In My Out Mailbox

Which do you find more rewarding, sending or receiving mail? The days that my mailbox is full of cards from Postcrossing and other mail art friends are fantastic, but it’s also a big thrill to make or select pre-made cards to send out into the world. Last week I jammed our mailbox with cards and flipped up the flag.


This one went to a Postrossing friend in Singapore, who said that he liked photography and that self-made cards were just fine with him. It’s a photo of the sunset over San Francisco Bay that I took from our deck. I added the “El Cerrito” because there are no commercially-made postcards for my little town – so of course I had to make some!

El Cerrito sunset postcard

When Postrcrossers specifically say they don’t want self-made cards I search through my large collection to find the perfect pre-made card. A person who likes castles is getting the vintage card you can see in the bottom right corner of the photo at the top of this post.

I sent my photo-card of a hummingbird at a fuchsia flower to a young girl in Taiwan who has a really upbeat profile. She said she’d like to see something beautiful or an interesting thing that happened in my life. A visit from a hummingbird to our garden is always so special to me, so it fit the bill.

Hummingbird at flower postcard

This photo-painting I made of an Epipactis orchid grown by George went out to a pen pal who likes flowers. When I make postcards from my photos I print on extra-thick cardstock or Epson velvet-fine art paper, which has a wonderful textured surface and is thicker than normal photo paper.

Epipactis orchid

Finally, I made this postcard from discarded books and ephemera. It’s going to a pen pal I met through the San Francisco Correspondence Co-op.

Upcycled postcard

Anything fun going out your mailbox these days?


More Mail Artistry from Ex Postal Facto

I couldn’t fit all the excitement into my first post about Ex Postal Facto 2014the amazing mail and correspondence art gathering held in San Francisco February 14 to 16. XPF was jam-packed with events and lively happenings, so here’s XPF part II. On Sunday, the  Special Collections Department of the San Francisco Public Library hosted two fascinating and often hilarious panel discussions. “A Brief History of West Coast Mail Art” was moderated by writer and visual artist John Held Jr., and featured visual/conceptual artist Lowell Darling, correspondence artist Leslie Caldera of Los Angeles, artistamp maker Carl Chew of Seattle, and artistamp maker Anna Banana of Canada. XPF organizer Jennie Hinchcliff opened the proceedings and introduced moderator John Held Jr.

Jennie Hinchcliff and John Held, Jr.

Carl Chew generously gave out large posters he created: “An Evolutionary Baobab of Artistamp Correspondents,” a dazzling graphic history of artiststampery from the ’80s to the present.

Carl Chew at XPF 2014

Next up, “Artistamps and Their Makers: Seeing the World in Miniature.”

XPF artistamp panel discussion

Jennie moderated the panel, which featured James Felter of Postes Mraur, Harley of Terra Candella, founding Postmaster of the Black Rock City Post Office (at Burning Man) James Cline, and towering above them all via Skype, Ginny Lloyd of Gina Lotta Artistamp Museum.

While my head was still buzzing with all of the fantastic stories, the milestones and personalities of the history of mail and correspondence art, I finally got to meet in person Correspondence Co-op member Sally Wassink, and swooned over her XPF commemorative issue artistamps.

S. Wurlitzer 2014 XPF artistamps

S. Wurlitzer 2014 XPF artistamps

And last but not least, a glimpse at some pages from my XPF passport, designed by Maureen Forys of Happenstance Type-O-Rama, and assembled by the Correspondence Coop team. It’s full of stickers and original artistamps and rubber stampings, to remind me of the fabulous mail art extravaganza that was XPF 2014!

XPF passport

I’d love to hear – have you had a good mail day lately?

Ex Postal Facto 2014

I’ve been designing artistamps or faux postage stamps for years, and even valid postage as soon as the USPS allowed it, and I also design greeting cards and fabric postcards.

But I only recently dived into the social whirl of mail art: exchanging postcards through Postcrossing, sending and receiving handmade artful mail with like-minded new friends, and joining the Correspondence Co-op, a group based in San Francisco for mail artists, letter writers, and people who love the United States Postal Service.

My timing was great, because this past weekend there was a mind-blowing series of events by, for, and about mail artists! The book that drew me into the mail art world is Good Mail Dayco-written by powerhouse Jennie Hinchcliff, aka Red Letter Day. Jennie dreamed up and organized (with lots of help from Correspondence Co-op members and others) Ex Postal Facto 2014, “A Celebration of Correspondence Art, Faux Philatelics, and Postal Modernism.” The first event I made it to was the Vendor Exposition, where over 25 artistamp makers, mail artists and postal moderns showed, sold, and shared their amazing work.

Ta-daa! The Queen of XPF 2014, Jennie Hinchcliff, holding forth at her crowded booth:

Jennie Hinchcliff

Niko Courtelis of Philatelic Atrocities gave a lecture hosted by Chronicle Books on Thursday in conjunction with XPF. Titled “A New Look at Postage Stamp Design,” Niko discussed postage stamp aesthetics and design fundamentals for stamp graphics. Here at the Vendor Expo he’s putting the commemorative XPF stamp he designed in another mail artist’s souvenir passport.

