Tag Archives: On Letter Writing

Glassine Envelopes

It’s always a weird week when there’s a holiday, but especially so when it’s in the middle of the week. But, we’re finally at the weekend, and I hope you’re spending it strolling about in this summer weather.

Exciting things have happened this week: now that we’ve begun carrying Parker, I got a Parker Sonnet – I got the Brown Rubber Lacquer finish (a brown pen! How could I resist.), and it’s my new favourite pen, I just can’t stop writing with it. I’ve been writing nonsense words and doodling on post-it notes and invoices basically non-stop for the last week.

The brown version comes with a gold nib which is pretty soft as far as regular gold nibs go (it’s not a semi flex or even “soft-fine” kind of gold nib, just a standard gold nib with some spring), and it’s been such a surprise as being such a wonderful writer! I’m not sure why I was so surprised, although it’s probably has something to do with the fact that I picked it because it’s brown and not to do with how I thought it might write… It’s the perfect size and weight and the nib is responsive and wet, and it has that classic look and shape, while still being kind of interesting-looking.

I think we may try to bring some into the shop, although I’m not sure on the timeline for that. If you are interested, we can always special order one for you – there are some with gold nibs and some with steel nibs.  I’ve been trying to convince Jon we need to carry this pen regularly, and not just because I think I need a dark grey one. (But will that be too close to the brown?? How will I tell them apart! Oh, the decisions…)

Additionally, I discovered Washi Tape. In case you didn’t know, it’s possible to run a stationery shop for two years and not have any washi tape, but not for much longer. I now have some pink tape with dinosaurs on it. Just what you need to be taken seriously by your accountant.

But really, what I’m writing about today is the arrival of a new product for us: glassine envelopes. We have two sizes in packs of 20 – a larger 6 x 3.5 inch one and a smaller 4.25 x 2.5 one.

Glassine Envelopes Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada Ideas

These thin, translucent, kind of crinkly envelopes are the ones that you might know from stamps. These days, Canada Post stamps are mostly the peel and stick kind that come in a booklet, rather than with the gummed back that you have to lick, so you don’t really need a glassine envelope to hold them, but in “the olden days” the glassine material prevented the gummed backs of stamps from sticking to the paper and also protected against moisture, air and grease.

Now, glassine envelopes are used to protect items or things against water, for example in pharmacies to hold drugs, to store specimens, firecrackers, vintage stamps or photographs.

Glassine Envelope Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Ideas Toronto Canada

The possibilities are endless:

– as favours to contain cards, notes or pictures at a wedding or shower
– to separate or sort items and prevent damage from moisture, like photographs or stamps
– to hold seeds for gardening
– contain tickets, or a cash or cheque gift in a greeting card for a wedding or birthday
– place dried or pressed flowers inside, and then keep them inside of a book (which prevents any residual moisture or pollen from damaging the pages of your book)
– save important magazine or newspaper clippings
– vintage ephemera, like old ticket stubs, labels, old postcards, tarot cards, or other flea market finds
– bits of confetti or rice for a wedding or celebration
– loose leaf tea
– jasmine or dried lavender as scents
– fortune teller fish!

Glassine Envelopes Craft Ideas Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca  Toronto Canada

Midori Alligator Paperclips

If you’re tucking them away somewhere like in a book or folder, you don’t need to seal them shut, but you can keep them closed with a bit of washi tape (!) or some sealing wax.

Sealing Wax Glassine Envelopes Toronto Canada Wonderpens.ca wonder pens Stationery shop

But my favourite thing for these glassine envelopes is to use them to hold small tokens or gifts, and then include the glassine envelope with your letter to mail. These enclosures can just make your letter a bit more special for the recipient.

Wonder Pens Blog Glassine Envelopes Snail Mail Letter Writing Club wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

You can include vintage stamps, pressed or dried flowers, photographs or polaroid pictures, a recipe card or magazine article of interest, your favourite tea bag to send as an enclosure to the recipient. The glassine envelope will also make sure ink or marks don’t smudge onto the items, keep your items together, and are just that extra touch.

