how to recycle photo calendars into envelopes

It’s that time of year when you toss last year’s calendar and start all over with a new calendar. If you are starting a New Year with the same resolutions, don’t despair. At least you can do something artsy with the calendar that failed to cooperate. Use those pretty calendar pages of cats, flowers, or horses to make envelopes!

  1. Remove your favorite photos from a calendar with roughly 8-1/2 x 11 photos. The calendar photo should be vertically oriented because your envelope template is about 10 inches in length. You’ll understand this the first time you try to make an envelope out of a mountain landscape and the photo is not as tall as your template.
  2. On the web, get yourself a free A2 size envelope template. The A2 size is for cards with a finished size of 4-1/2 x 5-1/2. Or an 8-1/2 x 11-inch letter that has been folded into fourths.
  3. Print the template out on copier paper then run it through your printer’s copier onto a piece of cardstock.
  4. Cut out the cardstock envelope template. A cardstock template is not ideal because you can’t see through it. If you envision yourself going off the deep end making envelopes, consider purchasing a transparent plastic template such as the one made by JudiKins. I’ve had mine so long it actually has 1994 printed on it. Copying onto a transparency didn’t work — the inkjet ink smudged off.
  5. Keep in mind where your address sticker will go and move the template around on the calendar page to get the best view of the cats, flowers, or horses. This is why a transparent template is best – you can actually see the image on the calendar page. I have never used the big cat envelope pictured below because I didn’t think about the address sticker.
  6. Trace around the template.
  7. Cut on your tracing lines and then fold on all the lines that form the 4-3/8 x 5-3/4 rectangle. If you want to be very precise, use a ruler with bone folder or ball stylus to score the envelope lines. In a pinch, a butter knife will work.
  8. Use double-stick tape or a tape runner like Tombow Mono Permanent Adhesive for the two side flaps and the closure flap.
  9. Avery address labels don’t always stay on the glossy calendar envelopes long enough to reach the intended destination. I would suggest using clear tape over the address label or adhering the back of the label with a Xyron Mega Runner. That stuff sticks!


Left to right: envelope template, two envelopes, ruler, stylus, bone folder, Tombow adhesive and Xyron Mega Runner

Envelopes can also be made from magazine pages, gift wrap, scrapbook paper, sheet music (or a copier version), or recycle interesting junk mail. You can use the template to scale up or down in size by carefully moving it left or right.

If you are a free spirit like my long-time mail art buddy in Ohio, there’s an even easier way to make envelopes. She carefully tears apart an existing envelope, places it on the calendar page and proceeds to trace or cut around it. Sometimes her envelopes have been fashioned in such a way that I’m not quite sure how to get into them. Prior to 9/11, we had a lot of fun testing the mailman’s sense of humor.

So what do you think? Does this look like fun mail?


I am a fan of touring artist’s studios when they are open to the public. It’s a great chance to see the studio spaces of painters, photographers, print makers, sculptors, and textile artisans as well as purchase their artwork. I learned about the CoRK Open Studios via an email from Yelp three days before the event. The CoRK tours have been going on for years, possibly as early as 2013, but the last open studio tours I knew of were held at private homes in the Riverside area in the late ’90’s.

I was disappointed that their website had none of the history of how the The CoRK Arts District (an acronym for corner of Rosselle and King) came into being. I found some of the history in our local newspaper, The Florida Times-Union.  Mac Easton, a partner in Pine Street/RPS, decided artist studios were the best use for 80,000 square feet of warehouse space. The location was no longer suited to industrial or retail use. He approached the artist, Dolf James, with the hope that Dolf would attract other artists, and Dolf moved his studio to one of the warehouses in April 2011.

On Saturday, November 17, I showed up at The CoRK Arts District along with several hundred others who were interested in seeing inside an artist’s studio that is normally not open to the public. The sheer lack of parking is the probable reason the area is not suited to industrial or retail use and parking that could have been used at other buildings was roped off. I started the self-guided tour near where I parked my car. At the third building, I got my hands on a full-color, 4-page brochure with a map on the front page. Not that it helped. You’ve heard about the dimwit who gets lost in an elevator? Yes, Virginia, I kept getting turned around in the hallways of those warehouses and wished I had brought bread crumbs.

It appeared from the map that CoRK encompassed four warehouses named North, South, East and West plus 3 other buildings. I completely missed the recording studio and I’m not sure I saw everything I was supposed to see at CoRK South.

The following photos are a sampling of the 70 studios that were open on the tour.



Yellow bungalow with the word ART painted in black and turquoise
Yellow House


Prints by Hope McMath, who is well known in the local arts community.
Prints by Hope McMath, who is well known in the local arts community.


Artfully rendered school bus in the yard of Yellow House.

