Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Filling in the Blanks for the Holidays

A few days ago(scroll down a bit) we discussed the growing trend toward fill-in invitations, especially for the holidays. I found a few more - two with elegant engraved details and one with a whimsical foil treatment. Imagine, engraved invitations at boxed stationery prices. They should be in market soon:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A New Crane Celebrity A-Lister

Some time ago, I introduced you to some of Crane's A-List customers. No, not that list. I'm not going to play that silly "look which celebrity buys my stationery" game.

The quest for American independence is another matter, as well as a source of great pride for Crane. These guys were just regular folks in 18th-century America; customers of Crane's Liberty Paper Mill. Today, they are icons of American history.

One of those customers, who is far from iconic but deserves a much higher historical profile, is Colonel Thomas Conant. Here is one of his accounts with the Liberty Paper Mill:

No surprise, the ledger entry gives us no clue as to his place in history. But the account of "Paul Revere's Ride" by David Hackett Fischer, (Oxford University Press, 1994) certainly does:

Paul Revere recalled:

"I agreed with a Colonel Conant and some other gentlemen, that if the British went out by water, we would shew two lanthorns in the North Church steeple, and if by land, one, as a signal...."

What more can you say?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christmas in June? Hot Holiday Picks

You probably didn't hear that horn beep just now. It was the UPS guy delivering the pages for my Crane holiday albums. Which is quite a coincidence, since I was just sitting down to write about some items that I think will be hot for the holidays. We covered quite a few of the engraved holiday cards during the run-up to the National Stationery Show last month, so we'll move to another category - parties.

Even though it's early days, you're likely starting to encounter news stories or conversations about having to make "adjustments" for the upcoming holiday season. It's certainly understandable, and I will undoubtedly be making my own set of "adjustments," but I refuse to go down without a fight. I'm going to squeeze in every last ounce of style I can.

So let's start with dinner on Christmas Eve. This is the biggest gig of the year for the Hopkins household. Cocktails, lots of appetizers, table for 13, big hunk of beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. There's a story about cocktails and the big hunk of beef, but I'll save that for another time......

Everybody knows that we're getting together on Christmas Eve, but this year, I'm sending out engraved invitations. Engraved fill-in invitations create the perfect atmosphere, and the cost? About $10.

Everybody pretty much knows what we're having for dinner. You don't want to mess with tradition too much, but this year I'm putting beveled and foil-gilded menu cards on each plate. Printed on my little inkjet. The cost? About $15.

We pretty much sit in the same places after all these years, but there's always a little jostling for position, so this year, I'm putting beveled and foil-gilded place cards at every setting. The cost? About $10.

So, let's recap.....For less than $2 per person (no, I'm not charging them) these three additions to our traditional holiday meal will create a huge and lasting impression that pales in comparison to the price. I can find ways to save that $35 between now and then.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Sad State of Affairs on Father's Day

Yes, I am biased. But this article made me very sad. There's just something wrong, something disrespectful - especially with Father's Day just around the corner - when children demand that their parents communicate on their terms.

Dear Dad: I'm much too busy and much too self-absorbed to sit down and write you a note. So, I'm sending an e-mail to this company who I pay $10 a month to print this e-mail, put it an envelope, stick on a stamp and mail it to you.

I can't write my Dad a note; we lost him quite a few years ago. I so wish I could write him a note on this Father's Day. A note written in my own terrible handwriting, that I fold and put into an envelope that I address in my own terrible handwriting, that I stick a stamp on and that I drive to the Post Office.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Delicacy and Intensity of My Calling Cards

By Sarah Schwartz
Stationery Trends Magazine

One of the things I love about stationery is that it is intimate yet relatively inexpensive. What is more personal, after all, than what stationery conveys: our thoughts and sentiments, the details of our milestone events and the parties with which we celebrate them, not to mention our very handwriting? Printed and hand-written missives — the physical kind, not e-mails or IMs or texts — travel from hand to hand to be cherished and admired, usually across space and often, across time. What else is out there you can say that about?

