Saturday, July 12, 2008

Art Sport -- My Secret is Out

Sometimes a great secret lies just beneath your feet, just around the corner, behind a tree or in plain view. Just when you think you've seen all and heard everything you stumble into something new and you can believe in magic again. Such a day came to me last August, at the dog pond I visit weekly. There I found I jar in a stump. I pulled it out for inspection with a mix of curiosity and trepidation. What could it be? An abandoned collection of captured and now decomposing frogs? Just as that disgusting thought crossed my mind I noticed an ornately lettered label. This jar declared itself to be a letterbox and welcomed me inside; to sign in, stamp in, and please return to its hiding spot when I was finished. I felt like Alice finding Wonderland. There was a hand-carved stamp inside and a logbook full of notes by other passers by. Every entry had a stamp, some hand-carved, others purchased but all unique. I'd been accidentally introduced to what for me is the perfect hobby (one that combines art and the outdoors); the art/sport of letterboxing where stamps are hidden in the woods (or other places) and finders find them and leave behind stamped impressions and notes of their own.
I was so excited that my first stamp was carved out of an old petrified eraser by that evening. I had no tools so I used a kitchen knife to scrape it out. I planted my first woodland box the very next day and haven't stopped letterboxing since.

Intrigued? What to join in the fun? Its free and open to all, without restrictions, a fully participatory collective art without pretension.

See and/or for full explanations.

The image shown is my first crude stamp (now permanently retired--this display is its last outing). It was created as my signature stamp, which is the stamp I carry with me and use to "sign in" to someone else's letterbox. I also use it "sign" my own letterboxes. Two days later I bought a proper carving set (speedball) and re-carved my signature stamp in a brand new vinyl eraser. As secrecy is a huge part of the fun of letterboxing, I won't be showing you my current signature stamp or any of my letterbox stamps. If you want to see them you'll have to find my boxes and peak inside and maybe leave a nice note and stamped impression of your own. You'll find me at atlasquest or letterboxing under the trail name Ondine.

Now remember, its a secret, so shhhhhhh....

Image: Eraser Stamp carved with kitchen knife, inked with crayola markers, additional colours with coloured pencil on 3"x5" sketch paper.


Lisa Purcell said...

Sounds like geo-caching. Maybe someday I will do it. Great signature. Now, I promise not to reveal any secrets.

kaslkaos said...

Yes, without the GPS with the addition of art and poetry (letterbox names, clues and descriptions can very interesting).
Thanks for liking my retired stamp. I tell her she still looks lovely. ;-)

Robert A Vollrath said...

This is so cool I must try to start this in a woods near my home.

kaslkaos said...

Hey Robert, if you do start up, please let me know your trail name; maybe I'll see at
If you do start up, I'm certain letterboxers will really appreciate your talents.

Cat (darklingwoods) said...

What a wonderful art adventure, and I love mermaids so your stamp is right up my alley! Very cool!

GreenSpaceGoods said...

that sounds like a lot of fun! Very cool stamp too :)

kaslkaos said...

Cat, thanks! And I know you love mermaids as I saw a lovely mermaid painting on your blog!
Greenspacegoods, yes it is a lot of fun. I'm trying to hook my brother into it, but maybe I've hooked a few of you too? Thanks for liking my stamp, she's a bit primitive, but pretty good for a kitchen knife carving. Luckilly I lost no blood to her.


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