Mail Art – Have You Tried It?

July 28, 2010

Filed in: Uncategorized

When is the last time you received a letter in the mail that was hand written? Chances are, a long time ago. In an age where technology seems to have us with a choke hold the fine art of letter writing is quickly becoming a past time. I had thought past times were for 5 cent Coca-Cola’s or penny candy from the corner store. I never dreamed that I would actually see letter writing come so close to extinction in my life time, but it seems it has a lot in common with oily birds these days.

Being a member of the Letter Writer’s Alliance really opened my eyes to the beauty of the handwritten letter so I made it a challenge to myself to send at least one hand written letter or post card out each week. I joined Postcrossings, which is an international group of folks who swap post cards from around the world and I joined several other letter writer groups. But, being an artist, I found myself wanting to incorporate my love of art into the mail, so mail art became a major part of my letter writing activities these days. If you Google “Mail Art,” you can see hundreds of examples of letters, sent through the mail, that are actual works of arts. They are quite fascinating. Because I am a collage artist, I actively sought out other artists who participated in mail art and have now begun swapping actual works of art, with letters inside, through the mail. It is pretty fabulous I must say! 

So, I thought Mail Art would be a wonderful lesson to add to my collage class and next week we will get our hands busy creating, not only letters, but beautiful ones at that. Here are some ideas to consider if you are thinking about a mail art project for yourself or your children.
1. First, decide who you are going to mail your letter to and write the letter. Don’t type it, actually pen the words yourself. 
2. If you are going to add mail art, consider what type of art you love to do or art they would love to receive. Do they have a favorite color?
Do You?
Do you love abstract, or funny cards, or do you love to simply draw? 
3. Choose a theme for your mail art, such as holidays, spiritual, sports, gardening, and design your envelope to fit that theme. 
4. Decorate both sides if you choose, just be sure to leave a clear space for your addresses and stamps. 
5. Collage Mail Art can be created using cut out images from magazines, ephemera, patterned or painted paper, or by using rubber stamps. 
6. Sometimes, simply the addition of one simple image, like a flower or a bird, can turn an ordinary white envelope into a work of art. 

Regular white craft glue is great to use for collage, just make sure you glue the edges really well so the automated machines doesn’t rip them. 

Postcards can be sent in the U.S by the Post Office for 28 cents, up to a 4″ by 6″. If it’s larger, you need to use a regular stamp. International postcards cost 98 cents to mail. 

Here are some images from mail art that I have made using collage and colored pencils:

If you have a love for letter writing and mail art there are several groups on Facebook and the internet you can join to swap mail art with folks all over the world. Most all of them usually have one primary rule to follow: If someone is kind enough to send you a mail art card or letter, it’s always customary to send one in return. I want to challenge you to write at least one letter in the next week, even if it’s just a few lines, and consider turning your envelope into mail art. You might be surprised what ends up landing in your own mail box as well!

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