I’ve had the pleasure of covering the stationery market as a trade editor for over a decade now, and I’ve always greatly enjoyed the perks of the job. Practically speaking, that means my office is crammed with journals, notecards, photo albums, greeting cards, notepads and what have you. I keep what I can’t live without, and share the rest with friends, family, charities and my daughter’s pre-school.

Topping my list of “what I can’t live without” are my calling cards from Crane’s. They are a Kate Spade design, edged in first a thick, then a thin pink line, with my name, e-mail, and cell letterpressed in brown at center. Made of thick cotton paper, they are much tougher than their delicacy suggests: I have carefully smoothed out wrinkled ones left in an evening bag on more than one occasion.

I love everything about them: their diminutive dimensions, the way they look stacked in my card holder and, most of all, that they represent me in paper form. A calling card is really a little piece of the owner’s identity, shared with a select few. They travel with me, to be bestowed upon acquaintances and friends — very favored acquaintances and friends, I might add.

Because, crazy as it sounds, there are actually four types of cards tucked in my card case: my business cards, declaring me editor of Stationery Trends; my mommy cards, meaning they have my daughter’s first and last names, with my first name and contact info beneath, to be given to the parents of her friends for potential playdates; and enclosure cards, which just have my name printed on one side with plenty of space for whatever I want to write on back.

All are meaningful and quite precious to me in their own ways, and the last two always garner a rather surprised compliment, but it is the Crane’s I like to give out most. I might add, too, that I love stumbling across situations they fit into, when I find just that right person to whom I really want to give one. And I must admit, there is always a long pause while the lucky recipient takes it in; for though they’re small, they’re also rather intense.

So while in some ways the ever-diminishing pile of cards in the sturdy, leaf-green box they came in makes me sad, I like to think about where the others went, if they were pocketed, then tucked in an address book perhaps, or saved in a box with other people’s cards. Even if they never call or e-mail me, I do hope they save them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Countdown to Father's Day: Idea #5


A motif of a golf green with flag and ball is flat printed in hunter green ink at the top of these natural white 3 x 5 jotter cards. Perfect for Dad to write down notes, ideas, tee times and great golf scores. 50 cards for $11.


Rich full-grain garnet goat leather Jotter Card Holder fits a standard 3 x 5 inch jotter card. Storage pocket in the back holds a few extra cards. Perfect way for Dad to keep his golf jotter cards handy and organized, ready to take notes or jot down ideas. The slim styling fits nicely into his pocket. Jotter cards sold separately. $24.


This cherry finish all-wood tray is stylish and a convenient way for Dad to store jotter cards on his desk. The tray holds a ready supply of 3 x 5 inch jotter cards. The tray comes with 75 blank natural white jotter cards. Refill packs available. $34

Monday, June 15, 2009

Countdown to Father's Day: Idea #4

The Brown Mamba Tornado rollerball pen by Retro 1951 has an exotic faux snakeskin pattern on real leather. The barrel is accented with gold finished appointments. Dad will delight in how it feels in his hand. Each pen measures just over 5 inches long and writes in black ink. It comes in a brushed aluminum tube case in a felt pouch. $30.

The Original Wallet Pen is a must-have for the well-appointed and well-organized Dad. The sterling silver Wallet Pen clips into the fold of your wallet or checkbook. An amazing little instrument that is barely over 3 inches in length, but makes a large enough impression to land a spot on Oprah's O List. Each Wallet Pen comes in a random, bright-colored box with instructions and spare refill. $49.

Monteverde blends art and technology for Dad, creating this distinctive pen by combining classic style, elegant balance and modern materials. This Black Tie Ballpoint Pen is part of the Invincia collection. Black and white acrylic barrel with chrome-plated brass appointments. $70.

