We’re live! & We’re…luscious?!

Ugh.

I’m late opening my ETSY shop…forgot what it was like to tweak listings on ETSY, all the little things you have to think of: the terms and conditions for items, the postage for different countries, and all those photos you’re allowed to post, now!

“Luscious Letters” is killing me. It sounds like a steamy soft-porn novel. Ye Gods!

But it’s nearly midnight, every name I come up with is worse than the previous one, and I am still at the office. The tide is a long way out by now and I am stranded ashore, so I guess I’ll be sleeping in this dress, and “Hello again, old couch in the storeroom.”

This is by no means the final “face” of my shop OR the Letters project, but I couldn’t keep putting things off until they were perfect. They’ll never be perfect! Sometimes you just have to dive in, give yourself permission to start dinky, Photoshop-illiterate, using whatever you’ve got, and Relax…knowing that you can fix things tomorrow, and improve the overall project as you go.

Mail for Sale

Most importantly, you may now sign up for 4-, 8-, and 12-month letter subscriptions.

Your feedback and suggestions are very welcome. If something sucks, please tell me while it’s still baby step days! LOL

Thanks,
N.

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The Missing Ink*

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A change, they say, is as good as a holiday. When I moved into my friend Yvonne’s unit just after Christmas, my one big goal was to figure out by the New Year what the heck I was going to do for a living, now that my hours at work have been chopped to less than half what they were. I had been thinking about it a bit, at home on the houseboat, but found that my mind kept wandering the same old grooves, the same tired ideas: Bind journals and albums, sell them on ETSY, have exhibitions or rent pop-up space, and join two weekly tourist craft markets in Darwin…just thinking about it depressed me!—I’d chewed on these commonplace, uninspired solutions for so long that they were a grey, flavourless wad of gum in my brain. Also, I had tried them all before, and they hadn’t worked then, so why did I believe that they would work now?

Kris’s arrival in Hawaii, and the ensuing media hype, pushed my own plans aside for a few days. Kris and I exchanged e-mail letters twice daily, making up for time we’d been apart and the best of his time on land. As this went on I found myself wishing, as I do every time he’s off somewhere and I’m at home, that I could send him a beautiful letter. But it was impossible, with him on a boat. He, on the other hand, has taken advantage of my fixed address to send me dozens of postcards and hand-painted letters since I left him behind in Guatemala in August 2016.

Finally, this impracticable urge to make a beautiful piece of mail art for Kris, along with posts from my own blog, and some readers’ comments, gave me the idea.

Something so unlike all my other ideas that, instead of looking through it with indifference as it flitted past me like a soap bubble, my mind pounced and pinned it down. I was so agitated by this new thing that I got out of bed and paced the hallway for hours. For once, my inner critic was so astounded that it couldn’t find anything to say, and let me walk that idea from the land of vague notions and through the door into my world.

It’s so simple, I wondered that I didn’t think of it sooner.

vintage nibs

I love all things paper. I love writing and drawing. I have spent 20 years hoarding beautiful papers (not just for bookbinding), inks, calligraphy and fountain pens, matchboxes full of steel Gillot and Mitchell nibs, drawing pens, envelopes, paints. I love travel, travel sketching and travel writing. I collect paper money, maps, and stamps from other countries. I love sending letters and making mail art…I have dozens of sealing wax tapers, brass monogram seals that I’ve never used, and several albums filled with old postage stamps (I buy stamp collections from flea markets). One of my grand life plans (that never came to pass) was to send beautiful mail art to each of my friends, all over the world, on a regular basis.

Before the New Year, I posted images of some old work on this blog, and a lot of it was mail art. These images of mail art got the most reactions from readers.

“Everybody,” I mused, “loves the idea of a beautiful letter arriving in the mail.” *plink!* The proverbial lightbulb blinked on, in my head.

And yet, letter-writing has been called a “fading art,” and old-fashioned letter-writers, a “fading generation,” because although everybody would love to receive such a letter, nobody wants to have to write one.

Will this fading generation, I find myself quietly asking, also be the last to write letters? Messages crafted by hand rather than bits of binary code? Writing that carries emotions rather than emoticons?
—Catherine Field, The Fading Art of Letter Writing

“So, with letter-writing on its last legs and the New York Times publishing elegies to it, your great idea is to take it up, professionally? Really?” The way I see it, that’s an even better reason to take up my dip-pen, stir those sleeping Herbin inks, and start scribbling…to keep it alive.
back to colour


Here’s my pitch:

I propose to write, and paint, beautiful letters (that’s why I’ve been brushing up on calligraphy) with stories and images from my own life, and then reproduce and post them, once a month (like a magazine subscription), to anyone who wants to find more than bills and shopping catalogs in their mailbox…

I’ll make sure the letter is personalized (although I couldn’t possibly hand-paint and write one letter for every person!) and use the prettiest stamps I can find, with artwork on the page (a watercolor, a drawing, a collage, a bit of embroidery on paper, you know what I do…), calligraphy and art on the envelopes, wax sealed, rubber-stamped…a dream in an envelope. For you, or maybe for someone you know who’d love to receive regular letters as a gift.

