Usually, a person’s mailbox is a pretty boring place, home to many a credit card offer and grocery store flyer. When something extraordinary graces a mailbox, it’s difficult not to get excited! Accordingly, today’s tutorial offers a quick and effective way to make chalkboard-like snail mail art with colored pencil accents that will stand out in anyone’s mail pile.
1. Gather Your Supplies
You’ll need the following supplies in order to make a piece like this:
Now, use your white pencil and a ruler to draw a vertical line down the center of the envelope. Then, draw a horizontal line along the center. Once you’ve done that, draw marks on the horizontal line that are 1.25″ (3.2 cm) from both sides of the envelope. Next, draw marks on the vertical line that are 0.75″ (1.9 cm) from the top and bottom of the envelope.
Now, connect the marks you just drew in order to make an oval. Don’t worry about drawing a perfect oval. Part of the charm of this piece is that it’s not perfect!
3. Make a Wreath
Next, dip a size 1 paintbrush — the size is engraved in the handle — into white ink. Use your brush to paint a wavy line over the oval you drew in the previous step.
Once you finish painting the wavy line, start painting another wavy oval line. This wavy line should have waves that appear at opposite parts of the first wavy line. It will look like you’re making “8”s all the way around the oval.
When you’re finished, the oval will look like this:
4. Add Laurel Branches
Once the white ink dries, pull out a red colored pencil and a blue colored pencil. (I chose to use Prismacolor pencils in “True Blue” and “Poppy Red”.) Then, take the red pencil and use it to draw a series of short and connected curved lines in the bottom left corner of the envelope.
Next, draw leaves that connect to the lines.
Before you go any further with the colored pencils, it’s a good idea to erase your soapstone pencil guidelines!
Now, draw another laurel branch, but make it blue.
Continue to draw laurel branches around the envelope. The size and the shape of the branches don’t matter. The important thing is to alternate the colors. Every red branch should be sandwiched between two blue branches, and every blue branch should be sandwiched between two red branches.
The result will look like this:
5. Write the Address on Your Snail Mail Art
Once you’ve got all your laurel branches, add your recipient’s address! I chose to write my recipient’s name in Amy Style calligraphy, then I wrote the address in Sans Serif letters. Notice that I made a pencil draft of the name/address first. I highly recommend doing that, though you don’t have to if you’re pressed for time.
Wait for your ink to dry, then erase any draft lines. Next, draw a white laurel branch above and below the address to complement the colored laurel branches. This helps to make the piece more cohesive.
6. Add Postage
To finish up, add a stamp or two to the upper right corner. Don’t worry about covering up some of your artwork; I find that stamps always enhance — rather than take away from — any piece of mail art.
While today’s tutorial shows how to use this design motif for snail mail art, I encourage you to be creative with using it on other projects! From place cards to bookmarks to greeting cards, you could use the technique described above to make any paper good stand out. All you’ll need is some black paper, white ink, and colored pencils — and voilà!
This tutorial was first posted in April of 2016. It has been updated to include clearer information.