It’s all in the details.
The holiday season may still be a couple months away, but our printing presses are already in full reindeer and nutcracker mode. Since this is our busiest time of year, we thought we’d give you a peek onto the factory floor, where the trimmings include lots of red and green ink, shimmering gold envelope liners and more than a few festive trees—on engraving plates, of course. Our paper is 100% cotton, after all!
A copper plate for our Engraved Harvest Wreath card gets ready for printing…
Gears with a touch of garland…
An order of Engraved Santa’s Sleigh Cards out to dry…
An order of Engraved Reindeer and Ribbon Cards almost ready to go to one lucky customer…
Dreaming of a white (sand) Christmas…
The Grinch who engraved Christmas…
We’re on Facebook and Instagram. Won’t you give us a follow?
We often get asked the differences between the various printing processes we use to craft our stationery, especially between engraving and thermography. Of course, the best way to tell the difference is to pay a visit to your local stationer so you can feel the difference. However, below we’ve outlined all of the different processes and what makes them unique.
Engraving is the finest, most distinct form of three-dimensional “raised printing.” No other paper manufacturer offers our engraving quality, craftsmanship and level of service.
As a highly skilled craft dating back to the 16th century, engraving conveys an unspoken message of distinction and timelessness. It has a warmth and elegance all its own. Running your fingers over a piece of engraved stationery reveals the textures unique to engraving — finely detailed, raised letters with slight indentations on the reverse side of the paper. There is no substitute for true engraving.
How it Works
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).
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.
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.
BR & AD: Very busy!
What is your favorite part of the job?
NR & BR: Tying ribbons.
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.
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.
The evolution of our engraved starfish holiday card…
To celebrate twinkling lights strung around palm trees and Christmas dinner on the dock, we offer our Coastal holiday card series. This year, four new hand-engraved designs were added to create a more well-rounded collection.
New hues, new imagery, new inspiration: Here’s a peek inside The Making Of our new Coastal designs.
“The colors chosen reflect our traditional red and gold, which you will see throughout the designs,” said VP of Creative & Product Development Rachel V. Ivey, “but we’ve added brighter greens as well as a pop color, pink and a metallic blue to add visual interest to the designs.”
We punched up the green on our Adirondack Chairs to liven up the greenery…
On the Coastal Doorway, we pulled in a bluish green hue that is more representative of coastal greenery…
The Flamingos are a pop of pink that is very close to our Hibiscus stock…
For the Glass Buoy, we used an amazing metallic blue that is a custom mix that gives this design some extra glitz…
- Imagery & Inspiration
Shells, greenery and, of course, the beach were all images used to inspire the artist, who ultimately created a collection of designs that will appeal to our customers in the coastal regions of the country — as well as anyone who simply years for a season with sand in her toes.
Need help selecting your holiday cards? Email our Crane Concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being around for more than 200 years will build quite an archive. It’s an absolute delight to sift through old engraving dies, ledgers and, our favorite, advertisements. We had advertisements geared toward the “Business Man,” the “Presidents of Savings Banks” and, of course, brides. Ones highlighting the fact that our paper is made from cotton rags. Ones highlighting how great it is to use with a typewriter. And ones about what using Crane says about you (hint: really good things).
Below are some of our favorites…
1. For your paper trousseau: This ad from the 50’s spoke to the classic bride, suggesting the kinds of papers she should use for her wedding and beyond. “Assures correctness… confers distinction” is the tagline, assuring her that choosing Crane is both proper and special.
2. Wedding gifts by telephone: This print ad from 1924 plays to the aspirational woman and her desire to make the most proper impression. No well-bred girl would do such a thing, the ad suggests of acknowledging wedding gifts by telephone. She also wouldn’t type her wedding invitations, send a “dowdy letter of acceptance” for a party or write a letter on “the only paper you could find,” and instead lives by this ad’s tagline: “Style is a greater social asset than beauty.”
3. What does the letter say, Jean? The dialog in this ad — printed in The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1921 — is between two girlfriends or sisters, discussing a letter the one has just received. When asked what the letter said, the recipient’s response is that the letter says the writer has “good taste” and “a fine appreciation of what is correct.” Of course, the punchline is that the recipient is referring to what the paper (Crane, of course) says about the sender, ending with this mantra: “Writing paper tells much more than many people think.”
4. Stationery should reflect station: We love the angle this 1926 ad takes when appealing to the “Business Man.” The copy sets the scene, a meeting between the Business Man and his lithographer. The latter suggests Crane, suggesting that one’s stationery should reflect one’s station in life. The former balks at paying more for his letterhead. The lithographer’s pitch: A company should take its paper “out of the classification of office expense and put it in the advertising and selling budget.”
5. To the Presidents of Savings Banks: This ad from 1936 is one of our favorites because of how well it represents a time very much in the past — a time when relationship between banker and bank account customer was more than just the Customer Service contact on a website. The ad suggests using Crane to send letters of welcome to “new depositors” as well as to keep in touch with old customers, as “no other paper lends so much dignity and distinction to correspondence.”
Care to see more of our vintage advertisements? They’re all available to peruse on our Pinterest board!
It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. So when our design team finally unveils the new collection of personalized holiday cards, it feels like, well, Christmas.
We must say they’ve quite outdone themselves this year, keeping with a classic, traditional look and color palette that showcases our elegant design and craftsmanship so well.
“This year we dipped into our archives to celebrate our heritage,” said VP of Creative and Product Development Rachel V. Ivey. “It has been great to look back at traditional American Christmas of the past.”
Here’s how our 2012 Personalized Holiday Collection came to be…
Our design team achieved the classic, traditional look of our distinguished holiday cards by using a core palette of Hunter green, medium gold and red. A hint of shimmering platinum adds an additional metallic to the mix.
Home decor and botanicals have provided inspiration for many of our cards throughout the years. It reminds us of our own homes during the holidays. For example, the Holiday Door design — new for this year — was inspired by the home of an employee.
The wreath below is an example of taking vintage art and altering it for a whole new look. For 2012, we enlarged the design and printed in three-color letterpress with foil accents on our Lettra® paper.
Many of the designs this year were enhanced by using multi-level model dies. The use of these dies in the engraving process gives added dimension to the card. The Classic Wreath is an excellent example of how a model die can make a beautiful design look even more dramatic.
“Christmas is a great season for Crane to showcase all of our incredible processes,” said Ivey. “We love our classic designs for which consumers come back year after year.”
In this edition of “The Making Of” we take a look at our new Signature Collection and how it went from just an idea to an exquisitely crafted piece of stationery. Engraved and paired with envelope liners imported from India, this collection is one that should only find its way into the hands of the most appreciative stationery connoisseur.
The Signature Collection began as inspiration from a far away land. If you have traveled to the Far East, it was our creative team’s hope that the designs would take you back. If you haven’t been, the rich culture they have re-created via correspondence will certainly inspire you to make the trip.
First, the team curated a color palette. Red and gold, the iconic colors of Asia, serve as the core hues while shades of aqua were pulled from nature and Asian artwork.