Friday, July 25, 2008

Five more postcards, snuck in between medical appointments

Yes, a horrid week, and I am recovering tonight from a seizure I had IN the doctor’s overheated office. The postcards go on! The more it seems I have so little control over my life, the more I like being able to write to people knowing that while they may not get it today, they will get this tangible and colourful keepsake to let them know that I thought about them.
And honestly, on days like today where I will wake up to a house full of Seating Specialists and Physical Therapist followed by a horde of Nurses from different agencies all “Determining” how they are ‘willing’ to let me be cared for without anyone except me being ‘liable.’ It is worth staying up past 1:00 am to get these five post cards done. Because thinking about others, about what some one else might needs IS a break from the banging on the medical doors. So, no, not ten or twenty postcards, but I did write and finish five more postcards. So it seems, I am not doing the project in a big, giant way, but rather in the way that people with chronic disabilities can, from time stolen between medical tests and illnesses; energy used when it is there, and the location prepared for when time and energy come together.

I hope for at least ten tomorrow, but I will do what I can, and that will be that. Day by day, does the project go.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Postcards in progress July 21st 2008

This week I am only supposed to be doing eleven postcards, but once I started listing the people who NEEDED postcards, or who had just asked for one, or who I thought had been missed…..well it ended up at 29. I finished one whose name is not on the list, so that makes 30. Oh well, no wonder I spend hours a day and get exhausted but never seem done. Linda helps when she can.

Yesterday I did card selection which is finding what is known about the person or interests and then matching a card from my selection to the person and putting on the name label. This took over 4 hours. I admit I do like to get the “right” card for a person, and I hope that many times, maybe at best, most times, I do. So here is under half of the cards that will be going out this week, just to give you an idea of the variety of postcards.
I am still waiting on over 100 cards from Japan that I paid for two weeks ago and getting a little anxious, even though they are insured (how do you REPLACE Japanese postcards I spent buying). I am also waiting for 24 cards from a Canadian woman I bought them from as well as seven cards from another source. Because right now, for example I am down to eleven postcards with anime girls, eleven! Trying not to hyperventilate! They are one of the most popular ones so I have been getting some here and there. I bought another 28-32 anime girl postcards over the weekend but they won’t be here for at least another week. I think I have talked enough about this, because I sound seriously OCD. I am just saying that when I send out 30 cards a week, I need to have a supply coming in to keep me through a single month.

Today was doing the wood block and rubber stamps. Again, need to match up the imprints to the right person and card. After that I add the anime, japanese or other stickers to enhance the “post card experience.” First I do the stamping and then let it dry, since postcards from Japan have a light plastic sheen on them. Then after a couple hours I can do the stamps. Here is an example of some that are finished and ready for my writing.
I admit I got a bit overexcited on a few and went Goth Crazy with my Gothic arch wood block stamp and then anime goth sticker inside, so much that I am not sure I left a lot of room to write the message. I also include a Hello Kitty on EVERY postcard, it is like a signature for me (or an unhealthy obsession!).
Here are two that are “nature themed.” Though I am not sure how one is half nature theme and the other half full of boy/boy love stickers (go Yoai!). I am sure it is right for the person, or I am at least trying to give them the best experience.
So these go out at the end of the week, I hope they will be heading to you, but if not this week, then one of the weeks ahead. These include all the BBC requests becuase I send requests out as soon as possible (before a seizure makes me forget!). Then I will keep working through the label list until everyone has their postcards and then start again. I think this is like Sisyphus except I get postcards instead of a boulder.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Communication across distance, people, art, fun!

(A reprint from a few weeks ago to give you an idea of what kind of postcard you might get and WHY do I send them out? No, I don't make money, I spend it, but don't we all on our hobbies?)

Today, I focused on writing postcards, which means I got seven done. Before you turn off let me explain what post, what mail is to me: Post is an attempt to communicate feelings, emotions, and a message wrapped up in a tactile and visual experience across long distances and different times. It is why I am very particular, in how I send a post card, so I wanted to explain a bit of that process to you, because for me, it is now, the major creative way I express myself to individuals (well, I do BLOG too!).

As an aside, I just came from boxing where one of my old sparring partners improved his inside game to the level that he split my lip (just a little) but I kept trying to stop his heart with twisting punches into the ribs, so that’s fair. I guess that is a form of communication too, but more of a game. I was raised from my hospital bed and virtually pushed there because with two week without boxing, my physical health regarding circulation and respiration were declining. So that is done (sorry, no pictures of me doing the 75-80 sit ups and endless minutes of shadow boxing).

