Envelope Addressing: Tips from Experience

On this third installment of the Envelope Addressing series, I'm blogging about my typical process, and some tips from experience. This can be a long read, but I hope it's worth your time. 
 

MY USUAL PROCESS

  1. Upon receiving the envelopes: test one envelope with nib and ink. 
  2. Make guidelines or guideline templates, according to need. (Read my previous post on making envelope guidelines, in case you missed it.)
  3. Pick out a long name/address, draw guidelines on test envelope, then ink, erase. (Choose a long name so that you'd know if your script/x-height will fit even for the longest name on the list.)
  4. Send a snapshot of my sample to my client to see if we're on the same page. 
  5. Set up my table:
    • New envelopes to the left (I'm right handed),
    • drying rack to the far right,
    • in front of me, I put my ink and a little bit of rinsing water--on top of a really absorbent paper towel (so that just in case it spills, I'm confident that it won't be all over the nearby envelopes),
    • print out of names taped with washi on the wall or pinned to my curtain (haha), and
    • guidelines, ruler, lightpad, nib and holder on the actual working space. 
  6. Pick a playlist. I like Josh Vietti's music!
  7. Count how many envelopes need a certain number of lines. Start drawing guidelines.
  8. Write names in pencil (I usually do this for formal envelopes) then ink. For freehand, I sometimes skip the pencilled names: I "write" in the air just on top of the envelope to "see" how words flow, then go straight to writing with ink.
  9. After the ink dries, erase the lines. 
  10. Once you've finished the entire list, arrange the envelopes according to the order on the list. Tick each name once you've checked that the envelope is in good shape, writing is superb *wink*, and all spellings are correct. 
  11. Inform the client that you're done and ready to ship. (Just in case there are any more names that they need to add.
  12. Pack the envelopes well, including the extras/blanks, then ship it out. 
On this envelope you'd see my guidelines, as well as some pencil marks for the names. I drew them on pencil first, before I inked them. The lines are very light, so that I won't have a hard time erasing them. 

On this envelope you'd see my guidelines, as well as some pencil marks for the names. I drew them on pencil first, before I inked them. The lines are very light, so that I won't have a hard time erasing them. 

SOME TIPS

I was actually taking notes while I was in the middle of the 5 or so batches of envelopes for the past few weeks. Here's what I have so far: 

  • Remind clients that you need just the envelopes, and not have the cards inside all of them. It saves you both shipping costs. 
  • On centering: if you have the soft copy of the names, open up the word processor, pick out a font nearest to your calligraphy style, align everything to center. Draw a line in the middle to denote center (either digitally or manually after you print the page.)
  • Practice your M's for the formal addressing with "Mr. & Mrs."
  • Ask your client if there is any preference for "and" or ampersands "&". Do not just interchange without asking your client. 
  • Test on ONE envelope: the pencil you're using for guidelines (if applicable), the ink, your nib(s) of choice, the height of the letters, and the eraser. Some envelopes discolor with too much eraser action. If you're not sure yet of the nib and ink, try it on the flap-side of the envelope so that you can do a complete mock up on the other side (Name, address, alignment, flourish, etc.) and send a sample snapshot to your client, if possible. 
  • Line lightly, just enough for your eyes to see. Use a light touch, too, to avoid visible pencil 'marks' from heavy handed lines.
  • Before inking every envelope, make it a habit to touch the other side and make sure the envelope isn't upside down. 
  • Make sure your worktable is clean. It's such a bummer to finish an envelope only to find out you placed it on a wet or dirty surface. That being said, secure your ink so that there's NO chance that it would tip over, at all. I usually put my ink jar in a washi tape to secure it. 
  • Also, make sure your hands are clean. No oil, no dirt, and no inky fingers when you touch your envelopes. This would be a good time to be extra conscious where all your ink lands.
  • Don't fret too much if it's not "perfect." Keep in mind that you are very critical of your work. For other people, those are beautifully-written names. 
If you can view this image in full screen, you will see that the loop on the tail of that capital A isn't smooth, like there was a corner, or my nib got stuck a bit, or i hesitated before I looped it around. Did you notice it at first glance? :) Don't worry your calligrapher-self too much!

If you can view this image in full screen, you will see that the loop on the tail of that capital A isn't smooth, like there was a corner, or my nib got stuck a bit, or i hesitated before I looped it around. Did you notice it at first glance? :) Don't worry your calligrapher-self too much!

 

  • If you drew guidelines: patience. Do not join the Erase-Too-Soon club. 
  • Erase your guidelines in a well-lighted area. Sometimes you may think you've erased all lines, until you see it in broad daylight.
  • Start writing from the last name on the list. The important and critical names are usually on top of the list, so don't start with that huge pressure. 
  • Don't dry your envelopes where the wind can blow them away, or blow something on top of it. Or where your dog/child can climb and practically destroy them. 

I think that's about all I can think of now! Happy writing!