Tag Archives: InCoWriMo

And So It Begins – Bring On InCoWriMo 2017, and . . . a New Obsession, the Fountain Pen

Look who’s ready for InCoWriMo 2017, or to translate that mouthful of an acronym, International Correspondence Writing Month.  I have six handmade cards and envelopes ready to go, and I have my Flow magazine on hand to decorate the rest.  After a trip to the post office this morning, and a very helpful Postal Person, I ended up putting Letters 1 and 2 in the mail so I don’t have to go back tomorrow.   Yep, I’m cheating already I guess, but I’m looking at the month as a whole, because I doubt I’m going to actually post letters on the weekend – the mailperson doesn’t always come on Saturday, and if it’s snowing, I’m not walking the half mile to the mailbox. And, there are Sundays when lets face it, getting dressed means I change from the pj’s I slept into clean pj’s or sweats.  And, I wonder why I’ve gained weight?  Sheesh.  Anyway, my point is, I’m playing by Wendy’s rules, since it’s all informal anyway, I’m going to do the best I can to mail out 28 letters in what would be nearly a daily fashion.  But, there’s no way I’m standing at the post office 2 days in row to have a letter weighed when I’m already there, and it’s ready to go.  I also showed the Postal Person my unfinished letters, and had her give me some educated guesses about the postage.  The bottom line is, the rest of the handmades are going to be U.S. bound, because sending them overseas will be ridiculously eexpensive, and I’m going to rethink my notecards.

I bought these notecards because a. they were on sale, of course, and b. I used them to accompany swaps.  These notecards are so stinkin’ cute, but did you know that because of their small size, they’re actually nearly twice the postage?!  They require special care, hand cancelling I suppose.  I’m thinking I may just stick the cards in regular envelopes.  We’ll see.

But, what’s that other item in the photo?  Not the Flow Magazine, not the carefully crafted handmade cards, no, no – that other thing.

That would be a fountain pen.

A Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop.  It is totally impossible to follow InCoWriMo on Instagram, and not be sucked in by pen, ink and stationary posts as well.  Based on my misconceptions, I had never really considered a fountain pen.  First, I originally thought that fountain pens were just for calligraphy, that the fancy nib was chiseled for classical, traditional calligraphy.  Wrong, totally wrong in fact.  There are fountain pens that are somewhat designed for calligraphy, they have an stub italic nib (lingo, lingo – see how much I’ve learned!) or a flex nibs.  I thought about going that route, but the bottom line is, calligraphy is best with a dip pen (or if you’re into brush lettering, a brush), and I’m already in the wheelhouse, and all of the reviews I read of the affordable caliigraphy pens were meh.

Then, I thought they were too expensive.  Well, that depends – my pen was $13, and there are fountain pens that are even cheaper.  So, $13 compared to a disposable Bic is comparatively expensive, but it’s so inexpensive when you compare it to this – a $65,000.00 pen – crazy right?

The bottomline is, a fountain pen can be for everyone and anyone, and it can be used as your every day pen.  The benefits are basically that you only have to apply very little pressure to the page to get your ink to flow, if you have a good pen, you’ll have a perfectly smooth line, and if you take care of it, you can use it forever, by refilling your ink with cartridge refills or an ink converter (a doohickey that sucks ink out of a bottle).  A good pen goes a long way.

Anyway, placing my first foot into the fountain pen rabbit hole, I did some research.  I started with Goulet Pen Company, because they were doing a giveaway in conjunction with Boho Berry, a bullet journaler who I follow, and I watched their series Fountain Pens 101.  This pen was one of their recommendations for starter pens.  Then, I went on youtube, and watched a few reviews, and for the most part, all of the reviewers were surprised at how good a pen this is for the price.  So, I bought the pen along with a box of refills.  With Amazon prime, it was less than $20.  I did feel guilty, though, that I didn’t give my business to Goulet Pens after I sucked up all of their free knowledge, but it totally came down to the free two day shipping.  But, I suspect that it won’t be long before I buy something from them, be it a converter, or ink, or  . . . another pen perhaps?

Because I do love this pen.  It’s a fine nib, and because Pilot is a Japanese brand, and the Japanese nibs are generally thinner than American nibs, it writes like an extra fine:

As you can see, it’s a small enough nib to get in the little grid boxes, but you can go bigger and still get a lovely smooth line.  And, even though it is a fine nib, it’s not so fine that you even come close to feeling like you’re scratching the paper, or that you’re digging a hole in your journal or planner or whatever.  However, I think I’d like a medium nib . . . so that could happen.

