July 11, 2021

34. How we reply

34. How we reply

In today’s episode, we will be talking about how we write letters to our pen pals, and a quick postmark experiment update 

Bokumondoh urushi/raden pen IG post

Inky Rocks Bokumondo Video

24-pound paper envelopes and applied the
B&W postmark to that set of envelopes.  

Question from Brad of Mythic Pen Company and As the Pen Turns podcast:
Letter writing, how do we write to our pen pals.  Any tips?

Standard things I do in a letter.

Date the first page, number pages ½ 2/2 etc

List the pen and ink at the bottom of the page  

Eg Kaweco Brass Sport <M>/Platinum Pigment Blue

I try to put the By Snail/Par Escargot stamp on most of my letters

Jeff Besos/Blue Origin Postcards to space (will get link later) https://www.clubforfuture.org/missions/ 


Not mentioned in the episode but very topical so I'll add it here:
Inky Rocks Letter Writing Video

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/stationeryorbit?fan_landing=true)


34 how we reply complete

[00:00:00] john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 34 of stationery orbit, where we are all here to learn more about creative letter writing. 

I'm your host John West and I'm joined by our co-host Evan Harris and today's episode.

We'll be talking about how we write letters to our pen pals and a quick postmark experiment.  For new acquisitions, I actually am currently sitting in the Philippines and I was lucky enough during my transition over here to be in communication with Hiroko from Bokumundoh, and. It turns out that she was actually able to ship  her work to me, the Urushi and Raden worked to me here in the Philippines.

It had gotten done just as I was leaving the United States. Thank you so much Hiroko for getting that out to me and it is a beautiful pen. And if you're interested in seeing that I'll put a link in the show notes to the post on Instagram for that pen. But yeah, I was a very fortunate to manage that little one.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:00:56] Yeah. It looks like a beautiful pen.  Even more now [00:01:00] I want to get something from Bokumundoh. I haven't sent anything to her yet. 

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:01:03] Yeah. Yeah, I need to go find it. There is a I guess a recent video on YouTube from inky rocks. Who's part of the Tokyo inklings crew. And I think she did a specific video on Bokumundoh, and why she is the new hot thing in the pen market. And I think she's been the new hot thing in the pen market since inky cat writes

catherine Palmisano had mentioned it quite a bit on the. Bent Tinespodcast, but yeah, she's definitely an up and coming power in the higher end pen world.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:01:38] Yeah, absolutely. I just haven't had the chance or fun certainly to send something off to her yet someday. I always thought it'd be more of a Maki-e person when it came to Urushi and I do in general, prefer maki-e I think. But when I see her work, which is Raden that's a little different, that her work is  a little more experimental, and I really love.


[00:02:00] john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:02:00] Yeah it's amazing to see a work like that. In person and actually have ownership of it. I told her in the Instagram post, it is honestly, it's an honor that I am actually able to own something that she has created.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:02:18] okay. You haven't been able to ink it up yet though. Have you? Yeah.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:02:24] Thanks for twisting the knife there. No, I had come over to the Philippines with I was trying to be very conscientious and I didn't want to lose any of my really nice pens or have them Out and about in the world. So I, my most expensive pen that I brought with me was my Kaweco supra, because I wanted to work on tuning the nib while I was sitting here in quarantine.

And that's been a mixed experiment as well, but yeah, so I didn't bring any of my sailors with me, which means I didn't bring any of my sailor cartridges with me. And when the The Bokumundoh project showed up, it's a sailor, 1911, and [00:03:00] they have proprietary cartridges in them. So I can't just grab something out of my Kaweco and stuff it into the sailor.

And yeah, so I'm chomping at the bit to get out of a quarantine here and get myself out to where I can. Get my hands on a sailor cartridge. The interesting thing is in the Manila area here in the Philippines, there are at least five or six different pen shops. And these are like dedicated real pen shops.

And this is in comparison to Denver. That has one.

 evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:03:34] Yeah. I'm still in Minnesota and there is one place that is a vintage pen shop otherwise everything, but I'm about where I'm about to be moving. There is one modern pen shop that I hope to go to.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:03:49] Yeah, I can definitely see how the, an area like the Philippines and especially in Manila is starting to generate some of these new pen [00:04:00] brands like Kasama and troublemaker for inks. And some of the, I think there was a pen case maker that was here. Yeah, it's definitely it's definitely A community that is very interested in stationery and pens and writing.

