Openinkstand Art & Calligraphy

My envelope flourishing process


Oh My God. I just watched one of your videos where you re-wrote an entire address card…your calligraphy and your flourishes are crazy gorgeous.  How exactly do you decide what flourishes to add?  How do you know it’s not going to be awkward looking or anything? :)

Thank you, I’m glad you like them! The secret for flourishing is to add just enough but not to go too crazy with them. Here is my process for making an envelope.


The first thing I do is stick a stamp on the top right corner. Sometimes I stick more than one stamp, sometimes I use stickers, but the point is that I want to know exactly how much space I have. Once I stuck my stamps, I consider what the address is. Some addresses are super long (international addresses) and some rather short. It helps to have a visual of the address as well. Here I have one for Ned Flanders which is a standard American address, a name, a street, city, state and zipcode. Knowing that the address is four lines, I draw my guidelines with pencil. I always make them wavy because I can’t be bothered with a ruler. Nevertheless, I make sure there is plenty of space at the top or bottom in case of overflow.

I always start with a large name, because this is what the recipient wants to see. I don’t make it very fancy to start with, instead I make sure the whole name is written well and readable and fits well in the space that is available.

When the name is done, I add some flourishes at the beginning and ending, but making sure it is not over the top yet. I want to leave space for the rest of the envelope.

Now for the street address, this is super important because this is actually what the postman is looking for. Again, make it readable and add flourishes later.

Leave all that tantalizing empty space for now.. put in the city..

..And state. You can just use the two letter state abbreviations, but I always like writing out the whole state especially if it’s just one short word. If it’s a long hard to spell word like Masassachussettchustetts or Pennysylvavniavaninia then I’ll just use an abbreviation. Also I always make sure the zipcode is visible, it is the most important part of the envelope for the postman!

Once everything is down, then the flourishing can start. Tastefully fill in the empty space.. it’s really hard to not go overboard, but once you have that figured out, let me know..

When the ink is all dried (I hold it up to the light to see if there’s any glossy ink spots left), I erase the pencil lines. It should look like the lines are floating! Sometimes at this point I add more stuff, but usually it should be ready to go.

Hope this helps!

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