Tag Archives: Snail mail

The Wonder Pens Family Goes to the National Stamp Show in Toronto

With all the excitement of the Scriptus Toronto Pen Show, I think I needed a week or maybe two weeks to recover, but there’s no rest for the weary! This past weekend was the Toronto National Postage Stamp Show. I have to admit, I was not too excited leading up to the show, but only because I forgot until Saturday night. Had I remembered earlier, though, I’m pretty sure I would have been excited all week, because I love stamps.

Vintage Letter Writing Ephemera Wonder Pens Blog

Treats from the National Postage Stamp Show in Toronto

In case you didn’t know this about me, I’m a lover of all kinds of stationery. Obviously, fountain pens, and notebooks and paper, but also even gel pens and ballpoint pens, and of course letter writing supplies and ephemera and…postage stamps.  I have spent way, way too much time and possibly money on the Canada Post website ordering new stamps online. However, I think you can only use so many low value Beneficial Insects stamps before you start writing to Canada Post to come up with some other low value stamps to make your letters look a bit more interesting – so, when I heard of this Toronto Stamp Show, I knew I needed to go and find a few things to spice up my snail mail.

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Putting Together a Correspondence Kit – Letter Writing Supplies

Sometimes letter writing inspiration strikes out of the blue: it’s your best friend’s birthday! you heard about your coworker’s news! it just popped into your head that someone might appreciate a surprise in their mailbox from you. However, not having all the supplies you need to get your letter together can be frustrating and lead to procrastination.

If you’re serious about or just interested in starting to write letters, you should consider putting together your own correspondence kit or letter writing kit. Really, it just means you should gather all of the supplies you need and put them in one portable case.

Making your Own Correspondence Kit Letter Writing Kit Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

Making my own letter writing or correspondence kit is kind of something that has evolved over time. It just started with slowly starting to keep things related to letter writing in the same area, then in the same drawer, and then in one folder for when I moved from room to room. I used to use a file folder, but I would often trail envelopes or booklets of stamps behind me. When I would go to a cafe, I would have to plan in advance who I was writing to and what paper or envelope I’d need, and which stamps to bring, and the hustle of finding everything sometimes meant I just went to the cafe with a book.

I’m not out and about as much as I used to be (both because of the baby and because I live where I work so I don’t need to go anywhere), but having all my letter-writing stuff together means I can do my thing at the kitchen table, at the packing tables with Jon, or wherever I want to be. It’s also great for the odd occasion I head out for some writing and coffee, usually just down the street to the excellent Dundas & Carlaw cafe, with their enormous and shady patio.

Now I use a Midori A4 Pasco Pulp Storage Case. You don’t actually need to use one of these, it’s whatever you have handy! I like these A4 cases because a lot of paper is A4 size (G. Lalo, Rhodia), and it’s nice to be able to fit in an entire pad, which can sometimes be just larger than A4 because of the staple binding at the top. A lot of North American based cases are designed for letter-sized paper. They’re also a truly a case, and so they won’t bulge if you keep various sized stationery items.

Midori Pasco A4 Pulp Storage Case Making A Correspondence Kit Letter Writing Kit Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

Making your own Correspondence Kit Letter Writing Snail Mail Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

We brought in these Pulp Storage cases from Midori, which are made for transporting and organizing folders, files, papers, pads of paper, notebooks, etc. as well as able to handle bulkier items like slim pen cases, or an iPad. Actually, these would have been great for when I was teaching to put a class set of essays or math tests in, and keep them nice and organized. As soon as I saw them in person, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for to use as my correspondence kit.

Here’s are some correspondence kit supplies:

  1. Stationery + envelopes
  2. Postcards or greeting cards
  3. Stamps
  4. Address Book
  5. Correspondence Record/Ledger
  6. Items to include as gifts, enclosures
  7. Letters to be answered
  8. Gel Pen
  9. Anything else

1. Stationery + envelopes
I generally keep two types of stationery. One is for longer letters to friends or penpals: my favourite is Rhodia R Premium Paper in A4 sized, but recently I’ve started a pad of Rhodia Yellow Lined Legal Pad, which gives you an extra inch of writing room. And then I keep a pad of laid paper, like G. Lalo, or Life Japanese stationery for thank you notes to customers, or something shorter. I generally match longer letters with the airmail envelopes, and thank-you notes with matching cream G. Lalo envelopes, but sometimes I mix it up.

Letter Writing Kit Correspondence Kit Stationery Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

Some writing supplies for longer letters

Letter Writing Supplies Correspondence Kit Wonder pens Wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

Smaller A5 sized correspondence stationery for thank you notes, and quick notes to customers

2. Postcards or Greeting Cards
For greeting cards, it’s nice to have a few that are a bit more all purpose, so you can use them for birthdays, holidays, condolences, congratulations. Postcards are also great to send to friends or as a note that isn’t necessarily expecting a response, since not everyone wants to spend the time to write back (although you might be surprised by who will!).

How to Make a Letter Writing Kit Correspondence Kit Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

3. Stamps
I keep a booklet of domestic, US and international stamps. Sometimes it’s nice to use a few low-value stamps to make up the total postage on an envelope, but for my correspondence kit, I keep it simple. Sometimes I might have the old $0.63 stamps + a sheet of the $0.22 to make up the domestic rate, but that’s as complicated as my math gets these days…

Supplies for a Letter Writing Correspondence Kit Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

4. Address Book
It took me a while to finally realize I needed an address book. My old system was to put all mail that needs to be responded to in the case, so when I sat down to write, I just pulled out an envelope and used the return address. However, there have been enough occasions where I’ve needed to write without having an envelope, for a birthday or to an old friend, that I finally got one. You can even just use a regular memo book or thin notebook to keep track of addresses.
Fun fact: I ordered some address books from Clairefontaine so I could have one, but there is always a minimum order quantity, so we put the rest out in the shop. What a nice surprise that there are enough people buying paper address books that we have to re-order them to keep them stocked!

