Put it On Paper: Arts and Letters

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated my husband's birthday with a party. I asked the guestshis siblings and closest friendsto bring photos and ephemera from days gone by that we could all enjoy.

paper art collage
Paper art collage with stitching by Viv Sliwka.

One of his brothers arrived with a large box filled with school papers, handmade cards, letters handmade paper crafts, and report cards that belonged to my husband, his sibs, and-to my great surprisetheir mother.

Sifting through these decades-old papers and reading these glimpses of the past reminded me once again of how much technology has changed the way we communicate. I've exchanged some very heartfelt text messages with my children-but I seriously doubt we'll be able to pull them up to reminisce over in the future.

I'm just as bad as the techno generation. I live and die by social media and the typed and texted word. I am so used to typing, in fact, that my hand cramps up when I try to write.

But I miss writing letters: from choosing the stationery to crafting the words to selecting an ink color and a stamp that imbue the missive with meaning. Like a little mini paper collage that goes through the mail.

Artists, I find, have not given up on the handwritten letterwhether it's someone else's they use in an art piece or their own.

I was surprised to learn that there are many resources for artists and others who want to revive letter writing. In her blog post series, The Art of the Handwritten Letter, Lisa Shobhana Mason offers a lot of advice on how to get back into letter writing, connect with pen pal forums (yes, pen pals!), participate in postcard exchanges, and find other letter writing resources.

I'm going to start by preserving the letters and ephemera from the past. I love the way Viv Sliwka combines old letters with fabric and collage, even stitching on paper. She describes her techniques in The Cloth Paper Scissors Book by Barbara Delaney. Her way of assembling these messages from the past honors them, and I'd like to do that, too.

P.S. Do you still write letters? Do you use old letters in your art? Tell me about a special letter you wrote or saved in the comments section below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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