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Personalized, One-of-a-kind Envelopes

trimming Making the Envelopes

Our nicely finished acrylic sheet now becomes your cutting pattern.

Just place the acrylic over the paper and trace quickly around the edges with the X-Acto knife. A #11 will do fine, nothing fancy. After you've done a few, you'll find you whisk around that pattern in mere seconds. (Note that you can click on our photos here to pull up an enlarged version in a new browser window.)

Below you can see the actual finished cut of this shot, with the clear acrylic pattern still in position over the magazine ad.

template in action Notice it's laying on a brown surface. That's an old piece of Masonite we found for use as our cutting board. A large piece of chip board or corrugated card board will work fine. You should put something behind the project to cut it out to avoid damaging the table surface.


To fold the envelope just line up the inside corners on the straight edge of a desk or counter top and bend it over.

With a glue stick, seal the three sides and you're home free. If you need help getting started, just refer back to the envelope you flattened to make the pattern.

For an extra fine touch, add re-wetting glue to the lick-edge and you've got a rather professional finish. Ask at your local art supply store for "re-wettable glue" ... while you're there, check out their art papers selection for some idea starters.

another sample Finding Envelope Stock

If you don't plan to design and print your own, try magazines! Heavy paper ones are best, and I really like magazines like "W" or "Spin". Those have huge, luscious full color editorial spreads and ads that make wonderful envelopes. Some will even be printed on heavier paper.

At right this magazine ad makes a perfect attention-getter, and even has a light area for addressing and stamping. Note the positioning of the image should enhance the placement of an address label, and the stamp.

Tips & Tricks

After you've gotten the first envelope experience you may want to look around and find other sizes and shapes for patterns. And, don't limit yourself to envelopes. This same acrylic pattern technique can be used for any die-cut piece you find -- from table tents to pop-open display jackets -- you name it, the world is your palette. (Also see our "Dieless Diecutting" article, from back in 1994!)

Don't limit your search to just magazines. In our example here, you see this Jeep ad is perfect for the action oriented recipient, where the fashion face (above) is perfect for the teen.

Consider other materials like wallpaper scraps or ends of rolls from the paint and paper stores. If you have a paper merchant, or local paper company, just request some designer kits. They'll bring you some wonderful papers that will all make nice envelopes.

Put them to work

Always mail your envelopes first class, or present then to the recipient in person. Printed envelopes many times won't pass the post office for bulk or 2nd class mailings!

These envelopes are particularly nice when you'll be hand delivering to the recipient. Watch their eyes as they see the wonderful package... and then ask "where did you get this?"

This project took about 2.5 hours on a Sunday afternoon, but don't ask me to make you one. I wouldn't want to think about how much I'd have to charge for it.

During the course of getting this article ready, showing the pattern and finished envelopes around to people as they came into our studios, I had no less than three other people ask me to make them patterns too!

Have fun and send us a copy!

love fred

* Solace, the client I mentioned in this article is the art studio of Barb Polan, an artist and craftsman here in the Shenandoah Valley. Barb creates the most gorgeous hand marbled fabrics and garments you've ever seen. Stop in at her web site and see some rather wonderful marbling work. If I can just get this month's newsletter out the door, I'll be able to finally get her line of personal note stationary into the web site!

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