On the hood of the bus, above the headlights, was this quote: “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” – Rosa Parks



The next two photos are murals painted on the exterior walls of the various warehouses.




Multi-color diagonal, overhead, string art in one of the warehouse hallways
Multi-color string art in one of the warehouse hallways.


Douglas Eng’s studio fascinated me. He had a lot of beautiful tree photographs and we were allowed to take a postcard of a cypress tree. One of his photos was a section of a huge high rise apartment building in Hong Kong where people live stacked on top of each other because of population density. You can find it and see more of his photos at I heard him explaining something about a “sandwiching” technique to achieve the long, horizontal tree photo below.


long horizontal photo of trees hanging above piles of branches
Douglas Eng — long photo of trees hanging above piles of branches


Douglas Eng - Odd-shaped structure of photos of trees. On wheels.
Douglas Eng – Structural photography of trees


Zentangle and rubber stamp art.
Zentangle and rubber stamps. This was inside Douglas Eng’s studio but I believe it was a different artist.


Tiffany Manning’s art studio stairs. The entire phrase is “Happiness is doing the things you love in the place you love with the people you love.”


Huge chalkboard wall in studios of Karen Kurycki, Amy Ploss-Samson and Jen Arevalo


Artwork above chalk wall.


Artwork on wall to right of chalk wall.


There were supposedly two artist studios at CoRK South but other than a lot of pottery and this chicken art, it was unclear if there were actual studios to visit. A sign with arrow would have helped.

Cartoonish painting of chicken with "Chicken Got My Mojo" phrase.
This piece of art was in Jeff Whipple’s area.



The front nameplate of an original Heidelberg printing press in the studio of Crystal Floyd.
The front nameplate of an original Heidelberg printing press in the studio of Crystal Floyd.


I believe these exposed wall tiles were also in Crystal Floyd’s studio.


I <i>think</i> this was Sharla Valeski's textile art hanging in a public area of the warehouse.
I think this was Sharla Valeski’s textile art hanging in a public area of the warehouse.


Exposed wooden wall in Sharla Valeski studio with a segmented wooden 5 hanging on the wall.
Exposed wooden wall in Sharla Valeski studio.


Sharla Valeski -- rusty box springs used as a wall to hang framed art.
Sharla Valeski — rusty box springs used as a wall to hang framed art.


Canvas attached to front door of Paul Ladnier studio.


I greatly admired this piece of art. Periodic Table by Princess Simpson Rashid.
I greatly admired this piece of art. Periodic Table by Princess Simpson Rashid.






Greeting card from VT-6058


Raise your hand if you can relate to Ernest Hemingway’s quote! My friend Ginny sent me this card saying “you are in that place at the moment.” Sheesh, the gal has known me for nigh onto 20 years and is well aware that my life is always trying to fall apart on me. For the most part, I don’t invite drama into my life. Stuff just happens. Like Hemmingway, I tend to sleep when I don’t want to deal with the drama.

This card hails from Best of all, it’s recyclable. A perforated left edge allows you to “reuse, resend, reroute, redirect, reconnect [or make a] reply.” I love cards you can recycle but this card’s future will be on one of my three bulletin boards.


For those of you with a few rubberstamping or scrapbooking supplies, it is very easy to turn your pretty flower and garden photos into custom postcards. These directions assume you have your own color printer and want to use it for printing. Alternatively, you can use a photo processing lab if you don’t mind risking the muse running off.

The objective is to cut 4 postcards from an 8.5 x 11 piece of colored card stock (sometimes called cover stock). The dimensions of the 4 postcards are 5.5 inches by 4.25 inches. You can obtain colored card stock from the scrapbooking department of any big box craft store.

8.5 x 11 color cover/cardstock cut into four postcards
8.5 x 11 color cover/cardstock cut into four postcards

If you want some of the card stock as a border for your photo, then your photo can be no larger than 5 inches by 3.75 inches to allow about a ¼ inch of colored card stock as margins.

1.  Make all your photographic adjustments to the photo in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop.

2.  Open a word processor like Word or WordPerfect and set all four margins to .50 inches. My photos will demonstrate with Word as it is the more popular word processor.

Photo of actual monitor screen
Photo of actual monitor screen
  1.  Choose Columns, select two columns.
Photo of actual monitor screen
Photo of actual monitor screen

4.  Inside your word processing program, select INSERT.

5.  Choose the photo you want to use from the appropriate Lightroom or Photoshop folder.

6.  The photo should now be on your word processing page.

7.  Click on the photo to activate the sizing handles. Sizing handles allow you to change the size of the photo/graphic. These handles appear at all 4 corners and at the mid-point on the 4 sides. Click and drag to change the size. I would suggest that you enlarge or reduce the length and width of the photo by the same amount so that you don’t warp the image.

monitor screen with size handles
monitor screen with size handles

8.  I size the photo and then put my regular wooden ruler up to the screen to see if I have achieved a photo approximately 4.75 inches wide and 3.5 or 3.75 inches long. I choose this size because I prefer to have the colored card stock as a border). Continue to click on the sizing handles and drag until you achieve these dimensions for your photo.

