• ☕️ Calligraphy On the Go: Mail Art at a Coffee Shop

    This week, I took my calligraphy on the go and created mail art at a coffee shop. Today, I’ll show you the simple but pretty envelopes that came out of that blissful field trip! We’ll also chat tips for creating art outside of the house and protecting watercolor envelopes.

    Calligraphy On the Go: Mail Art at a Coffee Shop
    I created this calligraphy on the go, enjoying a quiet afternoon at a neighborhood coffee shop.

    I am a homebody at heart, but one of my very favorite things in life has always been working from a coffee shop. Ever since my university days, I’ve loved staking out a spot somewhere and hunkering down to write or create. Yesterday, I was given the opportunity to do that for the first time in a while because we had a babysitter for my 11-month-old. It was glorious to be able to create calligraphy on the go, listening to the chatter of people around me and the hiss of espresso machines. Today, I’d like to share tips for tapping into your inner artist outside of the house and show you the mail art that I made!

    Tips for Creating Calligraphy On the Go

    When you set out to make calligraphy on the go, ditch the ink. Instead, consider taking your watercolor palette. Then, use the watercolor calligraphy technique to write any calligraphy. (The video below will walk you through how to use watercolors to write calligraphy.)

    The most important thing is to work within the limitations of the materials that you have. I realized upon arriving at the coffee shop that I had forgotten to bring a pencil. That meant no possibility of making drafts or guidelines! Thus, all of the mail art I created there features Cocktail Casual Style calligraphy, which doesn’t require any pencil guidelines or planning.

    Mail Art with Kaitlin Style Calligraphy

    Finally, be sure to bring travel-friendly materials. As I mentioned, ink is a no-go (after several spills, I’ve stopped traveling with ink). Instead, bring your watercolors, a little dropper bottle and cup for water, a paintbrush, and your favorite pointed pen and nib. Don’t forget paper, too! I grabbed a handful of white A7 envelopes (affiliate link) before leaving the house.

    Calligraphy on the go
    This dropper bottle and cup set came in handy at the coffee shop yesterday.

    The Coffee Shop Mail Art Envelopes

    1. Citrusy Australian Envelope

    My first piece of coffee shop mail art features red and orange calligraphy. That color scheme reminded me of citrus, so I decided to draw in little oranges to enhance the envelope.

    Making citrus mail art
    To learn how to contour watercolor spheres (and much more), consider enrolling in The Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course.

    That envelope ended up having a cheerful, tropical feel — perfectly appropriate for Australia-bound mail in January!

    Watercolor Citrus Mail Art
    I love how the western-themed stamps give this Oz-bound envelope a playful nod to American culture.

    2. Blue Boughs Mail Art

    After writing this recipient’s address using Sepia watercolor, I knew that the envelope could use some personality. Enter simple blue boughs with little orange berries — a perfect match for the Nella Larsen postage stamp!

    Blue Leaves Mail Art Envelope
    Notice how the intensity of watercolor calligraphy varies. Some strokes are bold and dark, while others are light and soft.

    3. Scandinavian Watercolor Envelope

    The combination of white, intense red, and teal strikes me as wintery and quintessentially Scandinavian. After writing Mary’s address in red watercolor, it just seemed right to include a laurel border with dots.

    Scandinavian Watercolor Envelope
    This laurel border is playful and easy. To draw the branches, use your pointed pen to draw curved lines, then use a paintbrush to draw leaves on those lines.

    4. Line Doodles Watercolor Mail Art

    I have to admit that I only wrote the address for this envelope at the coffee shop. Then, after I got home, I used Ziller ink to draw the line pattern. After that, I added some orange and blue color. I guess I was really feeling orange yesterday!

    Line Doodles Watercolor Mail Art
    If you’re going to combine ink and watercolor, it is imperative to use a waterproof ink. My go-to is Ziller Soot Black.

    Sending Watercolor Envelopes

    Watercolor, as you may imagine, is not waterproof. There is a possibility that watercolor mail art will come in contact with water en route to its destination, so it’s a really good idea to apply MicroGlaze before sending.

    Applying MicroGlaze to an envelope
    Consider protecting your watercolor mail art with MicroGlaze! After you apply MicroGlaze, the envelope is impervious to moisture and smudges.

    If you’re not familiar with how to use MicroGlaze, I’ve got a little tutorial video that explains how it works:

    Other Details

    These envelopes don’t include contents that are particularly precious, but I still included a “Do Not Bend” stamp on the back. Why not? It’s pretty.

    Do Not Bend Stamp on an Envelope
    You can find this “Do Not Bend” stamp here.

    Per usual, I adhered to the unofficial rules of successfully sending mail art. For the international envelope, I included the return address on the front rather than the back. I also ensured that recipients’ zip codes were crystal clear so the postal machines could easily process the envelopes’ destinations. Perhaps most importantly, I ensured that the watercolor was dry before bringing the envelopes home! That ensured that no smudges occurred before I could treat the paper with MicroGlaze.

    I hope that today’s article encourages you to take your creation on the go! It’s a tiny hassle to get everything together beforehand, but all you need are your watercolors, a pointed pen + nib, a paintbrush, and something to put your art water in! (If you remember a cleaning cloth, great, but you can always just use a napkin at the coffee shop.) Then, of course, you’ll need envelopes or a sketchbook — whichever you prefer to work in.

    This was my workspace at the coffee shop, which also happens to be a mountaineering store. (The table I was working on is massive and showcases a bunch of vintage climbing gear.)

    One more thing: no watercolor, no problem. You can always choose to write with coffee instead. Just ask the barista for an incredibly dark brew.

    How to Use Coffee to Write Calligraphy
    Next time you’re at a coffee shop, consider using coffee as calligraphy ink!

    Thanks so much for reading, and have a fabulous weekend!


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