Mail Art Revival? Instructions for New Folded Envelope

Addendum 4.24.20: Because Google/Blogspot currently has a bug in the system, addendum 4.21.20: here is an alternate link to my website for the images if they are not showing here. I reposted them on the blog and hope they will hold in place.

Maybe it never went away, but mail art was popular and an active part of my life in the 1980s and 1990s. Accumulating rubber stamps and collage supplies and templates was part of the process. In addition to staying in close touch via email, chats, texts, and video conferencing, it might be time to amp up the anticipation and personalization and send paper mail art again.

I recently folded up a piece of paper to hold a check and was surprised to find I had folded an envelope of sorts, perhaps one that other people have been making for years. You would need to tape or glue it shut, but otherwise it will hold your missive quite well, and you can make it from ordinary printer paper, junk mail, wrapping paper, or paper you print out. While you can make it just by folding, you might use a ruler and pencil to mark it so the finished edges will be completely parallel.

Tools: bone folder (optional); pencil and ruler (optional)
Materials: 8 1/2 x 11" paper (or equivalent; any size for larger or smaller envelopes); glue, tape or sealing wax to finish and seal (optional for now)
Example: approximately 4" x 6 1/4" envelope (mine seemed to vary from 3 3/4"-4" x 6-6 1/4")

1. With the paper in front of you, wrong side up, horizontally, find the center at right and left edges. You can use a ruler and pencil to mark it, or bring the corners up and crease just at the edges to leave a little fold as a mark.

2. Bring the bottom corners up and try to align what were the right and left edges with the center marks. What were the side edges should now be parallel with top and bottom. Crease well.

3. Bring the top corners down to meet and align with the tops of the folded corners. Crease well.

4. Fold the points toward the center, points overlapping the open edges by about 1/2". Crease well.

5. Fold bottom up, matching the open straight edge with the right and left diagonal folded sides, if possible. Crease well.

6. Fold top down, overlapping the bottom flap. Crease well.

7. Your letter can be tucked all the way inside and held securely after the top flap is sealed. Finish by taping or gluing the top flap. The stickier kind of washi tape is nice. For fancy, try sealing wax.

This page shows you the placement of any text you might want to print first. Find this plain and simple template here.

This photo shows you how you might work from an inkjet printed image, 8 1/2" x 11", 300 ppi. (Note: your printer may leave a border, as mine did, so the image won't bleed all the way to the edges when printed out.)

Fly away, little envelope.

More envelopes are shown in Making Handmade Books: 100+ Bindings, Structures & Forms.


Susan said…
I was so interested in reading this but for some reason the diagrams aren't showing up for me in Chrome
Alisa said…
Susan and Everyone—
I just discovered today, for whatever reason, Google/Blogspot is having a problem and ALL their blogs are showing limited images. This is annoying, as you can see, and they are apparently working on fixing the bug. Sigh. I'm disappointed, too. Thank you for your patience on this. I hope you will try again.
Liz A said…
I'll keep coming back in hopes that the diagrams come through, but the concept comes through loud and clear

love that this post brought back the memory of making mail art with brown paper bags and crayons back when I was a teen in the early 70s ... happy wanna-be hippie days ...
Alisa said…
Thanks, Liz A! I love the image of crayon on brown paper bags. Back in the day when you could mail a coconut…
Alisa said…
Hi Everyone,
Since I don't know when the images will reappear, I've posted them on my website for you here:

Thanks for your patience!
d.guff said…
Hi Alisa,

I am a member of the North Redwoods Book Arts Guild, and our photos have also gone missing from our blog. I see that yours are now up again on your My question is, did you re-post them to your blog? or did they just come back by themselves.

Thank you for taking the time to answer this.
Dolores Guffey
Alisa said…
Hi Dolores,
I reposted the images, but that is not tenable for ten years worth of posts (although many of the images are still in place). Apparently there is a whole Blogger help thread about this. Lots of people are still missing their photos (as am I). One person said they had luck uploading just one photo at a time, rather than doing multiple upload, so that is what I did here, hoping they would stick (fingers crossed!). I still have posts missing photos, and I'm waiting to see when Google/Blogspot fixes this. Here's the thread I am watching to see if/when people start reporting that their photos are back, or if the tech support declares that all should be well:

It's frustrating, I know!
Liz A said…
Oh wow ... I didn't realize this was a retroactive bug ... thanks for alerting me. I just checked my old blog and sure enough, there are missing images. Thankful that I moved to a new platform last year, but there are scores, if not hundreds of links back to the old blog. Deep breath ... hopefully it gets resolved.