Snail mail: how to make mail pretty

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore mail went into the postbox for you guys today. This is such a fun project for me, though I think I’ll need to mix it up and do something different for the next post (I’m not sure what yet, time to do some thinking!).

I’ve had a few people ask me how they’re done, so here you go.

First, I wrap each parcel in brown paper, using several layers to be sure the book underneath doesn’t show through, and making sure to tape all the edges and add extra tape to each corner, to protect it as it travels across the country and all around the world.

The pictures aren’t stamps, I draw them (which is why some of the drawings are so wonky), taking inspiration from what I might know about the recipient or anything they’ve told me in the comments box, or else just choosing something from my world or imagination, as it takes my fancy. I’m clearly no artist but thankfully people seem to appreciate the effort and the novelty and forgive the lack of talent! I outline the drawings with black pen and sometimes use watercolour paints if I want to to add colour. I always go over the lettering in the addresses a couple of times after painting on the colour, to ensure it stands out for the postie.

When the paint is dry, I stamp the back with my address, created in this lovely design by Simple and Pretty. Then I wrap the parcel in string, and drip sealing wax over the place where the string crosses over to stop it from sliding around.

Wax is a tricky customer to use because it often catches alight, or drips (and sets) unevenly. My trick is to hold the wax stick upright, at about a 45 degree angle, rather than tilting it any lower. You just have to be patient and allow the wax to slowly drip down. It does eventually speed up with time. I let the wax drip in small circles, starting from the inside and working my way out, until it’s the size I want. I blow out the wick while I’m still holding it over the mail, because it still has a couple of drips left in it and if I move it away too soon, drops fall elsewhere across the mail (or the table).

If you are using a wax seal (mine is an ornate letter N), wait about 10 or 20 seconds before pressing the seal into the middle of the wax. Then wait maybe another 20 seconds and lift it off in a peeling motion. Make sure you don’t touch the wax or put anything on it for a few minutes after that, to be sure it has time to set hard.

These are the results from the latest batch. I hope the recipients enjoy them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAps. You can see more pretty mail here
pps. If you’d like me to send you my book Airmail in the post and make it look pretty, simply subscribe to this blog and fill out the form on the same page

UPDATE 5 July 2014: as of today I have run out of copies of Airmail to send you. However I would still love to send you something nice by snail-mail to say thank you for reading this blog, and I will still do my best to make it look pretty. If you have subscribed to this blog (or you want to), simply fill in your postal details on this page. And if you’re still keen to read Airmail, there’s a list of stockists here.

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