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Make it Yours! 3 Ways to Decorate Envelopes When Sending Letters

27 May

Nothing is better than receiving a handwritten letter in the mail. The time someone took to pick out the stationery, to sit down and craft sentences, and send it off is something of an anomaly.  In this day and age of social media, a handwritten letter is largely considered a thing of the past.

Show You Care with a Letter!

So why not show your appreciation to a friend, a family member, or a loved one and send off your own personalized letter?  You don’t need to spend a fortune on pre-made cards and envelopes, just take a blank envelope and you can make it totally your own in seconds!

While I love buying traditional cards, I love buying plain cream colored folded cards and envelopes.  This allows me to personalize the envelope (and the card) to the individual person, rather than rely on pre-written wishes!

Letter Decorating Supplies

My old standby has always been rubber stamps.  I have amassed a small collection of lovely stamps from various places in various designs – a small cat, a star burst, a lovely paisley design reminiscent of India – to name but a few.

Personally, I always pick a color first (most of my letters follow a color scheme), then I ink the chosen image on the side and the back of my envelope.  In a contrasting color, I would write the address. Depending on how creative I want to be, I either stop there or I add a little watercolor wash, layering colors and images until I am satisfied with my final product.

Washi tape is my new obsession.  I love its versatility and it comes in the most darling prints. One idea is to take washi tape and create a small box in the middle of the envelope and write the address inside.  Or you can place the washi tape all along the sides of the envelope.  You can use images from magazines coupled with washi tape to create a unique and simple design!

Something to Cherish Forever

Finally, you can just draw.  My best friend, who is an incredible artist, used her envelopes as a small mini canvas. In an attempt to flatter and impress her, I decorated my envelopes (and card) with little stick figures running around!  While that was the extent of my creativity, the sky is the limit for your artistic thoughts!  Using sturdy glue, you can create a lovely collage on the envelope front.  You can use stickers, pretty colored pens and ink to really create a lovely, unique envelope to send off to your friends and loved ones.

There is no limit to what you can do with your envelopes! Have some fun with them and see how you can transform this non-traditional canvas into a work of art.

 

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Meet the Writer: Akhila Jagdish is a writer and a senior editor at The Crafted Word, an editorial services company. She loves making lists, collecting journals, reading, drinking wine and cooking. She is always looking for a good book, a new pen or a yoga class! 

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Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

23 Mar

1 –>  Our Moleskine Haiku Contest winner Sandra is still doling out the love with a wonderful review of the Moleskine Passions Wine Journal!

2 –> Gourmet Pens: Call for Submissions for the April Carnival of Pen & Paper

3 –> Journal Addict: Meet Journal Keeper Lynn Fisher …This sums it up quite nicely, but you still should click over to read it all! “I have now amassed what most people would regard as a fire hazard of journals in a variety of sizes, shapes, handmade, or store-bought. All reflect the joy and heartache of the examined life in a way that most precisely mirrors what and who I am as a person right now.”

4 –> Letter Writers Alliance: Cherry Blossom Centennial Stamp Release and Party

5 –> Writing Instruments: Writing Instruments are the Voice of Desire

6 –> Missive Maven: A letter to a favorite writer, hand-delivered

7 –> R Scribbling Glue: That’s Not a Tea Cup, It’s a Post Office Box!

8 –> Rhodia Drive: Creative Prompt: Your Favorite Things

9 –> Plannerisms: Preparing for the Planner Drought


The Birth of the Book Letter

16 Feb

Two of my favorite things on the planet are books and letters. About two years ago, I created a way to combine them—a Book Letter. It sounds simple enough, and it can be as elaborate or straightforward as you’d like to make it, but I promise it will be something treasured forever by the recipient of your choice.

What is a Book Letter?

I love writing letters and far prefer the long missive that goes on for some pages, like a long, in-depth conversation with someone you enjoy spending time with. Short notes have their place, of course, but long letters are definitely more of a treasure to hold onto and re-read. However, long letters take time and thought, and in this busy age of quick text messages and emails, it is quite rare for people to write extremely long letters, especially in one sitting.

