Making Your Own A9 or Half Fold Envelope with Triangular Flap

Posted May 21, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Creativity

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Purchasing envelopes today is either very expensive or the only ones available in A9 size are made from kraft paper as open-ended rectangles, which was not the look I wanted for these large envelopes. I wanted the “Baronial” style which has triangular flaps and will show a pretty lining paper.

The template is large for this size, so it’s not generally available online because it doesn’t print on letter-sized paper. You can buy plastic templates for envelope making but I didn’t want to spend the money. Anyone can make these, there is no need to buy envelopes from other people or buy expensive templates.

I drew my own template up to fit on a piece of 12 x 12 inch scrapbooking paper when placed diagonally on the sheet. I used a large sheet of plain newsprint to draw the template and then glued it to Bristol board and cut it out so I could trace and cut multiple envelopes.


To begin, rather than endless measuring, cut out a separate 5.75 x 8.75 inch rectangle from Bristol board, which is the finished size. Then measure off the midpoints on each side of this rectangle and draw horizontal and vertical lines across this template. (Shown in red below.)

I used a square Omnigrid plastic ruler to draw up an 11.5 inch square on the newsprint. If you use a regular ruler to draw this, make sure your drawing is completely square with no wonky lines. Then lightly place diagonal lines from corner to corner each way. (Shown in blue below.) Then place the rectangular template in the middle, matching the lines on the rectangle to the diagonal lines on the 11.5 inch square which ensures that everything is centred. Trace around the rectangle and remove it.

(Note: I forgot to take a picture at this stage so I took a picture after I’d drawn the flaps and notches in case you’re confused.)


The next thing is to mark the notches for the corners. Use your square ruler (or the corner of a piece of cardstock, anything with right angles), and draw a triangle there, then measure out a bit on each side, about 1/8th of an inch. Then draw a new line from the tip to the new marking. This extra room will allow the envelope to fold nicely without paper bunching up in the corners.


Then take a 1-inch circle or a small coin and round the top flap out nicely. For the bottom flap, measure in 2 inches on either side and draw a line across the marks, then cut that point off. The template will look like this.


Glue that to Bristol board with a glue stick and trim it along the outside lines just inside the marked line, then cut out the notches. The template is now ready for tracing on scrapbooking paper. I worked up a small prototype to make sure it all worked.


To fold the flaps I used a thin plastic ruler laid edge to edge and bent the paper over it, then smoothed it down with a bone folder for crisp folds. Use a glue stick to glue the side and bottom flaps together with the bottom flap folded over the sides.




I weighted mine for a few hours to make sure the glue stuck and to make the folds crisper. If you cut multiple envelopes at a time, weight them all together under heavy books, you don’t have to weight them separately.

For the second piece of paper to use as a liner, trace the 5.75 x 8.75 template again on newsprint and then trace the rounded top flap from the envelope template on top of one long side of that rectangle. Cut off 1/8 inch on the right and left sides of the rectangle shape. Measure 1/2 inch in from the edge of the flap on EACH side and draw lines and use the circle again to round the top; trim that down. Glue to Bristol board to get your finished liner template.

Here is a liner cut with this template. Remember, you are a human, not a die-cutting machine, small imperfections are unavoidable.


Slip your liner inside the envelope, centre it, and crease the liner on the same line as the top flap of the envelope. It’s important to crease it BEFORE gluing.


Then turn the liner flap back gently, apply glue from a glue stick, and press it back to anchor it to the envelope flap. You don’t need to glue it in below the flap.


At this point you can open the envelope and weight the flap for a couple of hours to ensure that the flaps stick together.

And these are the finished envelopes, back and front.



I bought some 4 x 2 inch permanent self-stick labels at the dollar store and want to draw some coordinating motifs on the labels. To get a return address label I cut the mailing label in half along the long side, and cut it down the side by 3/4 inch so it wouldn’t be too long, and will draw another small coordinating motif on it to match the big label.

