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!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Letter Lovin'

I am working my way slowly but happily through Joanne Sharpe's Letter Love 101 course.  I keep up with watching the videos, but take my time to actually complete the assignments, so I'm only about a third of the way through.  I am really enjoying the assignments, though, because the pressure is OFF and the playtime is ON.

In my last post about the class, I shared my notebook and some of my practice exercises.  Then Joanne moved us into our mixed media notebooks, and for me, the fun really began!

I really loved the Whimsy Grids that Joanne showed us how to construct.  As far as I am concerned, the Whimsy Grids lesson alone was worth the price of admission!
I love the opportunity to use lots of styles of lettering in one piece, and a chance to include lettering and doodling.  I wasn't happy with the final look of my Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils; I'm still working on how to use them to best effect.  (The purple came out muddier than I might have liked.)
I tried another Whimsy Grid with a quotation from Gandhi:
And you might have seen another example of a Whimsy Grid in my post about the Pay It Forward project:
(I'm still looking for my third participant, by the way!!)

Joanne also encouraged us to try other stacked lettering layouts:

In another fun lesson, Joanne had us working on composition, arranging fun alphabets across the page:
For several days, I've been working with her second example of alphabet composition.  Before applying it to quotations, I did a basic alphabet:
Then I combined this composition style with some Bible verses that I have been memorizing.  Spending time on lettering is a great way to commit the words and ideas to memory!
So, while some of my classmates are working on lesson 23, I am way back on lesson 8.  But by not putting pressure on myself to go any faster (after all, we have access to the class forever), I am still very much in the midst of letter lovin'!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Throwing a Themed Kid's Party, Take Two

Some of you may recall that I threw one of my first-ever themed kid's parties back in November when my daughter Katy turned four and requested a "Cars" theme.

 At the time, my younger daughter Bayla decided that she would have a "Hello Kitty" theme for her own party when she turned three.

She stuck to that theme for the next three months, and we recently pulled off her "Hello Kitty" theme on a Sunday afternoon.

It meant another trip to Party City for some packaged decorations, along with pink and blue crepe paper.  I also bought a ridiculous number of Hello Kitty stickers, and a variety of favors, like pencils, erasers, and tiny plastic cameras that show Hello Kitty pictures when you look inside.

This time around, we had the party at our house, even though we ended with more kids and parents than we had for Katy's party up at church.  The house was crowded, but ultimately accommodated the big group.

I had Hello Kitty coloring pages and fresh pointy crayons available for the kids at the kitchen table.  They generally seemed much more interested in checking out a few of the girls' toys that my husband brought up from the basement when the boys turned their noses up at the Hello Kitty pics.

After a little free play time (and time for munchies for the adults), we launched into a rousing game of Pin the Bow on Hello Kitty.

Everyone left with a little gold "Winner" medal for their efforts.

Then we played Hello Kitty Hot Potato, passing around a little stuffed tiger to music.  When the music stopped, whoever was left holding him was the Hot Potato.  From an adult point of view, it was one of the more pointless games (because I thought the kids were too young to be "out", so I just yelled "hot potato!" and the tiger continued his journey around the circle), and yet it seemed to be a fan-favorite with the three-year-old set.

Next, we did a ball toss into a big "kitten basket". Other than putting a masking tape line on the ground for the kids to stand behind, I neglected to establish any hard and fast rules. But the kids seemed to like it, because I stuck a Hello Kitty sticker on their shirts every time their ball landed in the basket.

Next came the cake and ice cream, with a Hello Kitty themed cake from the local grocery store.
Finally, we opened gifts.  I asked my mom to help me keep track of which guest brought which present, which is much more challenging than one might think when a group of three-year-olds is "helping" pass the presents, open the cards, and empty the bags at the same time!
Bayla got a great assortment of puzzles, books, activity books, dolls, and even a purple feather boa and tutu!

The party seemed to move much more quickly than Katy's had, and there wasn't really much time for additional games after the gift-opening.  We sent the kids home with a heart-shaped helium balloon and a goody bag. 

