Post Script: LA Pen Pal Club Founders Margaret and Victoria

Meet Margaret Haas and Victoria Vu, founders of the LA Pen Pal Club. The two stationery enthusiasts host the monthly meetup, during which guests can talk correspondence, share interesting letters they’ve received, saddle up to a typewriter or take pen to paper. Here, they talk about postcards from Italy and the pen pal who wouldn’t have to write anything at all.

Margaret Haas, Paper Pastries

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I was making birthday cards for family members when I was very young, around kindergarten10832300_895321993813553_338458302_n or first grade. They were mostly decorated with stickers, but a heartfelt message was always the center of attention and what I’d spend most time on. I’m sure there were a lot of typos, but you got the general idea. Picking out just the right postage stamp for the envelope was always the cherry on top.

Tell us about your Pen Pals program and what inspired it.
We get together once a month to pen letters and to show fun mail we’ve recently received. It is fun to share with others this activity that usually you do alone, in a quiet place. The LA Pen Pal Club is never a quiet space! We have typewriters out for people to use, so you can always hear the tapping of keys over the chatter. We love to comment on each other’s mail art or stationery, or postage stamp choice. It’s so much fun to get together with others who share in your love of mail.
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Post Script: Women of Letters’ Marieke Hardy

Meet Marieke Hardy, co-founder of the live series Women of Letters. Along with fellow Aussie writer Michaela McGuire, the duo created an intimate show that has placed everyone from notable actresses to what Marieke likes to call “dark horses” on stage with their missives. Here, the self-proclaimed writer to “anybody and everybody” shares about a special postcard project, legendary Australian feminists and why you won’t be able to download the show’s podcast (and why that’s a good thing).

Michaela and Marieke

Michaela and Marieke

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I was a voracious letter writer in my 20s. I would write to anybody and everybody: Politicians, passerby, the company who made my favourite lipstick. I liked to write thank you cards; I felt there were too many complaint letters in the world. (To everybody who received a weird ‘I really love your muesli!’ card from me in the 90’s, you’re welcome!) These days I have lots of secret postcard projects, and obviously Women of Letters means we have to keep the flame alive!

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Post Script: Publetters’ Michael McGettigan and Nestor Torres

Meet Michael McGettigan and Nestor Torres, founders of Publetters. The name suggests exactly what one might think: letter writing while enjoying a pint (or two). Here, the two share their thoughts on a certain cherished letter to a Philadelphia policeman, bi-lingual correspondence and the wonderful moment that is “the turn.”

pub letters nestor and michael

Organizers Michael and Nestor. Photo courtesy of Maria Pouchnikova.

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
Michael: Oh, we’ve written letters since grade school in my family—not a lot, but regularly. In the past ten years, as email has become just like another task, letters have become special again for me and for the people I write to. Continue reading

Post Script: The Great Letter Revival’s Catherine Jackson

As Catherine Jackson pored over the moving letters between her mother and her father during his time in the Navy, she was reminded about how powerful the written word could be. Inspired, she decided everyone should experience that feeling and thus The Great Letter Revival came to be. She launched a Facebook page, YouTube channel and a blog, then got to work assembling and sending “Revival Kits”—stationery, stamps—to friends, family and anyone else interested in letter writing.

TGLR revival kitTGLR revival kit materials“The goal of TGLR has always been to bring back genuine, personal, creative and meaningful human connections to our modern world via letter writing,” Catherine says. “We wish to increase communication that goes beyond the generic realms of online socialization, to create memories and human expression, to spread smiles and to ultimately make the mailbox a happy place to visit once again.”

CathypoboxesWhen did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
The magic of letter writing was impressed upon me at a young age. I remember having a pen pal from Japan who would send the most gorgeous postcards embellished with hand crafted details and delicate origami. And then on the opposite side of the spectrum, when a friend of mine moved away, it thrilled me when her bulky, sloppy envelopes stuffed with a piece or two of Red Vines and her favorite pet rock somehow managed to find its way to my mailbox. This love of letter writing carried over into my high school years and into adulthood. I’ve often had close friends or family move to far off places. Any long distance relationship (friend, family or romantic) is always kept fresh through the sending and receiving of letters. I’ve since then discovered how wonderful it can be to send and receive mail from within the same zipcode, too. A handwritten letter is always a heart-lifting reminder that someone cares about you enough to dedicate the time to write it in words.
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Post Script: Protocol School of Washington President Pamela Eyring

This weekend the Protocol School of Washington will celebrate turning 25 years old with a Global Summit. Attendees will participate in workshops such as “The Protocol of Titles and Forms of Address” and “Keep Calm and Protocol On: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Royal Visit.” The PSOW also has served as a consultant for several editions of our Blue Book of Stationery, which has been the go-to guide for proper correspondence since the late 1800’s. So, we thought it both timely and appropriate to speak with PSOW President Pamela Eyring, who shares with us thoughts such as the pen pal worthy of a letter closing with “Fondly” and why she just might have been the next Florence Nightengale.