I figured that I’d gone to all the trouble of buying paper and making these, so I wanted them to look coordinated by having a fancier label. This is a sample of the one I did for my prototype envelope with coloured pencils. I tried to emulate the main motif and/or the lining paper in colour and style.


I haven’t bought stickers for years but I bought two small packets to use on the back of the envelopes when mailing them.


You can use this same approach to make an envelope for any card. Some of us like to make cards from odd sizes of watercolour paper or other art paper, so it’s easy enough to use the card size plus some wiggle room (about 1/8 inch all around) and draw up a template similar to this, and then make a custom envelope for your art card.

I’m all set for writing letters with my fountain pens and putting them in bespoke envelopes.




Spring Garden

Posted May 11, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Nature

Tags: , , ,

Many of my bulbs and early Spring perennials are up.

After we had our old aspen with all the crown galls removed last year, my husband bought several bags of bulbs on sale in the fall and planted them under our birch trees. The foliage behind and in front of them are spirea bushes.


My lovely Fragrant Snowball (Viburnum carlesii) is now flowering and scenting up the garden. It doesn’t have the greatest foliage but as a cheery burst of scent in early summer it is a treasure.


Some lovely bulbs by the garage. These are much shorter than the regular daffodils we have in the front and back gardens.


This is by our front porch, and is a mixture of muscari or Grape Hyacinth, cowslips, primroses, and violets with a beautiful hosta.


It’s nice to get out and take photos of my favourite plants, and say “Hello” to them again.



The Maiden Voyage of Japonica

Posted May 7, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork

Tags: , , ,

My wonky calligraphy lives on! This is Rives BFK paper which is a bit too textured for calligraphy, not to mention my inability to form letters.

Last year in May I did a quick sketch of the daffodils. I like that one better I think. I’m not sure. The image is only 4 cm so tiny flowers. I think I blended too much on the yellow. But they are recognizable as daffs!


Anyway, I got going and did my first page in this journal, that’s the main thing.

I was doing better on my practice sheets so I’ll have to carry on.






I Make Myself a Fauxdori

Posted May 6, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Writing and Journalling

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The Midori Traveler’s Notebook is very popular these days for journalling. Many people use them for scheduling, planners for work, bullet journals, lists, all kinds of things.

I took one look and wanted one for an Art Journal. There are heavy round elastics inside to hold booklets. When you fill a booklet you can then remove it and put a new one in. It’s a great concept for people who write a lot. Instead of discarding your beloved journal you keep it and add new booklets.

They cost around $50 plus inserts which is way out of my financial ability. Then I discovered an entire subset of people making faux Midoris or “Fauxdoris” as they call them. There are some beautiful leather ones for sale on Etsy with hand dyed leather in gorgeous colours, but again, too expensive for me. With shipping they would have cost $75 to $100++

So, I did what I usually do and made one myself. I bought a piece of 5 oz. leather at Michael’s with a 40% off coupon, so it cost me $12. Then I bought some round 2.5mm black elastic at Fabricland for $3. You have to be careful of the leather and make sure it folds well. Some of the more heavily tanned leather is meant for carving and lying flat.

You don’t want the spine to flatten too much but the leather has to fold over your interior booklets.


I did not have a leather punch so I used a hammer and a metal centre punch my husband had in his tool kit. It got the hole started but they kept closing up before I could get the elastic through. So I used three sets of 4 mm knitting needles and left them in the holes overnight to widen them.

And you thought your life was exciting, look at this!


I used a a 4-length arrangement for the elastic. The original Midoris only have two elastic lengths in them, and the system allows for buying extra elastics. This way I don’t have to use extra elastics, all four lengths are bound into the leather. I tightened the last length up a bit and punched holes in the spine for my closure.


This piece of leather was 8.5 x 11 inches. For my custom booklets I wanted to make sure that when full, this Fauxdori would cover the paper at the edges.

