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Greeting Cards

Design

Handmade Paperback Valentines

February 1, 2012

There is nothing more special than a handmade gift from the person you love, especially on Valentine’s Day. I wanted to get especially crafty this year and upcycle a valentine. I found some great inspiration in Playing with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing and Reimagining the Book by Jason Thompson of Rag & Bone Bindery. Equipped with scissors, a glue stick, double-stick tape and a couple of old books my neighbors were throwing away, I got to work!


I loved the idea of making my own envelope. Why not make the package as special as the card? We take so much care when wrapping a present and cards can be given with as much excitement. Instead of opening up an envelope to use as a template as the book suggests, I found a template online. I resized the image in Word and was able to make as many different sizes as I liked.


The Origami flower was so much fun to make and turned out to be so pretty. I think they would be great to tuck away a bunch of these flowers in small corners of your home with sweet messages for your Valentine to find throughout the day.


Since I usually plan a present for my beau, I also decided to craft a bow from an old book. After my first sloppy attempt I realized this craft really needed double-stick tape like the book called for instead of my glue stick. I used pages from a colorful catalog and I am so excited with the way it turned out.

Are you planning a handmade Valentine’s Day?

The Uncommon Life

Why Do We Send Valentines? 10 Uncommon Facts About Valentine’s Day

January 26, 2012

Valentine’s day is a pretty special day. Whether you’re lucky in love, celebrate with single friends, or share the day with family members, you likely have something planned for February 14.

But, why is the occasion so important? Here are a few fun facts about St. Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Cupcakes, photo by Dyanna

Who is this St. Valentine guy, anyway?
Today, the Catholic church actually recognizes three saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. Each St. Valentine was martyred.

So, which one is the St. Valentine of St. Valentine’s Day?
Legend has it that the St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. The emperor at the time, Claudius II, decided that single men made better soldiers, not having their hearts promised to special someones and all. So, ol’ Claud outlawed Marriage. Valentine didn’t agree with the emperor’s rule and went around marrying folks anyway. Eventually, Valentine got caught and Claudius sentenced him to death for his defiance.

What does that have to do with cards and flowers?
Some believe that the St. Valentine fell in love while he was imprisoned and sent letters to his lover before he was martyred. Others say that another Valentine is responsible for ‘Valentines.’ Either way, the legend says that a man named Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter while in prison. She secretly visited him in captivity, and before he died he wrote her a letter signed, “From your Valentine.”

21746_love_carries_all

Does that mean that Valentine’s Day is the biggest greeting card day of the year?
Not quite! Christmas is still the number one there. More greeting cards are sent on Christmas than any other day, but Valentine’s Day comes in second place.

Why is Valentine’s Day on February 14?
This is another question that’s answer has been argued over the years. Some folks say it’s because St. Valentine died in mid February. Other’s claim that it has to do with the ancient Roman Lupercalia festival, which took place on Feb. 15. The festival marked the start of spring and celebrated fertility.

Did the ancient Romans give each other Valentines?
Not exactly. The Lupercalia festival started with the sacrifice of a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. Boys would slice the goat’s hide into strips, dip them in sacrificial blood, and and run around slapping women with the goathide strips. The women actually welcomed the slapping, because it was believed being touched by the sacrificial strips made them more fertile.

How else did they celebrate?
After the slap-fest, women would enter their names in an urn. The men would then draw names from the urn to chose the women they would be paired with for the upcoming year. These pairings often resulted in marriage.

Interesting tradition! So, that ended with the Romans?
Yes and no. While the custom of using a “lottery” to pick marriage partners didn’t last, the tradition did, in a way, live on. In England in the middle ages young men and women drew names to choose their Valentines. Then, they would pin the name to their sleeve. It’s believed that the term “wear your heart on your sleeve” comes from this custom.

hearts, photo by Barbtrek

How did our modern traditions come about?
While the oldest known Valentine still in existence is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415, Valentine’s got a boost in popularity when Massachusetts native Esther Howland started selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the 1840s.

And that brings us to today…
Now, the average American spends about $100 on Valentine’s Day gifts, meals, and entertainment each year. As for cards, about 85% of those are sent by women. That isn’t saying that men don’t appreciate their Valentines. 73% of Valentine’s Day flower purchases are made by men.

Of course, flowers and cards aren’t the only way to celebrate this day of love. We have all kinds of gifts to help you make Valentine’s day extra special for the love of your life!

Sources: History.comWomen’s Day, About.com

Design

The Search Is Over

December 1, 2011

In November we put out the call for hand-printed holiday cards, and of the dozens that entered, we picked 14 beautifully letterpressed and silk-screened cards we thought would be perfect for holiday shoppers. By Cyber Monday, these 14 finalists had received almost 4,000 votes and it was time for the judges to pick a winner from the top five.