The Birth of the Book Letter by Tamra Orr on EuropeanPaper.com

Enter the Book Letter. Basically, you take a small notebook (2 by 4 inches, or pocket-sized, which is 3.5 by 5.5 inches), dedicate it to one person, and start writing letters in it whenever you get a chance. They can be long or short, and once the book is filled up, it’s time to send it off to the lucky person. This is the first iteration of the Book Letter—simple, efficient, and practical.

If you’d like to develop a more complex Book Letter, give it some depth. Keep an eye out during your daily routine for items the recipient would like. Perhaps such items like a newspaper clipping of a review for a play they like; snippets of a friendship poem you came across online; a quote that reminded you of the person, some funny cartoons and other small paper “tuck-ins.” These can be glued into the small notebook, taped onto a page, or just tucked in.

Once you get the hang of it, each Book Letter will be easier and quicker to create. Start deciding ahead of time what else will go in your Book Letter other than just your handwritten letters. Keep a small collection of items to tuck in the next Book Letter, as well as some small notebooks whenever the feeling grabs you to start a new one.

My Book Letter Process

Personally, when I start a new Book Letter to someone, the first thing I do is decorate the inside page with the name of the person I am sending the letter to. I typically use calligraphy pens and stickers to do this and often add the date.

Next, I choose a theme for the book letter—anything from Victorian elegance or going “green” to highlighting a specific season or holiday.  (I use scrapbooking supplies for much of this.) Once I’ve chosen the theme, I go through the notebook, page by page, and add stickers and borders. If I was remotely artistic, I would add sketches and drawings. So if you are artistic, this is a great place to show off your talent.

Now it’s time to decide what “tuck ins” will go with this letter. Maybe it’s pictures of my kids opening their Christmas presents or watering the plants in the garden. Maybe it’s a newspaper article or a magazine column of interest. It might be a funny cartoon that made you laugh or a copy of a quote from a book that had an impact on you. Truly, there are no limits. Just choose something that reflects who you are and who you are writing to.

Finally, I start writing the letter itself, skipping around the tuck-ins and filling up the pages.  I write a few pages and then put the letter away for a day or two before adding more words. Eventually the Book Letter is ready—a true gift for whomever it is sent to.

Ready to try your own book letter? Start by choosing a small notebook. Some great examples include Apica’s CD-10, 11 and 15 Series, Moleskine’s Volant Notebooks, and Rhodia’s Pocket Unlimited Notebooks. These notebooks come in all sizes, with as few as 10-12 pages or as many as 150. They can be lined or unlined. What kind you choose is up to you, but remember that filling up much more than 30 pages or so can be challenging. I recommend starting small.

Book Letter Tips

Next, add stickers, pictures, drawings/illustrations, whatever you would like to decorate your pages. Finally, start writing. You might write two pages today, put it away for a week and then add a few more. I’ve been known to complete a book letter in one sitting—and take almost a month.

Remember that a book letter is like an art project – there is no right or wrong way to do it. There is simply YOUR way of doing it. It will reflect your thoughts and your time and there are few gifts as worthwhile as that.

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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10 Letter Writing Tips

31 Jan

Writing a letter might seem like an art that no one follows anymore, like speaking Latin or doing the jitterbug (and where else can you find a comparison between those activities but here at EPC?), but there are many enthusiasts still out there. You’ll recognize us if you look closely. We sit in coffee shops with pens and paper in front of us instead of laptops. We walk into office supply stores and head over to the fountain pen ink refills instead of the printer ink refills.  We know how much an extra ounce costs, the price of an international stamp, and how much we can squeeze into a first class priority box before it explodes.

G. Lalo Verge de France Correspondence Sets on EuropeanPaper.com

G. Lalo Verge de France Correspondence Sets

Yes, I am one of them (and proud of it!), and I write hundreds of letters every year. My free time is spent with pen in hand talking with friends near and far. When I walk out to the mailbox every day, I know more than bills and advertisements are waiting for me.

Of course, to GET letters, you have to SEND letters. So, here are the 10 best letter writing tips I know, based on hundreds of letters written (and received) every year. These tips refer to both personal and professional correspondence.  The first six tips are must-do’s; the second four are options to consider.

