Whether your mail art recipient lives in a mountainous area or not, mountains and snow are always an appropriate January mail art motif. My hope is that this snowy and shimmering mountains mail art tutorial inspires you to get out your iron gall ink and get to writing and illustrating! Read on to find out how you can make a pretty, wintery envelope just like this one.
1. Prepare Your Envelope
First, use an address guidelines template and a parallel glider to draw diagonal calligraphy guidelines. (To do that, position your envelope as shown over your guidelines template. Then, use your ruler or parallel glider to draw guidelines. If you want to make slant lines, too, see the “Making Slant Lines” subheading in this tutorial.)
2. Write the Recipient’s Address in Calligraphy
The magic of this mountain-themed mail art is all in the color scheme. Today, we’ll use iron gall ink — which has an earthy gray color that’s reminiscent of rocks — and Blue Silver watercolor from the Finetec Pearl Colors palette. You’ll need your favorite calligraphy nib + pen (I’m using a Brause EF66 nib + an oblique pen) and a paintbrush, too.
Now, you’ll alternate between writing with iron gall ink and Blue Silver watercolor. To do that, dip your nib in iron gall ink and write for a couple of letters. Then, without cleaning off the nib, use your paintbrush to apply Blue Silver watercolor. When the Blue Silver runs out, clean off the nib, and dip in the iron gall again. Here’s what the technique looks like:
*Note that this video has been sped up. It actually took me three minutes to write out Lizzie’s name, not one minute.
I chose to use Janet Style calligraphy for this mail art because of the dose of elegance that it provides. Any calligraphy style would look good using this color change technique, though!
3. Make a Pencil Draft
After you’ve written the calligraphy, use your pencil to make a draft of mountains, trees, and snowflakes in the lower right of the envelope. (If you’re stumped on how to draw mountains, look up photos of “mountain clipart”.)
4. Add Color
Now, use your dip pen and the Blue Silver watercolor to fill in any pine trees that you drew.
Then, use the same dip pen to outline the mountains with iron gall ink. Go ahead and draw more snowflake drafts in the top part of the envelope, too!
Dip your paintbrush in iron gall ink, and use that ink to add shading to the mountains.
Wet your paintbrush with water, and use that water to fill in the rest of the mountains. The result should be two tones of gray. The first tone of gray is dark because it’s undiluted iron gall ink. The second tone should be lighter since it’s iron gall diluted with water.
To lighten things up a bit, apply Silver Pearl watercolor (also from the Pearl Colors palette) to the left faces of the mountains.
It might not seem to make a difference, but — in the right light — the Silver Pearl shines like snow.
5. Add the Finishing Touches to Your Mountains Mail Art
To finish up, use your dip pen to trace over all the snowflakes with a mixture of Blue Silver and Silver Pearl watercolors. Then, erase any pencil guidelines. Find a postage stamp or two that complements your color scheme, and you’re done!
Snow is falling in Boulder right now, so this mail art seems especially appropriate! If you’re also feeling a wintery, cozy vibe, give it a try! If nothing else, I hope you’re inspired to experiment with that iron gall/metallic watercolor combination. It’s so pretty!
Thanks very much for reading today’s tutorial! I hope your 2022 is off to a fabulous start, and I look forward to reconvening with you in Monday’s newsletter. Have a wonderful weekend!