Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Facebook Turns to Crane for Holiday Gift

Facebook is arguably one of the most visible "faces" of paperless digital communication. So when they select paper to express holiday thanks to their advertisers, it's time to sit up and take notice.

And it's not any old paper - it's Crane's Lettra - that soft, pillowy paper that has advanced the art of letterpress printing.

I won't spoil the beauty of this piece nor comment further on what could be perceived as some form of irony. But I will say congratulations to the folks at Facebook, Oscar Printing Company in San Francisco, and to designer Ben Barry for a job well done on paper.

Well, maybe one quick look:

Here's a great look at this work and how it was made. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Vineyard Vines Debuts New Stationery Line

There has long been an intimate connection between fashion and stationery.

And today, there's an example that we're really excited about with the introduction of a new line of stationery for Vineyard Vines by Crane.

The designs are delightfully preppy and reflect the style and mood of Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod in the summer season. For those familiar with Vineyard Vines, you can imagine their stationery mirrors designs on their clothing lines and their signature ties.

Have a look:


The Vineyard Vines stationery collection is available online and at their retail stores.

 We wish Vineyard Vines all the best!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Working on a Paper Industry Mystery

A few years ago, I had a call out of the blue from the caretaker of the mansion in Lenox, Mass., of the late Milos Krofta. Fred had found out that I was interested in papermaking and paper history and suggested he had something that might fit both categories.

He sure did. First, a bit of history. Milos Krofta was a brilliant engineer and entrepreneur originally from Yugoslavia. He became involved in the paper industry there and was in charge of three mills as a young man. With the outbreak of World War II, his mills were confiscated by the Italians and Germans. In 1945, the remaining mill was again confiscated, this time by Communist Russia. When he learned that he was to be arrested as a capitalist enemy of the people, he fled to Trieste and freedom.

For six years, Krofta operated successfully as a consultant in Switzerland and Italy. In 1951, when the war in Korea erupted and the Italian Communist Party made great political gains, the Kroftas immigrated to the United States.

OK, back to Lenox. In Krofta's basement, there was a papermaker's dream: a complete mini paper mill. There was (sorry while I fall into paper-speak) a Voith cycle beater, an automated headbox pulp delivery system, a hydraulically assisted vat, a 100-ton hydraulic press, a pilot plant calender and a drying system that used hot oil - yikes! This stuff was so large, that it had to have been assembled in-place. It was marvelously over-engineered.

I made all sorts of calls to see if I could get anyone to take these machines out of the basement to save them, but alas, they were too big. They are now scrap.

But I did save one thing, and I could use your help solving a bit of a mystery. Here's the machine:

Here's some of its insides:

Here's the identifying label:

So, I know it's a micro paper machine. I sort of guessed that before seeing the label, as there are some recognizable elements inside the machine, albeit quite a bit smaller.

So, what's its history? Did it every work? Are there any others in existence?

So many questions, but one thing is certain: I will get this thing making paper. I'm sure it won't be any time soon, but it will make paper. I could sure use some help.

Share Your Holiday Card Displays

I just happened to run across - via the wonders of Twitter - a clever and beautiful way to display holiday cards. Here's how Mindy Lockard of Manner of the Month is displaying her cards this year. Make sure you go here to see how it's done.

Send along web-sized photos of your displays. I'd love to see them and share them!

peter dot hopkins at comcast dot net

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Paper Machinery is Cool. Here's One Favorite

I've always had a soft spot for machinery, ever since my parents took us kids on a string of factory tours many years ago. So you can imagine that a place like Crane, which makes stationery and currency paper and a bunch of other stuff using machinery that probably can't be found many other places, holds a continuing fascination for me.

Crane stationery arrives at the store in boxes. One probably takes boxes for granted. They hold your stationery; big deal. They're really not worthy of further consideration. After all, they're just boxes.

Oh Yeah?

Check out Crane's Box Machine:

Did you see the guy in the blue shirt about 3/4 of the way through the video? He's an Adjuster. Yup; Crane's Stationery Factory has a staff of Adjusters. They Adjust machines. They are really good at what they do. I am seriously envious that they get to spend all day Adjusting Machines.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sad News: Historic Egremont Inn Total Loss

It's a very sad day here in the Berkshires. I had intended my 200th Insider post to be celebratory, but events intervened.

Earlier today, an historic building in Western Massachusetts was destroyed following an early morning fire, according to local reports. There is no doubt that The Egremont Inn was as important to the region's papermakers through their history here as it was to the local economy - until today.

No one was hurt in the fire, but now more than 225 years of history, dating back to the Revolutionary War, have literally gone up in flames.

Fire and heavy smoke poured out of the building, which is in a national historic district.

According to WTEN in Albany, NY, firefighters say when they arrived on scene the flames were in one room on the bottom of the building and quickly spread from there.

Authorities say it is a complete loss, and because of the intensity of the fire, the effort to put it out is far from over.

"We're putting plenty of water on that," said Great Barrington Deputy Fire Chief Edward McCormick. "The building is too dangerous to allow our firemen to enter the building. That's probably what we're going to be doing for the rest of the day."

Firefighters say the cold weather is not making fighting the flames any easier.

In fact, because of all the water being used on the building, there is the danger of ice forming on the ground around where the firefighters are moving and the hoses freezing, as well.

The inn originally opened as a tavern in 1780.

Video from today's disaster can be seen here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Brilliant Lines of Early Modern Engravers

A colleague pointed me to an online exhibit presented by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) a couple of days ago, but I didn't get to explore the site until this morning.

You Must Not Wait. You Must Go Here! Now!

The exhibit was organized by Emily J. Peters, associate curator of prints, drawings and photographs at RISD, With the assistance of Andrew Stein Raftery, consulting curator for the exhibition and associate professor of printmaking. I love the web programming and graphics by Shun Liang, especially the magnifying glass he created so we can view the "Brilliant Lines" of Albrecht Durer:

Raferty also recreates the process of the 16th-century engraver in a very informative and entertaining video.

This exhibition is well worth a good deal of your time and attention. I hope you enjoy and admire it as much as I do.