This is the first (of hopefully many!) guest posts from our Netherlands Ambassador, MissThundercat. Enjoy!
If you follow my Instagram or blog, you probably have noticed that I am an avid fountain pen collector and use them regularly. My love for these pens started when I first learned how to write with them in elementary school. And I still write with them on a daily basis. I thought it would be fun to tell you all the basics of writing with fountain pens and give you a few tips if you wanted to start up writing with them too.
With fountain pens it’s all about the nib! You have round nibs that have a round tipping and variates with a line width of extra fine to double broads and even oblique’s. And then you have stub or italic nibs which have a flat tip with which you can create lovely line variation in the down and cross strokes (usually these nibs are used for calligraphy). When starting off it’s advised to begin with a fine or medium round nib to see what suits your handwriting before starting off big like a triple broad nib.
For example, my handwriting has bigger rounded letters and I like writing with at least a medium, or even better, a broad or a stub. My husband has really small writing and often writes in small caps so he prefers using an extra fine nib to make his writing look legible. To help you on your way, Jetpens has a great blog post on choosing the right fountain pen nib. It’s a great resource and explains the various nib sizes, functions, and comparisons with brands worldwide.
In the blogpost, they also talk about pens that are beginner friendly (and won’t break the bank). I started my writing with a Pelikan school pen and a Lamy Safari. Other fun beginner pens in my opinion are the Pilot Kaküno, the Kaweco Sport, and the Pilot Metropolitan. The Lamy Safari (and Al-star) also has easy interchangeable nib options, and they come in fun colors and styles.
What I like most about fountain pens is the fact that there is an array of ink available to use! Ink comes in cartridges, but you can also get a converter and fill from bottled ink. A number of companies, like Goulet pens, Anderson pens (US), Pure Pens (UK) and Apelboompennen (NL), also sell vials with ink samples so you can try out some fun colors before you decide on getting a whole bottle.
In a future blog post I will talk about the various inks that are available, and how you can do a lot more than just write with them. But hopefully this will inspire you to pick up a fountain pen, ink it up, and start writing.
Once you get the feel of it, I hope you will join me in the Fountain Pen pal: summer edition 2016 swap. BetsyPreston hosted many of these swaps before and graciously gave me permission to host one this time around. The deadline to sign up is July 14th and you have to send your letter by July 31st. The theme is summer and you have to write at least 4 A5 pages (front) on the theme. It can be either your current summer vacation plans, your fave summer ever, memories of a fun summer you had as a child, or your thoughts on summer in general… feel free to be as creative with the theme as you can be. Just take your fountain pen, some fun stationery and write away!
A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting up with MissThundercat while I was traveling through Amsterdam. MissThundercat is our Swap-bot Ambassador to the Netherlands and she is a prolific artist and snail mailer. We met up once before in 2010 when she was visiting New York City. She is kind and creative, and I am happy to have her as an online and IRL friend. You can check out her mail art on her Instagram and her blog, Contemplations of a Kitty. And, follow her on Twitter!
I am excited to announce that you will soon be reading guest posts by MissThundercat here, on the Swap-bot blog. Look for her post on fountain pens later this month!
I love traveling and I LOVE meeting up with our Swap-bot members. It is always heart-warming to hear how individuals use and enjoy the ‘bot! If you are a Swap-bot lover, stay tuned to the blog to learn how you can become a Swap-bot Ambassador. We will be accepting applications for a new batch of Ambassadors soon. Until then, happy swapping!
Hello Swappers! The Swap-bot blog is not dead! I promise.
The blog is hosted separately from the main Swap-bot site and was originally set up using Wordpress. We had been having quite a bit of trouble recently with the Wordpress platform, so we made the decision to transfer the blog to a more static and much more secure set up. But it is taking some effort to get it back into shape. We are working hard and hopefully it will be better and more user-friendly than ever, with lots of fun, crafty, swappy, snail-mail-y content.
Swap-bot was created and has been run for more than a decade by me (racheljohnson) and my husband, Travis. It is a big, every-single-day job just to keep the site up and running. But we love it. And we want to keep making it better and better. We have so many big ideas and so many improvements in the works! And we are working on ways to dedicate more of our time to the ‘bot, so hopefully you will be seeing changes a bit more frequently.
