Photo Inspiration | Immortality


About the Image: This photo features vintage postcards my Love Notes friend Fran B sent last year. I am in awe of the handwriting and the well-preserved ink (and postcards themselves) after so many decades. If you look closely at the postmarks, you can see the postcards were written and mailed in 1950, 1944, and 1909 (112 years ago!). I will eventually write a longer post about them, but for now, please enjoy the photo with an appropriate line from an Emily Dickinson letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: From NZ to the USA

Since today begins Black History Month in the United States and since I’d planned to blog about children’s book illustration postcards today, I was curious about whether I have any children’s books postcards featuring the work of African American illustrators. I went through every postcard in my collection and, as suspected, I do not have any illustrations by African American artists. Then, I “googled” and found nothing.

Considering the high number of popular African American children’s authors and illustrators, I find this odd.  [Insert appropriate emoji here].

I’ll keep looking…

For now, let’s enjoy the eight children’s book illustration postcards I received for Children’s Book Illustration Postcards swaps 17-20.

From Pikkis in Finland, I received an illustration from the Finnish fairy tale Goldfish, written by Raul Roine and illustrated by Rudulph Koivu.

Swap 17: From “Goldfish” by Raul Roine. Illustrated by Rudolf Koivu

I’m not familiar with this tale; that might be because, as Pikkis points out, the fairy tale hasn’t been translated in English.

The postcard below came all the way from New Zealand.

BLC Swap 17: The Honour of the House by E.M. Channon

CindyST sent an “old fashion” book cover because she loves retro covers and illustrated books.

Lihior, of Israel, sent another postcard from the fairy tale collection that gave me The Frog King postcard featured in the previous Children’s Book Illustrations blog post

Swap 18: Hansel and Gretel. Illustrated by Aurélie Blanz

I was pleased that I could see the name of the illustrator, Aurélie Blanz, on this card.  It was nice to “discover” and explore Blanz’s brilliant work. I found another artist to love.

BLC Swap 18: Illustrator Fiep Westendorp

The postcard above, from Sammoning in the Netherlands, features an illustration by Fiep Westendorp, known for Jip en Janneke, Pluk van de Pettenflat and others.  Every year, “kids go door-to-door to sell card sets and [matching] stamps” for Kinderpostzegels–to support educational and children’s charities.

It’s always nice when a bear shows up in my mailbox.

Swap 19: Little Polar Bear by Hans de Beer

Lars, the “little polar bear” came from Sissi, also in the Netherlands.

BLC Swap 19: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

The postcard above, from HelenGB in Canada, features the cover of the first Frederick Warne edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 1902.

Alice in Wonderland postcards are a special treat because I love all the different artistic interpretations of the story [I won’t mention that I have a whole box of Alice postcards that I have trouble sharing].

Inger sent this one from Sarpsborg, which is in the south-east part of Norway.

Swap 20: “The cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked goodnatured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth.” Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Illustrated by Sir John Tenneil

Her postcard also featured children’s book illustration postage:

And finally, Marinda in the United States sent an illustration from one of the sweetest tales I read to my little one when he was a baby, Guess How Much I Love You.

BLC Swap 20: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, Illustrator Anita Jeram

As always, an eclectic selection, but a feast for the eyes and warm fuzzies for the heart!

Children’s Book Illustration Postcards: Cute Animals and Naughty Children

As I was writing postcards for Children’s Book Illustration Postcards swaps yesterday, I realized I hadn’t posted about the swaps in 11 months!

When I began the second series of the swaps, I’d planned to post about the cards received every two to four weeks. Today, I’m sending off swap #31, but the last time I shared was swap #12. I have a lot of catching up to do!

I hosts two children’s book illustration swaps on swap-bot every two weeks–a public swap that any swapper can join and a swap for members in the Book Lovers Congregate group. Needless to say, I have a nice stack of images to share. But instead of overwhelming you with images, I’ll try to share 2-10 postcards once or twice per week until I get caught up.

Today’s post features an eclectic collection of postcards sent from Germany, Israel, Sweden, and the Netherlands, but they share a bit of commonality–mischievous children and/or cute animals.

The first pair of cards, sent for swaps #13 (the group and public swaps), came from Lihior of Israel. You are probably familiar with Beatrix Potter and her series of children’s books, but if not, click an image for a closer look and details about the card.

Roosje of the Netherlands and Sissi of Germany sent postcards for swaps #14.  I’ve loved the “naughty toddlers” Jip and Janneke [Roosje] since a Postcrosser introduced them to me many years ago.

