Another crafternoon…

December frequently escapes me somewhat, with birthdays, increased busy-ness at work, and the forthcoming seasonal festivities, all piling on top of my days which already feel very full.  But earlier this week I did manage to make time for another get-together with the lovely Britta of JaguarSnail.  We had some fun playing with my new envelope punchboard – we struggled to follow the instructions, bluffed our way through to success by trial & error, then found that the instructions did make sense, after all… 😉  I really love the results & there will definitely be new TangleMail-designed envelopes  coming soon (probably not until the new year).

Britta brought with her a brand new zine, the seeds of which were sown on our last crafternoon a few weeks ago.  On that day she made a miniature mock-up of the concept, and I have to say she’s done an awesome job of following it through.  If you have ever aspired to invent a new life form, this is the mini-zine for you!

Mythical JaguarSnailEach page features an ordinary creature – man, lion, eagle, cobra, goat and carp (some interesting choices!) – and each page is split into 3 segments so that you can mix & match your own mythical beast!  There is even a section at the back of the zine where you can log and name your favourite hybrid creations.  The drawings are really cleverly done, with lots of character, and perfectly aligned so that any combination (of the many possible!) slots together smoothly – yet another example of Britta’s talent!  There are only currently 5 copies available of this labour-intensive, slightly-larger-than-average mini-zine, so don’t miss out!

first class notebooksBritta was also inspired by the sea of stamps that were overflowing in a corner of my craft room, and followed up on her previous stampy works by customising a couple of stray notebooks I had lying around.  One of these was snapped up overnight (the other is still available, at time of writing), inspiring me in turn to follow her example – see pic to the right for even more First Class Notebooks, this time stampified by me.  These are all one-of-a-kind creations, so if one of them catches your eye, be quick!

There’s something about that repeated motif – the same but different every time, thanks to the unique combinations of postmarks – and the patchwork effect of the randomly combined colours that never fails to fascinate me…

Britta and I generally have no problem thinking of new creative ideas, but our ‘crafternoons’ are definitely motivational for both of us to actually get down to putting the ideas into practice.  When I say that a sea of stamps was overflowing in my room, I’m actually being literal rather than gratuitously poetic – but now we have actually made a real start on crafting them, I feel far less like I am about to drown in them…!

Here’s to crafty afternoons!

All mapped out…

Most people, in the course of experimenting with folding their own envelopes, have also experimented with folding envelopes from sheet maps.  It’s kinda cool, especially if you happen to have a map handy of your own area.  Taking this idea to a new level is the very clever free toy (uh, I mean tool) available at Map Envelope.  Simply enter a landmark (such as Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty) or a specific postcode or address, and it generates a printable envelope template using google map aerial photography.

You could use it for your return address, or directions for a party venue, or to show where you went on holiday – I’m sure there are all kinds of creative uses for this toy (sorry, tool)!  You can even add a message of your choice in the speech bubble.

It is designed as an envelope ‘liner’ (so you would slot it within an outer envelope), but I don’t see why you couldn’t fold it with map to the outside, instead, and save on the extra paper.  Of course, you could just make your own, anyway, but this tool definitely makes the process a lot easier!

Zines I Like #4: Miss Sequential #4 by Marissa Falco

I love handwritten zines!  And this 24 page, half-size zine is entirely handwritten & hand-drawn.  In addition, it’s subject is entirely postal related, so this zine could really hardly fail to win me over.  The zine charts Marissa’s relationship with letters & mail from pre-school onwards, including letters written in code, early penpal failures, a template for making your own upcycled envelopes, illustrations of mail received, penpals past & postal workers known, and a handy resources page.  And lots more, of course.  There is lots to recognise here in the world of the postal-obsessive, so highly recommended.  Visit the ThimbleWinder Etsy Store to
snaffle your copy.

Adopt an envelope!

Yes, you heard me right, adopt an envelope, if not 5 of them!  These are handmade envelopes made especially for you from magazine pages given a second chance in life, by a lovely girl in Hong Kong (“…trying to travel the world in the most inexpensive way – the internet and the mail with words from the bottom of my heart.”)

Click on the button above for full details. 🙂

Recycled envelope (or self-mailer)

Anyone who has bought one of my kits will know how much I love my origami envelopes.  They are brilliant – no time-consuming cutting and measuring required!  However, if I’m brutally honest with myself, I must concede that the origami envelopes I favour do use twice as much paper as necessary.   Although this does make them quite sturdy, so more suitable for slightly bulkier items,  I do also find it slightly vexing that using this method, and a sheet of A4 paper (standard UK letter-size), I cannot fold an envelope of a size legal to post overseas (3″ x 5″ minimum dimension requirements to post in/to USA).

I have recently been sending quite a lot of A6 (quarter-sized) zines overseas, so it was time to come up with a solution.  As I’ve mentioned before, my printer and I generate a lot of waste paper.  Sometimes it really is the printer’s fault, as it will insist on randomly pulling through 2 sheets of paper simultaneously, and completely misaligning the print.  Sometimes, admittedly, I am just not paying sufficient attention, and put in pages the wrong way up, etc.  Anyway, I have lots of waste paper, and even I don’t get through all of it working out potential folding ideas.  So I thought quite a reasonable solution would be to use waste paper printed only on one side to make my envelopes (the printing folded to the inside of the envelope).

