Some years ago, I received a gift of a sheet of postage stamps inserted into a folder with a slender magazine. The artwork depicted on the stamps had been created by artist Taiji Harada for a series on the theme of "furusato" (故郷, translated variously as native town, home town, ancestral village, the country towns of Japan). The magazine showed each work of art side by side with Harada's own photograph of the same location and some descriptive comments. I dearly treasured this stamp-and-magazine set, and every time I came across it while searching though my files for something else, I'd completely forget whatever task I'd been pursuing, and lose myself in the beauty of the art and in the memories of the country towns I have known and loved.
Recently, however, I've been working hard to sort and reduce my piles and piles and piles of squirreled away treasures, and it came time to bid farewell to all my stamp books (I began collecting stamps when I was ten), including the aforementioned "furusato" stamp-and-magazine set. The cancelled stamps in my dusty collection were used for various craftsy projects, and the uncancelled stamps finally fulfilled their life's purpose on the packages I sent to my Etsy customers. I do sometimes wonder how many of my customers noticed the vintage postage stamps, or realized how rare many of them were... but that isn't so important. Not to the stamps themselves anyway. (I asked.)
I turned the colorful pages of the Furusato stamp magazine into envelopes. Today I finished making the last of them, and over the next few days I will be sending etegami from my collages and corrugated cardboard series (the ones that are too delicate to send as postcards) to the lovely people with whom I exchange mailart. And I wanted to share the story of the envelopes with all my readers, whether you receive one of them or not.