Excited to have the chance to get out of here.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:04:17] Yeah, I would imagine. But you've got an update on the postmarks you sent out.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:04:22] Yeah. Thank you to my beautiful wife. Kate back at home,  she was kind enough to grab the PO box keys and head out to golden and check on the stationery orbit, a post office box out there. And one of the packages that I had sent out to the Megapolis in Kansas city had found its way home and it was the package of 24 pound Strathmore envelopes that I had the.

Chen Shein Wu. Stamps on. And the post office has apparently deemed the 24 pounds. Strathmore's not appropriate for [00:05:00] their color digital postmarks. So they sent it back to me with all. Black and white postmarks on those. So we have a one failure and nine outstandings. Maybe not a failure, just didn't live up to the a U S P S standards.

And so we're still waiting on the others. I have checked on my bank account and none of the other checks have cleared. So I have  no idea of what the processing. Status is right now,

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:05:26] Yeah, no, it'll be interesting to keep listening as those hopefully turn up, hopefully with some colors.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:05:32] Yeah,  the Chen Shien Wu Postmark is going to be fun. And it was funny cause my wife had gotten hold of them and she had just noted the, a uranium symbol on there. And I'm like, that doesn't sound right, because I remembered the the color postmark being like a color radiation scheme.

And it turned out that yeah, when she sent me the picture of it, which I dutiflied, repost it up on Instagram, it was the the black and white postmark that had been applied.

[00:06:00] evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:06:00] Yeah. It's still, I think a good design, but it is of course the black and white, not the color.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:06:06] Yup. So in terms of moving from how you get your stamps there to what you do when you're trying to get your a letter out we actually had an interesting. little side conversation. I ended up sitting in on one of mythic pens Brad's company. I sat in on one of his actually both of us sat in on one of his

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:06:27] Yeah, I was there for a fruit only for a little.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:06:31] Yeah. And he was he was working on turning some of his blanks and he had I think he was checking up some primary manipulation and cutting into it. And it. Like they've talked about that on their podcast. It is fascinating to see the exterior of a blank and then having a tool cutting into that and seeing how that blank changes as you start cutting through the layers and primary manipulation.

I can see why it is such a popular [00:07:00] thing for them to turn.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:07:03] Yeah, absolutely. I've done a little bit of machining, nothing for pens, but just in engineering education, but everything I did was solid color, so I didn't get to mess around with it that much, but machining could be really fun.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:07:14] And so while we were on the live Brad was actually talking about that he, he enjoys this podcast cause we're talking about letter-writing and all of the different things that go into the creative letter, writing but he was asking the question very specifically. So what do you guys do when you're writing to pen pals?

Do you have a set formula for how you write a letter? Do you write notes? How many questions do you ask? What kind of things do you guys do when it comes to letter writing? And I thought that was a really good choice for a topic. And so I talked to Evan into it. And so we're going to be talking today about how we. Write letters to our pen pals.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:07:58] Yeah, that's right. There's [00:08:00] always plenty of things to discuss and every letter is of course different, but there all, there's some similarities in every letter, I think.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:08:10] Yeah. And to get everything started off. I think a lot of folks it's important to date your letters so that even though the postmarks, especially what happened to the postal system last year, you could have a dated letter from June and somebody wouldn't have gotten it until October, but that, that

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:08:29] I had a letter. I had a letter received about a week ago that I initially sent. Four months ago.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:08:36] Yeah. 

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:08:37] Went through mentally. It went from, it went through mental Apolis event, went to the wrong apartments in the building, then sent back to me, returned to sender and then sent back. So my pen pals, so that having the data on that letter is very important.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:08:51] Yeah. Yeah. At least it gives you a, some culpability for not being involved in the postal system any further than getting it in the mail.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:08:58] I've got some letters that [00:09:00] I I'm more than culpable for, but you mentioned before we were recording, you tend to just date the top of your head.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:09:08] Yeah. The first page on mine are the ones that I date and then everything past that first page, all market page one of two, two of two or two of three. And that way the reader. I can go back through later on. Cause I've done this before and I've been grateful when other folks have done the same thing is I'll be reading something and I'll just set it over into a pile somewhere.

The pile gets shuffled and it's oh no, what letter was that? Or what order was that letter in? And if they had the page numberings on it, it's easy to put the letter back together.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:09:42] Yeah, I don't always remember to put my page numbers in. I actually tend to put my date though after my signature, or if I'm taking multiple days to reply to a letter, I will, when I finish a writing session, I'll date at. Should remember to put a numbers on, but also a lot of my letters are the [00:10:00] three sides, three sides and letter lots.

