18 June 2012

Fictional Correspondences: Real Mailboxes for Fictional Mail



Some many years ago, when Dante’s Wardrobe was in its original incarnation as a mail order rubber art stamp company, I jazzed up a few mailboxes with paint, decoupage, sequins, and gold metallic ink pens. One ended up in a tree house out in Olympia, WA. Another went to a friend who used it as an indoor mailbox that she and her husband used to send each other love letters. And one stayed with me for the storage and display of mail art I received. Here are a few pictures of that long ago and much used mailbox.







How did I make them? It was pretty straightforward. First I got some rural-style metal post boxes at The Home Depot.  



At that time, all they had were plain black ones. So I also got some enamel spray paint. Before I painted them, I washed them with warm soapy water and with with vinegar to remove any grease or fingerprint oil that would affect how well the paint stayed on.

Once dried, my plan was to decoupage various images I had cut out from magazines onto the now-painted metal surfaces. I used Mod Podge, a combined glue and sealing craft product as the adhesive.
I used the matte finish version, but Mod Podge comes in a range of finishes from plain matte to sparkle and shimmer. The company has posted a PDF info brochure about the Mod Podge products here. (* and **) If you haven't done decoupage before, the makers of Mod Podge have some good info and tutorials here.

The images were ones I'd collected from magazines at the time. Dover Publications has a nice range of image books for crafters here. Many of their publications are clip-art books with CD's, but you can also buy print books of images, such as one I like a lot: Old Fashioned Luggage Labels. Here is a sampling.


If you decide to print your own, use the best quality paper you can. Ditto for the inks and/or toner. The images are likely to fade over time in any event, so you want to protect them as much as you can.

After I finished applying the images and letting the project dry I used a metallic gold marker to draw some stars and squiggles and such. You can get them at most art shops or the standard crafts stores such as Michaels and JoAnn's.

Finally, to seal and protect the postbox, I applied several coats of a clear polyurethane spray.

But you don’t have to limit yourself to the classic mail box shape or metal material. Check out these postboxes just waiting for your imagination to make them into something grand. I found them all on Amazon by searching under the keyword mailbox. But you can find many different kinds of mailboxes locally at such store as The Home Depot, Menards, Blain’s Farm and Fleet, Sears, etc.





You can also decorate wooden boxes – this would work well if your porch keeps your mailbox area dry or if you want to use the box for indoor delivery. This “Cherrywood Letter Box” from Color Bakery gave me some new ideas for future letter boxes. 


The Michaels crafts store and JoAnn Fabrics both carry wooden containers that can be made into letterboxes. The online store Walnut Hollow also sells smaller boxes that could be used for letter keepsake boxes. (The boxes aren’t listed in the main links. Click on the Home Décor link to find them.)



Don't have time to make your own mailbox? There are many creative people out there who can do it for you. Here are just a few.**

Brandon Wilson's Etsy store The Bus Box has some lovely Volkswagen-themed mailboxes.



An artist named Sandra has a wide range of wall and post-mounted mailbox that she has designed and painted herself. She also does custom work. Her website is here. And just to give you an idea, here are a couple to show you her beautiful creations.






Needing something a little more jazzy? Dr. Torch will paint some mean flames on a mailbox for you!




As will the folks at Twisted Fire.

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Need more inspiration? Typing in the keywords mailbox or letterbox at Google Images turns up a number of really unique items.

Finally, there is nothing that says you have to have a decorated mailbox to have a fictional correspondence. I once found an old cast iron mailbox like the one below at Goodwill that worked very nicely. 


I gave it to a friend as a gift -- after filling it with a few art pens and a bag of old postage stamps!  But even an old shoebox will work.  The point is to play so use what works for you.



*  ModPodge can be found at Michael’s, JoAnn Fabrics, or at online shops such as DickBlick.com.
** Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the companies I've mentioned  - just telling you what I used and/or found and where to get it.

_________________________________________

This marks the end of the Fictional Correspondence series. If anyone has ideas for something they would have like to see covered and didn't, please let me know in comments section below or via email. I'd be happy to create some more posts.

You can follow the entire series via these links.

1. Fictional Correspondences: What are they? Why do one? How to begin.
2. Fictional Correspondences: Creating A Writing Persona
3. Fictional Correspondences: Finding Someone to Write To
4. Fictional Correspondence:  Making Your Own Letterhead - Part 1: Design
5. Fictional Correspondences: Making Your Own Letterhead - Part 2: Implementation
5. Fictional Correspondences: Addressing Fictional Postcards for the NonFictional U.S. Mail
6. Fictional Correspondences: So You Are an Imaginary Correspondent . . . What's Next?
7. Fictional Correspondences: Creating "Really Real" Mail
8. Fictional Correspondences: Real Mailboxes for Fictional Mail (this one)


6 comments:

  1. Wow, great post. My wife and I were just discussing what to get as an indoor mailbox for this project (we haven't began the fictional correspondence just yet. I think she's waiting until we begin the school year, after summer). I really like that vintage, cast iron number. I've also always liked the mailbox in the image you use at the top of your site.

    Another great and informative post which gets my creative juices flowing! Thanks again.

    (Did you ever get an opportunity to ask my wife the things you needed to know about homeschool curriculum?)

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  3. I'll be very interested to know what kind of 'house mailbox' you come up with! Be sure to let me know. As for the homeschool stuff - thanks for the reminder. I did email her more generally, but had some more specific questions -- have an email going out to her today. (I had my notes about this project in two separate files for some reason, and I missed sending off her email last week.) ::blush::

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  4. Great post. Now I can get started. Your package arrived today and I love the way you did it all.

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    1. Wow! That got there quickly. Thanks for letting me know. Have fun!

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  5. Getting caught up on old posts from when we were gone... By amazing coincidence, our family found the perfect mailbox for our family fictional correspondence a few days before this post went up! The woodworker we bought it from was pleased to hear we still wrote with pen and paper :-) Dwayne F. or I will post about it at some point.

    I especially like the VW bus and the flames!

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