Return to Sender

My very first Ziggy Letter Elf has been returned to sender…address unknown… such number….no such zone. ( I hope you are singing along?)

Return to sender

This little elf has been all the way to New York and back all because I omitted a number one in the address. Silly Ziggy. So, I shall try again. The unopened envelope has gone into another envelope, because, well, now it’s got a story to tell. And in light of the post title here is Elvis Elf from last summers Celebrity Elves in July.


If you would like to get involved in my illustrated letter challenge take a look here. I’ll do my best to address your letter correctly.


Wait Just a Minute Mr Postman

Back in January I decided to revive the lost art of the hand written letter by writing a letter a day. I invited you to join in my challenge by emailing me your postal addresses so I could send out letters. But not just the written word; each one would contain an original Ziggy Elf. The promise of “a letter a day” has proved a little hard to keep up with but nonetheless over 70 letter elves have been dispatched right around the world, with many more ready to take flight.

However, even more wonderful, many of you have sent letters back to me. Beautiful, handwritten, illustrated letters often with decorated envelopes too.

Thank you so very, very much to everyone who has taken the time to reply. They are fabulously creative, fun and inventive. You are all so talented.

Many of the letters I have sent can be seen here. And if you want to join in with my challenge and receive your very own letter elf all the details are here.

Ziggy’s Home for Wayward Dogs

Back in January I had the ludicrous idea to revive the lost art of the hand written letter and set myself the challenge to start sending letters. But not just the written word, each letter would contain an original hand drawn Ziggy Elf. Over sixty elves have departed the North of England to find homes right around the world. I wanted to post up what I was doing but realised I couldn’t reveal the contents of the letter or it would spoil the surprise for the recipient. So each envelope is also illustrated.

For those of you that drop by this blog from time to time you’ll know I have a fondness for dogs. This latest batch of illustrated letters have gone all canine.

First up is a letter for Karen McRae which I know has already made it to Canada. Karen is a photographer and you can find her fabulous images at Draw and Shoot

English bulldog

The next one is for Rene in North Carolina. He is also a photographer but with a completely different, and rather cool dude style. Check out his images at Chasing Meaning Now Rene’s envelope has these guys; a Skinny Dog and a Scruffy Mutt.

Skinny and jack 1

I liked them so much they have turned up on Cathy’s letter, which headed off to my home county of North Yorkshire. You can find out more about the very crafty Cathy at Nana Cathy and see what was inside her letter here.

Skinny dog and Jack Russel 2

I loved these characters so much that Laurie in Jordan, Margaret in Wisconsin, Melanie in California and Pamela in Texas are getting the chance to adopt them. I guess it’s like a little story.

Skinny Dog and scruffy mutt with ball

Skinny dog & scruffy mutt 2

skinny dog & scruffy Mutt sitting down

Scruffy mutt

And just to balance things out, here is my “thank you for my birthday pressie” letter to my brother.


If you want to join in with my letter writing challenge and would like your very own Letter Elf have a look here.

Letter Elves Revealed

At the start of January this year I had the crazy idea to revive the lost art of the hand written letter. I thought I would do this by writing a letter a day, but not just words, these letters would be illustrated with a Ziggy Elf. Over 50 Letter Elves have flown around the world already with many more due to take off. They’ve landed in just about every state in North America, Australia, Canada, The Philippians, China, Hawaii, Poland, Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, England and Wales. Some people have taken the time to reply, which is lovely. I have received some fabulous letters, beautifully crafted.

When I post up the letters I never reveal the contents as it would spoil the surprise for the recipients. But some of the earlier ones have now been received so I thought you might like to take a peek.




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Look at that. A fancy slide show! With thanks to Mark from The Vibes who created this post and showed me the way.

If you would like your very own letter elf then take a look here. And to everyone who has requested an illustrated letter, don’t worry they are on their way.

A Happy Elf Birthday to…….?

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…….I have failed! I have not written a single illustrated letter for 10 whole days, and I beg your forgiveness. You see it was like this; I’ve just worked a seven day shift at the museum, its half term and we have been getting 700 to 800 visitors EACH DAY. Running up and down seven flights of stairs and chatting to hundreds of lovely people took its toll. Each night I got home, had dinner and then promptly fell asleep on the sofa.

But, now I’m on holiday. Yipee! And yesterday was my birthday. Hooray! So I’m in a celebratory mood. And what better way to start than with a Birthday Elf. You will see below the start of an illustrated letter, but who is it going to? If it’s your birthday or you know someone whose birthday is coming up how about an original Ziggy Elf? I will send it with birthday wishes to the first person to email me their postal address to ziggy dot shortcrust at gmail dot com headed “birthday elf”.  But don’t worry, if you’re not first, I promise I’ll still write to you. Yes, everyone is a winner with Ziggy.


Birthday Elf


To find out more about my ridiculous challenge to revive the lost art of the hand written letter have a look here.



