Postcrossing Blog

Stories about the Postcrossing community and the postal world


We’re in countdown mode for World Postcard Day around here, and the excitement for the big day is growing! This year, October 1st falls on a Sunday, which is perfect as many people don’t work on the weekend — that means more time to celebrate postcards!

World Postcard Day logo

With a little less than 2 weeks until World Postcard Day, it’s time to gather your postcards, check your address book, and make sure your favorite pen is inked and writing smoothly. This year’s theme is Postal Hugs, so take a moment to think of the loved ones you wish to reach out to, the friends you miss, or those you might want to send a bear hug to. Whether it’s your neighbors, a cherished teacher, the brave firefighters, or other people in your area who might have faced a challenge this year, send them a token of your appreciation and love. Save one for your local media outlet too, so you can tell them about this nice day! Got more ideas on who to send postcards to? Share in the comments! We’d love to hear them and get inspiration from you.

Like we mentioned in the stats email and on the forum, this year we’re going to set a maximum limit of 10 postcards for each postcrosser to send out on October 1st. If you only have a couple of slots available, you’ll be able to send a couple of postcards. If you have 5, you can request 5 addresses. But if you have 10 or more slots available, you’ll only be able to send 10 postcards on October 1st. While having people sending lots of postcards on the site and hitting records is always fun, it also puts a lot of pressure on Postcrossing: at some point, there just aren’t any more addresses to select. We came very close to that point last year, and this year we fear the problem will be made more complicated by the fact that World Postcard Day falls on a Sunday, a day when usually there is no mail delivery in most countries (and thus, even fewer addresses get thrown in the selection pool). So hopefully this limit will ensure that everything will go smoothly for everyone. Remember that you do need to send one postcard on Postcrossing during World Postcard Day (in your own timezone or during UTC — both work) in order to get the special badge on your profile, once it is registered.

As in previous years, local meetups, special postmarks and other events are on the horizon. To find out more about what’s happening in your area, check out the World Postcard Day events page. If you have young ones around, consider introducing them to the wonderful world of postcards: organize a mini-postcard workshop to teach them about the postal system, and then enjoy a short walk to your local mailbox together. Make sure to capture the moment with a photo and share it with us all! Or, if you have a talent for handicrafts, you can try to make something World Postcard Day-themed… like Jo (aka JustJo) who made this amazing postbox topper for her street! 😍


And last but not least, remember that the traditional meal for World Postcard Day is ravioli — they resemble little postage stamps! You might want to grab (or make!) some ahead of October 1st, so that you’re prepared and can celebrate the day with an extra dose of yumminess.

We wish you a brilliant World Postcard Day filled with joy, connections, and, of course, postcards! Let’s make it memorable and spread as many smiles as we can. And don’t forget to give your wrists a little break and a stretch now and then! 💪 💌 🌍


Carolyn Gavin is a painter, illustrator, and designer based in Toronto, Canada. A flower child of the 1960’s, Carolyn grew up in South Africa, left to travel, and relocated to Canada where she currently lives with her family.

Earlier this year, Clarisse (aka CStar9) connected with Carolyn via webcast to discuss her creative origins, the unexpected path from a pile of wood to an abstract painting, and why most Canadians don’t paint their houses pink.

On the left half of the image, the Flower Box set of postcards is pictured. On the right, three postcards from Carolyn (from this set) are displayed.
The 10 cards that represent you in The Flower Box: how were they chosen?

I paint a lot of flowers and florals, so they took what was existing, which is lovely. If my work is picked up and used as-is, that’s a dream. I don’t have to sit down and create something for a job or art director.

You create such an incredible range of work – paintings, textiles, books. What was your journey to get there?

It’s taken a long time. My family is pretty creative. My mom did mono-prints, painting—everything under the sun. As a very young child, I was guided into the direction of painting and creating, including papier-mâché, pen and ink, watercolors, and more. I went on to do graphic design for three years, which launched me into a design career.

