Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Crane Insider Has Moved

The Crane Insider has moved to Crane's new website. Come on over and rejoin the fun!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Digital Designs: Weddings by Katherine

Crane just released five new designs for the digital section of its Business and Professional correspondence album. The new suites help demonstrate Crane's digital capabilities on its 100% cotton papers.

Weddings by Katherine is printed in two colors, highlighting a screened-back bleed motif. The motif appears in two sizes - on the letterhead and on the reverse of the business card. In addition, the suite includes a jotter card, invitation and mailing label. Here is a sneak peek:

More digital designs on the way. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Housatonic Heritage Kicks Off The Paper Trail

I'm presently very excited and very nervous about this coming Thursday. The Third Thursday celebration in downtown Pittsfield, Mass., will serve as both the culmination of almost three years of work (if you can call it that) as well as the springboard to future celebrations of the legacy of papermaking in the Upper Housatonic National Heritage Area.

Art exhibits, portraits of local papermakers, historical artifacts and even a paper plane guru (you remember Howard) will help launch the Housatonic Paper Trail on Thursday, September 16, in Pittsfield. The multi-site celebration of the history and impact of the paper industry in the Upper Housatonic River region is a program of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area in partnership with the Pittsfield Office of Cultural Development, Berkshire Museum and Crane & Co.

Mills along the Upper Housatonic River at one time produced much of the paper and paper products used in the nation. The region's contribution to the industry spans more than 200 years: from 1801, when Zenas Crane built his first mill in Dalton; through the 1860s, when the Upper Housatonic powered 65 mills; to the present day, in which two local companies - Crane Co. and Onyx Specialty Papers, whose roots extend to 1806, continue the legacy.

"We hope the Housatonic Paper Trail will help local residents and visitors understand the immense cultural, economic and historical impact that the paper mills have had on this region and the nation as a whole," said Dan Bolognani, executive director of Housatonic Heritage. "Our vision is to build up a wealth of information and artifacts that preserves and builds on this heritage "

The Housatonic Paper Trail will be launched as part of Pittsfield's 3rd Thursday. The official kick-off, which is open to the public, will be held at the Lichtenstein Center for  the Arts from 5 to 7 p.m. The Center will host a group show of contemporary regional artists who work on or with paper; clips from "Paper Town," a new documentary film by Judith Monachina and Erica Spizz about the paper mills of Lee, Mass.; and an animated video by Alice, Anna and John Myers.

Yours truly will be on hand to give a brief overview of the industry's economical and cultural impact on the region.

"We're thrilled to bring attention to the region's extraordinary papermaking history through the work of local contemporary artists, filmmakers, photographers and animators," said Megan Whilden, director of Pittsfield's Office of Cultural Development. "What better way to celebrate our heritage of industrial innovation than through the continuing creativity of the region?"

Other events and exhibits will take place throughout downtown Pittsfield. Photographic portraits by Bill Wright of men and women who work in the paper industry will be on display at the Storefront Artist Project.

The Berkshire Museum will house an installation by Henry Klimowicz, constructed of discarded cardboard, and historical artifacts from the Berkshire Museum and the Crane Museum of Papermaking.

On North Street, which will be closed to traffic, Howard Fink will demonstrate how to fold extraordinary paper airplanes and judge the best planes made by children and adults.

All events are free and open to the public.

Elevated to a national heritage area by the U.S. Congress in 2006, Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area works to build awareness and appreciation of the offerings and history of the 29 towns that straddle the Upper Housatonic River from Kent, Connecticut to Lanesboro, Massachusetts. Housatonic Heritage partners with local organizations and individuals to ensure that the region remains a vibrant place to live, work and visit in years to come.

Programs include annual Heritage Walks; the African American Heritage Trail; the Upper Housatonic Valley Experience, a teachers' immersion program in the region's history, culture, environment and economy; the Performing Arts Heritage Trail, which includes a wealth of arts venues and heritage sites; and the Iron Heritage Trail, which includes sites relating to iron manufacturing, one of the area’s most important industries from the 18th century through the early 1920s.

Housatonic Heritage is one of 49 national heritage areas designated by Congress in partnership with the National Park Service. Each has distinctive natural, cultural, historic, and scenic resources that tell a unique story about our country. More information is available at

Monday, September 13, 2010

Step-By-Step: How To Write a Thank-you Note

Receiving a thank-you note for a thoughtful gift or an act of kindness is one of life’s great joys. Writing a thank-you note should not be a chore, but rather the celebration of an emotional connection between you and the recipient.

Before you begin writing there are a few basics to consider:

Write your thank-you note as soon as possible. You don’t want to begin your note with an apology.

