The Art of Creating Stationery

There’s the Art of Letter writing and there’s the Art of Handwriting, but there’s also the Art of Creating Stationery. There’s just so much art involved in writing letters. It’s wonderful – so creative. We can find papers for sale to use for the letters we write, but what fun to create our own stationery. We don’t have to be brilliant artists. We just have to let our creative juices flow. There’s inspiration everywhere.

We could create a simple sketch describing where we’re sitting as we write our letter or we can focus on a favorite thing, study it, and try to capture it on paper. I happen to love wildflowers so I’ve created a line of wildflower stationery. Here is one of my designs. I like to write a little information about the flower I’ve drawn around the edges of the paper.

I love writing letters on large sheets of paper because then I’m able to form the letters of my words larger too and this helps make my hand writing more legible and attractive.

Showy Lady’s Slipper

But variety is the spice of life so sometimes I create cards 4 by 6 in size and I add blank pages inside so thoughts can flow, not be hampered by a shortage of paper. Who likes a short letter? I tie the pages together creating a sort of booklet.

Sometimes I’ll draw my fountain pen with a hello and a flourish at the top of my letter paper, a few pretend drops of ink to add a fun touch. You see, the most simple ideas can make for interesting papers.

This is a page from the book I wrote, my book of letters, and the art for this particular letter was simply flowers created by pressing my finger into ink pads and pressing the ink onto the paper. You see, you don’t have to be able to draw to create fun designs for your stationery. Creativity comes in lots of forms.

Clipping pictures from children’s books and adding a bit of colored pencil or chalk can create a nice touch for a letter – a little whimsy.

Adding press-on flowers that are purchased can be fun especially if you add a little of your own flourishes around them. There are a lot of great do-dads to attach to letter paper – feathers, dried herbs, flowers, even weeds; You can create collages using articles you find lying around your house – ticket stubs, candy wrappers, colorful designs on packaging, leaves, anything and everything – just arrange them in an artistic manner onto your paper.

One of my standard designs is a simple flower I create on paper.

I create this basic flower design using two ingredients. The stem, leaves and grass are cut from a handmade paper I found in a paper store. The blooms comes from a pack of scrapbook paper containing many sheets of various colorful circles. It’s fun and quite easy to whip up this design and for pennies I can create lots and lots of stationery. The basic design is always the same, but the blooms are different.

A little creativity goes a long way in creating your very own unique stationery. The Art of Letter writing has many components – your handwriting, your stationery and then of course your thoughts – all this shared with others. It’s all Art and it’s all wonderful fun.

So go ahead and buy stationery if you can find it or use plain paper if you like, but don’t miss the chance to exercise your creativity. Dress up that plain paper if the spirit moves you to do so. You’ll amuse yourself and your pen friends will enjoy seeing what you come up with too.

Enjoy!

The Joy of Letter Writing

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When was the last time you wrote a personal letter for no reason other than to let a friend or relative know you were thinking of them?  I wrote two letters a few hours ago.  This is a daily ritual with me.  It feels great to take my mind off my own life and focus on the life of someone else.  I have my regular pen friends, but I also enjoy sending letters off to relatives and local friends, people I like who I don’t have the opportunity to see often or ever!

I enjoy pausing in my busy day to reflect on life for if I  go, go, go and never stop life becomes one long “to do” list offering me no chance to ponder and appreciate those very things that I’m doing. I double my fun by “doing” things and then “reflecting” on those things.  Lord Byron (one of my “dead friends”) had it right when he said, “A life without reflection is a sad affair.”   I think reflection is important.  It gives us a chance to stop and relax in between activities.

I could reflect and keep the reflections to myself, but I truly believe sharing doubles the joy, so I share my reflections in the letters I write to my pen friends.  My pen friends then share their reflections with me.  It’s a wonderful cycle.

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I know I could use the telephone as my way to reach out to others, but I might call at an inconvenient time for my friend.  Just because I’m in the mood to share doesn’t mean my friend has the time just then.  A letter is polite.  It arrives, but can wait to be read at whatever time is convenient.  It can also be kept and read again and again and again.  A letter is lasting.  Why would someone want to reread a letter you ask?   Well, if we write letters full of kind thoughts, compliments and beautiful ideas our friends might like to reread our letters when they need a lift.

