If case we haven't told you enough times on social media, April was National Letter Writing Month, which is a month that we are always particularly eager to participate in. A lot of avid letter writers number their letters for April with the goal of writing one a day for the whole month. I didn't do this because I'm not organized enough and also because I tend to binge write, but I did have two goals this letter-writing season: to use pencil as much as possible and to use up as many of the stamps from my embarrassingly large stamp binder as I could. When sending our weekly e-mail to the team a couple of weeks ago, I challenged each of them to write a letter and to try to use pencil exclusively.
Writing a letter in pencil is an extremely pleasurable thing to do, especially if you've been thoughtful about the type of pencil you're using on the particular paper you've chosen. I like a good Japanese HB for writing letters and love to use paper with some cotton in it if I have it around (hint: Muji makes a really great/really cheap cotton writing pad) or a Caran d'Ache 3B on old school onion skin. Smudging is only really a concern if you're folding your paper more than once or writing on the back. For that, use a pencil in an F or #3 grade so nothing gets too messy. If you are writing on the back of something make sure that you're not doing it in a stack so it doesn't transfer.
The actual letter aside, the biggest challenge when writing a letter with pencil is the envelope. The USPS machines and letter carriers have to be able to read it, making dark envelopes a challenge (white colored pencils are good for this and extra pretty for holiday cards) or toothy envelopes that will be smudge-prone. You best option is using a white envelope and a harder pencil OR fixing the pencil with a fixative from an art supply store or spraying it with hairspray, which is what we use in the shop. Colored pencils are great for addressing too, just make sure it's not water soluble because a good quality water soluble pencil will bleed immediately when met with water or rain.
One of my FAVORITE ways to address an envelope is with rainbow pencil, specifically this one. The most important thing when addressing an envelope in rainbow pencil is that there is something in the envelope when you do it so you don't get weird creases where the envelope lines are on the back--this is especially visible with rainbow pencil. I usually slide a piece of cardboard or a small book or catalog in the envelope when I'm addressing it. If you purchase your postage stamps on the USPS website, each sheet comes in its own bag with a backing card--these backing cards are excellent for this!
I've mailed envelopes that are either barely legible or just look totally insane many time and I'm always impressed that they do actually get delivered 90% of the time. Get creative! After all, no one hates a handwritten letter or a well decorated envelope.
Photos (from the top), mail by Olivia, Esther, Alyx and Caroline.