Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories At Home Art Studio Bookmaking Collage

Art Through the Mail

Meg Nicoll

This week, we invite our At Home Art Studio community to explore art that can be sent through the mail! You can send your art through the postal system, or have fun inventing your own at-home system to share messages with friends and family. Here’s what our team made this week! 

Two images: A folded piece of yellow paper glued into a blank white card and a hand gluing three sides of a yellow, rectangle paper.

Megan was inspired to make a birthday card with a special surprise to mail to a friend. She decided to make a present inside the card that could be opened. She started by gluing a yellow piece of paper inside the card, with a flap folded over at the top. Megan attached a smaller piece of yellow paper on top, glued around the side and bottom edges, to create a pocket. 

Two images: The folded yellow paper has been turned into a present box with a paper bow and polka dots made of hole punches glued to the paper. The folded yellow paper is lifted to reveal a pocket holding birthday surprises.

Megan used construction paper and dots from a hole punch to create a birthday gift. She added some small things inside the pocket, like a little bookmark she made, stickers, and a drawing. Megan hopes her friend enjoys the surprise! 

Two images: The front and back of an envelope that is colored purple and has lines drawn on it to look like fur. The face on the back of the envelope has two eyes, orange lips, and teeth.

Megan then customized her envelope by drawing a silly monster face on the back, using the flap as the mouth, and used the same colors to create the monster’s fur on the front. Now her birthday surprise card is ready to be mailed! 

Two images: An unfolded envelope used as a template to cut out a new envelope from a map. A folded map card put inside the handmade envelope.

Amy also explored making her own envelopes inspired by topographical map stationery that she used to have. To make her envelope, she unfolded an existing one to create pattern, and then cut up some old Appalachian trail maps to create her new custom stationery. 

Three images: An envelope with paper taped to block out space for addresses next to a sheet of Earth Day stamps with a green and blue earth on them. A blue pencil traces the bottom of a circular spool onto the front and back flap of the envelope. An envelope with blue and green circles on the front and addresses areas left blank with an Earth Day stamp.

One of Sara’s favorite parts of sending mail is picking the stamp to use on the envelope. She enjoys the many different designs and thought it would be interesting to make envelopes that were inspired by a stamp. Noticing the shape and colors of the earth on the stamp, Sara thought she might create circles of blue and green on the envelope. She taped two pieces of scrap collage paper to the envelope to block out space for the two addresses. Sara then used a spool of thread to trace circles onto the envelope, much like Meg had done during a previous shape scavenger hunt. After covering the front with circles, she removed the scrap pieces of paper to reveal negative white space for the addresses. 

Two images: A landscape stamp with a mountain range, forest, and river. The stamp is placed in the corner of an envelope and a black marker drawing extends from the stamp with a dark forest drawing, mountain silhouette, and river.

Inspired by a river stamp, Sara decided to extend the nature scene onto the envelope. She added outlines of mountains, silhouettes of trees, and a bending river. Sara saved space for the address again with a piece of scrap paper. 

Four images: An envelope with a collaged planet and an imaginary stamp with the title “Outer Space Mail to Earth” on the front. The envelope is opened to reveal an accordion folded message with the first tab saying “Hello! Pull this tab” with arrows pointing up. The message is pulled out to reveal a whole solar system with colorful collages of planets and objects. A close-up of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars, each on a separate fold of the accordion message.

Meg decided to invent her own at-home postal system called Outer Space Mail. The first letter through intergalactic mail was a long pull-tab diagram of the solar system. She liked the idea of trying to find a way to send something really huge like the solar system through the mail in a tiny envelope.  

Three images: Two long, thin sheets of blank paper taped together. The paper is accordion-folded up. Colored pencils, scissors, and glue lie next to the accordion-folded paper where the solar system has been half-way completed.

To create her solar system, Meg wanted to use a long piece of paper. It was fun figuring out how to fold the paper so that it would unfold moving from planets closest to the sun, to those objects and planets farthest from the sun. She taped the most distant end of her solar system to the inside of the envelope and left space at the other end to write instructions for her mail art recipient. To create her solar system, Meg used a combination of drawing tools and collage papers.  

Imaginary stamps of different shapes and designs that are drawn onto paper using colored pencils and a black marker. The stamps are cut-up then glued onto messages. There are three messages with notes that are related to the stamp glued to it. For example, a stamp with the phases of the moon has the message “Dear friend, Did you see the full moon last night? It was so bright! Love, Sara.”

Sara also wanted to invent her own postal system so she designed a unique set of stamps to share notes at home. She started by drawing shapes, then a squiggly line around them to make the wavy edges of a stamp. She filled the shapes with different drawings and words, ready to cut up and glue onto paper. After gluing them down, she wrote notes for a friend based upon each stamp design. 

We hope that you enjoy exploring postal art at home!


Meg smiling in the Art Studio.

Meg Nicoll

Art Educator at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art from 2016 to 2023, Meg enjoys working with artists, educators, and people of all ages to create opportunities for art-making.
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