I’ve been doing a lot of traveling and teaching lately, which means I’ve been taking a look at the “how” and “why” of my travel mail art kits – the goodies that I can’t live without when schlepping through airports, train terminals, and bus stations. Taking stock of my inventory is not only enjoyable, but I tell myself it’s something I absolutely have to do – I mean, what if I need a new pen? A twee, portable glue stick? Or a pair of folding scissors that can make it through airport security?
I think you can see where this is heading.
On my writing desk at home, the laptop and “real time” writing implements share equal space. (scandal?) Admittedly, I am incredibly susceptible to the charms of a delicious fountain pen or smoked glass ink bottle. But this weekend took the proverbial cake! Lurking in someone’s attic at a garage sale, I ran across this cast iron inkwell. Gleefully, I transported it home, selected three of my favorite fountain pens, and settled down to address some envelopes!
But I don’t usually spend a whole lot of time writing at home. If anything, I find that my “transit time” is best used affixing stamps, writing in a jaggedy hand (thanks muni!), and mapping out which PO I’ll pass by (in order to send missives on their merry way). When I’m running errands around San Francisco, this is the kit I usually bring along.
Originally, this zip case held drafting tools; the minute I spied it in a thrift store, I knew it would make an absolutely perfect caddy for pens, postage, and postcards. The case itself is sturdy enough that it can be used as a flat surface for writing. Removing some of the original spaces and places for drafting tools, I gave the inside of the case a makeover: grey-blue bookcloth seemed like a wonderful complement!
Long distance travel is a whole different creature, when bringing along art-making tools. So many questions to address: is there such a thing as too many pens? Do I bring both glue stick AND double stick tape? (absolutely.) Does an ink pad dry up quickly, when used in a pressurized cabin for 11 hours? (the answer is “no”…) Invariably, I always thank my lucky stars that pens and drawing implements are long, narrow, and lightweight – that means I can bring along a few items that aren’t necessarily “necessities, but fun nonetheless.
These are the tools that I always travel with, no matter what. Upon closer inspection, you’ll note there are a couple things that aren’t mail art related, per se, but they certainly help out in a pinch! Believe me: in a foreign country, when you have a killer headache there’s nothing like good ol’ fashioned Advil to take the edge off. Bandaids are sometimes needed (exacto cuts can happen anytime, anyplace, anywhere!) and batteries (oddly enough) have come in handy more times than I’d like to admit.
While these are some of my tried and true favorites, I’ve been trying out some new things lately. The “storage box” from Kiosk is the perfect size for tucking into your carry on and filling with postcards. Having a mini return address rubber stamp is a most efficient thing to own, whether on the ground or in the air. And although I’m a Pilot Uniball girl when flying (who wants to deal with pen “accidents” mid-flight?), I’m eager to give the Parker “Flighter” a chance.
Sending you summer postcards from afar –