Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Eye Candy

It’s pretty gray outside here in Vermont today, so it seems appropriate to kick off what I hope will be a weekly feature called Friday Eye Candy. It gives me an opportunity to go easy on the keyboard and let you feast on the more visually creative.

Today, I’m featuring three pieces from a promotional folder by Evolution Press in Seattle, all done on Crane paper. The descriptions that follow are taken from the production notes by Evolution Principal/Printer Scott Hill.

Birds in Motion Patterned Card
These smart birds make full use of paper color as part of the design, eliminating one pass through the press. Their first flight was a trip though our offset press, where we laid down the Black #7 background. Then over to our foil press, where their bodies were foiled black.

Finished Size: 4.5 by 5 inches
Paper: Crane’s Tangerine Kid Finish 134# Cover
Offset: Black #7
Foil: Matte Black #380

One-Color Notecard Set
The envelope’s printed image wraps from front to back, giving the effect of a 2-sided print. One plate, one pass, one fine idea!

Finished Size: 4.5 by 5 inches
Paper: Crane’s Lettra Pearl White 110# Cover
Envelope: Lettra Pearl White A7
Letterpress: PMS 187

Wayzgoose Event Postcard
Overprinting two colors can produce a unique visual effect, sometimes even a third color! This card has loads of ink coverage, an intricate border and a variety of overprinted shapes and textures which interplay with the paper color.

Finished Size: 5 by 7 inches
Paper: Crane’s Pearl White Kid Finish 179#
Letterpress: PMS 718 and PMS 622

To contact Evolution Press:

Scott Hill
Evolution Press, Inc.
1112 NW 50th St.
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 783-5522

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Little Letterhead - Big Impact

Crane has a new personalized stationery album for business and professional people coming out in May, and there is more than one trend that's reflected in stationery design.

But I'll concentrate on just one for the time being, and bring you some others as time permits and as samples come off press.

For some time in the area of personal correspondence, we've seen a trend toward writing shorter letters and notes. This has led to the increasing popularity of smaller paper formats, such as Monarch sheets (7 1/4 by 10 1/2 inches) and folded notes. But the real star of shorter writing is the correspondence card.

These cards measure approximately 4 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches - just enough space for your name engraved at the top and three or four sincere sentences. Correspondence cards have had a place at the business-writing table for a long time,but there's a new twist developing: correspondence cards as letterhead.

This small format has plenty of room for your business name and logo and all the contact information normally featured on a regular 8 1/2 by 11 company letterhead, while still leaving plenty of room for short notes to clients, potential clients or colleagues.

The world of business is filled with small businesses, home businesses, creative businesses, mobile businesses - many of whom may rarely if ever need traditional business letterhead. Correspondence cards may be the answer for your business.

And no writer's cramp!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Paper Resumé

Since part of my role as Crane’s historian is to tell stories, I figured this would be a good opportunity to tell one of my favorites. And, of course, it has to do with paper.

A few years ago, I was playing in a college alumni golf tournament and it began to rain. I pulled my Crane hat out of the bag to protect what little hair is left on top and my opponent, a director at one of the world’s largest banks, chimed right in: “Peter, let me tell you about Crane paper and my company.”

I was all ears.

He said for some of their best jobs, they get in as many as 5,000 resumés. Here’s how they whittle them down to get to a manageable number:

They gather up a bunch of people around a big table and hand out the resumés. They hold the cover letter up to the light. If the watermark says Crane, it goes in one pile. If it doesn’t, it goes in another pile. They keep the ones with the Crane watermark, and you can guess where the others go. Yup – File 13.

But there are still too many resumés. So, they divvy them up again and hold the cover letter up to the light. If the watermark registers correctly on the page, the resumé goes in one pile. If it doesn’t register correctly, it goes in another pile. Those who got it right are considered for an interview. Those who didn’t, get a form letter.

Here’s their reasoning: “We want to make sure that the most important thing that person did that day was to send us their resumé.”

So what’s the lesson? Actually there are several.

  • Paper resumés still matter to many employers.
  • The care you take to craft your presentation can give you a competitive advantage.
  • The quality of the paper on which you make your presentation can give you a competitive advantage.

There are several Crane papers that are appropriate for resumés and cover letters, and you can find them here:

My favorite – and that’s another story – is Crane’s 32-pound Premium Presentation Paper. The “32 pounds” refers to the paper’s weight or heft. Don’t ask what it really means. It’s arcane paper mill speak. Copy paper is generally 20 pounds. Writing or bond paper is generally 24 pounds. Premium papers are 28 or 32 pounds. Crane’s 32-pound paper is gorgeous to look at and has a distinctive feel in the hand. If you leaf through a stack of papers – resumés perhaps – and encounter a piece of Crane’s 32-pound paper, it makes you stop and take notice. Before your prospective new employer sees your name or your qualifications, you’ve set yourself apart already.

