Special thanks to everyone who joined us at 826 Valencia on Saturday for our Ocean of Thanks event celebrating the launch of the 2018 30 Day Write_On Challenge alongside Thank You Thursday. We had such a great time writing thank you notes in an attempt to reach our goal of 826 letters in one day, which we exceeded by writing *drum roll please* 844 thank you notes in a day!!! It was so fun to sit down and connect with people of all ages, using the beautiful letterpress cards printed especially for the event, and creating our own cards using Mrs. Grossman's stickers and our favorite Sakura of America pens. We are so grateful for our community of letter-writers and we love seeing the art put to action. Thank you to everyone who joined our San Francisco event, including our sponsors! We are so excited to have surpassed our goal!
Thank you to everyone who joined us at the beautiful Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. Showroom in NW Portland to launch the 2018 30 Day Write_On Challenge. This sold-out event brought letter-writing enthusiasts of all ages together for an inspiring evening of creativity and authenticity - all in the name of letters! It means so much that we've got an amazing community of letter-writers excited to put pen to paper along with us. From our local event sponsors, to everyone in attendance, thank you all for filling our night with thoughtful conversation, laughter, and passion for handwritten correspondence.
Photos by Christa Fowles.
The idea of writing 30 letters in just 30 days can be overwhelming... What do I write about? What if I have nothing new to share with my friends or family? What if I've already written to everyone I can think of? Some of the beauty of the 30 letter commitment, is the opportunity to reach outside of your normal circle and take time to write to folks in your life who you may have forgotten, or see every day.
To guide you through the Write_On Challenge, we're excited to offer this new deck of 30 letterpress printed letter-writing prompts to keep writer's block at bay. Printed on Strathmore Impress Wove Pure Cotton paper by Mohawk, the complete deck comes in a letterpress printed and die-cut box. The entire set was made in the Egg Press studio in Portland, Oregon! The craftsmanship that went into every deck makes them more than just a reference set - they are beautiful to look at and to hold as well. Each card has a unique prompt that can be used year round, anytime you'd like to write a letter.
We put a lot of love into creating the decks, and can't wait to hear how they inspire your 30 day challenge and ongoing letter-writing practice throughout the year.
Stock up before April's Write_On Challenge in the shop here.
As our April 30 Day Letter-Writing Challenge draws near, it’s time to freshen up on your penmanship. We’re so excited to share this cursive writing lesson, featured in Illustoria Magazine Issue 6: Symbols and written by Michaela Yee of Little Island Letters. The lesson is great for all ages, breaking cursive up into shapes that you can draw and build on to create words. Grab some pens (Michaela uses Sakura of America brush pens), and start practicing before our 30 Day Challenge kicks off on April 1st!
You can download and print the full lesson plan here.
Keep up with Michaela’s great work for more lettering inspiration on Instagram at @littleislandletters. Remember, developing muscle memory and your own distinct handwritten style take time - keep writing, keep practicing, and Write_On!
GIVEAWAY: Visit @eggpress on Instagram today to enter a win a copy of Illustoria Magazine, a set of Write_On cards, and 6 Sakura of America Koi Brush Pens to put your new skills to the test! Comment on this post, tagging a friend who you'd write a letter to practice your cursive penmanship for a chance to win!
Giveaway open 3/15-3/19, winner announced on giveaway post on 3/20!
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for, our 2018 Write_On kits and party packs are here! Take a peek at this year’s designs and exclusive Write_On products to aid in your 30 day writing challenge, and head to the shop to stock up before we sell out of our extremely limited quantities!
Gear up for 30 days of letter writing with one of our limited edition 2018 Letter Writer Kits! Including 6 cards and envelopes, stickers, a gel pen, and a letter-writing log sheet, these kits are the perfect way to kick off the challenge.
As Write_On has grown, we’ve been inspired by the outpouring of support and interest from letter writers near and far. In an effort to make this program accessible to as many people as possible, this year, with every kit purchased in the Write_On shop, you’re making it possible for us to donate a kit to someone in need, including educational and under-resourced community programs. Thank you for paying it forward and helping to keep the art of handwritten correspondence alive in our communities!
