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Envelope Books

Martha Stewart Living, December 2000

In December, the mail becomes perceptibly different: Prosaic white envelopes are joined by others in surprising colors, heavier weights, and odd sizes. Some are embellished with seals, and most are addressed by hand. These envelopes are a joy to behold and tear into -- a pleasure that ordinary mail rarely provides.

The idea for binding envelopes together came from a curious old fabric-covered book with envelope "pages" we found at a flea market. Each yellowed page was labeled -- Stamps, Receipts, Tickets, etc. -- for use as an old-fashioned desk organizer. But it looked as though it had never been used. Although its origins were a mystery, we found its purpose inspiring, and we used its form as a starting point for several other "book" projects.

The envelopes are bound together with bookbinding tape. Your choice of envelopes and cover, however, will determine the book's shape and character. Browse through stationery stores, and take inspiration from your favorite envelopes; to make a book, they must all be the same size, but their colors may vary.

A paper-bound envelope book can serve as a special holiday card, with each "page" hiding a treat or a thought for the day. Eight-page books, for example, are perfect for the eight nights of Hanukkah, while seven pages suit the seven days of Kwanzaa. More durably bound in cloth, the envelope book is sure to become a prized possession.

Envelopes hiding recipe cards are a treasure for a young cook; an enclosure of seeds is a welcome present from gardener to gardener. Wide envelopes make handy storage for photos. Or leave the envelope pages blank and let special purposes suggest themselves in the coming year.

Handmade and personalized, a cloth-bound book with envelope "pages" makes a thoughtful alternative to a store-bought organizer. Here, such a book provides a tidy catchall for desktop odds and ends. Each envelope page is designated for a different purpose: receipts, "to do" lists, business cards, coupons, stamps, tickets, and notes. Join envelopes with bookbinding tape that has been cut with decorative scissors.

An envelope book is the ideal package for small gifts. A silver and blue Hanukkah book has eight pages -- one to be opened on every night of the holiday.

With twelve pages, each assigned to a different month, the "coupon" book makes a lovely gift from a child to a parent. Children can design coupons to be traded in for help at the appropriate time of year -- shoveling snow and washing dishes in January, for example, dog-walking and car-washing in July.

Return to Envelope Books: Cloth Binding How-To.
Return to Envelope Books: Paper Binding How-To.

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