Frogs, Trolls and Amigurumi

My challenge to revive the lost art of the handwritten letter continues to be, well, challenging. I am writing a letter a day, but also illustrating each one with an original Ziggy Elf. I wanted to post up what I was doing, but quickly realized that I couldn’t show the contents of the letters. That would spoil the surprise for the recipient. So, ingeniously, I decided to illustrate the envelopes. So far I’ve come up with something that has meaning to each person, but it’s taxing my drawing skills. Just check out the latest batch.

Number 34 is going all the way to CHINA! I was so excited to hear from Chenchen who is creator of Pure Sketch and Comics. This is a young man who is so talented. His ink sketches are fabulous. He lives in Nanjing which is famous for its salted duck….nom nom.

illustrated letter 34

Letter 35 is going to somewhere equally exciting…Hawaii. Well it’s exciting to someone who lives in the North of England. It is for Paul who is a ceramicist and is the creator of Paper, Mud and Me. Like the letter that went to Hansi in California, this one is adorned with Sunny the Campervan. How wonderful to tootle around Hawaii in a VDub bus.

illustrated letter 35

Letter 36 goes to Virginia who hails from Eldersburg, Maryland, USA. She is another 3D artist, a sculptor and you can find out more about her at Muse-ings. Virginia made some lovely frogs, so I thought I’d have a go too.


Letter 37 is staying in the UK and heading south to Dorset. Now this may not be the exotica of Hawaii but I can tell you this is one of England’s most beautiful counties, and pretty cool for a campervan adventure. The coast is known as the Jurassic Coast and is a World Heritage Site. Ha! Who needs palm trees now? It is home to Joanna who is creator of Pippin Run Wild, a veritable feast of all things vintage and crafty. Joanna made a beautiful bluebird pin cushion that inspired her envelope illustration.


Letter 38 is the first to go to Sweden and is for Janna. She is the creator of Janna’s Whimsies. This blog is packed with lovely images and creative stories. The envelope illustration is inspired by a post about an ancient forest and it’s trolls.


Letter 39 is going just up the coast to Amble in Northumberland, another breath- takingly beautiful county. It is for Jean Rafferty, an award winning journalist and author. You can find out more about this very talented lady at her website here. One of my favourite walks with the Skinny Dogs is from Warkworth, along the beach to Amble and back up by the estuary. You can always spot a magnificent heron or two, and here’s mine.


The penultimate letter in this batch is going to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I actually have relatives in Vancouver going back two generations. I would love to visit. Maybe one day. This is for Caroline who is the creator of the very stylish blog The Girl in the Yellow Dress. The subtitle is Yellow Bird Dreams, so it had to be a little Tweetie Pie.


And finally, letter 41 is going to the Illustrated Letter projects favourite destination; Australia. In particular Melbourne. This envelope is adorned with the strangest thing I have ever dreamt up and it is especially for Sharon at Gentle Stiches. She is all about the stitchery and the “gentle art of repair.” But Sharon is particularly fond of amigurumi, the Japanese art of knitting cute mini animals. So I’ve had a go at an Amigurumi Elf. What do you think?


Phew! Around the world in eight illustrations.

Well, I still need help if I am to complete my challenge of a letter a day. I need 365 people to send letters to. Would you like to recieve an original Ziggy Elf? If so you’ll find all the details here.

Elves, Penguins and Howler Monkeys

I am attempting to revive the lost art of letter writing and have set myself the ridiculous challenge of a letter a day through 2013. I am absolutely loving it and the response has been fantastic. My little letter elves are flying all over the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has requested a letter. You WILL get one.

I thought you might like to know to whom and where the latest batch have gone to. I can’t show the contents, it would spoil the surprise for the receiver, so I have illustrated the envelope.

Letter 29 is going to Claire Litherland who is creator of Little Red Monkey and Co a fabulous place full of crafty ideas. Her letter elf is staying in the UK and setting off for Sheffield. Obvious I know, but Claire gets a monkey, of the howling variety.

Illustrated letter 29

Number 30 is for Jennie Sisler and is going to Sunderland. No not Wearside UK, but Massachusetts, USA. And Jennie is a seasoned letter writer. Her most recent blog post is all about saving the town’s Post Office. Something we are all too familiar with here in the UK. Check out Jennie’s blog; Jen’s Rambling Thoughts. Why has she got a penguin? Because it is one of the unusual things to be found in her handbag (purse).

Illustrated letter 30

Number 31 is very special. Almost 10 years ago my very best friend lost her battle with a brain tumour and left a huge hole in my life. We’d been friends since we were 6 years old and I never once imagined that we wouldn’t make it into old age together. Although she didn’t have children herself she was Godmother to many, and spoilt them rotten. I also have the privilege to be a Godmother, but to just one person, Lucy. After my friend died I decided to commemorate her birthday, the 2nd February, as Goddaughters Day. And every 2nd February I send Lucy a handwritten letter. This is hers for 2013.

Illustrated letter 31

On to number 32, and this is for Deb Court, my writing buddy. If any of you are wading through the treacle of novel writing you’ll know how good it is to have someone to bounce ideas around with and be a shoulder to cry on. Deb has a very damp shoulder. She is also on the search for dragons.