Also, now that I’ve used black ink, I may have gone into Dick Blick’s today and bought blue ink.  And while I was there, I really really wanted to buy the violet ink, but couldn’t justify it at this point because that would mean I couldn’t use my pen at work, as I have been, because what lawyer writes in pink ink?  Legally Blonde is a mythological movie my friends.  Blue or black.  So, that means I really need another pen for my violet ink, right?

Anyway, this is how it begins.  Now, I’m trying to convince Joe that he needs a fountain pen – so that we can be in it together.  I don’t think it’s going to work, but he is mildly intrigued.

So, I usually write about knitting on Wednesday’s, and I link up with the Yarn Along.  This week, though, I’m pretty much where I was last week, although now I’m working on a sleeve.  The mystery knitalong doesn’t start until tomorrow, so I’ll have something yarny to report on Friday.  Will it be a good mystery, or bad mystery?

Stay tuned!

 

InCoWriMo 2017 – I’m In!

Big commitment, that International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo)!  28 days, 28 letters.   Am I in?

I’ve mulled it over.  I considered my failed participation in the League of Extraordinary Pen Pals, how I began writing to a group of people – probably 10 or so – and every, single one of them fell by the wayside.  My fault or theirs?  It doesn’t really matter – I didn’t do anything to follow up with the people who had stopped writing to me.  And, on my end, well, it was a confluence of things – I lost my original traveler’s notebook, my Wendori, which was a sweet burgundy leather that I made myself, and loved dearly.  My letter log, my letters, my stamps, my addresses, were all in there.  But, that’s just an excuse really – I could have gone back to the club’s database and found the addresses again.  Who I owed, who was behind with me, that was a different question.  Then, my father died.  I decided that was a good time to sort through who I needed to write to, and I proceeded to write at least 7 “I’m sorry I haven’t written, this is what happened”  letters and by the time I had related the story of my father dying in Mexico, getting his body back, and his truly ugly fiesta coffin, that looked like it would play cruiseship music if you opened the lid, seven or so times, I never wanted to write another letter again.  So, I didn’t.  And, in the end, only one person sent me a FB message, and was like, what’s up? and honestly, I just couldn’t explain.  It was like by writing that letter, I had written the last chapter with everyone.

And, that was two years ago, and I really would like to exchange mail with pen friends again – I’m getting really good at addressing envelopes, and I have none to write, nor send.  So, I’ve decided, I can do this – I’m in.  Here’s my plan.  Right now, I’m making cards and envelopes.  There’s no way I can sustain that – that’s old Wendy crazy pants who is setting herself up for failure.  Those cards and envelopes will go to the people who I either already know (hey Mindy – you’re getting a letter!!), or who I’ve actually committed to exchanging letters with (a handful of people I met on instagram).  When that is exhausted (probably the first 10), I’m going to switch to the box of notecards I already have sitting on my desk, because I liked the box, and because they were on sale at Papersource awhile back.  And, you know – I don’t need much of an excuse to buy another box of cool cards.  And, I’m going to write them when I get in, first thing in the morning by randomly selecting people from the InCoWriMo website.  Joe works 7-3, and since my job is flexible, I work 7-3 as well – but no one is actually in until 9.  So, over coffee and the hum of my space heater (since the thermostat for my office is at the end of the hall and if it’s turned up too high, those at that end are roasted – so I rely on a space heater), I’ll write short, happy mail letters.

Good plan, right?  At least it’s not March, it’s a short month, right?

So, to make my cards, I pulled out my Crafter’s Companion Ultimate Tool:

I got sucked into this big, plastic pink thing on HSN craft day – watching Sarah Davies and her British accent score and fold with this thing was mesmerizing, and I had to have one.  Did I really have to have one?  Let’s see, the pink thing opens up into these table top surfaces.  On one side, top right, you have fold lines for 12 x 12 paper, and 8 1/2 x 11.  If you turn the board one way, scrapbook paper, the other U.S. Letter.  There are scorelines for gatefold cards, half fold cards, and tri fold cards.  However, if you were to attempt to just look at the board, and make a card without reading the instructions first, that would be impossible.  The instructions are like a rosetta stone, and this board is totally worthless without out it.  Don’t lose the instructions!  The instructions give you the basic folds/score lines for those basic cards, however, if you want to get any more complicated, and “take it to the next level” as Sarah says, then you have to watch the accompanying DVD, and then the supplemental DVD you can get on HSN.  Sarah moves really fast, and for each card, I really had to watch the videos a couple of times.  For a more experienced card maker, maybe that wouldn’t be the case, but . . . in any event, I ended up making myself plain white cardstock templates, with detailed instructions about what size paper to start with, where to rest the paper – on the handle, or the other side, which line to use, etc.

