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Friday, January 17, 2014

Coming to SF for Ex Postal Facto?

Chinatown SF
If you read my blog regularly, you know how much I love walking around in Chinatown.
On a recent day with blue skies and 75" weather I took a walk on Grant Avenue
and I'm sharing some photos I took with you.
I just hope it's raining by the time you all get to SF because we really, really need rain.
It's OK, you'll still have fun.

This post isn't just about Chinatown though...I will throw down a few names of places for you mail artists and paper ephemera fans to check out while you're in town.
You can use the names to Google the spots and also go to the Search Box for my blog because I have already posted about a number of places to go to in SF.

Well, of can't miss Chinatown. There are shops entirely full of joss papers, incense, books to practice cursive writing, tea, air mail envelopes, Chinese language newspapers, old coins....and food!
Hit the Search Box and put in joss paper for some ideas.
Two fabulous joss paper shops are on Jackson Street between Grant and Stockton Streets.
One is called Exquisite Buddha and the other is across the street.
Just remember -- these shops are selling religious papers and be respectful. They usually do not want you to take photos of the inside of the shops but I have gotten some good shots from the doorway.

Old Coins for Sale in Chinatown

Besides Chinatown, there is also Japantown near Geary and Post Streets. You can ride the 38 Geary bus. (Search the search box for this too - I did a post). There are two really wonderful "Dollar" stores there called Diaso and Itchi-ban-Kan as well as Mai Do stationery. Washi tape for sure.
Lots of interesting stuff to look at -- including a Japanese supermarket (with a cool, free magazine in Japanese that would be great for mail art).
And did I mention the food?
Sushi, ramen, undon.....
(There is also a Paper Source within walking distance on Fillmore Street)

Some tin boxes in Chinatown

My personal favorite art supply store is called FLAX. They have an entire huge room of beautiful sheets of paper. And they carry the Cavallini line of papers, washi tape and various other products. Some rubber stamps and loads of art supplies.
FLAX is on Market Street at Valencia Street. You will have to look this one up.
I think it is worth a trip. And it is pretty near the ZUNI restaurant if you are inclined to stop in for oysters at the zinc bar or have lunch.


Another favorite of mine is SCRAP. I've blogged about Scrap before so go to the Search box for pictures and a link to the website. This is a very fun place. It is completely hit or miss but I usually always seem to find some treasures there. A bit tricky to get to on public transit so look up directions online ahead of time.

Funny...I was just drooling over these metal UK post boxes online the night before my Chinatown walk.......

And look what I found in Chinatown! A newish shop selling metal models of all kinds of things including these post office boxes.
I want one so much. They are kind of pricey but if you need a special treat, go check out
Krystal Rock 515 Grant Avenue SF.
Tell them I sent you!
(BTW Grant Avenue is the "main street" of the tourist part of Chinatown. Stockton Street (which is parallel is for the natives to buy food, herbal medicine, etc. Portsmouth Square is interesting to walk through too).

Right next door to Krystal Rock is a tea shop where you can sample and buy all kinds of teas.


Another personal favorite of mine is the Ferry Building and Ferry Plaza Market. Easy to get to right at the very end of Market Street on the Bay.
Think local olive oil and chocolates and the fabulous Acme Bread. The outdoor Farmers Market is all day Saturday. If you are an early bird, you could go by real early for Peets Coffee and  an Acme treat before heading downtown to XPF.
But the food markets and restaurants inside the Ferry Building are open everyday.
You get a beautiful view of the SF Bay.

Now, I don't know if this is good news for you or not but the same weekend at Ex Postal Facto is the BIG Chinese New Year's Parade. Saturday evening, starting at 5:50 is the parade and Chinatown will be absolutely MOBBED with people. In fact, it is going to be pretty mobbed all day Saturday and Sunday that weekend so I suggest, if you have any choice, try to go on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday if you are arriving in town early. Or the following Monday or Tuesday.
Otherwise, prepare for major crowds and lots of firecrackers and lion dancers.

The Chinese New Year Parade is a big SF event and it's free if you want to try to see some of it.

You can pick up the Year of the Horse envelopes and lots of postcards in Chinatown too. I liked these postcards because the pictures look like stamps.