Jip and Janneke. Written by Annie M.G. Schmidt. Illustrated Fiep Westendorp

Pettson and the cute cat Findus [Sissi] are quickly finding a place in my heart.

Pettson and Findus. Author/Illustrator, Sven Nordqvist

For swaps #15, Stargazer008 of Germany sent another Pettson and Findus (same card as above),  and Lihior sent “The Frog King.”

“The Frog King”

Finally, for swaps #16, Lihior sent a postcard from the World of Eric Carle postcard collection. (Poor Lihior, she couldn’t shake me for a few weeks).

Eric Carle, Draw Me a Star, 1992

And Pei04, from Sweden, sent a Pippi Longstocking illustration.  This one brought back fond memories of the Saturday afternoons I spent absorbed in the Pippi books when I was a little girl.

Pippi Langstrump by Astrid Lindgren. Illustrated by Ingrid Vang Nyman

The illustrated postage stamps on the back of a couple of Lihior’s postcards rivaled the postcards for attention.

Postage from Israel: (L) “The Fox in the Vineyard.” “R) “The Reed and the Cedar.”

Postage from Israel

Don’t you love how each panel tells a story?

That’s it for today. Look for more children’s book illustration postcards next week. Enjoy!

Love, (Typo)Graphic Violence, and Dancing Bears

I participated in a “graffiti style postcard” swap about a month ago.  Participants had to create a postcard using graffiti style letters (“blocks, bubbles, angles”).  Mine featured the title of a song written by John Lennon, “All you need is love”–the word “love” in shades of pink and a spray of hearts, set against a blackish, grunge background.  I’m sure this description sounds lovely.  Not so in reality.  Remember? I can’t draw! When I was younger I could draw block, angle or bubble letters very well, but, for some reason, the curves and angles no longer work in my favor.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look:

Graffiti Postcard? by Me!

Graffiti Postcard? by Me!

As you can tell, this was designed digitally.  I used the Art Studio iPad app to draw and color the word “love” and create the .png file and three other apps for the grunge look, the “all you need is…” font, and hearts (Snapseed, PicsArt, and the resident iPad photo editor, I think).

Once I created the .png file, I had fun playing around with different colors.  Here’s “love” in shades of purple, my favorite color.

Untitled 3

And green, my guys’ favorite color:

Untitled 5

The benefit of drawing in Art Studio is once the drawing is complete, one can play around with the colors.

This was the first one I did.

Untitled 6

Didn’t like it at all because the first two letters look like the number 20. And the color scheme?  What was I thinking?  I hope I was just “playing around.”

I think my postcard/mail addiction makes me momentarily delusional, so I sign up for challenges I can’t meet.  To make up for my lack of talent in this area, I sent my partner two postcards–the other real graffiti art from NYC. She was kind and gave me a “heart,” which means she thinks I went above and beyond. Based on my skill set, I did.  😉

My receive-from partner sent me a wonderful postcard which was a lot more complex in thought and execution.  Not making a comparison–just noting the obvious.

“Deesides” is a graphic designer from Finland.  She loves the way graffiti style twists letters, in “often quite unreadable forms.”  She theorizes that graffiti is, in a way, typographic violence:

"Typographic Violence," by Deesides on swap-bot"

“Typographic Violence,” by Deesides on swap-bot”

Deesides says she doesn’t have as much experience in graffiti art, so her work here is a lot more legible than what we typically see from graffiti artists.  I really like it!

The bonus: cute postage stamp on the back of the postcard:


The dancing bears clash with the idea of “typographic violence,” but don’t you just love them anyway?



Pause for a Poet

I’ve had a busy, busy week as I’m experiencing a major transition.  I thought I wouldn’t have time to post again for at least another two weeks, but today’s fun mail compelled me to pause and share.

I received three postcards today for bookish swaps, two from Eric, who typically sends two postcards. Every now and then a postcard makes me squeal with glee. This one certainly did.

Longfellow Home

Longfellow’s Home, Portland, Maine.

Perhaps, if you’re not a lover of poetry or of American poetry, you have no idea why this excites me. Maybe, you assume it’s because this is a vintage postcard.  That would be a great guess, but that’s not exactly it.  I thoroughly appreciate having this card in my possession, one that, as Eric pointed out, was printed just 30-40 years after Longfellow’s death.  So this truly vintage postcard adds to my excitement that this is a literary postcard that features a poet of old.  With the exception of reading Hiawatha last summer with my little one, I have not studied Longfellow since my graduate school days.  This was a a nice way to remind me to add him to my reading list.

