Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tutorial: Handmade Envelopes

During my first craft show back in November, I offered handmade envelopes, created from various papers, including art and photography books, calendars, and children's storybooks. 

More than one person got a faraway look in their eyes as they came by my table, and told me how they had once made envelopes like that, but had not done it in a such a long time.

I, of course, suggested that they purchase one of my envelopes to refresh their memories (lol)!

In case you have wanted to make your own handmade envelopes from pretty recycled papers (or from favorite scrapbook papers, for that matter), I am offering a tutorial today on my method.  When my mother came to visit a couple of weeks ago, I gave her a face-to-face tutorial, so I will share some photos from that envelope-making session, too!

Step 1:  Collect materials for your envelopes.  At the end of the year, I asked a group of friends to set aside any old calendars that they were planning to discard, and asked them to pass them along to me instead.  Calendars are great because they have big, colorful pictures that can accommodate a large envelope template.
I also use papers from books I have bought at library books sales, maps, children's books, graph paper, and magazine and catalog pages.

Step 2:  Collect envelope templates.  These are the patterns you follow to create your envelopes.  They can be purchased, such as the Kreate-a-lope shown here:
You can also find them by doing an internet image search with key words such as "envelope templates." 

But perhaps the quickest and simplest way to get a template is to open up an existing envelope with a shape and size that works for you, and use it as a template.

Step 3:  Place your selected template on your selected paper and trace around it with a pencil.  I like to use a mechanical pencil with a sharp tip, because that line becomes very difficult to see on busy patterns.  When it comes time to cut, I end up using the "debossed" line more than the actual graphite line.  (I hope that makes sense; I wasn't sure how to decribe that!)
Here is my mom, at work on this step:

Step 4:  Cut along the pencil line you just drew.


Step 5:  Fold where the template indicates to create the envelope.


Step 6:  Use a glue stick (I prefer UHU) to adhere the flaps where they overlap.  Word to the wise:  Check the front frequently to make sure that you are gluing the bottom flap and not the top one! 
When I first started gluing with a glue stick, I would put my project on a piece of computer paper to keep the glue from getting on the tabletop.  I went through so much paper, and even though I was recycling it, it just felt wrong.  Then I heard this tip:  Save your catalogs and magazines to use as a surface for your gluing.  When one page gets gluey, flip to the next one.  When the whole book is gluey, throw it in the recycle bin.  I always mark the magazine with the word "GLUE" really big, so I don't get it mixed up with something I still want to read!
These are the tips that change lives, people!! 

Step 7:  This step is optional, but highly recommended.  I asked a friend prior to my craft show how important a "self-sticking feature" would be to her if she were considering buying handmade envelopes.  She said in no uncertain terms that she wouldn't consider buying an envelope that didn't stick shut.  So my search for double-sided tape (with one side that can be peeled away later) began.  I found two different kinds of two different widths at a rubber stamp show, but did not pay attention to the vendors' names, unfortunately.  But it's out there, folks!
Step 8:  Another optional step is to create a card to go inside of your envelope.  I do this for every envelope I sell at my craft shows.  (Do you like how I say that, when I've only done one show so far?  But I have another coming up in a few weeks!)

Here is a selection of handmade envelopes I have created:

Do you know what was the most exciting?  When I was photocopying some templates to send to my mom, I gave my four-year-old some of the copies that were just a touch off center.  She immediately started coloring the templates with colored pen.  One she designated for Daddy, who then suggested that we address it and mail it to ourselves so she can find it in the mailbox:
And the other one she designated for me, and told me to hang it up in my craft room so I could use it as "a pocket" for my craft things...her words!

So this blog post represents three generations of handmade-envelope-making!  I highly recommend you give it a try, if you haven't already...or if you haven't in awhile.  You will never toss a calendar again, I can almost guarantee you!

25 comments:

April Cole said...

This is such a sweet story to share, thank you! :]
The photos are priceless too ((hugs))
Amazing, how art brings people together.

Caatje said...

Wonderful post! I do all of this too, mostly with used calendars. And as a surface to glue on I always use junk mail. Great minds think alike! ;-)

scrapwordsmom said...

I love your post, Andria...your Mom is so cute!! And what a sweetie of a little girl you have:)

lee said...

loved the story, loved seeing your mom, and the envelopes, i will give it a try

laurie said...

i have gleaned so many ideas from just this one post of yours! thanks for sharing. your envelopes, and cards, would brighten up any mailbox.

Jo Murray said...

Very helpful and interesting info... thanks

Anne said...

Looking at the pictures of my visit I can see your Grandma in my hands, my posture, my expression -- kinda eerie! I've already made a couple envelopes and your tutorial works great.

Janet said...

Thanks for sharing your tutorial. I love using old magazines or catalogs for my gluing station. I keep a stack of them in the studio just for that purpose. And anything I can do with junk mail is always a plus.

eli said...

A very well tested tutorial ;)
I never toss any bit of paper, now they have new destiny! Thank you!

Parabolic Muse said...

I have just today gotten time to surf and blurf the web after days of card-making...and I haven't even read this post yet!....but I had to come here and comment on how excited I am to read this post!!!

Okay, off to read this post.

Parabolic Muse said...

101 followers?!!?!?! wow! Your following is exploding, and I actually had someone unfollow me last week!

Anyway, Andria!! A person could faint from this! The word 'debossed' ?! Brilliant! Yes, you described it perfectly. And the offset shiny page magazine cover as glue-handler is a magic helper for all gluing needs! I'm so glad you reminded me of this.

I feel as if I am embarrassing myself with all these superlatives and exclamation marks. But, seriously. THIS ROCKS! Thank you so much!

I mean...

...it was okay.

Andria said...

Thanks for the feedback, everybody! I hope it gets everyone making handmade envelopes to keep intersting mail out there in the system.

Chris, you make me laugh when you write a comment BEFORE you read the post...ha! Glad it ended up being "okay" for you...:-)

aimee said...

beautiful story! i love handmade envelopes!

Linda Jordan said...

These are so cute!! I love the idea of using book pages also. Thanks so much for sharing :)

Linda
http://lasteve1.blogspot.com

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