Monday, January 16, 2012

DIY: Love Letters

The Inspiration: When I was taking down my collection of vintage Christmas postcards, I fell in love with the backs of the cards.
I love getting mail. Especially hand-written letters. But people don't really do that any more. Well, they've not been writing to me, anyway.
Improvising: I racked my brain trying to find a way to create the perforated stamp edge. When I was in my sewing room, I noticed the rick-rack that the cat was chewing on. It worked perfectly.
When I was taking down my collection of Christmas postcards, I noticed the back of the cards for the first time. I loved the yellowed paper, the vintage typography, the flowing script of the sender, the post office seal. I sat down and read all of the postcards. My little collection is from the early 1900's. What I found interesting was how much the content of the letters seemed like it could have been written yesterday. "How are you? I'm sorry I've not written; Send your family my love; The weather here is mild for this time of year."
The Stamps: I have a collection of  vintage used stamps and I thought this one looked fitting. I was too lazy to do the research to see if these were actually World War II-era stamps.
 I'd already had it in my head that I wanted to do a little decorating around the house for Valentine's Day. I don't usually decorate for holidays, but I had so much fun morphing the house into my idea of a vintage Christmas, I decided I wanted to do something similar for Valentine's Day.
My Version: I lightly sketched the shape of the bell and free handed the detailing. I used these great pens by Faber-Castell  that I picked up at JoAnn's for the majority of the drawing. The only painted portions are the background and the stamps.
So with that thought in mind and with my new-found love of these postcards, I decided to create a couple of love letters. My head was still stuck in World War II-era  mode after finishing the embroidery of my sailor dress. I settled on the idea of having a young serviceman and his girlfriend exchange a postcard correspondence.
Penmanship: At the elementary school I attended, we did not have art class. So the closest thing for me was learning penmanship. I was not especially good at math and I totally didn't get that short vowel stuff, but penmanship I could do. Did you know that it is no longer taught in most elementary schools? Such a bummer.
 So I searched for and found some stamp designs. I had already settled on using on of my vintage postcards as the inspiration for the layout and typography. But what would I write? I didn't want it to come across as gag-me cheesy or The Notebook-esque because I'm like the antithesis of sappy. When I get an "I love you" from dear ole hubs, my reply is usually, "Whatever, I'm going to punch you in the face when you're sleeping tonight."
What it says: Dear Michael, I miss you darling very much. You say you won't get furlough that's bad. Don't dream too much now. Hoping to hear from you real soon sweetheart. As ever, Ann Jean
Obviously I couldn't write that punching-in-the-face business on one of my postcards so I googled "love letters from WW II".  I stumbled upon this beautiful story of a family of four siblings that discovered their father's love letters written to their mother during his time overseas. I poured over the site, reading each letter and the narrative that gave the back story. If you have time, I really think you should give it a look:
Typography: When did we stop being so fancy? When we started having everything made in China and stopped caring, I suppose.
I borrowed heavily from this site for the wording on the postcard below. I also used the addresses and what I could make out of the postage seal. These paintings will never leave my home so I am not worried about it upsetting the family. Though I suppose I should contact them out of courtesy. 
What it says: Dear Ann Jean, Please excuse the long delay in writing to you. This delay is in no way an indication of lapse of memory for you have been on my mind from one night in Boston. So much has happened and it is forbidden to tell all that it makes letter writing difficult. Ann I close this short note as I am very tired for I have traveled 125 miles over these rough mountainous roads today. Love, Michael
The website only has the letters that the husband wrote to his wife. And the funny thing is, the husband's name is Mitch (my hub's name). So I decided to change it to Michael. I just thought it would be too weird otherwise. We already get enough comments about the nude painting of the two of us laying on a bear rug that hangs above our mantle.
The Stamp: I found the other stamp design on pinterst. I love the dove with the shadow of the airplane and the letter in it's beak. I think I have Put-a-Bird-on-It syndrome. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you must leave here and go to youtube pronto.
 The writing I used for Ann Jean's letter came from another website with love letters. Again, I had to shorten the writing a bit to make it fit the format of the postcard. You can read a multitude of World War II letters here:
Finished: This is how the two postcards look together in our dining room.
Hubs said no one would believe the size of the postcards unless a giant object was photographed next to them. Guess what giant object he had in mind.
Each postcard is about 24" x 18". I wrapped the edges in black satin ribbon and hung them in my dining room this afternoon. Right after the postman delivered the mail...which, for a change, included a little something for me. I'll have to share with you the sweet gift my brother's girlfriend Elsa made for me next time.


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