Those of you who follow me on Facebook know about the little project I’m working on these days. As we find ourselves more isolated than we’ve been in FOREVER, we have to find ways to keep touching, reaching out, connecting with people. I’m doing that by handwriting a short note of encouragement to about three people each day.
I asked my Facebook friends to send their mailing addresses—and they really came through! Some even asked me to send a note to someone else whom they knew would benefit from some #encouragingwords.
I ordered extra stamps, organized my pens, selected a few rubber stamps, and made a pile of cards. Using my paisley Zentangle(R) notecards, I am doing two things:
I write a personal note, something I hope is unique and encouraging to the recipient.
I offer them the option of coloring the card and sending me a photo of the finished result.
I wanted to make this experience active, interactive, a blessing to the people who receive a card. The few moments it takes to color the little illustration on the front are moments of calm refreshment. The brain gets to take a break from the worries of the day and just make something. Color is a mood-changer. And it’s a personal way to make something that never existed before. We are all creators at heart.
Here are some of the glorious results, from people all over North America:
And more come in every day. I hope you enjoy seeing them, because I want to post them here as a gallery of joy. This kind of connection, for me, is a heartfelt craft. My heart is in it. As you can see, the recipients’ hearts are in it, too.
If you would like to receive a card from me, please use the contact form on this site or email me directly at
We need rest, the rest that comes from disconnecting. We introverts feel this in our bones. The world can become an enormous, loud, incoherent monster jumping in front of our faces. It’s a monster that demands to be heard and fed, not daily, but minute by minute until we turn off the noise and lights. We plug in our gadgets to recharge the monster, but we find ourselves with lower and lower battery life after a while.
Critical dichotomy: We need to unplug in order to recharge.
The best way for me to leave the digital gizmos alone is to find something else to do. I am not a sitter-and-thinker. I am a doer-and-thinker. The more my hands and brain work together, the happier I am. Crafting is my happy place. Writing with instruments instead of a keyboard feels natural to me. In fact, most of the books I’ve written were first drafted on yellow legal pads with either 1) a good old Bic pen or 2) a favorite fountain pen.
I also find contentment in writing notes or sending cards to people. No email can convey what one wants to say as well as sending a handwritten note. It says “I really wanted to think about you while I wrote this. I want you to see me by way of my own unique handwriting. Handwriting is a kiss blown to the receiver.
So I’ve come up with an idea that combines art, crafting, and the handwritten word. I call it Tanya’s Treasure Box. It’s a little box filled with things that will make your soul sigh, your heart sing, and your mind relax. Yes, I will be selling them on Etsy. But before I do that, I want to share some of my treasures with a few of you—for free. Why? Because of my heartfelt gratitude for your friendship.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. —Albert Schweitzer
This is one reason I love doing pocket letters. It allows me to send a little spark of hope, friendship, laughter, or love to my friends. Jennifer and I have known each other for more than 20 years, and most of those years we’ve been separated by hundreds of miles. Mailing each other cards, notes, stickers (I got those yesterday!), packages, and now pocket letters has kept our friendship alive and well. I believe in connections. But connections break if we don’t tend to them. This project we’re working on together in this set of blogs can strengthen the bonds of friendship no matter the distance between the sender and receiver.
Today we’re going to finish that pocket letter! Get out your supplies, including the cards you’ve cut to size. Let the fun begin!
FIRST: I like to insert all of my cards and arrange them in a way that’s random, attractive, and colorful.
My mixed-bag of papers has a loose theme that could be kitchen-y or calico-y or retro. I just liked how all of the patterns and colors worked together.
NEXT: Now I get to go digging through my containers of embellishments. (I won’t admit how many of those I have.) I’m looking for stickers, decorative elements, etc. to add to each card. Here’s one of my hoards:
ALSO NEXT:The next photos will show you how I took different paper cards and applied stuff to them.
ALMOST DONE:After every card has its special message, design, or gift included (tea bags fit perfectly in a pocket!), just put them into the spaces until the page is filled (on both sides if you want).
I added some tea bags to three pockets in the back before sending this PL to one of my new friends, Linda. (Hi, Linda!)
Sending? That’s right! These are meant to be mailed. Just accordion-fold the three horizontal sections and the whole thing fits a standard business-size envelope. If it weighs less than 13 ounces, you only need one first-class stamp. Most of mine take two stamps—sometimes I add a third one if the envelope is extra-thick.
So try one! There’s nothing about this that has to be perfect. It’s easy, creative, and filled with love. That’s almost as good as a doughnut!