Correspondence Kit Ledger Letter Writing Make your own Wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Blog Toronto Canada

Correspondence Ledger on left, address book on right

5. Correspondence Record/Ledger
I’ve been meaning to write a post on my own system for keeping track of correspondence, mainly because it’s taken me a long time to figure it out. It’s very, very helpful to have a record of your correspondence. It’s nice to look back on who you’re writing to and how often, but more importantly, it gives you an idea of all the people you need to write back to. Maybe this is more for people like me, that sometimes take a while to respond, and there is a very real danger that I will completely forget unless I have it written down somewhere…

6. Items to include as a gift or enclosure
I like to include flat and light items, just something small, to go along with letters. Be careful it can go through lettermail rates (not bulky), otherwise you’ll have to send it as a parcel, which will get expensive quickly. Consider bookmarks, clipped articles, tea bags. I often include Fortune Teller Fish. If you have a fish from us, consider passing it along!

Letter Writing Supplies Correspondence Kit Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

7. Letters to be answered
Letters that need to be answered wait here, along with partially finished letters that I need to get back to.

8. A gel pen/ballpoint pen (gasp!)
I hesitate to leave a fountain pen in my correspondence case for fear it will dry up (although I guess that would be a good way to encourage me to write more often). When I go to write a letter, I often have several fountain pens in a case with me, but I may not have one with a permanent or water proof ink, so it’s nice to have a gel pen for addressing envelopes.

9. Anything else
You can also keep airmail labels from the post office, washi tape, markers or brush pens, sealing wax materials (you can keep a lighter, sealing wax and your seal in a small pouch to keep organized), address labels, vintage stamps to add onto your envelopes. You should keep whatever else you need!

Letter Writing Club Supplies Correspondence Kit Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada

Really, this is just an encouragement for you to take the time to find everything you need to write letters, and put it in one place, preferably in a portable case so you can go anywhere you like: the back porch, a cafe, your kitchen or a friend’s kitchen. It doesn’t need to be anything formal or complicated, but just get everything you need together. Sometimes just knowing all you need to do is get your correspondence kit is enough to get you writing.

And also, a reminder that tomorrow is our monthly Letter Writing Club! We meet between 2 and 4 pm on the second Sunday of the month, which happens to be tomorrow. Free, treats and stationery (same thing??) provided. Just bring yourself, maybe a friend, and a few addresses. Caleb naps around 2:30, so I’m always a bit late to the party, but I’ve got a stack of letters that I’m going to be working on replying to!

I am looking forward to putting together a correspondence kit for Caleb! Jon says that’s “too intense” right now, but look out, Caleb, it’s only a matter of time. He’s clearly interested, as evidenced in the behind the scenes action:

InCoWriMo – International Correspondence Writing Month

Calligraphy & Lettering Uppercase Magazine Issue 23

This beautifully addressed envelope is from the Calligraphy and Lettering Issue of Uppercase Magazine

Now that you’ve been inspired by National Handwriting Day (January 23rd) to get writing again, International Correspondence Writing Month is the perfect opportunity to put those chops to good use.

The InCoWriMo challenge is to write a letter a day for the entire month of February. You can find more details here, but the gist of it is to get writing – once a day.

Here are some tips to get you through the month.

1. Get all set up! Find your paper and envelopes and some of your favourite pens or pencils and get it all together on your desk. Consider using some correspondence stationery that shows the thought you’ve put into the letter you’re writing, but some of the world’s most famous letters were scribbled on paper ripped out of a notebook.

photo-282. Check out your local Canada Post or post office for some cool stamps! I am loving these Year of the Ram stamps recently released, but they also have some older releases available that you might like. My favourites include these international stamps and these 63 cent stamps. It’s also nice to say hello to your local post office folks and appreciate what they do.

3. Take the time to create a list of people and collect some addresses before you begin – there’s nothing more frustrating than writing a letter and then spending several minutes (or more!) hunting for an address that you may not find. Having your list handy will mean as soon as you’re done, you can stamp and address your envelope with a sense of satisfaction!

4. Some people to consider writing to include:
– The obvious friends and family
– An old colleague
– A teacher from your childhood or professor from college
– Your local councilman or politician, appreciating what they have done
– Local businesses that you patronize
– Your spouse or significant other, sent to their workplace
– Your favourite (still living) author – try writing to their publisher
– Your local library
– A charity that has meaning to you
– Your favourite bloggers may have an address or PO box listed – sometimes it’s nice for them to receive encouragement since they write and write, but don’t necessarily hear back from their readers!

5. Go to your local bookshop or library and browse through a copy of Letters of Note. This collection of funny, touching, bizarre and historical letters written throughout time will surely inspire. While I love being able to flip through the pages and see the writing and descriptions of the circumstances of each letter, if you can’t get your hands on a physical copy, you can browse through their website, lettersofnote.com, to get some ideas.

Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher

A letter from Elvis to US President Richard Nixon on that excellent American Airlines stationery – you write while on a flight, and you can indicate your altitude and location! From Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher

6. Take it easy and enjoy yourself! Don’t worry if you miss a day or two or more. Even if you end up only writing a few letters, the important part is to connect or re-connect with people who mean something to you, your community or the world in which we all live.

7. Write to us! We are here at:
Wonder Pens – Liz or Jon Chan (preferably me, but Jon says I have to say preferably Jon)
906 Dundas Street W
Toronto, ON
M6J 1W1 Canada

*Fun fact: on our first trip away from Super (the family dog), I wrote him a postcard from Mongolia.