There are, of course, many envelope templates available on the market, but the beauty of this one is that you don’t need to cut any awkward corners at all, and all it takes is 4 (with an optional 5th) exceedingly simple folds, plus a dab of glue or label to seal.

Step 1You need to begin with a square of paper, but it is easy just tear off the excess of any standard letter-size paper.  If you print the template onto the reverse of the paper you want to use, it will print a line for you to tear or cut along (or you can just fold the page, as shown).  The template is formatted for standard A4 paper (21 x 29.7cm), but just reduce or increase the scale for paper of a different width.

(N.B. If your printer is more efficient than mine, and you don’t have a lot of waste paper, you can also recycle one-sided junk mail or flyers in exactly the same way.  Or you could use anything that is printed on both sides – the page of a magazine, for example – and add a label onto the front, for the address.)

Step 2Crease and fold the sides inwards first – the points should not quite meet in the middle.  Fold up the bottom flap, turning the point under, if you like (this is just for the sake of appearance and entirely optional).  Also optional is gluing the bottom flap where it overlaps the folded-in sides: this will make it more secure if you are enclosing bulkier items, or small loose objects, but isn’t strictly necessary otherwise.  Fold down the top flap, and seal with glue or a label.  That’s it!

Step 3

You can see that the finished envelope looks just like any other (but cooler, because you handmade it from recycled stuff)!  I have made a PDF template that you can print directly onto the blank side of your paper, which includes spaces to add addresses within a border on the front of the envelope, as shown.

An alternative: If you use paper that is blank on both sides for your envelope, you can make a lightweight self-mailer, instead.  Simply write your letter on the inside of the envelope before folding.  Although you are not using up waste paper this way, it still makes a very economical use of paper if you have a letter to send.  If you use the template for self-mailers, remember to only seal the point of the final flap – you don’t want the recipient to tear the letter as they struggle to open glued seams!

Mmm, coffee…

Aaaah, that’s better…  Have just returned from a very pleasant coffee run, which was actually more of a stroll, under a beautiful clear blue sky, and warm sun.  I even wore a sundress!  Yes, I still have way too much packing to do (I’m far too good at talking about it rather than actually doing it), but I’ve set myself a target of 5 boxes for the day, and there’s still plenty of time.  For now, I’m just going to unwind with my large cup of coffee, and catch up on emails.

save-the-world-jpegOh, nearly forgot – while I was procrastinating rather than packing the other day, I put together a mini-zine, ‘Small Ways to Save the World’.  It was just one of those things that really had to be done, right there and then.  It’s about saving the world by looking differently at how we use paper.  The wordsearch on the cover is the only puzzle (I was just considering ways to make a title page with just a few words on it more interesting), the rest of it is full of ideas for recycling and upcycling old paper and used stationery.  The zine itself also converts into a notebook for you to use, made from rescued graph paper!  If you buy one, it will be delivered in a self-mailer envelope which you can use as a template for making your own self-mailers.  I love the idea of writing a letter that turns into its own envelope – it’s a perfect way of reducing unnecessary paper usage.  Check out the Etsy listing for full details.

‘Small Ways to Save the World’ is currently a stand-alone zine (an absolute bargain at just £1! 😉 ), but it’s possible it will grow into a sporadic mini-zine mini-series, as more small ways to save the world come to me…

Another ‘origami’ cd wallet

True to my word, I played about with a few more ELF ideas yesterday morning, and it’s one of these new variations that hubby has decided is best (read ‘easiest’).  The folding got a bit fiddly on the original wallet I found: my variation works on the same essential principle, but takes it right back to basics.

Click here for a free template (print directly onto your paper so you don’t have to measure anything!) and instructions.  You can also use the template for guidance if you want to design and print your own cover for a cd, too.

‘Origami’ CD Wallet

After proudly showing off my jelly packet notebook this morning, my husband (the musician) was suitably impressed.  Then he began to muse.  Uh-oh.  “Hmm,” said he, “You know, a cd wallet is really just a larger version of that matchbook…”  He trailed off and looked at me with that fake-innocent ‘I’m just thinking out loud’ expression.

Okay, okay, I took the hint.  Why can’t musicians just be happy with a notebook, like a ‘normal’ person?  (Ha!)  It not being my profession, I was perfectly happy with the cd wallet I designed for ‘Telaic Fantasy‘ – a simple wraparound of printed paper, sealed at the sides with a couple of round-head/long-arm pins (do these have a more concise name, anyone?).   But he did have a very nice cup of proper coffee waiting for me when I got up this morning, and I was feeling a vague sense of guilt for not considering how my investigations into ELF might benefit him, too…

So I did a very quick piece of research.  The very first cd wallet instructions I uncovered worked perfectly, and adequately impressed hubby.  I went back to the pc and scoured a little further, but it seems there’s not as much variation out there in terms of cd wallets as there is for other envelope forms.  Although there are lots of different sites with instructions, they all seem to be for exactly the same wallet. Click here for the one I thought had the clearest diagrams/photos/instructions (& some other cool re-purposing ideas, if you want to explore further).

I think I will go back to my original envelope research, though.  I originally ignored designs that resulted in a square envelope as it wasn’t what I was looking for; with a little tweaking of sizing, however, it might work perfectly for a cd…

N.B. I put origami in quotation marks in the header, because although this is true origami in the sense that the finished item is created purely by folding paper (no cutting, no sticking), I just can’t get my head around the fact that origami can be functional rather than decorative.  This is a personal failure, and I’m working on it!