How long have you been at the PSOW and how did you end up there?
I graduated from PSOW almost 15 years ago and have proudly owned the school for the past nine years.

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Post Script: Laura Brown, Author of ‘How to Write Anything’

Meet Laura Brown, author of the newly published book, How to Write Anything, which is a guide to exactly that. From composing everything from a research paper to a recipe, it’s a necessary addition to any proper writing desk. Here, the well-seasoned writing instructor of more than 25 years talks to us about pen pal-ing with Shakespeare, fountain pens and a truly memorable A-. 

laura brown and book

When did your interest in writing begin?
It started when I was small. I wrote little stories when I was a child, and then when I started having to write at school, I found I really enjoyed it. I was lucky to have some truly inspirational teachers who encouraged me, partly by giving wonderful assignments where we could stretch our wings as writers. I’ve always felt a kind of flow with writing, being in the zone, and that’s very pleasant.

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Post Script: Snail Mail My Email’s Ivan Cash

When San Francisco-based artist and filmmaker Ivan Cash decided to create a project that involved handwriting emails, he figured it would be a one-time experiment. Soon, though, he had so many requests that he had to enlist the help of hundreds of volunteers around the world to help him write. In all, more than 10,000 letters were sent, and Snail Mail My Email has become an annual, week-long  event that takes place each November. If you can’t wait that long, however, the project’s letters are also available in book form. Here, Ivan talks with us about his dream Zen pen pal, in-the-moment correspondence and why including plastic dinosaur toys with your notes is pretty great.

Tell me about your snail mail project and how it came about.
I’ve always loved letter writing, but when I lived in Amsterdam during 2011, I found I was working all the time and not writing enough letters. When I quit my job just six months in, I decided I needed a project to help immerse myself back into the world of letter writing. I also wanted to use my skills in advertising to share the magic of snail mail with others.

snail mail my email letter 3

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Post Script: Travis White, A Letter for Better

It all began with a touch of mailbox envy. Eyeing the handwritten letters his roommate seemed to receive on a daily basis, Travis White decided everyone should have that feeling that always accompanies receiving a letter. So he started A Letter for Better, a group of students that randomly chooses names and addresses from the White Pages and sends the unknowing recipients a handwritten letter. The organization now has 45 active members — up from just four when it began. Below, the Central Michigan University student talks to us about pens, Steve Jobs and an unexpected visit from a police officer.

travis white a letter for betterTravis White (right) with ALFB Vice President, Ashley Coners

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
It began in my first year of college. I lived (and currently live) in the residence halls at Central Michigan University where we have mailboxes for each one of our rooms. My roommate that I lived with had a girlfriend at the time who attended an institution in Ohio. One of their major forms of communication was through letter writing, and it seemed to me like he received a letter almost every day. Since I was the one who passed the mailbox on a regular basis, I would be the one to pick up all of the mail. A couple months went by that I would open the mailbox, seeing only a letter that would be addressed to him, never seeing the words “Travis White” printed in the handwriting of someone close to me.

One day in late October/early November, we went to lunch in one of the residence halls on campus, when he received an email that was sent directly to his phone. It was from one of the front desk workers notifying him that he had a package waiting for him at the front desk of our residence hall. Being the great friend that he was and knowing that I did not receive any mail before then, he teased me about it.

Jokingly, I told him, “You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to go onto, find a random address and become pen-pals with them.” It wasn’t until a couple days later that I finally received my first letter in the mail and, surprisingly, it was from my Marching Band back home. I was the Drum Major during my Junior and Senior year of High School, and my entire band wrote to tell me how much they miss me and wished that I would come back to play with them for their Homecoming.