But, I had a day off, as our heater was broken and I had to wait for the oil guy to come, so I had time to watch the videos, and they were certainly better than watching the evening news these days.  The problem with this machine is that it can’t really be used as a traditional score board.  For instance, if you see a card or project on line, and it has instructions that say, score at the 1/2 inch, 5/8’s and 2 inch – you can’t do that, because the board doesn’t have any measurements; that’s supposed to be the point — she’s done the measuring for you.  But, that means you have to do her projects, or take her basic card “to the next level” on your own.

The other work surface areas are an envelope maker, an envelope box, an embossing board, and box maker.  And, the board that has the arches and butterflies – you emboss the shapes, and then you cut bits of them out for either popouts or windows.The envelope side is supplemented by another product she sells, the enveloboxer, which is another pink piece of plastic that fits on top of the board, specific for envelopes with a gusset and boxes, and then she has a few other pink boards for other embossing tricks.  Again, to use her envelope maker, you need to use her measurements – and the measurements in the instructions do not necessarily match the measurements on her website.  So, I like to use my WRMK envelope maker – the only problem with this is that anything that starts with paper over 10 x 10 isn’t going to fit on the board, so you can’t complete the scoreline.  WRMK has solved this problem with their new envelope maker, that’s also a box maker and a bow maker, by adding a pull out section.

So, did I really need need need this pink plastic thing?  I like it.  It’s helpful, and I can imagine if I were still doing some book binding, and folding signatures, this board is perfect for that – you’ll always find the center, and the with the edges against the handle, you’ll always get a perfect fold.

And, here’s what I made:

This is called a step card.  Sarah has four different ways to change this up on the DVD, but I figured knowing one way for now is enough.  And, these are my WRMK CKMY stamps, with my handlettering.  I really like how the stamps turned out.  I’m not the biggest fan of the flower that I showed you before, but I love the typewriter, and I love this one.  And, with the Misti Stamp Tool, it’s really easy to position the stamps, and to put some kind of greeting on the paper that’s in the typewriter.  This cards stand up, but they can also open up, and I’ll write my letter inside.

Then, I made an explosion card –

This one flips up, and an origami folded letter pops open.  I figure I’ll fold the letter after I write it – its probably a little cumbersome to write it after.  Sarah says these cards are perfect for announcements and invitations.

I have a few more types of cards to make, but they’re easel cards, and I have a watercolor stamp coming that I want to try out, that’s being delivered today, so I’ll work on them this weekend.  So, I switched to envelopes –

This is the WRMK envelope maker:

On the bottom is a chart – you find the size envelope you want to make, and the board gives you the measurements.  Fiskars has an envelope board coming out that is a twist dial like thing – you dial up your paper size, and it spits out what size envelope you get, and vice versa.  Lot’s of bells and whistles and moving parts – this one is pretty simple.  The board also tells you where to line your paper up against the stop edge – in this case, I was making a 6 x 6 1/2 inch envie, so I needed a 10 x 10 piece of paper, which I placed the corner at I think 4 3/4.  Then, it’s easy peasy.  You position your bone folder against the edge of the nob, and score the groove that’s in the board.  Then, you turn the paper 90 degrees, lining the scoreline up with the blue thingy that’s sticking out, and you make another score.  You also punch the top, giving you the notch you need to make your envies without having to cut out what would be darts I guess if you tried to smoosh it together without cutting.  The Martha Stewart Board is similar, but she has a triangular piece of plastic that sits in the corner of her score board, and you score against the diagonal.  The thing I don’t like is that it doesn’t have the notcher.

So, here are my envelopes:

and:

Voila!  Ready to be addressed.  I haven’t figured out the size envelope I need for the exploding card, I was done for the night.  but, I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

By the way, the craft paper is Tim Holtz, and it’s really great for cards and envelopes – really sturdy!  I’m sorry that I’m at the end of my stash.

And, that’s the plan!  Have a great weekend!