Category Archives: Stationery

Random Thoughts: Recycle, Repurpose, Upcycle

When I’m not writing letters or not putting together tokens for mailing, I usually turn my room upside down to look for items that can be discarded, given away or recycled.

I think I’m pretty good at giving away things, especially if I haven’t used them in over a year or if I’ve no use for them at all. Similarly, I’d give myself a “B” for reusing items (e.g. PET soda bottles, plastic bags, corrugated boxes in good condition) as long as possible.

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

Magazine glossies reborn as Valentine’s Day envelopes (sent in 2011)

I’d love to see the day, though, when I have more time in my hands so I can indulge in repurposing and upcycling projects. The mirror I salvaged from a second-hand store, for example, is still waiting for the rest of its old paint to come off. (Sigh)

To recycle, repurpose, and upcycle: it’s not because I don’t want to spend on things that I know I’ll eventually grow tired of. It’s just that I think it’s a cool idea to be able to max out the usage and benefits I get from something I bought, say, a blouse. I also like thrift store shopping, and many of those I’ve been to (and you’ve been to, as well) are teeming with finds waiting for a second chance at life. My latest ‘fantasy’ (if you will) is to turn pretty cups and saucers into fancy pots and planter bases. If only I have the time (there it is again!) to learn how to drill so I can make drainage holes at the bottom of those cups.

The mirror project and any DIY activity that involves paint have been suspended for now. (Sad) I recently dug up a decorative pie pan, however, and repurposed that as a catch-all for letters and stray pens on my work space at home. Admittedly, there’s a pretty tin tray that I saw at the home section of a department store I recently visited. I decided against buying it because, well, I have two of those decorative pie pans I mentioned earlier! And they’re just the right size for my work space. No point in buying something new when I can reuse what I have on hand.

It takes discipline to embrace this lifestyle. But personally, it’s liberating to know that not everything new and shiny has the power to influence me (to buy).


Mother’s Day Greeting with an “Edge”

I was supposed to send cards enclosed in handmade envelopes for this year’s Mother’s Day celebration. Plans had to change at the last minute because the cards I bought are ‘small’ compared to the envelopes I made.

(L-R) A length of ribbon, card, single puncher

(L-R) A length of ribbon, card, single puncher

Beribboned cards all in a row

Beribboned cards all in a row

In the end, I think things turned out well. To make the store-bought 4 x 5 packets pop out a bit, I decided to stick “Happy Mother’s Day!” labels on top of the sealed flaps. Labels with an “edge,” that is.

If you’d like to give it a try, print or type “Happy Mother’s Day!” on paper that’s thin enough so you can easily shape the edges, but not too thin that a small tear can ruin your entire work. When doing the lay-out, make sure to leave about half an inch of border around the words so that you’ll still have that space framing the greeting even after you’ve torn around the edges.

Labels with an "edge"

Labels with an “edge”

Make it straight . . .

“Straight-laced” label

“Straight-laced” label

. . . or curved.

"Curvy" label

“Curvy” label

Either way, you’ll end up with pretty labels that pack just the right amount of “wow.”

Mother's Day cards ready for their intended recipients

Mother’s Day cards ready for their intended recipients

Happy Mother’s Day!

The Isetatsu Paper Shop in Tokyo’s Yanaka Area

When I was in Tokyo in 2010, I decided to stay in the Yanaka area for two reasons: it’s away from the hectic pace downtown Tokyo is known for and it has a charm not many tourists – not even locals, I think – are aware of.

One must-see shop, especially if you’re a stationery and fine paper collector, is Isetatsu. This traditional store makes and sells “chiyogami,” which is traditional Japanese paper printed with woodblocks.

Isetatsu can easily be overlooked because it blends well with the residential area it is located in. You’ll know you’ve found the shop you’re looking for because of the colorful items by the display window, beckoning you to take a closer look.

Once inside, let time take over: browse to your heart’s content.

Isetatsu - Façade

Isetatsu – Façade

Display window of Isetatsu

Display window of Isetatsu

Display window items

Display window items

Display window item - "Welcome to Isetatsu," it seems to say.

Display window item – “Welcome to Isetatsu,” it seems to say.

Inside the shop, I "saw" her and her kitten trying to catch my eye. They were on a shelf.

Inside the shop, I “saw” her and her kitten trying to catch my eye. They were on a shelf.

Some of the stationery items for sale.

Some of the stationery items for sale.

“How to choose good stationery”

By: Anne Bogel (@AnneBogel, 2011)
Link: How to choose good stationery

There are endless stationery options, in stores and on the web, and you can find all sorts of designs on paper that is low-end, high-end, and everything in between.

Good stationery is whatever kind of stationery carries your message the best.

On stocking up on stationery and letter writing accessories

Stock up on stationery and accessories that you like and come across during shopping sprees. You may not have the time to go out again and buy some if you run out of stock at home. The same designs may not be available elsewhere, and you’ll be left chastising yourself for not picking up a few pieces along the way. That has happened to me. To this day, I’m trying to find a reason to go back to a stationery supplies store that’s nearly an hour away from where I live. (Letter writers can sometimes be obsessed.)

From experience, it also helps if the designs of the items you pick are not too cute or unique (e.g. a commemorative insignia) that you don’t want to part with them anymore. Unless that was your original intention: to add them to your growing collection. In which case, buy some for yourself and double your happiness by sending the rest to friends and loved ones.

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