Today's tutorial is freaking awesome. (Sorry I got a little bit braggy for a minute. I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about how mega fun it is to get mail that unfolds in the wrong direction.) Just look at this exciting gif I made especially for your own enjoyment:
For this project, I used the things you can see in the picture below. (That's not staging, people. My desk really is that messy and cramped.)
- Large paper. Mine was from a Strathmore watercolor pad. I used paper that was 11 inches x 15 inches.
- Ruler. Because sadly, no matter how many times you tell yourself that you can cut in straight lines, you cannot. You will try, and you will ruin your project, and you will cry for twenty minutes. Or maybe that's just what I usually do.
- Pencil. Or something to mark with. Because, like I said: you simply cannot cut in straight lines. Stop telling yourself that.
- Watercolors. I like Koi watercolors because I can get bright colors but they're not crazy expensive. If you're extra short on cash, Prang watercolors do a good job for something like $3. If you're not into watercolors, try acrylics. Or colored pencils. Or glittery unicorn stickers... whatever decoration makes your heart sing.
- Scissors or an exacto knife. Either one will do.
- OPTIONAL if you want to make the envelope: paper lunch bags. The kind you used in elementary school. Or a paper bag from the grocery store.
- OPTIONAL if you want to make the envelope: sewing machine or a needle and thread. You'll see.
Now let's get to business.
STEP #1: START WITH THE WRONG SIDE UP
If you are using watercolor paper, start with the smooth side up. The side you're NOT supposed to paint on. (a.k.a. the back side.) This is the side that will be the INSIDE of your letter.
STEP #2: TURN YOUR PAPER SO THAT IT HAS A LANDSCAPE ORIENTATION
(If you need further explanation, please go back to elementary school and ask your teacher. My teacher always told me it had something to do with hamburgers and hot dogs, but I didn't really get it.)
STEP #3: MARK OFF THREE ROWS
I started from the bottom of my paper and measured two rows that were each 3.5 inches high. I made the top row shorter because I liked the way it looked when I folded the letter. The top row is only 3 inches high. (I wrote in marker so you could read what I said, but I suggest you use pencil so you can erase it.)
STEP #4: CUT OFF ANY EXTRA PAPER
(This is the part marked "trash" in the photo above.)
STEP #5: DRAW A VERTICAL LINE DOWN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR PAPER
If you're using the same paper as me, measure 7.5 inches from the side of the page. Because half of 15 is 7.5. Now don't ask me to do any more math, please. I'm terrible at it. You should have something that looks like this (with a lot less scribbling on it):
STEP #6: CUT OFF THE TWO RECTANGLES THAT ARE LABELED "TRASH"
(See previous photo.) You will have something that looks like this:
STEP #7: FOLD YOUR PAPER.
This part isn't that fun, because watercolor paper is thick and prefers not to be folded. If we were fancy here, I would tell you to score your paper before you fold it. Since we're not fancy here, I will tell you that you should make each fold very carefully. Then you should crease the fold by running something with an edge (like a credit card or the ruler you previously used) over the fold to make it a more precise fold.
Fold the bottom piece up first. Then fold the paper in half (along the center line you drew). Then fold the short flap down. I realize that probably sounds confusing, so I wrote the directions in blue below:
STEP 8: DECORATE
FINALLY! The good stuff. Now that you have a strange looking shape, you can fill in each panel with watercolor patterns. I chose simple things, like stripes facing in different directions. And blobs. And a couple of hearts. I (impatiently) waited for the watercolors to dry, and then wrote on top of them with a black pen. I'm not going to tell you what to do, because it's your project. Do whatever you like! I already said you can fill it with glittery unicorn stickers, right? (Be warned though, if you use actual glitter, proceed with caution. Your husband/father/dog/any other males in the house might disown you and send you off to live alone until the house can be fully decontaminated from glitter, which might be forever because glitter never goes away. So you might have to live the rest of your life with a little piece of glitter stuck right beside your eyeball. Because that always happens to me.) After a lot of painting and waiting and mess-making, my letter ended up looking like the photo below.
WARNING: Notice that the designs will NOT face the same way!! Because you created a weird folding contraption, "up" doesn't always equal up. Make sure you check that your design is facing the right way before you accidentally mess up all of your hard work!
STEP 9: WRITE YOUR LETTER.
I'm not going to tell you what to write about. That's your job! If you don't know what to say, why are you writing a love letter? That's just weird.
STEP 10: MAKE AN OPTIONAL ENVELOPE
I wanted my letter to come in a weird package. I found a brown paper bag. I traced a rectangle LARGER than my letter, and cut it out of the bag. This picture is to show the black line I traced and cut out of the bag:
I sandwiched my finished letter between the two pieces of paper bag, and sewed around it with a sewing machine. (You can sew paper in a sewing machine, just like fabric. If you're not a sewing machine user, you could try glue, or double sided tape, or sew it by hand. Or just find a normal envelope that fits.) Of course, if you sew completely around the envelope, it's impossible to open without scissors. It might help to leave a little note to explain to your recipient so they don't get confused. My (former boyfriend, current husband) Josh apparently didn't want to ruin the instructions, so he made a small cut and tore open the other side.
Wow, congratulations! You did it! You're practically a genius. Now go mail your letter! Because I made my letter out of thick paper and because the envelope was unconventional, I had to use two stamps to mail it. If you're not sure, take it to the post office and ask them how many stamps you'll need.
Until next time