Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Making Envelopes From Old Book Pages

When you wrap a gift, it's a nice touch to include a small gift card or tag. A few years ago my friend Rebecca surprised me with a collection of small, handmade envelopes for Artists Trading Cards (ATCs). She also gave me a cardboard template for making ATC envelopes of my own, and matboard templates for card enclosures.

These small envelopes, sized to hold Artists Trading Cards, were a gift from my friend Rebecca.

I love these exquisite little treasures, made from colorful repurposed papers. Their diminuitive size and cheerful hues are so appealing. So much so that I've been reluctant to part with them. (I know, I know... they're meant to be passed along and enjoyed by others besides myself.) I have to confess I love taking them out of the packet Rebecca made to hold them, admiring her handiwork and their interesting patterns, then storing them away again. Eventually I'll get around to making ATCs to go inside them.

Recently I decided to use the template Rebecca gave me to make some envelopes using old book pages.

The hand drawn envelope template Rebecca gave me. With instructions this clear, I couldn't go wrong. Similar envelope templates are readily available in paper crafting books and on the Internet.

I have an old, falling apart book my sister-in-law gave me that's printed in what I'm guessing is Cyrillic, or possibly Greek. It appears to be some kind of textbook, and its pages are brown with age. They look like they've been dyed with coffee, a popular way to give newer papers a vintage look, but in this case their color is authentic.

I figured a set of envelopes made from these pages, along with some card enclosures, would be a nice gift for my friend Pat, who has been going out of her way to help me source supplies for displaying my jewelry and making sun catchers. (She nabbed a dozen crystal prisms for me this past weekend at a local thrift shop!)

Pat loves antiques and all things vintage. She also loves to surprise her many friends and family with unexpected presents. I thought antique-y looking envelopes and card enclosures would be something she might enjoy using when wrapping some of her gifts.

The book pages were just large enough to accommodate Rebecca's hand drawn envelope template. Fortunately the pages weren't brittle. (This is important; you don't want your envelopes to crumble!) I used my X-Acto knife to cut enough pages from the book to make several envelopes.

First I marked off the envelope's shape by placing the template on a page and running a pencil lightly around the template's edges. Then I cut the envelope shape out with a scissors. Using a glue stick to adhere the flaps, they went together surprisingly fast and were quite easy to make.

An envelope made from an old book page with card enclosure. I made a set of these for my friend who loves antiques and anything vintage.

These envelopes are made from scrapbook papers printed on both sides

To make the card enclosures, I used smooth ivory color card stock for a base. On it I marked off cards slightly smaller than the envelope's finished dimensions, then cut them out using a self healing cutting mat and the X-Acto knife. A scissors would do the job too but the X-Acto produces cleaner, straighter cuts.

I wanted a layered motif on one side, with the back left blank for writing a message. Dark brown card stock cut into rectangles forms a frame or backdrop for "faux vintage" motifs I cut from scrapbook paper. To adhere the three layers of paper to one another I used double sided Scotch tape, but a glue stick could be used instead.

Like the envelopes, the card enclosures went together pretty quickly. Together, I think they make an nice presentation. This set's vintage look is sure to be appreciated by my friend who loves things from earlier eras.

These are so simple and fun to make. You can whip up a couple dozen in an evening while watching TV. Anything from card stock to scrapbook papers and gift wrap paper to found papers can be used and will work well for this project. Just one caution: test the paper you plan to use for the base card to make sure it doesn't bleed or bead up when you write on it with ink. Do this first before cutting the "base" pieces.

I kept my card inserts very simple, but you can get as elaborate with your design as you want to. You could add stamped images, dimensional paints, photos, dried botanicals, fabric scraps, ribbon, trims, buttons, beads, image transfers....whatever strikes your fancy.   

I'll probably continue to hoard those cute envelopes Rebecca made for me, but I'll pay her kindness forward by making more envelope and card combos in a variety of styles. They'll make nice thank you gifts for buyers when I'm filling my Etsy orders. And they'll come in handy whenever I need to wrap a gift for someone.

Perhaps this post will inspire you to make some up for yourself or your friends. You can design them to be all-occasion, or go for a holiday or birthday theme. Nor do you have to stick to small sizes. Full size envelopes are just as easy to make. So look around for some suitable papers, gather your supplies and let your creativity shine!

Text and images ©2014 Lynn Edwards

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