Discussion Post: Nerdy Activities – Letterboxing

Posted October 2, 2013 by Kara in Imaginative Discussions, Lyn / 25 Comments

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Discussion time!
Recent, I made this tweet regarding letterboxing – I wish more of my blogger friends were into it. I did get a reply, and I was amazed that someone knew what the heck it was all about! Overall, however, it is pretty much unknown, and Kara wanted me to bore share with our readers one of my favorite hobbies outside of reading and watching Star Trek: letterboxing.
With letterboxing, you follow a set of clues to find a box with a rubber stamp.  According to Atlasquest.com (a major site for LBers):
“Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime combining artistic ability with delightful “treasure-hunts” in beautiful, scenic places that the whole family can enjoy. Participants seek out hidden letterboxes by following clues, and then record their discovery in their personal journal with the help of a rubber stamp that’s part of the letterbox. In addition, letterboxers have their own personal stamps which they use to stamp into the letterbox’s logbook.”
In a nutshell: you get directions, run around in the wild to find a rubber stamp to put into your own book.  

I’ll share with you some of my own letterboxing gear. Note: These photos are off of a camera phone – my apologies!
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My logbook, where I record the stamps I find.


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The inside of my logbook.I have pictured my second log book (I filled up the other one!)

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My LB backpack, where I keep my stamp pads, my emergency medical supplies (like bandaids and bug spray) and my log book.

Here are some stamps I have done in the past.  I carve ALL of my stamps:

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This was done last month for my mother!

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My mermaid stamp I planted at the coastline for a trip


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A personal traveler for my favorite video game series, Kingdom Hearts
Websites: Use Atlasquest.com and Letterboxing.org if you are interested in starting! If you would like to add me as a friend on AQ, please send me a direct e-mail and I would be more than happy to send you my information! I have a different name on AQ for my letterboxing things, to keep my privacy in check.

Carving stamps: For those of you thinking, “I’m not that artistic! I can’t do this! It looks hard!”, please don’t worry! My first stamps looked HORRIBLE! But with some time, the carving does get easier! The results you see above are from 4 years of practice.  Some LBers just use store bought stamps.  

Here is my gear for carving:

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Speedball Speedy Carve (aka “Pink Stuff”), carving tools, the 1v carve tool, and Exato Knife.
It takes a little bit to build up your tools, but I have owned my own set for 4 years, and they’re still good.  
Carving: In the past, I traced the image of what I needed onto tracing paper with a sharp pencil, then rubbed the pencil mark right onto the Pink Stuff. This was a very inefficient way to transfer your image. 
For those of us who cannot draw, we use the print and transfer. I take my images to Kinko’s to print on paper. 
Next, I cut out the image. Place it face down onto the Pink Stuff.  Use nail polish remover WITH acetone and dab a little onto the back of the image. Work quickly – the acetone will eat up your Pink Stuff! 
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Peel off, and start to carve!
I hope this offers some information on a wonderful hobby! Right now is the perfect season for lboxing (spring and fall are popular times).  

There is a lot more to discuss, such as making log books for your planting box and actually putting your precious letterbox out into the wild, but that might have to be for another day! This is a labor of love, but it is well worth the time. I bonded with my mother and my sister with this activity, and I actually lost some weight and discovered the beauty of the area through letterboxing.
What are some past times that you like to do outside of reading? Please share your awesome hobbies with us!!

25 responses to “Discussion Post: Nerdy Activities – Letterboxing

  1. What a neat hobby! I’ve been looking at geocaching, which is similar, but I may see if there are letterboxes in my area instead.

    I don’t have a hobby nearly as cool, I guess I’m just sort of generally crafty. I’ve been folding origami for 15 years, mostly smaller modular pieces that I use/give away as Christmas ornaments. Last year I was really into wreath making, but now everyone has one, (or two or three. I got a little obsessed,)

    You can look at some pieces on Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31612452@N02/sets/72157636121081734/

    • I LOVE the snowflakes! Your work is so beautiful!! Do you sell them at the holidays for a little bit of side money? I could never do origami – my hands always shake. You have a true talent!

      I will do geocaching once I get a GPS. A hundred bucks for a used one – it is on my things to do one day!

    • Thank you so much! I’ve done a few craft fairs, but mostly I give them away. I did ask for $20 for the monster wreath, for the cost of fabric, but other than that I’m just happy if people like my work.

  2. Yes! I must have somehow missed that tweet, because I thought I was the only one who did this. Especially when I was younger I LOVED letterboxing, though I don’t make stamps myself – I just walk the route without stamping the letterbox logbooks. I used to do this all the time and on parties when I was a kid, but I don’t letterbox as much as I used to. Your post got me thinking that I should make time for this again.

    So glad to see that there are other people who actually KNOW about it!

    • I like this hobby because you can come back into it and all back when you need – and after all of this time, you will have a whole new batch of boxes!!

      I really hope you do it again!

  3. This is awesome! I’ve heard of geocaching, but not letterboxing and I really appreciate the additional crafty element the stamp making adds.

