Using Envelopes In Your Art Journal

I love using envelopes when I art journal!  It’s the perfect thing to tuck away some special writing or journaling, photos, letters, anything really.  I thought it would be a great time to bring it up now that we are in the Season of Introspection.
I do a ton of free writing, especially when I am trying to understand how I am feeling or thinking.  Usually I paint over it or throw it away after I write it.  Sometimes, though, I wanna save it in my art journal.  In that case, I just fold up my writing and tuck it away into an envelope.
My favorite envelopes to use are just from the junk mail I get in my mailbox.  That’s because I love playing with the transparent address windows.  Fun fact: my absolute favorite envelopes actually come from the MVA (in the US, that’s the vehicle registration place).  I like them the best because they have transparent windows and they are that beautiful orange-y manila envelope color–such a good warm antique kinda color.
Okay so the basic instruction for this is simple:  just glue the envelope into your art journal, window side up.
Just like everything else in art journaling, there is no correct way to do this.  This is why art journaling is glorious!
I used these envelopes, courtesy of my healthcare provider:
Personally, I like to cut the envelopes down to a smaller size:
I also like to first paint the envelope with acrylic paint or gouache.  I do this so messily because that is who I am, haha!  I like getting paint on the window because then it interacts visually with whatever you put inside the envelope.
Separately, I paint or collage a background on the page where I will glue the envelope. Or you just use a page you have previously worked into but could use something extra.
I chose to glue this quilt pattern over the “PLEASE RECYCLE THIS ENVELOPE” print.  The pattern was cut out from an old thrift store book I have been systematically destroying with everything I make.
Here’s what it looks like once I glue the envelopes in place:
In this envelope, after gluing a pattern inside it,  I put some golden in there.  It’s kind of hard to see in this picture but it’s sparkly and magical in real life.
In this one I put a 4×4 photo from a trip to Costa Rica.  It’s of this beautiful pink flowering plant that was right by a natural pool in a coral beach.  A special beautiful memory for me.  I can slide it in and out of this envelope.  I also spray painted some quick blasts of black automotive paint on the outside of the envelope.  It gave it a splatter paint effect.  Again, painting and drawing over the windows is fun!
This one I made a little while back.  This is one of my favorite envelopes glued down with a photo inside.  I painted gold onto the photo and it just makes me feel so good when I see it.  The white stripes are from a white-out tape runner.  (That’s me at my day job…)
And finally here is another envelope I incorporated into a page.  This one is holding some personal writing I wanted to save.
I hope this inspires you to start hoarding junk mail to make beautiful things!


Cait Sherwood is a mixed-media painter who works into art journals daily. She lives on a farm in Brookeville, Maryland. She is obsessed with understanding the creative process.


  1. Kate

    I love the pages! SO COOL! I’m going to need window envelopes now ! Thank you

  2. Kelli CRESWELL

    Oh I love this idea so much! I will definitely be saving these envelopes now so I can try this. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    what a great way to add secrets to your journal…and reuse reuse reuse!

  4. Ashley Rodgers

    I love your pages! I usually save security envelopes for the patterns on the inside, and I also like to use the windows as little shaker pockets. I never thought to use envelopes in this way though! I especially love how you use them as pockets for special photos. Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Katie Smith

    These are lovely, Cait! As always, I love your style.

  6. Misty GRanade

    I lurv it. Seriously, I can’t get enough of your pages!

  7. Nel Wisse

    How inspiring! And I love your paintings.
    I’ll save my junk mail in the future too. Thanks.

  8. Tanyalee Kahler

    Oh yes – I will definitely be doing this – I even have an envelope sitting on my desk ready to use! Thanks Cait.

  9. Cheryl Angelini

    Love your pages and this tutorial! Going to start saving envelopes and also using my envelope maker

  10. Lucia

    oh Cait, Great. I finally know how to use …REUSE.. envelopes Im saving for years. On your pages the envelopes are hardly visible and that is the magic about it. Nobody can see I have hidden treasure or words there.
    WOW, Great tutorial and lovely pages, thank u 🙂

  11. Sarah Maddox

    I love how you journal (and write, you’re very funny) you are the epitome of messy and it is glorious!