Snail Mail from an Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Reader

What a wonderful surprise to find this delightful card in my mailbox! She wrote in response to my December 12, 2021 column titled “Writing Someone a Letter Would Be the Gift of a Lifetime.”

The writer shared her lifelong enjoyment of corresponding with “Pen Friends.” She remarkably maintains correspondence with twenty people around the world.

She spends an hour-and-a-half to two hours writing each letter with a BIC pen, whose six-sided barrel she praises for its non-slip grip. Her immaculate penmanship supports her claim.

What a pleasure to connect with someone who enjoys my love for correspondence! I hope she will let me join her global group of Pen Friends.

I will definitely treasure her letter to me as a gift!

Note: Her stationary is designed by Yoshiko Yamamoto and printed by the Arts & Crafts Press.

Drop Box Satisfaction

I feel a certain pleasure in letting

go of a letter after it has teetered

on the edge of the drop box’s slot

after I’ve nudged it with a flick of my fingers.

I listen for the landing. Is it

a resounding from the bottom of an empty

box? Or the soft shuffle of envelope

sliding on to a haphazard stack of other

sealed envelopes? Either way, my letter

is on its way. My words are written.

I am content to wait for the possibility

of a reply.

Book Letters

I wanted to create something special for my friend Victoria Waddle’s birthday. I imagined her initials made out of open books.

I started playing with a physical copy of Robinson Crusoe to determine the general shapes and the component parts of the end view of an open book.
I cut a piece of paper the size of my linoleum block and sketched out my design. I then taped the design to a block and went over the lines pressing firmly. Since her initials are V and W, I didn’t have to worry about flipping them so they would turn out facing the correct direction when printed. If her initials included letters like D, B, or E, I would have had to invert the image on the block so the letters would print facing the correct direction.
My retracing of the drawing left a faint in impression on the block.
After I removed the paper, I penciled over the impressions to make the design more visible.
I began outline the design with a small V-gouge.
The areas of the block that are uncut become the areas that print. You carve out the negative spaces of the design. In this photo I’m beginning to use a large V-gouge to remove the open spaces surrounding the book forming the letter V. I chose not to texturize the area immediately around the book since I want the view to focus on the V shape of the book.
I carved out the negative space with a design so if it accidentally got inked that it would add to the piece. I also like to think of my block itself as object of art.
Having played with a physical book while creating my design, I chose to place the book-letters in my design inside a bookcase. Without the support of the bookshelf frame, a real book would open flat.
Here’s the block before a test print.

I tested the block using some black ink. The first impression (bottom left) showed some of the lines in the negative space. I carved them lower to remove them from the print (top right). I created a cut-out form (upper right) to help me align the block with the paper. I ended up choosing blue ink for the final print (bottom right).

I matted and framed the print before wrapping it as a gift.