A few days ago I posted a general request, asking if anyone read Good Mail Day: A Primer for Making Eye-Popping Postal Art and maybe would like to write a review. Madeline Wilding (one of the pattern giveaway participants) replied and was sweet enough to write something for me.
Book Review 'Good Mail Day'
by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler
Review by Madeline Wilding
The cover of Good Mail Day describes the book as "A primer for making eye-popping postal art", and for the most part, I would say it delivers what it says. The book itself is beautiful. It's not hardback but instead has a soft cover that is stronger than the typical paperback, covered in colourful images of mail art. Throughout it is filled with similarly enjoyable and often stunning photographs, every page featuring some inspirational image. There are postcards on perforated pages at the back, a nice consideration from the authors, showing that they can really tell who their readership are and what they will like. The book is a nice size, too. But that's enough about the aesthetics; let's get down to the content.
I have to admit that when I first began to read it, Good Mail Day wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it would be filled with tutorials and guides on things to make, and how to create the promised "Eye-popping postal art." When you re-read that subtitle, though, you might notice it says it is a "primer", not a guide. The intention of the book is to give some guidance, but mostly to give inspiration and general ideas that the reader can then take on board and adapt in their own ways. If you read it bearing this in mind, then it becomes much more enjoyable. I've already mentioned the photos, and these really are a key feature of the book. There are many pictures of pieces of mail the two authors have created themselves, including interesting ones such as a plastic coffee cup filled with stamps. There is also a gallery of inspirational mail art pieces towards the end of the book, which is great to look through to see a variety of styles of postal art.
The chapters are split so that each one covers a different topic, including things such as 'Beyond the Flag' (All about Artistamps), 'Outside the Box' (sending strangely-shaped mail) and the delightfully titled 'Making the Mail Carrier your New Best Friend'. I particularly enjoyed this chapter, especially the slightly tongue-in-cheek list of the 7 Postal Sins. A less enjoyable chapter, I found, was that on paper folding, and this was again because I expected more tutorials. There is a guide on making envelopes, and some suggestions for things to do, but certainly not the paper folding ideas I had expected from the beginning of the chapter.
My favourite tutorial that is featured in the book is the guide on making a postcard from found objects; the authors suggest taking a walk in your local neighbourhood to find items, and not stopping until you have enough to make a postcard. I love the line about "working quickly to foil your inner critic" when creating the postcard, and it is a phrase I often now keep in mind when creating things.
Good Mail Day can be read page by page from cover to cover as any normal book, but it also makes for a good reference book to come back to time and again when you need a little inspiration. With the wealth of photos it contains, you can look at them over and over without tiring of them!
Overall, this is a great book for anyone interested in mail art. It may not be full of tutorials and guides but there is plenty to inspire. I would recommend it to those who are already familiar with the snail mailing world, but it would also be suitable for someone very new to penpalling. Some of the ideas are quite 'out there' but there are also plenty of ideas that you will find you can incorporate into your everyday snailmailing. Just remember that the letter you are sending is as important as the envelope you are turning into a piece of mail art; I feel this is something the authors gloss over slightly. However, if you are looking for a book that is all about mail, filled with ideas, inspiration and beautiful pictures, then this is the one for you! I hope you will enjoy reading and re-reading it as much as I have.