Niko Courtelis, Philatelic Atrocities

Dame Mailarta, Queen of Poste, down from Victoria, BC, had an amazingly colorful booth.

Dame Mailarta, Queen of Poste

I was thrilled to swap some of my own artistamps for a precious sheet of original commemorative Ex Postal Facto stamps designed by noted mailartist John Held Jr.:

John Held Jr

These are the artistamps I designed to give away and swap at Ex Postal Facto:


There’s much more to tell, so stay tuned for more wonderful mail artistry!

This is a list of my mail-related blog posts:

Passion for Postcards 

Mail Art pen pal

Stamp News

Handmade Fabric Postcards

Printing on Wood Veneer

New greeting cards

Vintage Valentine’s Day Greetings

Happy Halloween vintage postcards

Happy Peeps-Day!

A Token of Love

Happy New Year!

My Christmas Greeting

Happy Thanksgiving: Some Vintage Greetings

Mad Hens

Woman Vacations on Santa Catalina Island

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Mail Art pen pal

In a recent post I told you about Postcrossing, a website for people around the world to send and receive postcards. In a scant four months I’ve sent 47 and received 37 cards! My postcards have travelled 395,996 km (246,061 miles) and those I’ve received have gone 298,069 km (185,211 miles). Here’s my Postcrossing map:

Postcrossing map

In their profiles (click the link to see mine), people tell a bit about themselves and can say what kind of cards they’d like to get. A wonderful Postcrosser from back East who was chosen at random to send me a card saw that I collect vintage embossed holiday cards and mailed me two fabulous old postcards. She used a triangle stamp on the envelope, because I mentioned in my profile that I collect those. Talk about a Happy Mail Day!

DSC_6715 small

Emailing through Postcrossing, we realized that we have many similar interests, and she proposed corresponding by mail. I couldn’t say yes fast enough! She also loves photography, and sent me a greeting card she made from her wonderful photo of a Fall garden, along with two more precious vintage embossed holiday cards from her collection.

For my first offering, I decided to send one of my accordion cards, which I made by printing four of my native flower kaleidoscope designs onto a sheet, and folding it. I wrote on the back.

Native flowers kaleidoscope accordion card

I’ve started making upcycled envelopes from paper that would otherwise be thrown away or recycled. I chose one that I made from an old calendar of botanical drawings.  The stamp in the right corner is one I designed from my photo of a masdevallia orchid. I had the stamps made through my Zazzle gallery.

Upcycled handmade envelope

Have you had a Happy Mail Day recently? If so please tell!

Here are my other blog posts about handmade postcards:

Passion for Postcards

Handmade Fabric Postcards

Printing on Wood Veneer

Passion for Postcards

I’ve told you before how much I love vintage postcards, and that I love making fabric postcards from my own artwork. Last month I read a great book on mail art called Good Mail Day that had a list of sites to swap mail art. One really struck my fancy, called Postcrossing, where after you sign up you send postcards and then receive postcards back from people all around the world.

In their profiles people tell a bit about themselves and can say what kind of cards they’d like to receive. I have a huge collection of postcard books, and it’s really fun paging through them to find the perfect one for each person. A girl in Belarus said she liked “cars of your country,” so I chose this cool card for her.


It takes a while for you to get your first postcard, because you only get on the list to receive one after one of your cards reaches its destination. You can send out 5 cards at first, so hopefully at least one or two will reach the person quickly. And pretty soon they increase the number you can send out at once; I’m up to 7. This is one of my favorites, sent by a woman in Germany:


She mentioned that when she read my profile she thought it would have been better to get a card from me, so I sent her a message (you can contact people through their profiles if they agree to that) saying that I’d love to send her a card. I just mailed her my own ladybug greeting card:

Ladybug stretching card

At first I sent only commercial cards, but a girl in the Ukraine wrote that she liked handmade cards, nature, and animals, so I decided to print one of my hummingbird photos for her. I had read that postcards to Europe shouldn’t be too flimsy or they might crumple, so I printed the back and front on one sheet of paper, folded it over, and pasted them together to make it double-strength. Printing the back let me include a fun “Postcard” graphic I scanned from one of my vintage cards, which I also use to print on my fabric postcard backs.

Hummingbird postcard

I just sent my photo of a monarch butterfly on a sunflower to a woman in the Netherlands who likes postcards with flowers and animals. I printed it on Epson Velvet Fine Art paper, which is thicker than most other inkjet paper.

Postcrossing original postcard

It’s so fun both to send and receive cards. If you sign up for Postcrossing and want to exchange cards let me know – you can do direct swaps along with the random selection of addresses that the site generates for each normal swap. Happy Postcrossing!

Here are my other blog posts about postcards:

Handmade Fabric Postcards

Happy Peeps-Day!

Happy New Year!

Mad Hens

Woman Vacations on Santa Catalina Island

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Printing on Wood Veneer