Envelope Art + Letter Accessories

Hello, dears!

My, it’s been a while since my last pen pal or art post, hasn’t it? I think it’s time for some more decorated envelope inspiration today. 🙂 Enjoy browsing through my recent pen pal art, accompanied by tips for fun extra things to include in your letters as well as how to create a themed letter/extras/envelope combo.

Also, check out the end of this post to see the newest envelope collection I released on my shop! Let’s get started!

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Fun & Creative Pen Pal Ideas

Hello, dears!

My last pen pal post, “The Ultimate List of Pen Pal Ideas,” was super popular, so here I am with more ideas! Apparently that list wasn’t ultimate after all. 😛

Today I’m going to give you suggestions for how to take your letters from a one-page weather report to the highlight of your pen pal’s day. 🙂 We’ll go through tips for improving your letters and envelopes, as well as a big list of fun extras to send and creative activities to do with your pen pal. Excited? I am! 😀

Let’s get started.

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Old Letters and Other Artifacts

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Hello, dears!

I’m super excited to finally show you guys this post! I must warn you, though, it’s quite lengthy. I recommend getting something tasty to eat or drink, finding a comfortable spot, and reading on. 🙂

Ahem. Our new farm was founded in approximately 1777 (so it’s not exactly new, ha), and we’ve found some really neat old things while exploring it. These include but are not limited to a very old graveyard, a fairly old house + schoolhouse/cabin, and approximately 100-year-old postcards, books, and handwritten letters, one of which was written in Germany in 1922, and which I laboriously (and not so skillfully) translated. ARE YOU EXCITED? I AM.

First, the graveyard. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not far from the big house, as you can see. And no, that doesn’t really creep me out, in case you wondered. XD I hope you guys don’t mind it… 😉

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This one is from 1777, approximately when this farm (and country) was founded! :O At the bottom it says “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.”

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Wow, a soldier that fought in the Civil War… O.o (Those blurred out spots are place names. 😉 )

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This one is so sad. 😦

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Is it weird that I like this picture?

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And this one too…

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Some gravestones aren’t even marked, which is also sad.

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Let’s move on to a… nicer topic, perhaps. 😉 I don’t know how old this tree is, but it’s huge and GORGEOUS.

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I love this picture, maybe because it looks estate-ly to me. XD

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Next we have an old broken down log cabin. So exciting. XD But this was most likely the original house! After that it may have been the kitchen, then it was a school, then a garage, and that’s where it fell down – the guy that made it into a garage a long time ago just chopped a large door in the side of the wall, which weakened it so that it finally fell down completely about the time we bought the farm. I can’t wait to clear it away because it’s kind of an eyesore. :[] We’re hoping to clean off and keep the chimney and make a patio with a pagoda there!

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One day Mom and I went inside the rubble and found a dilapidated cardboard box full of old letters and pamphlets and envelopes and such! It was SO neat! Here are a few of the more interesting things we found.

A vintage postcard from 1922…

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And one from 1940…

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Look at that little typewritten note at the top… XD XD IT WOULD BE GOOD TO KNOW YOUR RETURN ADDRESS FOR SURE, AHEM. 😛 Also oh my goodness, I just now noticed something – the stamp is a one cent stamp! And now it costs 50 times that… for a letter, at least.

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And look, some neat old pictures! This was had “Dan, Walter, and Myself” written on the back.

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BAHAHA I don’t think this guy liked to have his picture taken, do you? XD

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The last sentence… 😦 Still so true.

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Sickness and suffering seems to be a common theme in these letters, actually.

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Okay, this is tragic. It’s some school paper or other but I don’t know if the student wrote it or just copied it. Nevertheless…

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What?! They used triple exclamation points back in 1897? I thought it was a modern thing…

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We also found some later typewritten letters. Read the second line up from the horizontal crease in this picture. O.o

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The typewritten letter was addressed to “My Dear Darling Sweetheart” or something like that. I thought it was a love letter at first too, but look how it’s addressed:

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We even found some old checks! Too bad we can’t cash them in. XD

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I believe this is a bank statement. The writing is so pretty, isn’t it? We’re hoping to frame some of the nicer-looking letters. 🙂

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And now… *drum roll* I’m proud to present the old German letter! It was SO much harder to translate than I thought, because some letters like the r’s and s’s looked practically the same, there were ink blots and faded parts, etc. I’m sure I made tons of mistakes, but at least you can get the gist of what it says.

Since this post is long already, I took out a few of the most boring/badly-translated/unnecessary parts, re-formatted it just a bit to make it easier to read, and added notes in brackets. Ahem.

