Thursday, February 2, 2017

Stenciled Mixed Media Envelope Journal by Judi Kauffman for The Queen’s Ink

I brought an unfinished envelope journal with me to Seth Apter’s 52 Card Pickup class in January. The cover had only some torn cork and leathery paper on it and a couple of streaks of iridescent copper paint. I had it with me because some of the envelopes contained bits of interesting papers and ephemera I thought I might want to use as collage elements.

At one point in the class, while waiting for paint to dry on the cards, I picked up a couple of Seth’s brand new stencils I’d been using, a cosmetic sponge wedge and black gesso and worked on the journal cover. During another break a bit later I used a glue stick to adhere some torn paper pieces of black and gold metallic handmade paper that had been tucked inside one of the envelopes.

But the cover needed MORE…

When I got home, I pulled out a beaded dangle with a scarab charm (an orphan earring), a strip of suede lacing, some copper metallic braid, and a scrap from a sweatshirt that had been so uncomfortable till I cut off the ribbing and revised the neckline.

It didn’t take me long to decide what would go where. Sometimes projects take on a life of their own and make the decisions for us, I think, and this was one of those times.

I used an awl to poke holes for all of the sewn-down elements. I used a tapestry needle and the copper braid to secure the suede and twine to secure the top end of the beaded dangle – leaving all of the knots visible on the front of the cover.

I used glue to hold the ribbing in place along the right side of the cover (the inside of the front cover is shown in the photo above), and a snippet of a Power Adhesive Tab to keep the scarab charm at an angle.

The photo above shows the inside of the back cover in its current unfinished state.

The photo below shows the first two envelopes in the journal, one small one, the rest larger and the same size.


To make an envelope journal you’ll need the following:
  • Envelopes in various sizes (handmade or store-bought)
  • Heavy chipboard or mat board for front and back covers
  • Stencils of choice
  • (shown: Make it Count S396 and Numbers L184 by Seth Apter, StencilGirl Products)
  • Acrylic or other paint(s)
  • Cosmetic sponge applicator
  • Paintbrush
  • Assorted collage papers and embellishments
  • Adhesives including glue stick, wet glue, Tombow Power Adhesive Tabs (to secure dimensional embellishments)
  • Awl
  • Piercing mat (to protect work table)
  • Metallic braid, twine, other threads
  • Tapestry needle (large eye, blunt tip)
  • Binding system of choice


1. Envelopes can be all the same or assorted shapes and sizes. Cut the front and back cover pieces to match the biggest envelope you’ve selected.

2. Create a mixed media collage on the outside of the front and back covers, only the front cover, or the outside and the inside of each cover. Add something to the edge, as shown (ribbing from a sweatshirt), or omit that step if it’s not to your taste.

3. Alter some or all of the envelopes with stencils, inks, collage, stamping, embellishments.

4. Bind the journal. Write on the envelopes, stuff them with whatever you want to keep!

5. More options:

Add tabs to the top of envelopes.

Add lined or unlined paper or chipboard pages or dividers before, after, or in between the envelopes for drawings and notes.

Get the kids in on the act! This is a SUPER project for children. Choosing their own array of envelopes is lots of fun. The finished book gives them a place to keep all sorts of flat-ish treasures, drawings and more.

Make JUMBO envelope journals from the biggest white or manila envelopes you can find at an office supply store or make with your own array of papers. Use heavy mat board for the covers. Bind with split key rings or pieces of fabric.

Go for TINY journals. Use gift card, ATC-size, or coin collector’s envelopes! 


  1. Love this Judi. And how amazing that it started as something to full the time while paint was drying. That is how so many incredible mixed media pieces are born.

  2. Wow beautiful and omg that texture ❤❤❤

  3. Beautiful, so textural and the back cover already looks gorgeous. Thanks for the how to. x