Letters of Thanks and Encouragement

Hard times bring the chance to come together. With so many people affected by the natural disasters of this Summer, there are so many letter writing opportunities. Why not gather some of your favorite people for some comforting togetherness and a little letter-writing to express gratitude to all the inspiring folks on the front lines of helping, from those involved in animal rescue to teachers ushering children to safety to politicians working for necessary firefighting resources, to those in the coast guard working in risky conditions?

Portland firefighters at Multnomah Falls via Willamette Week

Portland firefighters at Multnomah Falls via Willamette Week

We loved learning about the the Holy Smoke Thank You Letter Campaign where Southern Oregon kids have been writing thank you cards to firefighters which are packed in their lunches along with Calamine lotion.

The firefighters have been fighting for us like our whole entire lives,” Eager exclaimed graciously.

Aside from the good that letters of support provide for the recipient, writing letters to those dealing with hardship can also help us from feeling powerless and even improve our mood and anxiety in unsure times.

Need some tips and inspiration for hosting a get together?

  • Gather addresses to have on hand for animal rescue groups, fire stations, Governors -- whoever you're moved to write to.
  • The purpose might be serious but the mood doesn't need to be! Check out our letter-writing playlist.
  • Pass the hat and raise some funds for the charity of your choice. While letters are important and care packages are well-intentioned, the need for funds is great and every little bit counts.

SUMMER OF HAPPY MAIL!

Hello August, when did you get here? This month's post provides an inside look at what Write_On partner, Hello!Lucky is up to this summer. Read on for tips and inspiration to keep your writing strong all summer long!

Eunice Moyle of Hello!Lucky constructing a card inspired by the Happy Mail book

Eunice Moyle of Hello!Lucky constructing a card inspired by the Happy Mail book

Sabrina Moyle of Hello!Lucky writing a letter to summer pen pal, Andie

Sabrina Moyle of Hello!Lucky writing a letter to summer pen pal, Andie

Does anyone else romanticize summer? Turns out it’s not all sunscreen and s’mores...or if it is, please share your secret!  It’s time to slow down and soak it up.  One way we like to pump the brakes is by writing to our friends and family. We’ve created the Summer Pen Pal Challenge to help you recharge and reconnect. To get the creative juices flowing, check out the new Happy Mail tab on our website for pro tips, tricks and inspiration! You'll find FREE downloadable letter-writing prompts, coloring pages, stickers, and hand-lettering practice pages like these...

Andie and Lyla, our summer pen pals!

Andie and Lyla, our summer pen pals!

Join our Summer Pen Pal Challenge and be entered to win a copy of Happy Mail and Sakura of America pens! Check-in with us at the end of summer and let us know how your pen pal experience went and you’ll automatically enter to win!

Send letters here by September 1st:

Hello!Lucky | P.O Box 170605 | San Francisco, CA | 94117

For more inspiration, follow us on Instagram- @helloluckycards! We're sharing all kinds of ideas through our Instagram story and our #summerofhappymail campaign!

Happy Mail is more than just writing, it’s an art! Hand-lettering is easy to dive into, even for new artists, and Happy Mail is here to take your DIY projects to the next level! Now accepting preorders! Find out more about the book here.

Let Freedom Write!

Today is the 4th of July. Backyards fill with smoke from the grill, wedges of watermelon chill in buckets on the lawn, and American flag themed sheet cakes with bright blueberry stars and broad raspberry stripes are the norm. When night falls, the dark sky erupts in flame and boom, and we celebrate our independence.

Egg Press' Lady Liberty Postcard Set shines a light on friendship, freedom, hope, and democracy.

Egg Press' Lady Liberty Postcard Set shines a light on friendship, freedom, hope, and democracy.

With liberty as our beacon, the Write_On team is taking this time to pay homage to one of our most cherished freedoms — speech — in a more quiet way, by writing letters. The privilege to put onto paper our truths and send them into the world without being intercepted while en route (this was not necessarily the case prior to the establishment of the United States Postal Service that we know and love today * ) allows us to share knowledge and become informed, educated humans, family members, friends, and citizens of the world.

When we send our letters — not only to loved ones — but to civic leaders and influencers, our voices have the opportunity to be heard, and to make a difference; our words possess the power to shape the world.

So, on this 4th of July, we invite you to consider your freedom to write. What is it that you have to say? Who needs to hear it? Whatever it is, may freedom ring, in every word.

What will your Freedom Letters looks like? Here are some ideas to get you started. Why not write...

  • A letter to an elected official to thank them for their work, or to advocate for change.
  • A thank you to a mentor who bolstered your sense of self worth by helping you discover your own unique voice.
  • A letter to yourself; a confession of the ways in which you wish you felt more free.
  • A letter to the Write_On team. You know we love hearing from you, and are eager to know what freedoms you most cherish.

* Roman Mars “ The Revolutionary Post” Podcast.  99% Invisible. Episode 244. January 24, 2017.

Write_On Youth!

Some favorite new "Reasons to Write", courtesy of 4th graders at Lewis Elementary:

  1. To ask the animal shelter for an exception to their rule that volunteers be at least 12 years old.

  2. To arrange a playdate!

  3. To write a letter to your pet. In their own language. "Dear George, Meow, purr, meow, meow."

The letter-writing experiences that others share via social media keep us motivated each year, but no one has inspired us more during this year's campaign than a certain group of 4th graders. For the second April in a row, Write_On donated letter-writing supplies to Portland's Lewis Elementary. Teacher Mark Richner (Lewis Room 20) devised an entire curriculum around the month-long Write_On campaign by working all sorts of lessons into the project ranging from time-management skills (they collectively decided upon when in the day would work best to write daily letters) to innovative card design (they watched a video of the die-cut process we employ at Egg Press as inspiration for creating their own cut-out cards!).

With enthusiasm and perseverance, they kept it up, even through a power outage that had the whole class writing in the dark. Congratulations to all the 4th graders at Lewis Elementary for completing the Write_On Challenge! And thank you for the truly extraordinary thank you letters you sent us. You are one talented bunch and we treasure them!

Every time we received a letter you felt warm.
— Sawyer
Thank you for the fun you gave me to look forward to every morning. I loved the thankful smiles and thankful words I got from the people I gave letters to.
— Joe
Handwritten cards are important because loved ones that are millions of miles away, that you don’t get to see everyday, have something to say to you.
— Mimi
Writing letters made me way more confident with writing letters. It was an uplifting feeling to come out of the day and have a letter to help me stay up.
— Naomi

 

 

 

Stamp It Send It + Write_On

 
Sarah of Stamp It Send It is a Snail Mail Queen and Master Pen Pal who sends out over 500 pieces of mail every year! We asked Sarah to share some of her creative ideas with us on how to repurpose all the mail you received during Write_On. You can follow her adventures in letter-writing on Instagram: @stampitsendit. Thank you Sarah!

Writing mail and sending letters is amazing, but I think the best part of this exchange is receiving beautiful handmade mail and being surprised when you see it in your mailbox. 

One of the most frequent questions that I get from fellow penpals and concerned friends is what do I do with the mail I receive after I respond? That's why the great ladies at Egg Press and Write_On are letting me share some ideas to re-use and recycle mail you get too!

Usually when I write and send mail, I like to wait to open my incoming mail until I can sit down and fully respond. As I do so, I save parts and papers that I think I can re-use in future letters. Such as, saving trim on a cute stationery paper, or fancy scrapbook paper from a card and I almost always cut the fronts off of cards and sew them onto new blank cards, because it gives my cards a fun look and a second life. 

 

Flip letters are also a great way to utilize scraps because you can tape down pieces that have been written on to hide that they're being re-utilized or use them as the flaps to add detail and layers. Seen here, I used the inside of an envelope from a bill because those patterns are always fun and colorful. 