I made four booklets:

1) Scrapbooking paper cover with 20 lb lilac-coloured paper; 15 folios. (60 single pages)

2) Canson Mi-Teintes cover in Burgundy with 2 folios of Mi-Teintes Green and 6 folios of Rives BFK, 250 gsm (32 single pages)

3) Canson Mi-Teintes cover in Tobacco 6 folios of Somerset Satin, 300 gsm (24 single pages)

4) Canson Mi-Teintes cover in Dark Grey with 4 folios Stonehenge Grey and 1 folio of Stonehenge Fawn, 250 gsm (20 single pages)

If you are using a similar piece of leather, I cut my paper 8 x 11 inches, and folded widthwise to get 8 x 5.5 inch folios. Then I weighted them with books for a day, and bound them using a pamphlet stitch. For lighter paper 5 holes is adequate with light bookbinding thread, waxed. I often use colours of Conso upholstery thread for cheap paper as it’s inexpensive and you can buy bobbins of it and then wax it with a beeswax cake. I used 7 holes for the heavier art paper and used a heavier 4 ply waxed bookbinding thread.

After binding I weighted them overnight and then trimmed them with a rotary cutter down to 4 5/8 inches width.

Then I collaged some Japanese clip art from a Dover book on the covers, covered with wax paper and weighted them until dry (usually one day.) I use Golden Soft Gel Medium for collage. To keep these from getting too wet I used a glue stick on most of the clippings and then used Soft Gel around the edges for a stronger bond.

The pocket folder I recut from a regular manila folder. Then I bound the edges with Washi tape to reinforce.

You will notice that one booklet is smaller than the others. Always remember to have your ruler turned the right way when cutting (rolls eyes.) Never work at night when you’re tired. click to enlarge.


In they went….click to enlarge….


This was a bit full for turning the pages for drawing and painting, so I took my booklet with writing paper out. In future I would put less folios in for the heavier Somerset paper. I’ve never tried it so wanted to experiment.


This seems to sit better and allow me to fold out the pages for working on. Click to enlarge.

I made three bead dangles for a decoration on the strap, and I haven’t quite decided where to tie it off so I’m leaving the lengths long for a while. Click to enlarge.


With the more expensive art paper costing me $19, the total cost of this was about $35 CAD. The art paper cost more than the leather and the elastic, BUT I got to customize the paper I used. I find Rives BFK works well with ink and Micron pens, but you can also use coloured pencil and watercolour in a few layers on it. So, although not a watercolour paper, it’s great for a journal like this. Stonehenge is great for drawing and inking and the Mi-Teintes takes coloured pencil, pastel, and gouache.

I have no special tools or large amounts of money, and I would encourage people to make their own Fauxdoris in this manner. The customization possibilities alone are worth it.

I see a lot of people buying multiples of these journals. Why I don’t know, since you can endlessly customize one and take things out and re-jig it as you need to.

I think that if you take the time to make your own and customize the inserts, it will mean more and satisfy you more than buying, buying, buying, never satisfied or sated.

I am calling my new art journal Japonica.

If Only They Designed Fountain Pens Like This

Posted April 5, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Creativity, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Since I was much younger I’ve fancied a fountain pen with floral designs. I thought for sure that with all the Chinese manufacturers of these pens selling wares in North America, that there would be some nice florals like chrysanthemums for sale but it wasn’t the case.

Perhaps chintz florals are horribly out of style? Maybe so, but botanical and scientific illustrations are not. I could only find two examples online and one of them was out of stock and the other one was too expensive.

So I did some mock-ups in Photoshop.


And then I thought some scientific illustrations on the caps might be nice, all colour-coordinated with a pattern on the barrel.


It wouldn’t take much to design something more masculine with different patterns and schematics or architectural drawings on the caps instead of florals.

I don’t imagine printing these on the barrels and caps of fountain pens would be any more expensive that printing a marble pattern for example.

I would like to see designs like this in pens that do not cost $300. There were some beautiful Maki-e designs for sale and they were hand painted and thus expensive, but what’s the matter with printing nice designs like this on a regular, every day pen that costs $20 to $30?

