a traditional style. While it may be done with a mono-line pen, it is often done with ink and nibs - either broad edge nibs or pointed nibs.

Lettering is everything else. I seldom put scripts into the lettering category. To me lettering is often based on fonts or very unusual ways of constructing an alphabet.

Writing - If those three categories are too confusing - you may just talk about your relationship with writing.

 The questions:

Do you recall being interested in the alphabet at an early age, if so what age?
Do you recall being interested in penmanship at an early age, if so what age?
Do you recall being interested in calligraphy at an early age, if so what age?
Was there a person or a book you ran across that had a big influence on your path?
Did you discover lettering/penmanship/calligraphy at a much later age?

What do you enjoy most about writing?
What do you find most frustrating about writing?
Do you have a specific goal?
Can you describe any ah-ha moment where you discovered something that really helped with your journey?

If you have taken classes, do you recall why you signed up for your first class?
Have your classes met or exceeded your expectations?
Do think we all start with equal potential?
Why do you think some people catch on faster than others?
Is anyone truly *hopeless* (at improving their penmanship)?

A while back I was pondering doing profiles of any pen pals who would be interested in sharing their stories with the readers. Or, I suppose I could go first. I'll label this follow-up - and maybe follow up on the idea.

US Postage Rate Went up to 50-cents for 1 oz

Unrelated visual. Unrelated to postage. The comment does relate to my dis-interest in the Olympics. I admire people who are obsessed at that level. I can relate to being obsessed at that level. But, every single activity just looks like increasing your odds of being injured.

Alert pen pal Jeri alerted me to the raise in postal rates.

Some went up Jan 21st.

I think I sent some exchange envelopes with only 49-cents.

This is just another reason to get rid of all my vintage stamps and stick with the forevers.

It looks like international - 1-oz - is still $1.15
Postcards went up to 35-cents.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Jackie Landscape No. 4

OK - this one is the least landscape-y of the entire group but it is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Thanksgiving to Phillip

I'm a little shocked at my lettering on this one. But, I suspect it was one of the first ones where I was trying to make friends with the huge stack of shimmer envelopes that I can't bring myself to throw away.

That drawing on the bottom was something straight off Pinterest. I liked the way they drew the oak leaves. Sorry I did not save the source. That's really egregious of me. But, when I am in a stealing mode it is because I've let something seep into my central calming zone and if I don't nip it in the bud it can get out of hand and I start doing things I regret.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

August Exchange from JeanR - music collage

This one was really interesting to examine. I think she adhered some used stamps...and some other rectangles cut from magazines or maps....and then used a rubber stamp over the top. There is a postmark on the back and the bar code on the front and no cancel on the stamp. I usually recognize Jean's envelopes because she does a lot of pointed pen work - so this one was a nice surprise. Nice stamp. Really goes with the craftsman lettering. Or art nouveau? Rennie Mackintosh. What was he?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Black from Kathy

The design reminds me of both flowers as well as fireworks. It might be something else. Something astronomical. These kinds of envelopes really inspire me to get my hoarded vintage stamps out the door so I can justify more Forever stamps.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Using Up the Indiana Stamps

Great colors.
Tried bold printing with an in-line detail. Inline is the opposite of outline.

Then I switched to script snd layered with gel pens.

And finally - tried colored pencils. They needed some more blending. Sometimes they look OK in person, but not OK in the photo.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bonus Post - Alan Blackman

Today's regular post is below.

Miss Cathy sent me the link to a talk given by Alan Blackman. I have not watched it yet but I am sure it is wonderful. I was introduced to Alan's envelopes very early in my calligraphic journey. They inspired me to dive into this world of envelopes.'s Saturday...a day to kick back and kill a hour. Or an hour and 40 minutes.

Alan Blackman

If it turns out that there are no images of his envelope on the video - then you probably need to Google *Alan Blackman envelopes* to get an idea of how spectacular they area.

A startling number of envelopes from this blog show up when you Google's nice to rub elbows with one of the people who inspired me the most.

Carroll & KateR - Last of Sept Exchange Envelopes

Carroll has a big splash of color that looks like some kind of paint. Then she added a house and some flowers.
A nice collection of elements that looks like it might have grown without a lot of pre-planning.

The last envelope (of the Sept exchange) to pair looks like it came from the opposite direction where things were pretty well planned out from the beginning.

It's nice to know how to be able to work both ways. Start spontaneous and then pull it together. Or - start with everything in order and then fling all caution to the wind and do something wild. In the case of Kate's below - her *wild* part is the addition of two white doo-dads. They add just the right amount of *something.*

There is a stray *ear* down by the d in Des Moines. I don't think Kate put that on the envelope. I think that came from somewhere else. But, if Kate did add that - she has some explaining to do. What is it? I can't really figure out what it relates to....