 

Pocket letters are also super fun to create and send. Purchasing or thrifting old baseball card or business card plastic holders is easy and cheap and then you cut and place nine different papers, pictures, or little goodies in each of the sleeves. Seen here, I included some cut stickers, an old map, a picture of me and my boyfriend, and playing card with washi tape samples -- but the options you can include are endless. Since the sleeves are two sided, you can use a piece of paper that has a note on the back and then cover it with another and no one would know! Even better, you can fold the plastic sleeve itself into thirds and fit in a standard legal envelope and it's only a 49 cent stamp to send (typically). 

 

I feel a lot of pressure at times to hold onto each persons letters, because so much time and care goes into each handmade item and it's also a story -- I just haven't found myself ever looking back again at an old letter. I just like to save special words and anecdotes or pieces of handwritten parts, and have found that's enough. However, I know of several friends that have a folder for each penpal and keep each letter organized that way. Whatever your routine is, establish what works best for you and that it is always inspiring and helpful to your process. That's what I always comfort myself with when I gently rip apart, save pieces and ultimately discard a letter. I hope my friends aren't offended and that they like that their work is getting shared with new members of the snail mail community. 

Moving forward, I hope this post has helped you to look at your mail in a new way and inspire you to grab a glass of wine and write to someone today. 

Postcrossing

We're really excited to share today's blog post with you--read on and prepare to catch the Postcrossing bug! Over the past 4 years of hosting the Write_On Campaign we've made so many interesting connections with other passionate letter-writers and letter-writing groups around the world. One of these is Postcrossing, an international postcard exchange program, which at over 41 million postcards sent is hardly a niche community. We had so much fun teaming up with them on a giveaway last year and this year we wanted to share more about this amazing community and resource with Write_On participants. Thank you to Ana Campos, the Postcrossing community manager, who has graciously agreed to share more about Postcrossing with us.

And thank you also to Alexey of @posting2you for sharing the wonderful photos for this post. You can follow Alexey's Postcrossing adventures on Instagram. So far he has posted from 64 countries including North Korea, Cuba, Australia, Sri Lanka, and most recently Turkmenistan (!!). He tries to post a card from every country that he visits and shares with us a fantastic tour of beautiful postal boxes around the world along with interesting trivia about each country's postal systems.

How did Postcrossing get started?

Postcrossing was started by Paulo Magalhães, in the summer of 2005. Back then, Paulo was an IT student doing his internship with a tech company in Portugal, and on his free time, he started to play with the idea of Postcrossing. He loved receiving mail, and especially postcards, but there's only so many postcards you can send to your own friends and expect to get something back... so he wondered whether there were perhaps other people out there who, like him, enjoyed sending and receiving postcards but had no one to connect with. Little by little, he shaped and coded this idea into an online platform where people from everywhere could connect with the goal of exchanging postcards. He invited a few friends to join, and they invited a few friends, who invited a few friends... and 44 million postcards later, here we are! :)
 

I’m #posting2you from Vienna, #Austria! What a place to feel the excitement of coming Christmas!

Half of the over 44 million postcards sent have come from Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, Russia, and the USA. Any theories about why Postcrossing is so popular in certain countries?

There are different reasons for why Postcrossing is more popular in some countries than others and it's often a combination of different factors. In some of them, it might be just because they're huge countries (Russia, USA), while in others it probably comes from a deeply ingrained letter-writing culture (Finland) and in others still, the postal service understands the value of Postcrossing and works with us to promote it (Germany, Netherlands).

The popular countries do change over time though, as word spreads in waves — a long time ago, every second card seemed to come from either Portugal or Brazil for instance, and that is not the case now.

Sri Lanka is the only nation that writes the country’s name ON ITS STAMPS in three different languages - Sinhalese, Tamil and English.


Penpals are often considered a childhood activity. Do many kids use Postcrossing?

There are lots of schools and children on Postcrossing — and we think that's amazing! Postcards are small and informal enough that writing one isn't as daunting for a child as writing a whole letter could be, and sometimes there's even space for them to use their creative skills. Receiving a postcard offers a number of learning opportunities as well — from the postcard image to the message or even the stamp themes. Many teachers use the postcards they send and receive to encourage their classes to practice their English skills or to discover more about other places. It's one thing to read about the pyramids in a geography book... but it's much nicer to receive a real postcard from Egypt, from someone who is there and can tell you about them first-hand, right?

The project is just as popular with grandmas though — and everyone in between! :) We make sure Postcrossing is a welcoming community to people of all countries and ages, regardless of their religious, political or cultural backgrounds.
 

China. It is really hard to find a person who can speak English in China. Same with the local post - to send a postcard from a Chinese post office to another country without knowledge of Chinese or an interpreter - mission impossible!

Any tips on what should you write to a complete stranger?

Anything that is on your mind, or that you find interesting because odds are, your recipient will find it interesting as well! Most towns have something that makes them unique or special: a discovery that happened there, an important person who lived nearby, or maybe even a unique confectionery that everyone should try!

I personally enjoy receiving a glimpse of what a day looks like for someone who is on the other side of the world... what did they have for lunch today? What are they studying right now? What was one nice or surprising thing that happened to them today?

#posting2you from Mother #Russia

Do many first postcards lead to a lasting correspondence?

Yup! People often discover that "strangers" across the world have a lot more in common with them than they expected... and after a first conversation via postcard, they end up exchanging more postcards or even emails and letters. Some eventually meet and become friends in "real life". We've told a few of these stories here: https://www.postcrossing.com/blog/tag/friendship
 

The Andorra postal service is provided by both Spanish and French authorities. The card that I sent to my mother with the French post arrived one month earlier then the card that I sent in the same day to my dad (same address) with the Spanish post.

Any advice for keeping a letter-writing practice going?

Just do it! As they say, "you need to send a letter to get a letter". To me, just the act of settling down with my stationery to send someone a surprise is as rewarding as receiving something in the mail. The fact that I know I'm about to make someone happy brings me immense joy!
 

#posting2you from #Estonia! Sent through a retro Soviet era #postbox. How many of them are preserved in ex-Soviet republics?

I was happy to visit a lovely Postal museum in Estonia in the city of Tartu.

What's your most memorable Postcrossing story?

There are just so many to choose from! From marriages to community-organised meetups in unusual places (such as on desert islands or trains!), dozens of friendship stories, stamps issued to honour the project, collaborations with schools, libraries and museums...

One collaboration we are especially proud of happened with a school in Tuvalu, one of the smallest nations in the world. The teachers and students there wanted to mark Earth Day by bringing the world's attention to the plight of their country, which, due to climate change is at risk of soon being "swallowed" by the rising sea levels. We've helped them register on Postcrossing, and over several years they've sent 811 postcards from their tiny island to the whole world! And of course, they also received the same amount of postcards, and the children were ecstatic to see the world through all the cards they've received. Tuvalu is one of the most remote places in the world (halfway between Hawaii and Australia), so giving those children a chance to see what is out there outside of their tiny island was very rewarding. You can read more about it here: https://www.postcrossing.com/blog/tag/tuvalu

Ashgabat is a city that is included in the Guinness Book of Records as the most white-marble city in the world. In an impressive architectural re-styling effort led by the government of Turkmenistan, an area measuring 22 km² (8.49 mi²) in the capital Ashgabat boasts 543 new buildings clad with 4,513,584 m² (48,583,619 ft²) of white marble. This looks so impressive that to avoid anything that can distract visitor’s attention, there are no commercial advertisements in the city or other things that spoil the impression from the city. The government decided to remove all green postboxes from the noble marble buildings. So, if you want to send a postcard, you need to pass it directly to the lady who is working in the post office.

