Hooray! At last I've managed to make up a new batch of "19 ways to make snailmail even more fun" zines, packaged in handmade envelopes and sealed with wax, to post to readers. I'll be spending my nights this week writing letters and wrapping the zines in brown paper and turning their addresses into pretty, painted pictures. What have you been making lately?
Here is a thing that I didn't know was a thing, until recently: zines about snail mail. I wrote one, I know, but I thought I was the odd one out. Turns out there are other odd folks like me out there, making odd things like I do. Recently I ordered a bunch of these zines about snail mail. All in the name of research, you know?
^^ Good Company by Michelle from Busy Weekends: a little intro "how to" and ideas resource for people new to snail mail
^^ Winged Snail Mail (several volumes) by Sarah E Hoffman of Winged Snail Mail: a handy series reviewing other snail-mail zines (this snail-mail-zine thing is SUCH a thing. How did I not know?)
^^ Postal Embroidery by Britta Jarvis of Jaguar Snail: cute little snail-mail inspired embroidery ideas (not actual patterns)
^^ The Frequency Mailers' Club by Emily Alden Foster: a lovely and poignant story of a quirky pen-pal club between friends, and how friendships shift and change
^^ Parcel Ghost's Guide to Post (and other zines), by Marissa Falco: a series of fun and educational zines for children, starring "Parcel Ghost," a long-dead spirit who was once a postman
^^ Postal Adventures (vols. 1 & 2), by Marian Krick of Quietly Written: advice and creative ideas for getting started writing to pen pals
And that's just a start. There's more out there, folks. Zines specifically about snail-mail, made by these ladies, and others as well. I'm curious: who buys and reads these zines, other than me? I mean seriously? I want to meet them! Hello out there, fellow snail-mail-oddities! Thanks for making and writing and reading!
Do you have something in your life that you do purely for the love of it? It takes your time, it saps your energy, it probably costs you money. But you do it because you love it and you can't stop doing it because this is your passion.
If not, I highly recommend you find this something!
For me, this is writing and drawing and snail-mail. I spend hours of my time writing on this blog, and writing letters, taking photographs, and drawing and painting pictures on mail, even though I am a time-strapped working mother. I create zines and print them and post them out for free, each individual zine taking about three hours to make, not counting the original drawings. I spend literally thousands of dollars a year posting letters to complete strangers all over the world. I wake up at 5 or 5.30am every morning to write a book about snail-mail that I doubt will ever make money which means it will probably never find a mainstream publisher...
And I do all this because I love it. Because it is my passion. Because I never want to be NOT doing these things.
Adelaide local Shaw Hendry had a passion for art, and for the written word, so for six years he created, edited and distributed Vitamin, a free zine celebrating the visual arts culture in South Australia and beyond.
I recently discovered the online archive of Vitamin, and reading through all 13 "episodes" has been like falling down the rabbit hole into a surreal-yet-familiar otherworld of art.
Shaw told his contributors they could write "pretty much what they wanted, so long as it related somehow to South Australian visual culture." The only writing advice he gave was "say what you mean, and speak in your own voice." The result is a publication that shares and celebrates accessible art and personal philosophy, seasoned with a healthy, down-to-earth dose of uniquely South Australian culture and experience.
Vitamin is a beautiful read. Refreshing and real and...healthy. Like vitamins! It is, by its own admission, "a repository of small but powerful truths."
Sadly, Shaw passed away in April 2010. A final episode of Vitamin was published six months later, as a tribute to Shaw and the contribution he and his humble, handmade zine had made to the Australian arts community.
I feel the loss of Shaw, although I never met him. Reading Vitamin, you get a sense of the family he created, and the powerful impact that his labour of love had on the arts world that was clearly so important to him. It's a beautiful reminder that love, not money, truly does make the world go 'round.
Thank you for the lessons and the encouraging, edifying, inspirational read, Shaw. I wish I knew you.
Image credit: Rajesh Pamnani, licensed under Creative Commons