The moment guest judge Melinda Morris picked up Dolce Press’ Word Search Holiday Cards, she knew the search was over.

Senior Graphic Designer Rebecca Paull Marshall agreed.

Melinda, co-owner of Lion in the Sun, a custom card and paper shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, loved the Word Search cards for their broad appeal. Who doesn’t love puzzles?

And voters agreed, saying these cards would be perfect for all ages and all holiday celebrations. One voter said, “WOW these cards are awesome! It’s always really hard for me and my wife to find cards that work for Hanukkah and Christmas, these ones definitely do the trick.”

Rebecca, who studied letterpress at the San Francisco Center for the Book, was impressed by their technique. She liked how you could feel the grooves of the letterpress in each card, because it’s a great reminder of the skill and art that goes into making them. “The letterpress added a level of sophistication to the simplicity of the game,” Rebecca added.

Alex of Dolce Press told us, “We like to keep things simple.” And it’s true! We love the clean and modern look of the Word Search cards.

But don’t let that fool you. Each card is hand printed on a Vandercook Cylinder Proof Press and each color is printed one at a time using hand-mixed inks, that allow Alex and her colleagues to achieve colors that don’t exist in the Pantone spectrum. Plus the cards come in an cleverly hand-printed box.

If you can’t wait to share these cards with friends and family, they are now available! Don’t worry, each set comes with an answer key, so your friends and family won’t be stumped for too long!

Design

Comments of the Week: Holiday Card Design Challenge!

November 25, 2011

We’ve been getting into the holiday spirit, and our Holiday Card Design Challenge is helping to make the season bright! We selected our favorite screen printed and letterpress designs and now our semi-finalists are up for voting. There’s still time to leave your feedback and cast your votes for your favorite messages of holiday cheer, but first, check out what our community is saying about these festive greeting cards!

Semi-finalist Laurie Okamura’s Porcupine and Reindeer cards, for example, are getting some great feedback.

While Lisa and Mary Margaret love the designs, they see these cards working better for another holiday.

Clara, however, thinks they’re perfect for a special couple on Christmas.

Rebecca also expresses love for the designs in our voting app this week, but isn’t a fan of the estimated prices.

After seeing this comment on her Fa La La La La & Pa Rum Pum Pum cards, artist Katie Daniels stepped in to say a few words about her process.

Many voters, such as Elinore, agree that handmade cards are worth spending a little extra.

Barbara expressed a similar sentiment for for Blackbird Letterpress’ Yuletide Yeti.

We totally agree, and can’t wait to find out which design wins! Would you send these little pieces of art to your loved ones this year? Visit our community voting app before Monday, November 28 at Midnight to help us pick which designs will go on to the final round. The top five cards with the most votes will be presented to our judges for the opportunity to win $500 and a vendor contract with UncommonGoods.

Happy voting!

The Uncommon Life

Why Letterpress?

October 26, 2011

If you haven’t heard yet, we’re hosting a holiday card challenge this year! Entries are due November 11, and you lucky shoppers, will be able to pick up fabulous handmade holiday cards this December to go along with your holiday orders.

Why handmade?

Today, everything’s going digital, but in the world of cards and print, we’re seeing a resurgence in traditional print techniques like letterpress, offset lithography and screen printing.

We want to celebrate this revival of one-of-a-kind handmade cards, and offer you the chance to send a really special season’s greetings to the folks you love. Printing cards on a letterpress, or using any traditional printmaking technique, is labor intensive. But when you hold a one-of-a-kind card in your hands, you know the work has paid off.

Toronto based Trip Print Press was featured on NOTCOT last week. Here’s a bit more about what they do.

Trip Print Press & The Making Of FreshSox from Brought To You By … on Vimeo.

Know a printmaking enthusiast? Spread the word, and tell everyone you know: holiday card entries are due November 11!

The Uncommon Life

Say What?

September 29, 2011

Shana Tovah! Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. We blow the shofar (ram’s horn), eat apples and honey as well as a ton of other food (like on all other Jewish holidays). Copywriter Nina Mozes offers tips for how to celebrate the first day of the new year with a thoughtful card.


Turns out, it’s pretty impossible to write a Jewish card without being stereotypically Jewish.

For example:

Happy New Year. May this year make you feel like complaining only a little bit.

That’s the card I’ll be giving my parents. Here’s the one I expect from them:

Happy New Year. Maybe this year will be a good year and you’ll make lots of money. And then you can move out of the house, marry a nice doctor and give us grandchildren.

If that’s too over-the-top for you, try a punny joke:

A congregation member walks into synagogue and asks the rabbi, “How is your New Year going?” The rabbi replies, “Shofar, sho good.

Thanks. That one’s all me.
(Look, I admit it’s not Torah-fic. I know better than to gefilte fish for a compliment.)

Have a happy and a healthy!