Send me your photos of finished or in-progress pocket letters. I’d love to share them with my blog followers and on my Heartfelt Crafts Facebook page. Send them to me at tanya (at) heartfeltcrafts (dot) com.
Kirby was under the weather, so he opted out of helping choose the winner of my first giveaway. I used the old-fashioned pick-a-name-out-of-a-bowl method instead. A tiny bowl. Only seven entries. Only three different names. But I promised a winner, and I’m delivering! So . . .
Congratulations, Jane Heitman Healy! I hope you like the goodies coming your way. What are they? Well, just look! (I’ll be messaging you to get your mailing address today.)
Hey, I don’t mess around when it comes to sharing craft supplies! Stay tuned for another giveaway not so long from now. Subscribing helps. And following Heartfelt Crafts on Facebook doesn’t hurt either.
A crafter named Janet Lane takes credit for inventing the concept and the name “pocket letter.” She has a terrific website (www.pocketletters.com), and, for a fee, you can join a pen-pal service that lets you share your PLs with other PL creators. Check out her videos (free) to get all kinds of ideas. It’s almost as entertaining as watching videos of kittens doing silly stuff.
But wait…there’s more!
After the whole pocket letter phenomenon took off, crafters were finding a lot of other ways to use the trading card protectors to feature their work. The basics are all the same: nine compartments, each 2 ½” x 3 ½”, that hold all manner of creative expression.
Some call this pocket scrapbooking—use photos in some of the pockets and scrapbook papers and embellishments in the others. Many scrapbookers use a different pocket filler that is 12″ x 12″ to fit in their scrapbooks. For our purposes, however, we’ll focus on the 8½” x 11″ version.
Others use the pockets to hold artists’ trading cards (ATCs). Crafters who like to dabble in various art forms create a pieces of art on 2 ½” x 3 ½” cards made of different kinds of paper. This YouTube video from art supply store Dick Blick® explains ATCs and the papers available:
My favorite part of any craft is going shopping for the supplies—or looking around my office, kitchen, garage, bathroom (oops, maybe not) for ideas and objects.
Trading Card Pages: These vinyl pages hold nine trading cards, 2 ½” x 3 ½”. Now they will be holding your beautiful, quirky, wonderful pocket letters!!! I have found several brands (Avery, Ultra Pro, Office Depot), and they come in packs of 10 to 100 for between $3.50 to $15.00, respectively. Super reasonable!
Cutting tools: You can just use scissors if you want. However, I found that using a cutting ruler thingie saved me a lot of time and was more precise. I like the 12″ paper trimmer by Fiskars. You can find them at any craft store—and even at my favorite place to spend too much money, Target.
Adhesives: Glue stick, glue dots, Elmer’s glue, double-sided tape, basically anything that you can use to get paper to stick to stuff and stuff to stick to paper. To get a 3-D effect for some designs, I like to use Glue Dots and Foam Adhesive pieces.
Paper: Now we can get creative! It helps to start with a theme or color palette. You can use construction paper, notebook paper, gift wrap, scrapbook paper—basically anything you can cut into the card shape and glue stuff onto. (It helps if the paper is stiff enough to be able to slide into the pocket. For that reason, I don’t recommend using toilet paper. For this.) The easiest way to get a good theme going is to find a pad of printed paper that paper crafters use for scrapbooking, cardmaking, and general paper wizardry. Each pad has its own theme or color scheme and costs from about $5.00 a pad to $6.99 and more for specialty papers.
Extras: The craft stores are filled with all kinds of embellishments. You can use buttons, stickers, washi tape, sequins, adhesive jewels and dots, lace, ribbon, etc. You are only limited by your imagination (and budget and possibly federal laws that prohibit the mailing of certain substances).
Some of the themed pads also have matching add-ons. The easiest, fastest, but not the least expensive, way to make PLs is to get a group of that kind of stuff. This can be fun—and expensively addictive. Here’s a set I used recently. (All items purchased online at www.scrapbook.com.)
And here’s the PL I made using some of these kinds of items (plus some other kitty items I had around):
So, that’s all you need to get started. Gather your papers, adhesives, cutters, stickers, tapes, and card pocket holders—we’re going to put one together in our next post! Join me, won’t you?
Spoiler alert: There’s going to be a giveaway offered in the next post. You could be a winner! Of course, you’re already a winner in so many ways, but why not add this to your list? (Oh, and be thinking of someone with whom you’d like to exchange PLs. It’s a team sport.)