Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips - Recycling Envelopes

WOW! We certainly hit the mother lode with all the recycling ideas that made their way into my mailbox in response to the contest/challenge/game last week. Loads of them! It’s gonna take me at least a month to sort through all these wonderful, trash into treasure ideas and share them with you. LOL

Let these thrifty artists loose on a heap of trash that most people toss out every week…egg cartons, envelopes, plastic shopping bags, juice boxes, soft drink pull tabs, cardboard, blister packaging… and they enthusiastically wave their magic wands and spin their trash into treasures for their art!

Before I announce the winner of the “Recycling Brainstorming Contest”, I’d like to acknowledge all of the contestants for their fantastic “trashy” recycling lists. LOL I think they deserve a big round of applause and a LITTLE somethin’ for taking the time to enter don’t you?

Put your hands together and give each of the following artists a round of rousing, genuine, appreciative applause … Take a well earned bow my fellow artists…

Alicia Edwards, Donna Hall, Pam Crawford, Pam Yee, Christine Bell, Moon Willow, Stephen du Toit, Leslie, Kelsey Jones-Evans, Susan Marie, Donna Zamora, Martha B., and Elizabeth


Each of the “runner-ups” will receive the following digital heritage background files I created just for them. You can use them in your digital art or print them out to use as background "collage" paper in your art creations. In .png format, they will be zipped up and sent out this week! More “stuff” I hope you can use in your art *GRIN*

This small, unexpected "prize" comes to you with a hearty thank you from me for doing your bit for our environment and taking the time to play the Brainstorming Recycling Game. You are all WINNERS in my book!

And now, the moment we have all been waiting for…. the *WINNER*… the


and winner of the mini shopping spree

for submitting the most (100 of 'em) recycling ideas is…



In addition to your gift certificate Pam, you will also receive the zip file of background sheets I created for the runner ups. Congratulations! Have fun picking out your “goodies”!

Thanks again to Linda Hanson of After Midnight Art Stamps for donating the mini shopping spree gift certificate.

Many people wrote to say how much they enjoyed the game and some, who were short on time and couldn’t play this time, thought it was a grand idea and wrote to say thank you. I am just thrilled to bits at the response… so THANKS EVERYONE!

Using Recycled Envelopes in Your Art

So what can you do with all those envelopes you get in the mail? Here are some “super duper” ideas for you compiled from the lists I received and my own brainstorming. You didn’t think I was gonna miss out on this now did ya?

By the way, speaking of missing out, wouldn't you like to have all of your "art buddies" around the globe find out about these terrific recycling ideas they could use in their art? Consider posting a link to mystoryART in the groups or forums you belong to or mention this post in your art, altered books, digital scrapbooking/art or crafts blog! If you would like to exchange blog links with mystoryART, just send me your address so I can drop by your blog for a visit.

Here's this week's list of all the ways in which you can use recycled envelopes in your art:

  1. Carefully open the envelopes up. Steaming them apart over some boiling water is often the best way to do this to avoid rips or small tears in them. The printed/patterned inside of security envelopes are nice in collage, altered books, journals. Use recycled coloured envelopes for backgrounds, teabag folding, die cuts, paper punching, iris folding, card making, layering in collages, stamping.
  2. Make 'expanding files' to store bits of ephemera, stickers etc.
  3. Use the clear plastic window parts in envelopes to put over a saying in your scrap book or journal; use them as windows in ATC’s, altered books and microscope slide mailers; stitch the window material on mixed media creations either by hand or with your sewing machine; use the envelope windows as a form of a "shaker" holder, large window envelopes make nifty art journals.
  4. Cut (cardboard) priority envelopes in half, glue together, and use as your substrate (base) for ATCs, 4 X 4s, and other projects where you need a stiff base to work on.
  5. Open the envelopes out, bind them through the fold into a very funky base for an altered journal or envelope book.
  6. Cut them into long triangular strips and make paper beads out of them. You can also use tyvek envelopes to create beads. (see project instructions below)
  7. Turn them inside out, glue them back together and use them again as envelopes
  8. Cut them to size to use as memorbilia pockets in your journals, books, or mixed media projects.
  9. Save the stamps/addresses and use them as embellishments in mixed media art. Use foreign addresses as print ephemera. Cut out the postal mark and use it on your altered pages or scan it into your computer and create a graphics “brush”. Steam the stamp off the envelope to use as an embellishment.
  10. Use recycled envelopes to store and keep together small bits of papers, pix, tiny embellishments, doodads, etc. when working on a project.
  11. Store your art shopping lists/wish lists/art ideas in them.
  12. Paint or ink them to re-use as envelopes for mail art, fun and funky letters to friends, as painted paper for punching, folding, embossing, die cuts, etc.
  13. Reuse bubble mailers to send art exchanges and books to other artists.
  14. Use as doodle pads, canvases for small drawings.
  15. Use the paper to create scratch pads. Put them in a small box and decorate the box.
  16. Leave a note for the milkman! (I couldn't resist including this one... LOL)

A Project Idea with Instructions

Elizabeth (aka the Queen of Free) at Altered Book Lover even sent some project instructions along with her recycling ideas to share with you... here's one of them...

"Tyvek envies can be painted, stamped, and heated slightly to make wings, and other embellishments. Cut painted tyvek in strips and make beads. Roll in UTEE and heat slightly. "

Lots more recycling ideas to come in future editions of Thrifty Tuesday Art Tips. Take a minute to bookmark my blog and check in on Tuesday mornings (I usually schedule the posts for 3:00 AM PST to accommodate eastern US and Canada blog readers). Stay tuned…. See ya Friday!