Category Archives: snail mail

Dive Bar Letter Writers is Back

After a bit of a hiatus for the holidays and Covid, the Dive Bar Letter Writers are back again! We met last month for National Card & Letter Writing Month and I’m scheduling our summer meet-ups.

Naoto has been a regular at our meetings but this time he actually wrote a letter! (Usually he reads or just eats a burger.)

If you’re in Chicagoland, please join us for our next meeting, May 22 at 2pm in Goldyburger’s beer garden! You can sign up for email reminders here.

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Letter Writing Presentation with Lake Villa District Library

Have you been celebrating National Card & Letter Writing Month? I’ve been trying to work through my to-be-returned pile and get back into the habit of writing, but I’m a little bit behind my goal. I’m determined to finish strong next week!

Tonight I’m joining the Lake Villa District Library for a discussion about letter writing. It’s an online session and if you’re interested in joining us, here’s the link.

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Presley’s Valentines

This year, we sent Valentines from our cat to everyone on our Valentine list. (Unlike in 2016 when we just sent them to a few of Presley’s favorite fans.) I wanted to send a bunch of little Valentines this year, and I didn’t have anything in my stash that would work. (Also, confession–I think I have an old Paper Source Valentine kit somewhere…but I don’t know where.) I decided to see what Walgreens had in terms of photo cards and I found this design. They are basically a 3×8 photo card that is designed to be cut into classroom Valentines. I chose a serious Presley, a sweet Presley, and a family picture from last spring, sent them off and they were ready in less that thirty minutes.

I used 4bar envelopes from my stash, and some I made last year, and had fun playing with postage stamps. I am very tired of my love stamp selections, so I need to make a point to find something better at the next stamp show. (Also, I regret not buying more of the monster stamps–they are super fun to play with since they come with little accessories in the selvage.)

It felt good to make some mail again. Next up, Olympics mail!

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Origami Heart Valentines

Last year I taught a Valentine workshop online with the Forest Park Public Library. These origami hearts were some of my favorites. They are super easy to learn and they’re so versatile! You can tuck them in with a letter or a card or you can use them to build your own DIY Valentine.

I used this short video to learn the folds:

I folded a ton of hearts to prepare for the class. I used some thin, cheap origami paper and also some really fancy washi, like this purple one above. (Can you see all of the fibers in the washi paper?) Washi makes really dreamy hearts, but the thinner stuff is easier to work with, especially if you’re folding with kids.

For some of the Valentines, I tucked a little message inside the front where the two halves split. I just used thin strips of scrap paper leftover from another project.

I don’t have a better picture of the origami heart card I made because I mailed it last year! But if you wanted to send something more substantial than a tiny origami heart, you could always glue it to a fold-over card. I made a little banner for my message and adhered it with foam squares for some dimension.

I had most of these hearts packed away from last year since we were closing on the house and packing up to put our condo on the market. It felt good to find them again and release them into the mail world along with my cards for this year.

Have you sent any Valentines out this year?

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You’re Tweet Valentine

Last year, I taught a Valentine card making class with the Forest Park Public Library. It was my first zoom workshop and it went way better than I feared! All of the participants got a little kit with supplies and then they followed along at home as I talked them through paper crafting. It was so weird for me to make cards that didn’t involve rubber stamps but since we couldn’t share supplies, I was challenged to use only paper, scissors, and glue!

One of my favorites from the workshop is this bird. It’s based off of one of the first Paper Source kits I ever bought.

You’re Tweet Bird Valentine

Supplies:

A variety of colored card stock, including orange for the beak
Heart cards (or you can cut your own hearts using your card stock)
Scissors
Hole punch*
Pencil
Glue stick
Brads* (Michaels and Amazon have a nice selection if you want to get fancy colored brads.)
Googly eyes (or you can draw eyes with a marker)
Something about 2″ round to trace or a punch that makes 2″ circles (or you can freehand)

*If you don’t have a hole punch or brads, you can still make this card–it just won’t have moveable wings.

Take two hearts, ideally different colors but the same size, and cut one in half vertically. These hearts are from Paper Source but you can cut your own.

Next make a two inch circle and cut it out. It doesn’t have to be exact. Just find something in your house that is round and about two inches in diameter and trace it onto some colored card stock. You can also freehand a circle.

Glue your circle onto the bottom heart (the un-cut one.) Remember this is the head, so eyeball it to see how it looks best.

Next, lay your cut heart on top of the bottom heart and head and punch a hole at the top of each side, as shown above. This hole will go through the top heart, the bottom heart, and the head. (If you don’t have brads, you can skip this step.)

Poke your brads through the holes to make the moveable wings. (If you don’t have brads, you can glue the wings on. Remember to consider your envelope while deciding how wide to make your bird’s wingspan!)

Glue on your googly eyes (or draw on some eyes if you don’t have googly eyes) and then cut a beak out of some orange card stock. Glue on the beak.

Finally, write your message. I typed up some messages on the Royal Safari, but you can hand write a message on the bottom heart too!

Isn’t he so cute and easy? And for real, if you don’t have a hole punch and brads, a bird with glued wings is still very cute! You could also rubber stamp or glitter the wings to make him extra fancy.

If you make one, please tag me on Instagram or share on Twitter!

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Recap of the Workshop at Forest Park Public Library

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I taught a winter card making workshop at Forest Park Public library last month. It was a drop-in class so people could come at any time and make a card or two. I have taught in-person card making classes, and I’ve taught a card making class on zoom, but I had never taught a card making class where everyone wasn’t working on the same card at the same time. I was a little bit nervous, but while making my samples, I figured there were several places in each card where independent work would give me a chance to help someone else. And it all worked out just fine. I even got the highest compliment from a women who makes cards all the time. She said that she learned some new things at the workshop. Goal achieved.

