Sunday, April 13, 2008

Letterboxing as art?

Is Letterboxing art? Let's talk about it. But first, it's 2 oclock. Yes, tea time. Would you like a cuppa with me? I'm really hooked on having a few Marie Lu dipping biscuits with my tea these days. It's just Irish Breakfast today, I'm afraid, nothing exotic. But it's a nice standard.

Finally, conditions were right to find our first Letterboxing series of the spring. The sun came out, the kids had the day off of school, and we printed out the clues to an eight box, book themed series, called Dead Poets Society, all in a park we have hardly explored. Grabbed our kit, and our puppy and off we went!

Letterboxing always gets me into new parks, hiking new trails, climbing mountains because it's beautiful, and fun, AND there's an art reward at the end. I mean I love to be out in nature, and pretty much ALL artists spend a lot of time in the studio and probably need more exercise. Is it the artist in me or the pirate in me that loves a little adventure that leads to art booty?

Here's the trail scouts, Mudslide Sydney and Long Leggs McCormack honing in on a hidden letter box. We've followed the clues to the "giant mossy rock laying against twins" and searched the right side. Careful, don't let anyone see what you are doing! Letterboxing is kinda secret........ there it is! We found it! ......Nice. The person who produced these letter boxes did a great job camouflaging them with tape and keeping the contents secure from moisture.
What is inside a letterbox? Can you see? There is a hand-carved stamp based on the theme, and a sign in book. To collect the art, you simply ink the new stamp and stamp it into your own book. You make an original stamp with words or symbols to represent you, and stamp it into the box's sign in notebook, and can add the date and write a little note. Some of the stamps are simple renderings, some are amazing! Then you put everything back, and move onto the next box, if you are lucky to be in a park with a series. Most boxes are singles. They can have all sorts of themes to them. Some clues are riddles and hard to puzzle out. Some are simple directions. Sometimes the book inside the box is a beautiful, hand bound miniature. They are fun to read through before you stamp your own stamp. People travel from all over to letter box in Eugene. And honestly, when I'm traveling, I look up letterboxes in the area in case I get the chance to visit them. I've made my own boxes and posted the clues as wel, but you should only do that in your own area because you have to monitor the boxes to make sure contents are safe, and the book hasn't gotten full. Occasionally, nature changes a site and you may need to find new locations. Always hide boxes right on the trails so people aren't encouraged to trample all over in search of things. You know the "stay on the trail" rules.

Letterboxers like to have gatherings. There's debate about whether or not to show off your books (of collected stamps) because you might ruin the surprise or hunt for someone else. Perhaps if you shared stamps from far away? It's a tradition/game that started in England, after all, and has spread world wide! Perhaps I'm funny, but I prefer to keep letterboxing anonymous. You start recognising people's stamps, carving style, and notes in books after awhile, and I like the mystery involved. I don't want to put names to faces. I like to imagine everyone as an exotic, eccentric, magical, artist............. normally, I love meeting other artists, but sometimes it's just nice to keep a little mystery in life.

So is letterboxing art?


Anonymous said...

First time checking out your blog... and I find letterboxing! I do a bit of boxing myself and have been to so many amazing parks! There is definitely art involved - between crafting stamps and craft clues. Sometimes I am so amazed at people's carving talents, its incredible.
Fun to read your post and see a bit of your excursion!

The Caffeinated Crafter said...

We went geocaching yesterday!!

I have a picture of Scott doing a little dance because he found one. :)

Letterboxing isn't very big here. More geocaches... with few stamps. :( But the geocaches are hecka fun tho.

RainbowMom said...

Wow. I have never heard of letter boxing but concidering I have 2 young children and do daycare for 2, this sounds like the perfect spring activity. Off to find more info on letterboxing!! :D

Christine said...

What a great day! It looks like so much fun!
I wish letter boxing was more popular here, I've always wanted to try it.
I think I'll have to do research and maybe start it here, the kids would love it.