We recently received an actual, physical card in the mail and it was so nice! With email and social media connecting so many, it seems like we sometimes forget the joy of snail mail. We want all our news now, now, now!! and neglect the joys of slow living in our mad dash to share instantly. Getting a card in the mail reminded me of a lovely artist I encountered earlier this year, Naomi Bulger. Burger creates beautiful “snail mail art” and sends out templates for decorated envelopes in her monthly newsletter. She also sends her decorated envelope snail mail around the world! For a look at what she shares, check out her Sneak Peak Inside the April Snail Mail Toolkit post.
If you’re like me, you probably look at most decorated envelopes, mail art, and elaborately addressed missives with a sigh. Some of us just can’t draw like that! The beauty of the snail mail club newsletter is that Bulger sends out printables of her designs. You get to cut, paste, and color your way to postal beauty, even if you ‘can’t draw!’ These are a few of my favorite printable decorated envelopes from this year (the cacti are from this month and the monstera is from last month):
I can never decide which is my favorite! The templates also come with suggestions on where to place the address and what to do if you need extra space. The newsletter usually gives tips and writing prompts (this month has ideas for things you can write your mom for Mothers Day, for example). To see more of her lovely work, and a link for enrolling in the newsletter, please stop by the Naomi Loves IG page!
Although I am not a super spectacular decorated envelope and mail art artist, I’ve probably sent more paper mail than a lot of folks my age. I sent a lot of letters to friends in middle and high school, including some pretty inventive and decorated envelopes! I think the oddest thing I ever mailed was a letter my senior year of HS that was written on the inside of a chocolate bar wrapper. I folded the wrapper up, taped it, and mailed it! Amazingly, I think it actually arrived. Unfortunately, sometimes highly decorated envelopes don’t arrive for a variety of reasons, so here are my top tips for ensuring your decorated envelopes arrive at their intended destination:
Make sure the address is as legible as possible, especially the zip code. The zip code seems to be the magic ingredient – sometimes the PO will return mail that has a different zip from the same town, but mail with slightly incorrect or illegible addresses with the correct zip code may actually arrive.
Use waterproof markers and pens. Sometimes mail gets wet – don’t use pens and markers that you know bleed and run badly! Micron pens are a great choice, and waterproof India ink works well for fancy people who do calligraphy. I also like to use my Inktense pencils with a water brush – after they’ve been brushed with water, they become permanent.
Consider extra postage. Large and usually sized envelopes frequently need to be hand canceled, which means extra postage is required. (Yes, you have to put extra postage on square envelopes!). You may also want to write “please hand cancel” on a letter to decrease the likelihood that it will be damaged by a mechanical sorter. This page by Jerry Nelson is a great resource for determining postage and what ‘standard’ envelope sizes are! (I was using this site just a few days ago to help my sister out with a postage required question.)
Have a legible return address. If you don’t want to “ruin” your mail art design, place it on the back envelope flap.
Don’t be afraid to use a second envelope. If you’re worried that your beautiful decorated envelope will be damaged or that your carefully illuminated address won’t be legible enough, you can always place your mail art in a second, plain envelope.
Now that I have three envelopes all decorated and ready to go, I’d better decide who to send them to! Sending and receiving real mail is such a joy. When’s the last time you indulged in this simple pleasure?