I love upcycling paper by transforming it into a DIY envelope, and it’s easy to create several envelopes in one sitting! One thing I don’t love about handmade envelopes? Having to glue the top flap with traditional white glue, which can be a hassle and makes opening the envelope difficult for your recipient.
This is a moisten-to-seal DIY envelope glue recipe. That means that your handmade envelopes will be just as useful and convenient as commercial envelopes! You can keep your DIY envelopes (with envelope glue applied) for yourself, or you can make professional-looking handmade stationery and give it away as a gift.
1. Gather Your Ingredients
This envelope glue recipe requires four ingredients:
Here are the measurements you need of each:
3 TBSP (45 ml) white vinegar
1 packet* plain granulated gelatin — In the US, gelatin is generally sold in envelopes that equal 0.25 ounces of granulated gelatin, or 4 sheets of leaf gelatin.
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 tsp (5 ml) white sugar
2. Put It All Together
First, put the vinegar in a small container and microwave it until it’s hot, about 30 seconds.
Then, pour the gelatin into the hot vinegar and stir up the mixture until the gelatin has dissolved.
Next, add in your sugar and stir to combine.
Finally, pour in your vanilla extract and stir. With all four ingredients, you’ll end up with something that looks like this:
3. Apply the Glue to Envelope Flaps
To use the glue, you’ll first need a DIY envelope. You can make your own out of any paper, or you can print out a readymade mail art template. No matter what you choose to do, glue in the bottom flaps of the envelope with regular glue, and leave the top flap glue-free.
Then, scout out a brush that’s about 1/2″ wide (~13 mm). Brush a single, even layer of envelope glue along the edge of the top envelope flap. If your glue seems to be thick, put it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds so it can return to a thin liquid state.
Allow the glue to dry for 5-10 minutes. It shouldn’t feel wet to the touch. At that point, you can moisten it (either with your tongue or a damp cloth). Then, seal the envelope by pressing it shut — just as you would do with a commercial envelope!
DIY Envelope Glue Applications
Here’s exactly what I would do with this glue: first, set aside about 30 minutes to make several handmade envelopes. Then, apply your glue. Wait a few minutes for the glue to dry, then you can fold the flap down and give the envelopes as a gift or store them for later use.
Once you’re finished putting glue on your envelopes, you’ll have glue left over. Just put it in a little jar and keep it in your fridge! It will last for several months. Whenever you need to use the glue, just put it in the microwave for ~10 seconds so it liquefies from its solid (cold) state. Then, you can use it all over again. For several different sizes of envelope templates (and envelope liners to add heft to DIY envelopes), check out The Letter Writer’s Complete Resource. It includes five printable handmade envelope templates as well as other helpful tools to help you send gorgeous stationery!
Answers to Common Questions
This recipe first appeared on the TPK blog in 2013. Since then, I’ve received several questions about it! You’ll find those questions and answers below.
How long with this glue last? / The glue will last for several months in the refrigerator. It is a food product, so it will start to grow mold after a while.
Can you make this glue with only vegan ingredients? / I’m not sure. You could try swapping agar-agar or carrageenan for the gelatin. However, I have not tried either of these substitutes and cannot speak to their effectiveness.
Is the glue still effective over time? / Any moisten-to-seal glue weakens over time. I would guess that this glue will be effective for several years.
Is this a strong glue? / This glue seems to be as strong as commercial envelope moisten-to-seal glue. I think that you’ll find that it is more effective on certain papers, however, and less effective on others.
Thanks very much for reading, and enjoy your envelopes!