The postcard back reads:

Longfellow’s Home.  The Longfellow Home, erected in 1785, is situated in the business center of the city.  The building and precious relics are in care of the Maine Historical Society, and is open to visitors.

Interesting (and irrelevant) tidbit–when Longfellow was born Portland, Maine was a part of Massachusetts.

Since the back is just as wonderful as the front, you might as well take a look.

Longfellow Home. Postcard Back

Postcard Back

Did you notice the postage? Take a closer look.

Longfellow Postage and Handstamped Postmark

Longfellow Postage and Postmark

My utter delight was magnified by Eric’s matching of the postage with postcard theme!  And don’t you love Longfellow’s portraits, all that beautiful wild, white hair?

The postcard took a little beating as it traveled through the United States Postal System.  Some people are bothered by the “damage done” to postcards sent “naked” through the mail, but I like the visible “scars.”  Something about them makes the postcard feel more “authentic.”

If you read the postcard, you’ll notice that Eric ends with a question:

If you had the choice, would you prefer being celebrated during your lifetime like [Longfellow] was or after like Dickinson?

Tough, tough question.  I’m on the fence.  My volumes–literally boxes full–of unpublished writings suggest that I subconsciously eschew the limelight.  While, perhaps, some celebrity would be tolerated, I’d probably be more comfortable with anonymity.  Posthumous popularity would benefit my family, I assume, and that’s a good thing. But beyond notoriety and (perhaps) financial gain, there’s also something wonderfully satisfactory about bearing witness to the light your work brings to others.

How would you answer?  Popularity while living or when you’re dead?

Think about that. I’ll leave you with a poem that I’m going to read tonight to my son–The fun-loving, mischievous daughters remind me of him.

The Children’s Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Between the dark and the daylight,
   When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
   That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
   The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
   And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
   Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
   And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
   Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
   To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
   A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
   They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
   O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
   They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
   Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
   In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
   Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
   Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
   And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
   In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
   Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
   And moulder in dust away!


Postcrossing…I’m back!

I hadn’t sent postcards via Postcrossing in a looooonnnnng time, so I sent out a bunch a few weeks ago simply because I was in the mood to write postcards. I dropped into the “Goin’ Postal” store minutes away from my home and mailed an eclectic set of postcards based on receivers’ varied interests in tourist postcards, bookish postcards, coffee and indigenous peoples of the Americas…some in envelopes, some naked (written on and stamped).  Here’s what I sent–

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I checked my P.O. Box  yesterday and the postcards have started rolling in.  They are just as varied as the ones I sent out…

Czestochowa.  Aleja N.M.P.

Czestochowa. Aleja N.M.P.

This first card came from Misia in Poland.  This is the Avenue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Czestochowa.  I know this–thanks to Google’s translation tool. 😉

Ainika from Estonia sent a cute Snoopy card:

Postcrossing Received 06-26-14

Translation: “You don’t need many friends, but you need good friends!”

A little out of season, but I think Ainika was focusing on the message.  Besides, Peanuts cuteness is always in season as far as I’m concerned!

And more cuteness from Cesar in Spain, Palencia to be exact. He describes his home as “a small city full of art and crossed by the road to Santiago.”

Translation:  Fievel Goes West

Translation: Fievel Goes West

I remember watching An American Tail and Fievel Goes West with my one of my nephews–who is now 24, grown and married–and I’ve been partial to Fievel since some college buddies told me I look like him (and therefore, started calling me “Mousey”).

I love this illustration:

Rudi Hurlzmeier, "Noch'n Gedicht. Illustration from the Lord Brummel

Rudi Hurlzmeier, “Noch’n Gedicht.” Illustration from Lord Brummel

A bear reading outdoors under a tree?  How many of my favorites can you cram into one image?

Google translate didn’t help much with this one.  I think “Noch’n Gedicht” means “another poem” or something along those lines.  Please correct me, if I’m wrong.  Oh, don’t be fooled. This card did not come from Germany.  It was sent by USA Postcrosser Jane in Kansas City.

Another book-themed postcard came from Don who sends greetings from New Jersey (USA):

Glen Baxter, from the Bug House Archives

Glen Baxter, from the Bug House Archives

And last, another from the USA–Brad sent this wonderful snail mail postcard from Pennsylvania Amish Country.