The Letter Writer Party Packs are perfect for shops, individuals, and organizations alike, and are packed with useful letter-writing tools, tips, and inspiration to host a Write_On party for 10, plus a few extra gifts that you can enjoy for yourself as the host, or use as party favors.
For the crafters, creators, and makers, this DIY Party Pack has everything you need to host a letter-writing get together for 10 to kick off the Write_On Challenge. These packs come with a copy of Happy Mail from Hello!Lucky, an assortment of colorful Gelly Roll Moonlight pens, decorative stamps from The Portland Stamp Company, and supplies to get your mail art creativity flowing.
Hand screen printed by Egg Press in Portland, Oregon with elements from our 2018 design, this large tote is perfect for hauling your letter-writing supplies, packages, or simply to show your Write_On pride around town. This tote is also featured in the DIY Party Pack.
2018 Write_On Sponsors
Valentine’s Day is a time when we show the ones we love just how much they mean to us. From our partners to our best friends, classmates to coworkers, and family members near and far, this holiday has evolved into a yearly reminder to let the people we love hear it. This year, in addition to showering loved ones with heartfelt notes, sweet treats, and romance, make time to spread that joy beyond your own circle, and join us in sending cards to those who could use an extra smile. We’re talking about elders, a group of well-seasoned, incredible humans who are often forgotten.
Feelings of loneliness and isolation are quite common among elders across the country, especially those living in care facilities, who may be removed from their family and friends. The health risks of prolonged feelings of isolation are said to be equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, affecting mind, body and soul. So, true to the mission of Write_On, we’re spending this month spreading joy, compassion, and human-connection through hand-written correspondence. Want to join us? Read on, then Write_On.
Start your process with a little planning. Who will you write to and how will you get your cards into their hands? Chances are, there’s a nursing home or memory care center closer to home than you think. Give them a call and see if they’re set up to accept cards for residents for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check with them on any special rules (don’t seal envelopes, no glitter, etc.) and the best way to deliver the letters, either via mail or an in-person drop off.
Another option is to send your letters to a third party non-profit like Love for the Elderly, that collects letters year round through their Letters of Love program and sends them to elder care centers around the country. You can learn more about this wonderful organization, which was started by Jacob Cramer at only thirteen years old, here.
If you’d rather get linked up with a specific name of someone to send a letter to directly, visit From the Heart on Facebook to find lists of seniors who have been nominated by their caregivers to receive some extra joy. With their name and mailing address, you can send letters from your mailbox directly to theirs.
Tips & Thought Starters:
Figuring out what to write can feel daunting at first, especially if your recipient is anonymous. Try to keep your letters light in spirit, letting your words trigger smiles. Tell them your favorite love poem, pun, quote, or song. Your favorite story and where you first heard it. Share what’s important to you - your hobbies and passions, but steer clear of hot button topics like politics or religion. If you hit a writer’s block, draw something!
Finally, make sure your cards are legible, but don’t be afraid to decorate, draw and doodle throughout to add some personalization to your notes. Let us know in the comments if you end up taking part in our Valentine’s Day effort to spread the love to elders near and far, and feel free to suggest other resources.
Letter-writing has been proven to relieve stress, promote creativity, and bring joy, so what better time to make it a habit than in the new year? Picking up a new habit can be quite a challenge, so we’ve put together some tricks and tips to help make it stick.
Tips & tricks for sticking to your letter-writing practice:
Start simple, and be realistic. If you’re out of the letter-writing habit completely, consider starting with a modest goal like one letter a month, spending 15 minutes a week writing letters, or committing to writing cards for each of your friends’ birthdays this year, instead of just shooting over a text message. It can be easy to hit the ground running with a lofty goal, but motivation can quickly fade. Be realistic about what could be a sustainable routine for you, and easy enough to do without motivation.
Get a buddy. Most things are more fun with a good friend along for the ride. Not only can this make shopping for cards, pens, and the latest USPS stamps more fun, but inviting a buddy to join you in your letter-writing goals can help keep you accountable and motivated along the way.
Commit to a schedule, and stay consistent. The more consistent you can be about your practice, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it for longer. Find a time of day, day of the week, or specific place that works best with your schedule. Maybe it’s 20 minutes every Sunday with a cup of coffee in your favorite armchair, or in the evening on the first day of each new month. If you stick to a consistent schedule, your brain will begin picking up pattern cues, and reminding yourself may become second nature.