Once becoming independent in 1991, Turkmenistan self-isolated from the world and had no influence from globalization. Local girls are not wearing jeans, but still wear the beautiful national dress. The girl in the photo here wears the official Turkmen Post uniform.

Conquer The (Tiny) Blank Page

We asked Devin Redmond of Leafcutter Designs to give us a few tips on tackling text, no matter the size of your canvas! Read on for big time inspiration! 

It’s easy to think of creativity as an expansive free flowing exercise of raw imagination. It’s sometimes described as a spring inside you, from which ideas simply bubble forth and demand to be released into the world. Every once in a while, I’ll sit down to write a letter and the pen just seems to have a mind of its own. I already know what I want to say, and the right words keep stepping up at just the right moment. I love it when this happens!

But more often than not, the blank page engages me in a quiet staring contest. Its pure white expanse simply affords too many options. In these moments, I benefit from the imposition of creative constraints.

Sometimes its a writing prompt, like one from our Letters To My series, that gets me started. Other times, I’ll turn to our Worlds Smallest Post Service Kit and pull out a sheet of tiny writing paper and the included .005 Micron pen. Knowing I have only limited space to craft an entire letter forces me to boil my message down to its stripped away core. Word choice becomes essential; introductions and explanations fatal. Say only what you mean, and nothing else!

Ernest Hemingway intuitively knew about the focusing power of constraints when he famously challenged himself to write a novel in only six words. David Bowie knew this too, when he brought a set of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies into the recording studio. Take away the 140 character constraint, and Twitter is just another run-of-the-mill online publisher. Without limits and boundaries, even our most creative minds can easily get lost in the wilderness.

While there will always be an essential role for long form writing, keeping it short is an art form all its own. It takes practice to master. To paraphrase Pascal's 360-year-old witticism (or more recently Mark Twain, according to urban legend), “I would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have enough time."

If you want to play with length as a creative constraint in your own letter writing, or just love the sight of these mini-missives and tiny packages, go for it! Here are three ways you can use the World’s Smallest Post Service Kit to spread joy and surprise to friends and family.

  1. Challenge yourself to write a six-word letter/poem to each of your closest friends. Six words only. No more, no less. See if they reply with brevity or long-windedness. This idea is inspired by Hemingway, SMITH Magazine’s Six-Word Memoirs project, and the emerging flash fiction genre.
     
  2. Plan a tiny-themed party and send everyone tiny invitations. Make miniature bags of popcorn and serve tea a sip at a time. We did this at the Leafcutter studio not too long ago!
     
  3. Resolve to give small gifts of wit and ingenuity, instead of material goods, for your friends’ birthdays this year. Find a small inexpensive object, like a square of chocolate or a toy compass. Think up a sweet or sassy message, like “There’s nothing semi about you and me,” or “Wherever you go, I’m sure to follow." Wrap it up in an exquisitely detailed tiny package!

What are your favorite creative constraints when it comes to letter writing?

Sneak Peek: Happy Mail

Post by Hello!Lucky

Don't let your stationery budget stop you from completing the Write_On challenge. Get creative with DIY cards & envelopes! Nothing makes us happier than creating a fun, fabulous card to send. 

Take your own spin off this project and share it with #write_on! We'd love to see what you come up with. 

Variations to try: Thanks!!!!  Sorry!!!  Yaaas!!!!  Oops!!!!  Wow!!!!

Materials:

  • 8.5” x 11” sheet of white cardstock (we recommend multimedia or hot press watercolor paper - a paper suitable for watercolor)
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Watercolor paints
  • Container for water
  • Brush
  • Black crayon
  • Ruler
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting mat or magazine
  • A7 white envelope

Card:

  1. Make your card!  Fold a piece of cardstock in half and using a craft knife, ruler and cutting mat or magazine, cut the card down to 5” x 7”, folded.

  2. Using a pencil, draw the word YAY very lightly across the top half of the card. Pro tip:  If you are feeling uncertain about your hand-lettering skills, type up your message, using a font you like, to fit in a 5” x 7” space and print it out.  Place the type on a window with the front of the card over it and trace the letters onto your card.

  3. With a brush and watercolor paints, paint each letter.  Let dry completely.

  4. Using a black crayon, add smiley faces and exclamation points.

Envelope:

  1. Draw a grid pattern on the inside of the envelope with a black crayon cutting off the pattern along the glue line of the envelope to create the illusion of an envelope liner.

Coming out this September, our new book, Happy Mail is full of fun, fabulous projects, featuring hand-lettering and doodles that are super accessible and so Hello!Lucky

The book includes bonus cards, self-mailing letters, and stickers at the back that are inspired by the projects. The projects are simple, utilizing craft supplies you already have, and provide step-by-step instructions to let your creativity flow! Whoever is lucky enough to get your mail is going to be over the moon.

If you'd like to see more, the book is now available to preorder at your local bookstore or online here and here


Happy letter-writing...and Write_On!

What's On Your Desk

Written correspondence is the physical manifestation of the connection between us and people who matter. Letters, notes, or postcards are tangible objects we tend to return to over and over again — and, if you’re like us, a lot of these letters have established a special place somewhere on your desk.

This week on the blog, Mohawk Paper — they made the paper your Write_On kit is printed on, and are self-proclaimed paper nerds! — asked this question: Why do certain letters stand the test of time? To find out, they asked Sarah Schwartz, editor of Stationery Trends and The Paper Chronicles, to share some of the objects on her desk and why she can’t seem to part with them. Read on to hear from Sarah directly, and gain a glimpse into her paper-rich world.

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Mohawk asked me to write a #WhatsOnYourDesk post. My assignment: To examine our continuing allegiance to the cards, letters, envelopes and postcards that dress our desks, even as the death knell for paper is sounded by the pundits that make such claims for the millionth time.

To my mind, Mohawk couldn’t have asked a better person to write this, as my allegiance to paper borders on addiction. Actually, who am I trying to kid, there’s no healthy border here! You see, I started covering the stationery industry 20 years ago, and that’s given me ample time to accumulate a lot of ephemera.

Every piece has a story behind it, and for that reason it’s hard to part with. Further complicating this issue is the fact that there’s a steady stream of paper coming into my office each day.  Just when I have a handle on everything, the postman comes and I have a new bundle of treasures.

This is so steady, in fact, that if I don’t stay on top of it, the papers threaten to ascend to hoarder-like proportions. This is an easy situation to let fester — it will take a lot of time before I risk injury from a towering pile of letters — but I was forced to deal with it a few weeks back, when we started remodeling my home office. I waited until the last minute before moving my iMac up to my temporary working quarters — our dining room table — and then I had to make a lot of snap decisions about the letters, postcards, stationery samples, promotional pieces and business cards populating my desk.

That difficult task completed, and the most precious of the precious safely put away, I was able to face a new day with a mercifully blank slate. This is me we’re talking about, however, so it didn’t start truly blank — that would have been downright depressing.

Sugar Paper sent me one of their dreamy planners over the holidays, and not to digress, but it’s made me a planner person. Their chic chambray model — embossed with my initials in gold on the cover, no less — will sit prominently on my desk all year.

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Just as interesting, however, enclosed with the planner was one of their signature gold-foil-edged and letterpressed flat cards. The message reminds me to watch not just my morning attitude, but my attitude whenever my eyes happen to fall upon it.


I’m truly lucky to receive a lot of actual notes, and every one is a glimpse into the sender’s personality and taste. Even for those in the business, it takes a lot of motivation to actually write a note, find my address and mail it, so I appreciate everyone I receive. Over the past few weeks, I’ve received two I’m not ready to put away yet.

