Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Secret Language of Postage Stamps

I collect stamps, but not in a philatelic way.
— Katie Bolinger
Recently one of my favorite card artist (she goes beyond a maker), Sandy Allnock, posted a photo on Instagram of a piece of mail she received with the postage stamp upside down. She was unaware that that meant "I love you" so I clued her in. I remember learning this years ago when I accidentally put stamps on upside down on a stack of bills and a friend had a mini freak out saying I was telling those companies I loved them. 

I wondered if there were more hidden meanings in the way stamps are placed on mail and did some research. Boy did I learn a lot. So I thought I would share this wealth of knowledge with you. 

Cheapskates and Lovers

Before postage stamps were used it was the recipient who paid for the delivery of a letter. If the outside of the envelope could convey the message without being opened the letter would often be refused and the postage never paid. If you are old enough to remember pay phones this is the equivalent of placing a collect call and talking really loud and fast on the other line so no one had to pay for the call.
With the introduction of cheaper postage and the pre-paid postage stamp in 1840 in England, this practice generally died out. In the late 1800's, the introduction of the postcard with a message that could be read by anyone, the idea of the special marks was given a new lease of life in the form of secret messages in the way that the stamp was placed on the card. Who wants their parents knowing what their beau is saying?
The interest and use of this new language spread rapidly, and after the turn of the century, the rules of the language of stamps received their particular chapter in the etiquette books along with the languages of flowers, handkerchiefs, and fans. In many countries, the acquisition of this language was assisted by special manuals, such as Cupid's code by George Bury for the transmission of secret messages by means of the language of postage stamps (Ashford, Middlesex, circa 1899). (1) 

Stamp Positions and Meaning

Here are some of the interpretations of the stamp language as reported by the Philatelic Database. (2)

Upside down, top left corner = I love you
Crosswise on top left corner = My heart is another’s
Centre of envelope, at top = Yes
Center of envelope, at bottom = No
Straight up and down, any position = Goodbye sweetheart
Upside down, top right corner = Write no more
At right angle, top right corner = Do you love me?
At right angle, top left corner = I hate you
Upright top right corner = I desire your friendship
Upright in line with surname = Accept my love
Upside down in line with surname = I am engaged
At right angle in line with the surname = I long to see you
Centered on right edge = Write immediately!

Why are postage stamps always in the upper right corner?

“Placement was less important in the days when all stamps were hand-cancelled individually by postal clerks. With the introduction of high-speed canceling machines starting in about the 1890s, the placement of stamps in the upper-right corner became more important to be as efficient as possible," according to Daniel Piazza, Chief Curator of Philately at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. It's believed that placement coincided with the dominant hand—the right—of most mail handlers. (3)

Postage stamp design evolution

The early postage stamps in the US generally bore the face or bust of an American president or another historically important statesman. However, once the Post Office realized during the 1890s that it could increase revenues by selling stamps as "collectibles," it began issuing commemorative stamps, first in connection with important national expositions, later for the anniversaries of significant American historical events. (4)

Modern stamps celebrate all kinds of things from holidays to superheroes that you can use to add an extra layer of meaning to your correspondence. When a girlfriend gets a card of encouragement with a wonder woman stamp on it, she knows you think she is a badass. If you're planning a wedding you are going to get the latest "love" stamps to put on those invitations. 

If you are looking to add another level of meaning to your snail mail correspondence try turning the postage on its head.

Happy Crafting,

(1) IPDA "The Language of Stamps" http://www.ipdastamps.org/languageofstamps.html
(2) Cochrane, William (May 1, 2013) "The Language of Stamps" retrieved from The Philatelic Database, http://www.philatelicdatabase.com/nostalgia/the-language-of-stamps/
(3) Rossen, Jake (May 25, 2016) "Why do we put stamps in the upper-right corner?" retrieved from Mental Floss, http://mentalfloss.com/article/80165/why-do-we-put-stamps-upper-right-corner 
(4) "Postage stamps and postal history of the United States" retrieved from Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postage_stamps_and_postal_history_of_the_United_States 

Other interesting articles not cited:
• Urbina, Ian (August 15, 2005) "From Love to Longing to Protest, It's All in the Tilt of the Postage" retrieved from The New York Times, https://mobile.nytimes.com/2005/08/15/us/from-love-to-longing-to-protest-its-all-in-the-tilt-of-the-postage.html
• Smithsonian National Postal Museum, https://postalmuseum.si.edu/index.html

Monday, May 8, 2017

#MancraftMonday — Kevin Bray

Instagram is a fantastic thing. It's where I post most of my creations because it is so quick and easy. Another great thing about Instagram is the "discover" feature. I use that when I am looking for inspiration or to find new talent to follow. I have made friends through the service and I want to introduce you to one of them today. Kevin Bray is a young man with a lot of talent. I'll let him take it from here. 

My name is Kevin Bray and I am from Plummer, MN. I currently go to Minnesota State University, Moorhead, majoring in Exercise Science and Coaching. 

Die and stamps are from Wplus9.

Card making is a great creative outlet that lets me focus on something other than school. I started about 2 years ago after seeing all the wonderful videos on YouTube. My style has evolved a little bit since I started, mainly since I have invested in some actual card making supplies. 
Honeybee Stamps

I try to keep things fairly clean and simple but once in a while, I venture to other styles for fun. 

Copics are my new favorite coloring medium, but I do enjoy watercolor as well. 

Lawn Fawn

As you can see from my favorite creations, Christmas is my favorite holiday!