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Dear Aunt!                                        Wednesday, March 16th, 1922 // Marburg/Lahn, Germany

We have received your letter from February. Brother Heinrich is now quite healthy; he has already gained 12 pounds and is very rosy in the face. [HA HA. XD] We have cared for him well, even in winter, and every evening we warm the bed because he gets very cold. His things are all in good condition – I have washed and mended everything. […]

It was a nice sight when Heinrich arrived here. Crooked, half-tied shoes, old blankets over his arm, frozen through and through, and then the dirty rags of a poor soldier. [Goodness gracious! Also I don’t know if I translated “soldier” right, but isn’t that intriguing? Maybe he fought in WWI!] […]

Before the brother came, I had a family of tailors do the work. But when they saw him, they said, “No, no, we don’t need that, we must take care that nothing happens to him, and we have no time for that.” [I think the writer means she used to have tailors make new clothes, but for some mysterious reason, they didn’t want to work for Brother Heinrich. Do you think maybe his being an American soldier had something to do with it?] […]

And now he [Heinrich] thinks that if he had enough money, he would buy a greenhouse in Charlottesville and sell flowers. The houses here are so high in price that we can’t buy even one for a few dollars, not to mention the high taxes. […]

We cannot keep the brother, I’m sorry to write to you. […] It is better that he goes back to Charlottesville again, where he is used to, and where they sing to him in his old age, and care for him. Here in Germany that is not possible because only locals are admitted [to nursing homes] and he is an American. He has now had his way and has been to Germany. […]

My people do not want me to take on such a burden again as I bore for 40 years –  I fed my father for 40 years, and the brothers lived freely and didn’t care about him. [she mentioned how hard it was to care for her father several times. It must have been quite a job.] […]

You meant very well, but now you’ll understand we cannot keep him [Heinrich] here. I am always bound to him and cannot go my own way, which I should and must. So, dearest aunt and cousins, I would like to politely and urgently ask you to send Brother H. a ship ticket very soon, […]

[Okay guys, the next part is where things get interesting:]

The cost of living is almost impossibly high here. The meat is reduced by 2 marks each week: it costs 50 marks per pound. [I researched how much this would be in U. S. dollars today, and it would be $240,806. *horrified look*.] Butter costs 42 marks [$202,193] all winter. A feather bed costs 5000 marks [GUYS. THAT’S $1,600,000. :O :O :O]. You can now imagine how trying it is to have the brother in my house, and once again I ask you to release me soon from this burden. I knew in advance how everything would come about and that was why I was against it. […]

The constantly rising inflation has an appalling effect on the minds. You wrote that you wanted to do something for the brother, so I would like to ask you once more to put him in a retirement home, where he has care and company – here he knows no one.

Dear Aunt, I hope you’ll soon help me sort out this matter and send the ship’s ticket to the brother, because our stock of potatoes will only last until August and there are no new ones to be found. […]

In the hope that this letter finds you in good health, […]

Auguste Hoof Schwaner

_______________________________________

So I looked it up, and in the first half of 1922, when this letter was written, the German mark was worth 320 marks per U. S. dollar. O.o In the SECOND half of 1922, the mark went into hyperinflation and plummeted to $7,400 MARKS PER DOLLAR: you had to use 7,400 German dollars to buy something worth ONE American dollar! Oh my goodness.

Auguste, unfortunately you haven’t seen anything yet. I sure hope they got Brother Heinrich out of there before Auguste’s family ran out of money or potatoes, don’t you?

We’re actually planning to take down the log cabin at some indeterminate but hopefully soon date, and I’m sure we’ll find a bunch more fascinating things underneath the floorboards! Did you enjoy this post enough to be interested in another on what we find when we take down the log cabin or is this stuff kinda boring in your opinion? Do tell!

Also. What was your favorite “old thing” in this post? Have you ever found neat artifacts like these? Thanks for reading this long-winded post, my dears, and please have a lovely day!

***Allison***

P. S. GUYS, GUESS WHAT? WE HAVE FAST INTERNET NOW! (*Update* Okay so it’s supposedly unlimited, but after we use up our high-speed data it cuts us back to slower internet. Not as bad as before, but still…) That means I don’t have to drive 10-30 minutes to a library to use their Wi-Fi, and therefore I can make posts more often! *grins hugely*

Various Artsy Things

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Hello, dears!

Since I haven’t made a recent art post in a long time, I have quite a bit to show you today, including the remaining pages of an old sketchbook and the beginnings of a new one, decorated envelopes, and hand lettered quotes. Enjoy browsing through the drawings! 🙂

First we have the few remaining pages of my old sketchbook. I made these doodly mushrooms with the Micron pens I got for Christmas (see my mini review here), which are so fun to draw with!

