Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Recycled Stationery"

'Recycled Stationery", Alton DuLaney, 2011.
As an avid letter-writer, I am always looking for ways to make my correspondence interesting, and to really stand out in a pile of poste. Now, as few people actual write letters anymore, the mere fact of taking the time to produce a hand-written letter is usually enough, but the over-acheiver or dedicated artist might strive for more. Remember, mail art starts with the envelope. Enter: Recycled Stationery.

What do you do with all those return envelopes that come with offers you can refuse, or bills that are paid on-line? Well, I save them and then re-purpose them as my own customized recycled stationery.

Above, is one of my favorite tricks, using an envelope with one of those handy built-in windows designed to show the address. I like to combine this with a page ripped from a magazine, which becomes my stationery, folding it carefully so that some interesting little bit peeps out from the window. In this example, an abstract swatch of a bare chest is sure to get some attention.
'Recycled Stationery", Alton DuLaney, 2011.
Another resource is the bank, with those envelopes given with your withdrawel. I save and then reuse them, as seen in this sample. Note: Be sure to mark out any pre-printed addresses to avoid confusion within the postal system. This one is to my friend Morgan, a philatelic collector who always sends me amazing old stamps, so I try to return the favor by keeping my letters to him inspired and unexpected.

'Recycled Stationery", Alton DuLaney, 2011.
Speaking of stamps, did you know that postage never expires? So even vintage or antique stamps can be used at face value so long as they have not been previously used and canceled. On this recycled envelope to one of my students, I use a combination of vintage and modern stamps, all referencing the face peering out from the built in envelope window.

'Recycled Stationery", Alton DuLaney, 2011.

Another trick I love to employ is decorating the envelope. When you buy stamps by sheet, the sheet sometimes comes with an enlarged graphic used to illustrate the theme of the stamp collection.  These are printed on the same adhesive backing as the postage, and can be added on the front or back of an envelope to dress it up. On this collection featuring the work of Industrial Designers,  I cut out the larger image of a fan, and used it to cover the pre-printed address on this recycled stationery I picked up when staying in a hotel. It makes for an interesting graphic statement on any envelope.

For more on stamps, to use, buy or collect, check out the US Postal Services website.

For more on great letter writing ideas check out my Paper Arts course on Craftsy.

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