Monday, June 4, 2012
carving our first letterbox stamp
"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed, for our safety, to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and the love we give our fragile craft..."
(For those who have never clicked on the "passengers" tab at the top of my page, this extract is, in fact, the source of my excessively long and somewhat bizarre blog title. The quote above is from a 1965 speech to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations given by then U.S. ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson II. For more info on Mr. Stevenson feel free to click on the aforementioned tab.)
My strange blog moniker is also the handle our family uses when we're out Letterboxing.
For those unfamiliar with this fun and interesting pastime, letterboxing is an intriguing outdoor hobby combining elements of art, puzzle solving, orienteering and exploring and is great fun for children and adults alike. It originated in the 1850's in England but has morphed over the centuries into a worldwide, more modern sort of game wherein seekers follow clues (found on various websites, through local clubs or discovered by word of mouth) to find small, waterproof boxes hidden in public places. Each box contains a logbook and stamp and explorers likewise carry a stamp and logbook when out on a quest. When a letterbox is discovered, finders make an imprint of the letterbox's stamp in their book and leave their personal impression, the date and perhaps a small note in the letterbox's visitor's book. The stamps are most often hand carved and can be amazingly intricate and beautiful. (To begin your first letterboxing adventure try clicking here or here.)
Now, for over a year, our little band of seekers has been somewhat untrue to letterboxing tradition and we've been leaving imprints of a store bought stamp in the logbooks we've hunted and found. (Purists are no doubt shuddering.) With a new seeking season starting up, however, we've finally come up with an image to suit our odd epithet and decided to try our hands at carving our first letterbox stamp.
Most of the stamps we've come across have been made from erasers and since I found a giant one of those at our local craft store and we happen to already own a set of wood carving tools, I drew out our image and Ryan volunteered to take up the carving.
With our family of three (which includes one beautiful curly haired girl), the image of ourselves as "spaceship passengers" was perhaps a little complex for a first try. (The black line and scribble were Naiya's attempt at her own stamp idea... In the end, we decided to go with something a little less abstract.)
Using his various sharp (and heretofore unused) wood carving tools, Ryan carefully cut away all the negative space around the drawing. After a year of fretting over the difficulty of this undertaking, we (or should I say he) found it surprisingly simple in the end.