20 August 2011
I've been asked several times by several people (some more patient than others, thank you!) for a mail art tutorial. Please note that this is just my current personal style of mail art that has made me happy, and things can be customized to use tools that you have... I just wanted to share a way for people who may not be into it, to get into it! Its easy, promise!
So to start... you need a canvas/slate... for me, thats a blank piece of paper I'll turn into an envelope. To do that, I drew up this little picture so you can see how I easily turn a piece of paper into an envelope, without an actual template:
Please note that you can put off the GLUE step of the envelope until you're done decorating the envelope, but thats up to you! Personally, I do... so you won't see my envelope all together until I glue it. :)
After MAKING the envelope, the process of decorating the envelope begins... I use markers, pens, washi tape, stamps, ink, pencil crayons, other papers to layer onto it, etc. You can use ANYTHING, I've even seen simple objects like playing cards incorporated into this!
My first step for decorating envelopes is to give myself a background. I'm often intimidated by a blank piece of paper, so I start to add colour to it, using COPIC markers.
After this part is usually when I glue my edges up (as opposed to the first step), but if you're skipping a striped envelope (and it doesn't have to be striped, let your imagination go wild!), you can do that at any point that you're comfortable with, or even wait until you're done altogether.
After creating a pattern and gluing up my envelope, I use stamp ink to distress the edges of the envelope, to make it look grungy or old. To do this you can use any colour stamp ink you want! What I find works best is a brand called "Distress Ink" by Tim Holtz. It dries to a light colour, so it doesn't outshine anything you're adding on top of it, and just gives a nice grungy look. I tend to do this on every edge of the envelope that the recipient will see, both front and back. Again, if you don't like the grungy look, skip this step! YOUR mail art that you send should be stuff that YOU enjoy and that you think the recipient will enjoy also!
The next step I usually take is to address the envelope, or to at least add the recipients name, since that will be the main focus of the envelope. For this tutorial, I'm making a pretty piece of mail art for my friend Katie! Usually I either draw a name on or use stamps, or a combination of both. For the purpose of this tutorial, I'll use letter stamps! I have one set of letter stamps that I use on a regular basis, that I bought at Wal-Mart for $4 in the clearance bin! Stamp sets are usually pretty expensive, but if you're going to continue creating mail art (and why wouldn't you?!), investing in a good set of stamps you love is a good idea! Unmounted clear stamps are also cheaper, because you can buy an acrylic block to reuse with your stamps over and over again, and don't worry if your recipients name has multiple uses of the same letter, you can stamp 2-3 letters at a time of a name if you have to!
After your recipients name is on the envelope, you can add the address (or wait until other decorations are applied), or keep decorating! I tend to keep decorating and add the address last! I don't have much else to add, but I'll snap a few little photos to inspire different elements for your mail art!
The above photos are several techniques that I use to decorate envelopes. Use as many or as few as you want to achieve the perfect envelope for your recipient. I tend to go overboard - the crazier the mail the bigger the smile would be on MY face!
Hopefully you've found this guide to creating pretty mail art inspiring, and now you want to make your own! If you do, please share photos in the comments (or links!). I'd LOVE to see what everyone else creates, and also feel free to share some of your own techniques!
A few tips and pointers to keep our postal worker friends happy:
- always use a return address, just in case something can't be delivered!
- always make sure the address AND return address are clear and legible!
- always use enough stamps!!! If you're not sure how many to use, take it into your local post office to find out
From my experience, postal workers LOVE seeing unique and creative mail, so long as they can clearly read it and safely deliver it! Be sure to check your mail regulations and guidelines before sending anything in the mail!
And always remember, the best way to receive fun mail is to send it! I'm a member of a site called sendsomething.net. Its a private site (for members only) where you can search for new people to send mail to (use at your own risk, of course). I have met a few awesome penpals through that site, and mail art buddies, too! You can also join sites like swap-bot.com or join penpal or mail forums online... if you're also a knitter, there are several Penpal groups on Ravelry.