Writing Paper – A Dying Art

I was reminded recently about how I used to have a proper writing set. A fountain pen with various colors of ink and blotting paper. It was fun to write with and could get messy, especially if the cartridge leaked. There was also a huge selection of interesting writing paper and matching envelopes to buy for all those thank you notes to family members at Christmas and Birthdays as well as pen pals to write to. I even used my fountain pen at school.

The fountain pen is becoming part of the dying art of writing. You can still buy them which is good to know...but for how long?
The fountain pen is becoming part of the dying art of writing. You can still buy them which is good to know…but for how long?

With the introduction of high tech, email and tablet devices, the art of writing a letter to someone using a pen and paper is becoming instinct.

I wrote an article about this – The Art of Letter Writing where I explain how a Round Robin letter works, and that some of us are attempting to keep the tradition alive.

It’s interesting, because once you start writing again, you realize your hand muscles are out of training and half way down a letter you can feel the real workout your hand is getting. Do you remember the little indentation you used to get where the pen pressed against your middle finger? Look at your finger…depending what “era” you are from and how old you are, you should have a nice writer’s bump by now 🙂

We've always found ways to communicate.
We’ve always found ways to communicate.

We’ve come along way from the times when our ancestors scratched across the papyrus with a quill and ink pot. Technological advancement and clever minded inventors make it much easier to have a similar experience without plucking any feathers today!

Although complete writing sets are harder to find nowadays, you can still come across some interesting writing paper should you wish to join me in keeping snail mail alive and brighten up someone’s unloved mailbox!

Let me share some fun stationery with you. I hope I can inspire you to keep the dying art of writing alive as well as some ideas on how you can ensure people still know how to write with pen and paper in the future!


Writing Paper

As Autumn/Fall is approaching I recently purchased some seasonal writing paper.

I found the above pumpkin paper, made by Gartner Studios, at the Office Depot store, where they had a huge selection of fancy writing paper. They don’t always come with matching envelopes but you can always jazz up a plain envelope by using special stamps or stickers…but plain and simple is perfectly fine too.

With this range you can also visit their online site and download templates which are relevant to the design you selected.
With this range from Gartner Studios, you can also visit their online site and download templates which are relevant to the design you selected…if you really can’t stay away from technology!
Stationery by Gartner Studios. Click on the photo for more info.
Candy Corn Stationery by Gartner Studios. Click on the photo for more info.

If that’s not spooky enough paper for you they also have a candy corn Hallowe’en design. Be careful of colors that are too bright or designs that takeover the paper – you want your recipient to enjoy the fun paper, but you also want them to be able to read your writing!

You can also find fancy writing paper online. I bought this Sea Flowers paper from Amazon. This set came with mix and match paper and envelopes together with some stickers to brighten up your letter or pop on the envelope.

Mix and Match Stationery by Jill Bliss
Mix and Match Stationery by Jill Bliss. Click on the photo for more information.

Depending on the type of letter writer you are, don’t forget to check the paper sizes. The Hallowe’en style paper above was nice and large but the Jill Bliss Sea Flowers paper was much smaller in size and actually had fewer sheets – 16 stationery sheets as opposed to 40 sheets.

Once you’ve thought about the paper, you may like to check out a few other essentials like pens and notebooks as well as exploring creative ways to write such as Calligraphy. I’ll be covering these topics soon.

So next time your WiFi gives out and you’re sitting there twiddling your thumbs and feeling completely cut off from the world…you’ll be completely ready for the internet outage apocalypse. Whip out your stationery set, pen and paper and get writing to someone…but try not to mention that your internet connection is down, there are more exciting topics you can think of I’m sure 🙂


I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

When was the last time you wrote or received a handwritten letter?

Do you have a secret stationery supplier that you can share with me?

Do you think letter writing is becoming a dying art?

Let me know below.

The Art of Letter Writing

With the advancement of technology, the art of letter writing with a pen and paper is dwindling fast but a few of us are still trying to keep the tradition alive.

Are you fed up of only receiving bills and junk mail in your mailbox? It’s always nice to receive a surprise card or letter that has been handwritten instead of the boring stuff that you’re not really interested in, so why not surprise someone by putting pen to paper.

I’m in a small group of six people who send a Round Robin of handwritten letters that has been going on for about a year now. It’s fun and I don’t just get one letter to read but five.

How does it work?

Person number one writes a letter (maximum two pages) about anything they like  – what they have been doing since receiving the last letter, any vacations they are planning or have been on, hobbies they do, book recommendations, recipes etc. They then send it to the second person on the list.

When the second person has received the envelope they write their letter, read person one’s letter and then add their letter to the original and post both letters to person number three.

Mail all the letters you have received, adding your own to the envelope and then wait for it to come back to you.
Mail all the letters you have received, adding your own to the envelope and then wait for it to come back to you.

Person number three then reads both letters in the envelope, writes their letter and adds it to the envelope. Three letters now wing their way onto person number four. Person number four does the same and sends all the letters on to person number five and so it continues until all the people in the group have received, read and written letters.

Once a letter has been received by a recipient they have up to two weeks to read and respond with their own letter. There’s usually a sheet of everyone’s addresses so each person knows who they need to send the complete package to. This should always stay in the envelope as a reference sheet. Any changes can be made to the address list should anyone move home during the round of letters.