The community is what makes Swap-bot fun and creative. Thanks for sticking with us! As long as you all are swapping, we will keep working to improve the site for you.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2015 Holiday Gift Donation Drive to benefit The Partnership for the Homeless! Together we raised $1,050 in cash and gift card donations and collected more than a dozen toy and gift items. All of the donations were distributed at the Children’s Holiday Party on December 12th, which served more than 250 local NYC kids.
Arnold S. Cohen, President & CEO of The Partnership for the Homeless, sent the following message of thanks:
“I want to thank you for your generous participation in the year’s Annual Children’s Holiday Party. Thanks to you, the party was a huge success with over 250 children and their families enjoying a day of fun at Genesis Home-Help USA, Brooklyn, NY where they enjoyed great food, crafts, games, and gifts. These photos of the party show the joy and excitement you helped create.
It’s hard to imagine how precious a fun day is to these families. Many have spent months living in homeless shelters, with none of the familiarity and warmth of home. And others are on the brink of falling into homelessness. The Partnership’s staff at our Family Resource Center is working with these families to get them back into an apartment or working to prevent them from falling into homelessness. They also go beyond immediate needs to assist families in securing the best healthcare and education options for themselves and their children, financial counseling and job development.
All of us at the Partnership thank you Swap-bot for helping our families experience the support of a community, especially as they face the many challenges in their lives. We look forward to partnering together again for next year’s party.”
It is great to hear that we helped make the party a success!! Thank you all for your donations and enthusiastic support each year. This is a very special community. Happy 2016!! xoxo
The Ambassador program has been going strong for a year and a half!! It has taken me much longer than I would have liked to introduce all 29 of our Ambassadors — but this is the final Intro!! Yay! The Ambassadors are all enthusiastic, fun, active, positive members who are asked to help promote Swap-bot in their local communities. If you are interested in representing Swap-bot in your area and sending out Swap-bot swag, stay tuned for info about our upcoming second round of Ambassador applications happening in January.
Meet our next Ambassador, MissThundercat!
Ambassador Region: The Netherlands
I am not going to say that I saved the best for last (because I think all of our Ambassadors are the best!) but MissThundercat is definitely a very special Swap-bot member and Ambassador. She is an Original Member who has been swapping on the ‘bot since March of 2007. She has completed more that 500 swaps and often posts about Swap-bot and snail mail on social media. A truly avid snail mailer and crafter, she loves hand-carving stamps, coloring, calligraphy with fountain pens, ATCs, and many other types of art and crafts. MissThundercat holds a special place in my heart because in 2010 I had the privilege of meeting her in real life while she was visiting NYC — such fun!!
How MissThundercat found Swap-bot: “I found swapbot through a friend of mine on flickr who introduced me to matchbox swaps.”
Why she enjoys Swap-bot: “I’ve met a lot of fun people through Swap-bot, and met a few of them in real life, as well. A recent one is my friend Orit from Israel, I met last year in October. And that’s the main reason why I love swapbot, it brings a lot of crafty people together on and off line.”
Her favorite type of swap: “I love doing themed swaps, especially Matchbox swaps, ATC’s, and Mail Art (I did a 365 Mail art project in 2012/2013 and sent out many RAKs to swapbot members through a signup in the forums). Crafty swaps are my favorite kind. This is one of the fave things I’ve sent — combining my love for stamp carving and matchbox swaps.”
Little Monster stamp and matchbox made by MissThundercat.
Mix Tape hand-carved stamps made by MissThundercat.
Fun facts about MissThundercat:
- “I collect and repair old/vintage fountain pens… and then write letters with them!”
“My husband Cris loves the fact I swap and write letters. He wrote a letter to me on Valentines Day including this rad necklace.” </ul>
Typewriter mail art made by MissThundercat.
Visit MissThundercat’s Links:
- Contemplations of a Kitty blog
- Instagram (with tons of beautiful art and craft photos!)
- Flickr (Including her Swap-bot Album)
- Mail me some ART Tumblr
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know your fellow swappers with these Ambassador Introductions. We are so lucky to have so many awesome crafters, artists, writers, and snail mail lovers participating on Swap-bot! If you are interested in joining the Ambassador program, please check back for more info about our second round of Ambassador applications happening soon on the blog!
