Friday, February 9, 2018

Envelope Storage - Archive

The topic of storing envelopes came up on The Flourish Forum. People who are new to envelope exchanges are so excited that they start making big beautiful scrapbooks to house the envelopes they receive. That is exactly what I did more than 20 years ago when I first started exchanging. After a few years, the scrapbooks took up way too much room and I had to pull everything out and come up with a new system. I had to (chose to) edit the collection. There was a request on The Flourish Forum for images of my storage system and it occurred to me that my other pen pals might be interested as well.

My large cabinet for envelopes. Four stackable plastic drawers on top which contain the *top shelf* collection.
One drawer has been pulled down to take a photo so you only see 3 of the 4 drawers. To the right is a book case that has a few notebooks with envelopes in plastic sleeves. You can also see a slender green book sticking out that contains envelopes.
Inner sanctum of the cabinet with a few boxes of incoming mail. Some will graduate to the plastic drawers. Some will not. Editing happens when I need the space. Most of the stuff in the cabinet is blank stock for my own artwork. As I use up the art supplies, I am hoping to have room to store all the archived received mail in the the cabinet and get rid of the plastic drawers. While this may look like a disturbing hoard of art supplies, I assure you there are many people who have larger hoards. I was one of them and am very proud of the amount of excess that has gone out the door.
Plastic drawers have bundles of mail organized by theme, holiday, style of writing. There are dividers with labels. There are also a couple photo albums, pictured below. The bulk of my exchange envelopes are in drawers like this - with labeled dividers. It's easy to pull out a stack and fun to flip through them as if you are going through your mail.
Photo albums with plastic pockets. Easy to switch envelopes as needed. These are nice to take to classes where I prefer that the envelopes are protected from too much handling. Although I do take some of them to classes that are not in plastic. It's nice for students to see the real thing up close. Even the feel of ink on paper is different from markers or pens.
Another inexpensive option for envelopes where I want to display the card or letter that came with the envelope. 
On the right is a letter from Peter Thornton. It might be nice to have the letter and envelope on facing pages, but I prefer to have them both in one plastic sleeve in case I want to pull just a few to take to a class or rearrange them or add a page in the middle. Being able to edit and rearrange is essential to me. I highly recommend building in some flexibility as you figure out which method of archiving works for you. 
On the left you can see the envelope from Peter Thornton. You can also see the bleed through from the letter. It is not ideal to have the business sized envelope turned on end. But a big square 12x12 (30x30) scrapbook (which is what I started with) is so cumbersome.
I much prefer the standard 9x12 (22x30) notebooks.
On the left is a letter from Bob Hurford. The envelope has been grouped with some other Spencerian examples. Envelopes and enclosures do not have to stay together. On the right is an envelope from Sheila Waters. It would not be archived except it came from Sheila. There was a notecard inside which is opened so that it can be read on the flip side. I like how I can see her artwork on this side as well as read the note on the other side. A lot of mail, including envelopes will have things you want to see on both sides, which is another reason that plastic sleeves are so handy. If you commit to gluing things into a scrapbook, you lose the option to see both sides - not to mention losing the option to rearrange easily.
This is my cumbersome 12x12 book of all the mailings I did for my daughter's wedding. I started designing wedding invitations when she was in 5th grade. It was a long haul waiting for her to find Mr. Right. Luckily, Mr. Right had a very good design sense and all three of us had a blast designing a total of 11 mailings as well as a program, menu, table numbers and place cards. Since some of the envelopes were business sized, the book needed to be 12x12 (30x30). This accordion style book works very well for smaller sized scrapbooks.
I left the front cover unattached so that the whole book could be unfurled to display all of the pages. I brought it to Round Robin night at one of the IAMPETH Conferences. 
This shows the pages being unfurled - a top view.
Front view of most of the book.
Close up of a few pages.

And I can hear a couple of you saying - how could you come up with 11 mailings to a wedding.
save the date
reply card and I wrote in the guests names on all the reply cards because I did not want to see any bad penmanship
a small note card letting them know a gift had been received and that a personal note would follow
a bridal shower invitation
a couples shower invitation
a bachelorette party invitation (the bachelor declined the offer of invitations - and sent emails)
a rehearsal dinner invitation
a Sunday morning brunch invitation
a special mailing that went out the week before the wedding that simply said - see U soon
it was just for fun - and it was worth it because so many people came up to me at the reception and said they were going to miss getting mailings from us
the actual thank you

on the couples first anniversary, they had moved to Australia. so I made postcards, put stamps on them and sent them to the guests who had been at the wedding and asked them to write a note to the couple and drop it in the mail. my daughter and son-in-law really enjoyed receiving the postcards. so, technically - it was 12 mailings. Fortunately it was not a large wedding. Only 100 invitations went out. and there were about 20% who did not attend. some of the mailings were quite small - like the showers and bachelorette party.


  1. Thanks for sharing! My hoard has become unmanageable and I can try your methods. ( I have one plastic bin, but it is bulging!)

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