Pennsylvania Amish Country, Photo by Anthony L. Iezzi

Pennsylvania Amish Country, Photo by Anthony L. Iezzi

Brad is retired and gets to study photography and art all day!  He also has a website that reflects his passion for postcards.  Check it out here:  The Postcard Nut.

What can make great postcards even better?  Interesting postage and postmarks, of course!  (Click an image for a closer look).


Beachy Bears

We’ve had thunderstorms almost every day for the last two or three weeks, but no worries! Two “fun in the sun” postcards arrived in my mailbox to counter the gloom.  I hosted a couple of postcard swaps for the Teddy Bear Dreamers group on swap-bot.  I was expecting a bit of a cute overload in my mailbox, but I wasn’t expecting both of my partners to send beach-themed postcards.

Evieroz sent the card below:

TB PCs received 06-14

Merbears by Evieroz

I’m pretty sure this one was made using the Teddy Bear Parade Cricut cartridge.  The mermaid bears are adorable. I really like the color scheme and the arrangement of the elements.

Evieroz also customized the back of the postcard:

TB PCs received 06-14-1

Postcard Back

The other postcard was sent by one of my favorite swap-bot pals, Denimblu14 (Db14):

"Summer Holidays," Photograph by Irene Thomspon

“Summer Holidays,” Photo by Irena Thompson, Bears and Toys from Irena’s Collection

Did you notice the American and British alliance between these beach bears? Teddy bears are a bit more political than we think!

Db14 always sends uber-cute teddy bear themed items.  (She sent the most adorable teddy bear bookmark calendar and other cute items to me for Christmas/the New Year).  If you’re a “close” blog follower, you might recognize the photographer’s work from another post, which offers even more teddy bear sweetness.  You’ll also see that Db14 usually uses delightful teddy bear themed postage. Look at the fabulous Paddington Bear postage included with this one–

TB PCs received 06-14-4

Paddington Bear Postage, England

Paddington might be my all-time favorite teddy bear.  Or is it Classic Pooh?


Little Bear Road

Can you imagine my JOY when I opened my mailbox to find a teddy bear envelope that came from Little Bear Road?!  My family and I are going to live on Little Bear Road. I will find a house on Little Bear Road or buy the street name and own a whole street named Little Bear Road!  How perfect is that for a teddy bear lover?

I hosted a “Teddy Bear Envelope Fun” swap in the “Teddy Bear Dreamers Group” on swap-bot and my partner CarlaDMG aimed to please.  The envelope oozed with so much cuteness–including awesome Teddy Bears postage–that I almost forgot to open it and review its contents.

Teddy Mail Art (front) by CarlaDMG

Teddy Mail Art (front) by CarlaDMG

Teddy Bear Mail Art (back) by CarlaDMG

Teddy Bear Mail Art (back) by CarlaDMG

CarlaDMG pulled out a little of every-teddy-thing for the envelope. Stickers, stamps and the all-too-cute “Teddy Bears’ Picnic Lyrics.”   Cute overload!

Here’s a closer look at the postage stamp:

"Stick Bear," 1920s.  Scotts #3654

“Stick Bear,” 1920s. Scotts #3654

“Stick Bear” is part of the four-bear collectible United States Postal Service Teddy Bears Centennial Sheet.  The other three bears in the collection are: Bruin Bear #3653 (1907); Gund Bear #3655 (1948);  and Ideal Bear #3656 (1905).   If only this stamp had come out just a little later as a “Forever Stamp”…

And since you’re “just dying” to see the envelope’s contents–

Even more cuteness.  (Click an image for a closer look).

Well, I’m off to see if there’s a street named “Teddy Bear” or “Little Bear” or “something-cute Bear” nearby.  Bear hugs to you!

“Make Mail Pretty!”

I love, love, love pulling decorated envelopes out of the mailbox, and I can’t remember if I’ve ever used a plain white envelope for personal mail.  I have two bins filled with stickers and a hard drive filled with photographs and other digital art to make sure no one receives a plain envelope from me!   I even make my own envelopes sometimes–thanks to my Cricut and my Martha Stewart Scorer and Envelope Maker.   (I find envelope-making very relaxing when I’ve had a really stressful week).  Even postal workers compliment my decorated envelopes. I secretly hope I’m adding a little sunshine to their day as well.

