Advice from the Expert: How to Hire a Calligrapher

A Crane wedding invitation and calligraphy go together like Bogart and Bacall. Beautiful. Classic. Timeless. For a newly engaged couple, though, calligraphy is something they haven’t thought much about, let alone know how to make an educated decision about. Luckily, our guest post today comes from Laura Di Piazza, a professional calligrapher who creates beautiful flourishes for everything from weddings to workshops.

laura di piazza

Perhaps one of the first comments many clients have made after contacting me is how difficult it was for them to research for calligraphers. Calligraphy work is low tech, in that we mainly work with paper, inks/paints and pens. So perhaps some of us do not have a strong online presence. However, I believe the main reason that it takes clients a bit of effort to find a calligrapher that suits their aesthetic preferences, timeframe and budget is simply because there are so few professional calligraphers out there.

laura di piazza calligraphyPhoto by Jakob Ott

So, how does one begin their search for a calligrapher?
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Introducing Our New Explorers Collection

When we set out to create new collections for our 2014 boxed catalog, a special date sparked an idea. This year marks the 450th anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s birthday. A vision of motifs inspired by the Italian physicist/mathematician/astronomer/philosopher — engraved in gold in classic Crane style atop our thick ecru card stock — turned into reality and the Explorers collection was born.

engraved astronomer card

Engraved Astronomer Card: Be they tales of galactic proportions or tales of everyday life, our astronomer — engraved in gold — makes this card the perfect choice for the illustrious dreamer and star-gazing correspondent alike.

engraved soleil cardEngraved Soleil Card: Warm wishes — literally — accompany this card, elegantly engraved with our gold sun. Perfect for the early rising correspondent and notes from the most temperate of climes alike.

engraved globe cardEngraved Globe Card: Let’s travel the world, carry-on and cocktail in hand. Engraved in gold, our globe makes this card the perfect choice for the jet-setting and cartograph-adoring correspondent alike.

engraved stars cardEngraved Stars Card: Should it be the subject of leisurely gazing or a beloved lullaby, the star takes its place in the night sky as it does on this card — among friends and with radiance. Perfect for well wishes and the celestial soiree thank you alike.

engraved compass cardEngraved Compass Card: Should one become inspired to embark on an adventure, the trusty compass is an essential travel companion. Engraved in gold on this card, it proves the perfect choice for the globe-trotting correspondent. Engraved across the bottom “Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so.” — Galileo

engraved luna cardEngraved Luna Card: Be it over Miami or receiving wishes of goodnight, the moon offers quiet comfort when night blankets the sky. Engraved in gold on this card, it is the perfect choice for the night owl correspondent and soothing sentiment alike.

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This Gold Glyph Is Mesmerizing

Originally posted on An Inkophile's Blog:

From Office Supply Geek

That’s a very supple dip pen with a calligraphy ink that is not intended for use in a fountain pen. Pretty, eh?

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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.

How to Write the Perfect Holiday Letter

In an era when we are (whether we like it or not) updated on the lives of our friends and family minute by minute, the idea of writing a letter might seem unnecessary.

Holiday-Photo-and-Letter-Card-Written-Letter-blogLiving in a stream-happy society is fun. It’s exciting. It helps us miss our loved ones who live far away a little less. But there are still occasions when sending a text message or posting on someone’s wall just isn’t enough. The holidays is one of those occasions, and the holiday letter is one of those traditions that helps us remember the power of the written (or at least typed) word.

We’ve put together five tips on how to craft the perfect holiday letter. Happy writing!

Make a timeline. Travel back in time and outline all the major events of the year. Be sure to ask your spouse and children for their input as well — you might not remember a soccer goal, but your daughter who scored it certainly will.
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Festive Favorites, Part Three: Christmas on the Coast

Deck the halls with seashells and sand dollars.

engraved seaside holiday card
Hand Engraved Seaside Holiday Card: Should Santa ever decide to ditch the sleigh, we like to think he’d take up a pair of oars. This nautical-inspired holiday card has us dreaming of wassails among the waves. With Captain Kringle at the helm, of course.

Hand Engraved Starfish Greeting CardHand Engraved Playful Starfish Greeting Card: The perfect trimming for a tree by the coast, a gold starfish hangs delicately in the center of this personalized holiday card. Seaside sentiment at its best.

hand engraved palm tree greeting cardHand Engraved Palm Tree Greeting Card: For season’s greetings from the unseasonably warm locale, our hand engraved palm tree — appropriately adorned with a red ribbon — is the perfect choice to send cheer to those near and far.

engraved anchor greeting cardHand Engraved Anchor Greeting Card: Let’s set sail on a sleigh that prefers dolphins to Dasher and Dancer. Season’s greetings from the seaside, courtesy of an engraved anchor surrounded by all the nautical trimmings.

engraved holiday adirondacks cards

Hand Engraved Holiday Adirondacks Card: Halls are for schools. We’re decking our deck chairs this year. Sea breeze is the new snow flurry, haven’t you heard? Two chairs adorned with all the holiday trimmings make this holiday card positively beachy keen.

View our entire personalized holiday card collection.