- Stock up on tools to help keep you organized, and energized about your hobby. Dress for success. Stock up on beautiful and practical items that will excite you in your new devotion to letter-writing. To get you started with this one, we’ve cultivated the perfect collection of items to help you kick off your 2018 commitment.
Whether you’re just starting out or are a letter-writing pro, the Happy Mail Book is a fantastic guide for all snail mail crafters. It’s packed full of tips and tricks on how to beef up correspondence skills, and to make your own cards. Excellent for teens, tweens, and DIY lovers alike.
2. Cards from Favorite Stationery Brands
Mix and match your favorite cards to make a custom bundle that suits your needs. Visit a Paper Source or your favorite neighborhood stationery shop to pick up some cards! Spotted above: Egg Press and Hello!Lucky cards.
Every letter-writer needs a trusty set of pens. Look no further than Sakura for a wide range of high-quality, water-resistant colors for all ages. They can write on most paper types so you won’t have to worry about bleed-through or shadowing.
The outside of the envelope is just as important as what’s on the inside. Pick up a few of these vintage stamp packs that contain enough unused vintage postage to mail a letter within the US. The receiver will love the added touch.
Letter-writing and drinking tea go hand in hand, so grab your favorite blend to help get the letter-writing juices flowing. Juniper Ridge has a huge selection of 100% natural and 100% delicious tea flavors to choose from, and they’re local to the Bay Area. This one is our personal fave, but we suggest going local when selecting yours!
Designed to make sending notes easy, these social preparedness kits are made with high-quality American-made materials. Each kit comes with 4 thank you and 4 blank cards with coordinating envelopes, and a fun colored tray to help any budding letter-writer get started.
Pair your favorite tea with a handmade ceramic mug, and you’ve set yourself up for some fantastic letter-writing. Better yet, find a local ceramicist when selecting your mug.
In addition to a place for your daily agenda, this undated fill-in calendar helps you keep up on birthdays, to-dos and notes. Don’t forget to schedule some time to write letters to friends and family!
Make giving back a part of your 2018 resolution
Is your New Year’s resolution to do more for others? There are so many ways to achieve that: by physically being there for those who need a shoulder, writing letters of comfort and support, or offering financial aid. We’ve created this guide to get you started-
Write For Good
It truly is a win-win. Research shows that letter-writing and receiving promotes physical and mental benefits. It’s the perfect time to pick up that pen and make it a habit, and don’t just stop at friends and family, find resources and inspiration for making human connections beyond your personal network on our Write_On page. More Love Letters is just one of our highlighted non-profits that uses social media to write and mail letters to strangers all over the world who need love and support.
The Power is in the pen!
In 2017, millions of Americans put ink to action in order to amplify their voices. The Ides of Trump encouraged people to speak out, stating "So sharpen your wit, unsheathe your writing implements, and write from the heart". The Women’s March asked its followers to reach out to Senators about specific issues in order to stand up for policy issues that protect our rights. Countless artists and organizations offered up free printable postcards to enable letter-writers and change-makers alike. In a time where social media and technology is the cornerstone of communication, there’s never been more validity in an envelope.
Hello!Lucky has written a craft book that inspires youth to use their creativity to get involved in community service and civic action. Find out more about Be The Change here.
Though giving back doesn’t have to mean opening your wallet, you’ll find endless organizations to pick from if you wish to go that route.
Choosing a charity doesn’t have to be daunting. For example, you can support something you enjoy every day by donating to your public radio system or maybe a specific podcast. You can also visit sites like Give Well for a list of surefire non-profits to donate to.
Here’s a list of Charities we love:
In Kind Donations
Looking for ways to help in your hometown and beyond by donating goods? While you’re purging 2017, you might consider dropping supplies and belongings at homeless shelters, relief services, and local schools. Teachers are always in need of basic school supplies, so donating a few things could really help increase opportunities for youth. Most schools receive a surplus of supplies at the beginning of the school year, but run low around this time. Not sure what to donate? Here’s an easy guide.
Alternatively, you can offer your skills in lieu of tangible goods. Online services like Catchafire can help you match your professional background to a relevant cause.
