I'm sure you've heard the cry of "perfectly imperfect!". Its a way of thinking that values character, personality and sincere hard work over surface gloss or "flawlessness". True to that ethic, this little tutorial sits firmly in the natural, the irregular, or maybe even the haywire! But I happen to think imperfect things are beautiful. As my body of calligraphy work can attest: I love the eccentric factor in pretty much all things.
Not everyone can be (or wants to be) a calligrapher. Nor can everyone hire a professional calligrapher when the time calls for it. But for those of you who would like to make your envelopes a bit more deluxe and delightful, I've got some great ideas that won't break the bank, take little skill (just character!), and are sure to make the recipient beam. "Look what I just got in the mail!".
These are sooo easy to make. If you have any inkling of artistic motivation you can create an eccentric envelope.
I won't go into too much detail about technique, except to say; just do whatever comes naturally to your hand. Your own handwriting has a voice and a style. Go with it! See what happens. It might be a little ugly. So what? It's handmade and that's what counts.
Try to keep the color palette limited, and decorative details simple and small. Repetition and symmetry are key. Add little flourishes that relate to the theme of your event, letter or things the person you're sending it to would like.
Note: Tools and materials really make or break this look. If you tried to do this with a ballpoint pen and envelopes you picked up at the pharmacy or big box art store, your finished product would not shine quite as much. I'm sure there are some of you who can make a masterpiece out of those materials, but for the rest of us, well, we need the good stuff! Here's where to start:
Get yourself some nice black ink, a straight pen-holder, a nib, a Japanese brush pen, and a few watercolor brushes. A full list of materials is at the bottom of the post for help in purchasing.
I can't stress enough how crucial high-quality envelopes are for this look. The envelope above is a letter envelope I bought at a local stationery shop. It is Original Crown Mill 100% Cotton. You can't go wrong with any 100% cotton envelopes or water-color envelopes. Crane also makes some very affordable every-day envelopes that are widely available in stores. Tell the person at the shop that you're looking for envelopes that will work with pen and ink.
Pictured above are some REALLY cheap watercolors I purchased at an art store. Bottom-shelf stuff! But still completely fine if you ask me. Invest in the quality watercolors if you like (recommended would be the brand Windsor & Newton), and some mixing pans. Experiment. Watercolor is your friend for these because of it's naturally occurring anomalies.
Eccentric Envelope Supply List
- Simple black ink. I highly recommend Higgins Eternal for both lettering and calligraphy.
- Black acrylic ink. If you want inks that won't bleed much when water colors come near it, opt for acrylic inks.
- Straight pen holder and Nikko G or Hunt 22 Nibs
- Windsor & Newton Cotman Water Color Brushes: Series 222 and 668. Synthetic brushes are best for lettering because they bounce back and are stiff. These are more affordable than nice, sable brushes too.
- Any larger nylon or synthetic brush for daubs and dots
- Angora Water Colors (these are my favorite inexpensive watercolors that I use in my studio)
- Windsor & Newton water colors for a higher quality product and better mixing abilities
- India inks in an array of colors for use with brushes
- Japanese brush pens
- 100% cotton envelopes
My Favorite Calligraphy Supplies
My beginner essentials for starting calligraphy are posted here.