My cousin Julie set in motion my current obsession for making fun envelopes when she sent an article she wanted me to read in an envelope of a rose with only the address label uncovered by the beautiful design. She is a more careful crafter than I am, and when I asked her for more samples to share, she sent great beauties, three of which are on these pages. She is also my guide for sources and supplies.
Julie’s paper source ideas:
Magazines and catalogs
Aside from choosing paper that doesn’t tear easily, there are few rules.
- Try fashion, home decorating, gourmet cooking, and travel magazines. Look especially for full-page ads.
- An earlier blog provided ideas for mini-envelopes using the illustrations in a bonsai catalog. Today another catalog with large photos of gourmet brownies called my name (at right), but almost any specialty catalog with photos large enough to make an envelope that’s at least 2 inches square will do.
Both Julie and I have hundreds of books we’re unwilling to part with, but there are many old, unwanted volumes found at library sales, Goodwill, and used book stores that we are willing to give a new life to by tearing out the colorful photos and making them into gorgeous envelopes. Look for large or coffee table-size books on:
- Art and/or particular artists
- Architecture and home interiors, decorating
- Birds, pets, other animals
- Cooking, baking, cocktails
- Gardening, gardens, landscaping, plants, flowers, nature
- Shells and beaches
- Sunsets, skies, stars, astronomy
- Transportation – trains, planes, vintage cars, bicycles
Also check out children’s picture or activity books. I am unwilling to tear up an undamaged book that a child could still use, but today I found a world history sticker book with lots of pastel illustrations and some still unused stickers. An example (minus the stickers) is at right.
Also look for the unconventional. Today’s Goodwill hunt also brought me a 20+ year old “curtain sketch book” with more than 150 pages of black and white illustrations (which I may or may not color in) for under $3. It’s delightful!
You can also look up all of these topics online and print full page color photos on a heavy (but not card stock heavy) paper.
Julie is wonderful at finding potential envelope patterns everywhere. Here are more of her ideas:
- Old sheet music or song book pages
- Crochet or needlepoint patterns
- Architectural floor plans in books or real estate brochures
- Old wallpaper books from a paint store
- Wrapping paper in rolls or individual sheets
- Pages from adult coloring books (colored or not)
- Zentangle illustrations
- Brown wrapping paper that’s been decorated with rubber stamps, paint, etc.
Julie and I love bargains and are magnetically drawn to any paper and art supplies sales. Making elegant envelopes can cost almost nothing if you download and print out templates from the Internet and use magazine ads for your paper source. You will need only a scissors and perhaps a little glue or a closing sticker/seal; what could be simpler?
However, if you are working with a group of adults or with children, you might be glad to know there are wonderful plastic templates from Paper Source ($15 for a set of 6) and a terrific device called an Envelope Punch Board by We R Memory Keepers. The latter is good for straight forward designs, but if you are trying to center a picture on the envelope for maximum effect, the clear plastic templates make it easier. These devices also make more elegant envelopes with full, rounded flaps. Ultimately, it’s the finished design, both front and back, that dictate which template to use.