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make your own postcards

Ah the postcard, that delightful medium with which to send a brief, picturesque,  jealousy-inducing message to loved ones, detailing the exquisite activities you have been enjoying in delightful climes and exotic places. A cruel form of communication that we blindly insist upon viewing as a token of love and thoughtfulness.

“Wish you were here!” is really just the socially acceptable way of thumbing your nose at someone and calling out, “Look where I am and you’re not – nyah nyah nyah!”

Yet postcards are fun, perhaps for their charming combination of brevity and scenic photography. They’re like the Timbits of snail mail (but with added spite). And everyone enjoys Timbits.

But those scenic postcards down at the tourist centre don’t really have anything to do with your daily life, do they? So if you want to send a postcard to someone when you’re not sunbathing in Croatia or windsurfing in Waikiki or poking around drafty castles of the Loire, you might want to make your own, more personally appropriate postcard.

The how of making your own postcards needs very little explanation. Here are the few simple steps.

1) Get some cardstock or other heavy paper. It’s going to be handled by postal workers, so it needs to be able to withstand abuse.

2) Cut it to size. Any size you want, really, within reason. Most postcards are somewhere around 6 to 8 inches long by 4 to 6 inches tall.

3) On the back, draw a line down the middle and make places for the address and postage stamp on the right.

4) Decorate the front as you see fit. This can be with a drawing, a painting, a collage, etc. Heck, you could even write all over the front – why not?

Just keep in mind my note from step #1. Postal workers will handle this card. The postal system will take this card, swallow it, chew it up and then regurgitate it, hopefully into the correct mailbox. You want to do all you can to make it sturdy enough to arrive at its destination in a condition as close as possible to the same condition in which you delivered it unto the mailbox. To achieve this goal:

  • Avoid putting too many thick layers of paper or other stuff on the postcard.
  • Glue everything down really well.
  • If you’re doing a collage or cut-and-glue-things-onto-it postcard, give the whole thing a couple light coats of varnish/sealant stuff when you’re done. This may cause the card to bend or warp a bit, but just bend it back or stick it in a thick book once it’s dry to get it back to its original shape. This will help all the little bits to stay on the card.
  • If you’re simply drawing on the card, seal it with a dose of spray fixative. I normally try not to use this stuff too much (bad for the environment, probably bad for me, pretty pungent till it dries), but it’s useful for projects like this.
  • Prayer and/or a sacrifice of extra stamps and even a few drops of blood to the mailbox gods may not go amiss.

Now send your postcard to whomever you wish to inflict with domestic jealousy.

Here are a few of my own homemade efforts. First, a drawn postcard that I cheesily titled “Giraffe Spotting.” (That’s another thing – it can be fun to write a title for your postcard, along w/ the artist’s – your – name along the centre line on the back. Just like real souvenir store postcards!)

The first two below used pages from old, torn-up children’s books I got for 50 cents each at a used bookstore sale. The third I made for a swap-bot exchange, required to have a butterfly theme, and it’s a collage. I used tissue paper in the background. This works well since it’s so thin and doesn’t bump up from the card much at all – less likelihood of it coming off in the mail.

And another that is still in the works, again for swap-bot, this time required to be a doodle involving anything and everything to do with the letter K. Bored at work? Doodle on some postcard-sized paper and mail it to a friend! Don’t forget to write them a sweet little message about how boring your day has been and how dumb your boss is.

See, this is another great advantage of snail mail – unlike Twitter, it’s not out there to be seen by everyone on the internet, including your boss. So unless your boss works at the post office, your postcard message is safe from his/her prying eyes.

(By the way, if any of my bosses ever read this blog post, know that I think you’re brilliantly intelligent, witty and probably the best looking person on the planet. Truly.)


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