Products that give back
Would you like to be a more conscious consumer? Some of your favorite brands have products that give back to causes you love. At Egg Press, the Goods for Good section donates 100% of the proceeds to organizations that fight for our basic human rights. At Hello!Lucky, “Ginny’s Collection” gives a portion of proceeds to The Nature Conservancy, and donates 100% of proceeds from the Wild Feminist pin to Planned Parenthood, and Stay Woke pin to The ACLU. Toms, Warby Parker, STATE bags, and Patagonia are also notorious for their philanthropic commitment. Look into apps/extensions like Orange Harp and DoneGood to keep you on your toes and to discover sustainable and ethical companies.
Have resources or ideas for how we at Write_On can give back? Write a comment, we’d love to hear from you!
Good luck in the New Year, and remember every little bit counts!
Letters, and their associated paper, envelope, stamps and ephemera, are so much more than just tools for communication with others. They can also serve as beacons: for slowing down, for noticing, for connecting with our own selves.
In a world which seems to push us toward such focused doing - and with haste! - letters offer the opportunity to decelerate, to take stock and reflect. Handwriting forces our brains to ease toward the pace of pen on paper. There’s sensory pleasure in the colors and textures of stationery, and something visceral about hunkering over a piece of paper, pen in hand, making marks to an actual page. It’s translation and transformation, as if folding your own self inside that little envelope. Even the art of addressing, sealing, and stamping an envelope can feel like an act of magic: preparing a small parcel for its own disappearing trick into the mailbox - and waiting for it to reappear in a postal box across town, across the country, across the globe. Back in your own mailbox, or in the Dead Letter Office.
Letters are tactile. They beg for presence. That is, if we pause long enough to soak it all in. The trick is in carving out the intentional time for it. When we craft that time, letter writing is an act of self care and intention - even when you don’t have a penpal to write to. Sometimes we just have to make that time.
Make Time is a full-day retreat allowing participants to leave the tugs and pulls of daily life at the door, and dedicate purposeful and non-distracted time to any desired project. I started Make Time over two years ago when I came to see just how much the to-do list, the constant beckon of technology, household chores, and work obligations were crowding the center of my life, and I was letting them. I was looking for an antidote, a way to set these pulls aside and create space to dive into creative projects. So now we gather each month to make time, not as a workshop or a class, but to hold space and write permission slips to focus on the endeavors that make us shine. Some show up to work on creative projects. Some come to tackle Ph.D. dissertations, writing projects with hot deadlines, or map travel plans. Our tools include guitars, sewing machines, ink, books, hammocks.
In the summers we gather at Make Time Farm in Beloit, Wisconsin, spreading out across the picnic tables, hay fields, pastures, and hammock to spin fiber, compose music, journal, or just fall asleep reading a good book. In the winter we cozy up inside the creative walls of Madison’s Arts and Literature Laboratory. In all seasons we hold each other accountable to a technology-free morning (your phone goes in the bushel basket), and savor a delicious potluck lunch and conversation. Each Make Time starts in the same way: we launch our special day with a different creative prompt each month.
The morning creative prompts vary from scavenging the farm for found objects to drafting two-sentence short stories to tasting different varieties of apples. It’s all about warming up the senses, tapping into our self-awareness, and escaping the pathways we regularly use in the world. Letter writing appears at least twice a year - the perfect mix of reflection, quiet, and quirk.
Everyone seems to have preconceived notions about writing letters, maybe scarred by those required thank you notes we penned as children, or because there’s no one on the other side of the mailbox. But there are a million ways to write letters that don’t start with “Dear Aunt”, and the Write_On Party Pack helps Make Timers get to that place as quickly and joyfully as possible. In the past we have penned letters to deceased historical figures, drafted our own MacArthur Genius Award biographies, and in January wrote ourselves long list of all the mistakes we hope to make in the year ahead. Sometimes these letters get dropped in the mailbox addressed to Einstein or Nana...and we wonder where they’ll end up. Other times we address them to ourselves and they are squirreled away and mailed back to us months later...like little paper time capsules.