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This was a concept for Art Lab which I decided not to use after all. I watercolored the background, folded it down and smoothed it to make a mirror image, and then added the details.

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This is NOT my usual style, but maybe I don’t have a style – I love all kinds. 🙂

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I draw mandalas a lot because they’re just so pretty and I love circles. 😀 This was ALSO a plan/sketch/concept for the next piece of art..

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Hee hee, I’ve never done this before. The wall was rather rough and ugly behind the toilet paper holder, and since we didn’t have the wall paint color with which to cover the fresh plaster, Mom asked me to paint a design onto it. It took a while, but I’m pretty pleased with the result, even if it is a little weird. XD (Also it’s painted on a corner, which is why the picture looks cut in half.)

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Goodness, most of these pieces are actually plans for something else! XD I might actually like this sketch better than the finished piece, unfortunately.

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And now we’re ready for my new sketchbook which I also got for Christmas! I got to draw the logo for Dad’s business card/website, which was pretty neat. These were just practices (AGAIN); I ended up mostly tracing an edited picture to get the desired effect. Oh well, I kind of like the practices

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YAY, REAL ART. I was inspired by the first mushroom picture as well as the illustrations in a beautiful set of books (which I also got for Christmas). I think it turned out pretty cute, although I’m not normally a fan of earthy color schemes.

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On the left we have the picture I drew for this Art Lab episode, and on the right we have a few lonely-looking watercolor bubbles.

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Guys, I am not good at drawing hair. I can draw eyes and most of the rest of the face okay, but the hair is always pretty boring and lackluster. Therefore I attempted to improve my skills with this great video, and I think I did… but they still need improvement. XD That’s okay, I’ll get there eventually. If I keep working on it, that is.

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And here is the finished piece of the pencil-sketched girl I showed you a while ago. The idea was to make a girl who looks like a fawn without actually using any non-human features like deer-ears or antlers. It didn’t really work. XD The face got kind of skewed and I rushed the background which didn’t turn out well, but everything else is… tolerable. If you cover up her mouth she looks better. 😛

(By the way, that’s a great drawing tip: if you’re drawing something (particularly a face), covering up parts of the picture helps you see which feature is throwing everything off. I think it’s the mouth and chin here.)

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Megan requested this camera for a blog project (picture by Megan). I rather like it because it’s PURPLE and it’s A CAMERA. 😀

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I drew this from a gorgeous aerial view of Ashdown Forest, the inspiration for The Hundred Acre Woods. The photo was prettier. XD

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We have now come to the end of the sketchbooks so far, and will turn to various other artworks. First, envelopes. I absolutely LOVE decorating envelopes for my pen pals, and I think I prefer the recent envelope art I made to the stuff in the sketchbook.

Ooh, this is one of my favorites! Adding touches with the white gel pen really helped bring the scene together.

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I was trying to decide how to decorate this envelope when I saw the pretty pattern on my Chemistry notebook and decided to use it as inspiration. What do you know, something nice can come of even Chemistry. XD

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I made this envelope after reading The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, which has some great art tips and tutorials in it! (For instance: did you know that the three primary colors are not red, blue, and yellow, but magenta, cyan, and yellow?! I was astonished! But he showed and explained how it makes perfect sense.) I think it’s neat how a few pen lines can transform some abstract watercolor blobs into a landscape.

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I outlined the daffodils with some lovely oil pastels my dear friend sent me, and then used the watercolor resist technique to fill them in. The colors are so bright and cheery, aren’t they? That’s why I love daffodils. 🙂

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Ooh yes, another one of my favorites! ❤ I like the bright, summery colors and almost vintage-poster-like quality the sun rays give it.

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My mom liked the envelope so much that she wanted me to make a real picture to frame, so I did!

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Okay, this is kind of strange, but Megan wanted me to draw on a church bulletin for one of her friends (don’t ask XD). I believe Megan took these three pictures. I like how the music notes show through the watercolor in this one. 🙂

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This, um, didn’t work TOO well because I didn’t have enough time to finish the faces (particularly Megan’s on the right :[] )… but it was a good challenge to try, anyway.

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I like this one better. 😉 Our friend loves snakes, so I drew this one, also loosely from the Nature Journaling book.

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I made the following art for the most recent edition of Christ’s Light Magazine. 🙂

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Here are a few more quotes I copied, for my pen pals. (The next few pictures are black and white because I took them in a rush and the lighting was HORRIBLE. XD)

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And last but not least…

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And that’s all for now! Which piece of art was your favorite? Which do you prefer making: sketchbook art, envelope art, or hand lettering?

Thanks for reading, dears, and have a lovely day!

