Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Flock of Birds: Envelopes - By Judi Kauffman for The Queen's Ink


I’m back as today’s guest designer with a project that ranks high among my favorites – Envelopes! It’s kind of my signature. No plain envelopes. And since envelopes are inexpensive bits of ephemera, destined to be torn open and tossed out, they’re a wonderful surface for experimentation. Hope you’ll join me…

The project title, Flock of Birds, reflects the fact that I stamped a LOT of envelopes. Two dozen, to be exact, though I’m showing only nine of them here.

I’ve always worked ‘By the Batch’ method. In fact, that was the title of the last book I wrote*.

I picked a versatile stamp and stencil set by Nathalie Kalbach (available at The Queen’s Ink, of course, in-store or via mail order). It has a foam stamp with two sides (detailed and a solid silhouette), a cling-mounted rubber stamp, and a stencil with masking pieces.

My theory is this: If I’m getting out supplies and making a mess I want to have a bountiful outcome. Kind of like baking a double batch of cookies instead of a half-batch…plenty for later!

(*If you’re curious: My book is now discontinued, but it can sometimes be found on or eBay. It’s called By the Batch: Creative Cards, Postcards, Envelopes & More.)


Throughout these instructions, I’m adding ‘Design Strategies’ (in italic font) – tips that explain not only HOW I did something, but WHY. Yes, it means more words to read, but I hope you find them useful!

1. Stamp a batch of A2 (or other) size envelopes using the three bird stamps from the set (two foam stamps, one rubber stamp). Use the stencil and sponged-on ink to add plants, or position stenciled branches in the bird’s beak. Refer to the photos for placement, taking care to position the bird(s) off to one side to leave room for a mailing label. Use a single bird, or several. Design Strategy: I used a large size homemade rainbow inkpad so the colors vary within each bird. If you don’t have a multi-color pad, solid colors work fine! I used only one bird stamp per envelope, but you can combine them so you have birds peeking in from both sides of the envelope. This works great with long #10 business envelopes.

2. Smudge and smear ink onto and around the stamped images. Also, lightly smudge inks onto some mailing labels. Set labels aside till step 4. Design Strategy: Stamp and cut out masks of the birds if you want to keep crisp edges. Use a sponge and skip the masking if you are going for a more random look with the colors.

3. Get out the colored pencils, a white opaque ink pen, and a couple of fine line black pens and add more color and detail. Refer to the photos to give you some ideas. Design Strategy: Stick with only a couple of colored pencils if you want your envelopes to resemble mine. Customize to suit your own eye – More colors, markers (but skip the paints – wet media will cause envelopes to ripple). As shown in several of the photos, especially the two below, you can add an eye to the bird even though there isn’t one on the stamp.


4. Add a mailing label to each envelope. The post office will thank you! Stamp the beak or a portion of the bird’s body onto a label and ‘fussy-cut’ it so that the bird will appear to look like it’s in front of the label, or holding it in its beak.

5. Smudge extra ink at the upper right if you want to highlight the spot for the postage stamp. Design Strategy: If you know what stamps you’re going to use you can plan the smudged area so it is just slightly larger than the stamp!

  • Stampendous n*Studio Bird Stamp and Stencil set by Nathalie Kalbach, NKCFS02  (Available at The Queen’s Ink, in-store or via mail order)

  • Dye inks in shades or brown, orange and red or colors of choice
  • Colored pencils in mustard and aqua or colors of choice
  • Pigma Micron 01 and 1 in black or other fine nib black pens
  • Gelly Roll Medium in white or other white opaque ink pen
  • Artist’s sponge for smudging inks
  • A2 smooth finish envelopes in ivory (shown) or colors of choice


  1. You always come up with something new. I love these stamps and the way you used them. -paulaj

  2. Oh WOW!!! Judi, I LOVE these envelopes!!

  3. WOW! Who wouldn't love this kind of "Flock of Birds" to land in their mailbox? Super cool envelopes, Judi! Adorable birds. I, too, love decorating envelopes - and always by the batch, like you :-)

  4. Oh I love those envelopes Judi!!! They are so fun!

  5. These are super wonderful! Who wouldn't want to receive some cool mail in these?!! Thanks so much for sharing with our products!

  6. Thank you! I'm glad the envelopes are a hit. They were a lot of fun to stamp and adding a little bit of color and doodling on them is one of my favorite zero-colorie TV-time activities.

  7. They are great. Wonderful and cooling to the eye....