Illustrated letter 32

And finally in this batch, letter 33 is going across the channel to The Netherlands and to artist Saskia. Now, I actually find thinking of something to draw on the envelope harder than coming up with ideas for letter elves. And as I sat in my studio hoping for inspiration I stared out of the window and gazed at the bare branches of my beautiful silver birch. Hey presto, a tree elf. This wasn’t initially going to be for Saskia, but when I went to check out her deviantART site, Finnguala, what did I find but an awesome drawing of a girl growing branches from her head. Spooky eh?

Illustrated letter 33

Of course sending a letter every day for a year means there have to be 365 of them. So I still need people to send to. If you want to join in with my challenge and would like to receive an original Ziggy Elf take a look here.

Fish, Pigs and Coffee

It’s time for an update on those Ilustrated Letters.

For those just joining us, I am attempting to revive the lost art of letter writing by penning a letter a day in 2013. That’s 365 of them. And not just words, each one is illustrated with an original Ziggy Elf. I can’t show the contents of each letter as that would spoil the surprise for the recipient but each letter has an illustrated envelope.

Number 22 is going to Penland, USA and is for Laura creator of Soul Survivor a very compelling blog about living with Bipolar Disorder. Laura used to write a lot of letters and hopes that joining in with this challenge will inspire her to dust off her fountain pen.  She gets a be-hatted elf who I think is inspired by the cold snowy weather I’ve been experiencing.

Illustrated letter 22

Letter 23 is staying in Newcastle and is for Lauren who is another Seven Stories colleague. She is part of the hardworking marketing team and very kindly asked to join in with my ridiculous challenge. As well as having the cutest spaniel puppy on the planet, Lauren also has a little guinea pig. Again, a first for Ziggy; drawing a piggy.

Illustrated letter 23

Number 24 is heading off to Ontario, Canada to Claudia creator of  Summer Solstice Girl, a wonderful vibrant blog full of swing dance and Columbian Coffee. So a cup of coffee and a coffee bean elf seemed appropriate.


Letter 25 is the first letter heading to the Philippines and is for Melody, creator of the blog 30 Minute Art. She is a full time teacher but allows herself 30 minutes a day to paint and draw. So I couldn’t resist a little messy artist elf.

Illustrated Letter 25

Number 26 goes to another Seven Stories colleague, Hannah, who works with me Front of House. Hannah can be found all over the building, rocking out story times, on reception and in the bookshop. She also delivers birthday parties and the most popular theme is Damsels and Dragons, for which, Hannah wears a beautiful dragon coat. So it had to be my favourite mythical creature.

Illustrated letter 27

Number 27 is for my very lovely sister-in-law Clare. She is the sort of person who never wastes time, always doing something, knitting, playing the piano, the flute, photography and tending to her vast allotment. So she gets a Fruit and Veg elf.

Illustrated Letter 26

And finally today, letter 28 is the first one to go to Poland and is for Jess creator of JNiggelArt an Art Photoblog. Jess is a dab hand with pencil or paint and I love her portraits. She also has a few fish on there so I thought I would join in the fishy fun.

Illustrated letter 28

In order to complete my challenge of 365 letters I need people to send them to. Would you like to receive a letter with an original Ziggy Elf? Then you’ll find all the details here.


Quoth the Raven “Ziggy Draw!”

My goodness me, but here we are at letter 21 in my ridiculous challenge to revive the lost art of letter writing by penning one a day through 2013. Not just words, these are illustrated letters, each one containing a Ziggy Elf.

As always, I can’t show you the content as it will spoil the surprise for the receiver who today is Aalid. She is the creator of the delightfully entitled Mage and Raven, a lovely blog full of quirky creative musings. And where is this letter going? Well, it’s staying in the wintry North of England and heading to Bolton in Lancashire. And this one has wings…Raven’s wings of course.

illustrated letter 21In order to write 365 letters I need 365 people to write to. Would you like an illustrated letter with an original Ziggy Elf?  All the details are here.

Illustrated Letter 20; It’s Furry Man

I am attempting to revive the lost art of the hand written letter by writing one each day through 2013. Not just words though; each one will contain a unique original Ziggy Elf. What was I thinking? But here we are at number 20 and it’s the first one where I have made a mistake. “But Ziggy, you never make mistakes” I hear you cry. Well, my confession is coming up……

I want to document the letters and post them up on the blog, but I can’t show the contents of the letter as it will spoil the surprise for the recipient. So, in order to make each post vaguely interesting I am illustrating the envelope. This particular letter is for Laura Frantz an author and blogger. Laura mentions that her earliest memories of the local libraries were shelves filled with biographies of historical figures like Daniel Boone. Great I thought, a Daniel Boone elf it is. I got doodling only to discover I’d drawn a trapper hat NOT a Daniel Boone hat. Sorry Laura and all Americans everywhere 😦

Well this letter is off to Port Angeles, Washington. Where in the world will tomorrows illustrated letter be going? Check in and find out. If you would like to receive your very own original Ziggy Letter Elf check out the details here.

illustrated letter 20