Travel — whether domestic or international, near or far — is one of the very best ways to jump-start your creativity. When you experience new architecture and artwork, new people, and new food, you find yourself filled with new ideas when you return home! In this post, we’ll cover two international mail art tutorials, both inspired by a trip to Brazil last month. The mail art hints at some of the Brazilian pride we saw in Rio as preparation for the Olympics was underway …
Both tutorials pull artistic innovation from the charming city of Ouro Preto …
And, finally, the two envelopes hint at the adventure that we found in the mountains of Itatiaia (near Ouro Branco)!
Both of these international mail art tutorials first appeared on the TPK Facebook page. Feel free to modify them to match whichever village/city/country you have recently visited! At the end of the tutorials, you’ll get a chance to win a Yarka watercolor set and two brushes, which will be perfect to take with you on your next trip.
Brazilian Flag International Mail Art Tutorial
The feasibility of this tutorial depends, of course, on the complexity of the flag you are making. Some flags will lend themselves well to this technique, and others will take a bit longer to make! The Brazilian flag is comprised of three basic shapes and colors, so it is an excellent mail art candidate. Make sure you begin by pulling up an image of the flag you intend to make; that way you have something to reference! For Brazil, you’ll want to start off with three components: a green envelope (I used “Clover” from Paper Source), a yellow card stock diamond, and a blue card stock circle. (You can just trace around the bottom of a soda can or any other circular object to make the circle.)
Next, start writing the address on a bit of a slope. The slope mimics the shape of the “ORDEM E PROGRESSO” in the Brazilian flag. To create this address, I used a variation of Sans Serif hand-lettering, Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White ink, and a Nikko G nib.
Once you have written the address, add a couple of stars here and there to allude to the stars in the Brazilian flag. Next, put glue on the back of the yellow diamond. Make sure you apply plenty of glue to the four corners; you don’t want them catching on the mail sorting machine! Once you have glued down the yellow diamond, glue the blue circle with the address in the middle. Again, ensure it is securely glued!
Finish up by adding the appropriate postage. The postage stamps that you use should be relatively small so as not to visually take away from the flag!
Finally, write your return address on the back! I used Kaitlin Style calligraphy and Bleed Proof White ink to make the return address shown in this example.
Your international mail art is now ready to send, whether it’s going all the way to Brazil or simply to a fan of Brazil who lives near you!
Found Paper International Mail Art
No matter where you go, you’re sure to find paper to bring back. Whether it’s a promotional poster, a paper sack, or a map, you can upcycle the paper into an envelope! We picked up this map in Itaiaia (near Ouro Branco); I loved the antique look of it, and I knew I had to bring it home. Once you have the paper you are intending to make into an envelope, flatten it out and use the A1 envelope template from The Letter Writer’s Complete Resource to cut out an envelope shape.
Fold all the flaps in, then glue the side flaps to the bottom flaps. Don’t glue down the top flap yet; you need it open so you can put your contents in the envelope!
To make it easy on the post office’s reading machines, it’s a good idea to write the recipient’s address on a separate, light-colored piece of paper. The 70 lb. drawing paper below has been cut to the size of a business card.
Once you have written the address (I used a mix of Kaitlin Style calligraphy and all-capital Sans Serif), glue it onto the envelope. Again, make sure you pay special attention to gluing the corners so the address isn’t ripped off in the sorting machine!
Turn the envelope over and insert the contents you wish to send (e.g. a letter, photos). Once you have inserted the contents, you can use regular glue to seal the envelope, or you can use envelope glue. (I would use envelope glue if you have made or are planning on making more than one envelope; otherwise, it’s more efficient to use regular glue.)
Once you add the appropriate postage, the envelope is ready to send!
Every time I go on vacation, I bring watercolors with me! At home, I can never seem to find the time to paint; but when I’m traveling, I can “let go” and enjoy creating. Yarka paints are wonderful for bringing on trips because they are vivid and compact! The winner of this giveaway will receive one set of 24 Yarka watercolor paints, a $55 value plus shipping.
Of course, you can’t paint without brushes, so the winner will also receive two Winsor & Newton Series 7 brushes (a $28 value plus shipping). One is size 00, and the other is size 1. These brushes are fantastic for painting tiny details — I use mine all the time!
To enter the giveaway, you can use the Rafflecopter widget below. If you don’t have a social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest) account, you can always enter using the “Answer a Question” option! Note that anyone, anywhere is eligible to win — I’m always glad to ship internationally!
Thanks so much for participating! Remember, if you’ll be in the Portland area the weekend of September 24th, I’m hosting an all-supplies-included modern calligraphy workshop in the Pearl District. There are still a few slots available! You can read details by clicking here — note that the Berkeley workshops have already sold out. I hope to see you there!
Have a great weekend, and thank you for reading TPK!