|Photography by Dave Medal. Calligraphy by imaginejoy.|
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Saturday, June 11, 2011
envelope insert from Ron Gordon
I recently participated in an hilarious envelope exchange that likely left two postal carriers tearing their hair out. I am still amazed that these envelopes found their way through the international post, between California and Scotland!
I have seen my last name (Vanides) spelled in all sorts of variations, namely Vanidies, Vanidez and Vanidades - but this sure beats all! I also like Ron's take on Los Angeles.
Somehow the postal service managed to decipher Newtonhill, Stonehaven, U.K. Despite my blatant bastardization of Ron's address, the envelope still arrived in Scotland in less than a week.
The exchange was arranged by Jean Wilson of the Calligraphy Exchange. There is typically a new theme posted each month, as well as on-going/long term exchanges. I love being a part of this group and have received beautiful decorated envelopes from all over North America and Europe. I also enjoy the structure of the themes and mailing dates - gets me to practice my lettering and try new designs.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
During one of my last visits with my Aunt Lex, she showed me a picture of a bird of paradise and told me how she had a dream of me painting the flower on her face. She envisioned having her makeup done, putting on a fabulous outfit and taking pictures. I loved the idea and knew she would look beautiful in avant-garde makeup. Unfortunately, her skin was too sensitive from the cancer treatments, and we were never able to bring her vision to life. I did this drawing as a tribute, finishing it over the Memorial Day weekend.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Packages always brighten up my mailbox and my day, but I received an extra special treat last weekend. Jane Farr is the artist behind A Place to Flourish, an inspiring calligraphy blog that I've followed for over a year. She recently had a giveaway for several sets of Kuretake ZIG markers, and I was one of the lucky winners!
The envelope and card were hand lettered in Jane's beautiful calligraphy, and the package contained four double-ended ZIG markers: a Fine & Chisel, two Scroll & Brush and one Calligraphy pen.
The Pure Pink Calligraphy marker (far left) has a fat chiseled end, fun for large lettering. I decided to send a card to my Aunt Stas, whose maiden name and married name both just so happen to start with "Van". On a side note, I am in love with these sweet cards, inspired by vintage flower seed packets.
I also used the same Pure Pink marker to address a Mother's Day package to my mom. I snapped a quick iPhone picture before dropping it in the mail - and then blocked out the address before posting it here. :)
Thanks again to Jane for the wonderful giveaway! I look forward to many more of your Flourish Fridays!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
This past January, my father attended a business conference in London, that just so happened to fall on the week of my birthday. My mom and I joined him for the trip, excited for our first vacation overseas together. When I arrived in England, I learned that my parents had both come down with a nasty cold/laryngitis combination - not quite what we had envisioned for our trip. I spent several afternoons exploring the city solo, learning how to navigate the intricate maze that is the London Underground.
I entered a new decade (my thirties!) on January 13th. I spent the afternoon with my mom, enjoying high tea and sweets at the beautiful Landmark Hotel. We decided to meet up with my father that evening, to finally visit the famous British Museum. When we arrived around 6:00PM, the museum guard informed us that the extended visiting hours had been discontinued due to budget cuts. However, we were welcome to see the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which was the only exhibit open late.
image via British Museum
As we made our way up into the grand rotunda, I imagined how striking the architecture must appear in the daylight, when the sun can filter through the glass panes. After sunset, the space was quiet, intimate and almost sacred, with atmospheric music softly pulsing against the black exhibition walls. At the entrance, I stopped to read the opening quote.
"May the sky open up to you,
May the earth open up to you,
May the ways open up to you in the netherworld."
May the ways open up to you in the netherworld."
I was hit by a sudden wave of goosebumps and tears, as my Aunt Alexia came to my mind. She was back home in California and in the very late stages of an aggressive cancer. I looked at my parents and whispered "Is it strange that we are in an exhibit about death?"
We quietly made our way through the rooms, viewing ancient scrolls of papyrus and learning about the ancient Egyptians' view of the afterlife. The deceased had to make a long and perilous journey through the netherworld, in hopes of reaching paradise (the Field of Reeds). The soul, or ba, took the form of a bird, that could travel outside of the body. The Book of the Dead consisted of numerous scrolls, full of spells intended to help the dead protect themselves during their journey. Some large sheets of papyrus could be draped over the mummy, but in other cases, the scribes actually wrote inside the sarcophagus, giving the dead easy access to the detailed instructions. It was amazing to look closely at the strokes of each hieroglyph and think of the ancient scribes at work. The differences in style and skill were evident, especially when comparing scrolls for the poor versus the rich. I was fascinated by the deep mysticism, whereas my parents were both struck by how familial love is universal across cultures and time.
I woke up the next morning in our hotel at 7:00AM, to the raspy voice of my father on the phone. Instantly, I knew something was very wrong.
Alexia Vanides Gentry
My Aunt Lex passed away in her sleep around noon on January 13th, at home. After thinking about the time difference between San Francisco and London, my parents and I came to the realization that we were deep inside the Book of the Dead exhibit when she died. I still can't quite wrap my mind around how one can feel the presence of another all the way across the world. But then again, she had the strongest presence of anyone in our family - it literally filled a room. She was a passionate, irreverent and beautiful woman, with strong Mediterranean features reminiscent of Cleopatra. We like to think that she would have appreciated the ironic timing of our visit to the British Museum.
Back home in Southern California, I keep seeing her favorite flower wherever I go. I don't know if birds of paradise just happen to be in bloom, or if it's her ba lingering. Regardless, it's amazing how the fiery beauty of a flower captures her spirit so perfectly.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
On a recent trip to Out of the Closet, I found a huge world atlas for only $3.00. Published in 1968, it has the "latest and most authentic geographical and statistical information". The book contains nearly four hundred pages of detailed colored maps, many of which are delightfully outdated.
Normally just the thought of tearing pages out of a book makes me die a little inside. However, I couldn't resist using some of these maps for the Mail Art Across the World project. After skimming through the atlast, I decided it would be most appropriate to pick pages from my own country.
I unfolded and flattened a junk envelope and used it as a template over the page:
When working on the California map, I made sure to line up the template so I could pay homage to the San Francisco Bay Area. I may live in Los Angeles, but my roots will forever be in Northern California. :-) Using the DirectTV envelope as my guide, I folded up the new envelope and sealed the flaps with PVA.
Here is the back...
And the front:
And another envelope that highlights the index:
I'm going to give it a day or so before moving on to the lettering and choosing stamps. More to come!