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Besides all this, there’s art involved in letter writing, not only the personal art of our handwriting, but also the opportunity for us to enjoy a little art play as we create our stationery. Creativity is very therapeutic and good for the soul.  There are plenty of machine-made items in the world today but how many handmade articles do you encounter daily?   A hand written letter will always stand out because not only is it personal, and handmade, but it is also quite rare in these modern days.

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I love writing letters but I get equal pleasure from receiving letters like this one from my pen friend Sarah in Viroqua, Wisconsin.  With lots of pen friends the whole world becomes your friendly neighborhood.  As you write to all sorts of people with all sorts of interests and experiences your life is enriched.

My pen friend Sarah is a real health food person.  She shares all sorts of healthful recipes with me and whether or not I make these things I enjoy reading about them – things like her snacks of yogurt with carob powder and sorghum. Sarah eats sorghum morning and night.  She says it digests slowly and is a good fuel source.  Did you ever eat sorghum?

Sarah buys grass fed beef hot dogs, chops up 2 eggs right out of the shell, adds celery seed with a liberal pad of butter, some spinach, parsley or cilantro, and cooks it all up to create a lunch she loves.  Well, it’s not exactly a lunch I would love, but I enjoy the subject of  food and discussing it in letters is interesting to me.  Would you find this subject interesting too?

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Sarah said she doesn’t eat much bread but if she does indulge it has to be Sprouted Organic Ancient Grains – The Queen’s Khorasan.  Ever hear of it?  I hadn’t.  It’s made with sprouted khorasan wheat, an ancient grain that entertained Egyptian royalty more than 5,000 years ago. Who would know?  Pen friends teach me all sorts of things about food and about many other subjects as well.

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I may not be able to hop on a plane and travel to far off places, but because I have pen friends in those far off places it’s easy for me to enjoy virtual outings whenever these friends write to me sharing their world.  One such special friend is Joanna who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Besides her beautiful handwriting and her Scottish news I love to see the stamps on her envelopes.

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Joanna also shares picture postcards from her travels.  These post cards always contain lovely descriptions and lots of background information.  I could just read The New York Times travel section (which I do read) or National Geographic, but there’s something special in getting a friend’s personal reaction to a place.   Do you recognize the picture above?  It’s a  picture of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.  Joanna visited it recently and found it interesting that in any other Renaissance building most people would spend hours admiring the painted ceilings, the immense collection of classical sculptures and the portraits of European monarchs of the 16th and 17th centuries, but she noticed no one was paying any attention to any of those features at the Uffizi Gallery because they were too busy looking at the other paintings. I too love art and my pen friends help me see things I would otherwise not have a chance to see.

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Did I just say I love art?  Yes I did, all kinds of art,  so you can see why I enjoy finding creative letter envelopes in my mailbox.  This one is from my pen friend Kathy who lives in York, Pennsylvania. Kathy loves cats.  She often draws a cat on her letter envelope among other things). I love seeing her art work.  She especially loves her cat Alice, but Kathy loves lots of good things that I also appreciate, especially her love of  classical music and singing in a choir.

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No, this isn’t Kathy’s Alice, but I wonder if Kathy would  dress Alice up in this way.  Kathy tells me there was a “dress up your pet contest” and this cat pictured was a winner.   I wonder if Alice would put up with a hat and earrings.  My dog would never have heard of such a thing. But to each his own.  I  have some catnip in my garden and I’m planning to send it to Alice via Kathy.  I never had a cat, but I do love animals, and any friend of Kathy’s is a friend of mine, a friend deserving of a little present now and then.

Letters are wonderful.  I can’t imagine living without them. Some letters are serious and others are whimsical.  Some letters educate and others just share simple pleasures.  Letters add so much to my life and I know they would add as  much to your life too.

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I hope you are a letter writer.  I hope you have lots of lovely pen friends as I do.  I hope you enjoy art play creating your very own stationery. It’s all so good!  The Art of Letter Writing is not a lost art.  It still exists.  All it needs is You!  Write your friends and relatives.  Join The Letter Exchange if you need a few new interesting pen friends.  Leave a comment on this post.  I’d love to hear from you myself.

Just Write!

