How to Hand-Letter an Envelope

How To Hand-Letter An EnvelopeMy visit to the print studios of Gus & Ruby Letterpress set off a fireworks show of inspiration. Watching the letterpress print process rekindled my love affair with mail, and I’m itching to get some of the gorgeous cards I picked up at the Gus & Ruby Letterpress boutique in the mail to friends and family. These days, there’s nothing better than getting a REAL letter in the mail. Bills and junk mail come in all the time, but an actual LETTER? I love it.

As I went through the photos of the custom wedding invitation work done by Gus & Ruby Letterpress, I noticed one image of a hand lettered envelope that I swooned over:

How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

Photo by Brea McDonald Photography

Seriously, is that not the most gorgeous piece of mail you might ever find in your mailbox? Maybe you’re like me and have a Pinterest board full of beautiful calligraphy and hand lettering examples. Well, after my time with the Gus & Ruby girls, it was time to stop pinning and start practicing.

Gather up a few cards, jot out your notes and then form a rough idea for the scale and look you’re aiming for with your address block. Grab your pen – I prefer Sharpie pens, a Le Pen marker, or a white gel pen for darker envelopes. Then relax and have fun – there are no rules or restrictions. Your envelope can look just the way you want.  How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

I wanted to start with something simple, feeling a little intimidated by the idea of writing in my rusty cursive, let alone trying to calligraph an address. The best way to add interest to block printing? Thicken some lines, add accents and space evenly.

How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

Step 1: Space evenly, and go for all caps block print. Thicken certain lines to add interest.

How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

Step 2: Add interest by adding decorative accents, like lines or a row of dots, hearts or arrows.

How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

Step 3: Mix it up by combining block print with cursive.

How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

Step 4: Finish out with some more block print and voila! Custom, fancy and fun.

Next up, I wanted to get a little more practice with my cursive. I wanted this envelope to be sweet, cute and simple. This is the moment where I admit that it took me FOUR ATTEMPTS to remember how to make a lowercase cursive “b”. They talk about how cursive is a lost art in schools nowadays, but it’s rapidly becoming a lost art in my own brain, apparently… How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

I finally felt ready to attempt a little calligraphy. Well, semi-calligraphy. I do have penholder, nib and ink, but I wasn’t quite up for the task. I used my Sharpie pen as a sneaky way to fake the look. In essence, to mimic calligraphy, thicken the downstroke on each letter. You can see the first line looks (roughly) like calligraphy, without ever pulling out the inkwell. The rest was a combination of block printing, accents and creative spacing. Done.

How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

Not bad, all things considered…

And finally, I wanted to make a quick attempt to mimic the white-ink-on-kraft-paper look I swooned over from Gus & Ruby Letterpress. Using a white gel pen, I scribbled off a quick love note to my guy and added a few happy little hearts. Awwww. Well, I love it, even if he barely notices how well addressed his love note is… How To Hand-Letter An Envelope

I’m hooked. If we’re friends and I know your address, you should probably expect a letter in the mail soon. I’m on a hand-lettered mail campaign, all thanks to Gus & Ruby Letterpress! Check out free templates for invitations below.

3 Responses

  1. Maggie says:

    Our daughter, whom you mom did the service for in Blue Hill last August, used Gus and Ruby's for everything printed. But you personal touches are the best.

  2. Hannah B. says:

    These are so fabulous, Ellen!

  3. sheri says:

    I am dying from that Gus and Ruby envelope. Dying. Literally just today I printed a calligraphy alphabet similar to this to try my hand at hand lettering, which I'm obsessed with learning. Total fail. I'm going to keep at it though!!!

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About Ellen Foord 

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As the founder, designer, and one-woman workforce behind Minnow + Co, a tight budget has never stopped this DIY-girl-at-heart from creating a beautiful, modern, creative home and treating every ...

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