Then I traveled, immigrated to Canada, and my brother and I started a family business, Ecojot. First I designed, then illustrated the covers of our new eco-stationery line. Working with recycled materials and bright and fun colors, and making the notebooks locally right in Canada, was innovative at the time.

A mix of images of Carolyn's work, including art pieces and fabrics. All of them look happy and colorful.

One thing led to another and I was picked up by an agent, and my work took a turn for the commercial: apparel, bedding, editorial, book covers, book illustrations, and fabrics, etc. Recently I started teaching and doing workshops and retreats. But I’m also trying to focus on my painting! I’ve come full circle. I really just love to paint – that’s what I’d love to do all day.

How do your new ideas for your designs begin?

Some blocks of wood with abstract paintings on themOne thing can lead to another, creatively. A wood pile is my latest obsession. I’ve painted on wood panels for a long time. While I was in Belize, I came across a building site and found this pile of discarded wood. I picked up a bunch of pieces to use and loved the unevenness and roughness of the material. That seemed to dictate the direction of the painting—such a beautiful organic flow and I was so inspired. However, it was at the end of my time in Belize, just the last few days, so I was painting like a fiend all night long, trying to get it all out. And then I had to come home.

Tell us about your studio space.

Right now I’m in my small studio. It’s very bright, but it’s a small space, which kind of translates into small work. Sometimes I work upstairs in a bigger space that has an easel. That’s where I do my larger pieces. In winter I go to my studio in Belize. It’s a lovely get-away, a place for playing and experimenting. It took me about two months there this year to finally get into this new spate of work, which I feel is a nice new direction for me. So, I think each space where I’m at, dictates what I’m doing.

Art piece: watercolor flowers, ducks, chicks, hens, and a rabbit
You’ve said your work is strongly influenced by your growing up in South Africa. Can you tell us more?

South Africa is hot, colourful and noisy. I don’t know exactly how that translates into my work, but, I guess… people there aren’t afraid of color and vibrancy in their lives. I now live in Canada and when I first came here, I couldn’t believe how gray and dull the weather is. I think people maybe, as a result, are sort of scared of color and of standing out in that way. That translates into architecture too—they’re scared to paint the house blue or pink. In hot countries, however, it’s different. And so that’s how I grew up – with lots of color and pattern everywhere and a lot of nature around me. I was outside most of the time, immersed in it. It became a part of me. Now, when I go to a new country, it always inspires something new. When I’m here in my studio in Canada, I’m creative, I work, but it’s a bit more forced. When I am away, I might be more inspired. But of course that changes all the time. Tomorrow, I might feel very inspired.

A vase of flowers with multicolored birds in front of it, art piece: blue bicycle with flowers in the basket, art piece: cottage surrounded by tall, wild garden plants
Your work can be very intricate, especially with botanical forms. What does research look like for you?

I don’t really call it research. But if I am looking at something that needs more information, I probably go find it. You know, just on the Internet.

With the wood in Belize, I asked them, what kind of wood is it? (It’s Emery wood.) Where does it come from? What do they use it for? So I’m not just painting on a simple piece of wood. I like to know the background of something, especially if it’s found or discarded by someone.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

That is a difficult question, especially when you’re doing abstract. You can go on forever. That is something I’m learning along the way. I can’t stop learning about how to paint. It never ends!

When it’s finished is when I guess I just feel that sense of, Stop! You’re going to overdo it! And then you step back. When you come back the next day, you may add a little line here, a little bit of color there, but that’s basically when it’s done for me.

Since we’re talking to an audience who loves paper mail and especially postcards, can you tell us about your relationship to paper? And to snail-mail?

I love paper. I mean, every kind of paper. I love thick, textured paper, and Japanese paper, and handmade paper. I go to a mill in Montreal sometimes in the summer, and I pick up the most amazing handmade papers, all from 100% rag recycled from t-shirts. It’s the only mill I know of that still does this kind of stuff on a very artisanal basis.

I don’t ever write a letter anymore to anybody. But I used to, and I used to love getting mail in return, so I do love the whole notion. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s a type of media that you’d love to learn?