I have a Country Inn Day Secret. . . a Secret Garden

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As the main gardener of the 1853 Jeremiah Brown House I have my work cut out for me.  This house and property had been untouched for many years before my husband and I got hold of it.  What to do first?  Because we were living in the house, not the garden, it was the house that first got our attention, but after restoring the old house and even adding a new addition, it’s finally garden time.

Ah, a garden!

But as much as I desire lovely gardens all around the house my goal at present is simply to make the grounds appear park-like.   Very few actual gardens have been created thus far, but they are in the plans. At present only the herb garden has been designed and installed.  A few flowers have been added here and there – roses mostly, but new bushes appear weekly.

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 In fact just today five luscious-looking giant blue hydrangeas were planted at the front of the house.

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My assistant gardener, Doug, deserves all the credit for the planting.  He is my right hand man when it comes to digging holes and pruning.

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But today I want to focus on The Secret Garden at the Jeremiah Brown House and tell you all about it thus far.  At a quick glance you’d never think a Secret Garden is in the works at this property for like any good secret it’s hidden from plain view. A visitor on the grounds will notice the circular herb garden and the wall of very old and tall Spruce trees behind it, but who would guess there was the beginning of a Secret Garden  behind those trees?

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Around the corner one would notice the Day lilies blooming in front of very old honeysuckle bushes,  but would one guess there was something more hiding behind all this?

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Then there’s the  row of some fifteen forsythia edging and hiding yet another side of the Secret Garden.  These forsythia will grow taller and taller and hide my little secret even more in days to come.

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But if you walk through the small opening here between the old trees. . .

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You come upon a clearing.

This clearing is not an easy place to plant foliage because the roots of the Spruce trees are everywhere!  This place will never be a proper Secret Garden with all sorts of beautiful flowers, but still the area does have potential. It’s such an interesting spot, a space left open inside a ring of giant Spruce trees.  The trees create a canopy of shade.  I resigned myself to forget the sun-loving flowers, and even shade-loving flowers, but still this place hidden from the rest of the grounds has potential.  As long as something, anything can grow here I will call this place my Secret Garden.

The first step was setting down the stone flooring.  Deer enjoyed spending their nights here before the stone was added. This space was their private bedroom, but now they found a softer, greener place elsewhere.  I added some pachysandra around the edges of the stone flooring and little by little it’s getting established.

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I tried adding impatience but the soil is simply too compact and root-filled to allow the impatience to stretch out and get comfortable here.  Too bad.  Color would be nice in this secret garden. I suppose I could add pots of impatience here and there. . . maybe one day, but for now I’ve decided to let the garden operate on automatic pilot. It’s not doing a bad job of it either.

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I’ve put Mother Nature in charge of this Secret Garden for the time being and one plant she really seems to love is Wild Ginger.  At least I think this plant is known by that name.  I too like Wild Ginger with its glossy rounded leaves. This plant serves as a very pretty ground cover and to my delight rabbits do not  eat it.  This is important because the grounds of the Jeremiah Brown House are home to many rabbits.

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I marvel the way Mother Nature will successfully cultivate the plants she wants to grow where as  I try and try to cultivate certain other plants with no luck at all.   Look at the way she’s going to town with tiny baby plants.  They’re everywhere!    In time I may drop the name “Secret Garden” and call this place “The Wild Ginger Garden”.

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Of course it’s not only Wild Ginger that Mother Nature is providing for my Secret Garden, look at these mysterious  plants which magically appeared while I was away for the weekend.  Nothing. . . then suddenly all this green . . . I must dig out my wildflower guide book and try to identify this plant.  Whatever it is, I like it!  Why should I bother toiling away buying and planting expensive specimens when Mother Nature will not only supply the plants for free but also install them?

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Of course in the past I have bothered to purchase and plant a few items, two of them are Lamium Maculatum (Red Nancy) as well as the tiny yellow-green ground cover you see here. (I’ve forgotten its name.  Do you recognize it?) These two plants seem to be happy in this place. They’re taking off, getting along well with the pachysandra and the other wild plants. I’ll do no more of my own planting, at least not for a while.  I’m leaving the planting to Mother Nature.  She has been known to create beautiful work as you well know so maybe she’ll do the same here for me.