Of course, use good stationery. A thank-you note is actually a gift. Wrap your gift in good paper.

Devote enough time and space so you can concentrate without interruptions.

Focus on why you’re writing.

Make your note an emotional experience; look for the emotional connection that is leading you to put pen to paper.

A thank-you note doesn't have to be long. Keep it simple, but keep it sincere.

Starting a thank-you note is easy. Begin with these two words: “Thank you.”

Now just state why you’re saying thank you:

“for the beautiful pair of candlesticks.”

“for the wonderful weekend at the beach house.”

“for your kind note after Dad passed away.”

Your second sentence should establish the personal, emotional connection to the recipient.

“Peter and I just finished a quiet dinner together, illuminated by your thoughtful gift.”

“Although we won’t be able to have a clambake on the shore, we look forward to your visit to the city so we can return your gracious hospitality.”

“I know you never had the chance to meet Dad; you two would have enjoyed each other’s company.”

Now for the closing.

“We promise to use them for only the most special occasions."

“I hope the rest of your summer is filled with sunshine and warm breezes.”

“It’s a great comfort in this difficult time to have such a good friend.”

And that’s it. You and the recipient of your note will be emotionally closer, all because of a little thoughtfulness expressed with pen and paper.


Letterpress Vines Pearl White Notes

Flowering Branches Pearl White Notes

Engraved Pineapple Ecruwhite Notes

Engraved Peacock Feather Ecruwhite Notes

Find a Crane Stationer

Friday, September 3, 2010

Designing Digital Holiday Photo Cards

One of the really fun features of Crane's new website is the ability to create digital holiday photo cards right from your own computer. Crane has lots of designs to chose from, with options to personalize your greeting text, typestyle and ink color.

But the most fun is the digital photo editor. You can upload your photos from your computer, from Picasa or from Flikr. Once upoaded, the photo editor lets you crop, flip, rotate, change to black and white or sepia tone, fix those nasty red eyes and even use a fill flash to bring out the best in the photos. There's also an auto fix for the less adventurous. You can even get a printable pdf proof. So don't bother messing with your photos before you design your cards. You can do it all on

Here are a few experiments:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Little Brownstone Stands Alone

The Crane Archives have hundreds of advertisements for social and business papers from the last 100 years or so. It is a rare occasion that one pops up that I haven't seen. This was one such occasion, from the August 27, 1960 issue of The New Yorker:

Entitled "Cajole on Crane's," there follows a portion of a letter: "so you see, my dear Sir, how much the brownstone means to me. Surely, your impending skyscraper might fit in quite nicely elsewhere. Cordially, Agatha Winthrop."

The copy underneath reads, in part: "When it comes to getting your own way, a letter on Crane's paper is more influential than a Victorian turn of phrase. Miss Winthrop's letter was written on Crane's Greylawn paper with a tissue-lined envelope."

So, was this a real letter? Surely it must be! Google would prove otherwise. The only credible reference to Agatha Winthrop appeared in the October 1, 1960 issue of The New Yorker, under the heading of Fiction. Here's the abstract of the article:

ABSTRACT: A declaration of a certain Agatha Winthrop that appeared in an ad under the photograph of the author's house prompted this casual. The ad was for Crane's letter paper. The letter is quoted thus: " you see, my dear Sir, how much the brownstone means to me. Surely, your impending skyscraper might fit in quite nicely elsewhere. Cordially.. ." Mr. L.D. Hamilton owned and lived in the house (it appears to be at 239 E. 68 St.) until Dec. 15, 1959. He made an investigation to account for the existence of Agatha Winthrop and her attachment to his house. His conclusion was that Miss Agatha Winthrop is entirely fictitious and the creation of Madison Avenue and Massachusetts.

I paid the $5.95 to be able to read the entire piece by Mr. L.D. Hamilton. It's very well written and lots of fun, trading whimsey for whimsey. It will accompany the the ad in the Archives.

I wondered what 239 East 68th St. looked like today in New York. Here's a view from Google Earth. I'm not seeing any brownstones.....

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

National Magazines Making Gift Guide Selections

It's been a busy time of late, as the national magazines start making selections for their Holiday Gift Guides. I never know until I have a copy in my hand if a piece of Crane stationery actually makes it to print. So in order not to jinx the situation, I'll show you their selections to date but won't name the magazines.

Black Label Collection: Hand-engraved Elephants

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Calling All Etiquette Experts: What Would You Do?

If a guest brings you a wonderful bottle of French wine, and you can't find a bottle opener, is this acceptable?

