the illuminated letter : a lost art

Luckily for those of us who are pen-pal clueless, the web is literally filled with great pen pal sites. Some allow you to view the listings for people (or submit your own info!) that are looking for potential pen pals, and some give even more resources about open swaps/pen pals.

For my own case, I got into the swapping groups and have developed some letter pals as a natural extention of the swapping process -- and as a bonus, I get fabulous works of art in my box. I've also taken to writing to people I met in high school, which was long enough ago that there's plenty to talk about, and we're scattered ALL over the country now, so it's great fun.

Here are a few of the great resources out there for snail mail pen palling:

Just a note about clubs (and in general)
Don't post your address unless you're
sure you want to. On a club, anyone who joins can
get that address, and although it's rare, there
ARE people out there who are less than
scrupulous. Be cautious -- protect yourself first.

Postal Friends Forever:
This is a group that's over a hundred strong, all looking for pals of varied ages/interests. Posting your name and email address here can net you lots of interested and interesting pals.

Real SnailMail Addresses:
This club has more than two THOUSAND members, all looking for snail mail pals. There is a large mix of types of people -- men, women, youngsters, older folks -- just about anything you're looking for.

Snail Mailers United:
This seemed to me to be a younger club, full of teens. (Not that there's anything wrong with that -- I'm just an old fart looking for someone a little older than 18, personally.)

Lost Art of Letter Writing:
I found this club AFTER I'd started making this page, but after perusing it a little bit, it looks like a great place to start. There are a lot of first-time pals posting here (the group has more than 600 members), and there's some friendly chat going on on the message boards, too.

Snail Mail Postcard Club:
For people that are more into short, artsy postcards, this is the club to join. You send and receive postcards from all over the world, and make some friends in the process.

Yahoo's Directory of Pen Pal Clubs:
If one of the above doesn't strike your fancy, there is a list here of ALL of the clubs on yahooClubs that have to do with snail mail pals and pen palling in general. There is SURE to be one that you're going to love here.


Fine Deco Addicts:
A group filled with fabulous artists who make and swap amazing decos. Even though the welcome message says it's not for newbies, they were all very nice to me, even with some of my stupid newbie questions.

Fat Long Letters:
This is a brand new club, so I can't tell you much about it yet, but since I'm a big fan of huge booklike letters and fat envelopes full of decos and art, this seems like a good place to find people worldwide just like me.

The Eccentric FB:
Full of funky, fun people who take the concept of decos and make them just a little bit weirder. They do have organized swaps that I haven't had a chance to participate in yet, but sound wonderful.

note: with most groups, you'll need to fill out a form when you join that says your history with swapping, what groups you're in, and may be asked to provide some scanned samples of your work. This is to keep out the people who really don't care what they send out, which is great. If you haven't done any deco work before, feel free to tell the list moderator that you're new, and maybe send them some scans of your other kinds of artwork. They are, for the most part, extremely nice, and will let you join anyway.

This is a relatively new group, very small and intimate, where the focus is on swapping decos that are a little more complex and edgy than the usual. The first swap (that I missed out on and I'm really miffed I did!) is on the 7 deadly sins, for instance. I'm watching this one closely, and plan to participate as much as possible.

This is a medium-sized group, again with organized swaps, but with a little less "edgy" feel than the one above. There are some great artists here, too, and if you're looking for a little bit more of a traditional FB/deco feel, this is a good place to start.

Creative Letters:
I am SO HOPING that this one gets off the ground! It's not so much a deco-swapping list as it is (in theory) an EVERYTHING ARTSY swapping list. I kind of see it as a type of exchange/mail art lite sort of list. It's -very- small right now (4 members at this time). If you like the Griffin And Sabine type books, you'll probably like this list. (And if it shapes up to something different, I'm starting my own group!)

Funky Decos:
This was my first deco-specific list that I joined that I actually wanted to stay on. It's an extention of the yahoo club (listed above) "The Eccentric FB", and if the shared files are to be believed, it's got a huge talent pool. They do have organized swaps with some FABULOUS themes.



Not only does this site show quite a few decos for you to see, Tascha's also got just tons of other art stuff in the galleries -- altered books (near and dear to my heart), stamping projects, bookmaking stuff. It's a good site to get lost in when you're looking for some creative expression. :) You can see it in either german or english, as well.

Swapper Zine Online:

This is a relatively new project, which will have articles, classified ads, links, and just about everything you'd ever need to know about swapping via snailmail and penpals. Great stuff here.

Tundra Pen Pals:
Lots of pen pal ads separated by age. Also swap ads.

Pen pals from ALL OVER THE WORLD. Any ad you submit will stay on the site for 6 months, so the chances that you'll get some responses is pretty high. It's a great resource for finding pals from places like Russia, South Africa, and Croatia.

Maarten's Snail Mail Pen Pals online:
Over three THOUSAND addresses from all over the world. (roughly a third are from the US, so if you're looking for domestic pals, there's those, too.) It's updated often, and has been around since 1998! Great resource. Probably one of my favorite links.

Cultural Correspondence:
From the site's purpose post: A penpal site designed to bring together people from different countries for the purpose of friendship and cultural exchange. What a great purpose! I haven't used this one yet, but I plan to.


more to come as I run across them. :)


a lost art : creative letter-writing
some ideas for
writing letters
that go beyond
just pen and ink.

a lost art : decos
what are they
thumbnails : mine
thumbnails : pages
binding ideas
a lost art : pen pals
*how to find them
remember when?
abbreviations : glossary
write me.

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