I have had  fun adding bird houses to some of the trees in The Secret Garden. This is something Mother Nature can’t do.  I think the birdies like these houses as I do.  The houses stay up year round, for after all, birds need a home in the Winter too.

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And sculpture adds a nice touch to all the greenery.  A little cherub here . . .

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My wonderful “dead friend”, Saint Francis, there . . . 

Other bits of statuary are waiting to be moved into The Secret Garden too as soon as Doug or some other muscle-bound fellow happens by.

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Rocks are welcome here, nice big ones. These rocks you see are just a few that came from an old abandoned well on the property.  They spent more than a hundred years under ground, but now they can enjoy the next hundred years  above ground in this place.

My Secret Garden is in the early stages of development.  You are witness to its beginning.  I wish I could fast forward to show both of us a more mature version of it.  Patience is a virtue needed in gardening and that’s something money can’t always buy.  The garden teaches us patience.  But there is delight, at least for me, in the anticipation of what’s to come. There’s pleasure even in the beginning stages of a garden project.  I come to this garden daily, carefully checking for any change I might see.  This is something I remember my father doing in his garden.   I  simply enjoy the moment – what is –  and I appreciate the potential of what this garden can become.

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 Whether I sit here alone to read  . . . meditate to music of the birdies . . . whether I invite friends over to share a cup of tea in this my Secret Place . . . whatever I’m doing here I’m happy. That’s nature for you.

Be it ever so humble there’s no place quite like my Secret Garden.

Country Inn “Service” Day

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This Country Inn “Service” Day takes me to Hower House, a Victorian Mansion built in 1871 in the Second Empire Italianate style.  Hower House is a  twenty-eight room Mansion owned by Akron University and open to the public. Touring this historic house with its lavish furnishings from around the world is one way people of today can experience a bit of yesterday.

Because I am fond of old houses and Historic preservation I have recently become a Victorian, that is to say, a person who supports Hower House and its many programs. As a Victorian I volunteer my service to this house in various ways – helping out in the gift shop, serving at teas, or assisting  at special events.

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You see, years ago when I was searching for my purpose in life I stumbled upon a spiritual book entitled “A Daily Guide to Spiritual Living” by Jim Rosemergy and through this book I came to realize service should be a part of all our lives.  After patiently reading the book’s 365 daily messages and journaling on each  of those messages my purpose (and possibly yours too) was revealed.  I was told the purpose of life is to try to know God, to do all our work with joy (whatever that work is), and to be of service to others.

So, besides doing for others on a daily basis in whatever way I can now and then I like to devote an entire Country Inn Day to service and on this particular Country Inn Day my service is devoted to Hower House.

 

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Hower House is hosting its Artisan Fair and many vendors are filling each room of the mansion with their wares.  Our hostess is ready and waiting for visitors to arrive and I will be posted at various locations  through the day in order to be of service to vendors and shoppers alike.

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What fun for our visitors to enjoy this beautiful house while at the same time admiring the creative efforts of various talented artisans.  There’s the lady who works with chocolate

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 and my friend, Evelyna, who creates the most beautiful and delicious cookies and cakes.

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There are artists who make the loveliest  jewelry

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and another who presses botanicals in all sorts of ways, preserving them forever.  This particular artist  frames flowers and plants, encasing them in trays and boxes, designing note cards … and her choice of color and design is lovely to behold.

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When I wasn’t on duty I did a little shopping myself and these two pictures tied together featuring pressed culinary herbs were one of my purchases.  I think they’re very nice hanging in a kitchen where these herbs are used on a daily basis.

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I also couldn’t resist buying this exquisite cut work bed sheet from one of the antique dealers. They don’t make bed sheets like this anymore,  but I think it will also serve nicely as a cloth on the dining room table of my 1853 historic house at tea time.  Don’t you agree?

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There were all sorts of artisans at this Fair, but I was particularly happy to see the aprons that were created by the Future Story Shop.  This shop creates new aprons patterned after aprons from our grandmother’s closet.  The aprons are made by the women who live at a place called Haven of Rest.  Haven of Rest is a women’s homeless shelter and the apron project is part of ‘Lydia’s Purse International’, a project which teaches these homeless women to sew.

