Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jumping in with both feet but I need some input

I've decided that I really must try my hand at mail art. Two things have held me back from trying it. One, I couldn't come up with any kind of "theme" that really appealed to me and two, I'm not the most artistic or creative person. The first obstacle I've managed to overcome but the second one has me feeling pretty shaky.

I was the kid who got glue in her hair in Kindergarten. And I was the kid with marker all over her face, hands and arms because grace certainly isn't my middle name! Alas, I was also the kid whose eyelid got glued shut when she turned in her seat to say something to a friend and bumped into said friend's raised rubber cement brush. I haven't forgotten those incidents though the traumatic aspects have faded. Ha!

Paper, pens, pencils, stickers, crayons, wax, markers, tape, and yes, even glue, have been lifelong loves of mine but only in a sit down, write a letter, glue or tape the flap of the envelope if needed, seal it prettily, and mail it sort of way. I've never taken it further though I've felt a strong desire to do so. Finding all the wonderfully creative mail art bloggers out there has deepened that desire and I've been torn between wanting to dabble and wanting to tear my eyes out so I can't see all the pretties! The pretties won.

This morning, as I worked with a faded, smudged, printed census record, eyes squinted, magnifying glass over a very hard to read name - it hit me. Why not use my love of genealogy in my attempt to create some kind of mail art? 

I like that idea, I really like it! I even have a picture in my mind's eye of an envelope I want to create. The problem is I'm not sure just where to start. 

I know how to make collages and used the concept to cover the counters in a business I co-owned a few years ago. The result was lovely and received many compliments. I have a nice collection of pens, markers, and other writing instruments and I have more paper than the local library, I think. What I lack is basic knowledge on how to pull those things together to create something from nothing. 

For example, if I want to make an envelope, can I/should I use an existing envelope or is it best to start from scratch and make one? I've collected some information on how to make envelopes but don't know if an existing one would work. 

Okay, so for you mail art and creative folks out there, how should a newbie like me start? I really need input. Thank you!


  1. Hey, awesome that you are getting into mail art. Leaving a Paper Trail has several posts about making and decorating envelopes in different ways. Here is the first one.
    If you click newer post at the bottom it will take you to the other posts.

    You can make a template from that existing envelope and trace around it on a new piece of paper, but I often take an existing envelope and just glue or tape things to it.

    There are no rules in mail art!!

    Have an awesome time.

    1. Thank you for this, Winnie's Girl! It was just what I needed. I didn't realize that USPS would accept a box like that Tofurkey box, though! Fascinating. :)

      To anyone else who reads all this, please give your input!

  2. I use both pre-made & DIY envelopes depending on mood & who/what it's for. Paper Source has a great set of opaque envelope templates (they cost $15 when I bought my set) but you can make your own using another envelope or even make them out of book pages by just folding, taping & mailing (check Pamela G' blog for a great tutorial). And you aren't limited to envelopes. I've mailed letters in/on plastic bottles, plaster, Easter eggs, Japanese fans, little mail boxes (the ones Target has @ Valentines), etc.

    1. Jan, thanks! We don't have a Paper Source here but I've drooled over their site many, many times. I appreciate the information. :)

  3. I forgot to mention, if you haven't already check out "Good Mail Day" by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee G. Wheeler. It's a fantastic book for letter/mail art lovers.
    Also, I like to make my envelope templates out of clear or opaque plastic so I can see how my envelope will look on patterned paper or book pages. Makes it so much easier.

    1. Thanks again, Jan. I really appreciate the help! You said to check Pamela G' blog but there are a lot of Pamela Gs out there. Is it this one?