07 October 2011

Packages for an Imagined Event: Item 6

[further info at the end of this post *]

One especially fun aspect of creating the gift packages for this Summer's Wizarding Event attendees was imagining where some of the items in the packets came from.  Each gift has its criteria (as mentioned in the Package 1 post) but there was a kind of individualized application of the guidelines.  The things chosen for each package created their own story. In this case, the container for the items lent to the tale as well.

This packet began with its box - a most unusual box.  Triangular in shape (about 7 x 7 x 4 inches) with rounded corners and an embedded magnet to hold it closed.  It was painted and  decoupaged by my late sister, Artist, who took a great deal of delight in creating whimsical things.  This box was part of her creative legacy.  I thought it right proper that it become part of a whimsical gift.

The box struck me as something a traveler might carry.  So I looked through the many items of the great stash of unusual things I'd amassed for this postal project.  A sea urchin caught my eye immediately.  And it fit perfectly in the box.  I continued on: picking up something and placing it the box along with the sea urchin then looking at it awhile to see if it "fit" the as yet unwritten letter and story that would accompany the box.  Eventually, in increments of adding and subtracting, the box's contents came together.

a sea urchin
prayer beads
(faux) silver magnifying glass
2 brass bookmarks
a small envelope of (faux) postage stamps

The letter for this package turned out to be short and not too detailed.  The collection of items were so evocative and their box so distinctively personal that I did not want to overplay the effect.  So I wrote simply, and -- using one of my portable typewriters (a Smith Corona Galaxie) -- typed it up on faded green paper.

Text of the letter:
Dear P----,

I graduated from N----- so long ago that I hardly remember!  But I always like to send a little gift to a First Year Student - just to remind myself how fun my 1st days of school were.  The enclosed I picked up on my various travl travels.  The shell was a gift from a Sea Wizard.  She said she used it as a spellcatcher.  The bookmarks I am sure will come in handy too.


I------- C. B----

[handwritten on the left]:  My House was House D---------! Which gives you an idea of how long I mean!

NOTE:  In our version of a School of Magic, House names occasionally changed (except for that of the first, founding House).  So for this lady to say her House had a different name indicates she was a student probably in the late 19th or early 20th century.

The folded letter was placed on top of the boxed items.

Wrapping the package for posting was only a small challenge.  I used raffia (the same that I used making the Headmaster's straw wizard hat!) to tie it up.  The vintage postage stamps were from France and, I think, China.  The cancellation stamp was from my collection of postal-related rubber stamps, and indicated the package had been sent from Paris.  The Parcel Post stickers were a lucky find from a nearby office supply/typewriter repair shop in my town.  Along one wall they sell "old timey" stationery, stamps, and stickers. (In reality, I suspect this is stock from their own mid-20th-century inventory that never sold!)"

There is a delightful sequel to this packet as well.  Several weeks after the event, I heard from the actor who played our Headmaster.  It seemed his character received a letter from this student!  Only the letter was addressed to one of the imaginary characters who had authored one of the letters she received during the noontime Owl Post delivery --not the one who had sent her the package.  The actor kindly forwarded the letter to me (actual author of nearly all the letters).  

It was a friendly note to the person, saying how much she had enjoyed her first day at the School of Magic, and made reference to the classes she took and that she hoped to someday meet the letter author's "twins" when they started their studies at the school.

Well, I couldn't resist her charming note and wrote her a reply in the persona of the letter author.  I also amused myself by describing the Pony Express rider I played on Event Day, delivering all the packages and letters!  The letter was created using Microsoft Word.  I used an "old paper" graphic for the background (found via Google Images) and a typewriter font called Remington Noiseless -- available free compliments of typewriter guru and aficionado Richard Polt at this linkMr. Polt's typewriter website is here.

Text of the letter:
18 August 2011

Dear P----,

How lovely to get your letter ~ but I must apologize for taking this long to respond.  Our family was vacationing out West for most of the last four weeks, so it took awhile for your mail to catch up with us.
The catching up part is actually true.  We were just sitting down to dinner in our Estes Park cabin when we heard the very loud clopping of horse hooves.  And what a large horse it was!  The tall red-haired rider – wearing a grey frock coat, pinstriped grey vest, black trousers, and a black cowboy hat – briefly identified herself as Ms. K--- of the Owl Post Pony Express.  What a character! The twins were excited about being so close to a real horse. (Her name is A-----, Ms. K--- told them.) She didn’t waste much time in chit chat either, saying she had another delivery to make to another wizarding family who were camping at the top of Pikes Peak.
Besides your letter, the delivery included a box of chocolate frogs, two wooden whistles for the twins, and a letter from my cousin Jane who lives near Dublin, Ireland and works there as a water control wizard for the nearby Wicklow County community.  So, it was a very nice postal day indeed.
I was so pleased to hear you were sorted in House N-----! All the Houses are good ones, of course, but I have a special affection for my own. And it sounds like your orientation day was a lot of fun.  I hope the weather has cooled a bit since then.  (I agree that playing quidditch in the hot sun can be quite tiring.)

Have a good rest of the summer!


The posts describing all the imaginary postal packages can be found grouped here under the tag faux package.  


* Info on this image: "from http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/751085804/ Author: Steve Jurvetson.  fat sea urchin "The little sea urchin on top is quite unusual. It was discovered by a research vessel near New Caledonia at a depth of 1000 ft." [from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sea_urchin_tests.jpg]

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