I’ve been trying to work bigger, but that of course depends on the space that I have at the moment. I want to do monoprints, and cyanotypes. And work with big oil pastels.

You teach a lot of workshops and retreats. What’s your teaching philosophy?

screenshot of information about a May 20 art workshop, via Windowsill Workshops I love to impart my energy and some of my experience to other people and give them joy, and to teach them how to make their own joy. I think art is so meditative and therapeutic. When I’m painting, I kind of lose myself in the painting and go somewhere else. And that is very joyful.

Art is a very creative process that gives people a way to cope with stress in their life. Musicians do it – everybody in the arts world does it. It’s not a new thing. But if I can help others do it in my own small way, I think that’s important.

What are you working on now?

A Joni Mitchell quote: “Love must be the birds in spring. Only lovers hear them sing.” It’s from one of her songs; she is a poet!

I love type and words, and I love to illustrate around them. This is where my graphic design background comes into play. I can put elements together on a page and they work. Well, not always! But, anyway, here’s another one. This is from a book: “The birds are singing.” I painted the type first and then the birds and flowers around it. It all works together in terms of shapes and balance.

Screenshot of Carolyn Gavin during the interview, holding up a piece of art that says 'The Birds Are Singing' with flowers and hearts around them

To learn more about Carolyn, check out her website and Instagram page. There’s also a studio tour and a fun art demo to paint along!

And now, for the traditional giveaway: Clarisse is planning to send 4 postcards from the Flower Box set to 4 randomly picked postcrossers! 🎉 To participate, leave a comment below sharing a flower that is special to you, and come back this time next week to check out the winners!

And the winners of this giveaway, as chosen by Paulo’s random number generator are… duck2006, martha66, KimberKS and nisnoopy3! Congratulations, and thank you all for participating!


The writing prompts invite postcrossers to write about a different topic on their postcards’ messages every month. These are just suggestions though — if you already know what you want to write about, or the recipient gives you some pointers, that’s great too!

Board games and card games can be a great way to spend some time with family and friends, and perhaps even get away from screens for a while (though some can be played remotely using software like Tabletop Simulator!). A lot of my fondest memories as a child are of playing Snap tournaments with my grandad—though we started playing Rummy when I was a bit older—and playing board games with my paternal grandmother. I’ve got back into playing this sort of game lately with my wife and my sister, and we’re starting to amass a little collection of games.

In September, write about the card games and board games you like to play!

When it’s just me and my wife, we usually reach for Virus. It’s a simple and quick game, and we had a long-running tournament running into hundreds of games… until we lost track of who’d won how many times.

Someone holding Uno cards

When we’re hanging out with my sister as well, we tend to go for Unstable Unicorns. The art on the cards is ridiculously cute, we got all the expansions, and both of them take far too much delight in beating me just as I’m about to fill up my “stable”. We’ve also got Uno when we want something more traditional; I’ve even played a tournament or two of Uno with my wife’s grandparents.

What about you? What card games or board games do you remember from your childhood? What games do your play now? We’d love to hear about that in the comments here, or on your postcards this month, and there’s even a board games topic in the forums!


I’ve been excited to write this book review for a while! Lydia Pyne’s book on postcards is lovely: full-colour reproductions of a number of different interesting postcards illustrate the text, and her enthusiasm for postcards shines through on every page. She suggests that postcards were the world’s earliest social network, a way that people communicated casually across sometimes great distances, and shared something of themselves in the process. She points out that many traditional postcard designs and messages look exactly like scrolling through someone’s Instagram account, for example, which makes total sense to me.

Lydia Pine's Postcards book cover, with the title in the center and vintage postcards along the book borders.

There were a lot of fascinating anecdotes in this book. I found myself slipping in a little sticky page marker for something I wanted to come back to again and again. Admittedly, sometimes I wanted to argue with it a bit, and I was a bit confused by the fact that it didn’t even mention Postcrossing (which would, if anything, support the social network idea)—particularly when she said that nobody really sends postcards anymore.