    I go through hobbies in phases, my longest running have been origami and book binding, although I’ve started getting really into lettering recently.

  4. LYN. I had no idea you were into this! I actually know about letterboxing from my old crafts haunts, although I’ve never tried it myself. It sounds so fun–have you tried geocaching, too?

    I’ve carved my own stamps, though, and actually have the same blue & green tool you do. So awesome!

    • WENDY! I am thrilled that you know about this! I will get into geocaching once I have the GPS for tracking – I just haven’t gotten around to buying it yet!

      I would love to see some of your carved stamps one day!

  5. Ok this looks pretty neat! I think you should keep doing blog posts on it so more people can learn all about it!! I would like to see some pics from when you go out and actually do it!

  6. That seems like an awesome hobby! I’m a big Star Trek fan so I basically just watch and obsess over it in my spare time. You definitely need to post some recap posts of trips you’ve done before or are going to do soon. It sounds so interesting, I definitely want to learn more! 🙂

    • What is your favorite Stark Trek? I’m watching TNG right now – love the hell out of that show!

      I should do a “A Day in my Life” type post for a trip one day – it would at least amuse someone!

  7. This seems like a really great hobby! Because it’s both artistic and part of it is done outside. I think especially my girls would enjoy this a lot, while the guys might be in for the nature part, I’m not so sure about the carving for them 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Lyn, I had never heard of Letterboxing before.

    Have a wonderful day 🙂

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    • Thank you, Lexxie! I think your girls would love this – if you do not want to carve stamps or buy them, AQ.com would be more than happy to send you some old stamps. I have retired boxes here with my old stamps. I would love to send some over if you and your brood want to just plant and find!

  8. I like how the first responses were: what is that. I admit when I saw your title – first I loved the nerdy activities, second was wondering what that was, third was like hey, is this the stuff Lyn was talking about in the get to the know bloggers post? 😀 😀 DEFINITELY SHARE MORE OF THIS STUFF.

    Letterboxing reminds me of a bookish version of geocaching. Is that a bit right?

    WOW. I love your stamp. The shading is wonderful. I tried making… I don’t even remember what that thing is called that you have to shave off in order to make a stamp block but whatever you get your point, you’re an AWESOME artist!

    Cool. What are your favorite stamps that you’ve gotten so far? Favorite places you’ve been? How many stamps have you done?

    🙁 But I imagine using the store bought stamps isn’t as much fun as getting to make your own designs, even if it takes a lot of hard work to get them in the right design.

    WOW. Nail polish?! I would have never thought of using that, er, as a trace onto the Pink Stuff. I bet that does make it so much easier to carve… The thing I mentioned before? I had to keep carving once I messed up because I didn’t have a real drawing in mind.

    It does sound like a fun hobby! I bet the fall makes for some great areas to put the stamps too…

    I used to scrapbook a bunch – lately haven’t felt like I have the time anymore – so I can understand the ‘labor of love’ feeling too :).

    • I hope I have more things to share! Kara and I have another discussion post for next week.

      Letterboxing is the sibling to geocaching. I do not have a GPS for GCing, but I do plan on it one day.

      I think what you are referring to is linoleum. I had to do one for art when I was in high school, and it was horrible. I was so embarrassed that I never tried again. Sadly, I didn’t understand that practice makes perfect back then. The stamps I show here are the results of some years of practice.

      I will have to scan my books to show off some awesome stamps. There are some people that really put me to shame.

      I admit I get sad when I see store purchased stamps, but I see a lot more as personal travelers.

      It is nail polish remover (I need to fix that!! Thank you for pointing it out).

      Scrapbooking was something I tried and failed at. I feel like I have nothing to scrapbook about!

  9. Wow Lyn, totally cool! Like the other commenters, I’ve heard of geocaching (but I’ve never done it) but not Letterboxing. I’m going to check out the website for sure. I definitely do not have a hobby this cool:)

  10. Amy

    This is so cool!! I had never heard of it before. I have done geocaching before and it seems a little similar except I think the stamp thing is way more awesome. ( I hate geocatching when it’s just like trash or something when you have spent the time to find it) Maybe at some point I will try this. Thank you for sharing.

    • It is very similar to geocaching. I haven’t done it yet, because I need a GPS.

      I hope you do try it one day, Amy! It is fun and low key – a very nice activity!

  11. I hadn’t heard of this before but it sounds fun! I love your stamps Lyn, especially the mermaid one, it’s beautiful!

    I’m an on/off scrapbooker. In high school I was SUPEEEER into it and created 5 full scrapbooks for my friends and I to remember our time together. I also created another one a few years ago to commemorate my first job. I’m much more into it when I have a theme/deadline but then I burn out after I complete one. Haven’t done it in a few years but I still have all my supplies in my closet, haha!

    • It is a WONDERFUL hobby! I hope to get more people involved! (We need new boxes!)

      I can’t seem to sit long enough for scrapbooking – I envy people who can do it! I hope you have some pictures of your books!

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