Post Script: The Great Letter Revival’s Catherine Jackson

As Catherine Jackson poured 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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Meet Gabby, Designer of the New Crane Collection II Album

This week we launched the newest addition to our personalized stationery family, Crane Collection II. It’s an album we’re especially proud of, as it features the exquisite details and impeccable craftsmanship for which Crane has always been known. New motifs and monograms, new patterned envelope liners, a new men’s stationery collection and an expanded selection of business papers are just some of the highlights.

The creative genius behind Crane Collection II is in-house designer Gabby Doane, who pored over our archives for inspiration, perfectly blending classic and new. Below, she explains her design process, her high fashion inspiration and the one piece everyone should have in their stationery wardrobe.

GabbyDescribe the customer for this album.
Someone who truly appreciates the art of classic correspondence and values the fine beauty of hand-crafted stationery and the exquisite details that are inherent in Crane products.

Where did you draw inspiration from for this album?
Our objective with this album was to re-instate the true essence and feel of Crane Stationery with fine details and exquisite hand-crafted features that its products are known for. Continue reading

Stationery Wardrobe Tips for the New Graduate

For the new graduate, building a stationery wardrobe and learning how to use which types of correspondence when can be quite overwhelming, but, when mastered, quite rewarding. We often get emails asking which types of stationery a new graduate should have in his/her possession. In order of importance, we suggest the following three:

The correspondence card is a flat card that can be used for post-interview thank you notes. We recommend an ecru or white paper color with one’s full name printed at the top. Contact information such as email address and/or phone number can also be included. Your font and ink color should reflect your personal style, however keep in mind that this stationery will often be sent in a professional context. As a new graduate, letterpress or thermograph printing is preferable, as engraving may come across as too extravagant. (Treat yourself to the latter the day you receive a notable promotion.)

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Mum’s the Word: Stationery for Every Mother’s Day Style

crane momsCharming Mum: Letterpress Ecruwhite Calling Card
Business-minded Mum: Lettterpress Pearl White Calling Card
Royal Mum: Monogram Note with Border
Modern Mum: Letterpress Pearl White Tiverton Correspondence Card

Introducing Our New Flights of Fancy Collection

Let’s soar above the clouds and look down in awe at the world below. Inspired by all things that reach for the sky, our Flights of Fancy collection features elegant two-pass engraved motifs in a carefully curated color palette that bring visual and textile brilliance to each and every handwritten correspondence.

engraved hot air balloonEngraved Hot Air Balloon: With a flamed burst, one floats upward toward the heavens. The view takes the breath away, as does this engraved card from our Flights of Fancy collection, which features our elegant hot air balloon. Perfect for the correspondent who fancies unbridled leisure and adventure alike.
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Introducing Our New Tools of the Trade Collection

Inspired by all things crafted with care and love, our Tools of the Trade collection features intricately illustrated motifs in stately hues, letterpress printed on our Lettra paper to fashion correspondence that is rich in texture beyond compare.

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Letterpress Fountain Pen Card: Think. Write. Send. Repeat. Our letterpress printed card featuring a stately pen is the perfect choice for the stationery-adoring scribe.

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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.

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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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.