If there’s one thing that I think should should come back from the great beyond it’s the written letter. With email and text messages, no one ever seems to write letters anymore, not even the simple little note. It’s quite tragic really, because everything else just seems a bit impersonal. I find that there’s no better feeling that finding a nice handwritten letter in your mailbox amongst all of those bills, credit card solicitations and retail catalogues. For years, I’ve indulge in the idea of having a PenPal, and it’s only recently that I’ve done something to get me one (or two).
Last summer I took an art class where some of us students decided to participate in a mail art exchange. The woman who organized these exchanges had us use the site Swap-Bot, a swapping site that I have previously never even heard of. I did two swaps during that class and it was really fun. But since then I haven’t really participated in any sort of mail exchange until I stumbled upon The Love Parcel, a Tumblr blog, where the owner Miranda encourages people from all over the world to send her beautifully curated parcels in exchange for one of her personally curated parcels. I absolutely loved this idea and vowed to participate in it. Now, I haven’t sent Miranda my parcel yet (I’m still curating it and it’s getting quite large), but I will definitely post here when I do (then wait until she’s able to curate and send mine out)! Yet, her idea fueled something dormant inside of me and I was just itching for some mail.
So, I turned to Swap-bot. I found it a bit daunting to find swaps that interested me, but after a lot of shifting through the categories and clicking on random swaps, I finally found a few that looked appealing. So far, I’ve only completed one, a Crafty PenPal swap where I ended up with two different people to write to (and swap various craft supplies). I sent out my letter to my partner and already received a letter from the second partner who was assigned to send to me. I’ve already written up the response letter to my second partner and am planning to send it out along with two new swaps that I recently joined. Overall, I really like the act of sitting down and writing whatever happens to come to my mind. Granted, these are just introductory letters that I’m writing, but there’s something so calming in writing these correspondences. I also really like playing with stationery and decorating my envelopes with washi tape and stickers. I even covered one of my envelopes with a page from a magazine, because it looked really cool.
Swap-bot allows for user profiles and it’s encouraged to have one thoroughly filled out because most swap hosts encourage you to look at your partner’s profile to figure out what they would like in their letters and packages (if the swap is more than just sending a letter to each other). And that’s the thing that’s really cool about Swap-bot: you can swap anything! People host swaps for book exchanges, clothing exchanges, trading craft and scrapbooking supplies. There’s no limit to what can be swapped as long as there are other people to swap with. At the completion of each swap you rate your swap host and your partner and you hope they do the same for you. The greater your ratings, the more people will feel comfortable with swapping with you, cause really, no one likes a partner who flakes out and never sends you anything.
But so far so good. I can’t wait until I receive a response to the first letter I sent out and I’m excited to start writing and curating more little packages for the swaps that I just joined. I’m so grateful that there’s a group of people out there who appreciated the handwritten letter and have gone to such lengths to keeping snail mail alive. It’s very lovely and I can’t wait to immerse myself into this community and build up my correspondences!