  1. When you are going to write a letter, make sure you have enough time to do so. A rushed letter feels like a rushed letter, and typically, handwriting takes longer than you remember. If you aren’t sure you can find a free half hour or hour, combine your writing with other activities like watching a movie, waiting for the dryer to finish or sipping that morning cup of java.
  2. As you begin writing, refer to your last visit, conversation or letter with that person. Mention where you were, something that was said, or another statement that reconnects the two of you.
  3. Date the letter. I know that might not seem very important, but when the person reads the letter, re-reads it, and keeps it for ages, that date is very important. I recently dug through some old boxes and found all of the letters my mother wrote me while I was in college. She is no longer living, so these letters are truly precious to me. I organized them in the order she wrote them and put them in folders. The dates were essential.
  4. Write legibly. I know, I know. Duh, right? But you wouldn’t believe how many people have almost illegible handwriting. They either try to be fancy or they simply haven’t dusted off their penmanship skills in a long time.  If you have trouble with cursive, print. If that doesn’t work well, type. Make it easy on your reader.
  5. Ask the person questions.  A letter that just tells a person all about you-you-you and then says goodbye at the end is not much fun to read and often very difficult to respond to. Ask the person questions, such as: How is work? How are the children? Where have you traveled? What are you reading lately? They can be as simple or complex as you want to make them, but obviously keep your reader in mind regarding the type of personal questions you may ask. This will inspire the person to want to sit down and write back to you.
  6. Follow the simple rules of good writing. Always double-check that you spelled their name correctly and make sure you have the right address for the envelope. You aren’t being graded here, so you don’t need topic sentences and appropriate transitional phrases between paragraphs (yes, I used to be an English teacher!), but make sure you aren’t writing in such a manner that others can’t understand what you’re saying.

Those were the “must-do’s” of letter writing. Here are four more tips to consider implementing as you write more.

  1. Click the image to buy this product on EuropeanPaper.com

    Mudlark Eco Hayden Leigh Memento Boxed Note Cards

    Use attractive paper and cards for your letter. The European Paper Company carries many lovely options, including boxed notecards, a wide selection of eco stationery, and much more. Sure, lined notebook paper is nice, but it can be dull. A letter on fine stationery is often much appreciated, but if all you have is lined notebook paper dress it up a bit to make it special.

  2. Include fun little tuck-ins. Getting a letter is fun – getting a letter with surprises tucked inside it is even better. It can be photos, newspaper clippings, comics, bookmarks – whatever you want. These little extras can make letter writing even more enjoyable.
  3. Respond to letters quickly, but not TOO quickly. If your letter is in response to one sent to you, don’t let it sit around for more than two to four weeks before answering it. If too much time goes by, the person may forget what he wrote or think you have decided not to respond at all.  If I haven’t heard from someone in more than a month, I also send a quick postcard making sure all is well with them. On the flip side, it might sound crazy, but I wouldn’t recommend responding to someone the day or day after you get a letter. That might be so quick that it makes the receiver feel pressured.
  4. Finally, if all of this sounds wonderful but you’re stumped on who to write to, do some homework and check out organizations. If you don’t have family and friends that would be interested in writing letters, go to the The Letter Writer’s Alliance and The Letter Exchange online. They both offer wonderful connections to other crazy letter writers like me. EPC also lists web sites for letter writers to connect (check out the blogroll in the right column of this blog). Believe me—we are out there and waiting by our mailboxes. Write!

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

6 Jan

1 –> Troy [Penpalling-Dad] takes an honest examination of where he’s at, planners over the years, and organization for 2012 in his post Getting Organized for 2012! Glad we could help with the spark.

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2 –> Leigh Reyes shared some lovely fountain pen images from her blog for enthusiasts to use as wallpaper. Check out her post, Fountain Pen Wallpaper for 2012, for the downloads.

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3 –>  Both the Missive Maven and the Misty [Pen Thief] had great blog posts about how they log all their incoming and outgoing mail. Both are definitely posts to read if you’re looking to increase the amount of mail you send & receive in 2012, not to mention if one of your resolutions had “organization” in it! –> Missive Maven’s post 2011: A Year in Mail, and The Pen Thief’s post Mail Log 2012.

