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Snail mail tips/resources thread



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mail_snail

Hi FPN! I was wondering if anyone wanted to contribute to resources/ideas for using fountain pens in snail mail? There is already a dedicated forum for pen-pal seekers, and another for fountain pen papers and sealing wax, but as far as I can tell there is no forum for mail-specific such as envelopes, water-resistant coatings, stamps, and the like. Tried posting this under The Write Stuff sub-forum but was suggested to post here instead.

 

For example, I wanted to recommend Gamblin's Cold Wax Medium as a low-odor, rub-on, waterproof coating for non-water-resistant inks.
I also wanted to see if other snail-mail people would be interested in sharing some vintage stamps.

 

Please let me know what you think about posting this here or elsewhere!

💌✍️ I LOVE snail mail! 📬 🐌

Drop me a PM if you'd like a random postcard/mail :)

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brokenclay

I'm always on the look out for snail mail supplies (cards, envelopes) that are fountain pen friendly. I've settled on Clairefontaine C6 envelopes. I've had good luck buying lots of unused vintage postcards from eBay as they seem to be less likely to be glossy than modern postcards, although I have wound up with some very odd cards. I purchased some Cavellini post cards from my local stationary store that have also behaved quite well with fountain pens:  http://twohandspaperie.com/stationery/cavallini-carte-postale/

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My current stock that I'm using is the LIFE L. Writing Paper in B5 size combined with Pilot envelopes. I use a double sided sticky tape stick to seal the envelopes. The LIFE paper is nice because it is laid, but very smooth to write on. It also has great ink handling characteristics. I've found that it makes both heavily saturated and lightly saturated inks look great, and the line spacing is very generous, which let's me use just about any type of pen and any style of writing that I want with it. Also, the lines are such that they do not detract from the overall feel of the paper as a stationery, which is important. 

 

Other than the Pilot envelopes and double sticky tape sticks, I'm not doing anything too out of the ordinary. For me, usually, it's my handwriting, ink, and overall letter contents that are the highlights in a letter, so the outside usually isn't too crazy. 

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thudthwacker
On 1/27/2021 at 11:54 PM, brokenclay said:

I purchased some Cavellini post cards from my local stationary store that have also behaved quite well with fountain pens:  http://twohandspaperie.com/stationery/cavallini-carte-postale/

 

I've found the Cavellini cards to be very fountain-pen-friendly, too -- thanks for a link to such a good selection of them!  I've looked around once or twice, and didn't find nearly as many options as that site offers.

 

I've also had very good experiences with Lantern Press postcards:

 

https://postcardbliss.com/

https://www.store.maxandcopost.com/collections/lantern-press

 

(Postcard Bliss refreshes its stock periodically, so be sure to check back if you like the general style; Max & Co Post costs a bit more per card, but the selection and stock tends to be more stable.)

 

I've found the stock used by Travel Trinkets Canada to be excellent for fountain pens, too:

 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TraveltrinketsCanada

 

I've also had ... sometimes ... very good luck with the Zazzle semi-gloss stock postcards.  It takes ink better than I'd expect a semi-gloss finish to ... usually.  Lately, I've seen some variation in the stock (which I imagine is to be expected from a print-on-demand site), causing hard starts with some inks that, previously, worked wonderfully.  When it's good it's very good (and you have a lot of control over the layout of most of the cards, so you can do things like customize the address-side to not have the inconveniently-big "PLACE STAMP HERE" graphic in the corner, or nudge the message/address line over a bit to have more room to write your note), though, and if you catch them during a sale (which happen fairly regularly), you can get very good pricing.

 

I also like buying discount postage on Ye Bay; for reasons I haven't sussed out, I find I prefer the (increasingly) old-fashioned perforated stamps to the peel-and-stick variety.  Getting more or less random lots also gives the opportunity to try to match the stamps on a card or envelope to the contents, or the recipient, or your current mood, or whatever. 😁

 

(ObDisclaimer: I am merely a happy customer of the preceding, and do not receive any remuneration for telling other people how much I like them.)

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mail_snail

Those are great recommendations. It's good to hear about the postcards brands and also the Zazzle idea. I never would have thought of that. 

 

The random lots of stamps look inviting. You can have some fun mix and matching and no pressure since they are good deals.

You can also look up a coin and stamp shop in the area. Make sure to tell them you want to USE the stamps, as they might have a lot of unused stamps at or near face value. They get these from people getting rid of estate sale items and stuff. 

 

For plain envelopes, I have found that Michael's Recollections line is pretty FP friendly (as is their white and cream card stock). Hobby Lobby is NOT... feathers pretty badly.

 

Currently using a box of Merimekko postcards (100 batch). They are matte, but coated so you must give plenty of time for the ink to dry. Not Bay State Blue, though.

💌✍️ I LOVE snail mail! 📬 🐌

Drop me a PM if you'd like a random postcard/mail :)

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i've used a wide variety of paper for my letters and recently found Southworth 25% cotton on Amazon.  (Technically I found it because one of my pen pals wrote to me on it and found it on amazon)  It's a great paper for any of the fountain pens or inks I have used on it.  Looks good,  handles well, and is under US$30 for 500 sheets.  I still love Clairefontaine and G Lalo but the Southworth is great when you go through a lot of paper.

