Owner of The Paper Shop in Winter Park, Florida, Ellen Prague has been in the stationery business for more than 30 years. Her love for beautiful paper, however, goes back much further than that. Here, the former New Yorker waxes poetic about vintage stamps, Jackie Kennedy and the fancy 5th Avenue store that inspired her own boutique’s name.
Ellen Prague, with Boutique Greeter Nikki, at The Paper Shop.
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
Watching my mother write thank you notes and letters on her beautiful pale blue stationery was my first glimpse of the elegance of communication. When I went to sleep-away camp at age 8, I was expected to write at least a letter every day and I would run to mail call to receive my daily letter from mom, and sometimes from dad and/ grandparents — it was the highlight of my homesick first summer at camp, and remained so all the years at camps and away at schools.
How can you pick out the guy who loves what he does? He’s the one who smiles when you ask him about it. And then keeps smiling throughout the entire interview.
That’s Bob Gregory, a native of North Adams, Massachusetts (where our paper magic happens) who works an engraving press like no one’s business. He’s also a Red Sox fan and could never work at a job in which he was “just sitting there.”
That’s good news for us, and whoever has the pleasure of receiving a box of stationery created by Gregory’s skilled hands.
Here, he chats with us about being a “wedding man,” naming his engraving press and his one degree of separation from a certain blue-eyed crooner.
Kristen Magee plays with paper. Every day. [Insert envious swoon here.] More than five years ago, the graphic designer and paper crafter launched Paper Crave, where she waxes poetic about all things stationery and shares drool-worthy images of cards, notebooks and anything else you can take a pen to. Here, the self-proclaimed owl and ‘80s music lover talks ditto machines, terrapins and what she might break out, should she decide to go a little crazy. Letter writing-wise, of course.
If Carrie Crane’s last name sounds familiar, it probably is (especially if you’re reading this blog). Crane & Co. has been a family-owned business for more than 200 years, and, well, Carrie is part of that family. So, one might say she was born with a love of classic correspondence.
That love, combined with her designer chops, aligned last year when Carrie — who grew up in Dalton and was in and out of the mills with her father from a very early age — won the Crane family’s design challenge. The winner would see his/her creations turned into exquisite notes, which are made available online and in retail stores. Which means letter lovers all over the world will be penning their thoughts on her signature stationery.
“Winning the Crane Family Design Challenge was really a big deal to me,” she said, “and seeing the cards beautifully engraved, with the their luscious, lined envelopes, in Crane & Co. boxes is so exciting and truly makes me proud.” Here, Carrie — an artist for more than 20 years — chats with us about pen/paper harmony, the joys of junk mail and why she’d love to have a cup of coffee in Egypt.
Samara O’Shea has loved to write and receive letters for as long as she can remember. So it wasn’t surprising that, in 2005, she launched letterlover.net, a letter-writing service that eventually turned into a book as well. “I write letters on behalf of any person who feels he doesn’t have the words,” O’Shea said. Thankfully, she has plenty of words to share about everything from a 1930s pen pal to why summer camp has a special place in her heart.
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I don’t remember. I remember passing notes in class and writing letters to boys I had crushes on, and I decided I didn’t want that to go away in a world where most communication is digital.
We at Crane would like to finish National Letter Writing Week with a flourish. What better way to do so than to introduce a new feature on the blog? Each week we will be conducting interviews with letter lovers, paper aficionados and postal enthusiasts.
We’re thrilled to open this series with Hannah Brencher, the creator and founder of The World Needs More Love Letters. After scattering anonymous love letters throughout New York City in 2010, the 23-year-old has written more than 400 love letters to strangers, and in 2011 Brencher created moreloveletters.com with the mission of inspiring individuals to do just that — write more love letters. Since then, the site has helped send over 1,600 letters. Here, we talk to the postal pioneer about the beauty of handwritten correspondence, Toni Morrison, and the similarities between a letter and a first date.
Describe your work and its connection with the post.
I began writing and leaving “love letters” all across New York City about a year and a half ago. Gradually, I began receiving letter requests from people all over the world. As I wrote more and more letters to complete strangers, I realized that the world could really benefit from an organization that kept this irreplaceable handwritten practice alive. We take letter requests, mail handwritten notes and bundle together handwritten love letters for people in need, all while leaving love letters across the world for others to find and delight in.