Festive Favorites, Part Two: Holiday Reds

The Christmas season is one of our favorite times of the year for obvious reasons — soirees, evenings by the fire, trimming the tree, just to name a few — but we also love this time of year because our Red Flame paper comes out of hibernation and turns the factory into a festive workshop the elves in the North Pole would envy. Below are a handful of our favorite personalized holiday cards that star our favorite holiday hue.

sleigh bells photo greeting card
Sleigh Bells Photo Greeting Card: Bells, bows and berries just might be the trifecta for the perfect holiday garland, which is why we love the classic merriment this holiday photo card evokes. Pass the poinsettia punch, please.

engraved french horn greeting cardEngraved French Horn Greeting Card: ‘Tis the season for silver bells, Drummer Boys and, of course French Horns galore. The latter takes center stage on this holiday card, engraved in gold on a backdrop of a most festive red.

engraved garland star greeting cardEngraved Garland Star Greeting Card: Once the lights have been strung and the ornaments hung, it’s time for the final touch. The most stunning of stars sits atop the Christmas tree, and, in the case of this richly red card engraved gold, in the most lucky of post boxes.

engraved gold damask photo greeting cardEngraved Gold Damask Greeting Card: Should Marie Antoinette have forgone cake for Christmas cookies, we like to think she would have also fancied this holiday photo card, a baroque presentation of gold flourish foil atop regal red.

engraved merry christmas greeting cardEngraved Merry Christmas Greeting Card: Every holiday season should be celebrated with flourish, which is why we love this quite festive card in our rich flame red, engraved with stunning swirls that offer wishes for a Merry Christmas.

engraved wheat wreath greeting cardEngraved Wheat Wreath Greeting Card: A symbol of warm welcome, a wreath is an especially splendid display during the holiday season, when friends and family arrive at your doorstep bringing good cheer and even better baked goods.

View our entire personalized holiday card collection.

Festive Favorites, Part One: Oh Christmas Tree

Holiday cards boasting pine perfection…

Hand Engraved Starfish Greeting CardHand Engraved Playful Starfish Greeting Card: The perfect trimming for a tree by the coast, a gold starfish hangs delicately in the center of this personalized holiday card. Seaside sentiment at its best.

engraved seaside holiday card

Hand Engraved Seaside Holiday Card: Should Santa ever decide to ditch the sleigh, we like to think he’d take up a pair of oars. This nautical-inspired holiday card has us dreaming of wassails among the waves. With Captain Kringle at the helm, of course.

engraved christmas tree cardHand Engraved Christmas Tree Card: Let’s gather round for teacakes and trimmings. Twinkling lights. Garland. And ornaments galore. A Christmas tree of the most traditional kind is in order this holiday season, in your parlor and on your holiday greetings — hand engraved for extra splendor.

engraved brownstone holiday cardEngraved City Brownstone Card: Christmas in the city, let’s practice Figure Eights in Central Park and sip Hot Toddies at the Plaza. At home, cheerful trimmings — much like the one elegantly illustrated on this personalized holiday card — welcome us all back.

engraved poinsettia tree holiday cardEngraved Poinsettia Card: Lining the walkway. On the stoop. Around the hearth. The more poinsettias the merrier, we say. Their beautiful burst of red — and thus this Christmas card — reminds us that the holidays are finally here.

engraved winter woods cardEngraved Winter Woods Card: Over the river and through the woods. Let’s take a snowy stroll, past smoking chimneys and frosty pines. A hand engraved cabin sets the cozy tone for a holiday most magical.

Care to see more? Shop our complete personalized holiday card collection.

Post Script: Modern Day Snail Mail’s Cristina Vanko

cristina vankoAccording to her bio, Cristina Vanko is a “designer, idea person, visual storyteller, printer, letterer, illustrator, data visualizer and an aspiring art director.” For one week, she was the girl “texting” using ink. After discovering her father’s old calligraphy pen, Vanko fell in love with writing words that glided across the paper in lovely flourishes. So, she decided that for seven days she would only “text” her friends with hand-written messages. The result was visually and socially extraordinary. Here, Vanko talks about her snail mail experiment, correspondence as an artform and her father’s delightfully creative envelope addressing.

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
My dad would always send snail mail to me when I went off to college and decorate the envelope with silly stickers and interesting type, but it wasn’t until I was taking classes in all the different art areas at school until I got really interested in the epistolary world.

Although I had been interested in art at a very young age, at the beginning of my undergraduate career my understanding of art had not yet been developed to think that art could be more than a painting or drawing. But when I was at Indiana University—Bloomington, I came across some really inspiring printmaking graduate students who helped me fully understand what the definition of art is and what it could be.

Kristin Carlson’s MFA thesis, Large Letters, Small Signs, was when I truly fell in love with mail and mail art. It was then when I discovered how you could really push the boundary of surface, type and technique. I remember speaking with her when she was screen-printing this piece and she explained to me that in art school you spend so much time with your work that you miss out on relationships with people.

Not only did I see her thesis as an interesting way to send mail but also I saw her thesis as a good way to share her talent with people she cared about. After being introduced to mail art in such an extraordinary and beautiful way, I became more aware what I sent through the mail.

