Thursday, April 5, 2012

Envelope Tutorial!!

Tutorial:  Handmade Envelopes from Recycled Materials
By Andria Kaskey, of Drawing Near (

There are so many embellishments that you can add to your art journal pages to create the look you are trying  to achieve or communicate the message you are trying to record.  While you can have lots of fun choosing scrapbook embellishments from the craft store, I think you will feel a great sense of satisfaction from creating handmade envelopes from pretty recycled papers (or from favorite scrapbook papers, for that matter) as a page element for your art journal.

If you’ve never made your own envelopes, or if it has been awhile, here is a step-by-step tutorial to show you how very fun and easy it is:

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.  Envelopes for your art journal may be smaller than envelopes you plan to send through the postal system, so you will be able to use smaller-sized papers to create them.

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."  You may be able to manipulate the sizes of these templates if you want to make smaller versions for an art journal page.

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.

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!

You can put anything you want into your envelopes, as long as it is smaller than the front face of the envelope.  The cards or tags you put inside can be all text; doodled or drawn; covered in paint, stickers, or ink; collaged with images from magazines and catalogs, or with bits of papers; or some fabulous combination of all of these!

Here is a selection of handmade envelopes I have created:

Here are some cards inserts I created for envelopes I was making for sale, embellished with postage stamps and rubber stamps:

Here is an art journal page that uses a handmade envelope from graph paper with a tag insert.  For the page, I glued down sewing pattern tissue, and then adhered an image transfer on top.  The handmade envelope is made from graph paper, and embellished with tissue tape and a rubber stamp image with my handwriting inside.  The tag is painted with watercolor, and includes a handwritten quotation:

In closing, I can think of at least four good reasons to include handmade envelopes in your art journal:
1.        First, because you can use such varied papers to create your envelopes, you can pretty much match any mood, color scheme, or style you might want to create for your journal page.
2.       Second, envelopes provide a kind of “secret hiding place” for things you want to include in your journal but do not necessarily want easily accessible to anyone who glances at your page.
3.       Third, envelopes provide an interactive element to your page, so that the experience of looking at your journal is less passive and more active.
4.       Fourth, handmade envelopes are fun and relatively easy to make! 

 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!

***Thank you so much to Andria of Drawing Near. Be sure and stop by her blog for TONS of art journaling inspiration!!!

I am taking the next 4 days off. We have a BUSY Easter weekend planned. Look for Week 5's assignment late Monday night rather than Sunday night. Also we will have TWO give aways next week!!

You girls are the BEST! Have a WONDERFUL EASTER BREAK!!!


  1. Love this, will use this in my journal for nick nacks, thank you :)

  2. leslie thanks so much for this -- what a great idea -- who would have thought -- :0)

  3. This is great! I'm going to use it for my "right brain business plan".

  4. Love your envelopes! Can't wait to try some!.. Enjoy your weekend, and a blessed and very Happy Easter to you! ~tina

  5. Thanks for including my tutorial in your eCourse, Leslie! What a pleasure to be part of what you are doing here. Have a blessed Easter weekend with your family!

  6. Hey....great tute and your loved ones have a happy

  7. Hi Leslie - it's been too long since I visited your blog (sorry, sorry - new endeavours and adventures came my way - very exciting but time consuming!) Anyway, I LOVE your envelopes! My mom taught me to make them but I haven't done it in quite a while. I should pick it up again, it is indeed rewarding and sooo nice to send postcards or letters to friends in a handmade envelope! (Oh, I had to giggle over your 'glue book' - I do the same! I always thought everyone did that... not? Great tip!)


I appreciate your thoughts and ideas...they inspire me!! I will be visiting you soon. Have a CREATIVE day!!

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