Meet Sarah Bentley, founder of pop-up coffee and correspondence spot Snail Mail Café. The Brooklyn resident’s goal is to one day open a permanent space where letter writers can take pen to paper—and indulge in an ice cream cone (or two). Here, Sarah talks to us about blank cards, commemorative stamps and how letters are a lot like (good) food.
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…
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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
Another eclectic assortment…
- I Am Lion, Hear Me Roar!
- Girls can, too.
- Wonderful robotic world of bionics
- My Passion for Handwriting
- Theosone: custom lettering practise and brush pen calligraphy
- Pure Pens stocks Noodler’s in the U.K.
- Ed Jelley, Cheerleader for Field Notes (Brought to you by the color orange.)
- The Well-Appointed Desk: Who’s Notebook
- Fahrney’s: Kristen Stewart is a pen geek.
- China’s year of the horse – in pictures
- 10 deadly foods you probably have in your kitchen
- Proof that it only takes three
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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…
Crane & Co. has been advising enthusiasts of classic correspondence for more than a century. In our archives is proof of this: petite, elegantly covered books boasting topics such as “Visiting Cards for Men” and “Country House Stationery.”
Some advice — the importance of thank you notes, the use of “honour of your presence” for a church wedding to name a couple — has proved timeless. Other advice, however — addressing wives who are also medical doctors, a brides’s monogram using a hyphenated last name — has been added, updated and, sometimes, scrapped altogether.
While we value tradition, we also embrace the kind of change that still feels correct and special. And so when online invitation purveyor Paperless Post approached us to partner on a collection of wedding stationery suites, we made sure that every design was a perfect blend of the online invitation company’s fresh, modern aesthetic and our timeless, classic elegance.