Thursday, 25 April 2013

how to be a great pen pal

I'm so excited to tell you that to date we've had over 90 sign-ups for the creative pen pals project. If you haven't signed-up yet, but would like to join us for this awesome snail-mail revolution, you have until end of day Friday to do so.

Since launching this initiative, I've been giving a lot of thought to what, how much and how often I'll be writing to my pen pal as well as how to write interestingly and keep the letter-writing going. As it is becoming a bit of a lost art, I thought I'd cover off a few key areas about being a great pen pal.

What should I write in my first (introductory) letter?
You'll want to get to know a little bit about your pen pal and they will want to learn about you too! Start off your first couple of letters with information that includes where you're from, how old you are, if you have children, what you like to do in your spare time, where you work etc.

Tell them your story. Tell them who you are and you'll find that your pen pal will open up to you more.

"Tell them who YOU are"

How often should I write?
Well, this is really going to depend on how quickly your pen pal writes back to you.

As a general rule, I wouldn't leave responding to a letter more than two weeks if it's someone in the same country as you and one week if they're an international pen-friend. But ultimately if you respond within a week (and factor in mail delivery times), then it will be 1-2 weeks before you get a response.

The quicker you and your pen pal write (and more importantly, SEND) letters to each other, the sooner you'll be running to the letter box in anticipation of receiving pretty mail.

"you'll be running to the letter box in anticipation of receiving pretty mail"

What should I write about?
Let's start with what NOT to write about. Religion, politics and other similar strong views should be kept out of this type of communication. You don't want to risk offending your mail-mate.

Once you've gotten the introductions out of the way, you should be able to find common topics that interest you both. That shouldn't be too difficult if you've joined the Creative Pen Pals project as you will be matched up with someone who has similar interests as you.

It's nice to write about yourself, but don't forget to ask questions about your pen pal. That way it will keep the letter-writing and responding going rather than having to find new topics to start off your letters with - but that is ok to do too.

"Don't forget to ask questions about your pen pal"

How much should I write?
Don't feel as though you have to write a short novel each time you write. If you are feeling pressured by time and don't have enough time to write as much as you'd like, then just write a page and tell your pen pal what's currently taking up your time.  They'll appreciate a short response much more than no response!

When you have time on your side, you can sit down and write a few pages. Keep in mind that the reading part should be as enjoyable as the writing part. If you know that your pen pal is currently time-poor, they're probably not going to have time to read 10 pages of what you got up to on the weekend.

"They'll appreciate a short response much more than no response!"

Lastly, capture that feeling of opening your letterbox and finding a gorgeous, colourful and wordy treat that's NOT a bill. Now replicate that and make sure you are really proud of what you send out. Add a little personality to your envelope with some stickers, stamps or doodles. No doubt your pen pal will squeal with delight when they receive it. Check out this post for some inspiration.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

how to create a letter-writing kit

In anticipation of the Creative Pen Pals project kicking-off (have you signed-up yet?), I thought it'd be exciting to start compiling a letter-writing kit for the many letters we're about to exchange. 
And obviously Mel from One Crafty Mumma had the same idea. If you follow Mel on Instagram, then you might have seen her posting about her new stationery supplies. So, I asked Mel to give us some tips on pulling together a letter-writing kit. And here's are her pearls of wisdom (thanks Mel!).

Eep! I'm feeling so happy and excited to be taking part in this wonderful snail mail swap and for the last few weeks I've been busy creating myself a letter writing kit.  For me, gathering and selecting pretty items to use for my letter writing is {almost} as much fun as receiving and sending mail. 
I love having nice supplies on hand for letter writing and keeping them together in the one spot so they're ready to grab when needed.  The lovely Magdalena asked if I'd like to share my letter writing kit with you all, so here I am!

It's not essential, but I like to keep all of my supplies together and at the moment I'm using one of two things for that - a fabric wrap {shown above} that holds cards, envelopes, a cute pen, mini tags and stamps.  I received the wrap in a swap a couple of years ago {super lovely!} and it's been so well used.  The pattern is a freebie from Soulemama's blog, so you can make one too!  HERE is the linky for it.  My other storage item is a shoe box!  Nothing fancy, just an ordinary shoe box to hold my other bits and pieces.

Now for the fun bit - what to keep in your writing kit!  Oh, there's so much goodness to include - and I'm sure way more wonderful things that I haven't thought to add yet.  Here's a list of my 'must have' supplies:
  • Pretty writing paper - there's so much available online {try Etsy, Ebay, stationery stores} but there are also lots of other options too: make & print your own or pretty up some lined paper with nice stamps, washi tape or stickers.
  • Washi/decorative tape - I'm such a fan and I love sealing envelopes with my tape or adding a tiny piece to the top of my letters.
  • Pen - I keep a nice one in my letter wrap because there's nothing worse than writing a letter with a dodgy pen ;)
  • Plain shipping tags - there are SO many cute things to do with a shipping tag and they're nice to add extra notes or a quote onto and include with your letter.  I'm going to be sharing a mini tutorial over on my blog for this very soon!
  • Stickers - super nice to pop on an envelope or letter.