The PO did a good job of putting both the bar code and the cancel up at the top.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Envelope Storage - Archive

The topic of storing envelopes came up on The Flourish Forum. People who are new to envelope exchanges are so excited that they start making big beautiful scrapbooks to house the envelopes they receive. That is exactly what I did more than 20 years ago when I first started exchanging. After a few years, the scrapbooks took up way too much room and I had to pull everything out and come up with a new system. I had to (chose to) edit the collection. There was a request on The Flourish Forum for images of my storage system and it occurred to me that my other pen pals might be interested as well.

My large cabinet for envelopes. Four stackable plastic drawers on top which contain the *top shelf* collection.
One drawer has been pulled down to take a photo so you only see 3 of the 4 drawers. To the right is a book case that has a few notebooks with envelopes in plastic sleeves. You can also see a slender green book sticking out that contains envelopes.
Inner sanctum of the cabinet with a few boxes of incoming mail. Some will graduate to the plastic drawers. Some will not. Editing happens when I need the space. Most of the stuff in the cabinet is blank stock for my own artwork. As I use up the art supplies, I am hoping to have room to store all the archived received mail in the the cabinet and get rid of the plastic drawers. While this may look like a disturbing hoard of art supplies, I assure you there are many people who have larger hoards. I was one of them and am very proud of the amount of excess that has gone out the door.
Plastic drawers have bundles of mail organized by theme, holiday, style of writing. There are dividers with labels. There are also a couple photo albums, pictured below. The bulk of my exchange envelopes are in drawers like this - with labeled dividers. It's easy to pull out a stack and fun to flip through them as if you are going through your mail.
Photo albums with plastic pockets. Easy to switch envelopes as needed. These are nice to take to classes where I prefer that the envelopes are protected from too much handling. Although I do take some of them to classes that are not in plastic. It's nice for students to see the real thing up close. Even the feel of ink on paper is different from markers or pens.
Another inexpensive option for envelopes where I want to display the card or letter that came with the envelope. 
On the right is a letter from Peter Thornton. It might be nice to have the letter and envelope on facing pages, but I prefer to have them both in one plastic sleeve in case I want to pull just a few to take to a class or rearrange them or add a page in the middle. Being able to edit and rearrange is essential to me. I highly recommend building in some flexibility as you figure out which method of archiving works for you. 
On the left you can see the envelope from Peter Thornton. You can also see the bleed through from the letter. It is not ideal to have the business sized envelope turned on end. But a big square 12x12 (30x30) scrapbook (which is what I started with) is so cumbersome.
I much prefer the standard 9x12 (22x30) notebooks.
On the left is a letter from Bob Hurford. The envelope has been grouped with some other Spencerian examples. Envelopes and enclosures do not have to stay together. On the right is an envelope from Sheila Waters. It would not be archived except it came from Sheila. There was a notecard inside which is opened so that it can be read on the flip side. I like how I can see her artwork on this side as well as read the note on the other side. A lot of mail, including envelopes will have things you want to see on both sides, which is another reason that plastic sleeves are so handy. If you commit to gluing things into a scrapbook, you lose the option to see both sides - not to mention losing the option to rearrange easily.
This is my cumbersome 12x12 book of all the mailings I did for my daughter's wedding. I started designing wedding invitations when she was in 5th grade. It was a long haul waiting for her to find Mr. Right. Luckily, Mr. Right had a very good design sense and all three of us had a blast designing a total of 11 mailings as well as a program, menu, table numbers and place cards. Since some of the envelopes were business sized, the book needed to be 12x12 (30x30). This accordion style book works very well for smaller sized scrapbooks.
I left the front cover unattached so that the whole book could be unfurled to display all of the pages. I brought it to Round Robin night at one of the IAMPETH Conferences. 
This shows the pages being unfurled - a top view.
Front view of most of the book.
Close up of a few pages.

And I can hear a couple of you saying - how could you come up with 11 mailings to a wedding.
save the date
reply card and I wrote in the guests names on all the reply cards because I did not want to see any bad penmanship
a small note card letting them know a gift had been received and that a personal note would follow
a bridal shower invitation
a couples shower invitation
a bachelorette party invitation (the bachelor declined the offer of invitations - and sent emails)
a rehearsal dinner invitation
a Sunday morning brunch invitation
a special mailing that went out the week before the wedding that simply said - see U soon
it was just for fun - and it was worth it because so many people came up to me at the reception and said they were going to miss getting mailings from us
the actual thank you

on the couples first anniversary, they had moved to Australia. so I made postcards, put stamps on them and sent them to the guests who had been at the wedding and asked them to write a note to the couple and drop it in the mail. my daughter and son-in-law really enjoyed receiving the postcards. so, technically - it was 12 mailings. Fortunately it was not a large wedding. Only 100 invitations went out. and there were about 20% who did not attend. some of the mailings were quite small - like the showers and bachelorette party.