I had six card options–two origami, two with other paper folding, a layered card, and a shaker postcard. The glittered vintage paper trees were by far the most popular, and the most challenging. It’s really hard to get the hang of the folds, even though it looks so simple.

It was especially fun to see everyone making the cards their own. This is an example of a snowcat card based on my snowman card. I love how Michelle used the little gems to make a holly accent on the hat and just the whole concept of a snowcat!

Has anyone started thinking about their Valentines? Too soon?

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A Very Presley Christmas 2021

May I present our 2021 holiday cards? I loved them so much and I couldn’t wait to show you, even though I think some may still be arriving or on their way.

Last summer, I asked Donovan if she would draw something for our holiday card and she agreed. I still love and use the stationery she drew for my birthday a few years ago. I asked her to draw a tree with ramen, cocktails, mail, and a tuna underneath–a few of our favorite things.

Then, I shared this picture of Presley on Instagram. She was looking very grumpy in a Santa hat and Donovan decided to add Presley too. We couldn’t have been more delighted.

I had the cards printed as flat cards (like a postcard, not folded like a greeting card) because I don’t write long messages in my holiday cards. It was the perfect little greeting. (And thanks to my friend Mark at Printing Plus for printing and delivering them to me!)

In addition to our cards, Donovan surprised us with these wonderful faux postage stamps. She was inspired by Presley to draw holiday stamps of a bunch of cats she knows for her Patreon supporters. (If you scroll back on her Instagram (@dovbee) you can see them all. Or you can join her Patreon and download them all!) I used our stamps to decorate the envelopes of our cards that went out to cat lovers and Presley fans.

I hope it was a good holiday season in your mailbox and I’m looking forward to writing some mail this week and I ease into the new year!

P.S. This is not a sponsored post–just genuinely love Donovan and her work and Mark’s print shop!

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Winter Card Making with Forest Park Public Library

I’m teaching a card making class at the Forest Park Public Library on Thursday! If you are local, you can sign up here. It’s a drop in class, so people can come and make a card or two and leave, or they can stay and make all five. I have a couple of Christmas ones, but also some general winter ideas so if Christmas isn’t your thing, there will be something for everyone.

I am bringing a typewriter, rubber stamps, vintage papers, some origami, and glitter…plenty of glitter. (‘Tis the season after all!)

This is my third library event. (I don’t think I told you about the week I presented about letter writing with Schaumburg Library, did an online Valentine making workshop with Forest Park Public Library, and closed on a house, have I?) Library events are a lot of fun–a very relaxed way to learn, and free!

I’ll be back with more Christmas posts–holiday parties, workshops, and wholesale orders are keeping me busy these days!

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Mr. Zip Is My Boyfriend

There is an Invasion of the Scarecrows happening in Forest Park for Halloween. It’s a fundraiser for the Historical Society and the Arts Alliance and I was so excited to participate. It didn’t take me long to land on Mr. Zip for our scarecrow. His cartoony face and his simple blue suit wouldn’t be too complicated to make for someone like me who has zero drawing skills.

We picked up our kits in August and this is what it came with–a simple wooden cross base, the fabric sewn and ready to design for the head and some other crafting things that I didn’t use. I pulled everything out of the garage on Monday night to get started. (The scarecrow was “due” on October 1st…) I got the rest of the stuff–a simple blue t-shirt and sweatpants, loads of felt, and some blue fabric–online throughout September while I marinated on his construction.

I decided to use felt for his face because I am terrible with fabric paint. I freehanded his eyes, nose, and mouth while looking at his pictures online. It’s not a perfect depiction, but as my dad likes to say, “Close enough for a town this size.” The hat was fashioned with swear words, magic, blue fabric, and yellow and black felt. I doubt it will last through a rain storm to be honest.

And I just cut some buttons out of black felt for his “jacket” and sort of safety pinned everything together. He has a little wire running through him to help his arms hold their shape. I made him a little bag and a letter out of felt and called it a day.

The actual putting him together was the least fun part–I don’t know how I was thinking it would work–but I think an engineering degree would have come in handy.

If you’re local, there’s a map on the Historical Society of Forest Park’s website and the idea is meant to get people out around town to check everyone’s out. There’s a contest, too, for the most artistic, most historical, Forest Park Pride, and people’s choice. I think the competition is going to be fierce! I hope to get out to get some pictures of other scarecrows soon and I’ll share them here. In the meantime, please enjoy these pictures of Presley. She’s made a bed of the excess felt in my stash and I guess it’s all hers now.

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Dive Bar Letter Writers

I’ve been planning to start a little letter writing club that blends my two favorite hobbies, letter writing and cocktail making, since before the pandemic and…it’s finally time!

On Sunday, July 25th from 2-4PM, I’ll be hanging out in the beer garden at Goldyburgers in Forest Park with a cocktail and my letter writing supplies. Goldyburgers is at 7316 Circle Avenue, which is a short walk from the Harlem Green Line and Oak Park Metra Stations and there’s street parking available, too. As the name implies, they do serve burgers and other food–I highly recommend the cheese balls. Goldyburgers is CASH ONLY, so while it’s free to attend the club, please bring enough cash to cover your drinks, snacks, and tip.

I want to make the club a regular thing, hopefully monthly, but it might take some time to find a good groove, so bear with me as we get this thing started. In the meantime, follow us on Instagram (@divebarletterwriters) or sign up for occasional email updates here.

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