  • {A few of my favourite letter writing stationery sets}
  • String/yarn/thread - Perfect for holding folded letters together inside an envelope and also cute to tie around packages that you might be sending.
  • Postage stamps - Keeping a few of these on hand means you can write and post on the go!

  • Rubber stamps - My favourite one is a date stamp, but word & graphic stamps are also nice to use on letters and envelopes.

Apart from the supplies that I've mentioned above, you can also start reusing bits and pieces that you might have received in the mail or come across in your travels.  All of those goodies in the above photo were rescued from packages or mail that arrived in my mail box last week - they'll be wonderful to use on upcoming letters and envelopes.
So, there you go!  I hope you have as much fun putting together your supply kit as I did.  Thank you for reading and happy snail mail writing.

Thanks for those great tips Mel and for writing this guest post. I'm rushing off to start pulling together my letter-writing kit right now!  
And another reminder that sign-ups for the Creative Pen Pals project close THIS Friday!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

hottie challenge 2013

my finished hot water bottle cover
for the hottie challenge in 2011
You may or may not remember a little thing called the hottie challenge back in 2011. If you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a little blurb from CurlyPops' blog...

"The aim of the challenge is to make a hottie cover, which will be exhibited in the gallery space at Open Drawer Art Textiles and Learning Centre from Friday July 5th, with a grand opening on Sunday July 7th from 2-4PM. 

The finished hotties are donated to the Margaret Pratt Foundation, so that they may be sold to raise funds."

It's a fun project that anyone can join in on. This year again, Cam is coordinating a group entry. Last time there were 63 of us and overall just under $4,000 was raised for he Margaret Pratt Foundation.

So if it's something you think you'd like to participate in, head over to Cam's blog and sign up.  Your finished hot water bottle cover must be finished and received by Cam by Friday 21st of June, so there's a bit of time for you to create something - functional or otherwise!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

creative pen pals [sign up!]

Many of you who read this blog would know that I'm a big fan of paper-anything. The memories that one associates with a ticket stub, a get-well card, a scrapbook kept from primary school or a letter from a long-time-passed pen pal are what makes us, us.

The power to incite memories are held within these otherwise irrelevant items which to a passer-by hold no value at all. But to each and every one of us, these little things we've collected throughout our lives are priceless.

I think that in a strange way the fact that paper is so easily destructible makes it all the more precious and special to me. It's a fragile material that we use everyday. Yet, not looked after it can be completely worthless. That just adds to its complexity. It's readily available, taken for granted, important and useless all at the same time.

With so much of our lives being spent digitally, the art of writing a good old fashion letter and dropping it in a post box is sadly a forgotten art to many of us. It's one of life's simple little things that should be embraced if at the very least to feed and nourish your creative soul. It's just like baking bread. Ever tried it? Well you should. Such a simple little task which can provide much more pleasure than picking up a loaf full of numbers and preservatives from your local grocer.

When I was a young girl I had a pen friend in Canada. She was the same age as me. We had both met in Greece where we lived for 8 months. Joanna and her mother moved to Canada whilst my mum and I moved to Australia. We wrote to each other for years. Then we lost touch. I don't know where she lives anymore, nor can I find her online. I miss having a pen friend.

A couple of days ago we watched Max and Mary and I felt so inspired afterwards that I wanted to start writing to people. People across the other side of the world. But maybe not quite as randomly selected as Mary's pen friend came about.

So with this, I thought others might like to join me in embracing life's little pleasures. Would you like a creative pen pal too? 

Maybe you're interested in learning about how others live, where they live, what they do for fun, what their favourite creative hobby is? 

Maybe you've never experienced receiving a hand-written letter in the mail adorned with cute doodles or stickers? 

Maybe you want an excuse to start using all that cute stationery you've been hoarding?

Maybe you'd like to occasionally swap little parcels of favourite local treats, magazines or craft supplies with your pen pal?

Or maybe you're just lonely and would like the chance to form a long-distance friendship with a like-minded creative someone? That's ok too.

If you'd like to join me and others in a bit of creative pen pal goodness, then send me an email with the following details (please write "creative pen pals" in the subject): 

  1. your full name 
  2. postal address 
  3. creative interests (what are your favourite crafts) 
  4. if you'd like to be matched up with more than one pen pal
  5. any other info which you think is relevant

I will then match you up with someone from another country who shares similar creative interests and send you both an email with each others' details.

Some important minor details
I will only share your postal address with your designated pen pal(s). It will not be given out to anyone else. You will be copied on the email to your pen pal.

Let's play nice please - in providing your address, you are agreeing to having someone who you do not know, write to you - that's what having a pen pal is all about. I will not be held liable for any potential outcomes that may involve harassment or other unsavoury situations. Feel free to use a PO box address if you are concerned!

Sign-ups close Friday 26th April. I will match up all requests and send out pen pal information week commencing Monday 29th April.

Spread the word - the more people who sign up, the more people we'll be connecting on an international level. And that's more people writing to each other! In pen! In real life! If you're on Twitter or Instagram use the hashtag #creativepenpals to share the love - feel free to use the above image!


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