But mostly I just found it fascinating. I think the most interesting part was the section on political postcards, and the suggestion that postcards were used explicitly to support the revolution in Russia (from early anti-imperialist postcards in the 1870s to Soviet propaganda in the 1930s). Because they were difficult to control, despite the best efforts of the state, they reached all kinds of people. The suffrage movement also involved postcards, and it’s fascinating to wonder about how they might have changed people’s minds, chipping away at their preconceptions a little bit at a time. One postcard on its own may not seem much, but it does form a connection—and it makes me think about the way that Postcrossing in particular can form connections between random people who would never meet otherwise.

I’d say that this book does exactly what I ask of a good non-fiction book: it gives me more questions than answers, about other things I’d like to learn or delve deeper into. Each chapter outlines a facet of the topic, but there’s always more to learn. I need to look out for more books to fill the gaps!

As always, I welcome new suggestions about books relating to the mail, postal systems, letters, etc—let me know any titles that come to mind via the forum (you’ll need to be logged in to view this post, and may need to browse around and participate a little before you can reply in this section of the forum). My next review will probably be about E.C.R. Lorac’s mystery, Post After Post-Mortem… but something else might grab me first: you never know.



Hanako's dreamy posts on Instagram caught our attention some years ago. Featuring quirky Japanese mailboxes, pretty stationery and her own beautiful artwork, they made us dream of visiting the “land of the rising sun”… but pandemic years were tricky for making trips abroad, so we did the next best thing, and sent the Little Mail Carriers instead! 😊 Here they are, to report on their adventures!

Kon’nichiwa! Many greetings from Japan, where our host Hanako lives and does her art (including postcards for Postcrossing meetings)! She promised to give us a tour of Tokyo, so let’s get started! First stop: a post box! This is what a normal postbox in Japan looks like.

Two Playmobil toy mail carriers stand atop a modern Japanese mailbox, on a sidewalk

We headed to the Kyobashi Post Office in Tsukiji, Tokyo. Today the special stamps “International Letter-Writing Week, 2021” were just issued. We had the first-day postmarks put on the postcards and on an envelope made from a museum flyer. The stamps are showing famous woodblock prints by Hokusai. Everyone knows his iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”… but did you know the painting is part of “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”, or that it used a new kind of blue pigment which revolutionized Japanese prints?

Two postcards and envelope featuring Japanese illustrations of people in traditional clothes lay on a table, alongside a sheet of stamps. The little Playmobil mail carriers sit on them, observing.

About half of post offices in Japan have their own pictorial postmarks. These postmarks are called 風景印 (fukeiin). We had the fukeiin of Kyobashi Post Office put on our little passport. It illustrates a scene from Sukeroku (known as The Flower of Edo, in English), one of the most famous plays in the Kabuki repertoire.

The Little Mail Carriers show their passport, a small notebook featuring stamps and special postmarks

Kabuki is a type of Japanese classical dance-drama, characterized by elaborate stage makeup, fancy costumes and stylized performances that date back to the Edo period. Why does the fukeiin stamp show Kabuki here? Because the Kyobashi Post Office is located near Kabuki-za, the principal theater for Kabuki plays!

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of the theater, a very ornate building.

Next, we visited Ueno Station. In Japan, you can find special souvenir stamps like this at railway stations, museums or tourist spots. If you travel around Japan, we really need to bring a notebook for stamp collecting!

The Little Mail Carriers put the special stamp from the train station on their notebook. The stamp features a panda image

Awwww… isn’t it cute? We saw the panda postbox near Ueno Zoo, which is the oldest zoo in Japan. Twin pandas were born here in June 2021, and they were named Xiao Xiao and Lei Lei.

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a panda-themed mailbox. The mailbox has the same format of a Japanese mailbox, but is painted white, with the eyes, nose and mouth of the panda painted black. It also has some ears on top!

