Keep Writing

Viva Snail Mail: Tell us about your Keep Writing project postcards.

Gutwrench: Since I moved to Baton Rouge three years ago from New Orleans, I wanted a way to keep in touch with my friends and penpals.  I knew I would be busy in school and also wanted a project that somehow related to what I was doing while working towards a degree in printmaking.  I started printing postcards, one each month, and sending them to everyone on a mailing list.  The first year had no theme; I made what ever I was inspired to.  The second year, each postcard was a collaboration between myself and a friend, sometimes a printmaker, sometimes not.

This past year, I have been printing interactive cards.  Each has a part for the recipient to tear off and send back to me, completing some task that relates to the card I sent.  For example, the first card I was having a difficult winter.  So I printed the word TRY in large silver letters on handmade paper and asked recipients to send me something about what inspires them in difficult times, what gets them through the winter.  This project has been incorporated into my school work and the cards I have received will be displayed as part of my senior show in December.  Of course it will continue, but I am not sure in what form.

VSM: What gets sent back to you and what does the recipient keep?

Gutwrench: The “try” side was the half they kept.  The other half was blank on one side with instructions, a stamp and my address on the other. The orange paper was made partially from my favorite shirt from Summer 2004, when I was living in New Orleans.  The hurricane hit the next summer.  And, obviously, things changed.  All the postcards are about staying connected to the people you love, not just in postcards, but in other meaningful exchanges.  This is a way for me to keep in touch with my friends but also to let them know a little about what is happening with me and ask them a question about their lives.

VSM: What’s been the best thing about this project?

Gutwrench: The best thing for sure has been hearing from people I did not expect and reading their responses.  My cousin has responded to every card, though we usually only talk once a year or so.  One friend has sent very thoughtful responses every time.  I think the format has encouraged people who don’t usually write postcards but want to.

Viva Snail Mail!

Visit Gutwrench’s Etsy shop or write a comment on her blog, wishing her luck on her senior show!

Happy Giving of Thanks

Saturday’s THANKS postcards workshop was great. Kids made really stellar postcards and we sent them out, hopefully in time for some Thanksgiving gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude there is an article in today’s New York Times’ Science section called, “A Serving of Gratitude May Save The Day“. Research has shown that expressing gratitude actually makes people feel better. I agree. I felt good after mailing my THANKS postcards. And I am certain the recipients will feel appreciated. Gratitude is a boomerang, yo. Psychologist Martin Seligman, even suggests an exercise of writing a 300 word letter to someone who changed your life for the better and then reading that letter of gratitude in person. He claims that you will be happier and less depressed in one month. So if you send it by post maybe it will take 2 months to feel happier? Still a great idea, either way.



This Saturday I am hosting a Make Mail! workshop, creating THANKS postcards. With collage, colored pencils, markers, and rubber stamps we’ll make postcards with the word THANKS and send them out to our favorite people, just in time for Thanksgiving. And to add to the experience I am currently making a music mix of songs with the words Thanks and Thank you in them. Its so fun! Any suggestions?

11-11-11 mail

Yesterday our mailbox was blessed with 3 pieces of 11-11-11 mail. A good old fashioned letter from my dad, a postcard from me to my son, and a card from my extremely talented friend, Emily Hass. So awesome, despite the postmarks beyond our control.

And my friend Hope Tucker emailed me a photo of the 11-11-11 postcard she received from me! When I make mail for people I imagine them discovering it amidst the junk mail and catalogs in their mailbox. But a photo gives me a glimpse at that arrival.

Viva Snail Mail!

eleven eleven eleven

11.11.11 or 11-11-11 or 11/11/11. Any way I type it, I like it.

This Friday is 11.11.11. This is a once in a lifetime date people, so send out some mail!

But, wait a sec. Its also Veteran’s Day which is a post office holiday, so your 11-11-11 mail can’t actually be postmarked 11/11/11. Bummer, right? Well before you get too discouraged remember that they don’t make postmarks like they used to. These days they’re kind of a smeary, grey mess with none of the clarity of the circular punch from the past. Sometimes I can’t even read the date on them. My suggestion to you is to write the date on your postcards and letters. That way the great-grandchildren and historians and archivists of the future can look at your mail and note the specificity of the day, marveling that you had the time and energy to set pen to paper on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of this century.

And if you carve your own 11.11.11 rubber stamp out of a pink eraser and then postmark your greetings I will marry you, even though I am already wed. With 11.11.11, you don’t even need to carve your text backwards!

Viva Snail Mail!


As if I needed more reasons to love Nikki McClure, guess what I discovered today when flipping her consistently beautiful wall calendar to November? One of her cut paper illustrations, depicting the almost lost art of letter writing! Thank you Nikki. Again.

McClure’s 2012 calendar is available. I recommend it as a gift or for yourself. I receive one for Christmas every year from my sweet guy.

Speaking of mail in November, 11/11/11 is next week. We must prepare for the postmark of a lifetime!