After speaking to the volunteer from Haven of Rest I think I have my next Country Inn “Service” Day in mind – a good thing indeed.

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We don’t generally have the fun of shopping for our bath products in an antique bathroom

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or have the pleasure of  taking in the beauty of  handcrafted art while at the same time viewing the historic art of period rooms, but this can be done at Hower House’s Artisian Fair each Spring.

I was able to enjoy service and shopping simultaneously on this Country Inn “Service” Day making it very easy for me to be of service with a smile and to do do this work with joy as directed by my spiritual book.

It truly is a good feeling to do for others helping out in any way we can.  I might play the piano in a nursing home or pay a visit to shut ins on some other Country Inn “Service” Day or I could work in a food bank, volunteer in a hospital or help out in a school.  I learned a long time ago when we give good things come back to us so giving of ourselves in any way at all is a very good thing to do. I’m sure you’ve experienced how much better you feel about yourself when you’re not only thinking about yourself all the time.

How are you being of service to others these days?  I’d love to know.  Maybe you’ll give me a good idea for one of my next Country Inn “Service” Days.

Sharing Doubles the Joy

and sharing ourselves as we serve others quadruples the joy.

But remember, only Service with a Smile counts!

Now for a little Whimsy

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Are you an animal lover?  Do you have a pet dog, cat, bird, fish, duck, rabbit, or other lovable creature?  Have you ever considered finding a correspondent for your furry, feathery or scaly friend?  My pooch, Alexander has had some very nice correspondents.

What?  You think that’s strange?  Nonsense!  Lots of people, some famous, carry on with their animal friends just as they do with humans.  Beatrix Potter was known to talk to Peter Rabbit all the time, and he wasn’t even real!  Imaginary animal friends are one thing, but we’re talking about real, living, breathing pets.  That’s quite different.

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A cat we know by the name of Alice not only has written to Alexander, but she has her own Facebook page.  I’ve been writing to Alice’s human friend Kathy for years; she and Alice are not only very nice, very normal females, but they also write very good letters.  They’re both very articulate.

Maybe you know someone who is crazy about their pet.  Don’t you think they would be thrilled for that pet to be graced with a letter?  Sure they would.

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Alexander’s first pen friend was a miniature poodle by the name of Mister Bundles.  Alex and Bundles exchanged letters regularly.  These letters shared stories about their favorite things, about places they liked to go, and the funny, quirky things they liked to do — and yes, they loved to write about their playful wonderful masters.

Of course, as you may have guessed, your pet will need a little help from you to compose a good letter — after all, he never went to school as you did (well, maybe obedience school, or if he’s a fish he might’ve traveled in schools, but letter writing is not taught in those places.)  Helping out is not much to ask of you and you’ll be surprised how much fun it can be.  Really!

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It’s very good for us to step out of our own shoes now and then and view the world from a different perspective, from the eyes of someone else.  Why not view life through the eyes of your beloved pet?

You know what your pet is thinking much of the time, don’t you?  I bet you do, so why not share their thoughts and stories with other pets and pet owners who can probably relate?  Sharing doubles the joy you know, and this sort of sharing will exercise your creativity.

Of course, your pet will need his own personal stationery, but that needn’t be a problem.  Anything will do in a pinch, but for Fido to make the biggest impression on others it’s nice to select papers that relate to him in some special way. Stationery shops might have animal motifs in their inventory, but if they don’t you and your pet can have lots of fun creating one-of-a-kind stationery.  Take some photographs of your pet doing what she loves to do.  These pictures will personalize her writing paper nicely.  (This works for you and your personal stationery too.)  You know what they say — one picture is worth a thousand words, saving you both a lot of time describing how she looks and what she’s doing.

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If you have artistic talent (or even if you don’t) you could draw your pet.  Have you ever tried?  Now might be the perfect time.

Try using water color pencils (especially appropriate for fish stationery).  The drawings don’t have to be 100% realistic.  Have you ever seen portraits painted by Picasso?  I remember reading something Picasso’s wife said about her husband’s portraits — how if you ran into a person who looked like one of those portraits you’d fall over dead!

