starts and crafts

I recently took up letterboxing, which is an activity that involves tromping around hiking trails and looking for little hidden boxes. It's similar to geocaching, which more people have probably heard of, though letterboxers follow clues instead of a GPS. The other big difference is that it involves rubber stamps. When you find a letterbox, you "collect" the image of the rubber stamp inside it in your notebook, and then you use your own signature stamp on the log in each box.

It's something that I learned about completely on accident, by stumbling on a letterbox during my recent vacation. I love the crafty aspect of including stamps, and thought it would be a good motivation to get outdoors and get a little more exercise. The stealthy side of things is also kind of fun -- you try to keep any passers-by from seeing what you're doing in order to protect the hidden locations of the boxes.

Letterboxers are encouraged to make their own hand-carved stamps, because they're more unique than the store-bought kind. I'm not very artistic, but I do like making things so I decided to give that a try. My first stamp is this cute little dino-monster. It took me longer to draw an outline I was happy with than it did to carve him out of the stamping block, minus a first attempt that I botched all to hell.

To see some more impressive hand-carved stamps, take a look at this Flickr group. To learn more about letterboxing, check out Atlas Quest, which also has a really helpful stamp carving tutorial.

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