Patterns like this NEVER go out of style. I’m quite sure men would enjoy a bit of zip in a pen as well. Marble patterns, gold nibs or highlights, and special editions of rainbow and metallic colours are unimaginative. We need colour and pattern and science and art!!

Three of the patterns I used on barrels were created in Gliftex, the most wonderful computer software, and one I’ve used extensively for 15 years. (Second from left on top image; second from left and last pen on bottom image.) Pen companies could use that program to make beautiful designs for embellishment.

I guess it’s easier to print a lime green or metallic orange pen and call it “special edition.” How many rainbow-coloured pens by the same manufacturer can one person buy? Look at the whole world of creativity and pattern that pen manufacturers can’t be bothered with. Too expensive?

Nope, I’m not buying it.

The next day I decided to do up a couple more, this time with maps and more modern floral pops.


All the patterns on the barrels of these pens were created in Gliftex. These patterns are sharp, sharp, sharp. I’ve never understood why professional graphics people don’t use that program. There is a professional version.

Yummy, I like the last one this way…



I Bought a Pilot Parallel 2.4 mm Pen

Posted April 1, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Artwork, Writing and Journalling

Tags: , ,

A couple of weeks ago I took out my Speedball nib set to use in my sketchbook. One of my bottles of F-W Acrylic Artists Ink (Sap Green) had turned to sludge, and the other (Sepia) was workable although slightly sludgy at the bottom. However, I just could not face using a dip pen. It’s scratchy, it’s tricky, the ink splodges around indiscriminately, and after using my fountain pens which flow so easily, I felt I could not handle the anxiety of using the dip pen.

There are some calligraphic fountain pens, but they are expensive. Pilot has the Pilot Parallel pen which is much less to buy. It comes with two ink cartridges and a cleaning converter but you have to buy the Pilot CON-50 converter to use with it, or refill the ink cartridges with a dropper. I thought I might as well get the converter at the same time as it works in my Pilot Metropolitan too. I just have to wait about three weeks for the mail.


When buying things like this I look at reviews and online feedback. I decided to buy the 2.4 mm nib for my purposes. The smaller 1.5 mm nib didn’t get good reviews, and the two larger ones would be too large for what I do.


While looking at reviews and web sites I found a site that offers printable practice sheets specifically for these pens in all widths.

I can fill the converter with some of my Waterman Absolute Brown ink for practicing, and thus use that up before buying some fancier colours. I have been having trouble with my shoulder and tendinitis and carpal tunnel in my writing arm, so a pen that flows well is crucial.

I was rather impressed with the way you can use this as a broad nib and then turn it on its side to do thin line flourishes and tails. All in the same pen, and no dipping!



Touch up Furniture Repairs with Coloured Pencils

Posted March 28, 2015 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Creativity

Tags: , ,

We have an old maple washstand with towels bars at the side. I use it for magazines and my stereo and over the years the towel bar on the right has broken off twice.

This time when my husband repaired it, he used wood glue, wood filler, and a screw to repair it, leaving some lines and a filled hole in a cream colour. I have found that stain won’t colour this although sometimes if I mix a bit of stain into the filler beforehand, it will blend in.

For these repairs that have already been filled and dried, I decided to camouflage the lines and filled holes with coloured pencils. I used these four colours from Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils:

180 – Raw Umber
187 – Burnt Ochre
283 – Burnt Siena
177 – Walnut Brown

It did a pretty good job and you have to be close up to see the repair. In these pictures the camera flash made the hole look lighter, it’s more golden in reality and thus more camouflaged than this. I started with one colour and blended over, feathering the colour out and filling in repeatedly for the wood glue lines.


It’s certainly better than having a spot of cream-coloured filler winking at you from across the room. You can tell it has been repaired but it looks fairly normal.

After putting a non-yellowing satin urethane over the coloured repairs, I realized how badly the rest of the piece needed a coat of urethane. Another job for another day.




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