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The first comes from Kalyn of Effie’s Paper, thanking me for including their fun pin in our inaugural Trend of the Month Club at Stationery Trends. I think of these notes as little ego boosts; just glancing at them mid-crisis gives me confidence to put out fires big and small.  

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And there’s a note from LovePop’s Wombi, who I met in January at the Atlanta Gift Show. Even though I saw all their magnificent cards in their booth, when it comes to paper engineering, there is nothing quite like taking one of these intricately crafted creations out of the envelope and seeing it come to life in your own hands (with a great message, no less).

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Finally, my desk tends to reflect my daughter’s school curriculum. Unsurprisingly, I also have a lot of trouble getting rid of her papers — to me they represent a special snapshot of time that will pass too quickly. In a few weeks she’s being tested on the US states, so one of her home practice runs has a prominent spot. I know I’m not the only Mom with a sentimental attachment to their child’s handwriting — I can almost hear her voice looking at it.

What is most magical about the papers on my desk — and yes, I said magical — is that they’re always in flux. As soon as I put a letter away to be mounted in an album someday, another equally compelling missive appears. They keep me company and offer me welcome distraction as I labor away — and always remind me of the possibilities and wonder of paper.

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#WhatsOnYourDesk: Join along! Share your stories and images about the goodies on your desk using the hashtag.

Post by Mohawk Paper & Sarah Schwartz

Together, We Write

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We know that the act of writing letters helps us develop a better understanding of ourselves, which is a nice side effect of connecting with others. This year, we wanted to dig deeper still and see what we might learn by taking what is often considered a solitary act into a more public arena. Our launch events in Portland and San Francisco proved that there is indeed magic and power in the act of writing together. 

Write_On + Schoolhouse Electric

Portlanders kicked off the Write_On Challenge in partnership with Schoolhouse Electric once again this year in their beautiful showroom. The energy was nothing short of magnetic.  This sold-out event attracted letter-writing enthusiasts of all ages, who convened at the table, on the floor, and on couches  — all in the name of letters! 

As guests gathered for a meaningful evening of putting pen to paper, they fortified themselves with wine from Union Wine Co., brews from Occidental Brewing, delicious bites by Artemis Foods and candy magic from Quin.  In honor of all things analog, DJ Aquaman provided the perfect vinyl soundtrack to the evening. Guests were invited to participate in a new activity this year by writing a "Letter to their Future Self." Next year, Egg Press will mail back all of the author's letters to themselves. But for now, they are safe and sound in a letter time-capsule.

Huge thanks to everyone who makes Write_On a smashing success year after year, and especially to Schoolhouse Electric for their generous spirit and inspiring space. We hope you enjoy the following moments as captured by resident Write_On photographer, Christa Fowles.

Write_On + Ritual Coffee

What better way to hone in on a letter-writing practice than to make it part of your daily ritual. Hello!Lucky teamed up with Ritual Coffee, for a two-part letter-writing party that served as the official San Francisco Write_On kick-off. To really drive home the habit, we’re offering one card from our Write_On kit with every coffee purchase at Ritual Coffee on Haight St. and Valencia St. during the month of April. No excuses!

We were so pleased with the response we received at the Haight Street and Valencia street events.  We may be biased, but the coffee and card loving crowd might be our favorite! We gathered, we sipped, we wrote, and we did it all over again.

Special thanks to Ritual Coffee for co-hosting this Write_On event, to everyone who came out including the Sakura of America team, and to our sponsors for making Write_On possible.

 

Find a Write_On Party Near You

Although we've wrapped up our official Write_On launch parties, there’s still time to attend a community led Write_On event. Be sure to check out our Events Calendar for a look at what’s in store near you! 

Host a Write_On Party

No events in your area? Host your own letter-writing party! We've crafted the perfect hosting tool. Practically a party in a box, our Party Pack includes useful letter-writing tools, tips, and inspiration, plus a few extra gifts that you can enjoy yourself as the host, or use as party favors. We have 9 Party Packs left, which include:

  • 10 Letter-Writing Kits
  • 10 Write_On Notebooks
  • 1 Sakura of America Gelly Roll Moonlight fine point 10 pack
  • Letterpress Printed Party Tip Sheet
  • Digital Write_On Party Invitation (download)
  • Literally Letters Playlist (download)
  • 1 Write_On Enamel Pin
  • 1 Write_On Tote Bag
  • 1 Write_On Calendar with daily writing prompts
  • A sweet little pouch of die cut confetti hot off the presses

Nourishing Letters

Before the barrage of food images on our Instagram feeds, there were stories of food. There was a time when we could not, instantaneously, capture the bright white foam of a latte, or the particular way spring greens weave together on the plate, and send them to someone on the other side of a screen. If we shared an experience of food, it was with those privy to the scent, colors and textures of our nourishment—those sitting across the table from us. If we wanted to relate a dining experience to someone who was not at the table, we used words to translate the visceral experience of eating. We told food stories. Sometimes, these stories were shared via letter. Like a great meal, letters allow both the author and the recipient to slow down, and savor the moment.

I recently caught up with a good friend of mine, Katherine, in our favorite meeting spot, her kitchen.  She dished up two bowls of braised kohlrabi that she'd just pulled off the stove. She is the founder of Cook With What You Have, a resource for delicious, simple, vegetable-rich meals, so it was not at all odd to find myself enjoying a savory bowl of winter produce at 10am instead of a plate of pastries, with her. Between bites, we got up to speed on the comings and goings of our lives. For years, we'd worked together on initiatives to help people understand where their food comes from and to develop an appreciation for the people who grow it and prepare it.  So it was no surprise that much of our conversation on this morning was around food, but I also told her about the work I am now doing to encourage people to connect with one another via letters. This prompted her to pull a small blue envelope from a stack of papers on her kitchen counter. 

The outside of the envelope was marked February 10th, 1941. It was surprisingly sturdy for its age. I opened it, revealing a blue toothsome paper, on which a saturated, silky blue ink flowed across the pages like a beautiful stream, curving gently from side to side, up and down: cursive. In this letter, Katherine’s grandmother, Deborah, writes to her mother. It is a letter home. Deborah had recently moved to New York from Oregon. Now in the big city, she knew but one person, who was also a transplant from the Pacific Northwest. At one point in the letter, she describes sharing a meal with him, James Beard, or Jim, as she called him. Seated at the kitchen counter, I scooped up warm cubes of kohlrabi as Katherine read the letter to me—a story of a dinner with the Dean of American cookery. Deborah writes:

“Then I went to Jim Beard’s for supper. He is a most entertaining person. A charming apartment. Lives with a Jim Culhum—likely enough. Plus three other guests, all very delightful. A wonderful dinner done by Jim. Baked ham, delicious sweet pickled tomato sauce, French potato salad, bananas baked in rum, hot biscuits, pickled walnuts and coffee, after some good rum cocktails.”

As someone who has spent a good wedge of time pouring over James Beard cookbooks, locating the street on which he grew up in Portland, and driving to the Oregon Coast to commune with a stretch of beach where his family held sandy cookouts every summer, this letter granted a kind of kinship with James Beard that I previously thought impossible. I moved through time and space; the blue ink on manuscript paper transporting me to the New York apartment of a hero. There with Jim, I sipped a rum cocktail, plucked a pickled walnut from a delicate dish and enjoyed the warmth of a hot biscuit . That morning, a special connection was forged that defied life and death and time and space, as letters tend to do.

This month, we encourage you to share your own story of a memorable meal, an account of a time spent together at the table, or a description of a food that connects you to someone you love. Write it down. Send it off. You never know, it may end up in the hands of someone like me someday, who treasures it beyond measure.

