Monday, October 6, 2014

Weekly Mail

What a slow mail week! I didn't receive any mail at all last week. It was kind of a relief, actually. Now I just have a few letters to reply to. Sometimes it helps to hoard all the letters you receive and reply to them all at once. Although it's sad to come home to an empty mailbox.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Monthly Mail - September 2014

Happy October! I have no idea where September went. Last week was a whirlwind of a week. I started training for a new position at work which changed my schedule by an hour and kind of threw me off my game. I also started marathoning Gilmore Girls since it came out on Netflix. You know, very important things! This month I'm completely focused on my upcoming Hawaii vacation; just a few more weeks now!

It's been a pretty slow mail month. Probably because I had 10 letters to reply t
o all month and sent them all out at once. I have a few letters to reply to now and I will (most likely) get to them this week. I'm going to try and get a bunch of new stationery designs completed, and maybe in the shop, before I leave for Hawaii. Although I'll have to put my shop on hold for the week-ish that I will be out of town!

I hope everyone had a great, mail-filled September!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mail Art Diaries - What To Use

I've been making mail art for over 10 years now so I thought I'd start a blog series to share my tips and tricks. One of my favorite things in the mail art community is how everyone has a very unique and individual style. We can all learn things from each other and that's pretty awesome. It's also really fun to see your style develop over the years. I look at some of my envelopes from years ago and I cringe; although sometimes I'm pretty impressed and think, "I did that!?"

One thing that's super helpful for me is organizing all of the paper bits I've collected over the years. My desk is basically always messy and pretty unorganized when I'm working so it's nice to have things in places where I can easily find them. Before I graduated to using these IKEA boxes, I kept everything stored in freezer-sized Ziploc bags! You can imagine what a hassle that was. I tried to keep my categories for storing pretty broad. They are organized based on the different elements I use in collages and that makes it easy to find what I'm looking for when I'm working on a collage!

 I always have my go-to supplies when making collages:
1 - Glue sticks! I've seen plenty of recommendations for other adhesives but I think I'll always stick to my cheap sticks. I typically use clear tape around the edges of an envelope to keep things secure.
2 - Washi tape! This is really a no-brainer. Washi tape comes in so many different patterns and colors. It is so useful in adding a little something to any collage. It's also an easy way to add a little something to stationery!
3 - Ink! Admittedly, I don't have a lot of different colored ink pads because, holy cow, they are expensive. I like to use a lot of rubber stamps so ink pads come in handy.
4 - Alphabet stamps! I have too many alphabet stamps. I used to buy every set I came across. They are so much fun though! I love using them to stamp the recipients name on envelopes or when writing a letter. These sign language stamps are a big hit with everyone. You can get this same set over at Chronicle Books!
5 - Pterodactyl stamp! This is basically my signature stamp. I've had this stamp since I was a little kid and I don't know what I would do without it!
6 & 7 - Hand carved stamps! If you haven't carved a stamp, you should definitely try it out! I'm no artist but I love carving out simple shapes to use. It's very satisfying.
8 - Scissors! These have been my go-to scissors for many years. I prefer smaller scissors as I have more control over what I'm cutting out. I'm an absolute mess when I use big scissors!

Paper, paper, paper! I've collected so much paper over the years I almost don't even know how I'll use it all. Scrapbook supply aisles in craft stores are my worst enemy. I typically always use paper as my background for any collage I'm working on. White space is the worst!

Here is a peek into what my "embellishment" box contains! It's basically a mix of doilies, stickers, labels and color swatches. Doilies are my weakness! They just look so awesome on envelopes.

This is a selection of bits from my "ephemera" and "images" boxes.

USPS stamps, bingo dotters and a label maker. Otherwise known as things I don't use very often but always enjoy when I do use them! The USPS stamps are very useful when they need to be; especially the FRAGILE and DO NOT BEND stamps. I don't think I've ever used the FIRST CLASS stamp! CONFIDENTIAL is used when I'm being silly.

What are some of your favorite supplies?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vintage Scrapbook

Do you ever get something from someone that makes you realize how well that person knows you? And how lucky you are to know that person? My penpals constantly surprise me with the most thoughtful gifts. It never ceases to amaze me that these lovely people could know me so well without, in most cases, never meeting me. It really goes to show you the kind of connections that can be made between people through pen and paper.

One of my penpals, Emilie, recently sent me this amazing vintage scrapbook. Something that she picked up in a thrift store and decided I would appreciate receiving it. I think I literally gasped when I pulled the scrapbook out of the envelope. It had such a beautiful cover and I was so excited to flip through it!

This scrapbook contains so many amazing details and random things. My favorite thing has to be the pressed flowers. I'm seriously surprised at how well they held up! This book has things from the late 1930s and early 1940s. It kind of makes me sad that it ended up in a thrift store. I can imagine this book being handed down from generation to generation, and then finally it ends up in a thrift store because no one in the family wanted it? Or was it because there was no family left to take it? Either way it's still a sad ending but I'm happy to have this in my possession for the moment!

There are so many beautiful paper bits in this scrapbook. Letters, telegrams, greeting cards, old pieces of tape and corner stickers. The handwriting on everything is beautiful and now I have new handwriting goals. The one thing that creeped me out was a fingernail that was taped to one of the pages. The photo for it is above. The written description is "Loda's nail we cut off for being too long. July 29, 1940." I have no idea why someone would keep a fingernail (just one?). I wish I had more of a backstory for the person who put together this scrapbook! I guess I could try to Google them but that would take most of the fun out of it, I think.

Have you ever found anything like this in a thrift store? I haven't! I'm just lucky enough to know people who have. Thanks, Emilie!

