Last summer I had the idea of hand-writing some of my blogposts and exchanging letters with fellow bloggers and instagrammers. My handwriting had fallen fallow and become uncertain and familiarising myself with a fountain pen for the first time since school felt wonderful. I was keen to revive the slow, largely neglected yet entirely lovely process of writing letters by hand.
I’ve always loved making the shapes of letters with a pen, attended several terms of calligraphy night classes when I was still in my twenties and am an unashamed typewriter font fan. Special Elite anyone? I even illustrated a couple of hundred fossils for Cambridge University’s Sedgwick Museum once (see above and here).
So, I asked if anyone might like to exchange handwritten letters with me. I received so many messages on Instagram, Twitter and via email that I confess I was quite startled. I knew I wouldn’t be able to write to everyone and so I let the idea lie dormant for a while (whilst being horribly haunted by inky guilt).
Meanwhile a few wonderful creative folk wrote to me anyway and receiving their beautiful letters was such a joy…
Illustrator and Twitter pal Chichi Parish sent me a letter of such beauty that I feel it belongs in a gallery. Her handwriting and use of her pen is exquisite. No wonder, as she undertakes illustration for English Heritage, The National Trust and Diva magazine.
She wrote out a poem by Elaine Feinstein for me and drew little cartoons of our dog Minnie.
I confess I felt almost tearful when I received these letters. Each one was an enormous treat – more special than an email, direct message, tweet or even a blog comment. There is the aesthetic pleasure of opening the envelope and holding the crisp paper inside, but it was the thoughtful messages, little drawings and gorgeous handwriting of the person who had taken the time to write to me that made it so lovely. It was without doubt one of the highlights of 2015 for me and I was keen for it to continue.
I wondered whether there might be a way to pair people up with one another and considered doing this myself with a special email address…Then I noticed Christmassy gift exchanges happening on blogs and Instagram. A clever website called Elfster (run by elves obvs) automated the process of pairing folk up for exchanging presents sent in the post. Genius.
So, I have set up a handwritten letter exchange….
If you’d like to sign up, then after the entry closing date you’ll be allocated someone to send a letter to, and someone else will send a letter to you. This way you’ll have two potential folk to write to.
If you’d like to send and receive just one letter that’s ace, but I’m hoping that some letter-writing partners may continue to write to each other for at least a little while.
Sign up by clicking the image below
NB: Ignore the stuff on the website about wishlists and don’t be alarmed that this is called a gift exchange. I’m simply using Elfster’s automated pairing system for this project. If you’d like to include seeds, pressed flowers, drawings, small handmade somethings etc in your envelopes then WONDERFUL, but this is about the pleasure of writing and receiving letters.