June 6, 2009

Tutorial: envelopes from recycled paper

The semester's exams are finally over! My pile of unfinished and wishlist projects has accumulated at an alarming rate these past few weeks. In between finishing final assignments, I made heaps of envelopes. I have been recycling magazines, maps, calendars, ads, forms, discarded one-sided printing and even my old class-notes... I find it satisfying to turn all this waste into something fun and useful. If I run out of interesting paper or inspiration, I might make my potato pig stamp design into a rubber stamp. Then I'll be able to make even the most boring envelopes made out of printed drafts of assignments interesting!

There are plenty of templates available freely on the web, but I ended up making my own template in Inkscape. Feel free to use it:
I chose this shape because it fits standard 4x6" photos, postcards and A4 sheets folded in four and it is the perfect size to make envelopes out of A4 sheets and magazines.

Use this template, or carefully unstick any envelope you fancy, and trace it onto a piece of cardboard. The cardboard from old notepads, or even old cereal boxes will do nicely. This sturdy cardboard template will make lots of accurate tracings a breeze.

Next, you need appropriate paper. Newspaper and the such tends to be too flimsy - you want the envelope to be fairly sturdy, so it's worth having something at least as thick as a standard sheet of office paper. Next, an eye-catching design is best. This is up to your discretion, but remember that you want people to actually use the envelopes, so eye-catching is good! If the paper is bigger than your envelope template, then you have a little bit of choice about where to cut. Hold the paper up to the light and place your template behind it. This will create a shadow where the cut-out will be.

Shift it around until you are happy, then carefully bring it down to your table and trace the outline with an ordinary pen.

After cutting it out, fold in the side flaps (left and right), fold up the main body (bottom), then fold down the flap (top).

You're almost there! I use a regular gluestick to stick the flaps under the body of the envelope and then I stick some double-sided tape under the flap so that it can be closed easily later. This gives them a professional touch.

Place the envelope under some heavy books to dry and have a cup of tea.

At the end of it you'll have a beautiful envelope. Then go get some more material and repeat!

Package them up and gift them to friends, or save them for yourself. If you want to brighten a random person's day, head over to sendsomething.net and send someone a surprise.

Also see: angry chicken's homemade envelopes - lazy style.

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