Gail & Ken Brown just finished 45 wooden hands to take to the U.S. Post Office in Hugo, Oklahoma. Anyone seeing this on FB get one?
In the fall of 1975, when our business had just relocated and was thriving in Hugo, I had enlisted Wyndol Fry, the then woodshop teacher at high school there, to cut out 45 patterns of my right hand. With Gail’s help, each was sanded, sealed, and readied. I then lettered on each with Speedball dip pens and india ink. Each was sent to a principal of some large arts and crafts distributor; the 45 names were selected from a trade directory of those firms. When all were lettered and sprayed with a clear, aerosol sealer, one was taken to the post office and weighed for the correct amount of First Class postage to mail it unwrapped. Then, we ran postage strips from our own Pitney Bowes postage meter for that amount and put a strip on the address side of each hand as shown above.
Corny though the message was, the purpose of mailing the highly targeted and tiny ‘direct mail’ effort…with no box and no wrapping paper and tape…was to get the attention of the person at the firm who would attend the January, 1976, internationally-attended HOBBY INDUSTRIES OF AMERICA annual arts and crafts convention at the Conrad Hilton Hotel in Chicago. Honestly, I cannot remember the exact number of recipients of our ‘digital promotion’ who came to our booth to see our prints we were selling. I do remember that many did and that it was a tremendously successful show for us. We sold several thousand of our parchment prints with Gail’s artwork enhancing my Calligraphy of poems, scriptures, homilies, and famous quotes. These would end up in arts and crafts stores to be decoupaged on wooden boards. We were the only one selling prints of this type, so our work stood out and was embraced by the entire industry with dealers and distributors from all over the U.S. and Canada ordering our prints, all packaged and shipped from our business in Hugo. We stayed there until 1989, when we moved back to Texas.
The lesson here is to think out of the proverbial box. Yes, I know that’s a well-frazzled cliche’ but you must be extraordinary in your efforts to call attention to you and what you do. I’d bet most of those wooden hands are still parked on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere. With the person’s name, hand-lettered by a then-unknown Calligrapher, on the piece, it was not trashed with all the printed brochures and mailing pieces for that 1976 show, about the time my hand greeted them in their mailbox one morning.