Lawn Fawn

I am currently on the Kat Scrappiness, Stamp AnnieThing, Crafter's Companion, and CanYouCaseIt? design teams. 

My Favorite Things

I never ever thought that making cards could turn out to be such a big part of my life, but here I am! 

Finding Kevin

Visit the Kevin Bray Blog to see how his creative mind works and which challenges he's entered and which products he's used. 
Follow KevinBray10 on Instagram to see more of his work.

Happy Crafting,

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

ISO a few good paper crafting bloggers

I have an idea I'd like to float past you. What if you could write 2 blog posts and have 5 days of content? Would that help lighten the load? What if one of those posts brought your blog new readers? Interested?

I would like to put together a network of paper crafting bloggers that work together to highlight a brand or topic for a week at a time, help build each other's readership, and create crafting friendships. This is not a for people who are design team members nor is this a call for design team members really.

The Loving On… group is looking to add new bloggers to the mix. Once a month we "love on" a stamp manufacturer. We create several projects (mostly cards) using the featured companies products that we already have on hand. Love doesn't need to be new to be real.

The time and writing commitments to participate in a week of Loving On… are rather minimal. You only need to write 2 blog posts for a week's worth of content.

  • The initial post is for your readers, people who already know and love you. Tell them why you "love" this stamp company. Is it image style, just right sentiments, product quality, customer service, something else, or a combination of reasons.
    This post will feature 3-4 projects using different stamps by the featured company.
  • The second post that will be used by other bloggers. Introduce yourself to their readers and tell why you "love" the featured stamp company.
    You will need to supply images of 2 projects for other members to use on their sites.
    Members should not be using the same images on their own blog and on other blogs.
At the end of each week of Loving On…  we have a drawing. We will either have company sponsorship or we will pool resources to come up with a prize. 

Here is the calendar of how a week of Loving On… should look on your blog and social media.

On your blog
Your post
Group member A
Group member B
Group member C
Group member D
Feature 3-4 projects you made
Feature 2 projects member A made
Feature 2 projects member A made
Feature 2 projects member A made
Feature 2 projects member A made
Link to your
 social media
Link to A’s Monday post and their social media
Link to B’s Monday post and their social media
Link to C’s Monday post and their social media
Link to D’s Monday post and their social media
Promote drawing
Promote drawing
Promote drawing
Promote drawing
Promote drawing
Promotions on your social media
and in groups you are in on social media
Loving On… Week is on your blog
Member A
is on your blog
Member B
is on your blog
Member C
is on your blog
Member D
is on your blog
Promote drawing
Promote drawing
Promote drawing
Promote drawing
Promote drawing

If you are interested in joining us please leave a comment with a link to your blog along with a short list of companies you are interested in loving on. I will contact you with full details within the week.

Happy Crafting,

Monday, April 10, 2017

#ManCraftMonday - Timothy Thomas

I have become kind of an Instagram junkie. I look at all the pretty pictures of other people creations and enter the names of my IG friends into the comments of giveaways.  Last year I noticed lumberjacks from different stamp companies showing up in my feed so I went looking for more. That's when I discovered this card and became a Timothy Thomas follower and fan.

Stanpin' Up! Wood you be mine? stamp set
Welcome to #ManCraftMonday for April. I'll let the man of the month take it from here.

My name is Timothy Thomas. I was born and raised in Arizona. Ever since I was a child I have always been interested in art and creating things with my hands. I honestly never thought I would like stamping, but in the summer of 2014, I went to a Stampin' Up! class one of my friends had, and I fell in love with stamping. Now 3 years later most of my stamps are still from SU!

My favorite form of paper crafting is card making. I have always been a giving person, and I think it means a lot to my friends and family to receive something handmade. For me, crafting is my escape from reality. 

Once I start crafting, I don't have a care in the world and I often lose track of time. Crafting makes me very happy and it's something I love to do as much as possible.

To see more or my creations you can find me at Timman23 on Instagram.

Happy Crafting,   

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fake ironing Friday and a giveaway

We have heard a lot about fake news in the last year. Today's card has a lot of fake going on. I'm so current. This woman in the window is fake ironing. Kind of the same thing I do.

The interior sentiment, My Birthday Suit is Wrinkled, is from Hampton Arts. I don't have an iron stamp or a stamp of someone ironing, but I found that I could use this woman if I crop her at just the right spot. She looks like she is ironing through the window. The woman in this image doesn't have hair and is holding a watering can. I love finding a new way to use stamps.

I used a die set for the shutters, window frame and the flowers at the bottom of the card. The flowers are very small and my fingers are rather large so I needed a small applicator for some kind of adhesive. I used Ranger's Multi Medium Matte in the small .5 oz bottle. Even though it's a small bottle I wanted a smaller applicator. I bought an empty precision tip applicator bottle a while ago and put the tip on the Multi Medium Matte bottle. Ranger has a special tip for this size bottle, available here, but I didn't go that route because I didn't know it existed back then.


Have you ever ordered something online and accidentally hit the order button twice because you are so excited? I have done it more than a couple times. I did this in my last order from Simon Says Stamp that arrived last week. Soooo

I have an extra stamp that I want to send to a Katemade Designs reader. I have a goal of reaching 100 followers this year. I am 52 followers away from my goal. If I reach 100 followers on the blog I will add a paper crafting product. For each 100 followers, I will add another product to the pot. I have a set of Tim Holtz Distress crayons, a few duplicate stamps including a background stamp and numerous embellishments.