Craft: Hand Painted Letter Writing Paper (& envelopes, don’t forget the envelopes!)

Today was a craft day. I have some letters to write to friends, so I decided to make some customised writing paper. This was a pretty spur-of-the-moment thing, so I just used A4 printer paper and white office envelopes. If I do this again, or decide to make paper for other people, I’ll use fancy paper in that weird letter size.

This was fun and really easy, I just laid out a few pieces of paper so that each one had an inch or so showing at the edge. Then I painted my designs. When you separate the stack (discarding the top page which gets covered in paint all over), each page has a neat abstract border.

Letter Paper with Turquoise Leaves design
Turquoise Leaves.

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Made some envelopes to match, picking up an element of the main design but keeping it a lot more basic. I feel like If envelopes are too visually busy, the post sorters might get distracted from the address and then my letters will get lost. I think in reality the Post Office are more competent than that, but I don’t want to risk it.

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Splatter Paint!

This design was great fun, and even managed to spread to my bedspread. A sheet of wood on top of a bed makes a great art table, but you should probably cover up any exposed bedclothes before you get to work. I think using the same design at different scales on the paper and each side of the envelopes makes this paper really visually interesting. You can see in the picture though, some of the more watery paint seeped under the edges of the paper, spoiling the clean line of the border. If I do this again I’ll put it on a downward slope when I paint, so any drips run away from the clean paper.

They say that letter writing is a dying art, but I don’t think we should let it go. A hand written letter, on hand painted paper, can’t help but be more meaningful than a text or email, even if you format in pretty pictures and fancy fonts.

I think I recommend this easy craft project, as it is very simple, requires no fancy materials, and can be adapted to suit anyone. Whatever art or craft things you have, you can use. If you can paint with more competence than I did, and present it in a cute box, a handmade letter writing set would make a sweet handmade gift. You can customise it completely to suit, and I’m sure that hipsters will soon have a revival of the retro art of letter writing, making this a totally relevant way to spend your time.

Craft: Hand Painted Letter Writing Paper (& envelopes, don’t forget the envelopes!)

Wirksworth Festival: Sweet Art, Fancy Homes, and Hella Hills

Both days of this weekend, I went with my dear old mother to Wirksworth Festival. It is billed as “a leading rural arts festival”. This is the second time I’ve been – I was at the 1st or 2nd outing as well, about 4 years ago. It’s grown since then. The main idea with this Festival is that you get a map, and walk around the town to see art displayed in 70+ different venues. The venues themselves are all regular parts of the town at other times, be they churches, houses, shops, schools or studios. There are also performances, talks, film screenings, and musicians playing all over the place. Oh, and most importantly, food vendors and stalls on the street, as well as all the local cafes and pubs.

Wirksworth is a pretty town in the Peak District, meaning that half the town is on such a ridiculous gradient that peoples’ back gardans adjoin sheer cliffs, and the beautiful views barely make up for the pain of walking up the hill roads. It used to be a lead mining place with a slightly shady rep, but these days the stone miners’ cottages are likely to be home to people who like architectural furniture and white or pale grey paint. Luckily, they also had enough taste to retain the original log fires, stone flagged floors and wooden doors in a lot of the places we saw. Getting to look inside rich peoples’ fancy houses is weirdly amusing. There’s some real design creativity there. Also I think my bar for labelling people as “rich” is ludicrously low. If you bought a house and a car and aren’t in crippling debt because of it, you may as well be a millionaire. If you can afford a designer sofa, you’re the bourgeousie.

Anyway, back to the art. Having seen hundreds and hundreds of paintings, ceramics, textiles etc, things have somewhat blurred together in my mind. There was plenty of pretty stuff. But things that actually stuck in my mind: Geoff Litherland explores interesting themes as a painter, painting paintings which are then featured within the landscapes of his other paintings. Lyn Hodnett‘s mythlike images of women intrigued me since a few years ago when Mum sent me a couple of postcards of her work. It was great to see some in full size original form, and to tell Lyn face to face what her art has meant to me.

Mums bought an amazing print by Hannah Sawtel. The artist luckily has an Instagram, with a photo of this exact piece, so go look. It’s a lot of fun.

Hundreds of creative people suddenly appear for the Festival. A lot of the artists themselves turn out to be quite local; a couple even live or work in my own town. Of course the Peaks are infested with landscape artists, and Nottingham and Sheffield have busy creative scenes. I complain a lot about having to live in the middle of nowhere, but there are other people managing it just fine. Derbyshire might not be so bad…

Wirksworth Festival: Sweet Art, Fancy Homes, and Hella Hills