Personal Projects: The Letters Project – All My Love, Joe

I know on Thursdays I usually write a Thirsty Thursday episode on the blog, but it being the holiday season and all, I thought I’d switch it up a little, particularly since I’ve extremely busy with a personal project. About a month ago I was asked by a family friend to create an album to hold over 70 letters written by her father to her mother during WWII. This album is a gift intended for her daughter as a Christmas present. It was such an honor to work on this project. Such a huge piece of family history that is now preserved. The album shipped yesterday, but I gave the album it’s very own photo shoot before I sent it off.

Here is where we started. 70+ envelopes in a plastic bag. Each letter was 2 to 4 pages long. Every single page from every single letter had to be scanned. All the letters were then put in order by when they were written into multiple digital file folders.

One question I get asked alot is, “how long did something like this take you?” It’s a really good question with a not-so-fantastic answer.

A Really REALLY long time.

I’m sure you’d like the hours, days, and minutes, but I don’t sit at my computer with a timer. When I start working, I just go with the flow until I’m happy with the final product. To give you a general idea, I spent about 8 or 9, 10-hour work days scanning the letter pages and envelopes. My scanner is relatively slow, and each page had to be scanned at a DPI which allowed me to enlarge the letters or digitally cut out. Words, sentences, and phrases had to be perfectly scanned in order to create layouts that were readable and allowed for all the letters to be included in the final album.

I then spent about 8 or so days or so creating all 80 pages / 40 spreads of this book. Each letter page had to be digitally “cut-out” from the white scanner background. Each page was then digitally enhanced to bring out Joe’s hand writing. Most of the time he wrote in pen, but sometimes he wrote in pencil, which was a lot harder to enhance.

None of the original letters were harmed in any way while making this book. They were handled with clean hands and all manipulation was done to the DIGITAL files. Technology is a blessing and a curse.

A curse?

Yes.

I spent about a month with these letters. Every day I got to read about what Joe was doing in the war effort, how much he missed his Margaret, and what they would do together when he returned home. 70+ handwritten letters sent between October 1, 1942 and May 3, 1943. So different from today when we can send 70 text messages in a day. After two years we get a new phone though, or our inbox is full after one week and we delete these messages of communication between partners. Margaret saved all of these letters and passed them to her daughter, who is now passing them to her daughter. Creating this album did an amazing thing; it forever memorialized these letters to be passed on to generations that haven’t even been born yet. What a family treasure.

This is really exciting to share photos of this album because it was printed by one of the album companies we use for our wedding albums. The size of this album is so unique and so cool to hold in your hands. When closed, the album measures 6″ by 15″. The paper is thick and has a matte texture to it. It feels really nice to run your fingers over the pages. This type of album can be a maximum of 80 pages. I wish I could have designed 100 or more pages, but they just wouldn’t fit!

Enough already, right?  Here is the photo shoot of the album!

I’m so proud of this album; it is also great to be able to share personal projects with our blog readers, especially since it is visually connected to our album designs. I think my biggest regret with this project is that I had to mail it off so it could be wrapped and put under the tree for Christmas!

My holiday advice? Instead of just signing your Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years cards this season, why don’t you write a message to the recipient? You never know what future generations may appreciate the kind words that were penned by you in 2011.

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