So we've got one double-sided page where the start is dear whoever. And then the second page is blank on one side. So it's a little easy to find them actually, when you look at the folds and how they interlace, but I should put numbers on again.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:10:19] Yeah. I actually saw a an interesting post on the Panax slack and it was actually just yesterday and somebody was asking. So what kind of a timeline do you think you should have where you don't. Reply to somebody's letter. You just write a new letter as a reply. And that, I think that the answers to that was your mileage may vary.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:10:45] Yeah. I was apologizing yesterday on the pen, out at slack about how long it's been since I've replied to some of these letters. Just from moving stress. 

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:10:54] Yeah, mines. I don't even have that. Excuse. I've just ended up with a sizeable [00:11:00] reply pile and I'm in the same category you are.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:11:03] I don't know exactly how much of an excuse it is. But I'm using it for now.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:11:07] Yeah. Yeah, I don't don't get a use that one, but so my reply pile has gotten sizeable and I'm gonna work on getting that worked down, but to answer the question of when do you stop replying to the letter and when do you just start writing a new letter? I think that for my reply pile going out in order to knock it down actually when I was doing Inco or not incur Ramo, yeah, it was Inco Ramo.

It was on international correspondence. Pre-reading money writing month. I actually sent out a barrage of postcards at the beginning of the month to all of the people that I had in my reply pile. Going here is your Inco Ramo IOU. I owe you a letter is coming. I sincerely apologize for how late these things are.

So yeah, that's something that I've done, but for the the current [00:12:00] reply pile, I think all of the all of my replies on this are going to be the one page pigeon letter locks coming out of Manila here. And so they won't be. New letters. I'm going to reply back to the letters that I got, but I'm going to make them very short for the replies.

So that way I'm not getting too far in the weeds, trying to reply to any individual letter.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:12:25] Yeah. I always find it easier to reply to a letter than to write a new one. Especially with my pen pals who are not other, or I don't know otherwise. I don't want to say my, who are not my friends. Like I like to think my pen pals are my friends as well, but who, I'm not like. Like my friends from college or the such, I can write a letter just randomly.

Whereas with my pen pals, I just, the dynamic feels like a reply as much easier. So even if it's been a year, I'll write a reply instead.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:12:54] Yeah, because yeah, you're exactly right with your pen pals. The only way you know, [00:13:00] them are through what you've done through your correspondence versus you're in real life friends where, you know, quite a bit more of their background, quite a bit more about their likes and dislikes. And it's so much easier to just sit down and write something off the cuff versus your pen pals, where you're most of what you are talking to them.

It has to be from your correspondence.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:13:23] Yeah. Exactly. Several of my pen pals are friends from other things as well, which is always fun. But another thing we were discussing before we started recording is noting what pen and ink you're using. I believe I would say about 60 to 70% of notes. I get do what you do, which is putting the pen and ink on the bottom of each page.

I tend to put it at the end of the letter, which is also helpful for finding the order. Cause I put the pens in the order. I use them under my signature and I try and do a new pen, every sheet. So if I flip over a page so every page, not every sheet then it's a new pen, new ink.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:13:58] Yeah. And do you go [00:14:00] back to your 60 to 70% mark? I would also say that about 60 or 70% of the folks that write regularly and as part of the pen addict, slack, and some of the correspondence that I have received over the years do the same thing where you're trying to do use a new pen and ink on each page.

And. Therefore it's important for whoever you're sending the letter to that. You're noting at least somewhere in the letter, what that pen and ink is. And especially as I was starting to get into doing this really fast within the first couple of letters, what the standard notation is for this, and I'm going to include it in the show.

But for an example, for one of my letters, I'll list it as like a cool  brass sport, and then you have the angled brackets and then you put the nib size in. So I'd have a angled brackets for a medium nib and then a slash and the slash and a notates, the end of your pen notation. And then [00:15:00] you put in the ink that you're using for it.

And most of the time it fits my quake or brass sport. I've got  platinum pigment, blue, and yeah.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:15:07] Yeah. So I, what I use is probably the next most common way to do it, which is very similar. I tend to use square brackets instead of angled. And because I put it at the end of the letter, I can use a new line for the ink. But obviously for most nibs, I just put at the M. Whatever, because they're pretty standard things.