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4 –>  Julie O [Pen, Paper ... Whatever] crafted a wonderful blog post called Welcome to 2012 filled with pen, paper, and ink community references. Check it out for a list of forums, blogrolls, pen clubs, and more.

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5 –> The boys over at FPGeeks.com showed off a neat Moleskine hack for those more interested in a pen case. Here’s the main image (on the left), but click over to their site to see more. If you’ve never heard of FPGeeks.com, read this post first to get properly introduced to their style: BLACK Noodler’s Ahab Prototype Found in Local Bar.

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6 –>  It looks like Margana [Inkophile] is putting the Moleskine Pocket Weekly Planner + Notes she won in one of our past giveaways to good use. Hop on over to her post – A Moleskine Planner Is Reporting For Duty - and join the conversation.

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7 –> Since this is our first Friday Blogger Tuck-ins post in the new year, we’ve got to include some resolution posts! Millie [Ms. Logica] recaps how she did with her 2011 resolutions in her post My 2011 Resolutions Review. Rhodia Drive asked what were your Favorite Rhodia Products of 2011. Scribbling Glue jots down 7 Projects to Tackle in 2012. And Stephanie [Biffy Beans / Rhodia Drive] describes her Manifestation List for 2012 (instead of a ‘resolution list’).

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As we mentioned in our last Friday Blogger Tuck-ins post of 2011, we’re moving the pen, ink, and notebook review links to another day as there are so many of them! Be on the lookout for them either Monday or Wednesday of next week … we haven’t decided which yet. Let us know what day you prefer in the comments! Happy New Year to everyone!

Beautiful Paper, Perfect Pen … Now What?

10 Nov

The timing couldn’t be better. You have a free hour to spend as you please. On the desk in front of you is some of the most beautiful paper you have ever had. It might be a sheet of Amalfi watermark stationery or a tablet of G. Lalo Verge De France. In your hand is your tried and trusted fountain pen. You are ready to spend your hour writing.

G. Lalo Fine Stationery on EuropeanPaper.com

G. Lalo Fine Stationery

But—writing what?

Chances are you have some type of correspondence waiting to be written—most people do. Think about it for a moment. Perhaps you owe a few thank you notes to some people? Maybe a reply letter to a distant friend or relative? Perhaps you’d like to write a love letter to someone special? In these modern days of texting, instant messaging, emailing and Twittering, a handwritten letter is still a treasure many people appreciate.

The post office is struggling at the moment, but there are thousands of devoted people around the planet who are doing their best to keep it going, and you can be one of them. Many people sit down and spend an hour—or two or three—writing to someone in another city, state, or country. They share their thoughts and dreams, their daily activities, their opinions and philosophies, and much more—all just a sample of what you, too, can write. While many people pen letters to friends and family who have moved away, a number are also corresponding with friends they have only met through the mailbox.

Here are a few tips to help you put pen to paper:

Before you start composing, give your words some thought. What would you like to express to this person? If you are not sure how to phrase it, try jump starting those creative juices by taking a walk outside (nature can be amazingly inspirational!). As you walk or after you return, jot down a short list of points you want to cover in your letter so that you don’t get to the end and realize you forgot something important.

For a fairly brief letter, perhaps one to thank someone for doing something kind, consider drawing a swirl or border on your border to personalize it. You can also add a wax initial stamp to the bottom. Also, If you have trouble writing straight on unlined paper, you can often find a line guide in high-end paper, or you can create your own on the computer and place it behind your paper as a guide to follow.

G. Lalo Correspondence Sets on EuropeanPaper.com

Example of deckle-edged G. Lalo Correspondence Sets.

If you are using a fountain pen, make sure you have adequate amounts of ink on hand. If you have multiple pens with different types of ink, consider writing in one color and adding that swirl or border in another tone. Check that your ink has dried before carefully folding your letter into the envelope. You might want to embellish the envelope with the same swirl or border to create unity between container and contents.

Remember that while you want your correspondence to look lovely and delight whoever receives it, this is not English 101. You will not be graded on your perfect punctuation or vibrant vocabulary. Simply speak from your heart and let the words flow from your hand through the pen to the paper. After all, beautiful paper is like a sailing ship sitting in a harbor. It wasn’t meant to just sit there. Instead, add your words to it and then send it off on a journey.