Bayla had a ball celebrating her birthday in the "traditional way," with food, games, cake, gifts, and friends. 

We held the party a week before her actual birthday, which is today. I've been spending a lot of time over the past couple of weeks, looking at photos of Bayla when she was new to our family.  Here are a couple of favorites I want to share with you:
Daddy gets to know his new little girl at the hospital.
My Sleeping Beauty
Going for a walk with Mommy
Always raring to go, from the very beginning

Happy birthday, little Love Bug!

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I was typing a post to share with you my younger daughter's Hello Kitty themed birthday party this past weekend.  My operating system decided that would be a good time to "reconfigure" and warning, just a blanked-out screen.

Once the computer finally came back on again, Blogger kept telling me that an error occurred during saving, but I persisted in finishing the post.  When I went to preview it before posting, Blogger navigated to a "page not found" page, at which time my entire post was deleted.

So, you know what?  I'm done.  Tomorrow, I am going on a "media-free" church retreat, and I am just going to get started a day early.  When I get back next week, I will try again with the birthday post.  And I will also share an envelope-making tutorial with you, and news of my progress in Joanne Sharpe's Letter Love class.

Until then, happy creating!  And I hope you have better luck with your technology than I have been having with mine.


I am still looking for another person to participate with me, April, and Laurie in the Pay It Forward project.  If you are interested, please read the post here and leave me a comment.  Thanks!!

Monday, February 13, 2012


My mother visited this past weekend, and brought some of her art to share with me.  Since she doesn't have her own blog, I insisted that she let me take photos and share her work with you on mine!
My mom is one of those people who will insist over and over again that she's not "artistic" or "creative."  She seems to think that those are labels reserved for "certain kinds of people," and not for her.

Yet, there isn't a moment of my life that I don't remember her cooking, sewing clothing, crocheting, hooking rugs, writing and journaling, candlewicking, cross-stitching, and decorating--all pretty "artistic" and "creative" in my book!
When I got so excited about Zentangles last year, I shared my new interest with her, and her own talent for the pasttime really took off.  Many of her tangles are done in the form of mandalas.
We have talked about her tangles during our phone conversations (she lives in Kentucky and I live in Pennsylvania), but I had not seen any of her work until she brought them along on this visit.  When I saw them, I knew that you should see them too!
I love her innovation, like using the small scraps of security envelopes to add color and pattern to this design:
And look at the adorable lips on this patterned fish:
Amazing and talented?
Why, yes!  I think so, too!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who Loves Art in the Mail?

I do!  I do!

I have been receiving postcards as part of Shannon's International Postcard Swap.  Participating in swaps means racing to the mailbox every day, hoping that today is one of the days when a fabulous postcard appears!

Here are the three I have gotten so far:
Beth sent this first card---with an absolutely gorgeous subdued color palette.  I was really wowed by her college (one of those things that looks even more spectacular in person).  The back of her postcard was super-fun, too:
I loved the exposed stitching on the back, similar to the exposed stitching on my own postcards!  Be sure to check out Beth's blog.

Next came this postcard from Judith:
I love that drawing of a Gothic building!  She had fun with the back of her postcard as well:
There was no Internet contact information for Judith, so I hope that she will run across this blog post to see a big "Thank You" from me!

Most recently Trish sent me this colorful beauty:
And more color on the back:
You can see more of Trish's projects at her blog, Lost Muse Journals.

You can see the postcards I sent out as part of this swap in this post from last month.

I am also doing an altered rolodex card swap with Chris, of Parabolic Muse.  In the midst of a million projects, she created these fun and colorful cards from...guess what?!...paper towel!!
Side One
Side Two
All of the card have fun designs, but I like that top one best of all!

So, do YOU want an original handmade gift in the mail over the next couple of weeks??  If so, please check out my most recent post, about the Pay It Forward Project.  I need two more people to sign up, and I will send a gift to you in the next couple of weeks. 

Be sure to leave a comment on yesterday's post if you are interested!

Happy Thursday!