Openinkstand Art & Calligraphy

My letter writing process

It is a lovely Sunday so I thought I should share my process of writing letters with you. I have many to write to but this one is for my good friend Michael W., who is a great penman himself.

First, a comfortable and clean working space is essential! I can’t abide writing on a cluttered surface. My arm will have nowhere to move and my mind will feel all claustrophobic and messy and unable to let my words flow freely on paper. Before starting I just toss all mess into a corner. Cat optional.

I was dying to use these new stationery I got from Crown Mill. The boxed set includes envelopes and writing paper and I just love how classic it looks and feels. But when I opened the box…

Aughhh. The envelopes were all buckled! I think perhaps the stationer stored them incorrectly, but how ugly! No big deal.. a few seconds under the iron and it will be fine again. But what a pain.

The first step would be to create guidelines. The stationery is not ruled so I used a rolling ruler and mechanical pencil to gently mark my guidelines. It is a little bit of work, but the best thing is that you can decide how wide you want your lines to be (very useful if you write large).

And so I start! I am using walnut ink and an esterbrook 358 nib. The ink is very responsive to the nib’s fine lines. This is my favorite part, everything is ready.. so I just relax and write on. The paper turned out very lovely, it does not bleed whatsoever and kept the fine lines nice and crisp. 

In order to keep the hairlines looking fine, I make sure to clean the nib every paragraph or so, or whenever I lift my pen for more than a few seconds. Just swirl it in clean water (careful not to dip too far) and dry with a paper towel and re-dip. You can see the walnut ink washing away in this pic.

All done! I set the sheet away to dry and clean my pen again.

And now the envelope. I used a different nib for this.. just because I was tired of the 358. I stuck the stamp on before writing. The envelope is rather small so I did not want to go crazy with the writing only to have the stamp cover most of it. By sticking the stamp on first, I know exactly how much space I have to work with. Just be careful not to make a mistake! All the addresses in this blog post have been edited for privacy.

I set the envelope aside to dry, and by now the letter sheet should be fine for erasing. I used a Pilot Foam Eraser and very gently removed the pencil guidelines. Be careful not to touch the words with your fingers (as some of the ink can smudge, even after drying) and to rub gently or else the paper will tear or crease.

Carefully fold the paper in two and score with a nail. If it is a set, the letter sheet should fit in the envelope perfectly. I like to fold outwards so the words are seen immediately after opening.

What a grand entrance it will make!

Even though I love writing and taking my time to write, I absolutely hate writing my own mailing address. Nothing is more boring than writing the same thing over and over hundreds of times. Ugh! So now I just stamp it on! I also use some washi tape to seal the letter. Sometimes the glue is not strong enough, and decorative washi tape is at least prettier than boring old cellophane.

And there it is! All ready to go out into the world. Thanks for reading!

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