This year we used the Write_On Kits in a different way. On a sunny June morning we set out to write the hard letters, messages we needed to write to set our own selves free. Letters that never need to be delivered or read by anyone else. Notes we write with the intention of just letting go. Letters offer us this, the chance to meet a blank page as if it were a conversation, and practice starting that hard conversation that’s stuck or too scary for real life. All without actually meeting the eyes or ears of another person. These types of personal letters offer us the chance to get stranded energy outside of our bodies, sealed up in an envelope, and sent away in a mailbox. Maybe it's addressed back to your own self to read in the future, or maybe it's addressed to no one - but there's power in physically plunking these hard-to-write letters into an actual mailbox and off our own backs.
Although we gather only once a month to Make Time, it becomes its own little practice. By setting aside that one full day, it teaches and reminds us to carve out our own quiet spaces and moments throughout the remainder of the month. I also secretly hope some of those quiet moments Make Timers set aside can include sending more good mail, and I think it’s starting to stick. “I've been carrying the Write_On Kit with me every day,” says Jac, a graduate student attending her first Make Time over the summer, “I haven't written any letters yet, but I feel the ideas growing and bubbling. Honestly, I think I want to write more letters to myself as a form of self-care, processing, and documenting this summer in Madison before I travel next year.”
Bio: Vanessa Herald is lead chicken wrangler at Make Time Farm in Southern Wisconsin, where she hosts monthly creativity retreats, scribbles endlessly, and makes as much trouble as possible. In the wee hours you can find her handwriting letters, crafting art with vintage typewriters, and committing to a daily creative practice. You can find her on Instagram at MakeTimeFarm
Today’s Reason to Write: Write a letter of thanks to someone who has "pushed" you in life.
We’re very excited to highlight the Gratitude Campaign that marks the launch of an inspiring new film, I’ll Push You: A Camino Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends and One Wheelchair. The film is launching November 2nd -- plenty of time to grab a friend or two and stock up on tissues. For now, please join us for some writing!
In today’s world, we are inundated with negativity. So much of the news is filled with pain and darkness. While these events that negatively impact so many people are a part of our world, there is also a lot of good. But the good often goes unnoticed. We want to change that.
So much of our story has been made possible through the helping hearts and hands of others. At the end of the day, we have much to be grateful for and most of our blessings point back to people who have pushed us to be better in life.
We have partnered with Egg Press to create a special way people can let others know how important they are. The film I’ll Push You is about community, kindness, and love. What better way to build community, spread kindness, and cultivate love than through acknowledging the people we are grateful for. I’ll Push You and Egg Press have created a limited edition write-on-velope that offers people a great way to say, “Thank you for pushing me to be a better person!” These unique letters provide a fun yet meaningful way for people to send a hand written letter to someone they are grateful for.
--I'll Push You
Patrick and Justin, the friends in I'll Push You have made it so fun and easy to participate in this letter-writing campaign with three easy steps (they even have a great sample script if you're feeling at a loss for words!):
Identify Three or More People
Pick three or more individuals who have had significant impact on your life. These should be individuals who have helped shape who you are such as friends, family, or mentors.
Write a Letter/Note of Thanks
Write a short note identifying how they have helped shape your life. Maybe they helped you in a dark period of your life, mentored you, or helped raise you.
Post & Tag via Social Media
Use your notes to write a social media post thanking the individuals who have impacted you. Tag each of them and challenge them to do the same. #illpushyou
We're looking forward to seeing your posts on social media and learning about the people who have challenged, inspired, and helped you grow!
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?
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.
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!
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...
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
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.
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.
Some favorite new "Reasons to Write", courtesy of 4th graders at Lewis Elementary:
To ask the animal shelter for an exception to their rule that volunteers be at least 12 years old.
To arrange a playdate!
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!
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.
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! :)
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.
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.
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?
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
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!
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
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 World’s 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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?
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!!!!
- 8.5” x 11” sheet of white cardstock (we recommend multimedia or hot press watercolor paper - a paper suitable for watercolor)
- Watercolor paints
- Container for water
- Black crayon
- Craft knife
- Cutting mat or magazine
- A7 white envelope
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.
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.
With a brush and watercolor paints, paint each letter. Let dry completely.
Using a black crayon, add smiley faces and exclamation points.
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.
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.
Happy letter-writing...and Write_On!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
#WhatsOnYourDesk: Join along! Share your stories and images about the goodies on your desk using the hashtag.
Post by Mohawk Paper & Sarah Schwartz
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