One of the things I love the most about social media, and particularly instagram, is the way it connects me to people around the world in real and tangible ways. The biggest example of that would be through snail mail or good old fashioned letter writing. I’ve always loved sending and receiving mail, I have vivid memories of letters my mother would leave under my pillow for me to find when she went overseas for work and I was learning how to read. And one of my favourite books as a child was The Jolly Postman – so much fun reading those teeny tiny letters. I love the feel of paper, the beauty of stamps and the way a person’s handwriting gives clues to their personality. Unfortunately these days our mailboxes are filled with mostly advertising material, not even bills are sent in paper form any more and so the opportunities for real mail are few and far between.
Thankfully over the last few years I’ve got back into the art of letter writing, mostly to people I’ve connected with on instagram. It has been one of the most rewarding aspects of interacting on social media. I was inspired by beautiful posts that would appear on my feed of mail being sent and received and slowly I overcame my introvert ways to put feelers out with some of the people I follow to see if they would be interested in swapping letters.
Part of the fun writing mail is having a reason to use all those paper supplies I seem to accumulate, or finding the perfect small gift to share with a letter. I also love seeing examples of different mail art, there are so many creative letter writers out there. But without doubt the best bit about receiving a letter is the opportunity to take ten minutes out of my day to sit with a cup of tea and be transported around the world. Letters are such a sensory experience and there is wonderful ritual in both the writing and reading of them.
I now belong to a group of letter writers called The Snail Mail Collective, at last count there are about 60 of us who share mail every month or so. Each month you are paired with a different partner who you put a parcel together for around that month’s theme. We’ve just finished the Christmas round which is always one of my favourites, and other themes have included travel, the red letter round, a postcard round and so on.
Last year I also put my hand up for a project called The Travelling Book, created by @ellaofthevalley – the idea behind this project is to add to your creative touch to a Moleskine Journal that is slowly making its way around the globe.
I’ve just sent the book onto it’s next host in Australia and it has been so lovely seeing all the different contributions that everyone has made so far and all the different styles. This is one of the beautiful artworks within the book that caught my attention:
The book arrived at a very busy time for me at work, and then the lead up to Christmas and it took me a while to work out what I wanted to contribute. I ended up creating six pages within the book, here’s a sneak peak:
I had such fun with The Travelling Book that I’m keen to do something similar this year and wondered if you would be interested in joining in? I’m thinking instead of a travelling book that it would be great to create beautiful postcards to send around the world to each other. We could have a creative postcard swap – either making the postcards as mini artworks or finding beautiful and quirky ones to send. Stay tuned for more details…