Scribblers published on their Facebook page the following post (or something to this effect): “Care must be taken in the choice of stationery”. Nothing could be further from the truth, especially when you are planning to have your envelopes addressed in handwritten calligraphy.  Of course, there are always plenty of options for the invitation design itself. You can and should still work with your stationery vendors as they are the professionals in this area and can help you come up with the look, colors, and texture you desire. However, the envelopes are a different story.

It is well known that calligraphy ink “behaves” differently on different types of stationery, and despite the quality of the handwriting, the outcome will vary depending on what the paper is like. As you can imagine, there are 2 absolute-worst-case-scenarios that can occur when doing any kind of hand-lettering: 1) the ink is not fully absorbed into the paper, causing the possibility of smudging, or 2) the ink bleeds when it meets the paper, also affecting the outcome of the letters. We always want to avoid either of these things happening in order to create the most beautiful product possible.

The following types of envelopes may be risky with calligraphy inks:

Textured envelopes. Ridges or texture on the envelope paper may trip the pen nibs, depending on how pronounced the texturing is, affecting the outcome of the letters. They may also bleed the ink.

Pearlized or shimmer envelopes. In my experience, these are hit-or-miss. Some of them have been perfectly fine and the ink has dried well. However, be aware that some envelopes with a glossy finish do not absorb the ink well and may cause smudging.

– Envelopes with heavy liners. These are beautiful and lots of people like to “upgrade” the look of their envelopes with patterned, fabric or other types of liners. For example, Checkerboard makes a beautiful French flap envelope that includes a silken liner (see below) and while they are elegant and have that luxurious look, they bleed the calligraphy nib dry and it shows on the paper. These are some of the most difficult for a calligrapher to work with.

The best envelopes to work with in my opinion are the plain, standard matte envelopes without texture or fabric liners, usually 100% cotton. I also work with parchment paper envelopes. They are basic, but you can be assured that they will probably allow the most beautiful outcome if you are planning to add calligraphy ink to the mix.

So, to sum it up with some visuals…


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(Matte, cotton inner / outer envelopes, picture courtesy of

A few years back I wrote a blog entry discussing a bleeding issue on place cards and how to avoid that, which you can read here.

Hope this information helps, and happy shopping! 🙂