Monday, September 22, 2014


Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great weekend. I feel like I'm recovering from a junk food hangover due to my weekend of coffee cake, cookie butter ice cream, chips, pie, and almond cookies. I make very poor food decisions when the weekend rolls around. You can't say no to cookie butter ice cream though.

This weekend, when I wasn't stuffing my face full of treats, I went out and explored my neighborhood for a bit. There is a bridge within a short walk of my apartment that I'm pretty much in love with. I saw it while headed home on the MAX. I've always wanted to see it up close and take some pictures! So, I drug Nathan out with me into the heat. I immediately wanted to go back inside the second I stepped outside. I've been crossing my fingers for the cool weather to come but Portland doesn't seem to want to give up this heat wave. Unlike 99.9% of the population, I absolutely hate sunny, warm days. I become a hermit during the summer and have no desire to do anything.

The bridge was worth the heat, though! Portland has it's fair share of beautiful bridges. One of the many reasons I absolutely love this city. Las Vegas is flat. Very, very flat. Bridges are not necessary. The only "bridges" in the city are overpasses over the freeways, and those are boring.

I love that you can see a bit of downtown Portland in the last photo. Skylines are the best! After the trek to the bridge, Nathan and I decided to walk to our neighborhood thrift store to see if there were any goodies we could pick up. We've been on the search for a small filing cabinet for Dactyl Life things since we have been storing all the stationery in my small mail organizer. We ended up finding a little 2-drawer filing cabinet at the thrift store! Yay! Nathan decided we would just carry it home (we go to the gym 3 times a week to prepare for these situations). That was a pretty annoying idea, as you can imagine, but Nathan is a good sport and carried it all the way home. I tried to carry it but I could barely see over the cabinet while walking.

How was your weekend? Hopefully it was cooler than mine!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekly Mail

Three lovely missives in my mailbox this week! Matthew sent me a postcard while he is on his adventure. Emily & Megan sent me very nice letters and I can't wait to reply to them!

I actually had a bit of a productive letter writing week! I wrote 10 letters and sent them out on Saturday. Yippee. It feels really awesome to be a little bit caught up on my replies. A stack of letters to send out is always a satisfying feeling!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dactyl Life Giveaway

I teamed up with Chloe over at Lazy Explorers to offer you this fantastic giveaway! I had such a fun time working with her to design her custom stationery set. If you'd like the chance to win your very own Dactyl Life stationery set, be sure to enter the giveaway! You can choose to win the set I designed for her or pick one from my shop. I will be mailing the set to the winner! It's a chance to get some awesome stationery as well as a sweet package from me :)

Just head on over to Chloe's post to submit your entries to win! You may as well browse around her blog while you're over there, too! She is rad.

If you want to keep up-to-date on Dactyl Life happenings, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Weekly Mail

I received the most amazing package from Emilie this week! She sent me this vintage scrapbook she found at a thrift store. It was such a treat to flip through the pages. I'm so flattered she thought to send that to me! I might be scanning some of the pages in, and I will definitely be making a separate post about it. I'd also love to send it on to someone else because it is amazing and I want to spread the joy!

I also received a lovely letter from Mary. It's always a treat to receive a letter from her. Her letters are always entertaining and she always sends some nice things my way! Her letters are almost always filled with confetti, too.

I wrote 4 letters this week but haven't posted them yet. Sometimes I'm really lazy about that. I don't have any excuses for it! At least I'm catching up on my replies.

My pen pal, Kyle, did come in to Portland this week and we had the chance to meet up for pizza & beer. I was excited to meet him and we had a pretty hilarious time hanging out. I really love meeting pen pals. It's always really easy for me because I feel like I already know them, I'm just putting a face (and a personality) to their writing. It certainly was that way with Kyle! I knew instantly who he was when I saw him hanging outside of Powell's even though I've never seen a picture of him before. I felt like we clicked instantly and it was like hanging out with an old friend. My cheeks hurt from laughing so much after hanging out. So much fun!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Weekly Mail

Greetings from the dactyl den! This week I did not write one letter! I started reading a book (The Interestings) and that is consuming my free time. Oops. I received 3 lovely pieces of mail. A really sweet letter from Venus, one from Connie & a funny postcard from Kaylah. Now I have about 11 things that I need to reply to! I hate getting so behind but I also like doing other things.

I might be meeting my pen pal, Kyle, this week. I hope we can find to time hang out. He is pretty rad & I always like meeting new people/pen pals!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Collages!

Over the past couple of weeks, I've picked up a few vintage encyclopedias from the same set. They are full of really fun illustrations that I have been using in my collages! So far I have 3 out of the 6 books. I'm desperately trying to find the other 3 but considering they were made in the early 1900s, it might be a bit difficult. I thought I got lucky as there was a listing on Amazon for the "whole" set for $5! It turned out to be just Volume 6, which is the condensed version of the entire set, and one that I already had. Whoops.

I've made a total of 6 new designs in the last few weeks and they are probably my favorite to date. The majority of the illustrations in the books are just black & white, with a few random color ones. Working with very minimal color/design is definitely a challenge but it also allows me to be a bit more creative with my backgrounds and other elements of the design. Before I would use some random scrap of paper as backgrounds & elements and I'm kind of straying away from that. Experimenting is fun! I would love to do a recording of how I work and do a time-lapse video of my process. I love those types of videos!

The above designs can be found in my Etsy shop if you want to look at more pictures. Or, you know, purchase them!

I've been a bit lazy and haven't printed out the other 2 designs yet as I just made them over the weekend. I'm pretty excited to have them printed out though!

I'm also going to venture away from stationery and offer some other things in my shop over the next few months.

Do you have any designs you'd love to see? Favorite animals? Colors? Tell me whatcha think!