If you follow the TPK Facebook page, then you know that every couple of weeks, I like to post an envelope design mini-tutorial! I do it in the hopes that I will motivate others to experience the joy of mail art. It sounds a bit silly until you try it, but making something creative and beautiful for someone else is the best feeling! Don’t knock it ’til you try it: making creative envelope designs is fun for you and wonderful for whoever receives your creation. In this post, you’ll find three inspirational mini-tutorials from the TPK Facebook page that will encourage you to get your mail art on!
1. Abstract Watercolor Bubbles Creative Envelope
If you’ve got some watercolor paints and a black pen laying around, then you’re equipped to rock this colorful and creative envelope design! To make it, you’ll first want to moisten the following colors in your watercolor palette with water: red, orange, blue, and purple. If you have a Finetec gold pan, moisten it, too! Otherwise, yellow makes a great substitute. There’s no need to pull out your artist-grade watercolors for this project: a simple watercolor set like the Prang palette pictured below will work great!
Next, get out a high-quality white envelope (the envelope pictured is “Pure White” from Paper Source). Use a large (size 6-ish) brush and random strokes to apply plain water to the left side of the envelope. While the water is still wet, load your brush with any color of paint, then touch the brush to the water. The watercolor will immediately start to bloom!
Continue to apply the brush’s tip to the wet water on the envelope using each color that you moistened. As the individual paint colors spread, they will naturally blend! (If your water starts to evaporate, feel free to brush on more.) Once all the water on the envelope has color on it, allow the envelope to dry. It’s okay if it bubbles up a bit in the process!
Once your paint has dried, use a fine-tipped black pen (I like Pilot G2 05s) to draw random sizes of connected circles on top of the paint.
There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason to the pattern of the circles, and they should only partially cover your paint!
Next, use the same pen to write your recipient’s name in George Style lettering. Instead of filling in the George letters with diagonal lines, however, you can use circles! After you have created the lettering, you can use any calligraphy style to write in the address. I chose to use Janet Style calligraphy because its curves contrast well with the geometric nature of George Style lettering.
Finish up the envelope by adding a couple of stamps, and it’s ready to send! As a side note, the Janis Joplin stamps available on the USPS website go perfectly with this design concept.
This envelope is awesome because it unleashes the abstract artist in you! I love the concept of drawing over vibrant bursts of watercolor; it’s an idea that came to me after stumbling upon this Etsy listing via Pinterest! It’s fun to make the watercolor bursts, and drawing in the little circles is so relaxing. Try making this mail art — you’ll be glad you did!
2. Upcycled Graphics Creative Envelope
A couple of years ago, I paired up with Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio to create a 2015 calendar. Zakkiya created the wilderness-inspired illustrations, and I made the layout and calligraphy! Though we’re nearing 2017, I still can’t bring myself to put our lovely creation in the recycling bin.
I’m sure that you have little paper goods like this as well: things that are special and lovely, but no longer useful. One of the best ways to breathe new life into beloved paper goods is to incorporate them into mail art! To do so, first draw a pencil circle around an illustration on your paper good. Use scissors to cut the illustration out along the pencil lines.
Next, procure a long envelope (this a #10 envelope in “Mint” from Paper Source). Make a vertical pencil guideline just to the left of the envelope’s center, then draw horizontal pencil guidelines to guide you in writing the address. Then, write your recipient’s address using any style of calligraphy and an ink that corresponds with the illustration you plan on using! For this envelope, I used Janet Style calligraphy and Dr. Ph. Martin’s Turquoise Bombay Ink.
Once the ink has dried, erase your pencil guidelines. Brush glue on the back of your illustration, and affix it to the left side of the envelope. Make sure the edges of the illustration are glued down well! You don’t want the illustration peeling off in the post office sorting machine. Next, add a postage stamp or two! (The vintage stamps in the collage below were purchased on eBay.)
Finish up by adding some embellishments! For example, you can draw dots bordering the illustration, then use the “Arrows and Feather” motif from the Artistic Corner Designs post to visually tie everything together.
This creative envelope design concept is efficient and easy for a couple of reasons. First of all, there’s no need to illustrate anything: you’re using a pre-made illustration as the main attraction of this piece! Secondly, you don’t have to center your calligraphy. Instead, you’re justifying it to the left, which is a big time saver! Despite the fact that this piece only takes a couple of minutes to put together, it looks super cool and is a delight to receive.
3. Creepy Halloween Castle Creative Envelope
It’s hard not to love Halloween: even if you’re not into the whole candy thing, the artistic opportunities this holiday presents are so much fun! To make an envelope like this, you’ll first want to procure a fairly dark blue envelope (the envelope shown is from a local shop in Boulder; “Peacock” from Paper Source would work well, however). Next, use white watercolor to paint a circle/moon somewhere on the upper left part of the envelope. You can then use iron gall ink to paint a cliff, a castle, and a witch like those shown below! Once you’re finished painting, use your calligraphy pen to draw in window panes and tiny bats.
Add a few stamps to flesh out the right side of the envelope, and this witch is ready to fly to her new home!
Now, you may have read this Halloween mini-tutorial and felt intimidated by the illustration portion. I know I say it casually — like, “Oh, yeah, just whip up a castle and a witch” — but I know that illustration takes determination and time! If you’re intimidated, try drawing your castle in pencil first until it looks like you want it to. Then, paint over the outline with ink. Next, use your pencil to draw the witch, then paint over her as well. If your illustrations don’t look exactly as you pictured in your head, don’t be discouraged! Every time you illustrate something, your drawing skills improve.
I hope that you enjoyed the mini-tutorials detailed in this post! If you have any questions about the process behind any of them, please feel free to ask. If you can’t think of anyone to send an envelope to, check out More Love Letters! Any one of the recipients listed there will be overjoyed to receive something from you, truly.
I know I say this a lot, but I mean it: thanks so much for reading TPK! I feel so lucky to have you as a reader, and I hope that you have a wonderful day!