And, if you are in Portland, Oregon, we encourage you to visit our two Write_On restaurant partners who also believe in the power that stories and food have to connect us. Pine State Biscuits and Ned Ludd are offering complimentary Write_On cards to all diners this month. Belly up to the table, enjoy a wholesome meal and make a memory with someone. Both restaurants are offering writing prompts, that, you guessed it, are all about the nourishing potential of stories.

Eat. Drink. Write_On.

Written by Lalena Dolby, Write_On Director

 

More Love Letters

When we first learned about More Love Letters, we were struck by its simplicity. You nominate someone who needs love to receive handwritten letters. That request goes out to a community of volunteers.  The letters come back, sometimes as many as 500 of them, and you deliver them in a bundle to your unsuspecting friend.  Wow.  What a powerful display of the kindness of strangers!

Reading MLL participants’ testimonials, you discover just how much letters can help people facing life’s most crushing, doubt-filled moments. A single letter communicates care and comfort. En masse, they show extraordinary solidarity, and as one participant wrote, “the goodness of humanity.”  

Recipient Valerie was in a wheelchair awaiting genetic test results and surgery when she received her letters. She writes,

I never really thought that I - or my story - was worth anything that wonderful. My sister proved me completely wrong this Thanksgiving when she surprised me with over 150 love letters from 5 different countries. I was completely in awe - all of these people, people who didn't even know me - cared about me enough to take the time out of their day to write me. Letters from people who shared my diagnosis, letters from those who shared my struggle with self-doubt, letters from those who just wanted to send a smile. Letter after letter I was flooded with the love, support, and strength I needed to face this newest medical challenge of mine. Even now it feels like a dream. I look over at my stack of letters each night and feel a brand new hope and happiness flood through me.

Writes Sarah, who requested letters for her friend Mia,

To all of those who wrote letters to Mia: thank you.  I wish I could personally look each of you in the eyes and shake your hands or give you a hug to pass on my gratitude and share just a glimpse of the love, hope, and strength that pervaded each of the notes you wrote.

More Love Letters posts new bundle requests each month here.  It’s a wonderful way to fulfill a day of the Write_On Challenge.  They’ve taken their model to college campuses via 75+ Campus Cursive chapters, with whom Write_On partner, Hello!Lucky, has teamed up to supply stationery and pens to students, to fuel the movement.

We can’t wait to see love through letters continue to grow.  In the words of Helen Keller,

Alone we can do so little. Together, we can do so much.

Envelope Dressing With Jillian Schiavi

Today on the blog, we caught up with Jillian Schiavi who presents us with tips on envelope dressing. Read on to hear from Jillian directly and see some of her work. Then, ready your pen; she makes it look so easy, we know you'll be inspired to bring your envelopes to life with beautiful strokes on paper!

When was the last time you got something in the mail that made you smile? I’m talking pure ear-to-ear grin as soon as you opened your mailbox and saw what was inside. For most of us, the only non-cringe-worthy pieces of mail we get these days are packages we’re expecting from late-night online shopping binges. And while getting a box of clothes to try on at home is nice, there’s really nothing quite like seeing your name handwritten on the front of envelope, evidence that someone thought specifically of you.

I’ve addressed countless envelopes as a professional (and slightly obsessive) calligrapher. For friends and family, for clients, political correspondence and for fun, I’ve experimented with different ideas of how to dress up these blank canvases. And what I’ve found is that while truly anything works, my favorites are simple. Black ink, white envelope, beautiful lettering.

In honor of the Write On Campaign, Sakura of America, Egg Press, Hello!Lucky and I invite you to try some of these ideas. Grab a set of Pigma Professional Brush Pens, pick the lucky recipient and your favorite gorgeously letterpressed card, and send some beauty through the post. You might just get something beautiful in return.

For this particular addressing task, I took on the challenge of using a utensil I don’t normally work with: a brush pen. For so long, this particular writing tool intimidated me. It felt elusive, uncontrollable, out of my comfort zone. And as creative people (yes, even you, you who doesn’t think they’re creative), pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones periodically is uber important. Although I’m used to using all kinds of different writing instruments - fine-tipped, felt-tipped, chalk, gel, pencil, nib-and-ink - I still get to learn how to be a lettering artist every time I try something new.

The first thing I did was experiment with how these particular brush pens release their ink. Pigma Professional Brush Pens come in three different sizes, which produces three different experiences of drawing with them. I tend to prefer thinner and more narrow lines, but for this challenge, I surprised myself by having a lot of fun with the thicker brush.

The trick here is to approach a brush pen as if it’s a traditional nib and ink calligraphy pen. Keep the downstrokes thick, and the upstrokes thin. Practice putting more pressure whenever you’re drawing top to bottom, and easing up on the pressure when you start to lead the line in an upward motion. For me, this took a lot of practice. I’d go too heavy on the upstroke, or take the brush completely off the paper and lose my flow.

Schiavi_WOBP_Downstroke.jpg

I say experiment, practice, and have fun in the process. I know that I can tend to jump too quickly into trying to make everything perfect, but the real joy comes from learning more about yourself as an artist. When you start to get the hang of using the brush pens, even if it takes you much longer than you’d anticipated, then you’re ready to break out a stack of envelopes to write on.

Just like the last post I did using Micron and Gelly Roll pens, the aim here is to allow the envelope to feel full, without feeling cramped or crowded. There’s a fine line between having too little and too much on the page, and especially since some of the real estate of your envelope is already accounted for by the stamp, this makes the composition even more important.

Tip: If you’re working with white or cream unlined envelopes (meaning there’s no extra paper connected to the inside of the envelope, and you’re able to see through it), you can often create a handy straight-line guide.

Cut a piece of thick white card stock slightly smaller than the size of the envelope, measure out how far apart you want your horizontal lines, and draw them in thick black ink. That way, you’ll be able to slide the guide inside each envelope, and ensure straight lines every time you write someone’s address.

Once you’ve practiced and you have all your materials at the ready, have some fun with mixing up font and lettering styles, composition, a mix of whimsy with tradition, and outlining the envelope fronts with some graphic symbols and lines.

These techniques work beautifully when writing to your Senators and Representatives, and voicing your concerns as an informed constituent. Imagine their delight when they see a beautifully addressed letter coming their way!

I would love to hear your thoughts on using brush pens vs. other writing utensils. Are these new to you too, or are you an old pro? And which of these envelope styles are you excited to try? Leave a comment below!

Post by Jillian Schiavi & Sakura of America

The Making of Write_On

 

The Write_On Campaign is a labor of love. It couldn't happen without the abundance of skills, talents and passion of the many people who come together to create the annual Write_On Challenge. Each year, seeds of inspiration are planted, ideas percolate, cards and products are made. About ten months later, we debut not only Write_On Kits and Party Packs, but an entire program designed with one goal in mind: To encourage people to connect with one another in a meaningful way via the hand-written letter!

This year, we documented our planning and production process so that we could share a few of the important steps with you. Read on and you'll meet members of our team, see what makes a letterpress card so unique, and find yourself more inspired than ever to complete the Challenge. And, no matter how many letters you end up writing this month, remember: Write_On is more than a 30 day challenge, it is a movement that creates a better world — one in which people engage in authentic communication with one another. Thank you for joining us!

The Wall of Inspiration in the Egg Press Studio.

The Wall of Inspiration in the Egg Press Studio.

Eunice and Sabrina of Hello!Lucky in their San Francisco studio.

Letter-writing Kit design phase begins after our team has reviewed feedback from the prior year's Write_On participants. We ask ourselves, "What worked with the design? What didn't?" We ponder how to create cards that serve as tools for reaching out and connecting with one another. One card doesn't fit all, but our designs attempt to work for most. After a design review by the Write_On team, we finalize artwork and order the plates that will be used to print each card.