The Waterman Expert Ballpoint Pen in the new City Line Urban Brown finish with chrome appointments is presented in a stylish handsome gift set. The pen is paired with a brown leather magnetic closure pen case in an elegant gift box. Just in time for Father's Day. $100.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Vermont Vegetable Garden Marauder Thwarted

My beautiful parsley plants were being decimated by a cute but voracious bunny. Notice I said "were," because he no longer dares go near those plants. Instead, he munches on grass far away,








The Ferocious Fighting Flamingo!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Countdown to Father's Day: Idea #3

The hottest trend in personalized stationery. Perfect for Dad, who you've been telling for years to "Get a life!"

Simply stated. These taupe cards are a perfectly stylish way for Dad to leave contact information or e-mail address with a friend or new acquaintance. Thermographed in your choice of ink colors. 50 cards for $78. Don't put the street address on there. He'll think you want to move back in.....

Dad will make a lasting impression with these trendy square calling cards. Silver square motif is complemented by Dad's information thermographed in kona, Newport blue, moss green or black. 100 cards for $187. The perfect card for your "square" Dad.

Very cool calling cards for the person on the go. A sketch of a convertible is engraved along with Dad's personalized text in your choice of ink color on these taupe cards. 50 engraved cards for $150. Just tell Dad to keep the Dodge Dart in the garage.

These rich espresso brown calling cards will surely be remembered. Dad's information is hand engraved - along with a decorative motif - using your selection from a variety of ink colors. 50 engraved cards for $151. Costs way less than a case of halfway decent wine.

To purchase or to find a retailer nearest you, please visit Crane's website.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Join the Crane Research Panel - New Survey

From time to time, the folks at Crane create short surveys on a specific topic of interest. Once again, they have asked me to seek your valued input. So please take a few minutes to add your opinion to other members of the Crane Research Panel. We'll enter you for a prize drawing.

Countdown to Father's Day: Idea #2

Inspired by the man behind the brand, the new Walt Disney Signature Executive Wood Grained Sheets and Cards will stimulate your Dad's imagination and inspire his sense of style. Produced on handsome Ecruwhite Kid Finish® sheets and luxurious heavyweight card stock with matching black-lined envelopes, each features a wood-grain styled border with a black edged accent and plenty of white space for Dad to pen his thoughts.

Ten cards and ten envelopes for $29. Twenty sheets and 20 envelopes for $29.

A crisp silver and black border sets a sophisticated tone for every piece of correspondence Dad will create on this Disney-inspired set. Borrowing the lines and aesthetics of Walt Disney’s studio, each of the cards and sheets produced on an Ecruwhite Kid Finish is paired with a sleek black-lined envelope. The overall impression is both refreshing and refined, just like Dad.

Ten cards and ten envelopes for $29. Twenty sheets and 20 envelopes for $29.

Tea and Toast and Thank-You Notes

By Mindy Lockard
Etiquette Consultant

The child’s birthday candles have been blown out, the balloons deflated, and the sugar-wired children sent home with their parents. Now with three-quarters of the cake still looming on the counter, it’s easy to want to kick up your feet, pour a glass of wine, and relax. But wait, there’s one more step, perhaps the most important of them all—thank-you notes!

If you love the thank-you process, I applaud you. If you see it as a bit daunting, you are not alone. I admit, after large events the guilt and dread of the impending thank-you process (always the process, never the idea) follow me like Pig Pen’s dust cloud. Don’t get me wrong: I wholeheartedly value writing notes, not just because I teach etiquette but because I truly believe in them. However, when I am not prepared for the process, I don’t necessarily approach it with a joyful spirit. Knowing this about myself, I’ve worked long and hard to establish good thank-you habits for me and my children. I’m happy to report that my children actually like the process and are known to say, “Oh, Mommy, we should write so-and-so a thank-you.” Of course, a little motivation helps: our family policy is that toys and activities can’t come out of their packaging until the thank-you notes have been signed, sealed, and delivered to the mail carrier.

