In 2011 I had one of those aha moments where I decided to combine my love of small notebook jotters and mailart. I was in the middle of a 365 mailart project and made quite a few of these little books to send out.
Over the years since then, I’ve made a few here and there, where I’ve painted and collaged on the covers which were made from blank recycled cardboard.
I even got one back, from Artist Mim Golub Scalin, where she filled it up and sent it back to me. It was completely unexpected, as I send each one as a gift to the recipient.
Then recently, noticing my hoards of greeting cards, I had another aha moment! Turn these cards into easy peasy little (mail) art books.
Maybe you’re like me and have a greeting card addiction. Sometimes I deem them too precious to just write in. Sometimes I hang them up in the house like small art prints.
I keep a little handmade jotter on me at all times. I use it for daily list making and for writing down quick ideas or sketches. Recently, it was time to make a new one and I was thinking about what I would do for the cover when I saw the above mentioned (and pictured) hoard.
Even though the covers might be someone else’s art, I still consider a mailart project because the recipient can fill the pages with their own artwork. It’s like a mini sketchbook that came straight through the mail. Maybe you can send it back and forth between friends, filling it up with alternating pages of art. Or, you may decide not to send it away at all, but just keep it for yourself and that is great too! You may decide to alter your card and make it your own, or perhaps recycle a card that was sent to you, cool and cool! Or perhaps you don’t want to use a greeting card at all, and want to make some mailart books with your own art entirely, like how I originally started out, Awesome!
Start out with:
A greeting card of your choice
Some plain paper – Often I alternate blank pages with lined paper
A self healing mat
A pen knife
A booklet stapler
Cut letter sized paper in half and then fold in half. Place folded and collated papers inside card. Most likely the paper won’t fit the card and you will need to trim off excess. I would suggest stapling book together first, then trimming away the extra, as seen above.
One thing I learned from the book Mim returned to me was to add a ribbon for bookmarking. You could staple it into the binding or feed it between the cover and body pages at the staple (like pictured above) and knot it in place.
Tada! You have made a little book! If you want to keep the book for yourself, you may be done at this stage.
If you want to mail your book, you can write the addresses right on the back cover of the card, or print out a label, like I did above. For the purpose of sharing here on the blog, I sent this one to myself. For postage I used 2 forever stamps because I could tell it was small and flat enough, but depending on how big or thick your booklet is, you may need more. I think my original mailart books required over a dollar postage. I also seal up the sides, since it is a booklet. Sometimes I will include a note and rubber band inside and the seals help keep it all contained. Make sure that the ribbon is tucked in and not hanging out, as it could get caught on the sorting machines. From working at a company that sends out lots of mail I know a booklet requires the seals to make it through the mail. In the past I’ve used wafer seals, or art tape to close it, but this time I tried washi tape and it worked like a charm and looked cute to boot.
You can see they cancelled my stamps.
The front cover is the beautiful greeting card art, and the back cover is now the postal side. The inside pages are just waiting to be filled! Awesome right? Now get to it, and make some little mailart books to send to your pen pals, or to keep for yourself.
Edit: Thanks to a comment I decided to add that my stapler is a Long Reach Pro Stapler. I just bought it at our local Office Max, but a simple google search shows that they sell it at Walmart as well. If I remember correctly, when I bought it, the box said it will staple through 20 (or was it 30) sheets of paper with the pressure of a single finger. It is NOT electric, but has CRAZY force. Word to the wise: do not put your finger underneath it, hoping to feel where the staple will come out because it only takes the pressure of a feather to shoot those suckers right into your finger. Good times!