Sealed With A Kiss
Receiving something exciting in the mail is one of life’s great joys. Seriously. These are the days of bills & circulars, worth less to the recipient than the paper they were printed on. To most people, these things actually have negative value. I cannot begin to describe what a kick I get from pulling a colourful envelope out of my post office box!
There is something touching about it, something genuine & unique & authentic. It means that somebody across the ocean has taken the time to sit down & write you something, to put pen to paper with you in mind. Then, with the envelope tucked securely in their handbag, they have deposited it in a box on the side of the road, & postal workers have passed it between hands until it finally arrives at your house.
I love that.
I wouldn’t consider myself a professional letter writer or anything, especially now when I tend to spend my “down time” — the time I used to spend writing letters & making parcels — asleep or thinking about iCiNG! But I have written a LOT of letters in my time, so I thought I would give you some ideas to stimulate your letter-writing impulses!
Write a letter which is candid & juicy
A letter which says the usual things — hello, how are you?, I am fine, today I went to the market etc. — is cool, but to make it really pop & sizzle, you should make the writing as interesting as you can. If you don’t have any news, write a short story or a haiku poem. The aim should be to thrill the reader in some way. One of my dear friends once wrote me a letter on the back of a huge homemade porn collage, it was amazing! (I stuck it on my fridge.) Don’t worry about the usual conventions of explaining what you’ve been up to if you don’t want to — in these days of email & social networking, odds are good that your correspondent already knows all about your new boyfriend/cat/haircut. Just make it invigorating, fun to read, amusing, charming. If you’re just staring at the blank paper with an equally empty mind, pretend you have a crush on the person, THEN write. See how that turns out.
Use unusual materials
It makes a difference. Anything which looks different, or is scented, or has a sensual tactile quality makes for prime postal material! I use an assortment of pens — I love vivid coloured markers (I have them in hot pink, turquoise & violet), glittery pens, fountain pens, pencils, everything! I once sharpened the end of a paintbrush & would dip it in Indian ink to write strange, chicken-scratch notes to people. Buy vellum paper, make pop-up cards, write a message on a mirror (though this is more for hand delivery than post). I wrote someone a message on a mirror once, telling them all their positive qualities, & they still had it years later. I actually had that same person write me a letter in black marker on a sheet of aluminium foil, which was super cool. Experiment & see what you can come up with!
Think about your handwriting
As a child, I was obsessed with graphology: the study of handwriting. I love to look at other people’s writing, I think it is fascinating. Regardless, the way your writing looks will greatly impact on how your letter comes across. Some people have an angry writing style, while others’ is flowery & tangled. I have always felt that neat handwriting is a sign of respect towards the reader — there is nothing more upsetting than trying to decipher someone’s scribbles! If you are normally messy when you write, try to make it as neat as you can! Otherwise, consider using a typewriter!
Compliment the recipient
People love to hear how great you think they are. Even the most impatient, antisocial person will probably have a moment for you if you tell them — sincerely! — what their best qualities are. I really believe that you can never go overboard when it comes to telling your friends how much they mean to you & how much you appreciate them. As the old adage goes, you could be dead tomorrow — or they could be — so you might as well spit it out. Plus, having that stuff on paper is lovely to refer back to.
Add little surprises to the package! Photobooth strips or sticker photos are great, since people can put them up & see them all the time. The same goes for any cool postcards you find (or buy), perfume samples, fortunes from cookies, lip gloss, strange pictures from magazines, stamps (if you both live in the same country) & glitter! I love sending out weird things. I once had a really boring job, so boring that I actually resorted to reading the phone book. One day as I was doing this, I came across a listing for someone called “Man Fanny” — needless to say, I photocopied the page, highlighted his or her name, & posted it to everyone I knew that would enjoy it. It was fantastic.
Pay attention to the envelope
While those shiny metallic envelopes in packs of 20 may wink suggestively at you, a handmade envelope is so much cooler. I am one of those people who is happy to rip a book apart at a moment’s notice. This gives many people heart palpitations, but two pages taped along the edges make a wonderful envelope. I am a real geek, I actually own multiple copies of my favourite books so I can do this. But you get the idea, you can really use anything. I remember reading a book once where they said that you can send almost anything by post so long as there is enough postage on it — so, for example, you could put a letter in a shoe, seal it & put stamps on it & it would probably arrive at its intended destination. How amazing is that?! Of course, doing all this stuff takes time, so if you just want to dash something off, then silver envelopes are for you. (They are what I normally use.) I also like to do the envelope last, so that it is in keeping with the contents. (Geek!)
Now that you’re in the mood to write a letter, how about some supplies to get your heart racing?
I have been obsessed with lovelydesign for a while, but have never bought anything. A sad truth! Their i miss you mail set is made from vintage maps & recycled paper & is just begging for purchase, don’t you agree?
I really love the look of recycled paper, for some reason it is really aesthetically pleasing to me. Not to mention, good for the conscience! Needless to say, this recycled stationery set totally turns my crank.
I stumbled across a veritable stationery treasure trove on Things From Another World! There are 1950’s pin-up girls, as well as themed sets featuring Bettie Page, Penny Dreadful, Lenore, the art of Fawn Gehweiler (pictured) & Gloomy Bear. For those who like the it super-colourful, the Tokidoki stationery set is for you…