We celebrated Elle’s sixth birthday last week. (I can’t believe she’s six!) Rather than feeling intimidated by the stack of thank-yous we had to write, we made it special with our “tea and toast” tradition. After bathtime and with PJs on we got out the “royalty dishes” (as Elle calls them), popped some bread into the toaster, steeped our favorite tea, and sat down with our social stationery arsenal and a whole lot of patience. (A few thank-yous always fall victim to sticky fingers and dribbled tea, so we plan to have a few extra notes and cloth napkins on hand.)

1. Personalized stationery
2. ManneroftheMonth.com thank-you tracking sheet. We love this sheet because it helps us stay organized and on track throughout the process.
3. Well-organized list of names and addresses
4. Address embosser
5. Stamps

Using our ManneroftheMonth.com tracking system, we discussed every gift over tea and toast:

Who is the gift from?
What gift did they give?
Why are we thankful for it?
How will it be used?

When Elle was younger, I asked the questions and wrote down her response. Now that she writes each note on her own; the responses are a bit shorter since she’s just new to writing. Many times I need to spell out each word: this is where patience comes in.

After each note is finished, we celebrate by checking it off on our tracking sheet. Elle gets such a sense of satisfaction as she checks off each name: who doesn’t love checking items off a list? I certainly do.

Teaching the importance of writing notes takes time and energy. I’ll admit that after entertaining 34 children for a couple of hours, putting the effort into writing notes is not something I desire to do. However, Ty and I believe that the habit of writing thank-you notes and, more importantly, the confidence they instill is one of the best gifts we can give our children.

I’m sure the thank-you for that gift will follow in the years to come!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Countdown to Father's Day: Idea #1

If you haven't started thinking about what to give Dad for his special day, here is the first in a series of ideas running up to June 21.

Don't forget that through the end of June, when you buy 75 pieces of personalized stationery, invitations or announcements, you get an additional 25 free. Visit Crane's website to purchase or to find an authorized retailer nearest you.

These pearl white correspondence cards are hand bordered in black. Select your monogram style to be engraved in your choice of ink color. Matching lined envelopes are included with your personalized stationery. Reusable engraving die(s) included. Fifty engraved cards and lined envelopes for $265. Optional return address an additional charge.

Or, if your budget doesn't allow for engraved stationery:

Ecruwhite Kid Finish® correspondence cards with a hand-applied black border. An elegant and professional way to frame your message. The matching envelopes are lined with a black and ecruwhite pinstripe as an impressive finishing touch. Home computer printable. Ten cards and ten envelopes for $19.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Paper Museum Mystery with Tiffany and Crane

The Crane Museum of Papermaking opened last week for the season (Monday through Friday, 1-5 p.m.). As you can imagine, I've strolled around the exhibits hundreds of times over the years, and it finally came time the other day to seek some help on a nagging question. Why is there a set of handmade paper moulds and deckles watermarked with Tiffany and Company New York and the date anno domino 1450, along with a lance-toting horseman?

Here are the moulds and deckles in question:

There are no records in the archives giving any hint to their origins, and there are no markings to indicate their maker, so I am left to guess and to seek your thoughts.

Here's where my thinking is at the moment. Dard Hunter, the Roycroft artist and paper historian, probably had something to do with the situation. He was commissioned by the Crane family in 1929 to build this beautiful model below of the vat room at Crane's first mill, built in 1801. At the time, he was operating a handmade paper operation with his family and a couple of British papermakers out of Lime Rock, Conn.- just down the road a couple of hours. Included in the model are small hand moulds, and they were used to make small sheets of paper to help illustrate the process.

Several years ago, I noticed that these sheets had developed rust spots, so I made some new sheets with the little moulds. I learned subsequently, that Hunter had some problems with the water in Lime Rock, most notably iron

Now, let's have a look at a sample sheet made from the Tiffany mould. See those rust spots? I have to believe that this sheet was made by Hunter or his British papermakers in Lime Rock in 1929. Just too many coincidences.

But where did those moulds and deckles come from? What's their story?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Taking a Break From the World of Stationery....

to spoil a 2-year-old with his first ice cream pop.....

Life's good......