Book review time again! Let’s dive into a book called Good Mail Day, written by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler.
This book came out in 2009, so you might have already seen it, and I hope you have. But I just bought it on Amazon and read it with much joy last week. It was such a great book that I wanted to write about it – in case some of you missed it for some reason…
Good Mail Day – A primer for Making Eye Popping Postal Art is one of those books where I feel inspired to act – on almost every single page! Inspiring books are great, but when they “inspire to act” that is the highest grade you can give a craft or art book. Because it shows that the author has succeeded with the intent to effect (and inspire) your life in some way…
You know the feeling right? It’s when you read a description of something, like making your own envelopes, and you just want to jump up and fold envelopes using all kinds of different papers from your stash… Or when you keep reading and the art of letter-writing is described, and you just want to put pen to paper and compose a thoughtful, kind letter to someone (I am thinking of my grandmother, she is the best pen pal). I love when this happens!
In the book the authors give a recap of the history of mail art and letter writing, and shows that these are art forms worth to preserve. Art forms that are dwindling today, yes, but not dead yet. And as it says in the book: to get a letter, all you need to do is to send a letter!
To decide to participate is as simple as sitting down, waking up the imagination, and affixing a stamp. There is only one hard and fast rule: send mail.
I think that in the digital age we have a great need for these kinds of things. I love the tangible feeling of using a beautiful pen, of handling paper, postal stamps, handmade postcards and carved stamps, all described within this book.
Throughout the book you are reminded of how important it is to be friendly! Be nice to the post office clerks (even when they refuse to send your bulky parcel), send thank you notes when you receive unexpected mail and expect less than you give out. Mail art should always be more about you and how you feel when you create – what you do – rather than what others send to you. And that’s a good rule for life as well, not just for mail art!
The approach in the book is also very much about turning the ordinary into something extraordinary, a concept that I have always embraced full-heartedly. The authors show you how to find ephemera on the street and using it to make postcards, to collect papers when you travel, to think outside the box and sending strange (bulky) items through the mail system, to decorate ordinary envelopes and make them artsy and so on. There is plenty of fun ideas to explore for every taste.
My favorite idea is about faux stamps. I love the idea of creating my own postal stamps. I have shared my first attempts here, but I think I need to try to make a new edition soon!
The style of most of the envelopes and mail art ideas shared in the book are not painted and colorful like the mixed media you might be used to. Instead you will see worn, vintage, found ephemera in lots of yellow and browns. I love the look of these envelopes so much!
I have known about it for years, but didn’t splurge until now. And I am glad I finally did. I think you will enjoy this book if you are (or have ever been into): swapping, sharing your art, journaling, collage, having a pen pal, sending mail, collecting postal stamps, stickers or stationary…
I love Good mail days, don’t you? To me it’s a good mail day when you get 1 or 2 things in the inbox that are not bills or the local, free weekly newspaper. For example, it was a great mail day when this book arrived. If you want more good mail days in your life too, I suggest checking out my DIY Postcard Swap. It’s a great way to get started with mail art in the form of postcards!
Good Mail Day Resources
- Good Mail Day – buy this book at at Amazon
- Everyday should be a Red Letter Day – Jennie Hinchcliff’s blog on all things postal
- iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap – a great place to start exploring
- Previous Book Reviews – more books on living a creative life
Oh, at the back of the book there are some postal stickers! Yay!
What is your experience with pen pals, mail art and handmade postcards? Is it a lost art, or something you want to explore further?