Last month we featured Stephanie Fishwick‘s beautifully quirky custom crests. Today she’s here with a fun How To for creating your own eccentric envelopes, even if you don’t think of yourself as particularly artistic.

I’m sure you’ve heard the cry of “perfectly imperfect!” It’s a way of thinking that values character, personality and sincere hard work over surface gloss or flawlessness. True to that ethic, this little tutorial sits firmly in the natural, the irregular, or maybe even the haywire! But I happen to think imperfect things are beautiful. As my body of calligraphy work can attest: I love the eccentric factor in pretty much all things.

Not everyone can be (or wants to be) a calligrapher. Nor can everyone hire a professional calligrapher when the time calls for it. But for those of you who would like to make your envelopes a bit more deluxe and delightful, I’ve got some great ideas that won’t break the bank, take little skill (just character!), and are sure to make the recipient beam. “Look what I just got in the mail!”

These are sooo easy to make. If you have any inkling of artistic motivation you can create an eccentric envelope.

I won’t go into too much detail about technique, except to say: just do whatever comes naturally to your hand. Your own handwriting has a voice and a style. Go with it! See what happens. It might be a little ugly. So what? It’s handmade and that’s what counts.

Try to keep the color palette limited, and decorative details simple and small. Repetition and symmetry are key. Add little flourishes that relate to the theme of your event, letter or things the person you’re sending it to would like.

Note: Tools and materials really make or break this look. If you tried to do this with a ballpoint pen and envelopes you picked up at the pharmacy or big box art store, your finished product would not shine quite as much. I’m sure there are some of you who can make a masterpiece out of those materials, but for the rest of us, well, we need the good stuff! Here’s where to start:

Get yourself some nice black ink, a straight pen-holder, a nib, a Japanese brush pen, and a few watercolor brushes. A full list of materials and links is at the bottom of the post for help in purchasing.

I can’t stress enough how crucial high-quality envelopes are for this look. The envelope above is a letter envelope I bought at a local stationery shop. It is Original Crown Mill 100% Cotton. You can’t go wrong with any 100% cotton envelopes or water-color envelopes. Crane also makes some very affordable every-day envelopes that are widely available in stores. Tell the person at the shop that you’re looking for envelopes that will work with pen and ink.

Pictured above are some REALLY cheap watercolors I purchased at an art store. Bottom-shelf stuff! But still completely great if you ask me. Invest in the quality watercolors if you like (recommended would be the brand Windsor & Newton), and some mixing pans. Experiment. Watercolor is your friend for these because of its naturally occurring anomalies.


Simple black ink. I highly recommend Higgins Eternal for both lettering and calligraphy.
Black acrylic ink. If you want inks that won’t bleed much when watercolors come near it, opt for acrylic inks.
Straight pen holder and nib
Windsor & Newton Cotman Water Color Brushes: Series 222 and 668. Synthetic brushes are best for lettering because they bounce back and are stiff. These are more affordable than nice, sable brushes too.
– Any larger nylon or synthetic brush for daubs and dots
Angora Water Colors (these are my favorite inexpensive watercolors that I use in my studio)
Windsor & Newton watercolors for a higher quality product and better mixing abilities
India inks in an array of colors for use with brushes
Japanese brush pens
100% cotton envelopes

Find more beginner calligraphy essentials in my shop!


This post originally appeared on Stephanie Fishwick’s blog. Reposted on Snippet & Ink with permission.

27 comments posted +add a comment SEE MORE: DIY
  1. Josh Gruetzmacher

    Stephanie’s work is awesome! I love the personality in her lettering. I really loved the crests the other day too. I just ordered a bunch or calligraphy supplies to try this out. Thanks!

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  2. MM

    This is SO inspiring and helpful! I love the idea that I could do the envelopes on my own but still make them special. Thank you!

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  7. Annie Franceschi @ Greatest Story Weddings

    Wonderful article – really beautiful lettering and fantastic tips. I’m a huge fan of couples getting outside the box when it comes to addressing envelopes. Have some fun with it – I mean, who isn’t excited to get such great snail mail these days?!

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  8. Blair

    Love her work– these are gorgeous. I am curious though– does USPS accept them like that? There is a designated area where you can write on an envelope, leaving room for USPS to print their barcode & other processing info. Does Stephanie normally use these as an inner envelope and have a USPS-approved outer envelope?

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  9. Leah

    Love these! SO fresh and flirty. I will definitely be incorporating these into my send-outs. Thank you.

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  10. Zara Perreaux

    NAHT a fan. Ew.

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  11. Astrid

    These are so cute. Can’t wait to make some.

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  12. Catherine

    So what if it rains?

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  17. Tammy

    Adore this! Hoping to try this soon!

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    I found your link in Cupcakes & Cashmere. Congrats!!

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  23. Julia

    These are beautiful and encouraging. Also, my heart leaped when I saw the second one addressed to Mr and Mrs Pinel in Marseille — that’s where I live!

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  24. Linda

    Not to be rude, but wedding invites can cost thousands of $$, and I’ve never had a client ask for these styles. They expect formal italic or copperplate. These are cute, but look like something you would do for a children’s birthday party.

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  25. Laura

    Really? . . . Awesome? I tend to agree with the last comment from Linda…more suited to a child’s birthday party. I’ve seen some work that is really awesome, and it’s nothing like those above. I used to draw all over the envelopes when I used to write to my best friend…when I was about 10! Cute they may be, but most definitely not serious wedding invite material…sorry!

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