Quick and Easy Valentine Idea from Jeri

There is still time to get some valentines in the mail. Here is a quick and easy idea that would work with any stamp of combination of stamps. Once again, Jeri can make hers come out exactly right. I need to make a road trip and see how she has her stamps organized. It just occurred to me that if they are organized by denomination - that would make it a whole lot easier to come up with the right amount.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

CarolC and Janet - Exchangers

Carol, on top, and Janet, below, sent these two for the September exchange. Both are inspired by growing things, flowers, leaves, etc. The colors are similar and they are both from Utah.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Green Copic to Eric

Before and After. I scanned this one and then added some detail before it went in the mail.
I should have added white.
This is what it looked like when Eric received it:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Grace's Clouds & Chuck's Mushrooms

The lettering and cloud is marker and I'm guessing she used colored pencil for shading. The way the paper's texture is revealed is so cool.

These two were paired for color and because they are both business sized envelopes. Also, the stamps relate nicely.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Iowa Stamps to Several Exchangers

So difficult to part with my Iowa stamps. When this pops up, it will have been 3 months since they left home. I'll be curious to know if I have mailer's remorse.

I'll post all of them at once since I do not think any of them are stellar. Showing them together does give you an idea of how to play around with similar elements.

I used walnut ink and the green squares are made with the really wide Copic markers pictured below.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Lynne's Waves & Eric's Map

As a big fan of white space, this one really caught my eye.

At first, I did not think there would be any envelope to pair with it until I saw the map from Eric. His map could have gone with the pirate map but I thought it was fun to pair with Lynne's waves.

There is a bonus post right below if you have time to kill today.

Bonus Post for Super Bowl Sunday - French Penmanship

A link to this book on penmanship popped up on The Flourish Forum. My head almost exploded reading some of the detailed directions on how to execute this style.

If you are not into football or commercials, this could easily take a couple hours to digest. If you find a quill to trim - maybe 3 hours. Five or six hours if you have to go find a goose. Or a turkey.

French Penmanship

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Cinema Stamps for Bug - white space

Most of the envelopes by me this month are from the November exchange. I had some nice envelopes and had done some Roman lettering in a class. There is also an endless supply of orphan stamps to use up.

This one is simple and I don't recall what I was thinking about - just puttering. Not stealworthy, but not wretched.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Jackie Landscape No. 3

This one is less landscape-y but I will leave it in the group as it will be a nice set to look at - if anyone ever clicks on the labels....

Thursday, February 1, 2018


If you just saw the sign-up for the april post - it was an accidental post - ignore it.
February sign up is right below.

Here is a bonus post. I love Inta's penmanship and even found an exemplar - now to find time to practice it....

February Exchange Sign Up (Cathy O - basketball)

It is time to sign up for the February 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. This is an envelope exchange.

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 Feb.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). 

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 February, 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 February 4. Lists will be sent on Feb 5th or 6th. Please get your envelopes in the mail by February 28th. 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.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Maggie and Inta - Exchangers

Maggie gets a gold star for using one of the fonts I posted. Although she could easily have found it on her own as it pops up on Pinterest all the time. I love it and I love cactus themed anything. Must be my somewhat prickly temperament.

Maggie is paired with Inta. I love the J on Jean in her regular penmanship. The paper seems to be recycled from a magazine. It is a very cool image. She also included a lovely collage.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

1st Birthday Invitation ( + Ursula K. Le Guin )

The idea for the zip code banner came from Pinterest. There are multiple variations.

Because they are square envelopes, they need extra postage - so two stamps are a fun way to make a donation to the PO.

Side note to the BigHelpfulBrother and anyone else who has been a fan of Ursula K. Le Guin. First, I must note that I only have 7 other blogs on My Blog List. Four of them are pen pals and of those 4 only 2 post with any frequency. I recently added the off-topic guy who does a photo of miniatures every single day - because I was drawn to both his photos and anyone who is as compulsive as I am as posting every single day.

Then - there is Eyes Wide Open who made the list because of one style she does - and she rarely posts. No. 7 is Cari Ferraro. She is just one of many scribes who could have made the list. I have never met Cari and she does not post very often. But her most recent post is very interesting - about crossing paths with Ursula K. Le Guin. I enjoyed the part of her story where she was not familiar with Ursula's work when she first met her. I am not familiar with Ursula's work - but Cari's post has made me curious. Ursula has been added to the *might get around to this someday* list.

I will refrain from babbling on about how Tinky Winky and Ursula died on the same day. Although, if you were a fan, you'll probably want to Google.