The feeling that that letter gave me was something that I have never experienced before, so I decided to take that and turn it into an student organization. We turned my “joke” into a reality, where we literally go onto Whitepages and find random strangers to write to, simply to make them smile.
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Post Script: Designer John Segal

His sketching table in the New York City Crane office wasn’t even warm before our new head designer, John Segal, was tasked with bringing four new collections for our boxed line to life. Flights of Fancy features two-pass engraved motifs inspired by all things that reach for the stars; Explorers, engraved in gold on ecru stock, pays homage to the 450th birthday of Galileo; the engraved and embossed Vintage Lace is presented in a palette of vibrant hues; and Tools of the Trade is letterpress printed on our coveted Lettra paper.

Here, the avid cyclist and 4 p.m. chocolate fiend talks to us about inspiration, the joy of being delighted and why he’s particularly excited about a recent delivery from China.

john segal

Describe the person who would love these collections.
The Crane customer, in my mind, is someone who loves to be delighted. It could be by an exquisitely engraved hummingbird or a lovely gold lined envelope.
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Post Script: Our Finishing Department

The holiday season is the busiest time of year at Crane. Our factory is bustling with Christmas card and invitation orders, and our printing presses are humming as ink is fixed to paper. Again and again and again.

Once the ink dries, the orders are sent off to the Finishing Department, where ribbons are tied, envelopes are lined and cards are duplexed (a process that involves affixing a smaller sized paper stock atop a larger sized paper stock to create a layered look).

crane & co. envelope liners

Below, we talked with four women in Finishing — who work hard to make sure every detail is just so — about Presidential inaugurations, letters from loved ones and brand new puppies.

finising dept ladies

Tell me about how you ended up at Crane.
Nancy Randall:  started working for Crane when I was 20 years old. I had worked in retail previously but I like the work schedule Crane offered and the pay was better than retail.

Adriene Davine: I came to Crane out of high school.

Becky Riley: When I first started at Crane, I worked in [envelope] Liners. When I was hired full time, I moved to Inspection.

Lori Mulder: My husband worked at Crane and encouraged me to apply.

Tell me what a typical day is like in the Finishing Department.
LM: Busy.

BR & AD: Very busy!

What is your favorite part of the job?
NR & BR: Tying ribbons.

crane & co. ribbon baby announcement

AD: Making sure the order is correct and watching what people order.

LM: Working with my co-workers — they are a great group of people.

And the most challenging?
NR: Duplexing* a card that has a ribbon around it. It is more difficult to keep it consistent.

crane & co. duplex card

LM: Hitting the deadline to ship at 6 p.m. Most orders are time sensitive and need to ship the same day that the order arrived in Assembly.

What do you see most of come through the Finishing Department during the holidays?
BR: Most orders involve ribbons, which are on the majority of orders at Christmas. There are also many photo digital cards.

LM: Digital pictures or photo mount pictures with added ribbon. They come out beautiful.

Describe the most elaborate job you have ever had to work on.
NR: A wedding invitation with the invitation card being duplexed after having a ribbon wrapped around it and the base card was an engraved folder.

AD: The inauguration of President Bill Clinton.

BR: A Princess wedding where each invitation was in a separate box that we tied with a ribbon, tissue closed for 2,000.

LM: A bat mitzvah. We had a program with seven inserts and furnished ribbon. We have to collate on two long tables to make sure that every page was correct. The customer wanted two pieces of the ribbon tied at once with the narrow ribbon on top and wide chiffon on the bottom, then had to twist and turn the ribbon in order for everything to be the same.

What are you doing when you are not at Crane?
NR: I spend time with my daughters and granddaughters, I attend a fitness class, go out with friends and take walks.

AD: Taking care of my four-month-old puppy.

BR: I enjoy cooking and baking mostly. I love animals and find them very entertaining.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
NR: The one thing most people don’t know about me is I can be analytical of people and why they are the way they are.

AD: How religious I am.

BR: It is a secret — that is why they don’t know.

LM: I collect statues and pictures of the Blessed Mother.

Tell me about the most memorable letter you’ve ever received?
NR: From my youngest daughter when she was at boot camp for the Air Force. She didn’t have a lot of time to write but she tried to put as much as she could explain quickly about how things were there and re-assuring me that she was okay.

AD: From an old boyfriend that I met on cruise ship.

BR: It was a letter from my niece thanking me for a blanket I made for her son. This made me feel special. She also sent a picture with the baby loving his new blanket.

LM: When I was a teenager, my brother joined the Navy and was stationed in Italy. I loved his letters telling me about his adventures and the people he met there. This was back in the 80’s when cell phones were not invented yet.

All photos taken by the wonderfully talented Dan Morgan.