If it is a ground nib, I'll write out what the grind is. Normally just an architect. I don't want to just put a that's the only grind I have though there's one pen where I will put Gold fine or gold F because I have a gold Lamy nib on my safari, which is not normally the gold pen, adult nib pen.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:15:45] Yeah. And for my architect grinds, I actually put in the angle of bracket and then I just pin on a R C H for arc.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:15:54] Yeah. That's long enough. Yeah. And I at least find it really useful when my pen [00:16:00] pals put in what nibble they use. Especially more so than the pen itself because I can then tell about what grind, especially grinds if it looks interesting for you. Frequently it's discussed in the letter itself, but it's good to see.

Okay. Which one was this written with? Again, without having to read everything and say, okay, this was a SIG grind or the such.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:16:19] Yeah, absolutely. And especially for different people with different handwriting styles, something like a SIG or a cursive italic is going to look better when they're writing in cursive versus where I'm at, where I print most, everything, and the architect grinds help with that writing style. One of the things that both Evan and I have been doing we've been stamping the exterior of the envelopes and both of us have managed to come up with the by snail slash par escargo stamps. So I try to get that on  most of my letters now.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:16:51] Yeah, I put that on pretty much every letter I put keep the post office public from well-appointed desks from pretty much every letter. I have a small slew [00:17:00] of other arranged stamps that I've come up with myself that I mix around which ones I use every time I'm trying to come up with some new ones as well.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:17:08] Okay.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:17:09] They are in a various languages saying mostly mundane things like inkling on today is a good day, too.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:17:17] Yes. Yes. Evan gives himself some leeway here. He says various languages. And then he hits you with, by the way, one of them is in klingon.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:17:24] I have so far, I have cling on Yiddish Hebrew. What else do I I have Gallifrian from Dr. Who. I couldn't find a good Vulcan translation program. So that's why I don't have that. I want to put something in French. I want to put something in Russia and I want to put something in Greek.

So they looked like these sort of official things. I have something in Latin. So I want them to look official like old postage or passport stamps but say mundane things about mail and just.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:17:51] Yeah, it's been a long time, but I remembered seeing something in it. And like I said, it, it almost looked like it was supposed to be like a. Authority type of a deal, but [00:18:00] it had a in like big, bold print acting for the German attention. And then it said below it, you must smile in German and,

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:18:10] that's good.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:18:11] So the other things that you can do with letters say getting those sent out to pen pals is doing the wax sealing and that one for me has become. A little on the controversial side because of how many wax seals I've had destroyed in the post office. And that's including me putting stuff through using the non-marketable postage surcharge stamps, and they're still getting destroyed.

So I think with mine, I'm going to start sealing letters, but I think I'm going to start sealing them as part of my signature and have them on the interior of the house.

evan_1_06-23-2021_171759: [00:18:48] Yeah. At least one of my pen pals currently does that. I still, I prefer to keep the stamp on the outside, even if it does get mangled I probably have 75% [00:19:00] success rate.

john_1_06-24-2021_061801: [00:19:00] Yeah. I mean, I didn't have to, I'm going to have to play with it more and try it a little bit more. But I wanted to get back into kind of what we write about as we're writing to our pen pals. And I think I saw a really good piece of advice and it's you're not writing the next great American novel or next great novel.

And. Just sit down and write to somebody it's whatever you write, they're going to enjoy because it's good mail. It's something that's coming to them. It's not one of their bills. It's something that's coming that they know is from a friend. So whatever you write to them is probably going to be fine.

john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:19:36] One of the things that I want to talk about is that there are folks that I see a lot of varying styles over the years of people that are a little more conversational. And then there are some folks who tend to ask more questions and.  In any case, it's just a matter of style, personal style.

Like I said before, whatever you write, the person on the other receiving end is going to [00:20:00] enjoy it. But at least for me when I have a letters that have a lot of questions in them, it does make the replies easier because then I'm not reading through the letter, trying to figure out how I'm going to structure my reply.

It's I'm going to go through the bullet list and reply to those questions. I think the important part about replying to questions like that. Is sometimes you, I, especially for me, I can fall into this bad habit of just answering questions in it. And then it talks about meaning me and I don't ask about the other person anymore.

And that kind of an answer letter can also be annoying to a pen pal. So just be mindful about how much you're talking about yourself versus how much you're talking about them or a common interest.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:20:50] Yeah, no I find that I tend to adopt similar ish style to the people I'm replying to. I try and ask at least the question for [00:21:00] every answer I give though, obviously in any given letter, not all questions are equal, nor are all answers. Some are one line, some could be entire paragraphs or pages. So it, yeah.

