• One Weekend, Two Fabulous Mail Art Tutorials

    This weekend, take on these two mail art tutorials! In one of the tutorials, you’ll make a fancy “branded” envelope that’s worthy of a Fifth Avenue shop. The other tutorial teaches a concept that has plenty of color, movement, and international flair!

    One Weekend, Two Fabulous Mail Art Tutorials

    Around this time every year, I go through a serious letter-writing spurt. Spring has a rejuvenating feel, so it’s a nice time to update friends on my happenings via letters. If I’m really feeling ambitious, I make a couple of cards and decorated envelopes in advance to send out later in the year. Today’s article is a two-for-one of mail art tutorials that will inspire you to send some springtime mail, too!

    Chic “Product Packaging” Mail Art Envelope

    Have you ever purchased something from a boutique store and loved the packaging it came in? If so, you’ll love this “Product Packaging” concept. This envelope is reminiscent of a thoughtful little boutique package tied up with twine.

    Chic “Product Packaging” Mail Art Envelope

    1. Gather Supplies + Draw Twine

    First, choose a neutral-colored envelope. Next, use Bleed Proof White ink to draw two lines — both 3-4 mm wide — on the front of the envelope. One line should cross through the middle of the envelope horizontally, and the other should cross through the middle of the envelope vertically. Once the ink dries, use a pencil to draw small, diagonal lines over it as pictured below.

    Chic “Product Packaging” Mail Art Envelope
    Choose an envelope that’s dark enough for white paint to show up on it, but light enough for pencil marks to show up as well. “Pale Grey” from Cards & Pockets would be a good choice!

    Continue to draw small diagonal lines over the white paint. (You don’t need to draw diagonal lines toward the center of the envelope because your “product label” address will cover up that part.) Once you finish drawing the lines, you can add some shadows to create the illusion of depth and make the paint look like real twine.

    Chic “Product Packaging” Mail Art Envelope
    Try drawing shadows (i.e. parallel lines) to the right of the vertical line and to the bottom of the horizontal line. Shadows will give your “twine” some depth!

    2. Add a Bow

    Now, flip the envelope over, and draw two more white lines: one vertical and one horizontal. Where the lines meet in the middle, draw two wavy ovals and two short, wavy lines to make a bow. Once the white ink has dried, draw short, diagonal pencil lines over it (like you did on the front of the envelope). Then, draw in shadows.

    Chic “Product Packaging” Mail Art Envelope
    Shadows should appear to the right of vertical lines and at the bottom of horizontal lines.

    3. Make a “Product Label” Address

    To finish up, cut out a 3.25″ x 2.75″ (~8.25 cm x 7 cm) white piece of paper for the “product label” address. On that piece of paper, use a dip pen and sumi ink to draw a little “logo” at the top that incorporates the first letter of the recipient’s name. Draw a horizontal line under the “logo”, then write the recipient’s name in Kaitlin Style calligraphy. Then, write their address in Sans Serif lettering under the name. Finish up by adding another straight horizontal line under the address.

    Chic “Product Packaging” Mail Art Envelope
    My “logo” is just a simple “S” with a circle of dots around it. You can adapt this concept to any letter!

    4. Assemble the Envelope

    Once the ink has dried, apply glue to the back of the paper you just wrote on, then center the paper on the front of the envelope. Add a single stamp to the upper right corner, and your envelope is ready to send!

    Chic “Product Packaging” Mail Art Envelope
    Make sure everything is glued down well; otherwise, the sorting machine at the post office may rip the label off the envelope.

    And voilà: a classy envelope that is a delight front to back!

    State or Country Mail Art Envelope

    This state or country mail art concept centers around the recipient’s location. Bright watercolors, streaks of paint, and plenty of spatters give visual interest to the piece!

    Peruvian Envelope | The Postman's Knock

    1. Trace + Paint an Outline

    To make an envelope like this one, begin by printing out a small outline of your recipient’s country or state (you’ll be able to find an outline using Google Image Search). The outline should be no more than 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide, and no more than 4.75″ (12 cm) tall if you’re using an A7 envelope. Once the outline has been printed, cut it out such that it’s contained in a small rectangle. Tuck the outline into a white envelope, and use a light box or a bright window to trace around it in pencil.

    State or Country Mail Art Envelope
    To make paint droplets, load your paintbrush with watercolor. Then, use your finger to flick the bristles of the paintbrush up and down.

    Once you’ve drawn a pencil outline on your envelope, use waterproof black ink to trace over your pencil lines. Then, fill the outline in with three different tones of watercolor paint. While the paint is still wet, blow on it to create paint streaks (as described in the Artistic Ornaments-Themed DIY Christmas Card Tutorial). Then, use your paintbrush to flick paint droplets all over the envelope.

    2. Write Wavy Calligraphy

    Now, use a pencil to draw a series of evenly-spaced wavy guidelines that run parallel to each other. You can just free-hand draw these lines; they don’t need to be perfect! Use Janet Style calligraphy and iron gall ink to write your recipient’s name and address.

    State or Country Mail Art Envelope

    Once you’ve written out the address, find some postage stamps that correspond with the color scheme of your watercolor state or country. Then, apply them to the upper right corner of the envelope.

    Peruvian Envelope Art

    Don’t forget to include your return address somewhere on the envelope! I chose to write my address in all-lowercase Kaitlin Style calligraphy on the back of the envelope.

    Peruvian Envelope Art
    I wrote the return address on the back of this envelope without incident. However, it’s always a good idea for US-based mail art makers to write return addresses on the front of the envelope … especially if the envelope has an international destination!

    Note that you’ll likely need to modify the layout of your mail art to accommodate the shape of the state or country that you’re creating. Peru has a nice “C” shape that hugs the address, but a rectangular shape (like the state of Colorado) might look better placed at the top or the bottom of the envelope. Play around with a pencil draft to see what will work best for you!

    I hope that these two mail art tutorials inspire you to hunker down and get creative this weekend! Make modifications as needed, and I know that you’ll love what you come up with.


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock