Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Eye Candy: Corporate Identity System

I'm getting in samples of some very cool designs and printing techniques from the Crane Business Papers representatives out in the field. As I have mentioned, I have no artistic abilities whatsoever, so it's lots of fun for me to live my creative life vicariously through the talents of others.

This Friday's Eye Candy is the corporate identity system for Mamone & Parners of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Mamone & Partners is a graphics, design and communications firm, so they did all the design work in-house.

Letterhead, envelopes and business cards were printed by the Aries Group in Toronto, using offset printing, embossing, engraving and clear foil stamping on Crane's Crest Fluorescent White 24-pound paper, square-flap envelopes and 100# cover stock.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chasing Sloppy Environmental "Journalism"

From the headline, you can probably sense a certain level of frustration. That's because I've had to spend entirely too much time in an otherwise really busy week chasing after a story on the internet entitled: "Try Out the 5 Best Kinds of Tree-Free Paper. From hemp to poop, here are 5 ways to find and use paper made from just about everything but trees."

Fine. Paper made from hemp, elephant poop, sugarcane waste, bamboo and kenaf makes a cute story. And some of these options are perfectly reasonable alternatives to paper made from trees. I know the people who make them and they have been colleagues in the tree-free movement for years.

But to publish "the 5 best kinds of tree-free paper" without mention of cotton-fiber papers is irresponsible. Especially as the original publisher of this list is one of The Discovery Channel's websites. And especially since I've worked with The Discovery Channel for a long time to develop several of their documentaries featuring tree-free paper. Sheesh.......

Of course, an article like this coming from a publisher with such credentials, gets picked up by other "green" internet publishers as gospel. No questioning; no checking; no Googling. Just a cute story that requires no work.

So, every day, twice a day, I do a keyword search for "tree-free paper" to see who else has picked up this story. And then I have to sign up and leave a comment just to get cotton-fiber papers into the conversation. Any responses yet? Actually yes. I had a follow-up comment from one blog site admitting that they should have considered other, more main-stream options. So, maybe it's not all wasted time.

I suppose the lesson here is that there's good news and bad news these days. Stories travel fast. When they're good stories, that's good. When they're bad stories, they're just plain bad stories no matter what the medium.

The other lesson is, I guess, that although tree-free, recovered cotton-fiber papers have been around for 2,000 years; that they are the most widely available tree-free papers to consumers; that they are the finest quality paper to this day; that they will last longer than we have the ability to test for....they still need constant reintroduction to new generations.

I could use your help spreading the word.

Dang; there's another site with the same story. Gotta go........

Friday, January 23, 2009

Survey and Giveaway at Classic Bride

Our friends over at Classic Bride are conducting a survey with their readers, along with an accompanying giveaway to four lucky participants.

You could win one of two prizes:

A hand-made gorgeous silk flower & veil for your wedding day hair, or the chance to win Crane's Wedding Blue Book.

So head on over before Friday, Jan. 30 to enter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

National Handwriting Day

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Art and Type With Clarke and Goudy

To close out the week - one with entirely too much time spent feeding two woodstoves - here is another classic example of the artistic talents of Rene Clarke and Frederic Goudy. Not being an artist, or anything approaching one, I am astounded by Clarke's ability to shift gears from the dramatic Chinese Bank Notes to this much more subtle image of the First Post Office. Goudy, of course, just continues to transform pages of copy with his brilliant typography.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

History of Type and Design Through Engraving Dies

Over the past several days, the folks at Crane's Personal Design Services (where they do the engraving and thermography) have been sorting through old engraving dies to make some room. Gayle Driggers, product manager for personalized stationery, and I had a blast first going through two 50-gallon drums filled with handcut steel engraving dies. We didn't count, but there were thousands.

Some we're going to save for their historic significance. I'll find a place for them in the Crane Museum of Papermaking. Others will be used for design inspiration or to create "retro" engraving motifs. And then there are the monograms. In those two drums, in hundreds of large flat drawers. Thousands and thousands of monograms dating from the beginning of the 20th century.

There is a complete century of type, monogram and stationery design just begging for attention.
So we'll be thinking about what to do with these beautiful little pieces of art and history. Maybe you'll even see them as paperweights on Who knows?

Have a look at some of the fun things we found. Pardon the dirty fingers. More to follow.