Do you try and keep, I try and keep it as if it were a real conversation balanced and how you talk depends on also who you're talking to  in person.

john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:21:19] Yeah, absolutely. And especially in a long form answer session, which is what a reply letter is. You really have to work at getting that conversational tone into the letter because it can end up being. All one sided. It can be a Mimi and all of a sudden you've got five pages of me, and that's not going to work well.

Versus if you're just standing there talking to somebody, they're going to ask you something, you'll reply back to them. They might ask you something else you might reply back, and then you might have your own questions. As  a piece of followup, it's a lot harder to do that in long form letter [00:22:00] writing.

So just be mindful of, as you're writing, how much of this is a balanced conversation like Evan was saying.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:22:08] Exactly. And obviously mutual interests. So for a lot of mine, it's about fountain pens and ink. But also any of my multitude of other hobbies, depending on who I'm writing.

john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:22:22] Yeah, absolutely. I see a lot of stuff in there for like bike riding and being outdoors and camping and yeah, it's just, and especially of course, during the the, all the lockdowns everyone talking about what state of lockdown they were currently in at the time. And one other thing that I wanted to throw in there is if you're feeling like.

Caught up in the reply pile situation, and this gets back to whatever you write to somebody they're going to enjoy it. They're going to enjoy seeing something that comes in the mail. That's not a bill. If you are really getting wrapped up on stuff and you feel like [00:23:00] you're really stuck. Grab a postcard.

That's a really easy way to get word out to your pen. Pal, find something fun on the reverse side of the postcard that they're going to enjoy and just get it out to them. And that's a really easy way to break that writer's block for letters.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:23:18] Absolutely. I found earlier today while packing a stash of old postcards from my last trip to Europe that I can send off.

john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:23:27] There you go always nice to get an easy stash. So mentioning traveling, there is a a whole new step that you can take your postcard to. And Evan had wanted to mention this.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:23:40] that's right. If you want to send your postcard to your postcard and stationery to sub orbits, unfortunately, not a follower, but you can now send them up for free via what is being called club for the future. It is eight. Partially at stem students, but as available to everybody from what I can tell, and it will [00:24:00] go up on a blue origin, new Shepard, rocket blue origin being Jeff Bezos's space company.

They are reserving a small space for a box of postcards in every launch it seems, or at least every private launch. And it will be returned as part of the capsule from storage and after the postcards are recovered, there'll be stamped with flown to space.

I don't know if this is a custom pictorial postmark or not just a separate stamp and then returned to their addresses. So it's a really cool thing. It's completely free. You just have to send your. Postcard in a stamped envelope, you have to send it in something else. The PO box happens to be clubbed for the future PO box 5 7 5 9,  Kent Washington, 9, 8 0 6 for USA earth.

john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:24:47] Nice. Yeah. Earth. That's important. Yeah. Cause your a, your postcard is going to handle the GS a lot better than you will. So send your postcard.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:24:55] Absolutely. There is no promise on timeline and it's a free service. [00:25:00] Yeah. Don't worry about timeline though. If I know, I apologize for a long letter applies. It might take even longer. They may have gone to space Yeah. Finally as we'd like to there has been a new postal Bolton since our last session.


john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:25:13] Yeah, the the Yogi Berra stamp is coming out along with his postmarks for that.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:25:19] that's right. And Yogi Berra is being.  At least ceremony only issued from Lansing, Michigan. There's also the wild west where stamps that are being issued from Abilene, Texas. They have a cowboy boot with a spur, a hat Western shirt, and a belt buck go with the Longhorn head. There are the three ounce Ursula Ludwin stamps which had. A, the color pictorial postmark has this interesting kind of planets in the sky or in a in a gas field, look to it.

john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:25:51] Yeah definitely has a gas giant feel to her, a pictorial postcard.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:25:57] Yeah. And from Juneau, Alaska, [00:26:00] And we've mentioned these ones before the Raven stamps which are based on traditional native American art from tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

john_2_06-24-2021_064934: [00:26:09] Yeah. And. The other thing I wanted to mention is we've started to see the sun science stamps out in the wild on various social media platforms. So it's nice to see those out. Those are, they are beautiful stamps in real life.

evan_2_06-23-2021_174932: [00:26:27] Yeah, I have not yet picked up some, but I probably will relatively soon.