Monday, May 4, 2015

preserving a heritage with snail mail

After getting interviewed on the Postcrossing blog, I started getting messages from people all over the world who value art postcards-- and snail mail in general-- as much (or more) than I do.  Take, for example, Robert-in-Australia, retired from a career in IT and now running a soup kitchen in the slums of Manila. In our first contact, he mentioned that he has a passion for the art of traditional writing. Then he asked me "Would you like one of my letters, that captures the history of Australia, in the traditional form of writing, from the 1700s from Australia?" It sounded cool, so I said yes.

Today I found his letter in my mailbox. My first impression was that he'd recycled some previously-used paper for the envelope, as I often do. It was sealed with wax, and I opened it very carefully so I wouldn't destroy the impression in the wax. Then I realized that the writing on the paper he used for an envelope was a hand-written letter to me. It was written in what he called the Australian heritage form that was used when the convicts first arrived in Australia in 1788. These convicts would get two sheets of paper a month, but no envelope, and they had to make their own ink by boiling tree bark. Robert does all of this the same way. He went on to tell me the history of his part of the country-- Deception Bay. It was fascinating. The painted card is his delicately-rendered watercolor of Freshwater Creek, Deception Bay, where it enters the Pacific Ocean.

I'm starting to think that I don't put nearly enough time or labor into my etegami to deserve this kind of gift. But then, etegami isn't meant to be a laborious or time-consuming form of correspondence, so I guess that's okay. But how I respect the time and research and passion that some people invest in preserving our snail-mail heritages, from stamps to paper to handwriting to art. I'm feeling..... like wow.


  1. Me too, I have discovered your blog trough the Postcrossing interview. I had no idea about etegami! I must try one day.

    Now I usually read your blog. I like your blog today. Sometimes I have the same feeling, that I don't deserve the beautiful mail I receive sometimes.

  2. You deserve each and every one! You share this wonderful world of etegami freely and it shines as an act of beauty in the world. Etegami has a warm of spirit we need more of and so do you.

    Robert's gift of the hand written letter is impressive. So is your dedication to your craft. I have been touched by your work and know I will continue to love peeking into your process.

  3. Lucky you! And good for the rest of us who get to appreciate the art and info through you. Thanks!

  4. That's such an itneresting way of writing a letter, that both recreates historical techniques and is eco-friendly in its efficient use of paper!