Today, you’ll learn about how to find the best envelopes for calligraphy. Whether you’re calligraphing for an event or sending some snail mail “just because”, this article will help you to make more informed buying decisions!
There are two kinds of envelopes in this world: envelopes that lend themselves beautifully to calligraphy, and envelopes that don’t. Naturally, if you’re learning how to use the pointed pen and you want to use your skills for snail mail, you’ll want to make sure you have a few envelopes for calligraphy. The question, then, is how do you know whether an envelope won’t sabotage your calligraphy creation efforts? Today, we’ll talk about how to pick a good envelope every time.
Properties of Great Envelopes for Calligraphy
The first thing you’ll want to look at when purchasing envelopes for calligraphy is the weight. As a general rule, the thicker/heavier the envelope, the less likely your calligraphy ink will bleed when you create calligraphy on it. The adjectives that I’m using (“thick, heavy”) are subjective, so let me explain it this way: your envelope shouldn’t feel like it’s made out of everyday printer paper. When you flex it, there should be a little bit of resistance; it won’t feel flimsy.
If you’re buying online, it can be difficult to ascertain whether an envelope is high-quality or not. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to find out the weight* of the paper used to make the envelope. Some sites — like envelopes.com — share the envelope paper weight. Other sites play it coy with this information, and in that case, it’s a good idea to shoot them an email asking what poundage the paper is. Sturdy envelopes will be 70-80 lbs.
Ultimately, it boils down to this: test, test, test! You should always try writing calligraphy on an envelope before you purchase multiples of that envelope. If the merchant you are purchasing from offers samples of their envelopes, take advantage of that! If not, buy a very small amount, and try writing on them. You can never know for certain whether an envelope is going to interact well with your ink or not until you try writing on it.
Believe it or not, you’ve got quite a bit of leeway as far as dark-colored envelopes are concerned regarding envelope weight and quality. Here’s why: if you’re using a dark envelope, you have to use a light-colored opaque ink. In order to be opaque, the ink will need to be considerably viscous, and inks with a high degree of viscosity don’t tend to bleed. They’re just too thick and paint-like to spread out quickly and get lapped up by paper fibers.
You can write on just about any dark-colored envelope with the following opaque inks:
Gouache (pictured in the brown/yellow lace envelope above) – Note that gouache can also be used on light-colored envelopes.
The point I want to make in this section is this: you can use any dark calligraphy envelope that you want as long as you are using a viscous, opaque ink. Regardless of paper weight, you probably won’t run into ink bleed issues.
Dealing with Difficult Envelopes
There may be situations that require you to use envelopes that aren’t well-suited to the calligraphy ink you want to use. When those situations arise, you have a few options, which you can read about it in the Help, My Calligraphy Ink is Bleeding!article.
As always, the best cure is prevention: using a high-quality envelope will head off any problems you might have. However, sometimes you don’t have control over the envelope you need to use. In that case, you can fiddle with your calligraphy ink (or switch it out).
Calligraphy Envelopes Brand Recommendations
Here’s the thing: there are a lot of companies out there selling envelopes that are perfect for calligraphy. Just because those merchants don’t show up on my (very short) list doesn’t mean they don’t have awesome stuff! But, here’s what I like:
Cards and Pockets(affiliate link) – C&P is my go-to for everyday envelopes in any shape or color.
Paper Source – Paper Source has a similar selection to that of Cards and Pockets. They boast lots of envelopes in a variety of shapes/colors.
Indian Cotton Paper Co. – This is the best place to buy envelopes if you want toothy, textured, and heavy paper that exudes luxury.
Crane & Co. – I think of these classy envelopes as the “little black dress” of envelopes for calligraphy.
I’d like to reiterate that there are many fantastic places to purchase envelopes for calligraphy, and I’ve listed a very limited number of merchants in this article. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find your favorites! Remember, too, that you can always make your own envelope for occasions when you want your stationery to look extra unique.