The printing presses we use today were historically utilitarian workhorses, employed to create ephemera with individual pieces of wood or metal type set by hand. Today, we use polymer plates to bring our bold designs to life. The creation of plates involves a photo-sensitive process where the design is transformed from a computer file into a printable relief form.

With our newly designed plate locked up and ready to go, we mount it to the press bed on one of our Heidelberg Windmill printing presses. Blank paper is stacked on a feed table where, sheet by sheet, it gets fed through the press in a windmill like fashion--thus the press' namesake.

The polymer plate with Egg Press' Write_On card design affixed to a base and ready to be placed on the press.

The polymer plate with Egg Press' Write_On card design affixed to a base and ready to be placed on the press.

Our printers mix ink by hand to meet the specifications of our designs. Ink is applied to the press, and we're off! One by one, sheets of paper are moved into place and an impression is made.

_DSC7615SPK_mock_ups.jpg
All of our Heidelberg Windmill printing presses date from the 1950's and 1960's.

All of our Heidelberg Windmill printing presses date from the 1950's and 1960's.

Cards are displayed on the presses so that printers can check each card coming off the press for accuracy of registration and color.

Cards are displayed on the presses so that printers can check each card coming off the press for accuracy of registration and color.

Stacks and stacks of Write_On cards! All of our cards are printed on Mohawk Via Vellum Bright White paper.

Stacks and stacks of Write_On cards! All of our cards are printed on Mohawk Via Vellum Bright White paper.

Once printed, crop marks delineate where paper will be scored and punched out, otherwise known as “die-cut”. Mohawk Paper provided all of the Via Vellum Bright White paper we used in the creation of the letter-writing kits, an entire pallet of beautiful paper! This photo gives a glimpse into what 50,000 Write_On cards looks like after having been printed, scored and die-cut. They are now ready to join forces with their matching envelopes, nifty insert, and a pen. They are getting closer and closer to becoming your kit!

After thoughtful research into the best way to present the kit contents to you, our packaging team pulls all the pieces together. This year, we worked closely with Sakura of America to color coordinate the Gelly Roll pens they generously included in all of the kits going to those of you in North America. And, we worked with Mohawk Paper to craft custom envelopes to help you track your letter-writing progress, while showcasing your participation in the campaign with each card you send.

The 2017 Write_On Kit debuts!

The 2017 Write_On Kit debuts!

Finally, we take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures, so that we can showcase the kits in a way that helps you know what you'll be receiving when you place your order. The only thing more exciting than seeing the kits complete and having engaging and innovative programming to deliver, is experiencing the passion with which you all embrace Write_On. We look forward to seeing your beautiful letters and to hearing about all of the connections you make this month. Write_On is bigger than a 30 day challenge or a kit of cards. It is a simple but powerful journey that we enjoy taking with you each year. Together, through letters, we can create a world rich in goodwill and meaningful relationships. Write_On!

Christa Fowles, resident Write_On 2017 photographer, styles Write_On Kits and Party Packs in the beautiful Schoolhouse Electric Building, where the Egg Press studio and production facilities are located in Portland, Oregon.

kindle your letter-writing fire!

 
Miss Polly squirrelled away in her study.

Miss Polly squirrelled away in her study.

Polly Hatfield — known fondly in the letter-writing community as Miss Polly  considers herself paper besotted. Hands down, over the moon. In fact, she has often wondered whether there may likely be a paper wasp or two in her family line. She is most at home when squirrelled away in her study with vintage typewriters at hand and her ink pot full.

We loved catching up with her in her study this spring. Read on and learn about some of Miss Polly's favorite letter-writing tools, and tried and true correspondence tips. Be prepared to be one hundred percent charmed by the magical, correspondence-rich world she has created in her home in SE Portland.

in the study with Miss Polly...

I must confess, I have been a stationery magpie, office supply zealot and avid letter-writer since elementary school. I never fail to be utterly wowed by the magic those 26 letters of our alphabet have the potential to spur. And, in truth, sending mail proves the best bargain around. For a mere 49 cents for a first class letter, or only 34 cents for a postcard, you can quite literally send your words  — whether a simple hello, a cherished quote, or an outpouring of love — on wing to anywhere in the United States. Hand to hand, door to door, heart to heart.

I wholeheartedly encourage you to join me and send well-tended epistolary joy as part of the Write_On Challenge this April: it's fun, easy and as the saying goes: good mail begets good mail. Make someone's day — and maybe your own, too.

A wall of inspiration boasts treasures from near and far.

A wall of inspiration boasts treasures from near and far.

prop rich

I once had a yoga teacher that liked to remind her students to begin their practice prop rich. That way we'd be ready for whatever the practice called for on any given day. I've held on to that wise morsel and believe the same holds true for a letter-writing practice.

A travel pouch brims with fodder for writing on the go. Rubber stamps are at the ready for envelope decorating. A warm cup of tea is reliably close at hand.

A travel pouch brims with fodder for writing on the go. Rubber stamps are at the ready for envelope decorating. A warm cup of tea is reliably close at hand.

pouches & tools

By keeping an on-the-go portable letter-writing pouch on hand, you can jot a note when you find yourself with a clutch of minutes on the bus or when you've arrived early for your lunch date. A heartfelt postcard can easily be penned in these little wedges of time. I like to keep my letter-writing pouch well stocked with a handful of postcards, a few well chosen cards and a tiny up-to-date address book. If you use an electronic device for your contacts, be sure to add postal addresses! Keep a stash of postage stamps on hand, tucked into your wallet for spontaneous mail making.

A few favorite writing implements add panache to your practice. I prefer vintage fountain pens, Prismacolor pencils and the vibrant strokes of Sakura Gelly Roll pens. To corral my lively assortment of writing implements, I employ a collection of castoff containers. Two vintage aluminum canisters that used to house someone’s kitchen staples: tea and grease! on a countertop near a long ago stove now call my desk-perch home, another sort of hearth, a fire that warms and feeds.

Miss Polly takes an official Write_On envelope and adds color and visual texture with ink from rubber stamps and Sakura of America Gelly Roll pens.

Miss Polly takes an official Write_On envelope and adds color and visual texture with ink from rubber stamps and Sakura of America Gelly Roll pens.

Envelopes

I relish making my own envelopes as well as decorating outgoing envelopes. A little postal joy for all the hands that touch each parcel along its journey. San Francisco-based Red Handed Rubber proves a reliable source of inspiration on the rubber stamp front, and their offerings never fail to make a great impression. The owner, Jennie Hinchcliff, is the co-author of the seminal & swoon-worthy book Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art.

Miss Polly's basket of incoming mail invites time in the study to connect with loved ones.

Miss Polly's basket of incoming mail invites time in the study to connect with loved ones.

Baskets & tins

I keep recently received correspondence in one spot, a veritable trove to inspire,  so I can both remember to reply in a timely fashion and  also have them close at hand to answer any questions as I jot my reply. I choose to end my missives with a query or two so that they feel more like a dialogue than a simple reportage. A big basket that is often full to overflowing holds incoming postal gems which eventually migrate to the ‘replied to’ basket before being archived in old Korean teacake tins.

Carving out time to write in our often busy lives can be challenging.  Creating a warm and welcoming space to do so can help you make the time! Miss Polly readies her space by lighting a candle and arranging freshly plucked rosemary on her desk. 

Carving out time to write in our often busy lives can be challenging.  Creating a warm and welcoming space to do so can help you make the time! Miss Polly readies her space by lighting a candle and arranging freshly plucked rosemary on her desk. 

