Tuesday, August 4

The Envelope Collective

On November 3, 2005, art students Garrett Miller and Adam Morse initiated the Envelope Collective, a "mail art" project. They invited anyone to send them interesting envelopes and stationery for a collection to be displayed online.

Around April of 2006 someone pointed this project out to me, knowing my interest in letter-writing and making stationery, so I compiled this collection of my efforts to send to them. In the upper left you'll see a simple laser-printer label I'd designed for my return address; upper right, more interestingly, is a picture of my buckle boot, which I'd gotten made into a legal postage stamp through Stamps.com. It's pretty common, old news now, but at the time it was an exciting new feature.

I used this buckle boot motif to create a logo for my personal Web site, Heavy Boots, and applied it throughout my DIY stationery caprices. In the lower left of the envelope you'll see an ink stamp I'd crafted: this was actually my first linocut experiment, and it was pretty elaborate. I took a picture of my boot, shrunk and reversed it in Photoshop, printed it out, pasted it to the linoleum block, then carved around it. That was my first ever attempt at linocutting--as you can see, I'd been dwelling on it for a long time before ever attempting it. The stamp turned out well and I used it in black ink on the front of the envelope and red ink for the pages within. The envelope, of course, was that wonderful Chinese paper with the labeled ideograms and intermittent item/picture. The pages, incidentally, were from an old Bert & Ernie drawing pad from my childhood: I lost it, found it as an adult, and the edges of this cheap paper had started to brown nicely with age. Now I save it for special stationery projects.

The Envelope Collective featured my envelope in their directory and the two guys in charge commented with interest on the postage stamp, adding that they would probably see that feature more heavily used in the future.

Now it looks like the Envelope Collective has shut down, as of 2008, despite their idealism: on their FAQ, when asked about any deadlines, they responded, "This project has no foreseeable end or outcome." Old pages may be found with the Internet WABAC Machine, and a blog entry from 2007. But www.envelopecollective.com is a dead link that returns an error message; however, www.envelopecollective.org takes you to an indie band on MySpace. They don't appear to be related to the art project at all, other than co-opting its name.


Vanessa said...

C, my teeny-tiny collage idea (for the letters, not the envelopes) didn't pan out. Can you recommend a paper-friendly paint I can use? Or should I use ink? By the way, awesome blog.

Christian said...

That depends on what the paint's for. If you want to wash out an image with a thin, milky film, Gesso is very popular for that. Otherwise, yeah, a bottle of ink or maybe an acrylic paint (such as a stamp enthusiast might use) if you intend to color an area.

And thanks!