I didn't do much while I was sick for the last two months, but here is what I managed:

Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox LTC, for Winter Wonderland swap. I wasn't very happy with this, but everyone else seemed to like it. *shrugs* Technique: Fox was stamped twice on acetate, slightly offset, first silver, then black. The acetate square was sewn to the gold paper with gold thread on three sides. In the open side went three scoops (I used a #3 gouge to scoop, hee) bluish glitter and one scoop mica flakes. Sewed up the third side, glued to blue paper. Applied paper tape to cover the worst of my sewing.


Rock'n'Roll Valentine

Rock 'n' Roll Valentine. Technique: Stamped on red paper, cut out with a swivel knife, and edge distressed with black ink. The oval was made using alcohol inks--I dropped three colors of red and one silver on the felt of a stamp handle, and added plenty of Perfect Medium (this is all Tim Holtz stuff). Applied to pink paper with a twisting motion. I made a bunch of sheets then cut out the ovals, and edge-distressed them. Stamp went on the oval, oval went on the pretty sparkly black paper.


Annabel Lee

Annabel Lee, based on art by Abigail Larson . Technique: Annabel was stamped in black on a vellum piece half the width of the card, then tape-gunned on to the background paper. Paper tape (oh, how I love paper tape) went over the seam for an accent.



After reading a thread on Atlas Quest, I decided to try a new carving material: Gomuban Relief Printing Plates.  Quick version: I love this stuff, and it will be my go-to carving material.  It isn't perfect, but it is very, very nice.  As you can see, it's thin: 1/4".  One side is blue, the other green, with a black core.  Both sides are carvable and differ only in color.

I decided not to sand the material, as the surface is thin enough.  Turns out sanding is not needed, though it may improve the primary problem: visibility.


First, I tried a pencil rubbing.  That's a little Hello Kitty head in a frying pan (frykitty, get it?).  Can you tell?  Neither could I.  Glare is strong on the unsanded material, but I doubt that reducing glare would help, as both sides are fairly dark.


Ah, that's better.  This is a rubbing from an inkjet printer.  Since it's October, I chose a little ghost by Chris Simmons.

The carving experience was great.  The material has a very nice bite.  It's nearly as firm as Firm Kut, but it isn't rubbery, and it's not so hard to plough through that I lose control of the gouge.  The material lifts out like a dream--almost no digging and swearing. I was using one of Kirbert's modified Staedtler gouges for most of this carve.   Again, there's a visibility issue as you carve through colored material to a dark gray/black beneath.  That contrast could be better.


Here's the final carve.  I admit, I didn't clean up much.  Because the material isn't very rubbery, it doesn't move around when you try to go back over small areas; for example, making that little eye rounder was very easy.  The material is very light, and because it's so thin and flexible,  I would definitely mount it for regular use.

The big question now is durability.  Will it survive on the trail?  I honestly cannot tell just from handling, so I'll have to plant something and find out.

Beginning with the robot series, I have been putting LTCs (Letterbox Trading Cards) in with my plants as a gift for the first finder.  LTCs are like Artist Trading Cards: a tiny bit of art on a 3.5" x 2.5" card, except LTCs must incorporate a hand-carved stamp.  I have been making sets of 4 so I have some to trade later--I'm saving them for the big meet in August.

I'm new at this, so one reason I'm posting is to see how my technique changes as I get more experience and look around for more inspiration.

This is "3 Laws".  The stamp is based on the cover of the first edition of "I, Robot".  I also carved the moon wedge in the background, and I think I'll be using it a lot.  The robot was embossed on to card stock using a mix of a couple of reds and a silver, then cut out and affixed to the background.  Most of the background is blending chalks, which I just started using and lovelovelove.

This card is called "Klaatu barada nikto!"  Sorry for the unimaginative titles--I name them after the letterbox, and I don't like to be too cryptic.  Of course, it's Gort.  This card is very shimmery, which doesn't show up well here.  Swirly alcohol inks make up the background.  There's that moon again.  Gort is embossed in a mix of black and charcoal, and cool mini-ribbons (I forget what they're called--they're for scrap booking) border the top and bottom.

"DON'T PANIC!"  Marvin and his caption are two separate stamps.  I planted them both with the letterbox.  This one is the Spousal Unit's favorite so far.  Copic markers, ink, silver gel pen.

Here's R2 in "The Force".  Oops, looks like I got the scan a little crooked. Blending chalks and pencils for the background here.  Keep in mind that this card is 2.5" x 3.5".  Yes, that teeny robot was a bitch to carve.


Questions about planter's pouches came up recently in a forum I frequent. I thought I'd post how mine are made. This is a design I have seen in the wild, and adapted for my own use.

First, the one-quart Ziploc. I have cut a piece of cardboard and inserted it into the Ziploc to make it easier to work with. I am working on a large plastic cutting board.

The side with writing is the front. If your baggie has no writing, note that one edge above the zip is shorter than the other. The long edge is the front. We'll begin applying tape on the back, just below the blue line.

Apply tape all the way down, overlapping each strip by about 1/3. Let the tape go beyond the sides, and go about 1/2-inch beyond the bottom of the baggie.

Clean up the edges, leaving enough to fold over to the other side. Turn it over.

