PenPal Social Club

by Brandi McElhatten
Some time ago, there was a viral post going around on Facebook. You may remember it, it was the one where you made a deal to send the first few friends who responded to your status update a surprise in the mail.
I posted it. Did I ever send anyone anything? Nope.

I started thinking about that viral post-promise thing, along with the box of letters in my basement that I had saved since high school. I used to write so much, actual pen to paper. I am terrible at sitting down now and writing anything. It took me over a year to write my thank you cards for my baby shower gifts. And Christmas cards? Forget ’em. But I love getting them from other people. Hello hypocrisy.
It dawned on me that it would be nice to have an event where people could get together and share supplies and all write letters and make trinkets to send to people. With my background in crafty events – – I really had missed organizing events. I messaged my friend Haley, who is the mastermind behind
Memorabilia Productions, and told her my idea. She mentioned that I should meet her friend Erika who was going to be opening a store soon – – that it sounded like something she would be into.
Erika, Haley and I met up one afternoon to talk about our plan. The meeting went swimmingly, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing this now. Erika told me about her store and how she was planning on having a mail art section in the store. I told her about my idea and what had given me the idea. I think we all agreed we were on the same page.
Writing letters is a fleeting art. I was interested in it from a historical perspective. I missed using typewriters, sending postcards, the need for an address book. There was this whole other aspect to sending letters, though, that I hadn’t even considered – – mainly, mail art. I had heard of it, but didn’t realize there was a whole subculture dedicated to it. According to MOCA, “mail art refers to small-scale works that utilize the mail as a distribution system.”  A quick search on Google will yield all sorts of cool results – from zines to blogs, to some pretty amazing images.
After a couple of weeks of  back and forth emails with Erika and Haley, we decided on a name and the initial details of our project.

We settled on the name PenPal Social Club. Our first event was April 25th and also served as a sneak peek at Erika’s store, Canopy.
We set up mini-stations with supplies. We asked people to bring something to share and to add to our “Letter Writing Bar.” Erika, Haley and I all seem to be supply hoarders, in a good way.
Haley was making custom buttons and we had typewriters for people to use.
Haley was making custom buttons and we had typewriters for people to use.
Matt from Middle of the Meadow working on some illustrations for some custom pins.
Matt from Middle of the Meadow working on some illustrations for some custom pins.
I brought some of my rubber stamps that I had bought at a craft destash sale. This bat makes me so happy.
The event is nice because it’s kid-friendly as well. This is my kiddo’s handiwork.
Snail Mail
The beautiful work of Anna from Paper Club. You can also send David and Anna something in the mail now too. Tell them we sent you!
Canopy’s Mail Station.
Canopy also will stamp and deliver your mail to the post office for $1.00 a letter. They also provide the envelopes.

Our first event went so great. I was so inspired by everyone, the event itself really fostered a sense of community. It was really hard for me to sit down and work on my own letters. I really just wanted to watch everyone working on theirs.

Our next event is this Saturday, May 16th from 12 – 2. In the area? Please drop by to see us at Canopy. Canopy is located at 3910 Lorain Ave. in Cleveland. We’d love to meet you.

Wanna know more about Canopy? Check out our Indie Store Spotlight

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