These glassine envelopes add a vintage or old-style air to whatever you’re doing, but are also very practical for protecting your small and precious items against damage. The smaller size is perfect for stamps, tags or other small items, and the larger size is good for cards, notes, photos or other bigger items.

And on that note, just a reminder that we also have our Letter Writing Club coming up next weekend, so mark your calendars! Sunday, July 12th from 2-4 pm here at the shop 250 Carlaw Ave Unit 105 – no cost, writing supplies provided, coffee, tea and treats, bring addresses and maybe a friend. Hope to see you there!

Our First Letter Writing Club

We had our inaugural Letter Writing Club here in the new space! To sum up: it was great and I can’t wait for our next one.

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105

It was so wonderful to have a cup of coffee and a sit down with some of our favourite customers, long-time and new. We see some of you often, but sometimes it’s a quick chat over a few test pens or inks. Here we had an hour or two to sit with some tea and our pens scribbling on paper.

Some came for the entire time, some came just for half an hour or less, some came with a friend, and some alone. We had a few solitary writers, and a few who chatted about who they were writing to, and even someone who shared some historical letter sealing techniques!

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105



We had cookies (from Brick Street Bakery) and egg tarts and some sort of coconut pastries (from Chinatown) – and tea and coffee, of course. I was thinking of baking some banana bread, but it wasn’t in the cards for today – I would blame it on only having one banana left, but I think we all know it’s really because I wasn’t organized enough this morning.

Actually, I was in and out for a bit with the baby – he was napping for the first bit, but woke a bit early, I think because he suspected we were all having fun without him – but I had a lot of fun both chatting with some of letter writers and doing a bit of letter writing on my own.

We had to use chairs for our calligraphy classes, kitchen chairs, office chairs, a bench and our storage chest as a two-seater, but we had just enough, which was perfect.

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105

It was great to see so many people trying out the wax seals, some for the first time! It was also pretty cool to see some of the customized and personal wax seal stamps some people brought with them.

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105

My favourite green chair! And also our storage chest with our winter blankets! 🙂

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105


Towards the end, as I think most letters were completed and sealed up, it was nice to just talk a bit about who we were writing to and what pens we were using and just what’s going on in life. Just people with a mutual interest in taking the time to write and mail a letter to people we’re thinking about chatting over some coffee and egg tarts. In fact, we got so carried away with ourselves that we had a few folks staying until 5:00 🙂

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105


And in the end, we had a nice little stack of letters waiting to head to Canada Post – letters to Germany, the Philippines, England, Australia, the US and all over Canada. I guess I send most of my letters within Canada, so I was surprised by how many international letters we had. 

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens 250 Carlaw Avenue Unit 105

Best of all, I got to use my new button maker. Jon has been unimpressed with how long I’ve been spending, bonding with this little press. I admit, it’s taken me a while to print out the perfect prints for the buttons, especially because we’ve been having weird toner issues and it’s really hard to get the exact right circle size, but we had buttons! And we will have more for next time, too.

All in all, I’m so glad that we have this opportunity here to open up the space for some letter writing together. I know letter writing is a bit of a solitary act, but there is something kind of lovely about all of us doing this solitary act together. It was great to see those of you that could make it out here, and if you couldn’t make it today, maybe next time!

On Letter Writing + Letter Writing Club This Sunday

We’ve had a few minor disasters over here the last couple of days, and we’ve been a bit behind on things. There was a broken bowl (of a set of four, oh how will my OCD survive with just three??), some slight flooding with the recent thunderstorms, and the baby and Jon each with a stuffy nose. It’s a tight race for who will be the bigger baby – most bets are on Jon, but Caleb may be a dark horse yet.

But of course, we are scrappy and sturdily built and it takes more than a few sneezes and a flood to stop us. Here we are, looking for some letter writing inspiration, in preparation for our Letter Writing Club this Sunday.

I borrowed this book, To The Letter by Simon Garfield, on a bit of a whim from the library.