A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.
—Catherine Field, The Fading Art of Letter Writing

This idea goes live in my ETSY shop on Wednesday, 17th January…

What do you think?


*The Missing Ink is the title of a book I have by Philip Hensher, about the lost art of handwriting as a form of self-expression. I loved the title so much, I just had to use it for this post!

GOINGALLIVANTING : : ETSY Coupon Code

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I’ve set up a coupon code for my ETSY shop, The Smallest Forest

Buy a handmade journal, or both of Kris’s books (or anything else on there) for a total of AU$40.00, and get 15% off the price of the items by using the code
GOINGALLIVANTING
at checkout.
Watch the spelling (or Copy/Paste it from here to be sure,) and look out for the blue link “Apply shop Coupon Code when you’re on your Shopping Cart page

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Applied properly, you should see how much of a discount you’re getting BEFORE you proceed to checkout.

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Runs until November 15, 2014, or the shop runs out!

Thank you!

You are invited…

This Friday night…

dream menagerie invite

an opening with all the most fun artists and friends I know! I’m looking forward to an evening of nibbles and glasses of bubbly, all sorts of animals, a separate room for the always wonderful work of Sandra Kendell and Marita Albers (I’ve written about Marita here, and here)  great stories punctuated by lots of laughter, and a big recharge on hugs. I’m so excited, I feel quite giddy. (You can tell I don’t get out much…)

The Capricornian Emporium of Curious Curios and Marvellous Oddities

 

This Sunday…

ETSY Pop Up JuneJune’s ETSY Pop-Up market at the George Brown Botanical gardens…sure to be even lovelier, now that the dry, cool weather is here. The theme is Moroccan (though not limited to that) and there are many more stalls participating this time around. For the scoop on who’s going to be peddling what handmade wares, head over to the ETSY Territorians facebook page, where Fleur and Isabel do a marvelous job of posting Territory talent and Top End handmade treasures regularly.

Handcrafted, come what May.

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The first ETSY Territorians’ Pop-Up Market was a success beyond our expectations…some 400 visitors descended upon the Darwin Botanic Gardens throughout the day, and we ETSY sellers were on our feet, meeting interested people and selling our handmade creations without cease from 9 a.m. till 3 p.m., when an afternoon thunderstorm showered our first ever craft event with blessings and tropical relief from the heat! Most of us didn’t mind, we’d all done so well that we were quite ready to pack up and go home.

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Encouraged no end by this, I’ve rolled the day’s takings into making more journals, getting more art prints done, and improving my stall’s wares for the two ETSY Territorian Pop-Up markets happening in May:

May 3rd, Saturday & May 4th, Sunday…

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May 18th, Sunday…

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At our “regular” venue: the beautiful George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens…pavilions and pompoms and dainty stalls under the leafy outspread branches of great-grandfather trees, across from the fountains of the water lily pond, and within desiring distance of the Botanic Café and their organic coffees and luscious cakes…

You’re invited!

A Pop-Up Upmarket : : ETSY Territorians

ETSY Territorians Pop-Up Upmarket 2014

I’m pretty excited about this new pop-up craft market that’s coming to the Territory…the ETSY Territorians Pop-Up Upmarket.

Happening only during the 6 months of the Top End’s cool and gorgeous Dry Season, this once-a-month boutique-style array of handmade loveliness is different from most of the markets to be found in Darwin, in that it features only Top End craftspeople and artist/makers who also have shops on ETSY, and whose work is of the highest quality. ETSY sellers bring experience with global markets, internet savvy, marketing and styling panache to the local market scene…no mass-produced touristy tat, or poorly-made tchotchkes flown in from someone’s holiday in Bali, here! This is the market where you’ll find something handcrafted, unique and precious—for yourself, for your home, or to give as an outstanding present to someone very special.

The first Pop-Up Upmarket is happening on Sunday the 13th of April! If you live in Darwin (or even further out but don’t mind the long drive into the city on a Sunday), please come to the very first ETSY Territorians event—set under the massive old trees of the George Brown Darwin Botanical Gardens from 9a.m. – 4 p.m.—and help us start this new market with a flurry of discovery and delight! The market is officially supported by ETSY Australia, and by the Northern Territory government.

We aim to grow this market into a popular Top End tradition and you could, years hence, be telling everyone that you were there from the beginning! 🙂

For more information and to help spread the word about the very first pop-up upmarket, please visit the official ETSY Territorians facebook page, or share  event invitations to April’s market with friends and family who live in the Top End.

To find out who our local ETSY craftspeople are and see what they make, check out the ETSY Territorian team.

Fabric Bunting Beads

at a Darwin craft market