Post Script: LA Pen Pal Club Founders Margaret and Victoria

Meet Margaret Haas and Victoria Vu, founders of the LA Pen Pal Club. The two stationery enthusiasts host the monthly meetup, during which guests can talk correspondence, share interesting letters they’ve received, saddle up to a typewriter or take pen to paper. Here, they talk about postcards from Italy and the pen pal who wouldn’t have to write anything at all.

Margaret Haas, Paper Pastries

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I was making birthday cards for family members when I was very young, around kindergarten10832300_895321993813553_338458302_n or first grade. They were mostly decorated with stickers, but a heartfelt message was always the center of attention and what I’d spend most time on. I’m sure there were a lot of typos, but you got the general idea. Picking out just the right postage stamp for the envelope was always the cherry on top.

Tell us about your Pen Pals program and what inspired it.
We get together once a month to pen letters and to show fun mail we’ve recently received. It is fun to share with others this activity that usually you do alone, in a quiet place. The LA Pen Pal Club is never a quiet space! We have typewriters out for people to use, so you can always hear the tapping of keys over the chatter. We love to comment on each other’s mail art or stationery, or postage stamp choice. It’s so much fun to get together with others who share in your love of mail.

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
Deciding what the letter as a whole will look like—picking out the stationery and pens, and how the envelope will be decorated.

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
Amy Poehler. I just love everything about her. She is a strong, funny, feminist and I’d love to hear more about what she has to say. I’d ask her what is the best thing she’s learned and the best advice she didn’t take.

To whom do you most often write?
My pen pal Donovan in Chicago, who is a founder of the Letter Writers Alliance.

Describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received.
A scenic postcard from Cinque Terre—it was from my crush and suggested we should “hang out smargaret-cinque-terreometime when he gets back to LA.” He eventually became my boyfriend and is now my husband and I tell him it was that postcard that really got me 😉

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
A colored envelope and recognizable handwriting.

Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
These postal employee stamps.

What makes your correspondence distinct?
I try to make my correspondence colorful and fun so it stands out amongst bills and junk.
margaret-mail-art

What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
I’m worried that people’s handwriting might not be legible since schools no longer teach penmanship!

I think the more digital our society becomes, the bigger the draw toward beautifully crafted items becomes. Painted envelopes, color edged paper and hand made papers will be in demand.

Victoria Vu, Paper & Type

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
Fourth grade. I was an avid pen pal to a classmate who had just moved across the country and to a favorite cousin who lived only a 30-minute drive away.

victoria-letters

Tell us about your Pen Pal Club and what inspired it.
As letter writing is essentially a very personal and solitary activity, it’s nice to share the experience sometimes. LA Pen Pal Club creates that space for letter writing, plus catching up with fellow letter writers to share recent stories and interesting mail or to swap stationery.

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
All the finishing touches of the envelope—sealing, addressing, choosing the postage and its placement!
victoria-envelope-back

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
I’d love to have Ray Eames as a pen pal, or perhaps a paper pal, with little to no words necessary (I would be speechless, anyway!). To simply be exchanging paper creations with her would bring so much joy.

To whom do you most often write?
My friend Melissa.

Describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received.
A few years ago I received a vintage postcard from a new pen pal that read “Use a pencil, use a pen / Anything / But write again.”

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
I’m inclined to open any hand-addressed envelopes first.

Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
The 20¢ Flower Love stamp from 1982. And Royal Mail’s issue of Roald Dahl stamps.

What makes your correspondence distinct?
My penmanship. It’s neat and lovely for the first three or so lines, then after that, not quite so! The pen gets away from me.

What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
There will still be an appreciation for classic correspondence, with perhaps growing interest in cards and stationery that use distinctive papers and printing. I look forward to keeping up the tradition!

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About craneandco

More than 200 years ago, Stephen Crane decided to make a statement. And it wasn’t with his fashion forward breeches or well-groomed mutton chops. It was with his Liberty Paper Mill, named so just two years after the British occupied Boston – and just five miles away. A tres bold move, if we do say so ourselves. Today, Crane & Co. still calls Dalton home, our 100 percent cotton paper still incites swoons, and we’re still making bold statements. Still not with breeches.

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