Have your apples and honey with a twist:
Giro Apple Slicer

If you get the clip, the money will come:
Yiddish Proverb Money Clip

No one says no to a little spiritual bling:
Shalom Necklace

The Uncommon Life

Say What?

September 20, 2011

Friend coming up on a big birthday? Are you? Copywriter Nina Mozes offers tips for how to congratulate that special someone who’s entering the fourth decade of life.


Everyone thinks that 30th birthdays are touchy. But I did my research, and it turns out it’s bogus. In fact, turning 30 is kind of awesome (it’s 40, 50 and 60 that can be the real bummers).

I’m 25, and, as far as my older friends are concerned, still in diapers. But at 24, I plummeted into quarter-life crisis mode: “I’m 24, which means I’m almost 25, which means I’m almost 30, which means my window to be young and successful is rapidly closing.”

Roll your eyes at me, go ahead – but when US Open Tennis Champions, Lady GaGa and Mark Zuckerberg are your age, it’s easy to feel like an underachieving 20-something. (On the flip side, Lindsay Lohan and I share a birthday, which kind of puts it all in perspective.)

So while I still secretly hope to make millions and/or achieve unprecedented success in the next five years, I admit that strangely, I’m looking forward to turning 30.

Sure, turning 30 means that weddings are on the rise (and divorces), and baby showers are popping up – and I think we all agree that watching your selfish friends put someone else’s needs before theirs is a bizarre experience.

But here are the facts: maybe you have better hair and muscles in your 20s, but your self esteem is much lower, as is the preoccupation with figuring out your identity. So when you present your friend with a fun gift and card, don’t give them a “but look on the bright side” note, tell them straight up what they have to look forward to. Pull from the following examples:

1. You figured out what you wanted to do in life and can now spend time actually living your life.
2. You have more money now than you did in your twenties.
3a. For a guy: You now make enough money to successfully date women in their 20s.
3b. For a woman: Your sex drive is way better in this decade.
4. This is the decade where having it all together and having freedom will intersect the most. Before this, you were clueless. After this, you’ll have kids or aging parents.

And if you just can’t help yourself:

1. You can use the word “early” in front of “30s” when describing your age.
2. When people ID you, it will begin to feel like a compliment.
3. You can get away with more stuff, because people think you are now too old to be irresponsible.
4. You can start to say “When I was your age” and not sound like a total jerk.
5. You can justify technological purchases like the new iPad as necessities to pave the way for professional ladder climbing and keeping up with social media trends.
6. If you gain weight, you can blame it on a changing metabolism.
7. At least you’re not turning 40.

Game-changing gifts for a game-changing birthday:

Can’t bring yourself to the party? Bring the party to you.
Beer Making Kits

Accessorize to emphasize your youth.
Crocheted Bow Headphones

If your life is all business, try some stow-away desktop fun.
Desktop Bowling

The Uncommon Life

Say What?

September 14, 2011

We all screw up. But men do it more. Well, at least they’re the ones saying “sorry” all the time. Copywriter Nina Mozes offers tips for guys to give that apology a ring of sincerity.


So guys, here are a few tricks to imbue your present apology with staying power for as long as it takes you to mess it up again.

This phrase is universally recognizable:
“I don’t want you to do the dishes, I want you to want to do the dishes,” she said.

And then the guy says, “Who wants to do the dishes?!”
And then the girl says, “That’s not the point! Tonight you’re sleeping on the couch!”
And then the guy says, “Baby I’m sorry. Do I still have to sleep on the couch?”

OK, maybe that’s just rough dialogue from the movie The Breakup, but don’t tell me you don’t recognize it from real life.

Now here’s where Vince Vaughn went wrong: he tried to apologize without having any idea what he might or should be sorry for.

That’s step 1:
If you don’t know why you’re sorry, either:
a. Pretend you do, or
b. FIGURE IT OUT.

Pick a line to write in the card:
a. I see how my actions hurt you, and I’m very sorry.
b. You’re so totally crazy, but I’ve come around to your irrationality and apologize for triggering it.

Vince should have taken responsibility for his carelessness and pledged to do better in the future.

In one of these ways, Step 2:
a. I could have handled the situation better, and from here on out I plan to be thoughtful of your needs and to think about the ramifications of my decisions.
b. It’s totally your fault, but now I know what pisses you off and there is no way I’m going to let you unleash that wrath again.

And of course, no apology is successful without an attempt to buy someone’s love.

Like buying lingerie, here’s a gift for her that’s really for you:
My Phone is Off for You Handkerchief

Nothing says “I’m cool with you moving in now” like a place to put her toothbrush:
Black Nickel Bathroom Holders

A stamp that literally says “I apologize” doesn’t replace the card, but it sure helps says “I’m thinking ahead to my future mistakes and saying sorry for my past ones.”
I Sincerely Apologize Message Stamp

Next time just don’t screw up in the first place.

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