Letter Journal FAQs

TELL ME AGAIN, HOW DOES IT WORK? 

So you’re joining your first swap? What do you do after you’ve said ‘yes please’? Here is a brief list to remind you of what comes next.
1) Wait for leader to contact you in a group private message and then you give your address to your swap group.
2) Make a book. You make ONE letter journal from scratch. This includes working on backgrounds and finishing two double page spreads on your journal (and by finished we mean full and signed)*. Feel free to put your name on the front.
3) Write bio/ introduction on the inside of the cover, write names/addresses/order inside back cover. Your name and address should appear first in the list of addresses.
4) Gather small paper gifts for inside envelope (optional!).
5) Decorate an envelope and get stamp. Weigh your journal and bits once inside the envelope to double check it’s light enough for a basic letter stamp. Double check the address – every little bit of it including POSTCODE, and include a return address too.
6) Post that baby!!

HOW BIG SHOULD MY JOURNAL BE?

When made it should fit into a regular letter envelope, called DL (using international standard envelope lingo). This is 8.8 inches by 4.4 inches. You make the journal by using 8 inch by 8 inch paper folded in half.

HOW SHOULD I MAKE MY JOURNAL?

Check out the videos on you tube here.
You can use a range of papers including ones you have printed, stamped or painted on, as well as reused papers. Please keep the journal as light as you can.

DO I COMPLETE ARTWORKS IN MY JOURNAL?

Yes, but not on every page.

  • You start it off by making ‘backgrounds’ – this could be adding some paint to these pages, stamping, doodling, getting your kids to draw or scribble on the pages, putting some collage elements on.
  • You also finish a ‘spread’ (two pages side by side). You can do that by drawing a picture, doing a collage, finger painting, or just making pretty patterns by sticking things on. It’s completely up to you – your unique style and exploration is welcome! Put your name and the date on any finished spreads so people know to leave those pages alone and not go over your work 🙂
  • Each time you receive a journal from someone else, follow this pattern: complete a spread, and add to backgrounds.

WHEN DO I POST MY NEWLY MADE JOURNAL?

Once a group has been formed (see below for more info on this) and everyone has made their handmade letter journal, they are ready for sending. This usually takes about a week to 2 weeks from deciding to join a swap together. It is important to know that you don’t have to send it out the very next day, but a month would probably be too long. A week or two usually feels just right.

DO WE ALL HAVE TO POST AT THE SAME TIME?

Once your group is formed and you have agreed to swap, then you just post the journal when it is ready and made. It’s not important for the posting to be synchronised except in a general sense (it’s nice if everyone posts them out the same week, not weeks and weeks apart). Communicate with your group about when you post it and let them know too when you receive theirs. You can use this Facebook group to share photos of envelopes coming and going (just cover people’s addresses please).

WHO DO I SWAP WITH?
– Typically 4 people in a swap, but it also works with 2 people, or 3 people, or you could even try more.
– they don’t all have to be in the same country, but it costs more to post internationally so if you are on a super tight budget local might suit you better
– you do have to be happy to swap addresses – PO boxes also fine
– if you are super privacy cautious or don’t like sharing your personal address get them posted to your work or a friend’s house

WHERE DO I FIND SWAP PARTNERS?

  • you could do this with a group of friends
  • you could do this with art friends online
  • you could join a facilitated swap with other mixed media folk – I founded and run a Facebook group called ‘Letter Journal Love’ for just that very thing so CONTACT me if you’d like to join

HELP WITH NAVIGATION
– consider using the inside back cover to write out all the addresses IN THE ORDER that the books will be sent in. (Imagine everyone sitting in a circle passing the books around to the person on their left and working in the book they have been given, this is essentially what happens).

FUN EXTRAS

  • Consider putting an introduction page on the inside from cover where every one can say ‘hi’ and introduce themselves.
  • In your envelope include little ‘gifts’ or handmade artwork, envelopes of mixed media materials, or stamps from your country

WHAT TO ENCLOSE AS GIFTS?  Does the owner of the book prepare gifts for all members or do we enclose just for the person after us?

The gift thing varies and can range from nothing (which is fine!), to some small random paper scraps, or a postcard, or a small gift tag, to a small handmade piece of art for the person you are posting to or for eveyone! It’s not expected so getting anything is fun. No pressure and it shouldn’t cost you anything. Specific ideas are a few bits of paper eg punched flowers, a hand drawn image, a few postage stamps, left over bits of Gelli prints,  or some stickers if you have too many. Whatever you decide to do remember that the weight of your LJ plus bits needs to be a one stamp weight and thickness. For Australia it’s a $1.00 stamp limit for 250 gms. For overseas it’s $2.75 for 50 Gm weight.

 

CAN I SET A THEME FOR MY JOURNAL?

Yes!! Absolutely ! You can ask if a whole group of people would like to all swap journals on the same theme, or you can just decide to make your journal have a theme. It’s a good idea to make your theme very clear by writing an introduction page in your journal… Others in your swap can either go with the same theme in their journals, or a different one, or no theme.