Prehistoric Pen Pals: Recycled Book Page Envelopes


Remember that amazing vintage science book for kids that I discovered at a library sale? Though I enjoyed exploring its well-worn pages, it was one of the most damaged books I’ve ever seen. The binding and cover had long gone the way of the dinosaurs, and I figured the time had come for its reincarnation.

That’s how my outgoing mail hopped back a few eons!

Some delicate book-surgery, lots of tape, and some stickers and handmade labels were all it took to help this dying relic evolve into something a little more sustainable. I would’ve slipped a small fossil from my collection into each envelope, except I’m pretty sure they’d far exceed the usual “Non-Machinable Surcharge” limitations…


To match the book’s faded 1940s appearance, I created address labels from simple brown paper: it certainly matches better than basic white would have!


The subjects featured on these envelopes vary–some are basic pages of text, others include beautifully delicate marginalia, and then there are those graced with the full beauty of long-lost prehistoric beasts. (I realize the toothy aquatic dude might not be everyone’s cup of tea: that one is most likely headed off to my sister.)


While attempting to “de-stash” my massive dragon’s hoard of craft supplies, I excavated some Tim Holtz stickers that complement the address labels rather nicely.


Forgive me for riffing off the obvious “evolution” metaphor, but making these envelopes really made me marvel at how my mail art style has grown and changed over the 1.5 years I’ve been writing to pen pals. I started out as someone who could barely handle more than a strip of washi tape, moved into a “sticking-craft-paper-on-envelopes” stage, and then finally began making my own by hand.

Only recently have I become more experimental, realizing that pretty much any 2D media is an envelope waiting to happen if you think creatively. (I’ve actually used full-page spreads for these envelopes rather than the too-small single pages–even though that took some wrangling.) I remain incredibly excited to see what strange new forms my outgoing mail will take next!


5 thoughts on “Prehistoric Pen Pals: Recycled Book Page Envelopes

  1. Idle Emma September 12, 2016 / 10:13 am

    I love them! As sad as it is for a book to come to the end of it’s life, it’s fun to see what can be made from those pretty pages! And isn’t it interesting to look back at your mail art to see how it’s changed? I had a lot of fun looking back at my mail art evolution from the past year.
    (Also, I think the toothy aquatic dude in that picture is cute, in his own way :D)

    • Mailbox Mermaid September 16, 2016 / 12:08 pm

      Haha I’m so delighted to see all the love for that strange aquatic guy! 😀 (I think he’s pretty great too, truth be told.) Here’s to more exciting mail art evolution for the both of us!

      • Idle Emma September 17, 2016 / 3:51 pm

        Looking forward to seeing where our mail art evolution will leave us in a years time!

  2. thesnailmail September 12, 2016 / 3:31 pm

    Nicely done! I love that long-necked beast. I’ve rescued some cartoon collections from the library recycling, and somewhere back in the pages of my blog, you can see Calvin & Hobbes leading new lives as envelopes.

    • Mailbox Mermaid September 16, 2016 / 12:08 pm

      A great idea! My local library is a great resource for these sorts of things too–and if something’s so unreadable that they’re going to recycle it anyway, why NOT turn it into an envelope? 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s