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Sealed with a Calligraphic Kiss

Calligraphy Letterpress Mailings Poetry Thesis

IMG_1205I promised -- over a week ago now! -- to share photos of my February envelopes.  I had intended to move a little faster on that promise, but I have been living up my break from thesis work with a road trip, preparations for post-grad school life, and a supremely fun visit from my sister.  So here we are already at the end of February.  I would be worried about the quickly passing time, but if it means inching closer to warmer weather and bluer skies, I welcome March with wide open arms -- or arms that would be wide open were I not constantly clutching them to my frozen body. IMG_1208Remember the reissue of the Inverted Jenny?  I finally got to use those stamps I ordered months ago. IMG_1226I have yet to go through this process of sending out broadsides and analyses in fancy mailers gracefully.  The printing takes me pretty much two weeks (lots of weekend time and a handful of printing sessions jammed into my weekdays) and the envelopes another week at minimum, so I optimistically believe that one month is time enough.  But I always only think about it in those chunks:  1) print broadside, 2) print analysis, 3) letter the envelopes.  However, there's design work, type-setting, plate-making, and paper-cutting that happens, of course, on the front end, and tearing down sheets of postage and stamping the mailers is its own lengthy ordeal as well as trimming down finished prints, scoring and folding the analyses, stamping those, cutting down backing board, packaging everything up, spray fixing the envelopes, and then getting through the requisite hour or two at the post office for the final push.  And I attempt to always spend at least a few hasty moments taking photographs.  When it's all said and done, a month is a pretty tight timetable, and I actually gave myself a meager three weeks for this one.  Suffice it to say:  not graceful.  But it got out the door on time and hopefully no one but me (and now you!) knows the behind-the-scenes agony of the matter. IMG_1223The poem I worked with for February was Ted Kooser's "Tracks," his Valentine poem from 1997.  It was an honor to print this poem -- a long-time favorite of mine -- and I was delighted he offered both his permission and his signature to the project. IMG_1234IMG_1239 IMG_1251Some far day in the future, I'll take more professional photos of all the printed matter and whatever envelopes I can borrow from nearby subscribers and will do a recap of all four mailings. I'm excited to get to that point, not least because it means I will be done with this very fun but very intense project.  In the meantime, I am launching this weekend into the last round.  Wish me luck!


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  • Paula on

    Laura, this takes my breath away! I must start hitting the stamp shows! Are you able to send these through the postal without their running them through their machines to cancel each stamp? I am curious as to how the post office handles these—with a lot of care, I hope! Was so lovely to see you and the twinsies recently! xo!

  • Penny on

    Laura, I’ve enjoyed all the poetry mailings so far. Each of them being color-coordinated has fascinated me. I especially loved the Valentine one, with the red & pinks. Have assumed there was a LOT of work involved in each mailing, but seeing the picture where you have everything lined out to be assembled is amazing ! Truly a labor of love for you to produce each month !

  • Laura on

    Paula, thank you! Yes, stamp shows are actually a lot of fun. My trips to the post office have been comedies of error that deserve their own post; there’s definitely been a learning curve to determining how best to strategize so that I can have some control over what happens on that end. But for the most part, yes, I have been able to get them to hand cancel the postage. Another thing I’ve learned is to not make eye contact with anyone in line as I’m holding two bulging bags of mailings. No one is eager to stand behind me, to say the least!


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