Yay! We found the Pokémon manhole-cover in front of the National Museum of Nature and Science! Hanako says manhole-cover hunting is one of the pleasures of a trip to Japan. There are various kinds of manhole-covers with local design.

The Little Mail Carriers sit on top of a colorful Pokémon-themed manhole cover, featuring Tyrant and Wynaut. The Little Mail Carriers sit on top of a Pokémon-themed manhole cover. The cover is colorful and features pokéballs, Bronzor in the center and Baltoys along the edge

Another one is here in front of the Tokyo National Museum! There are many museums in the Ueno area, so you can’t see all of them in one day. If you visit Japan for the first time and need to choose only one museum in Ueno, we heard the Tokyo National Museum is a good one to see, so that’s where we are headed! The building was built in 1937, and is often used as the location for Japanese TV dramas.

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a sword's blade. The blade is big and curved, and sits on top of a white sheet.

We took our time looking around the exhibits. The Tokyo National Museum has many national treasures as their collection. Above is one of them, the Tachi Sword made by Yoshifusa in the 13th century. Have you watched “Seven Samurai”, the Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa? Samurai swords are quite interesting cultural artifacts, not to mention really beautiful.

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a large wooden sculpture of a monkey.

This work of sculpture titled “Aged Monkey” made by Koun Takamura is famous among Japanese philatelists, because it was selected as the subject of the 60-yen stamp from the Modern Art Series, issued in 1983. Of course, we bought the matching postcard, too!

The same sculpture of a monkey is featured on a postcard and on stamps.

Aaaaaaaah, the museum shop is a postcard paradise! 😍 How many should we buy?! Can’t decide because all of them look amazing!

A hand holds the Little Mail Carriers in front of a postcard display, featuring many illustrated postcards i nthe Japanese style

It’s about time for lunch! OK, we have soba here today. Soba is a noodle made from buckwheat and is popular as healthy food. Chopped spring onions (also known as scallions) and grated ginger go well with it. The soba restaurant Yabusoba in Ueno was established in 1892. Hanako showed us the cute soba stamp issued in 2016.

The Little Mail Carriers stand near a plate of noodles. A pair of tweezers holds a noodle-themed stamp in the foreground

After lunch, we came to Tokyo Skytree by bus! This 634 meter-high tower was completed in 2012 and became a new symbol of Tokyo.

The Little Mail Carriers stand on a ledge, while an impressive high towers rises behind them towards the sky

We visited the Postal Museum on the 9th floor of Tokyo Solamachi, the shopping mall under Tokyo Skytree. The Skytree postbox warmly welcomed us.

The Little Mail Carriers stand in front of a quirky postbox, designed to look like the Tokyo Skytree

The exhibits in the museum are super interesting for postcrossers! Here are mail carriers’ caps from the early 20th century. The caption says the straw hat was for summer. It’s cool, isn’t it?

An array of mail carriers hats are featured in an exhibition — including a straw hat.

And this is a replica of the postal snowmobile in the 1940s and 50s. Wow, we want to try to drive it, it looks like the perfect size for us!

A toy snowmobile (with caterpillar wheels and a fabric top) sits in an exhibition, among other postal cars. The Little Mail Carriers stand in the foreground, unfocused.

We also saw some cancelling stamps in the early 20th century. It’s always fun seeing old postal tools.

The Little Mail Carriers stand in front of two rows of old wooden tools to make postmarks

And at last, we arrive at the counter of the old post-office, used between 1920s or 1930s to 1988 at Kanda Sudacho Post Office, in Tokyo. How many postcards and letters have crossed this counter over the years? And how many stamps it must have seen!

The Little Mail Carriers stand with their little cart on the counter of an old post office. The wooden counter is topped with a grate.

Sadly, this is where our tour of Tokyo comes to an end. It was a lot of fun to return to Japan so many years after our trip to Okinawa, to discover a bit more of this fascinating country! Where do you think we should go next?

Thank you Hanako, for showing the little guys so many cool things about Japan! We’re dreaming of visiting and “collecting” all the cool manhole covers and special postmarks… 😍