One final thought about setting yourself apart; about differentiating yourself from the competition. Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank-you note after your interview. In this digital age, you might be tempted to send an e-mail. But stop before you hit the “Send” button. Take a few moments to write a short but sincere thank-you note. Those few moments will set you apart. If you don’t get the job, it will be for some reason other than making your best personal presentation.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Personalized Stationery! WooHoo!

I'm just now putting the final touches on a new video to demonstrate the many intricacies of engraving and thermographic printing on Crane stationery. In the very near future, I'll post it to the web so you all can see it. For the video, I needed to follow a piece of stationery from beginning to end, and because I just happened to be in the market for some new Crane stationery, the answer became clear!

I've designed hundreds of pieces of stationery for members of the media, for TV shows, magazine layouts, celebrities and movies. But designing one's own, what with all those options from which to chose, can be daunting. For some reason, I recalled some stationery I had designed several years ago for Gordon Elliot, who at the time was hosting a show called The Genuine Article on the Fine Living Channel and doing a piece on Crane stationery. I really liked that particular design and so decided to adopt it for my own.
Here is the finished product:

I selected Gordon's typeface: Chevalier – a font I have used several times to create stationery for men. It just seems to make a fairly manly statement. Here's a close-up look

72 dpi just doesn't do the fine-line detail of this font justice, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Chevalier was designed by Emil Alfred Neukomm of the Swiss design firm Hass in 1946. Chevalier is a set of shaded capitals and figures that Linotype deems “ideal for business cards and classical letterheads.” I don't disagree, but I like its presentation on a No. 3 correspondence card with Regent Blue ink with a hand-brushed Regent Blue border. I had the envelopes lined in Regent as well.

If you think Chevalier might be for you, but want to take it for a test drive before committing to personalized stationery, have a look at these thank-you notes that come pre-engraved.

Now it's time to stop typing and start writing.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cotton Rags and Crane Paper

Cotton rags and Crane paper have been inseparable for more than 200 years. Cotton rags were among the first raw materials used for papermaking in China, and they continue to be a mainstay for Crane to this day. There's a reason for this. Cotton rags make the finest-quality paper available - with a crisp rattle and a soft feel. Cotton rags are pure cellulose, the stuff of which paper is made. There are no contaminants; no need for the harsh chemical treatments required for other raw materials, so letters written on cotton rag paper will last for generations to come.

The cotton rags used to make Crane papers have a couple of additonal benefits as we attempt to become more environmentally responsible in our paper purchases. Crane's cotton rags are a recovered resource, diverted from the solid-waste stream, and they are completely tree-free.

Back in February of 1801, 23-year-old Zenas Crane and his two partners had just signed the deed to purchase land and water rights on the Housatonic River in Dalton, Mass., and were preparing to build their first mill once the Berkshire weather cooperated. They had everything they needed except perhaps the most valuable of commodities - cotton and linen rags. Back then, linen was a common material used to make garments, and was used either together with cotton rags or separately for an all-linen sheet. From Worcester, out in the middle of the state, Zenas and his partners sent advertisement copy to Phinneas Allen, publisher of the Pittsfield Sun, a local newspaper, asking the womenfolk of the area to save their rags. Here is their first ad.

We must assume that this eloquent request was indeed met with "due encouragement," as the mill began making Crane's first papers as soon as the ice was off the river.
The original building constructed in Dalton was a one-vat mill. The main part was two stories, with the upper part used as a drying loft. The mill had a daily output of 20 posts - a post being 125 sheets of paper.

After the mill got into production, it wasn't long before housewives learned the thrift of saving their rags. They left them at one of a series of pickup points throughout the area to be gathered by one of the three partners. Eventually, rags became so valuable that they became a form of barter currency along with meat, produce and dairy products.
Business quickly evolved into a good-news, bad-news scenario for young Zenas. He was an excellent salesman, making successful forays to Albany, N.Y. and Boston and all points in between. And his mill was turning out the most favored papers in these markets. That's the good news. The bad news was that every new order accentuated the need for more rags than local houseswives could supply.

In desparation, Zenas contacted a dealer in New York City, who could ship rags to Dalton up the Hudson River by packet boat to Troy and then from Troy to Dalton in horse-drawn wagons. Eventually, the scraps from textile mill would come all the way from Europe. The first indication of a successful delivery is in a letter from Zenas to his dealer in June of 1811:

"Our wagons arrived late last night from Troy with eleven bales of rags consigned to us by the sloop John Hancock. Upon examination, the contents met with our approval, and they promise ready conversion into our paper."

Thus began a long tradition of purchasing cotton rags from garment manufacturers. For almost two centuries, they have proved to be the highest-quality supply of cotton rags, as they are perfectly clean and easily sorted by color and grade early in the recovery process.

Each year, garment manufacturers produce millions of pounds of trimings while making all sorts of cotton clothing. These trimmings are destined for the landfill, with the exception of those selected by Crane for making its fine 100% cotton papers. So, just as was the case in 1801, cotton rags are an environmentally responsible raw material, and they just happen to make the finest paper available.