A few weeks ago I wrote about reasons to send more letters, and this week I will cover some tools to make sending letters even a more exciting and beautiful task. Let’s start with the basics!
Envelopes & Stamps
All cards purchased in stationery shops will come with a matching envelope, but if you’re on the hunt for a special type there are hundreds of online shops that sell anything your heart might desire! From a pointed to a wallet flap, square, long, red, gold they have them all! I prefer looking for envelopes at antique malls and vintage shops (where I scored this ¢5 US air mail envelope below). I don’t use these envelopes for any other purpose than styling and personal aesthetics but if you know that someone will appreciate it, have your eyes peeled for some. Generally any office supply shops will have packs of envelopes but I tend to avoid them because of their super white office look and feel. They may be good for sending someone an invoice or a statement, but I would not go with them unless all other envelopes got eaten by zombies that mutated into stationery addicts. Wait, what?
Now that we’ve talked about zombies envelopes let’s talk about hierarchy! The first thing that should go on your envelope is…a stamp! Plan out your layout in advance and leave room for your address. Sounds strange, but if you’re going to go all fancy and swing your pen around the envelope adding calligraphic ornaments you might soon realize that you didn’t leave any room for a stamp and now it’s too late. Depending on the style of your stamp and envelope, some stamp layouts will look good in a puzzle arrangement while some will have the best impact straight across. Sometimes your only option is corner, mostly because people don’t tend to buy a lot of ¢50 stamps and combine them. To visualise what I am talking about head over here.
Where to get beautiful New Zealand stamps? Stamps NZ has a huge selection of new and used stamps dating back to 1885. Pick your theme and go crazy! You can also buy bulk used and unused stamps on Trademe, Ebay and plenty of Etsy shops. Here are some options:
Liners bring envelopes to a whole new level. While they are not essential to sending mail, they add a beautiful touch. Say you’re about to embark on a 7 month hiatus and you’re sending a letter to your mom. I would use some airplane or any other travel related patterned liner inside the envelope. You get the picture, don’t you? They are really easy to make (I made these from our Wild Wagon Co Wrapping Paper in about 5 minutes). You will need: an envelope, paper (preferably with a pattern or design), scissors, glue and a pencil. Trace your envelope with a pencil on the pattern paper that will become your liner and then cut the stencil about 1 cm away from the edge. Insert the liner in the envelope, glue it and Voila! Easy as!
While you can definitely get by without one, letter openers are usually nicely crafted objects that have a heavy and solid feel to them. I scored this 1930’s brass letter opener for $8 and have enjoyed opening letters with it ever since. Some stationery shops are bringing these tools back. Sugar Paper, a US stationery store has launched their desk collection featuring a stamp holder and a mail letter opener. The price range is obviously quite broad but you can definitely find one within your budget and linking. Or just ask your grandmother!
Addressing the envelope is by far my favorite part of sending mail. While writing a letter or signing a card can take a LOT of thought and contemplation, addressing the envelope is a purely visual task. As mentioned above, before you scribble anything make sure you’ve left room for stamps. Style Me Pretty has a great post with instructions of how to go about this if you are a newbie. For more inspiration check out our Pinterest board dedicated to envelopes.
I am no expert in calligraphy, but here are a few resources you should definitely check out:
- Skillshare Classes
Beautiful penmanship has been in decline since typewriters have come out. It is easy to live day to day without writing anything by hand when we conveniently have laptops and phones within reach at all times. Need to take a note? Evernote it, sync it and done! I personally love collecting old photographs, addressed envelopes and stamps. Call me old fashioned, but these are some items where I can draw inspiration from. Nobody I know (except my grandmother) writes in cursive these days. So these items (image below) are my source of visual reference.
Though a lot of us would love to perfect the old style nib pen and ink writing, if you don’t know what you’re doing it can get very messy. Very. And you will most likely get it right until the last word and then the nib will catch on the paper and make a big splash on your perfectly addressed envelope (which can look nice). I’ve listed above a few links covering classes and resources on calligraphy. If you’re up for a challenge give it a go! Email me when something nice comes out, I’d love to see it.
To anyone who does not want to endeavour into the world of nib pen research, the overwhelming choice of what color ink to get, how to keep your pen clean and in working condition I would highly recommend going with Pentel Touch! I’ve had mine for about two years and it is my favorite pen of all time. I love addressing envelopes with it, using it to design new Wild Wagon Co cards, lettering and when I feel like being a maestro without the actual nib pen. I do own one (proof below), and I enjoy it very much but on very rare occasions.
Rubber Stamps and embossers
A rubber stamp is my favorite tool when sending mail, branding packages and prints. I also love its physical presence on the desk (is that weird?). If you have a design ready, give Rubber Stamps a shout. I am only recommending them because I’ve worked with them and they’ve been great! They will hook you up with your own rubber stamp in just a couple of days! There are also lots of color options for ink pads depending on the purpose of your stamp. If you’re feeling extra fancy, or would like someone else to design your stamp, you can order custom address stamps from Lady Fingers Letterpress or lots of Etsy stores.
Another great tool to use in an embosser and I personally love using it on our envelopes. You can view an example of what I am talking about here.
Seals are an ancient tool that has been around for thousands of years. Traditional wax seals continue to be used on certain high-status and ceremonial documents, but in the 20th century they were gradually superseded in many other contexts by inked or dry embossed seals and by rubber stamps. Seals are an easier purchase because most have each letter of the alphabet available therefore making it easy to pick your initials. Most sites will also have some basic symbol designs. You can also order seals from Etsy for roughly $30nzd. Seals will last you forever, and you will only need to restock on wax. But that’s fun, right?
Thanks for reading folks! Don’t forget that sharing is caring! If you would like me to cover something else I’d love to hear what you have to say on our instagram!