Make Time

Earlier Risers: A perfect way to start any day of the week: brew a pot of tea and collect some of your favorite letter-writing supplies. Light a candle or incense and spend the morning with pen and paper in hand — it's like sharing a cup of tea with an absent friend. Drop the missive in the mailbox on your way to work and know that you've launched your day off to a great start and will likely soon make someone else's day, too.

Night Owls: If you find yourself more of a night owl than an early bird, practice letter-writing as a way to unwind at day's end. Settle into your coziest chair, or enjoy the especially indulgent practice of penning letters from bed.

Like any practice, it's bit by bit. Congratulate yourself for each piece of mail sent and be sure to do whatever you can to kindle those letter-writing fires. The brighter they blaze the warmer they are. Remember: as mail artists like to say: you need to send good mail to get good mail.

Keep your flag up!

Miss Polly

All the Love

Valentine's Day is bigger than a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. And while we value romantic love — yes, our hearts swell at the thought of a chubby cupid running amok with an arrow aimed at a chosen few  we believe that everyone deserves to be celebrated on Valentine's Day. This year, we challenge you to put aside historical origins and preconceived notions about this holiday, and view it as an opportunity to reach out to friends, unlikely suspects, and anyone who has made a difference in your life, and let them know how much they matter to you.

Handcrafted Valentine Potato Print

Family: If you've got the time and the interest, engage youngsters by crafting cards together and sending mail infused with affection to one another. Set up an inter-family mailbox in your home where cards can be placed and distributed to fellow family members. 

Let's Have Coffee Valentine (Featuring "i'm hooked on you card" from Egg Press)

Friends: In addition to current friends, reach out to someone from your childhood with whom you've lost touch, or send a quick note to a new acquaintance whom you hope to know better. Thank friends for the time they devote to your friendship. Invite a future friend for a coffee date. 

Co-Worker Valentine

Work: It's very possible that you spend more time with them than with your family: CO-WORKERS! Celebrate the unsung heroes of your everyday: current co-workers, former co-workers, people who work in the same building as you. Let them know that you appreciate their contributions to your day-to-day.

Classroom Mini Valentines

School: Whether in grad school, preschool, or anywhere in-between, students surely benefit from words of encouragement, and the support lent by a simple expression of adoration. Many of us here at Write_On have a soft spot for Classroom Valentines, which have a knack for keeping it light, fun and pun-filled!

Silly Valentine

Funny Lover's Valentine

Lover: Don't let a fear of blushing deter you! Honor the love of your life with a silly sentiment if the thought of poems and serious declarations of adoration are too intimidating. Let the puns and inside jokes run wild!

 

Resolving to Write!

The Write_On team isn’t waiting for April to roll around to lean into letter-writing. We’re resolving today to write more letters than ever in 2017. Curious how we’ll tackle the challenge in an increasingly digital, fast paced world? We interviewed a few of Write_On’s key players to uncover the secrets to a life-long practice of meaningful communication via the written word.

SABRINA MOYLE | HELLO!LUCKY

resolution: use letter-writing to express my commitment to being an engaged citizen

Last year, the best letters I wrote expressed love and gratitude to people from all areas of my life, from the crossing guard at my kids’ school to my college adviser.  It felt great to say “thank you” and in some cases it was the beginning of a conversation that continues to this day!This year, I want to continue that effort.  I’m going to use interview questions offered by Story Corps to get inspired about who to write to, and what to say.  For example:

* Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
* Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
* What lessons did that person teach you? Who has been the kindest to you in your life?

I also want to become a more informed and engaged citizen through Write_On this year.  I’m pledging to write thank you notes to non-profit organizations -- for example, groups that are promoting civil discourse such as Bring it to the Table and The Village Square -- encouraging them to keep up the good work.  And, I want to keep an eye on Congress and write letters to my representative to thank them for doing good work, or to let them know about an issue I care about, using this article in The Art of Manliness as my guide!

 

KARA YANAGAWA | EGG PRESS 

resolution: use letter-writing to rekindle connections with my relatives

I’m a letter writer, and love sending notes throughout the year. I drop a line when I see something that reminds me of a friend, and I try to be on top of birthdays, anniversaries and of course, thank yous. One of the things I most appreciate about the Write_On Challenge is its potency: an entire month dedicated to spreading the love, via letters.

This year, in addition to sending general well-wishes to friends and those close to me, I pledge to focus my practice on writing to my more distant relatives on the regular. It may be lofty, but my aim will be to mail a letter a week to someone in my family who doesn’t hear from me much. My list will include cousins, aunts and uncles, as well as the “Aunties and Uncles” in my life; the friends of the family who have provided mentorship and inspiration to me over the years.  

Beyond reconnecting, my goal comes with another reward - the many surprises that come with the Write_On Challenge – the inevitable boomerang effect - the things that come back. I wonder: Who will write back? Who might I touch? And what might I learn? And all because I engaged in the simple but powerful act of writing letters.

 

MICHAELA YEE | SAKURA OF AMERICA

resolution: use letter-writing to creatively express my appreciation of others' time

Now that Christmas is over you’re probably thinking about thank you notes you need to write for all the gifts you received. But what about saying thank you for someone’s time, energy or kindness? I’m super lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life that enjoy spending time with my son, take time to drop by and visit or just let us know when they are thinking of us. To kick start my letting writing habit for 2017 I’m going to let them know how appreciative I am for those experiences, which happen quite frequently and for which I feel very lucky!

Who says all the color must be on the front of the card? I love making my writing colorful and fun! Working for Sakura sure has its perks – I’m able to combine and coordinate color and special effects across different products to create truly personalized notes and even match my note to the artwork on the front of the cards.

 

My favorite thing to do is make key words pop off the page in either a more vibrant color or a glittering ink. I started lettering the names in Koi Coloring Brush Pen (seen here in Blue Green Light and Viridian), then wrote the note in Gelly Roll Moonlight in Green and went back over the words I wanted to emphasize with Gelly Roll Stardust in Lime Star. Tip: Choosing like colors from different Gelly Roll lines (all purples for example) makes it easy to use complimentary coordinating colors but with different effects.   

There are so many endless Sakura color combinations, nib widths and textures you can create, it makes note writing a very fun time for you and will make your note recipient feel super special too!

 

 

 

 ARIeL SMULLEN | MOHAWK PAPER

resolution: use letter-writing to rekindle a beloved habit with an old friend

My pledge is to write more letters to my friend Megan who moved to Barcelona this past year. We’ve been friends since childhood and used to write notes to one another as we were growing up. I’ve tucked them all away in a binder that I titled “The ‘Note’ Book,” and it’s a joy to stumble upon it every now and then. We haven’t written a letter to one another since our high school years, though I wish we had, because now there’s a chunk of our young adult life that we can’t fully reflect on since there’s nothing to look back on. My pledge is to write Megan one to two times a month this year. My pledge is my first letter:

Dear Megan, Remember this?

It’s the infamous 3” 3-ring binder that I titled ‘The “Note” Book’ with a metallic gel pen that contains all of the notes we’ve exchanged throughout Middle School and High School. I stopped by my parents and found it tucked away in my old bedroom along with other items that reminded me of my childhood (a corsage from semi-formal, neon orange recorder from elementary school, and my CD collection containing early 2000 classics including 3LW).

 

Earlier this year, you moved to Barcelona and it’s safe to say I may only see you three times a year. I haven’t thought about writing a letter to you in a while with today’s way of reaching out via social media, texting and video calling. But as I look at this binder and laugh about the truly random things we used to exchange (like the drawings of monkeys performing – odd things you would give me just because you knew I loved that animal), I couldn’t help but question why we stopped exchanging letters.

We’ve had plenty of conversations in our young adult years that we’re not able to look back on because we either texted them to one another or talked over Skype about it. So with that, I’m taking the Write_On Challenge! More info here if you want to join: writeoncampaign.com.