Cut from the bottom of the baggie to the bottom of the tape on both sides.

Fold up the center, and remove the extra tape.

Fold in the sides.

Tape the front of the baggie. Go right past the top, adding 3-4 inches.

Clean up the edges, leaving enough room to fold, and turn everything over.

Again, cut from the bottom edge of the bag to the bottom of the tape on both sides, and fold the bottom up. Get rid of the extra tape at the bottom, but don't fold the sides yet.

Cut from the blue line at the top to the edge of the tape on both sides. Fold in the sides.

Beginning at the top edge of the baggie, apply tape to the other side of the top flap. Overlap a little at the top.

Lining up so the edge is flush with the rest of the pouch, clean up the edges of the top flap.

Get rid of those tiny sticky bits.

Fold over that top edge.

Remove the cardboard. Fold the top flap, then fold the pouch again. Crease it a bit on this second fold.

Apply velcro tabs to both sets of folds. As you can see, I put down one part of the tab, then dab it with a little chalk ink and fold the pouch to see where the other half of the tab goes.

Ready for letterboxy goodness! When you fill the pouch, the contents must fit in the bottom half, or the pouch will not fold properly.

Ready to plant (indeed, this one was planted an hour later).

Today's discovery: Pad Thai is every bit as good cold as it is hot. Yum.

Saturday was laundry, and one itsy letterbox in the Pearl District. The Spousal Unit and I have decided that those types of boxes are better saved for winter months, when we can't go hiking.

Then Sunday, ah, Sunday. Off for a hike up the Horsetail Falls trail with Wendie and Metta. It was a perfect day, we had a great time, and found two delightful letterboxes. Then SU and I decided we weren't too grubby for delicious Ethiopian food from Sheba's. Man, I lovelovelove that place. For the first time, we finished our whole plate. Hiking will do that.

We are again in celebration mode as the SU got the first bit of his grant application turned in. Grants are arduous, and each step deserves Ethiopian food and beautiful scenery.

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Man, what a great anniversary. Bill and I have been married four years, but it seems more like four weeks.

The day began with eggs, juice, and a lovely little present from Bill--a pyrite (at least I think it's pyrite?) heart that we'd had our eyes on for a while. We have a small collection of stone hearts that we add to on special occasions.

From there, we went on an early-morning letterboxing jaunt at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens. Since Bill hates the way I dole out clues a line at a time, I soon handed the sheet to him, and we wandered off, at first in the wrong direction. I got stung by a wasp I accidentally brushed with my hand, but it was no big deal. Apparently, I'm not allergic to yellow jackets. Finally we found the box, and sat down on a bench to stamp in. The box was pristine as we were the first finders, and there was a darling stuffed octopus inside as well. Surprising? Well...I inked up the stamp and handed it to Bill stamp-side down so he could put the impression in our log book. He lifted the stamp to find:

Senn And Kitty
4th Anniversary
August 24, 2006

Yep, I'd carved a stamp, planted it a few days before, and faked up a clue page. Bill was completely surprised. Called me a sneaky fucker three times. I'm gonna be smug about that for a year.

After that, Bill had to work a while, during which time I carved a special stamp having to do with who married us. After he was done, we planted a real letterbox in the same place I'd put the anniversary box.

The rest of the day was spent doing real letterboxing at the Audubon Wildlife Preserve on Cornell. We sought 7 and found 3, which isn't bad for us! The place itself is beautiful, and we'll be back many times. End of the day was dinner at Queen of Sheba, and two exhausted travellers stumbled home.

I want at least a hundred more like that, please.

I always mean to post promptly about whatever little adventures we undertake, but then all the pictures are stuck on the Spousal Unit's camera, and I wait. Well, no more! I'll just post pics later. And learn to take my own darned camera.

Saturday we hiked Latourell falls with Wendie and Metta. It was the perfect hike--enough to get us sweaty and tired, but not enough to cause pain. Also, wow, gorgeous. There are two letterboxes on this hike, but the area around the first was too full of muggles to look for it. We did find the second, and thereby introduced W&M to their first letterbox! We'd told them about the hobby beforehand, and Metta spent much of the hike commenting on nice spots to hide boxes. I think she's hooked. They signed into the logbook with one of our spare stamps. Fun!

Sunday we dragged out late, and did a bit more letterboxing around town. We tromped (respectfully) around Willamette National Cemetery, and found a lovely stamp there that was done in honor of the letterboxer's veteran father. Then we found a very special gem: Whitaker Ponds. We didn't find the letterbox there, but discovering this small, critter-filled park was enough for us. Head out NE Columbia, and turn North on NE 47th. Just a bit down the road, you'll see a "Whitaker Natural Area" banner tacked to a fence on your right. Park outside the fence, and go through the gate. The car gate was locked when we were there--it was only open to pedestrians. Inside you'll find thousands of native plants, hummingbirds, ducks, squirrels, and a lovely, tiny wetland. I really must go back. And post some pictures.


We found this box last night. Even though it's new, there were many lovely stamps in the logbook already. We were a little irritated because we went down the wrong staircase. I miscounted tennis courts. Don't do that.

Tonight, I believe we'll do some reconnaissance at a local spot where I'd like to place our first box.