Tasha Tudor, the famous author and artist of children’s books, would paint mice from real life … well, not “exactly” real life:  She would find mice drowned in her rain barrel, retrieve them, freeze them, and when she was ready to paint, she’d thaw them out.  Now that is a little strange.  You trying to draw your pet from real life is not strange at all.  It’s actually quite wholesome and sweet.

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Why not stroll through a craft store collecting animal stickers to use for your pet’s letter or cut pictures from magazines, pictures of anything your pet loves.  Some dogs like to chew shoes so making a picture collage of various shoe styles could be the perfect lead-in to a yummy, though naughty story.

Such stationery would be just thing for my friend Susan’s dog Sweetie.  On a recent visit to Sweetie’s house, this adorable, friendly (though naughty) white pooch stole one of my shoes and had a great time chewing its heal before anyone noticed the mischief she was doing.  Not too good for my shoe, but the makings of a good story for one of Sweetie’s letters.  Alexander will have to write Sweetie soon telling her that her incident made it into this material.  He’ll also have to ask her what mischief she’s gotten into lately.  You know your pet has lots of adventures.     These adventurous stories will inspire his letters and his stationery.

When it comes time for a signature, make that special and personal too.  Your pet can sign his or her letters with a simple mark —  a paw pressed onto an ink pad and then onto writing paper.  It’s trickier for frogs, snakes and birds, but I’m sure you can come up with something wonderful and original.

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It’s good to exercise your creativity.  As you do, your creativity will flourish.  Letter writing with your pet is just another way the two of you can enjoy each other. There’s more to life than playing fetch after all.  (I really don’t know how you play with fish or turtles or other animals, but I’m sure their owners do.)

In sending pet letters you’ll also be doing a good deed for your postman.  He must get pretty tired of delivering boring mail.  Think of the smile you’ll be putting on his face when he glances at a letter addressed to Alexander, the dog.  Your postman will be as entertained  as you are with these pet letters coming and going from your house.

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Our weary world needs to lighten up a bit and maybe you do too.  If helping your pet write his or her letters won’t enlighten your heart I really can’t say what will. Have a chat with your favorite animal pal.  See what she thinks of this and then give these letters a try.  Letter writing will take on a whole new dimension for you. Your pet just might become quite popular, if not famous, in the process.  I guess it depends how good his letters are.

Have fun and good luck!

Talk about Art Play

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An Art Show in Hudson

This weekend Hudson was the scene of an art show at the edge of town.  At least a hundred tents were set up and all sorts of artists were displaying their work.  It’s always nice to see what people can come up with and they certainly come up with a lot.

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Many people were displaying pictures and paintings, serious and silly ones, using all sorts of methods – water color, pen and ink, oil, photography, computer generated designs…  Some work was framed and some work was not.  There were cards galore for those of us who write letters.

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I love to watch each artist talking to perspective customers.  This is just as interesting to me as checking out the art they’ve created.  I like to imagine them at work in their studio, lost in their craft.  What fun they must have and what satisfaction if their work is not only appreciated by the public, but also purchased.

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And it’s not only paintings I saw at the art show in Hudson.  There was plenty of  jewelry, ceramics, dried flower designs, lamps made out of bottles, sweaters made out of alpaca yarn.  People don’t just sit around.  They get busy exercising their creativity.  Do you?  But so much to pack and set up for display at shows like the one I attended today and some of the art is  very fragile, like these glass ornaments.  You know it’s a labor of love making these things, but an even greater labor of love  getting them to market.

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I’m always most enchanted with the unusual items I see, like this wall hanging above.  Talk about using creativity to make something fun and new out of old rejected material.

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Would you have thought to collect outdated license plates in order to cut them apart, reassemble them, and turn them into fun and artful hangings?  This artist was using his imagination all right, and he was exercising his creativity.  His work seemed to be a big hit with many shoppers too. I know I liked it a lot!  Seeing art like this makes me wonder what treasures I’m throwing away, treasures that could be recycled and turned into art.

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Art shows are not about buying things we need.  They’re about buying things that strike our fancy.  How about a snazzy hat?  In a perfect world we should all have a budget set up to provide us with plenty of spending money for spontaneous purchases.  I’m sure all the vendors at today’s art show would agree with me.  If this were the case, whenever we’d spot an item that we appreciated we could buy it and make ourselves happy and make the artist responsible pretty happy too.