***Allison***

P. S. Also in case you’re wondering, I’m planning the post about the old letter next! I would have done it this time, but it’s taking a loooong time to translate. XD Stay tuned!

The Ultimate List of Pen Pal Ideas

Hello, dears!

Today I am super excited to bring you the most requested post from my poll: a post of pen pal ideas! 😀 We’re going to look at gifts that you can send your pen pal in an envelope, fun things to include in your letters, envelope art inspiration, and more!

In this day and age (wow, I sound so old XD), a little handmade goes a long way. Emails are wonderful (and let’s admit, a lot faster), but you can’t beat the feeling of receiving a personalized package that a friend put time and effort into, just for you. I get so excited every single time I get a letter. ♥

Any letter from a pen pal is a treasure, but I love to think of ways to make each thoughtful little package even more special. Hopefully you enjoy reading through these ideas and maybe you and your pen pal will be inspired to use some of these ideas in your next letter!

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Envelope Art

I absolutely adore writing letters to my amazing pen(cil) pal, Charis, and also decorating envelopes to put them in. Today I decided to do a round-up of the envelopes I’ve decorated so far. I hope you enjoy! Also, you should really check out the lovely assortment of decorated envelopes and art Charis has made here! 🙂

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I think this is my first envelope. It’s okay, but thankfully they have improved since then. XD

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Aww, this is one of my favorites! It’s simple, but so cute.

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Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you there! XD My family wondered what the mail lady thought when she saw this. 😛 It’s not my best eye ever, but it was quite fun to draw, especially the iris. I drew this because Charis has blue eyes, and I love drawing eyes!

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As you can tell, this was from Christmas. 😉

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The light blue marker stopped working on the sky, but the faded effect turned out kinda neat.

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A galaxy envelope from when I first learned how to draw galaxies. 🙂

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Eh. This one’s okay but the lines from the other side of the envelope kind of mess it up. (The weird splotches on the leaves are to cover up addresses.)

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And last but not least, my most recent and possibly my favorite! I love how this turned out, with the colors and everything! Would anyone like an Art Lab post about the inspiration behind this and a tutorial on how to make it?

Well I hope you enjoyed that, dear readers. Which envelope was your favorite? Do you like decorating envelopes?

Thanks for reading!

***Allison***

Art Lab, Episode 18: Bring on the Christmas Lights!

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Are you guys excited for Christmas? I sure am! Today I have a fun Christmasy way to decorate an envelope for your pen pal or friend or family. Grab an envelope, fine-tip markers or gel pens, and colored pencils, and here we go…

Idea: Christmasy envelope

  1. Set the stage. envelope-1-1280x960
  2. Hang up the strands. envelope-2-1280x853
  3. String on the lights. envelope-3-1280x853
  4. Turn the lights on.envelope-4-1280x853envelope 5 (1280x853).jpg
  5. Add the lyrics of a favorite Christmas carol.

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    CHRISTMAS BOKEH!
  6. Send it off to make someone happy!

Ahh, I love Christmas lights. They’re so cheery, and really make Christmas feel cozy. Don’t you agree? Do you string lights up around your house? We don’t usually, but this year we strung some on our front porch, and it looks beautiful! 😀

If you made some art inspired by this post, we’d love to see it! Visit our “Art Gallery” page here to see the details. Thanks for reading! 😀

***Allison***

P. S. I have some fun sidebar changes planned… *rubs hands*. XD

Art Lab, Episode 16

Methinks it’s past time for another Art Lab episode, don’t you agree? Quite, quite. 😀

Well, today I have a fun “two-player” art prompt for you to do with a friend or a pen-pal (or of course you could draw the whole thing by yourself).

Art Prompt: Here’s a mandala I really like.

Henna on Canvas by KeepAustinDreaming on Etsy, $40.00:

{from this Etsy shop}

And here is a bunch of inspiration for mandala-type doodles:

50 Hand Drawn Vector Pattern Brushes - Brushes Illustrator:

{via}

Technique: Two-Player Mandala

My pen-pal Grace and I made this mandala together. We took turns adding a section each time we sent our letters until it turned out like this! Isn’t it pretty? 😀pen-pal-mandala-poster

Mandalas don’t have many rules. The basic idea is to create a symmetrical,  circular design by adding consecutive rings of doodles. It’s fun to play with the position of the mandala – you can have it in the center of the page, running off the page, or in the corner, which is what Grace and I did. This is how the mandala looked from start to finish:

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Wow. I realized this post is really short. XD Heh heh, oh well! I hope you enjoyed it, short though it may be! If you made some art inspired by this post, we’d love to see it! Visit this page to see how to help fill our art gallery.

Do you like doodling mandalas? Do you have a pen-pal?

***Allison***