Letter Writing Club Wonder Pens Toronto Canada

It’s a historical look at letter writing through the ages, from the early days of Aristotle through to the modern era. It’s chock full of details and juicy stories, pieced together from all sorts of writers and postal workers and history.

My favourite bit is probably the part in the middle, right around the development of the modern United States Postal Service.

I love this:

…the fact that a small percentage of mail wouldn’t make it through was a disagreeable but accepted feature of giving oneself up to the post, an occupational hazard. Where did they go, these lost or abandoned letters? Some may have been stolen, while a few perhaps are still awaiting delivery in a buried sack somewhere in the mud, anticipating their Vindolanda moment. – page 254

What a delightful thought! While this description is around the late 1800s, and I am assuming nowadays mail delivery is a bit more reliable, there is something quite romantic in the notion that you’re sending something off with a postage stamp and just some good faith. How do you really know it’s going to make it??

It’s a bit magical, putting your letter, safely tucked into a paper envelope, and in a few days or more, this paper envelope makes it way across cities, on trains and trucks and maybe aeroplanes, passed from hand to hand, and we hope, into a mailbox somewhere else. And it is just this small thrilling sense of mystery, that you’re leaving this piece of paper in a mailbox and it will appear at the doorstep of the reader, and there is the smallest, tiniest chance it might not make it. But we have faith, and into the mailbox it goes.

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada Wonder Pens

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada Wonder Pens

I’ve included a few snaps of some images included in the book, however, I should point out there aren’t too many – it’s most text. It’s a good read, but a bit of a long one.

There are all sorts of delicious tidbits about letter writing and its past.

Garfield describes the author Lewis Carroll’s booklet entitled Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing, which includes some strong words of suggestion to write your full address at the top of the letters you are sending, to prevent some scrambling on your recipient’s behalf should something have happened to previous letters or the envelope. I can attest to having a few letters sadly languishing in my desk drawer with illegible return addresses on the envelope! If you’ve written to me long ago, and have not received a letter in response, just maybe your original letter is in the pile…

In the mid-1800s, America was ahead of its time in feminism, and allowed women to have “her own private box or pigeon-hole at the post office of the town where she resides, where she can have her letters addressed…” – something apparently not yet available in Europe at this time.

And a description in the epilogue: “Without letters we risk losing sight of our history, or at least its nuance. The decline and abandonment of letters – the price of progress – will be an immeasurable defeat.”

And after an entire book celebrating the rich history of letter writing, Garfield suggests to fend off that terrible possibility, that we should indeed take the time to write more letters, to write more of these non-urgent, physical evidences of our existence. He even – gasp! – suggests joining a letter writing club (I’m serious, he actually writes this!! Although this is one suggestion of many…).

Letter Writing Club Toronto Canada Wonder Pens

And remember! Our very first Letter Writing Club is taking place this Sunday, June 14th, at our new 250 Carlaw, Unit 105 location. It’s taking place from 2pm-4pm, please come anytime! You can come for the entire two hours, or pop by for just a bit to say hello. The shop itself is closed on Sundays to regular shopping, but if you were planning on picking something up since you’re making the trip, of course that’s no problem.

Stationery and supplies will be provided, including stamps, so all you need to bring are some addresses and ideas. We’ll drop off your mail to Canada Post on Monday. If you have your own stationery or stamps or anything else, please feel free to bring it along! We will have tables and chairs set up, along with some coffee, tea and treats, so you can just come on in, grab a seat and write your love letters, political protests or daydreams as you’d like.

And, best of all, I got a button maker! I have been making buttons like nobody’s business. I can’t believe I have been alive for so long without one. Jon actually had to drive all the way back to the west end to pick it up for me, and then we spent an hour and a half trying to get it to work before determining it was broken (and it wasn’t just that we weren’t very smart) and then he had to go back and exchange it. That’s true love.

Letter Writing Club Second Sundays Wonder Pens Toronto Canada

Come pick up a button commemorating our first Letter Writing Club! See you there 🙂