Last month, Laney Schenck asked me to participate in her annual “No More Boring Envelopes” event. Basically, a different artist makes a beautiful envelope every day of this month, and Laney posts it to her Instagram account. I never need an excuse to make envelope art, so of course I said yes! Today, I’ll show you how to make intricate teacup envelope art.
1. Choose a Teacup
I love sending envelopes to my friend Simon, owner of Scribblers in the UK. (You might recall that Simon was the star of this envelope!) It was easy to choose tea as a theme for this envelope because tea comes up a lot when I chat with Simon. He’s either just had tea, on his way to have tea, or thinking about the next time he’ll have tea. So, I chose to draw my favorite teacup to commemorate his love for tea: “Singapore Bird” by Adams.
If you’re not convinced about “Singapore Bird”, try searching Google Images for another teacup motif. The search term “vintage teacup” is a great place to start!
2. Draw a Pencil Draft
Teacup envelope art benefits enormously from a pencil draft. I used a photo of the “Singapore Bird” cup and a real-life cup as a reference to create a pencil drawing.
Then, I filled out the rest of the envelope with flourishes and botanical elements that coordinate with the design on the teacup.
3. Go Over the Draft With Ink
I needed a completely waterproof burgundy ink, so I mixed two shades of Ziller: Cardinal Red and Soot Black. If I know I’ll be using watercolor on my envelope art, I always use Ziller ink because it’s incredibly waterproof.
Next, I used a straight pen fitted with a Nikko G nib to trace over my illustrations.
I finished up by using a Brause EF66 nib (in an oblique pen) to trace over the flourishes. I prefer the stroke contrast of the EF66 for flourishes! Once the ink dried, I erased my pencil guidelines.
4. Add Watercolor to the Teacup Envelope Art
I couldn’t match every color on the teacup exactly, but I gave it my best shot with a Daniel Smith turquoise for the body of the teacup.
Then, after the turquoise watercolor had dried, I used assorted Greenleaf & Blueberry watercolors to fill in the rest of the cup and the botanical elements. I chose to use G&B paints because they tend to be pretty earthy and mellow.
Once I finished, I used a tiny paintbrush to apply tiny dots of yellow ochre to the envelope. This gives the envelope a quaint, cute look.
To finish up, I applied Microglaze to the envelope once it had dried. That way, none of my watercolor will streak or smear if the envelope encounters moisture en route to Suffolk.
I really enjoyed getting to unplug for an afternoon and make this teacup envelope art! Last week was a bit of a whirlwind due to the beginner’s calligraphy course redesign and calligraphy kit launch, so I needed a relaxing project to work on. Envelope art is one of my favorite things to create because two people benefit from it: the creator and the recipient! I hope that this envelope inspires you to make some pretty mail art. For more examples of mail art, see the #nomoreboringenvelopes hashtag on Instagram (and/or check out additional TPK mail art tutorials)!