For those of you living in Queens, Staten Island, or Brooklyn it looks like we will be losing our postmarks- another cost saving endeavor by the Postal Service due to a decrease in business. Read this article in the New York Times and then let’s figure out a creative way to mark the end of a postal era.
Triboro, NY? A Postmark May Trample Civic Pride
To kick off Viva Snail Mail’s profiles of cardmakers, I thought I would pick Albertine Press, a design and letterpress print shop from my hometown of Somerville, Massachusetts. I asked Albertine boss, Shelley Barandes, a few questions.
Viva Snail Mail: What is letterpress?
Shelley: Letterpress is a relief printing technique harkening back to Gutenburg and his famous bible. Raised type and images are inked on their surface and then pressed against paper, transferring the image. We use a Vandercook flat bed cylinder proof press which dates back to 1934 for most of our work. We also have eight other presses of various vintage and function that we use here and there (often for teaching).
VSM: What do you love about paper?
Shelley: I’ve loved paper forever. As a kid I was obsessed with making origami boxes, and created all kinds of collages with magazine clippings and other decorative papers. I love the texture of the papers we use in the studio – they’re mostly heavy weight, cotton stocks, soft to the touch and often pillowy. It’s really luxurious and so lovely. Don’t even get me started on paper marbling…
VSM: What’s the best paper mail that you have you sent and received in 2009?
Shelley: The best papers I’ve sent in ’09 are definitely the announcements for our new baby Sadie. Friends and family helped print them at her baby naming ceremony (yes, held in the studio) and I love sending them out into the world.
The best paper I’ve received is a package of letterpress prints, part of a print exchange I participated in. It was such a delightful treat to open it up and discover all of the creative prints that each of the other studios produced.
VSM: Thanks Shelley. Your work is lovely. Viva Snail Mail!
Postcard postage is 28 cents for a maximum size card of 6 inches long by 4 and 1/4 inches high. For a larger postcard the postage rate is 44 cents. International rates vary so check usps.com for your destination country. I am going to use 2 of these summer bliss stamps from Grandpa’s collection for the next batch of postcards that I send out. In stark visual contrast to this summer scene, you can buy polar bear postcard stamps at usps.com.
So for those of you who like to cut up your cereal boxes for handmade postcards, buy some stamps and start sending out some of your fabulous collaged creations. For those of you that still have a stash of postcards left over from the good old days, dust ’em off and send ’em out. And for those of you that are starting fresh, pick up some corny tourist cards or some lovely black and white photo cards at your local bookstore or cardshop. And get mailing, cross country or crosstown! Imagine how your recipient will feel when they find your handwritten postcard amidst their pile of lousy mail. What a gift.
So since starting this blog, there has been more activity in my mailbox. Friends and family have sent some very sweet postcards and letters. My mom sent me a letterpress card made in our hometown of Somerville, MA. by Albertine Press. She wrote, “Viva Snail Mail! (I thought I should respond in kind)”. My dad wrote a multi page letter BY HAND! By the end of page 3 he wrote, “So my dear, the muscle on the underside of my writing forearm is saying hey this is a little, like, tiring.” My friend Hope actually has responded to blog posts with paper mail. But the best mail, by far, was sent by my Grandpa Phil’s widow, Suzanne.