For Valentine's Day, my daughter's boyfriend wrote and mailed her a love letter. She was as excited as if it had been a diamond bracelet or a trip! She said, "one day, if we get married, I'll be able to show my children a love letter their dad wrote to me!" She said, "I can't really save all the texts he sends me, but I will have this letter forever!" She was right, and I thought back to all the letters I have accumulated over the years. Yes, I have love letters. My husband propsed to me in a postcard! I have notes from classmates and letters from a pen pal I had in England when I was a child. I have a letter President Nixon wrote me when I won an award and I have boxes of correspondence from my grandmother who sat down every single day and wrote letters to family and friends. There is something so special about these bundles of aged paper and faded ink. I have them tied with old ribbons and occasionally pull a stack out and spread them on the floor before me and read them. Some make me sad and some make me laugh out loud. I love the idea of letters. I have several books with collections of love letters. Language can be so beautiful and there is nothing more intimate and special than a person's handwriting.
I received my first "mail art" from a friend a few years ago and I could hardly contain myself at the mailbox. I couldn't wait to get in the house to get scissors and delicately open it. But first, I just admired it for a while. A beautiful work of art that had passed through so many hands to make its way to me. Too pretty to open, yet impossible to resist. From that point on, I was hooked! I have a small group of girlfriends who consistently send each other notes and little tidbits through the mail in amazingly painted and stitched homemade envelopes. It doesn't even matter what is inside the package, because the package is a gift in itself!
I spent the weekend writing and creating and wrote some special notes to loved ones, including some long overdue thank you notes. I started with manilla file folders, opened them up, inked and painted them, then wrote all over them with sumi ink (* filling a water brush with ink makes writing easier than using a paintbrush dipped in ink).
I stenciled some gesso and paint over the writing and smudged, giving it a "subway chic" look. I cut the folders into smaller sizes, usually in half. Then the real fun begins . . . gather up magazine pictures, tags, labels, washi tape, and ephemera. I also like to stamp images (the ones pictured are from PaperBag Studios and some are hand-carved by a friend!
Next, stitch bits and pieces onto painted folders. Be certain to leave space to address your mail, as well as a return label. I like to do some decorative stitching on top of the folder. Once everything is tacked on, close the folder and stitch the perimeter of the "envelope" but be certain to leave an opening for stuffing letters or goodies inside!
Once you have filled your mail art, be sure to stitch the opening to secure. Here are a few little bits I am sending out today, just need to address them and put them in the mail . . . could one of these be for you?????