My favorite, so far......

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Manners Matter on the Path from Child to Adult

Just a quick note this morning to alert you to a great article in this morning's New York Times.

Entitled: Making Room for Miss Manners is a Parenting Basic, the article is written by Dr. Perri Klass, one of the best-known writer/physicians in the country.

Here's an exerpt that I particularly enjoy:

"I like Miss Manners’ approach because it lets a parent respect a child’s intellectual and emotional privacy: I’m not telling you to like your teacher; I’m telling you to treat her with courtesy. I’m not telling you that you can’t hate Tommy; I’m telling you that you can’t hit Tommy. Your feelings are your own private business; your behavior is public.

"But that first big counterintuitive lesson — that there are other people out there whose feelings must be considered — affects a child’s most basic moral development. For a child, as for an adult, manners represent a strategy for getting along in life, but also a successful intellectual engagement with the business of being human."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Special Stationery for the 150th Anniversary

No, not for a wedding anniversary, but a business anniversary.
I came across a very interesting folder the other day. Within is a memo about a special set of stationery papers to be made for Crane's 150th anniversary in 1951. That in itself would be fun for anyone who has an interest in paper history, but there are samples as well.
I'm not an art historian, so I don't know how these stationery designs fit into the style of the times, but I can guarantee you I haven't seen anything like these lately. Several overall design themes become apparent upon examination: bold printed stripes, delicate printed designs and stunning overall watermarks. Here are some examples:

And lastly, here's one that's got me shaking my head. It's a single initial (like Crane's Initial Notes) but the initial is right in the middle of the letter sheet - the most formal piece of correspondence stationery - and in the middle of the envelope. I don't know if these ever made it into the market, but they certainly are interesting to contemplate.
Any thoughts out there?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New kate spade Gift Sets for the New Year

Continuing with our look at stationery styles for the New Year, today I've got a couple of brand new gift sets from Crane's kate spade collection. Kate has a wonderful sense of style and design, which I guess comes as no surprise to most of you, and I love her whimsical way with words.

First is the all-occasion gift set (actually five occasions, but who's counting?) with three each of five designs, all tucked in a neat and organized box.

Text reads:

Outside: A Round of Applause
Inside: Congratulations

Outside: The Icing on the Cake
Inside: Happy Birthday

Outside: I Heard You Were Under the Weather
Inside: Get Well Soon

Outside: For No Particular Reason
Inside: Hello

Outside: You Read My Mind
Inside: Thank You

Next is a very cool Bon Voyage fold-over boxed set. The collection includes 12 notes, with six red and six blue envelopes, and three each of the four designs shown below:

These gift sets will be in stores and online in February.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Art and Type Illuminate Crane's History with Paper

As a company historian, I get to see some pretty cool things; especially with the historical pedigree of Crane & Co. One of my favorites is a large book with bound-in direct-mail folders created for Crane's Business Papers between 1921 and 1926. Displayed among these pages are illustrations of historical scenes from prominent advertising artists, and typography from some familiar names.

I have to admit, it took some research for me to understand who all these folks were, but even I recognized a few. I'd like to share some of these pieces with you, and will post them here from time to time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

The first is titled Chinese Bank Notes. Designs by Rene Clarke. Typography by Frederic W. Goudy.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Best-selling Stationery from 2008 - Some Surprises

I was thinking about writing a piece about New Years Day and New Years babies and some new personalized birth announcements. But that will have to wait until my new photographic equipment arrives. Among the many resolutions I have for the New Year is to take better photographs - especially with the proliferation of letterpress designs, which are particularly challenging.

But I digress.

While doing some research on sales and designs, I came across what I think is an interesting phenomenon. I have to admit, I was surprised.

Crane & Co., the oldest stationery firm in the country; cotton-fiber paper; family-owned for more than 235 years and eight generations. Classic, formal, traditional.

So, if you were to guess what Crane's best-selling piece of stationery was this past year, I'm betting you would chose the timeless CN1116 - Crane's classic white or ecru Kid Finish folded note. I know I would. If there ever was an icon for stationery, that would be it.

Well, you'd be wrong. Close, but wrong. I'd give you another guess, but we haven't got all day.



Sorry, that's Crane-speak. Here it is:

If your kids haven't written their post-holiday thank-you notes, you might be able to encourage them with some cute little monkeys!