Many, many years ago (2009 to be exact) we created some Swap-bot t-shirts to giveaway at our first ever Member Appreciation Event. I have had some of these shirts hanging around ever since! Would you like one??
Quick! The first four people who comment on this post will win a Swap-bot t-shirt!
Here’s the catch: The shirts only come in size SMALL and MEDIUM. And, I was not entirely happy with the digital printing job of the shirts. (Hence, the reason why I have not sold them or given them away since 2009.) BUT, they are high quality 100% cotton shirts. If not worn, the shirts could be used in Swap-bot-themed sewing crafts. Or, you can use them in whatever creative way you choose! Plus, I will throw in some additional Swap-bot swag (postcards, stickers, buttons, etc) and crafty goodies with each shirt package. Nice!
Rules: You must be a Swap-bot member to enter the giveaway and you MUST include your username in your comment. If you do not include your username, your entry will not be valid. You can request your size preference (small or medium) but I can’t guarantee I can fulfill it. I have two of each size. I’ll mail out the prizes to the four winners this week. Good luck!!
Did you know? Over 25,000 children are sleeping in New York municipal shelters tonight.
It is that time of year again when we can help brighten the holiday season for some of NYC’s homeless youth. Help us by donating to our 6th Annual Holiday Gift Donation Drive to benefit The Partnership for the Homeless!
The Partnership for the Homeless is a NYC charity committed to building a just and equitable society and creating lasting community change through solution-oriented programs and policy initiatives that eliminate the root causes of homelessness. They provide all sorts of services, support, and advocacy for the homeless in NYC and they would greatly appreciate our donation of new, unwrapped gifts and gift cards to be handed out to children at their Children’s Holiday Party in Brooklyn on December 12th, 2015.
Message from The Partnership for the Homeless: _</p>
Want to help make the holidays a little merrier for children and families who are homeless? Support our Annual Children’s Holiday Party!
Every December, The Partnership throws a gigantic celebration for over 400 children and families who are struggling with homelessness, providing holiday cheer through food, games, face painting, Santa, and of course — presents!
Every year we organize a festive holiday celebration for families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness, providing a much-needed respite from the daily challenges of poverty in some of our city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Pulling off a party of this size is no small feat. It takes the hard work and dedication of many staff, sponsors, donors, and dozens of volunteers to make the magic happen.
Let’s put together a huge donation of gifts for The Partnership!!
We can accept the following items for donation: Gift cards in $10 or $20 amounts to stores like Target, Barnes and Noble, H&M, Gap, Old Navy, Forever 21, Aeropostale, and Best Buy. Gift cards must be new and unused and must be to stores that are accessible in NYC. Gift cards are the most requested item by The Partnership for the Homeless because they are versatile and good for older kids, but we can also accept new, unwrapped toys, books, and winter gear (hats, gloves, scarves, etc) donations. Read more info about what can be donated here.
Send your donations by Friday, December 4th to:
285 5th Ave PMB 415
Brooklyn, NY 11215**
And here is the extra-special holiday bonus reward for your donation: Each Swap-bot member who sends in a donation of a gift card or item will earn the removal of one low (1 or 3) rating from their account!! You must mail your donation to Swap-bot headquarters (address above) by Friday, December 4th. If you do not have a poor rating on your account, you will receive a credit for one future rating removal. Each person can only earn one rating removal credit during this donation drive –- although you are welcome to donate more than one item!
The Fine Print: All ratings removed in exchange for a donation must be at least six months old and/or the user must have exhausted all options for making up the swap. The rating removal credit is meant to remove unfair or unfixable ratings — it is not a “free pass” for flaking. Everyone who donates will receive an email from me with the details of the rating removal credit. You can reply to that message any time to “cash in” your credit. I also make a permanent admin note (only visible to admin) on each donor’s account stating that they have a rating removal credit.
International option: If you are unable to purchase appropriate gift cards in your area or ship other gifts, I am willing to accept cash donations via Paypal. I will then buy a gift card in your name to donate OR donate the money directly to the Partnership for the Homeless, depending on their greater need. Use the button below to donate OR send Paypal donations to rachel -at- swap-bot.com. (Replace the -at- and spaces with @.) All Paypal donations of $10 or more will count toward a rating removal.
