Monday, October 10, 2016

Letter Journals (LJs)

LJs Created Using a Variety
of Methods on top of Junk Mail
LJs and Snail Mail - Hello dear ones! Today I wanted to share a "round robin" art swap group I joined earlier this year which included folks around the globe! I was invited by my wonderful, talented friend Sue from Australia to participate in this warm and wonderful group called: "Letter Journal Love." To build an LJ to fit U.S. Business size envelopes (#10) which measure 4-1/8x9-1/2," trim 5 pieces of U.S. paper (which starts at 8-1/2x11") to 8x7." Fold these together lengthwise, lightly stitch them in the middle with a very simple stitch using a large needle and embroidery thread, and you'll end up with a folded booklet of 8x3-1/2" which fits inside a U.S. Business envelope. This should also fit international envelopes. An alternative is to make your own envelopes and there is plenty of info on the internet on  that. We keep LJs lightweight to keep postage down and don't use organic material that might be prohibited from coming through our mail systems. We even add tidbits or treats of punched paper or stickers for the people we're sending to sometimes! 
The host of the group is my fantastically imaginative friend from Australia, Jade Herriman! She discusses details here:  She's setup a FaceBook Page for the group to post about their LJs. To start off a swap, a person will use the FaceBook Page to ask for 3 or 4 volunteers to join them and specify details such as: will it be International or restricted to their country, is there a theme to follow, what are the timelines (it's important to know if folks will be away from their mailbox!). Addresses and the mailing order are exchanged using the Messenger App to keep private information within each small LJ group. When LJs are received or mailed, sneak peeks are posted on the "Letter Journal Love" FaceBook Page to share the beautiful art being passed around. Each LJ cover is given identifying marks (such as "Barb's LJ#1 dated --- to ---" - see above left for an example). The originator typically creates a place on the inside front cover for group members to jot down a few notes about themselves. On the inside back cover, the originator provides addresses for the group in the order the LJ will be passed around, as established by the swap lead. The inner 16 pages are for the group members to decorate. Members each decorate a few pages, then sign and date them to communicate those pages are completed. They may also doodle a little on other (incomplete) pages. The organizer can set the specifications for this - how many pages each person should decorate, etc. Everyone starts with an LJ and after being mailed around, it returns to them with wonderful decorations from their team mates!  

Tessa's LJ Page to Me

My Art Over Tessa's Page
LJs Shared Instantly & Decorated with iPhone Apps - Although creating and sharing paper journals in snail mail is a lot of fun, the cost of postage (especially internationally) and long waiting periods due to mailing can sometimes be frustrating. The LJs I mailed were between $2 and $3 (USD) each. Mail to and from Australia could take 2 to 3 weeks. An LJ can take 4 months to come back to you, depending upon many factors. Because of this, I I partnered with illustrious, gorgeous Tessa Wyatt to try something different - Digital LJs! We created LJs and photographed or scanned them then shared them on FaceBook (Messenger works too) and decorated each other's digitally using our iphones and some iphoto apps that blend art and photos and give us other ways to manipulate our art. We provided the finished products back to each other digitally, as well. 
My Page to Tessa Created
by Collaging Sheet Music
Over Junk Mail and Adding
Washi Tape
Tessa's Art Over My Page
Tessa gives a wonderful description of her process using iphone apps in this manner on her blog at:
This is a wonderful way to get instant gratification! We didn't have to wait days/weeks to work through our swap! It won't be replacing snail mail any time soon, but it's another fun art project to be aware of. My use of the apps was minimal but I think Tessa spent more time and created a much more sophisticated product - so gorgeous, don't you think?  I enjoyed this so much that I signed up for an online art class called "Paint and Pixels" to learn how to use iPad Apps and photos and create beautiful digital art from the wonderful artist, Ivy Newport! I've been eyeing the class for about a year and she just marked it down 30% so I was delighted to jump in! I'll blog about it soon but you can read more and sign up at:   If you enjoyed my blog post, please enter your email address above where it says "Follow by Email"  to subscribe to future updates which will come out every week or two. I would also love to have you subscribe to my YouTube Channel (Barbara Hauenstein's Happy Art") at: to be notified when I produce new videos. I have a list of fun videos I'd like to create aimed at helping you de-stress your life by enjoying Happy Art, but also welcome your comments on what you'd like to see on YouTube as well as what you'd like to have me blog about! Thank you for hopping by! :)


  1. Love Letter Journals and love this post. Will have to try Digital Art soon, but don't have an IPhone. So have to do my own research.

    1. So glad you liked it Nina! There are also ways to add art to LJs using a computer. I have a program called Microsoft PowerPoint that modifies photos and allows you to stack them on top of each other, then select the set of photos and save it as a picture. If you play with it long enough, I'm sure you'll figure it out :)

  2. Finally managed to work out how to see your posts 👍👍👍

    1. I'm so thankful you found me Tessa! I had to register in Wordpress to leave you comments and somehow created a blog there for myself but already had this one on blogspot. I got an email you requested access to my Wordpress blog so typed in a "street sign" saying to go to this blog, ha ha! I hope you've subscribed to this one by entering your email and then confirming when you get an email asked by you to because I will write more blogs soon. :)

  3. Hi I can't find a way of subscribing - sometimes Computers completely drive me round the bend

  4. I'm so sorry Tess! On my screen, I see a box that says "Follow by email" and you type in your email. It will send you an email and you need to tap a button on that email to confirm. I'll message you a photo of it and hope that will help.