Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Amazing Calling Card Phenomenon

I'm a big fan of little papers - folded notes, correspondence cards, place cards - you name it. And there's one little paper that is taking the market by storm: Calling Cards.

Calling cards, or social cards, have been around for a long time. They were a staple of Victorian society, with very strict rules for their use. Here are some beauties from that era.

Calling cards hung around in the 20th century in certain spots around the country, and Crane always had a few samples in their stationery albums. That was until about seven or eight years ago, when we began seeing somewhat of a resugence as more and more of these little pieces of paper made their way though Crane's engraving facility.

Long story short: Crane started displaying more samples, more orders came in, more samples, more orders. Today, calling cards represent the fastest-growing sector of personalized stationery at Crane, accounting for fully half of the top 20 top-selling items.

So who's buying these pretty little pieces of paper? Although demand seems to be broadening all the time, here are some notable sectors.

Twenty-somethings. Think about it. These youngsters are mobile. Many move from place to place, job to job. They don't have a land line. You can't find them in a phone book. They have cell phones and e-mail addresses. They print all their appropriate contact information on calling cards and hand them out when "social networking," aka seeking interesting members of the opposite sex, or business networking when it's not appropriate to hand out your current business card. Calling cards are also a symbol of a certain adult status. They announce: "Here I am. I have arrived!"

Young couples with kids. Calling cards are perfect to hand out for play dates, car pooling for soccer games and for babysitters.

Retirees. These folks have worked all their lives, and have had business cards all their lives. Now they have a social life and have the same need to hand over their contact information for tennis games, golf matches, cocktails on the deck; whatever those lucky folks do with all their free time......

Here is a link to Crane's large and growing collection of these powerful little pieces of paper.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Eye Candy - Christmas In July

I just got my personalized holiday albums from Crane and wanted to share with you some of the sure-to-be favorites for the holiday season. At least I think so...

Crane holiday cards are in such demand that they keep the engraving presses running every day, all year 'round. It's weird to walk in the engraving facility and see these beautiful cards emerging from the presses either on a cold January morning or a sweltering July afternoon. Most are multi-colored, so they require a separate pass through the press for each color. And then another for the "bump" that adds a handful of three-dimensional character.

And here's a gentle nudge to plan early this year. Personalized holiday cards are 10 percent off until Oct. 27.

Top left: Wisemen . Top right: Laser cut Fruitful Tree.
Bottom left: Fall Wreath. Bottom right: Festive Palm.

Top left: Nutcracker . Top right: Skating in the Park (I love this one!).
Bottom left: Skating Penguins. Bottom right: World of Peace.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Day at Fabulous Fenway

After the first inning, when Josh Beckett had given up three runs, I figured we were in for a long day at Fenway Park. I was right, but for the wrong reason!

Here are the vitals: 3 hours and 59 minutes, 348 pitches, 37 hits, 23 runs, 3 errors, 1 beer (amber ale) 1 bag of peanuts (salted) and 1 soda (diet). Sox win 18-5.

Last week, I took my second annual sojourn to Fenway Park, courtesy of Ms. Bliss, and it was quite a day. Wendy and I met up with some friends in Boston and had a wonderful lunch at the Boston Beer Works (OK, 2 beers....) and strolled across the street to Yawkey Way just in time for the National Anthem. It was Seats for Soldiers day, as hundreds of season ticket holders gave their seats to the men and women of the armed services. The Green Monster was draped with a huge American flag, and there were video messages piped directly from New England soldiers serving in Iraq throughout the game. It all made for a very emotional day at the ball park.

So what the heck does this have to do with stationery? One of my favorite pieces from the Crane archives on display at the Crane Museum of Papermaking, alongside the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, the opening of Radio City Music Hall, the formation of the United Nations, etc. is this little invite which presaged the end of an 86-year-old curse.

I tell all the Yankee fans who visit the museum that whenever the Yankees win their next World Series and there's something printed on Crane paper, I will be happy to display it at the Museum.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

National Media Select Stationery Designs

One of the most enjoyable and fulfilling tasks I have during the National Stationery Show is to sit down with members of the national media and design personalized stationery for them. This is the fourth year I have done this, creating holiday cards, calling cards and other pieces of stationery. Each year, I see some interesting trends from these design sessions, so I’ve decided this time to formalize the results into The First Annual Crane Insider’s National Media Stationery Design Survey.

I use the term “formalize” as a relative term, in that I realize this is not a scientific process. But the sample size is large enough to measure – which means I had to use a calculator – and these writers, editors and stylists are hugely influential with the American consumer.

First, the ground rules. At this year’s National Stationery Show, we offered to design correspondence cards. In Crane-speak, that’s a #3 Kent Card, which measures 4 ¼ by 6 3/8 inches on 96-pound paper. And we offered engraving, which allowed our visitors to choose any paper and ink color combination. We also gave them free rein to embellish their stationery with any available design element.

Although not part of the ground rules, it was interesting to note that all our visitors were women. Of course, I was too polite to inquire, but I can say with a certain confidence that all were younger than me, and many were, well, young.

So what did we learn about the stationery tastes of these taste-makers?

The most interesting result is that more than half – 54% - selected a monogram to adorn their correspondence cards. Monograms ran the gamut from traditional to very contemporary, with a pretty even mix of one- two- and three-initial designs.

The second favorite adornment was the person’s name – selected by 38% of our visitors. The majority of those preferring to have their name engraved on their card chose typestyles that would be considered to be on the less-formal side; fonts such as Futura Book Cap, American Gothic Light and Parisian. Thirty percent selected more swashy fonts such as Bickham Script.

Paper and ink color selection provided for a much wider range of results. The leading paper color was – you guessed it – white, selected by 23% or our visitors. Coming in a close second were Tangerine and Gray, each chosen by 15%. Green, Coral and Blue were preferred by 12%, with others selecting Taupe, Yellow and Raspberry.

Since we were offering engraving, I shouldn’t have been surprised, but the most popular ink color was white, chosen by 23% of our guests. Of course, these were not the same folks who selected white paper, as white on white has never done very well. Blue ink, of several shades, was preferred by 19% of our participants, followed by Gold, Pink, Brown, Yellow and Green.
So, to wrap up this First Annual Design Survey, the results are: monograms are hot. White paper is cool, but color rules.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Wedding Party: Beyond Invitations

I recently got a heads-up from Betsy Dollar, executive director of the Friends of Dard Hunter, about a new installation she has been exhibiting, and I just had to share it with you. I'm a paper geek, so I'm always ready to see something artistic using paper as a medium, especially since I have no artistic talent whatsoever.

The Wedding Party is an installation of “wearable books” consisting of 13 life-size figures. These figures are all constructed of paper, handmade by Betsy. Each figure represents a member of The Wedding Party and expresses a different view on marriage in the 21st century.

The viewer enters the room and takes the position of the individual officiating at this ceremony. A large book on the podium gives the viewer not only the ritual text, but the inner thoughts of all the wedding participants. This book is also reproduced in booklet form for viewers to carry as they take a closer look at each figure.

Each figure displays text that encapsulates their thoughts, while the book goes into greater detail. From a technical standpoint, each figure demonstrates different papermaking techniques and textures while expressing the personality of the character through clothing style and color. A majority of the papers are made from abaca fiber and are sprayed in four-foot by eight-foot sheets. Many of these papers replicate rich, yet subtle, fabric textures and patterns through new spray processes developed by the artist for this project.

You can view all the characters of The Wedding Party at Betsy's website. Betsy is looking for additional venues for this installation. If you have any ideas or would like to receive a proposal, please contact her at