9.  Once you have the perfect size in WordPerfect, right-click and COPY. You have “saved” the new size dimensions to the clipboard (an internal computer clipboard you can’t see). With Word, I found that I had to size EACH photo after copying it but the margins of the “columns” you set up earlier will help you correctly size the photo.

10.  At the bottom right-hand side of the photo, hit enter to space down on the page to leave room between the photo already on the screen and the new photo to be pasted under it.

11. Press PASTE. Repeat until you have four photos on your page.

12. Use a good photo paper such as Ilford Galerie Professional Inkjet Photo Range “Smooth Pearl Paper”. You may need to experiment by printing a document on regular copy paper until you determine whether you need to insert the photo paper into your printer tray with the shiny side  face up or face down.

13. PRINT one copy of the four photos on the Ilford Galerie Professional Inkjet Photo paper.

postcard four photos-2303

14. Cut the photos apart. A paper cutter gives clean, straight lines.

15. Turn the photos over and adhere double-sided tape to all four sides, close to the edge of the colored card stock.

16. Eyeball the margins of the colored card stock so that all four margins are about the same size.

17. Press the photo onto the card stock being careful to place a sheet of paper over the photo so that you don’t smudge it as you press it down on the card stock.

Completed photo postcard fronts
Completed photo postcard fronts

18. Turn the colored card stock over and stamp or write “Postcard”, affix address, message, postage stamp and mail. Personally, I type my postcard message in WordPerfect, setting up the page with four postcards just like I did with the photo. I then print on 8.5 x 11 sticker paper. For many years, I bought my sticker paper from a local Xpedx office but I’ll be ordering it next time because they closed the local office.


Rather than purchase an expensive macro lens for your DSLR camera, buy an accessory known variously as a close-up filter, close-up lens, macro filter or diopter. These screw-on lenses attach to the front of the lens or lens adapter to extend the close-up range of a camera (I don’t know whether or not they can be used on digital point-and-shoot cameras). The quality is not as high as a macro lens but close-up lenses are small, lightweight and inexpensive.

Many years ago, I purchased a set of three for a Nikon SLR camera for my everyday lens of choice. They came in a small 2.5” x 2.5” hard leather case with a “tab” on the back. To this tab, I attached a key ring and put the ring on my camera strap. Thus, I always have the lenses with me and I hardly ever grab a camera bag. I don’t know if this hard leather case is available nowadays. It definitely protects the lenses from the wear and tear of being hauled everywhere the camera goes.

Close-up tab and key ring
Close-up tab and key ring

It would be safe to say I never use the 18-55 mm lens that came with the DSLR camera so my 52 mm Vivitar close-up lenses (made in Japan) include a No.1, No. 2 and No. 4  lens for my everyday 50 mm lens. Close-up lenses have diopter ratings such as +1, +2, +4, +10 that can be purchased individually or in sets.

Close-up lenses
Close-up lenses

When stacked, they provide more magnification than the built-in macro mode found on many digital cameras. When you stack filters, it is important to place the filter with the highest number closest to the camera lens, then the next strongest lens. If you use a standard filter and a close-up lens at the same time, place the close-up lens first and the filter last.

Keep in mind that close-up lenses decrease depth of field as you get closer to the subject meaning that very little will be in focus. To bring more into focus:

  1. Set your mode dial on top of the camera to the flower icon.
  2. Use a small lens opening, such as f/16, to allow less light through the lens opening and get more depth-of-field. You may have to compensate for this lack of light by using ISO or shutter speed.
  3. Set the camera lens to M (manual mode) and twist the focus ring on the lens to get your focus as close as possible then move the entire camera back and forth until you find the sharpest image.
  4. You can use tripods and clamps to keep the camera and the flower still but, frankly, I’m too lazy to do this.

I would encourage you to check online reviews to help you decide which brand to buy. You don’t want a lens with aberration. To find the current brands, check Adorama or Amazon by searching for “close-up lens filter.”

Lastly, I am the WRONG person to ask about photography techniques so don’t. I’m an amateur of the first order but I did want to make sure that you knew about this frugal way to get close-ups because I have happily used my close-up lenses for more years than I have been howling at the Crooked Moon (circa 1990).

Thanks to Poppie for loaning me his camera to take these photographs.