I have only done a couple of envelopes and each time I used just watercolours, tomorrow I am going to do one with some collage on it,  my question is to those who use watercolours, or clue things onto your envelopes to you put anything over the top to protect it during its travels and if so what do  you use    ? 

Views: 717

Replies to This Discussion

Annette--I typically do not put a protective coating on watercolors or collage. If a collage has small pieces I may dab glue over them to keep the postage machines from pulling them off. I use Elmer's which dries with a matte finish. If you want to protect a watercolor because it is going to to a humid/rainy climate a good product is Krylon's Matte Finish (#1311). Acrylic sprays available in hardware stores give a more glossy tough finish. However many mail artist considered any 'damage' incurred during travel through the postal systems to be part of the artistic process. So you have lots of choices.


Do not worry 2 much about possible damage of the envelope, consider this as an envelope ALTERED during the journey. This is part of the mail art spirit.

On the other hand: if you really worry, here some possibilities to protect:

put the mail art envelope in another plain envelope

or plastify your envelope but that a) costs some money and b) you cannot put stuff in the envelope.

The plastified envelope is the object.

If you mail Big or Larger works (I mail even some of my large paintings) roll it like a poster and mail it in a tube.

Some countries (like the US) demand a custom sticker. Glue it on the tube BUT please always indicate it is a gift, so without commercial value. Otherwise the customs will tax the mail artist for the value indicated.

One of my good friends in the US mailed me a painting and put value 1 million dollers on it. It was blocked by Belgian customs and I had to pay tax on that amount. I told them it was a joke. People in customs have no sense of humour at all. In the end the painting returned to the USA and my friend had to mail it again with mentioning of gift, na value. You also have to put on the sticker the EXACTdate when you mail the item.

I hope you can laugh with my story


oh my gosh that is so funny  !    but not at the time I guess  !  

09.06.14  Dare  Ms. Annette R.,  I can understand your apprehension. Deep in the internal USPS there are a few postal agents that actually carry arms...& last summer I actually saw a mail carrier at the end of my street wearing a purple Mohawk. Not to mention... Just the other day I was forced to pay 38 cents for a 34 cents postcard.  I really don't know what to tell you about protecting your watercolors--although upon occasion, I too will "clue" things to an envelope....just be prepared for the post office to mess with it in some way. (I certainly do  not recommend placing glass over your watercolors as that will only add weight  & costs for postage). Please try to enjoy yourself & the process of" whatever". I suggest that you just go ahead & boldly dive in. My guess is that the waters are less polluted at your front door than most other places. All best wishes & postal  delight for you. Richard C.

The post office frown on 'dimensional' objects because they jam up their machines. My advice would be to use flat items only, like stickers, paper, etc. If you are worried about it, you can cover the envie with gel medium or something like Mod Podge (which I personally do not use because it seems to remain sticky. Not sure if I'm using it wrong or what.) Gel medium or glue that dries clear is probably your best bet.

I usually don't protect my envelopes; as Guido also said, I consider any damage by the post to be an addition in the Mail Art process. 

I just try to use a good glue, found out by experience which one is best here.

To my experience, most mail arrived safe and sound, only one got damaged as far as I know, and at least four got lost in the post. It's all in the game (and concerning the lost envelopes, I imagine that they have been found - or that they were considered so beautiful that someone took them with him/her - and that they now are hanging in some living room, that idea consoles me :-)

And I am - and more mail artists are - trying new things, not only flat mail but also 3D or other kinds of additions, to see what happens. See for instance the IUOMA group 'odd shaped postcards', and read the book about the man who posted himself (about 114 years ago already, to test the Royal Mail :-)

Guido, funny story indeed!

Thank you everyone for your great advice and the funny story Guido,  I will look at that you group ' odd shaped postcards'  you mentioned Heelena,  I will have to read about the man who tested the Royal Mail too   :) 

I am looking forward to receiving my first piece of mail art this week.

A big part of mail art has always been the confrontation with the regulations of the post offices all around the world. It still is the main topic of Guy Bleus admnistration project in Belgium (he is one of the godfathers of mail art in Belgium).

The automatization means envelopes have to be restricted to certain sizes and thickness even to fit the sorting machines. You can surpass that BUT then you have to pay more!

One of cultural shocks was that something existed as a real postal police in the USA.

Mike Dyar used to glue leaves and nature elements on his mail art envelopes (in a thick transparant glue). He had a nasty visit of the postal police and had to abandon this type of mail art. Maybe this has to do with the post 911 and anthrax paranoia. I don't know. I still resist and make even glue painted envelopes. Use woodglue and mix that with ink and watercolors and materials (earth, salt, sugar, grounded coffee). The result is astonishing. The envelope comes alive. It becomes a material type of painting. One day there will be a knock on my door, for sure, but I never respond to knocks on the door. LoL.


something like this arrived too!

this arrived too (and is in Guy's collection now)


so cool



Want to support the IUOMA with a financial gift via PayPal?

The money will be used to keep the IUOMA-platform alive. Current donations keep platform online till 1-july-2024. If you want to donate to get IUOMA-publications into archives and museums please mention this with your donation. It will then be used to send some hardcopy books into museums and archives. You can order books yourself too at the IUOMA-Bookshop. That will sponsor the IUOMA as well.










© 2024   Created by Ruud Janssen.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service