Several Books and More Handmade Envelopes, Mail, and Letter Writing

I first read The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of the American Myth in November 2011 on inter-library loan, and I wanted to reread it. I’ve held it in my mind for years and because of the large amount of information, and I can see myself reading this over and over. I found a used copy for under $10 including shipping so I have ordered it. This pertains to American women and early settlements but is still vitally interesting for me as a Canadian.


I really, really like books on needlework and the history of women making things. I have a collection of books on both embroidery and quilting history that I reread all the time, both for the images and my fondness for the stories of women and their lives. I just love needle arts and biography; I’ve missed a few gems that have gone out of print and are too expensive on the secondary market, so I wanted to nab this while it was affordable.

I also received a great book I had ordered in on inter-library loan.


To the Letter by Simon Garfield and is a good overview of the history of writing letters. He has information here on the Romans, early postal systems, books on how to write letters which seem to proliferate in every generation, and discussion of writers, poets, and other famous people who are also famous for writing letters. Woven in among this is an actual correspondence between a man serving overseas in World War II, and a woman back home. Along the way we learn about them through this correspondence and I found it quite gripping, like I wanted to race to the end and see what happened. (No, I won’t tell you the outcome.)

Simon Garfield has quite a rambling way of writing, but he makes all the details interesting. I notice he has a book on the history of mapmaking and a book on the history of fonts and typography that I might try and read through inter-library loan.

While reading this I got the urge to make some more handmade envelopes. I made eight in a smaller quarter-fold size, one of which has already been mailed out. I made the template based on an 8.25 inch square so it would fit on letter-size paper. Then a week later I decided I needed some more of the large half-fold size, so created four new envelopes in that size.


I have placed three inter-library loans for books that looked interesting. The ones on mail art strike me as being very similar to books and examples of altered books with lots of collage and ephemera used. I won’t buy these books until I look at them, as they might duplicate what I already have, but I do want to see them for information and eye candy.

Mail Me Art: Going Postal with the World’s Best Illustrators and Designers by Darren Di Lieto is going to be quite a revelation I think. I often look at books by artists and designers on advertising and business cards and similar things, so this looked vital to have a look at for inspiration.


Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler. This is the book that most reminds me of altered books and collaged art journals. Mostly, it looks like a lot of fun and colour and paper, all things I like to look at.


The Handcrafted Letter: Get Inspired, Find Your Voice & Create Unique Projects to Keep in Touch by Diane Maurer-Mathison. I had the feeling, perhaps from the cover photograph, that this is more about fancier, formal sort of writing. There are instructions on making your own decorative stationery, different inks and implements, improving your handwriting, and various projects in a more understated way. A different view from the other two books at least.


That’s it for creative endeavours last week.

Remember, there is always the library! We are fortunate here not to have to pay extra for inter-library loans as they do in other countries, so I take advantage of that often. Free library services are a privilege that may not be around in the future, alas, due to funding issues and the mistaken belief that books are no longer important. A self-educated and learned, questioning populace is important. For that we need books.



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