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, I tend, when it comes to gifts, to try and be specifically particular, no knick-knack and no “whatever” but a gift that matches the person’s secret desires as close as possible. That is why even in Japan, I didn’t just go, “Yeah, I’ll take 50 of this postcard” but actually tried picking up the “right” postcards for specific people in each city. Now ALL but one of those postcards from Japan are gone. So over the last several weeks I have gone on the internet and bought postcards, stickers, woodblocks and other treats from Japan, from New Zealand, from Canada and America.

It takes me about 30 minutes to do a postcard, so I worked for over three hours today. The main reason is that a) I have an exact process I will explain and b) I am CRIP….things GO SLOW! Sorry, I mean I have limited hand function. So if anyone worries that I will escalate into hand made cards from me, that isn’t happening (can’t happen), I am doing the best I can with what I can, using my forefingers, thumbs and teeth mostly. First I need to find the “right” card which means picking someone from the list who hasn’t gotten a card recently and then finding their email/s to find out what type of person they are. Some people just put basically, “Please send me a card: Address” and I still analyze the message to determine, “polite salutation?”, might like something more artistic, “brief and to the point?”, how about a single artist or image? And if I am left with nothing, I make a card that I would like to get. But if I have info, then I read the email/s a few times while going through the cards (about 40-60 on a particular day) to find the one that seems a good fit. Someone asked to be introduced to anime, so this card with a few NICE anime girls seemed a good way to start.
While If someone else talked about the Japan trip and how much they enjoyed reading about it, I try to find a Japanese card or Japanese woodblock card so they can feel they had a piece of that trip. Then on the other side I put on the label (whited out on here for privacy along with messages) and then the “extras.” Since I want to make a card that people and look at more than once, a sort of ‘experience’ which has more than just a message (thought I work hard on that too).

So here we have a Post Card from Japan, which means it has the stamp on the opposite side, and the writing below (I whited this out badly on photoshop, your card looks better than this, trust me!). I used two wood blocks and Hello Kitty to complete the Japanese Experience. Seriously, what kind of Japan Experience would there be without Hello Kitty saying (as she is here) “Come hula with me!” (oooh that temptress!). Now, I looked at over a dozen companies which make wood blocks but in the end only one passed my quality needs, which was enough white space to make a clear and artistic picture as well as sharp artistry within the wood block without too much extra lines and clutter. So I have a few blocks that I use. I have to be careful of spasms when pressing and use a backing paper when I make the image but as you can see, I put too much ink on the red Kanji here so messed that one up a bit (SORRY!).

While on another card I wanted to give a “summer” feel of fun and inclusion; so the tall grass/wheat stamp combine with the Hello Kitty picnic and people sharing a summer tree branch. It is to ‘set the mood’ (I know, you probably think I am a) not medicated enough or b) too obsessed). But these are my way of reaching out to people on four continents, and I want my message to get through (which is usually, “I care, I think you are cool, thanks for reading the blog, I hope you have a great day!” – I don’t write all that but that is the general first message I try to send).

Now for different people you need different cards, something about the wonder of travel or the love of learning or just a feeling will mean I send out an antique map card: Paris in this case. The message is that wonder still exists in the world, and it will come to your door if you let it. (By the way, if you WANT a postcard just email me with the title POSTCARD to mpshiel at

This person mentioned that they have an interest in the goth so I tried to give them a goth, and goth-loli extravaganza. I search through the anime and other stickers I have to find something that will make them take a second and maybe a third look. I put the Heron in there because, well, I wanted a bit of mystery, of the floating world, which in a way the goth world is.

So that is what I do, or did today (and for an hour or two a day, every day I can). But you can see that doing cards for the 90 addresses I currently have on list will take a BIT of time, though sometimes I get help and can do a card in 20 minutes but generally 25-30 minutes (On Sunday I did 11!). Because see, I hand write the cards too, only I can’t actually use my hand to write, I put the pen between thumb and two first fingers and then use my shoulder muscles to move the pen, and that takes a lot longer (LOT!). I am not telling you this to give anyone the guilts, I am saying this because I want you to understand how much I WANT make you happy. That postcard time is the time when I get to dream about where this card goes, and maybe how it will be received. And, yeah, last week, I spent my income for two weeks to get wood blocks of just the RIGHT quality and certain stickers and the RIGHT postcards. I HAD to buy them because seeing them I was already plotting in my mind who would like this, who would be getting that card along with THIS sticker and how I am going to put this wood block print with it…. It makes me happy.

Remember, just email me at mpshiel at with the title postcard and your address to get your OWN postcard. I vow that your personal information will be kept confidential and not used for other than postcards.