Embellished Envelopes

July 29, 2014

Painted envelopes by Mikisaburo Izui, interned at Minidoka

Painted envelopes by Mikisaburo Izui, interned at Minidoka

My decorated envelopes

My decorated envelopes

I was inspired to embellish a couple of plain envelopes with little watercolor sketches after seeing a display of envelopes by Mikisaburo Izui at the Bellevue Arts Museum.  The envelopes were included in an exhibit of arts and crafts created by Japanese Americans in the internment camps of 1942 – 1946.  The exhibit is called“The Art of Gaman.”  The concept of Gaman is “to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.”

I am drawn to the Japanese way of imbuing a sense of grace and beauty in everyday, ordinary things.  It takes time and attentiveness and a calm mind, I think, to live in this way.  The exhibit at the Bellevue Arts Museum shows that this sensibility did not break under the unfair and harsh conditions of the internment camps.  The art created during this time was remarkable and inspiring.

On those now rare occasions when I mail a handwritten letter, I plan to take just a little extra time to embellish the envelope with a watercolor sketch.  My small attempt to add a grace note to someone’s day.

 

 

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There’s no excuse not to write a letter simply because you lack envelopes.  Here’s a short tutorial on how to fold a letter into a self-mailing envelope.  The end result reminds me of those overseas aerograms we used to send back in the days.

First find the exact center of the long side of your stationery and make a small crimp to mark the spot.

First find the exact center of the long side of your stationery and make a small crimp to mark the spot.

Now fold up a bottom corner so that the straight side follows an imaginary center line.  Fold down the opposite upper corner in the same manner.

Now fold up a bottom corner so that the straight side follows an imaginary center line.  (This is where the crimp marks come in handy.)   Fold down the opposite upper corner in the same manner.

Those exposed rectangular shapes are next.  Fold each in half lengthwise, in toward the straight end of the triangular shape.

Those exposed rectangular shapes are next. Fold each in half lengthwise, in toward the straight end of the triangular shape.

Fold up and fold down.

Fold up.

Fold down

Fold down

The ends fit nicely into the little triangular shapes.

The ends tuck nicely into the little triangular shapes.

I like to use stickers to keep the letter private.

I like to use stickers to keep the letter private.

Turn the letter over, address, and add stamp.  Voila!

Turn the letter over, address, and add stamp. Voila!