18 February 2012

Packages for an Imagined Event: Item 10

Although I must confess that I am not much of a Harry Potter fan (either the books or the movies), there are aspects of them I find both charming and entertaining.  As a long time mail artist, I find the Owl Post concept pretty cool.  And one special aspect of it I borrowed for some of the "perfect packages" I made for the 2011 Summer Wizarding Event: how Harry's letters were addressed in Book 1 as Hogwarts tried to deliver his letter of acceptance. No  matter where he was, the envelope was very specific.

Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard Under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging

Mr. H. Potter
The Smallest Bedroom
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging

Mr. H. Potter
Room 17
Railview Hotel

Mr. H. Potter
The Floor
The Sea

A week prior to the event, the 19 children received their Official Letters of Invitation. Our crew planners had been in contact with their parents and knew generally where they would be on their respective delivery days: generally but not exactly. 

Each of the letters - parchment paper in heavy envelopes - were hand addressed in ink. The couriers, dressed oddly as wizards might who were trying unsuccessfully to blend in to the nonmagical world, brought ink pens with with them. When they arrived where the child was, they stood away at a little distance first to note precisely where the child was located.  Then they wrote that down on the envelope in the space left for it.  My favorite was the the location info for a child attending the local farmer's market with her family that read "City Farmer's Market. East Side Stalls. Next to her older sister, slightly to her right."  I borrowed the idea.

Package 10 was a smallish one, about 4x4x3 inches. Its address was brief: the student's name, the initials of our wizarding school, and the words "She's in the lunchroom."  (I would have liked to have been more specific - stating exactly where in the lunchroom - but no one had any idea where the kids would seat themselves during the lunch break.)

The contents of this package, as with many others, began with the box.  In this case, the box was a small, faux velvet covered, green jewelry box.  It had a proper heft to it and a very efficient and strong magnetic clasp.  I especially like the "gold" metal decoration at each corner. I removed the spacers from the box's interior and lined the bottom with a piece of embossed, purple faux leather.

Because it was so compact, I had some trouble finding items that were small enough to fit inside.  I found something eventually but am still not quite sure what it is!

It was a metal case of some kind with two rounded compartments.  I am guessing it might be a ring box, or perhaps for postage stamp storage. (If anyone reading this knows, please post a comment below!)

I found a small lock to go in one compartment and its matching keys (which was contained in a small white packet used for wedding rings) went in the other.

The letter was short, written with a dip pen using red ink on heavy rag paper.  I knotched the top and bottom edges of the paper with one of my craft scissors.

Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph the back of it!  But here is what I have . . .

Summer 2011

Dear L---!

Welcome to your first year at N------! My name is the same as yours -- only spelled with two "e"s.  Maybe that's why I got your name <--- every year past or current N------ students write to welcome in the new class.

I am also sending you a few useful items.  The lock is a Muggle lock -- hard to open unless you have the Muggle key!  Useful if you need to keep something secret.  The gold box is one I used in Professor W-------'s Potions Class to sort out ingredients that were likely --->

The mystery of what else was said must remain so.  But the wizardling girlchild's curiosity and delight were, fortunately, caught by one of our roving camera folk.


Slightly unrelated, but similarly fun:  This Christmas I gave one of my nephews the first Harry Potter book.  Three weeks later his mother tells me he is already up to Book 5!  He and his brother and I have regular "playdates" - learning about old timey portable typewriters, making "chalkboard planets" and, soon, creating a life size board game where the two of them are the game pieces!  

We three like to play with mail too.  This past weekend I and one of our Event Day crew passed by their house.  She hopped out of the car and placed two packages (containing books and sketchpads) inside their front storm door. They were wrapped in heavy brown paper with some sport team stickers for postage.  The cancellation stamp was our Event Day Owl Post rubber stamp.  

The address for one included the words "In the Front Door of the House."  The other noted "Maybe Upstairs in His Bedroom."

I heard from their Mom yesterday.  The packages were discovered when they came back from a trip to the library.  I am told Boy1 yelled at top volume to his brother, "IT'S OWL MAIL!!  WE GOT OWL MAIL!!!!!!"  

Yes, I love this stuff! 


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


  1. I always wished I could have had an owl show up on each of my daughters' eleventh birthdays, with an invitation to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, this never got beyond the wishing stage. Your nephews are lucky to have such a fun and creative aunt!

  2. MEK unintentionally slightly understates the obsessional nature of child number 1 with regards to Hogwarts. She has read the entire series at least three times. Some of the individual books were read to pieces. She really wanted an owl on her eleventh birthday.

    She moved on to other series including the Lord of the Rings, Maximum Ride and the Hunger Games. Harry is still special and we enjoy seeing the Wizarding Event posts.

  3. How fun to know there are kids out there who get so into stuff. I read Lord of the Rings for the first time at age 12 and proceeded to read it through about 20 more times!

    Later on in college - at Marquette Univ where a large body of Tolkien's materials are housed - I worked for the Special Collections division of the library. Because I knew the books so well, I was assigned the job of processing the LOTR manuscript papers (first time they'd been worked on beyond being put in file folders when they arrived in 1955) and created the initial index for the collection's finding aid.


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