Once all the letters have been sent back to the very first person in the group, they remove their first letter, read all the letters they have not yet seen and then add a completely new letter to the package. They then send it on to person two who removes their letter and adds a new one. This continues round and around until it completes a second journey and the whole process starts again. This way of sending letters is often called a Round Robin.

As you get to see your original letter you can then re-read what you wrote to everyone so you don’t forget or repeat yourself.

Why not give the art of letter writing a try and spice up someone’s mailbox. You’ll give them a nice surprise as they won’t be expecting it – especially when it’s hiding in with the junk mail and you may even inspire them to put pen to paper and write back to you which will cheer up your mailbox too.

Writing Set
Make it even more fun and interesting by investing in a writing set

Sketching in the Wolfsonian

Each month The Wolfsonian Museum open their doors to budding artists wishing to practice their drawing skills.

My husband and I attended our first session at the end of February. I haven’t used a pencil and paper in a while but they provided the tools and we were ready to pick a subject to draw. I didn’t want to draw just anything so I wandered around for a while looking for something that looked interesting.

My first sketch attempt going back to using pencil and paper.
My first sketch attempt going back to using pencil and paper.

The drawing is from a painting depicting the Battle of La Marne Verdun in the current exhibition ‘Myth and Machine: The First World War in Visual Culture’. The painting was large but I focused on one small section which had amazing light flooding the scene.

It was a completely different experience. I’ve been so used to drawing on tablet devices that it felt strange to use a real pencil. Not only that, as the museum was open to the public I felt a little self conscious drawing as people wandered around. Occasionally they would look over my shoulder and I wanted to say, “I’m not a real artist. Focus on that painting on the wall by someone who knew what they were doing”. I decided not to be distracted by what I thought people were thinking and just concentrated on what I was doing.

It’s an unfinished drawing but it was a good test piece. The proportions are not quite right – his hand is too big, his jacket is too short, but for a first attempt (and my first foray into public drawing) I was happy that it actually looked like a person if not a completely true representation of the original. I’m looking forward to exploring using pencil and paper again and hopefully improving my technique.

A painting depecting the Battle of La Marne
The original – a painting depicting the Battle of La Marne

The session inspired us so much that we ended up visiting our local art shop for supplies. I’m looking forward to seeing improvements in my drawings and Sketching in the Wolfsonian again at the end of March.

Windpower Drawing Sketchbook
Strathmore Windpower Drawing Sketchbook

The sketchbook I selected was a Strathmore Wind power Drawing Pad. This line of artist papers has been made with 100% wind power – a pollution free renewable energy resource. Strathmore is the first (and only) manufacturer in the United States to make paper entirely from wind generated electricity. This heavyweight drawing paper is perfect for finished works of art. The bright white paper is ideal for working with pencil pen charcoal or pastel.

Generals Sketching Pencil 4B
Generals Sketching Pencil 4B

We selected a few charcoal pencils, some interesting erasers and a flat 4B Sketching pencil.

The erasers were very interesting. They each have a specific use depending on what type of pencil you are using and the effect you are trying to achieve. My favorite so far is the Kneaded Eraser.

Artgum by Prismcolor
Artgum by Prismacolor

Artgum block shaped, dual purpose eraser and dry cleaner. Containing fine dry powder it cleans the drawing surface by absorbing the graphite and dirt.

Kneaded rubber
Kneaded rubber

Kneaded Eraser – this one is excellent for highlighting and cleaning chalks, charcoal, pastels and colored pencils.

Plastic Eraser – easily removes pencil marks from a range of surfaces.

Drawings and Doodles on Tumblr

The Picture Window – my adventures with an iPad, stylus and Tumblr.

I’d like to share a selection of my most recent doodles and drawings that can be found on my Tumblr account – The Picture Window. They are drawings plucked from my creative mind or inspired by surroundings or my interests.

Tom & Jerry up to their old cat and mouse tricks
Tom & Jerry up to their old cat and mouse tricks

I had been drawing some well known cartoon characters for a while that were full of bold colors and larger than life features and I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture everyone’s favorite cartoon icons. It’s harder than you think!

Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse

I then started to explore black and white doodling. One of my favorites is Moonlight. It’s very simple but sometimes the moon really is that big and makes you feel very small.

I made the drawing using the app Paper by 53. It really does make it easy to pick up your device and start drawing. Paper by 53 is just like using an old fashioned piece of paper. There are no fancy layers or hundreds of options to delete your work. You have a selection of pens and pencils of varying strengths and thicknesses, a palette of colors with a mixer option, a great zooming in feature for all the small detail and an eraser. With only these options available it really focuses the mind just like using the real thing.

Moonlight
Moonlight

The drawing of the cat on the lined paper is not my drawing but one I found amongst the many talented artists who post their work on Tumblr.

Sneakers
Sneakers

The featured image of the sneakers I’ve used to illustrate this post was quick and easy to do. I was really pleased with the results and I hope it conveys a sense of relaxation when you look at it. Even though I didn’t define any legs I think it gives the illusion that there are actually some there. My mind seems to fill in the blanks. I’m also hoping that the actual shoe looks like it is filled with a foot so I tried not to make it look flat and lifeless.  Did it trick your mind too?

which stylus do I use…read on