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The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Fabulous Flowers and Perfect Patterns is illustrated by Rachel Cloyne and published and kindly sent to me to review by Nosy Crow. This book is the latest in a huge series of Colouring Books of Cards and Envelopes, the others have all been illustrated by Rebecca Jones and had nature and animal themed cards, this new book is one of two which have been created in partnership with the British Museum and while the production quality and style is identical, the content is quite different, to read more about that skip to the third paragraph.
The book itself is large at 28cm square, it’s paperback with a flexible card cover with gold foiling lettering and detail. Inside the front cover are instructions detailing how to fold the envelopes for the cards. Following this are pages of colourable cards with two on each page connected by tabs on perforated pages which are very easy to remove from the book with no issues or bending and a thin strip that the perforation is attached to that you can cut off with scissors to neaten up the card edges. There are 24 cards, each with a unique design, and all 4 sides of the cards have illustrations on that you can colour including a “Coloured For You By…” section on the back, they measure 13.5cm square when folded. Following the card pages are 24 unique envelope designs that match the cards perfectly and are printed in the same order as the cards so it’s very easy to match up the paired cards and envelopes together. The envelopes have illustrations on the front, each of the four flaps, and the whole of the back of the page which makes up the inside of the envelope has a repeating design on it that can be coloured if you wish. The folding instructions are very clear and easy to follow and the pre-scored lines on the cards and envelopes allow for a perfect fold every time. On the very last page of the book are 24 circular stickers with matching designs to seal the envelopes with. One small gripe I have is that these stickers are arranged in a random order and it’s not clear which card many of them are designed for, with many being suitable for a number of cards which just irks the perfectionist in me.
The card itself is bright white, medium thickness and lightly textured. I experienced absolutely no bleeding and very minimal shadowing when using water-based pens; alcohol markers will bleed through. Pencils would be ideal for these cards if you’re wanting more subtle colours, or wanting to blend and shade. The envelopes are printed onto bright white, thick paper which I didn’t experience any bleed through of water-based pens on but did get the lightest of shadowing when I coloured too slowly and the ink saturated the paper a bit much so do be careful if you’re wanting the inside of your envelopes to remain pristine for colouring too. Sadly, the space left on the front of a few of the envelopes is pretty small and not exactly suitable for a normal length postal address and there is also no space for a postage stamp. You could add an address label, and simply stick the postage stamp over the design but for perfectionists like me this isn’t an option and it is a shame this wasn’t quite thought through. When posting these cards to friends and family I will be popping the whole thing inside a normal envelope so that I can keep the envelope design intact.
The content is unusual to say the least, the artist took inspiration from objects from the British Museum’s collections and so rather than showing scenes or the objects themselves each card shows a pattern inspired by the original object. While this was a clever idea, I’m not personally convinced that it’s translated very well, the cards just seem a bit random with no specific theme and the illustrations aren’t very pretty. As with all artwork, it’s very subjective and I’m sure that some people will love these cards but sadly, I’m not one of them and I’m not sure any recipients I might send them to would really understand the imagery. That being said, they’re nicely drawn and contain a good variety of images inspired by all sorts of different objects, each one handily noted on the back of the card so you may be able to research each object to find out what it looks like and use the original colours or your own imagination if you choose. On the inside of the back cover are small photographs, each shown in order and labelled, of the objects the cards are based on, these are a bit small to see for giving proper inspiration but it’s nice to know what you’re looking for when researching the objects online if you wish. The lines the cards are drawn in are a little strange, in previous titles they have been perfectly black but a number of these aren’t truly black and are a little faded, they also vary in thickness a bit as if they’ve been drawn with a fountain pen rather than a specific sized nib, this gives the images a slightly sketchy feel.
In terms of mental health, this book is quite niche, for those who like history, antiques, and quirky patterns, this book would be ideal, there’s loads to colour in it and it’ll keep you occupied for hours, however, I do think the imagery is a little dull and won’t appeal to the majority of people. The line thickness whilst a little varying as described above is consistent throughout and is thin and spindly thin. The intricacy and detail levels are very high throughout, significantly higher than previous titles in the series and therefore you’ll need very good, near perfect, vision and fine motor control to avoid going over the lines. You will also need very high levels of concentration or to colour for short periods of time as the designs can be difficult to decipher when tired or symptomatic. I wouldn’t advise these cards for days when you’re feeling anxious as the level of focus required is likely to be too high and you might find yourself feeling more on edge rather than calmer. The content is nature-inspired and non-geometric so it’s quite pleasing to the eye and has an obviously hand-drawn quality which is always nicer to colour than computer-generated “perfect” images.
Overall, I’m personally not a fan of these cards but for those with an interest in British Museum artefacts, this book may well be perfect and the content is certainly unlike any other book I’ve seen. It would possibly be the perfect book for the history student or fan who has everything. The production quality, as always, is outstanding and I’m sure these cards will appeal to some.
If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s available here:
Amazon UK – The Colouring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Fabulous Flowers and Perfect Patterns
Book Depository Worldwide – https://www.bookdepository.com/British-Museum-The-Colouring-Book-of-Cards-and-Envelopes-Fabulous-Flowers-and-Perfect-Patterns-Rachel-Cloyne/9780857638625/?a_aid=colouringitmom
The card below was coloured with Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners.