This is about paper. Any and all kinds of paper. The appearance of it; the feel of it; even the magic smell of it. Newspaper. Catalog paper. Wrapping paper. Wall-paper, but most of all stationery. That is writing paper. I love the history of papyrus, Chinese paper, Japanese paper. Every conceivable kind you can imagine, and let us not even start on calligraphy. But this is about frugality and how to save a buck while, at the same time, improving or having more fun in your life.
The U.S. Post office has done such a job of scaring us that we don't know all the great things that they do let us do. For example, given the challenge of the front of an envelope, the address side, the post office doesn't care about what you do with that side as long as the address is legible and that you reserve the top right hand corner for the stamp. I have plastered stamps all over envelopes and canceled them out to look like the message has traveled all over the world. The post office doesn't care, as long as they get their corner.
OK, OK, Rein in my enthusiasm. Mail is based on weight and legibility. Those are the givens. All the rest are the possibilities. If something is made out of paper and you like it and you want to share it, fold it, address it and mail it. Just remember, make the address readable. A magic marker will write over most anything. Size. We've grown up being trained to write within the lines. Forget that. Write all over. Write big. Just make sure the mailman can read the address.
How about the paper itself? In the name of saving costs, companies are getting much smarter about the use of white space (space with nothing printed in it). There's your chance. Either make the printed message work for you, or tear out the message and use the empty paper. Paper doesn't have to be white. I think the finest paper for pen and ink is the brown kraft paper that packages used to be wrapped in. It soaks up the ink and gives it a magic halo effect. Newspaper is gorgeous. There was a section of the New York Times that came today with one gigantic page that only said knowledge. Do you know what you can do with that? And who you can send it to? Unbelievable.
Another funny thing. It is great and satisfying and fulfilling and magic to be a calligrapher (somebody who writes like the outside of a Christmas card) but once your own handwritten message goes on for more than two lines, your writing becomes the style of the message. People can handle it.
Remember those stamps I told you about? The proper sources will send you catalogs. Think about that. Just type in foreign stamps on google and wait for the offers, in glorious colors, to roll it. They will send you catalogs about every country, every subject, every color and value you can imagine. And you don't have to be a collector! Just cut them out and stick them on the envelope. Don't try to stick them in the top, right hand corner. The penalties are swift, draconian and automatic. Use all the rest of the envelope, back and front, and you don't care about what your doing to the beautiful displays of stamps because you're not a collector.
Now, this has gone on too long already. I am not going to write a book about the decorated envelope but keep an eye out for library sales. The books can be a little dingy, but, ohhhhh, the graphics. Cut them out. Splash them all over the envelope. What? The envelope isn't big enough? Buy a bigger one or, better, make it yourself. So what if it looks like the first pair of gloves your kid sister knitted for her five year old cousin, think of the impact. Nobody gets any personal mail any more. (Yes, I know some do, but think of the statistics. And think of the fun. And the creativity). And, if this gets through the censors, think of telling me you've tried it and you've gone on to creative heaven.
P.S. Did I mention postcards? Stick any picture on any piece of card stock (cardboard - stiff paper) and you have a postcard. Go to postcard sales meetings (again google) and buy local or historical postcards. Unfortunately, they now cost upwards of $3.00, But here's the frugality, Hallmark starts about $5.00 And you're using this historical card as an actual postcard! You've got to love it. Enough. Go have fun and rest assured that you will give fun to everyone who receives one of your truly original creations.
Novazim from Detroit, MI
Particularly during the holidays, mail is sorted by scanning machines. So it's not a good idea to slow them down by going crazy with your envelopes.
Also, things you glue on envelopes can easily peel off, causing damage to postal equipment. Save that creativity for the card inside the envelope. :-)
I recycle magazine pages into envelopes, but I use an address label on it to make sure the scanners can read my handwriting (or computer's printing).
Being creative is great, but not if it interferes with mail delivery. Do the layered crafty stuff inside, where it can't harm the USPS' equipment. :-)
Be very careful where you get the catalogs and stamps. Most of those companys are really bad about sending stamps "on approval". If you don't send them back, you have to pay for them. Just a warning from someone who learned that as a child! Cost my parents a small fortune.
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