I receive LOTS of decorated envelopes–and mail art–from swappers.   I admire those who can take a bunch of miscellaneous scraps, cutouts, rubber stamps, postage stamps and stickers and use them to transform a plain envelope into art–into something I want to preserve just as much as what’s on the inside.  Here are some of the decorated envies I’ve received within the last year or two.  Some are recent. Some are not so recent.  They represent the range of decorated envelopes–simple to full blown “mail art.”

“Love Snail Mail”
This is a simple one. The sender used a rubber stamp (or two) and a 3.5 inch floppy label. Do you see how it makes the plain craft envelope pop? Props to swapper Castlequeen for using Romare Bearden postage. I “heart” his work!

Simple. Buggy. Cute.

“Children’s Art”
If I remember correctly, the sender used a sheet of kid art and transformed it into this envelope. This is the front. The next image shows the back. My only “regret” is the label covers the brightly colored girl’s face.


This is the back of the envelope, AKA the girl’s bottom half.

Isn’t this adorable? I have no idea what the penguins are saying! Translation, please.

The back of the penguins envelope. This is also a handmade envelope.


“Paris Airmail”
This is one of my favorites. I appreciate the elegant arrangement of the elements.


This is the back. Love, love, love the texture!

“Purple Cloud and Music Notes”
Even a purple sharpie and deco tape can be used to make a plain envelope beautiful!

“Doodles and Design”
SFreer sent this one. She doodles, stamps and zentangles a beautiful envelope.

Doodles and Design Part 2. This is the back of SFreer’s envelope. Isn’t it charming???

“Dream and Inspire”
SFreer sent this one for me to share with someone else. I doubt I’ll be able to part with it. Believe it or not, she used napkins, word stamps and bling to make this envelope. Beautiful work!

The back of “Dream and Inspire” by SFreer.

“Inspired Elements”
As with most of the mail art I’ve received, I can’t remember who sent this envelope. I recall that the swapper said she used pieces of wallpaper in her design. I also recall that I raided this mail art and used some of the elements in other projects. Oops! Isn’t the literary postage wonderful?

Inspired Elements–the back.

“Autumn Blessings”
This one was designed by swapper Tami. Even the inside of a security envelope becomes a tool for a mail artist.  Gotta love Garfield and Odie!

“Make Mail Pretty”
This envelope, designed by swapper Smmarrty, inspired the blog post. I love the textures and the arrangement of the elements.

The back of “Make Mail Pretty.” Surprisingly, I haven’t peeled off the stickers and used them in something else!

If you’re interested in mail art, do a google search and you’ll find TONS of inspiration.  Don’t be intimidated by the super-duper complicated mail art.  Just do something to make your mail pretty.  Add a sticker.  Use colored pens for the address.  Doodle a flower or a tree. Make the postal workers smile AND brighten someone’s mailbox.

While you’re searching around for mail art inspiration, check out this blog: Friperee(n):Purveyor of Nonsense, Adornments and Other Frivolities.

Happy 12.12.12!

A Giant Potato, Roses and Pie

What do a giant potato, roses and pie have in common?  I found all three in my mailbox today–and today is my birthday.  What better way to celebrate a birthday than with a good ol’ Idaho potato, pie and beautiful roses?  All of these were sent to me for swap-bot swaps.  Take a look.

Can you imagine this potato landing on your doorstep? “We grow potatoes in Idaho,” this swapper humorously adds as she closes her postcard note.

Edgar Rice Burroughs Stamp with Salt Lake City Postal Mark

The Idaho Potato was sent for a “Book Worm” swap.  Swappers had to write a little something about a great read.  My partner recommends Tarzan, so it’s neat that she used the Burroughs stamp.  Literary stamps are among my favorites. She also recommends The Book of Mormon for its perspective on “Ancient American History.”  I might have to check it out!

Pie Rows, 1961 by Wayne Theibaud, American artist (b. 1920). This was sent for the “O Happy Day” Postcard Swap. For this swap we had to send a postcard that captured something that makes us happy. Pie makes the sender pretty happy! Check out her fantastic calligraphy below!

Here’s the back of the card with the “pie sender’s” beautiful calligraphy:


And lastly, beautiful roses from fellow swap-bot Sharp Shooter, Fundygirl.  You’ve seen her floral work before in “Good Mail In…”  These delightful roses were sent for a Dorothy Parker themed photo swap, “One Perfect Rose.”  Swappers had to send partners a photo of one object mentioned in the poem.  Fundygirl notes, there are three roses, but they’re all perfect! 🙂

“One Perfect Rose?” Photo by Deema (Fundygirl)

Happy Reading!