If you’ve ever received a very colorful, hand-embellished envelope from me, know that I am trying my hand at mail art. Mail art has been around since the advent of the postal service but it was made popular in the 1950s (known art exchanges have been documented with Exquisite Corpse, earlier in the century as well). It is making a revival, especially given the popularity of email, the decline of the economy which is affecting the postal service in every community world-wide and the love of nostalgia.
I’m a huge fan of mail art! Not only decorating envelopes, but participating in exchanges that are devoted to sending handmade goodies via snailmail.
I recently became involved in a mail art swap, and I had the best time! I lurked in the group for several months before I finally signed up for one of their every-other-month swaps (I don’t have permission to advertise the group, but if you search on mail art in Facebook, you will be able to find it & request membership of the closed group!) in June and mailed my creations out this month.
Mind you, I am not an artist. I can doodle and make some crafty things without feeling horribly embarrassed, but the reason I waited so long to join an exchange was because nearly everyone there is a true artist! The reason I joined a swap recently was because the theme was “Dinosaurs, Unicorns & Octopi” and I wanted to make an octopus. Like this:
It was purely nostalgia & selfishness that drove me. I didn’t have any other plan than a dorky yarn octopus-one like the pink one that sat on the pink bedspread of “my” room at my grandparents’ house when I was growing up. There was one guy in the exchange…I waited with baited breath, just hoping I wouldn’t end up with the guy as my partner because I didn’t think he’d appreciate a cutesy yarn doll. Finally, I got a girl!! Alas, a non-frilly goth girl. Thus, the crazy, red button eyes and charcoal gray color of my doll! haha
This also afforded me the opportunity to start something I’ve been wanting to do for a few months now. I was the recipient of a 100 Post Card project last year, was honored to be involved & thought it would be really cool to pay it forward with 100 Haikus. That project has since evolved, and now I am planning to send 100 Poetry Broadsides (handmade) instead with my original poetry. Here is the broadside I sent for the exchange:
I drug my feet on this, actually. I had to freehand the mermaid tail and it terrified me! The deadline was looming though, and I just had to do it. I don’t think it turned out nearly as bad as I was thinking it could!
Finally, feeling a bit sub-par with my art skills (or lack thereof), I decided to make a mixed tape for my exchange buddy. I stalked her tumblr account to see what sort of music she liked & got a CD made with all sorts of dino-uni-octi-themed music & a handmade CD insert. You get to enjoy a song off of the CD too! I figure, she will at least enjoy the music even if she thinks the octopus is stupid & the artwork and/or poetry is lame.
I am pretty fearless with my attempts at art. Maybe because I know I’m not an artist (technically writing is an art, but the art that I have any talent in only involves WORDS!), so you might think I’m just a glutton for punishment, but…
I signed up for the next exchange too, which is an Alphabet exchange (think Dr. Seuss’s Alphabet Book). Plus, I invited my daughter, who truly is an artist to join the exchange too, because she LOVES typography. It was her favorite class in her college art studies. She is going to make me look really silly, but I am super proud of her, and I have writerly ideas in mind too. I can’t wait to find out which letter I will be responsible for (we will be assigned our letter in early August). I can’t wait to start on the newest chapter of my artsy endeavors! Carpe diem!