It wasn’t long after our ancient ancestors made their first handprint on a cave wall that “Zog + Mog 4 ever” was scribbled on the corner with a sharpened stone.
Things haven’t changed much in the past 40,000 years. Sharing our feelings through writing just comes naturally. It has, however, become a lot easier to share your feelings with friends and significant others via pre-written greeting cards that we can sign, seal and deliver with our name often as the only means of personalization. Even those early cave dwellers were a bit freer and deeper with their feelings.
We don’t have to tell fountain pen and writing enthusiasts, but nothing unleashes warm and fuzzy sentiments like a handwritten note. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we’ve gathered together some of our favorite pens, inks, supplies and design ideas right here. You’ll also find some writing prompts borrowed from the cheatsheet in Cupid’s back pocket. We’ve even produced some options to reflect a range of styles and intent:
- Hopeless Romantics: You once worked as a Singing Telegram. You operate a Peeps rescue shelter part time and dot every ‘i’ with a heart. And this year you need to impress your significant other like never before.
- Shy Sweethearts: You only wear mittens because you can’t even say “g-l-o-v-e-s” without stuttering. You consider accidental eye contact to be a PDA. But you want (and need) to express yourself for that someone special. And you need a little help.
- Platonic Pals: The “Golden Girls” theme song is your phone’s ring tone. You’re the best bestie a girl or guy could ask for. And it’s the season for sharing a little like.
Here are a few ideas that are perfect for delivering extra mushy messages this Valentine’s Day.
Idea 1: Have Fun with Shapes
- Trace the heart (or other shape) with a pencil first; then erase it when you’re finished.
- Fill the inside with quoted poetry, original work or just a brief message.
- If you’re using absorbent, less expensive paper, drier inks are best at preventing your designs from bleeding together.
- Fill in any extra space between words with hearts or other doodles to flesh out the heart.
Idea 2: Give the Letter Some Pop
- Use an Exacto knife to cut out the letters — the recipient’s name, a message, etc.
- Make all necessary cuts before folding the letter in half.
- The “3D Folds” — the ones that add depth — are the most difficult. They may take you more than one attempt to get this right. Slow down and take a breath :)
- Complement the dimensional feel of the card by securing the envelope closed with sealing wax.
Featured products: Noodler’s Ahab Flex – Vulcan Coral pen, De Atramentis Apple Blossom scented ink, J. Herbin Rouge Opera ink, Original Crown Mill Bi-Color A5 Correspondence Set – White/Fuschia, J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Pack – Copper, and J. Herbin Wax Seal Wood Handle
Writing Tip: Channel Your Inner Poet
- Haiku: This Japanese poem consists of 17 syllables, with lines of five, seven and five, respectively.
- Sonnet: OK, it’s time to take off the training wheels. There are many types of sonnets, from Italian sonnets dating back to the 1200s to English or Shakespearean sonnets, which took root in the 16th century. The characteristics of the latter include 14 lines organized into three quatrains, or four-line stanzas, plus one couplet, or a pair of lines. The lines were written in iambic pentameter (think ba-da, ba-da, etc.) with the following rhyme scheme: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, and g-g. Writing poetry is hard enough without all these rules, but we know you can do it. And if you need some true inspiration, check out Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.
Valentine’s Day is also a time to let the friends and family members in your life know they’re special. Here are some novel, non-romantic gestures we think they’ll love. Errr, we mean like. Not love, like.
Idea 1: Send a Puzzling Message
- Surgical scissors or other smaller sheers are recommended for creating clean, intricate cuts and patterns.
- Practice the puzzle once — at least to ensure all the pieces are there before sealing the card.
Idea 2: Create an Ink Wash Effect
- Use a soft paintbrush or a brush pen to spread a thin layer of water over the desired area for the ink wash.
- Dip the brush in your ink and gradually blend onto the wet surface of your paper.
- If the ink color is too potent, don’t be afraid to try diluting some beforehand, or using a brush with water to spread it out.
Featured products: Jinhao X450 – Red Gold pen, Diamine Syrah ink, Noodler’s Burgundy ink, Wax Sample – J. Herbin Supple Sealing Wax Stick – Burgundy, Original Crown Mill Classic Deckled Notecard Box Set – White
Writing Tip: Seek Out Inspiration
- “Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” –Helen Keller
- “It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” –-C.S. Lewis
- “You can be my wingman anytime.” –Iceman, from “Top Gun”
- “It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.” –Marlene Dietrich
When it comes to communicating your feelings, maybe you’re a mime in two arm casts. You have something to say, but you’re just not sure how. That’s OK, we can help.
Idea 1: Make a Lovely Mess with Ink Spatters
- First, use an ink syringe to make droplets on the paper. The further you hold the syringe away from the paper, the more random your splatters will be.
- The ink syringe can be used to pull up any excess puddles of ink so the paper doesn’t over absorb and dry rippled.
- Once the ink splatters dry, draw hearts around the splatters.
Idea 2: Punch Holes in Traditional Letter Writing
- Be sure to use a single hole punch instead of trying to finagle one section of a three-hole punch. Trust us, we tried.
- We used embroidery thread to string between hole, but ribbon and yarn will also work.
Writing Tip: Carefully Consider Your Prompts
- The time you first met: Your first shared memory together is the origin story of your relationship. Sometimes, it’s love at first sight. Other times, it’s a fender bender turned awkward first date turned slow, simmering attraction. The more detail and original you can make it, the better. Here are some examples:
- Good: When we first locked eyes at the Trekkie event, it was like we were pulled together by two sets of intense tractor beams. You set your phasers to stun and your authentic, replica space suit to stunning…
- Bad: When you stood behind me in the express checkout with more than 10 items — 17, to be exact — I figured that your history had to be better than your math. And then I met your ex…
- Your favorite quality: It sounds simple, right? The effect of genuine, heartfelt compliments can be quite dramatic, especially if you can hone in on and express why you love this quality with careful, compelling detail.
- Good: You are the most kind and considerate person I’ve ever met. Your everyday grace and selflessness could make even the producers of those Sarah McLachlan / ASPCA “Angel” commercials come to tears. Don’t ever change.
- Bad: I love nothing more than waking up next to your big blue eyes… wait, are those colored contacts?
We believe these techniques will work out better than the time you tried to spell out a certain someone’s name in Reese’s Pieces — before you discovered he or she had a peanut allergy and can’t stand the movie “E.T.” Of course, these tips and tricks aren’t just designed for Valentine’s Day. They can be used any day of the year to share your feelings and heighten the power of your words and letters. So good luck. We’re thinking of all of you, whether you’re considering taking the next big step in a relationship or simply saying hi to an old friend.