Expect a letter from me once or twice a month. The content? Who knows. The length? Who knows. Just know that I miss you and want to look back on our young adult life 20 years from now the same way I’m looking back at our childhood life now.

Write soon!

Ariel

Season's Greetings!

We believe in the power of this season to bring people together.  When limits imposed by physical distance - or simply shyness - prevent us from expressing ourselves in person, the holiday card swoops in; a magical vehicle for seasonal well-wishes and love. To ensure your efforts are well received, we invite you to consider heeding some of our etiquette tips, including a photo with your card,  and diving headfirst into envelope decorating this year. Read on for tips and inspiration!

HOLIDAY CARD ETIQUETTE TIPS

  • Add a personal touch  Don't skimp this time of year or recipients might think you're sending simply out of obligation. At the very least, include a short sentence addressed specifically to the recipient letting them know you're thinking of them. If, for whatever reason, you need assistance with the actual penning of the card, call on a friend to help you write while you dictate. 
  • Send early Maybe you've noticed, holiday cards are key players in seasonal decor. Be sure yours arrives in time to stand tall alongside pillar candles and cedar bows on mantel displays, hold its own among mistletoe in doorway swags, and hobnob with shiny orbs on the Noble fir. The sooner you send, the longer your card can be appreciated!
  • When in doubt  Be thoughtful and courteous with your greeting. "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" are safe bets when you're unsure what holiday your recipient observes.
  • If you are too late  New Years! What a great holiday for reflection on what has been, and anticipation for what will be! Sending New Years cards is a fun tradition, and the cards are appropriate for anyone. What's more, cards can be sent later in the month, a bonus for those of us waylaid by December holidays...and spiked Eggnog.

INCLUDING PHOTOS

It's too easy to order photos these days NOT to include them in your holiday cards. Fun and stylish options abound. Here are a few of our favorites:

Social Print Studio
Mini square photos! Photobooth style photostrips! Mobile or desktop options.

Artifact Uprising
Imagine if Kinfolk had a photo printing company. So tasteful.

Walgreens
Same-day printing! What's more, they offer square prints and the ability to print from Instagram.

DECORATING ENVELOPES
Tips from Emily Baier, resident envelope beautifier.

  • Leave room for the stamp! 
  • If you want to try a new technique or drawing, do it on a separate piece of paper and glue it on afterwards.
  • If you accidentally address your envelope off-center, balance it out with a drawing or sticker to make it look purposeful.
  • If the recipient has a long name, but a short address, spell out everything in the address (street instead of st., boulevard instead of blvd.)
  • Write your return address on the back of the envelope - it frees up room on the front to get decorative!
  • Play with spacing, caps, cursive, and different lettering styles.
  • Brighten up dark colored envelopes with a white Sakura of America Gelly Roll pen - a personal favorite!
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Shop new Hello!Lucky and Egg Press holiday cards!

A Letter Writing Kit, 3 Ways

We all have our own letter writing habits and styles, but one thing we've learned is that having the right tools you want when you want them is KEY to creating a lasting letter writing habit. The Write_On Team is excited to share a few of our own with you today. What's in your own letter writing kit? 

LALENA’s kit:

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I love traveling light. My lean kit contains just enough tools to inspire engagement with the places I find myself traveling through. I can clip a roadside wildflower, draw it, and express a simple sentiment of love in a card to a friend. Found and vintage tools are prominent in my kit — just imagine all the letters written and illustrations sketched by a smooth handled pencil, or all the words wiped away by a worn down eraser. Their stories live on and evolve through continued use.
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  • Vintage Zion National Park Pencil case with built-in eraser pouch

  • Found Astoria High School Girl’s League pencils

  • Social Preparedness Kit  Dream Day Notepad for making a list of who to write and why

  • Milan triangular eraser

  • Brass pencil sharpener

  • Plants (dried flowers, whole plant, plant parts)

  • Canvas paint-splotched pouch from Hello! Good Morning! in Portland, Oregon

  • Red bonsai scissors for clipping plants for inspiration on the go

  • Beautiful stamps

  • Assorted Egg Press Cards including traditional Japanese Katazome stencil motifs from a recent collaboration with Kiriko in Portland, Oregon

  • Water color pencils and brush

  • Tea bags, because you can usually get a hold of hot water while traveling, but that’s not always the case for good tea

 

Emily’s kit:

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I am the opposite of Lalena on this one - I cannot travel light to save my life! I am usually carrying around a huge tote bag filled with every possible activity that I might possibly want to do. My letter-writing kit is one of them! Some things in my kit are part of a larger collection. For example, I have a huge envelope of Japanese stationery that I’ve been hoarding since high school, and a much larger collection of unused vintage postage. I love decorating the envelope of a letter, so a lot of my supplies are geared towards that - fancy pens, little stickers, and beautiful stamps.
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Bria’s Kit:

I have a letter writing station that has a permanent spot on my table at home but this is my pared-down on-the-go kit. My fantasy life involves painting plein air watercolor postcards when I find myself on a picnic or writing long letters from cafes. So far though, most of my on-the-go letter writing scenarios involve finding myself without a card for the bottle of wine I just grabbed on my way to dinner at a friend’s. This kit has me prepared for anything and everything. Having participated in Write_On for three years now, I’ve learned that creating the letter-writing habit I want to have is a process, and the best way to stay on track is to have the tools I need on-hand at all times.
  • This year I treated myself big time to a letterpress personal stationery suite from Egg Press. I LOVE it so much and it inspires me to send more letters. I have postcards for penning quick notes, thank yous, or invites. Personal stationery because I really love to write long letters. Personalized seed packets because I’m a gardening enthusiast and it’s fun to share seeds from my garden with friends and family--they always have a story to tell in themselves.

  • I use the Social Preparedness Kit pencil pouches to hold my favorite pens and paintbrushes. They are just so handy. The card pouch is small enough to fit everything I need and still be able to fit in my purse or car glove box.

  • I think I’m becoming a stamp-collecting nerd! I recently attended our country’s largest stamp show and really caught the bug and began adding a few things to my personal stash. Not only can you create a pleasing-looking envelope with stamps but it’s also a way to customize your message to the recipient. I have inside joke stamps, botanical stamps that appeal to my fellow plant lovers, and stamps that my design wonk friends will appreciate. Plus, I use a lot of the current Janis Joplin stamps because that’s my mother’s maiden name so anyone in my Joplin clan gets that stamp.

  • Of course I had to get some new pens to coordinate with my new personal stationery. I think I ordered every single orange, navy, and mint colored pen that Jet Pens sells to try them all out. They have the biggest assortment of Japanese pens online.

  • I’ve been having fun with watercolor lately. I’m really lousy at it but the colors make me so happy so I can’t resist. I bought some fun sets at Hello! Good Morning! in Portland, as well as my favorite Japanese brush. I saw some incredible watercolor envelopes in the #write_on feed on Instagram and it’s got me inspired to give that a try.

Halloween Printable

In the spirit of Halloween, let’s warm up our letter-writing practice  we dare you to! Hello!Lucky has created a free printable PDF for Write_On. All you have to do is print, cut, and customize with your own personal message. Directions and printable PDF below.

Supplies:

  • exacto knife or scissors
  • cutting mat
  • cardstock or printer paper
  • printer
  • A2 envelope if sending

Directions:

  • Download our free Halloween Printable here.
  • Cut out along trim marks (2 per page)
  • Add your own personal message using the Halloween writing prompts below!

Writing Prompts:

  • Write a confidant to share a deep-seated fear you have, whether you think it is founded or not.
  • Write to a youngster to let them know what your all-time favorite Halloween costume was.
  • Write to someone who loves sweets and share your favorite seasonal treat recipe with them.