Friday, May 13, 2011

The Postman

"What a lot we lost when we stopped writing letters.  You can't reread a phone call." -Liz Carpenter

For a long time, as you readers know, I just drew, then painted, then illustrated, then started block printing. When I started doing linocuts, I could have just carved big designs and printed them on lovely creamy sheets of cotton rag, selling them for much more than my cards.  But instead, I work mostly work small (even though the medium of block printing gets all the more difficult the littler one works) and print my images on cards (when, even still, I could be printing them on half the paper and selling them for twice the price).  

I do this simply because I love letters and wish more people wrote them.  I feel it's a dying art form.  All over the country, and the world people are taking up new crafts that were once dying the same way-- soapmaking, silversmithing, blacksmithing even-- and I wish they would do the same with letter writing.

There is something to be said for receiving a letter in the mail, with it's handwritten address and maybe a lovely or unusual stamp.  I love seeing different forms of penmanship, from shaky scratch to the most perfect Copperplate script. There's always that moment you wonder what might be inside, besides just words.  Perhaps a picture of a lover, or a check from grandmother.  More often than not, what is inside is a moment.  That moment when you read words the first time that are funny or sweet or kind or loving, your fingers feeling the soft paper, that familiar, faint wood smell in the air.  A letter is something private and beautiful, it's a memory that can be relived and unfolded.  There is a reason that the most important things are still carried out this way, such as invitations to weddings, birthday greetings, Christmas cards, and thank you notes.  It is, very simply, more special.

Some of my best memories are of letters.  When my cousin (who was my best friend through much of grammar school) moved away to Oregon, I still remember to this day the first letter I received from here, crammed in a too small envelope, covered in stickers and stamps.   I received the same kind of letter, often, from my other best friend, when I moved away to North Carolina.  Through much of the beginning of my husband and I's courtship, when I had to leave his house while he was at work, I'd write him a love letter to find in place of me, a way of saying "I'm with you, even when I'm not."  You cannot and never will be able to do that with an email. 

So I make cards, and I don't sell very many, but they still get used often.  I write to my grandmother-in-law regularly, used them for the thank-you notes after my wedding, I use them in place of store-bought cards for every occasion, preferring to write my own note inside, rather than some manufactured well-wish and now and again, I still write a love letter.   My hope is, maybe one day soon, you will too.

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