So -- hope this helps you guys out in your planning. This is by no means a comprehensive guide to SF but lots of people have been asking me about places to go while visiting and these are a few spots I enjoy.

You will have to do some research on your own to get addresses, directions, etc but I told you about some of the fun stuff!

I hope some SF locals will add suggestions in the comments in case I have left out anything good.  

Maybe I will get a new idea or two.
Can anyone recommend some good lunch spot downtown for the Saturday XPF event?
I can't think of any good spots to eat downtown.

Start packing those mail art kits!
See you soon in beautiful San Francisco.


  1. Thanks for the tour. Those post boxes rock Pamela, you must have been drooling for one of those.....put it on your I've been super nice list and give it to everyone you know....xox

    1. Corrine -- I wanted one of those PO Boxes sooo birthday is in March...maybe you all could take up a collection....LOL. (Just kidding).

  2. It all sounds wonderful -- and LOVE your photos! Part of me wishes I was going to XPF -- it's not the biggest part, tho! Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

  3. Thank you so much for the post! It will surely come in handy as I make my where-to-go guide. :)

  4. pamela,

    thanks so much for these savory tidbits! i've heard to FLAX before and it did sound inspiring. think now i must go. and too, never been to Zuni, but been pining for a visit there. glad to know it's not far off. a must, i think!! beginning to really form a plan now, & so excited. thanks again for the ever juicy tips + eye candy galore!! xo, p

    1. Miss Polly - let the planning begin! Flax has an entire room of sheets of paper you won't believe. And the Ceasar Salad and shoestring potatoes at the Zuni are fabulous.

    2. plans hatching as i type. S-W-O-O-N!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! though i may suffer the same traveler's woes as you when it comes time to pack my bag and board the plane :)

  5. Sadly, I won't be there. The part of EPF that interests me most - vendor day - is on Saturday, a day I can't take off work. So have a blast and post lots of pics after the dust settles.

    1. Leslie - so sorry I won't get to meet you this time. You've got to make it to SF one of these days. Don't worry, I will post lots of photos.

  6. it was a nice tour, I like the pictures :D

  7. Every time I read your blog I find ever more reasons to come to SF. But for the moment I need to focus on our big rivalry game tomorrow. Go Hawks!

  8. Such beautiful photos, Pamela! I also love Flax. I took a "woven bead" class recently and I need some beautiful paper to make up some beads!

  9. You're so evil,'s just plain cruel showing these delights!! (San Francisco will have to open it's Golden Gates another time for me.)
    At least I got a chuckle out of the Random Crap tins!!! And how did they get a photo of us for the BFF tin?

    1. know I'm bad....yes, that does look a bit like us on the BFF tin.....the golden gate is always open for you...

  10. I am already going to be in SF for a trade show. My INTENTION is to make at least one of the events :)

    1. Derrick -- do stop by! I'd love to meet you and so would a lot of others, I'm sure. The Friday night opening will be fabulous -- and all day vending at the Elks Club downtown Saturday will be fun too. Is the trade show downtown?

  11. I haven't started packing, but Gina keeps sending me the countdown and I'm getting sooooo excited. All those wonderful places were already on our list of must-dos! Can't wait to meet you! Mandy

    1. FarStarr -- And I can't wait to meet you & Karen. Gina lives a couple of blocks from me. I will give you and K a personal tour!

  12. Thank you for the wonderful suggestions. We arrive the 8th in San Francisco. So we have plenty of time to see everything. I am so exited to visit the States. See you at the opening. Nina

    1. Nina -- will you be in San Francisco the whole time? There is lots to see and right now the weather is amazing. I will definitely be there at the opening on the 14th -- see you there!

  13. I got my lovely Year of the Horse envelopes from you recently...thank you! I would LOVE to join you for Ex Postal Facto, but alas will have to enjoy it vicariously through your blog!

  14. I will be selling some of those mini mailboxes from the Royal Post on Saturday...

  15. What a wonderful blog Pamela! I'm in SF this weekend and asked fellow artists where to go, and one said to be sure to look at your blog. I'm so glad I did.
    I'll be sure to go to Scrap, Flax, and SFCB.

    1. Vicki -- how nice! Have fun in SF and thanks for the nice comment. I wonder who it was who said to check out my blog? The mail art show is still up at SFCB.



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