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mail_snail
On 2/8/2021 at 11:09 PM, MHBru said:

i've used a wide variety of paper for my letters and recently found Southworth 25% cotton on Amazon.  (Technically I found it because one of my pen pals wrote to me on it and found it on amazon)  It's a great paper for any of the fountain pens or inks I have used on it.  Looks good,  handles well, and is under US$30 for 500 sheets.  I still love Clairefontaine and G Lalo but the Southworth is great when you go through a lot of paper.

Yeah! That's the prices we like! Thanks for the tip.

💌✍️ I LOVE snail mail! 📬 🐌

Drop me a PM if you'd like a random postcard/mail :)

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Hi, I use Judikins Microglaze (also sold as Distress microglaze) to waterproof my envelopes and postcards; it does a good job and a little goes a long way.

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mail_snail

@LizBThanks for the tip about the Distress Microglaze. I heard about that...do you have any issues with oily or greasy spots? That was one complaint in a review I read.

In the Gamblin Cold Wax medium (which is also a microcrystalline wax), I do get faint oily blobs if applied thickly, BUT they have always disappeared once it dries/cures.

Any thoughts? Also, about how much did it cost?

💌✍️ I LOVE snail mail! 📬 🐌

Drop me a PM if you'd like a random postcard/mail :)

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in regards to waterproofing envelopes I am decidedly low tech... I keep an old candle with my gear and simply use it to scribble over the address and voila...covered in wax and water proof.  Been using that for years with no issues with mail handling machinery.

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@mail_snail it can leave patches on textured paper (laid or watercolour paper) but I find they buff out usually with a clean tissue.  It’s not cheap (in the uk the Distress one is currently £9 for 30ml), but it does last a long time. I find it tends to dull any shimmer or sheen as well. But I’ve had very good results with it, it generally leaves very little visible “residue”.

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mail_snail

@MHBru Holy smokes, that's brilliant! Simplest solution is the best. I assume it doesn't smear as you rub the candle? Is it a regular tall straight paraffin candle? I like that it sounds portable and accessible anywhere, no specialty shops. 

@LizB Thank you for the feedback, that IS pretty pricey...Unfortunately craft hobbies tend to be 😩 

💌✍️ I LOVE snail mail! 📬 🐌

Drop me a PM if you'd like a random postcard/mail :)

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@mail_snail yup... just a regular cheapo candle.. a votive in my case but it really doesn't matter.  I do wait to make sure the ink is dry before doing it tho..

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There's always Mail Art. I was an avid participant back in 80-90 when I sent and received mind-boggling stuff. The techniques required good relations with a well-stocked stationers and with your local postal clerks. 

 

The Madness sparked a resurgence of interest in the medium. 

 

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/mail-art-from-quarantine

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mail_art

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/mail-art-renaissane-1850670

I ride a recumbent, I play go, I use Macintosh so of course I use a fountain pen.

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  • 4 weeks later...
RoyalBlueNotebooks

 

Thank you for the resources!

And I didn't know mail art is an actual thing, that's so cool! I'm less embarrassed about my random envelope doodles now hehe~

 

 

fpn_1502425191__letter-mini.png

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  • 1 month later...
On 2/8/2021 at 9:09 PM, MHBru said:

i've used a wide variety of paper for my letters and recently found Southworth 25% cotton on Amazon.  (Technically I found it because one of my pen pals wrote to me on it and found it on amazon)  It's a great paper for any of the fountain pens or inks I have used on it.  Looks good,  handles well, and is under US$30 for 500 sheets.  I still love Clairefontaine and G Lalo but the Southworth is great when you go through a lot of paper.

i want to provide an update.... still generally positive on southworth but it's far from perfect.  Today I was writing a letter and found an invisible section of the page (about 6" x 2" running down the center of the lower portion of the page) that feathered miserably... two different fine nibs and two different inks (Iro Ama Iro and Herbin Bleu Nuit).  other sections of the page were normal and it's unclear what was up but it is clear to me that the paper is inconsistent.  It's nice enough paper but not something I'll likely buy again (and with about 460 of the 500 pages left it would be a while anyway!)

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mail_snail

Thanks for the update, @MHBru. Inconsistency can ruin a project or letter halfway through, not a fun surprise! 

For the record, I had the exact same experience with a Hahnemühle journal. I guess it has something to do with the sizing (coating) inconsistently applied.

Anyway this made me feel less like I was losing my mind!

💌✍️ I LOVE snail mail! 📬 🐌

Drop me a PM if you'd like a random postcard/mail :)

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11 minutes ago, mail_snail said:

Thanks for the update, @MHBru. Inconsistency can ruin a project or letter halfway through, not a fun surprise! 

For the record, I had the exact same experience with a Hahnemühle journal. I guess it has something to do with the sizing (coating) inconsistently applied.

Anyway this made me feel less like I was losing my mind!

so annoying when that happens... i knew i wasn't losing my mind.... patience maybe ... 

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