Letterlyn by Evelyn Cunningham

Letterlyn Blog

Is an animal-free wedding invitation possible?

I admit, I am not a vegan. The day I tried to give up cheese, I forgot and ate cheese 3 times. However, being a vegetarian for over a decade means you get a lot of questions about the difference between vegan and vegetarian. So, I've had to arm myself with that knowledge, and am very sympathetic to the plight of those living a life with only animal-free products. And, so, to all of you, here is some info on animal-free wedding paper:


A lot of calligraphy and wedding materials are not vegan/animal free. But, you do have options


Let's start with inks. Most inks use gelatin. In case you don't know, gelatin is collagen derived from animal bones and skin. It thickens things like marshmallows, jello, gravies, inks, and more.

Some pigments are not vegan either. So, you have to be careful. And a lot of companies do not say if they use animal products or not. Many of us know the plight of the carmine beetle popping up in everything from yogurt and ketchup to paint and lipstick. But, there is a lot more. I won't go into it, because it is very unpleasant. Just know that your watercolors, acrylics, and other art supplies aren't always animal-free.


Did you know that a lot of papers are not vegan? Yep! "Sized" papers mean papers that have been treated so that they won't completely break apart when wet, nor will the ink just run and feather out once it touches the page. Doing calligraphy on unsized paper is pretty much impossible. And, most sizing agents contain gelatin. There are synthetic options, but you have to make sure you are looking in the right places.


Vellum papers are often popular for embellishments. And, while the traditional paper is made from young animal skin, most modern vellums are not. I asked a company that I order from, and their answer was yes, but it seemed that they weren't completely certain. As many vegetarians and vegans can attest, people often don't quite understand what animal free, vegan or even vegetarian means. (Shout out to my memaw who will never understand why I won't eat green beans cooked with ham hock!! Love her, but I don't know if she'll ever get it.)

Handmade Paper

Most hand-made papers are not animal-free. They often use animal products in sizing after the paper sheet is formed, as I broght up earlier. I have yet to find a handmade paper that is vegan. So, if you are a paper maker who uses animal-free processes on paper that is suitable for calligraphy and/or letterpress printing, reach out to me so that I can edit this post!



Fun fact, Elmer's products are animal-free. Go Elmer's! PVA glues, like Elmer's are good to go because PVA means polyvinyl acetate. In other words, it is synthetic. But, other brands aren't always completely animal free.

Wax Seals

A lot of sealing waxes are not animal free, containing beeswax. But, I think there is an animal-free way to make sealing wax. This post has really got me thinking, so I am going to experiment with it in the coming weeks. I promise to keep you posted as I look into it.

Envelope Sealing

According to manufacturers, most envelope-glues are animal-free. US-made sealant is supposedly made out of corn (who knew!?).



A lot of printing methods are not animal-free. Some places do use soy-based inks for regular printing. If this is something you require, be sure to say so up front. And, be prepared to pay more.

For letterpress inks, the main concern isn't the ink substrate, but the pigment. For many companies, they want to guard this proprietary information. But, there are some that will give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Screenprinting also has animal-free ink options. And, foil stamping is animal-free.

Be aware that cleanup for screenprinting and letterpress often include animal products.

More animal-free art supplies

Are you an artist, too? I found this great list of animal free art supplies.

Thanks for reading



Evelyn CunninghamComment