Full disclosure: I’ve never been to Mexico, but I have always been in love with Mexican art. In general, it’s colorful, eye-catching, and playful! That’s why you can find Talavera Mexican tile motifs (and actual tiles!) throughout my house, from the basement …
To my workspace …
And, more recently, in our living room:
It’s hard not to love drawing Talavera Mexican tile motifs because the process is so relaxing! It was only a matter of time until I figured out they’d look great on an envelope, which brings me to today’s tutorial. In this post, I’ll teach you how to draw three motifs and put them together to make a truly awesome piece of mail art! All you’ll need to get started is an envelope, a pencil, and a pen.
1. Cut and Trace Around a 1.5″ x 1.5″ Template
Begin by cutting out a 1.5″ x 1.5″ square. You can use any scrap piece of paper to make this square since you’ll just be using it as a template! Once you’ve got your square, trace around it in pencil several times on your envelope. Note that if you’re using a dark-colored envelope like the “chocolate” one I’ve got here, you’ll want to use a white pencil for tracing lines.
2. Draw a “Flower Blossom” Tile
Get out a regular ballpoint or gel pen. (If you’re using a dark envelope, a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen is a great choice!) Use your pen to draw an “X” in the middle of one of the squares.
Next, rotate your paper to draw another “X” over the first “X”. The legs of this second “X” should fill in the negative space between the legs of the first “X”.
Now, fill in the spaces between all of your lines with solid teardrop-like shapes.
Once you’ve drawn the teardrops, cap off the end of each line with three smaller teardrops (see the photo below for reference).
Once you’ve capped off every line, use your pen to trace over the tile template lines. And now, congratulations, you’re finished with your first tile!
Repeat the “Flower Blossom” creation process two more times in random squares on your envelopes.
3. Draw a “Cross” Tile
Once you’re happy with the amount of “Flower Blossom” tiles you’ve got, you’ll move on to a cross motif. To do that, draw a cross (with lines of equal length) in the center of one your squares.
Flesh out your cross by freehand tracing around it …
… And filling it in. Once you’ve filled it in, draw a square about 1/8″ (~3 mm) from the pencil template lines.
Next, freehand draw a thick line around the outside of the cross. Once you’ve done that, add four solid squares in all four corners of the square that you just drew.
Now, trace over your pencil template lines. Once you’ve done that, draw a sesame seed-like shape in all four corners of what has now become a border.
Finish up the “Cross” Talvera Mexican tile by filling in the border with sesame seed shapes leaning in various directions, as shown in the photo below.
When you finish your first “Cross” tile, draw another one for good measure!
4. Draw a “Kaleidoscope” Tile
We’ll finish up the envelope art by drawing a “Kaleidoscope” tile! To do that, start with an “X” just like the one you made for the “Flower Blossom” tile.
Fill in a little circle in the center of that “X”, then use a circular doodle motion to draw a flower at the end of each line.
Next, draw two almond shapes between each line of the “X”. These shapes should point toward the circle at the center! Once you’ve done that, add two curved teardrop shapes underneath each flower; these shapes represent petals.
Now, you’ll trace over your pencil template line. Then, make a “mountain” of scale-like shapes on each side of the square. Once you’ve drawn these shapes, fill them in with dots (one dot per scale), and draw additional dots on the outside of the scale mountain.
Repeat this step on the other three sides of the square.
Make one more “Kaleidoscope” tile — or, in this case, half of one — and you’re finished with the decorating part of your mail art!
5. Add an Address + Stamps
Since this Talavera Mexican tile motif is so ornate, you can use pretty simple lettering to write your recipient’s name and address! I used George Style lettering for the name, and Sans Serif capital letters for the address.
If you’re sending the mail art internationally, you’ll need to add more than one postage stamp. It’s also not a bad idea (in the US) to put your return address in the upper left corner versus on the back of the envelope! Finally, feel free to add a bit of flourish where you feel the envelope could benefit from it. In my case, the lower center and right of the envelope needed some love!
To send this lovely piece off safely, consider applying Microglaze to it. That way, if it happens to encounter any moisture on its journey, it will arrive without any damage!
I hope that you enjoyed learning how to draw these tiles. Of course, you can use them on many more projects than mail art! As you saw, I love Talavera Mexican tiles on chalkboards. They’d also be cool on sketchbooks, sketchbook journals, notebook covers … anywhere, really! Have fun and feel free to experiment with your own motifs!
Thanks very much for reading TPK, and have a great weekend!