Tell me about your Modern Day Snail Mail project.
I resurrected my dad’s old calligraphy pen and I was immediately stunned with the range of line thickness that the pen could achieve. After texting some doodles to friends, I decided to send handwritten messages to people for that next week. I wanted to create my own modern day version of “snail mail.”

My rules for this type of experiment were simple: Create handwritten text messages for seven days, i.e. no using the keyboard on my phone to send a message. I wrote out my message on paper and then I snapped a photo to send as a text message. What started as an experiment to improve and learn more calligraphy quickly became an interesting social experiment all together. Not only did I learn a lot about calligraphy, I learned a lot about myself, my friends and technology.

modern day snail mail

modern day snail mail text messages

Why do you enjoy writing letters and/or correspondence?
I appreciate how it’s a more genuine and personal way of creating and/or maintaining conversation with a person. The physical pieces are elements to add to your shared story with a specific person, so it’s interesting to see how your relationship unfolds in a tangible way. Also, I’ve been working on more digital projects as a designer so it’s a nice way to revisit and maintain my analog roots.

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
I enjoy the final step of the process—constructing and embellishing what contains the message whether it be an envelope, box, etc. Since it’s the first thing you see, I want the recipient to know that this isn’t an ordinary piece of mail.

envelope mail art

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
I’d love to start conversations with my ancestors to ask about their stories and to see their handwriting. I have noticed similarities in handwriting among my family members and it’d be interesting to see if there was an evolution involving handwriting style.

To whom do you most often write?
I mostly write to my friends and family, and by write, I mean that I mostly send mail art. After graduating college, my friends are sprawled out all over the country, so I like to send mail art and postcards to friends every chance I have some free time.

Unfortunately, I have noticed it becomes a one-way street. Luckily, I have a couple of good friends from undergraduate with which we consistently send mail art back and forth. My one friend and I give each other challenges to push ourselves, so we try to master a new skill or learn something new when relaying our message.

mail art

Can you describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received?
Besides from visually intriguing letters, simple handwritten letters that reveal your most genuine thoughts and feelings about someone make for some of the best letters I’ve ever received. There’s nothing more personal than handwriting when truly expressing yourself.

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
Knowing that someone wanted to fill a blank page with their a message versus picking out something reconstructed and/or only requires a signature. The extra effort of a physical letter is refreshing.

What makes your correspondence distinct?
My dad literally pushes the envelope with the address alone. Wherever I’ve lived, he’s always figured out a new way to construct an address by using city nicknames, spelling things out phonetically, etc. It surprises me every time I receive a letter that the post office figured out a way to decode the address. Naturally, I picked up the habit of crafting creative addresses and have been applying it to my mail.

What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
I think classic correspondence will continue to become rare, but I can only hope that it will evolve into something new—even if that means digitally. While today people are more connected than ever, receiving a personal email could seem like a rarity. Sometimes I know that I get tricked into thinking that liking, commenting or re-tweeting means that someone cares when really it takes little effort to do such things. I could only hope there will be a way to digitally differentiate correspondence and make it more personal.

Have a question for Cristina or know someone who should be featured in Post Script? Contact our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.

All Hallow’s Eve Inspiration: Orange & Black Hues to Get Us in the Spirit

halloween stationery1. Hand Engraved Black Cat Note: Invite someone to curl up with the news of your world by sending it on our hand engraved note with a tuxedoed cat. The matching white envelope features a white liner with black polka dots.

2. Engraved Black Cat Note on Ecru: What does our little feline friend have on her mind? What all cats do – resting in style. Perfect for a newsy note, a thank you or RSVP. Matching envelopes included.

3. Hand Engraved Monogram on Pearl White Correspondence Card: A penthouse view offers quite the inspiration for one’s correspondence, be it to client or confidant. Equally inspiring is this crisp, pearl white card, engraved with a handsome monogram in black ink — a combination most dapper and decisive.

4. Engraved Monogram on Pearl White Sheet: A monogram Jay Gatsby would adore, initials are handsomely arranged with an Art Deco-inspired touch. Black ink on a pearl white letter sheet allows for stark sophistication. Please note that additional blank white sheets for extra pages are a smart addition to any stationery wardrobe.

5. Orange Leather Refillable Notebook: These full grain goat skin leather notebooks include a spiral insert with 144 lined perforated pages on gold-gilded paper. Handy for everyday note taking, business or journal writing.

6. Black Leather Refillable Notebook: This French Milled Full Grain Calf Skin leather notebook includes a spiral insert with 144 lined, perforated pages on gold-gilded premium paper. Handy for everyday note taking, business or journal writing.

7. Pearl White Note with Lion Motif: King of the Jungle stands watch over this pearl white note. Illustrated in our cheerful Clementine ink, he can’t help but inspire roaring good missives to loved ones near and far.

8. Letterpress Pearl White Calling Card with Dotted Rule: Design with sophisticated sensibilities, personalization in our Clementine hue accompanied by well-placed pertinent information in charcoal makes for business cards that would surely make Eames ecstatic.

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