Use this button to donate via Paypal:
The 2015 Donation Drive is now closed.
As always, let me know if you have any questions.
Check out our past five Donation Drives:
Our special 10th anniversary mail art swap has now concluded, and all of the awesome mail art is reaching its destinations. The requirements of the swap were easy: send one piece of Swap-bot themed mail art to your partner. Many of the swap participants were kind enough to send along images of their creations so that I could share them here for everyone to admire.
There were so many great pieces of art that I had to split them up into two blog posts. Check out the first post of images by clicking here.
Mail package and interactive journal by PrairieKittin: ” I made a journal for my partner to use. The mailing label has Swap-bot on the front and back. When you open it, the first thing you see is the “I love Swap-bot” logo. On the title page is the Tree of Life. The next page has an envelope.. but not just *any* envelope! When you open the flap, it says PULL on the inside of the flap. You pull it and a bi-fold note page is attached. The facing page has room to write another journal entry.The last page has another envelope with Zentangles on it. Inside that envelope is a letter.”
Mixed media postcard by marymary914:
ATC and envelope by dodothefairy: “I did an ATC, that is quite symbolic because there is the world, a stamp, the number ten and a set of pencils. It represents the letters that swap-bot let go trough the world since ten years. I decorated the envelope using drawings of imagined stamp.”
A Zendoodle envelope and ATC by purple24:
(Read more on her blog, The Embellished Artist.)
Mail art from ktina in Hungary:
Decorated envelope and the included goodies (postcard designed with Swap-bot graphics, patterned paper, and bookmarks) from grandmaroro:
Package mailed by Artistic: “My partner likes postage stamps, so that’s why there are so many, including a couple of vintage ones. My blue watercolor pen was a little too dark on the postcard replica, so I added the blue and orange mats and the curling ribbon. I should have known that “indigo” and “tangerine” wouldn’t be spot on. The packet is big because I included two little “anniversary” gifts wrapped in white tissue paper with blue and orange ribbon.”
Front and back of the mail art sent by swan:
Colorful and textured postcard by Deidreart:
A beautiful envelope create by UrsaMinor in Finland:
Cool striped enevlope by thebragal:
The awesome mail art postcard I received from gruskal:
The thing I love most about art is seeing how creatively and how uniquely each individual expresses a given theme. I LOVE all of your creations. Thank you so much for swapping on Swap-bot and for celebrating our 10th anniversary with us. xoxo
Thank you to everyone who entered our 10th Anniversary Giveaway! Nearly 200 responses! It has been so fun to celebrate this milestone with you all and learn more about what you all enjoyed as 10-year-olds. So many fun and kooky favorite foods and toys!
I used Random.org to select our 10 lucky swag pack prize winners. And our winners are…
Their responses to “What was your favorite food or favorite toy when you were 10 years old?”:
Yay! Congrats! I’ll be mailing out a prize pack containing all of the swag seen below to each of the winners this week. Hooray!
The celebration of Swap-bot’s 10th Anniversary continues! Our special anniversary mail art swap has now concluded, and all of the awesome mail art is reaching its destinations. The requirements of the swap were easy: send one piece of Swap-bot themed mail art to your partner. Many of the swap participants were kind enough to send along images of their creations so that I could share them here for everyone to admire… This is the first of at least two big blog posts full of images. Enjoy!
The front and back of the envelope by brianfuchs:
Decorated mail art by armadillogal:
Awesome Ernie portrait by dardarbinx:
Beautiful stamp-covered envelope by amandacase:
A “hot, but fun, mess” mail art envelope with a Swap-bot pocket letter inside by beenebag:
I think this is the very first Swap-bot-themed pocket letter! Cool!
Ernie-inspired mail art by Nnyla:
A painted Ernie by Gwillisinc:
A fun doodled envelope by Xira:
Ernie ATC and mail art by crazipurplelady:
A fun washi tape envelope created by CarolWestcamp:
_Isn’t it amazing to see the wide range of artistic expression?! I love everyone’s unique interpretation of the Swap-bot theme! And I have lots more to share! Stay tuned for a second installment. </p>
If you have images of what you sent or received for the 10th Anniversary Swap, leave a link in the comments, or email them to me at rachel-at-swap-bot.com. We’d love to see and share any and all Swap-bot art! </i>