Note: Etiquette experts around the world are flocking to this site, so you may have to be patient. If the video box doesn't show up, here's a link.

Crane Launches New Website: Come Visit!

This week, Crane launched a new website at, designed to create a brand new stationery shopping experience. There are new tips, new ideas and a new section to make your visit very personal. By unlocking your drawer, you can find special offers on the products you love, keep track of your orders and your favorite products and articles as well as the more pragmatic, such as an address book and order history.

There is also a new Crane Community site where you can tell your Crane stories and participate in community forums on a variety of topics. We're working on integrating the blog.

So please visit and make yourself at home.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Crane CEO Interviewed for CNN Money Feature

Charlie Kittredge, Crane's CEO and a sixth-generation descendant of Zenas Crane, recently gave an interview with CNN Money. Charlie covered family, history, money and stationery.

Here's a link to the article. You will see video toward the bottom.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pittsfield Artist Wins Crane's Design Challenge

John Neiner, an illustrator with Pixel Graphic Design Studio in Pittsfield has been selected as the winner of the second Berkshire Creative Challenge. This year, the Challenge was hosted by Crane & Co. As a result of his submission, John will be creating a new holiday design collection for Crane's 2012 season.

Founded in 2005 by John’s brother, Pixel has been an outlet for their creative skills and imagination. Over the past few years John has transitioned from his background in traditional media into the realm of digital-art. John resides in the Berkshires with his wife Erin and their 3 energetic boys. In addition to art, John also enjoys rock climbing, ventriloquism and a slew of other eclectic pastimes.

Earlier this summer, I had the great pleasure of touring the 13 finalists around Crane's production facilities with Karla Cushman, Crane's Design Manager. Here's a link to photos from the tour.

Our regional NPR station - WAMC in Albany, N.Y., did a really nice piece on the Challenge. You can listen to it here.

“John stood out to everyone on the review committee.  His work was impressive, organized, and imaginative,” said Megan Kuntze, Crane’s Brand Director, “We are looking forward to working with John on future creative assignments.”

In addition to John, six other designers were identified as potential resources for future freelance projects. through the Berkshire Creative Challenge.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Freebie Friday: Five Skylines For The Holidays

I just received printed samples of Crane's Skyline Collection for the holidays. I love writing about the holidays when it's 90 degrees outside. So, it's a good time to share with you the five skyline designs for the 2010 holiday season and here they come:

Since this is Freebie Friday, I will challenge you to identify all five skylines, in order from top to bottom. Normally, I would have you leave a comment below, but by doing so, you might tip off your competitors. So, send me an e-mail with your list to craneinsider at gmail dot com.

I know you personally have don't need this volume, but you probably know someone who does. I will give one winner a copy of:

I look forward to hearing from you.

And, to close, the winner of the Food For Thought Freebie Friday from July 16, according to Dr. Random, is commenter Evacuee. Please send me your contact information to the e-mail above. Congratulations!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Anticipating Summer Vacation Via Stationery

I'll be heading out in a few days for the annual summer vacation on Cape Cod. The closer I get the greater the anticipation. Here's how I'm visualizing my week:

A little sailing (Hurry, they're on sale!)

Definitely going to need these, because there will be

Monday, July 19, 2010

Always Let Your Guests Know How To Dress

When sending an invitation to an event, you always want to make sure that your guests are comfortable from entrance to exit. One way to ensure their comfort is to provide clear information about proper attire.

From my friends at IcanhascheezburgerEtiquette Kitteh urges you to avoid the following awkward situation:

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Return of Freebie Friday: Food for Thought

It's been a while since we've had a Freebie Friday, but today provided some inspiration to get back at it. Here's the story:

I tend a couple of big gardens and deliver fresh fruit and vegetables every day to a local early childhood education center for the kids' lunch. So far, they've had all kinds of lettuce, radishes, spring onions, snap peas and just the other day, the season's first green beans. I was bringing the next day's supply, which this time included a couple of quarts of red raspberries, and this little pixie poked her head around the corner and said: "Thanks for the bean, Peter. I never had one before." She allowed as how she didn't really care for the peas....

And today, while making a delivery of the season's first baby carrots, the kids swarmed around my knees and proudly handed me a gift:

Mmmmmmm... Jam!

Mmmmmm....Bumbleberry Jam!

So, in recognition of little kids who really like green beans, who might not care for peas, but who love beets because nobody's told them they taste like dirt yet, and who make Bumbleberry Jam, here's today's Freebie Friday collection:

To enter this week's Freebie Friday, simply leave a comment below. The comment must include your favorite vegetable recipe so we all can share in the seasonal bounty. And I'll pass them along to the kids.