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If I had  a ‘fru fru’ budget set up I would’ve purchased these two copper frogs to be of service around  my garden. If you look closely you can see one is holding a tray for drinks and the other is holding an ice bucket. How much would you pay for these little fellas?  You know they must have been a lot of work to make, and talk about the skill involved.  Well the two little frogs (really not so little) were selling for $1000 – that’s for the pair of them, and you’d have to buy both.  How could you split them up? They’re a team.

I give all the artists I saw today a lot of credit and that goes for all artists everywhere.  It’s wonderful to have “your thing”, something you love to do, and will do, even if there’s little money in it.  Do you have such a thing?  Letter writers like me enjoy creative work with paper.  This may be small scale art compared to copper frogs serving cocktails, but whatever our creative work – it’s all good!

So hurrah for art play and for artists everywhere.   No matter what form that art play takes, large or small, complicated or simple, practical or playful, lucrative or not, art play is an activity of joy, and art shows are a place where that joy is shared, and you know what I always say about sharing…

Sharing doubles the joy

The wonderful Art of Letter Writing

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Today I started the day by writing a letter to my pen friend Jennifer in Delray Beach, Florida.  I hope you also had some letter writing fun today.  After all, a day without letter writing is like a day without sunshine.  Don’t you agree?  And if we add art play to our letter the experience is even more enjoyable.

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Today I decided to create a floral note card for Jennifer’s letter and to help with that I pulled out a  book for inspiration.  This “Flower Sticker book” designed by Fiona Johnson contains pictures of garden flowers with notes regarding their size, blooming time and characteristics.  I don’t use the stickers in the usual way, but rather as models for my own drawings.

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A page of Fiona’s book
I’ll choose a flower from Fiona’s book, a flower  that is currently in bloom, take out my watercolor pencils, and go to town.  You don’t have to be a great artist to enjoy drawing.  Think of the fun little kids have. Well, you can have that fun too.   I always make a note in the book as to which flower design my correspondents  receive for there’s  no point sending the same design over and over when there are so many flowers to choose.

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And after a little art play I have a one-of-a-kind card to use for my letter writing.   Fun, fun, fun!  The price is right too because I have a great source for purchasing paper.  It’s Hollo’s in Brunswick, Ohio.  (hollospapercraft@yahoo.com).   I figure each of my handmade cards costs about 10 to 20 cents to make, but I don’t make these cards because I’m frugal.  I make them because art play is so much fun!

Today I decided to draw the Clematis flower for Jennifer’s letter.  Are you a gardener familiar with this climbing plant?  Clematis loves to cover walls and fences.  Its flowers can be purple, blue, pink or white, and as you can see, its leaves are oval.  I love flowers, don’t you?  Well, if you try to draw them you will love and appreciate them even more for you’ll be forced to focus on their details, details you may never notice otherwise.  Like they say – to really love something you must know it, and if you’re like me, you’ll get to know and appreciate flowers even more when you attempt to draw them.

I don’t think it matters at all how great an artist we are, What matters is that we’re exercising our creativity and enjoying ourselves, then sharing our joy.  You know what I’m always saying – Sharing doubles the joy.  And one of  the perfect ways to share our joy for art is to send our artistic creations away in the form of  letters.

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Jennifer’s letter

Of course the ideas we share in our letters are the main event.  Jennifer and I were discussing creativity in our correspondence and let me share with you some of her fine words on the subject.  She writes:

“Creatively I’ve tried many things but of late have found an interest in making handmade  greeting cards and note cards.  I’m thinking this is an endeavor I can enjoy for years barring any physical or mental incapacity.  I just have to give myself permission to ‘let go’ and let my hands guide me rather than my mind as I have a very strong and active inner critic. “

(And don’t we all?)

Jennifer then went on to tell me what her mantra is.  Her mantra, which she repeats to herself over and over, is a quote by Kelly Kilmer.  Jennifer loves these words and so do I.

It’s all about the journey.  Make.  Create.  Don’t worry or over think.  Make art for you and your own sake.

So what have you created today?  There are so many ways in which to be creative.  You probably guessed  two of my favorites are writing and art, and when you put the two together what do you get?

The Wonderful Art of Letter Writing