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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.