We’ve been moving house here in Boulder, which translates into a bit of chaos. Most of my time lately has been devoted to packing, unpacking, and searching for things that have mysteriously disappeared. To temper the stress of the move, I decided to give myself a creative time-out, and this watercolor hexagons mail art was born. I really enjoyed making it because it’s neat and orderly, yet also colorful and artistic! If you have some time this weekend, I encourage you to give it a try. Here’s how to make it:
1. Write the Recipient’s Name
First, choose a high-quality white envelope. I swear by anything from Paper Source! Before you write the recipient’s name on the envelope, you’ll need to draw three curved pencil guidelines. Start off by freehand drawing a wavy bottom guideline, then draw a second guideline on top that’s parallel to it. Finish with a third parallel guideline. Don’t worry if your guidelines aren’t exactly parallel to each other … this is art, and is not supposed to be perfect!
Once you have drawn your guidelines, use Flourish Formal calligraphy and a black ink (like sumi) to write the recipient’s name. Take advantage of the guidelines! The bottom guideline provides a baseline for letters, the middle guideline helps you with lowercase letter height, and the top guideline helps with uppercase letter height.
Next, use the How to Draw a Banner tutorial to draw a banner around the name in pencil.
When the banner looks good to you, trace over it with ink!
2. Write the Recipient’s Address
Once you have drawn the banner in ink, use a pencil and a ruler to make small guidelines for the address. I wrote two pairs of address lines that were roughly 3/16″ apart with 1/16″ of space in between. However, the distance is a personal preference! I like to use a parallel glider to make guidelines like these.
The address is nice and easy to write because you can justify all your text to the left! You could write the address in calligraphy, but I like the contrast of a Sans Serif address with a calligraphed name.
3. Choose Your Stamps
As you wait for the ink to dry, choose the postage stamp/s that you will use for the envelope. It’s important to choose your stamps at this time because they will determine the color scheme of the mail art! You don’t need to glue down your stamps yet; just arrange them nicely.
If you like the stamps pictured here, you can purchase similar stamps on eBay for a very reasonable price! As long as they have never been used, the post office will recognize their face value. For a 1 oz. letter, the value of the stamps should add up to at least $0.49. If you would prefer to use one contemporary stamp versus a stamp collage, that’s fine, too! You’ll just need to draw more hexagons in the next step to fill up space.
4. Trace Hexagons
Once the ink has dried, erase the pencil guidelines that you drew. Next, keep your stamp or stamps placed on the envelope, but don’t glue them down yet. (I like to wait until the envelope is completely finished before I glue down stamps. That way, if I mess up and have to toss the envelope, I don’t lose any stamps!) Print off the Hexagons Template, and cut out the size of hexagon that you want to use (I generally opt for 1″). Lightly trace around that hexagon several times on your envelope.
The order you trace in is up to you, as is the position of your hexagons. The photo below shows the order that I traced each hexagon in:
The point of the hexagons is to fill up negative space, but not so much that the envelope looks cluttered. You don’t need to fit in a hexagon wherever you can; in fact, you’ll want to make sure you leave some spaces empty!
5. Add Watercolor to Your Mail Art
Now, take a look at your stamp/s and identify the three most predominant colors in them. If the predominant colors aren’t obvious, that’s okay: just choose three colors that appear in the stamp or stamps. In my case, the predominant colors are purple, green, and gray. Get out your watercolor palette and moisten those three colors.
Choose one of the colors, and use it to fill in a handful of scattered hexagons.
Once you’ve done that, clean off your brush and use the next color to fill in some hexagons. Repeat the same process for the last color.
Once you finish painting, glue down the stamps! If you’re concerned about the watercolor getting wet in transit, you can waterproof the envelope — otherwise, it’s perfect to send as-is. As a side note, I hardly ever waterproof my envelopes, and they always arrive fine … but I live in a fairly dry area!
I like this mail art concept because it’s efficient, artistic, and easily modified! If you’re uncomfortable with watercolor, for example, you can use markers, colored pencils, or crayons to fill in the hexagons. You can also play with calligraphy and lettering styles, and change the banner to suit your own style! Feel free to experiment and make the project uniquely yours.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial, and that you give it a try this weekend! Again, you can find the printable hexagon template by clicking here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Otherwise, have a wonderful and creative weekend.