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 Meet the Writer: Tamra Orr is a full time writer and has written more than 300 books for readers of all ages. She is also mom to four and writes an average of 50 letters or more a month.

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Penmanship & Calligraphy: Where to Start

3 Nov

Penmanship & Calligraphy Series by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com
Have you ever gotten a note from someone who was both thoughtful and handwritten? I know I have, and I probably saved every single one. No matter the handwriting, whether big and loopy or small and abrupt, the handwriting is unique to the person writing. It’s a lot like a fingerprint.

If you’re at a spot in your life where you might want to work on your penmanship a bit, then you are in the right place. Or maybe, you just want to do justice to your nice pens and paper. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about penmanship and calligraphy. And this first post? It’s all about where to start.

Where to Start

What is the difference between penmanship and calligraphy? Penmanship is your specific and unique style of writing. Calligraphy is taking a particular style of writing and basing your strokes directly off of that. It’s that simple.

So to start, we’ll focus on penmanship. Know that you have a unique style of writing and the purpose of working on your penmanship is not to erase that uniqueness, but perhaps just to work the craft a bit more. Spending time on your penmanship results in a style of handwriting that is even more uniquely you—it’s just polished. Think of some of the great painters. They all had a unique way of working with their paintbrushes and paint. They all spent time on their craft. They all had a very distinctive style that was all their own.

You’re all great painters; you just haven’t worked on your craft enough. But the goal of penmanship is not to copy someone else’s style—it is to refine your own.

What Tools Do I Need?

You’ll need a pen and some paper. And no, you don’t have to use a calligraphy-specific pen, any pen will do. I keep plain white notecards and envelopes in my desk drawer at all times for basic correspondence. I also love Rhodia’s Dot Notepads for writing little bits and bobs and for practice. My favorite journal paper can be found in the Moleskine Volants. I love this paper with ballpoints, fountain pens, and pencils equally.

Does the Type of Pen Matter? Does the Type of Paper Matter?

A random piece of my handwriting to analyze the penmanship.

The answer is both yes and no. Personally, when I write something important, I use ‘important’ tools. I pick up a fountain pen rather than a cheap plastic ballpoint pen. There are a few reasons for this, the most important being that a nicer pen will generate a better flow of ink and can show more variation in your strokes. If you write with a ballpoint, the intricacies and nuances of your natural handwriting very often become lost. The same is true for paper. If you are using standard computer paper, you are more likely to run into problems (like tears, bleeding ink, and smudges). Nicer paper is actually designed to hold ink and deal with the point of the pen scratching the surface of the paper.

Finally, it is good practice to find some of your recent handwriting and take an extra minute to notice the details. For me, it’s a to-do list I made last week (pictured). This is my writing in its natural state, written just for me. I will take a look at this and look at some of the letters I naturally (and therefore comfortably) tend to embellish a little. This is what you should do with your writing. Look at your tendencies.

Next time, we’re going to talk more about penmanship and calligraphy from a historical standpoint and where it stands today.

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Meet the WriterCole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Happy Halloween!

31 Oct

We love this time of year for the intense creativity that abounds throughout the internet! You’ve got to check out the designer pumpkin carving showcased on Garden Design; Leah at Quo Vadis asks what you’ll be for Halloween this year on the official Quo Vadis blog; and while this has nothing to do with Halloween, I’ve been secretly obsessed with the houndstooth pattern for quite some time and I keep seeing it pop up everywhere – like on Charlotte’s blog Lottie Loves where she shows off these colorful houndstooth tea towels. But back to Halloween … :)

Black is an easy cover color with journals & notepads, so we scoured the European Paper site for all the orange we could find in honor of Halloween. First off, we’ve got multiple sizes of the Moleskine Volant Notebooks in orange; Rhodia obviously is the king (and queen) of orange paper products; and even the handy Cretacolor Pastel Set, perfect for spooky creations.

Last, but not least, a contest alert: Don’t forget to enter your comment over at the Good Pens blog for a chance to win a prize pack! The contest is open till this Friday and internationals are welcome to enter!