Party Basics, Style Recipes and
Favorite Sources for Special Occasions

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July 15, 2008: Maria Reviews the Fancy Food Show

June 24, 2008: Outdoor Celebrating

June 13, 2008: Maria Reviews the NY Stationery Show

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Notable Collections

OblationPapers.com - letter press printers own their own urban-based paper mill that recycles garment industry remnants, pulping and printing to control their carbon footprint.

MrElliepooh.com - promotes their products as "sustainable and healing" promoting fair trade business practices with third world communities. One product in their line, elephant dung paper, has been pulped by elephant digestion, texturally it's similar to other handmade papers.

SmockPaper.com - letter presses only on bamboo paper, a brand new product for eco-stationers to embrace. The world's fastest growing plant grows without pesticides and very little water. The paper was creamy and I loved the printed envelopes liners.

CatbirdPaper.com - has fabulous printed envelope liners, another chic trend.

EnidWilsonStudio.com - hand dies cotton fiber papers with textile dye to create color-saturated paper stock that looks handmade, especially when letter pressed with graphic block cut prints.

JulieHolcombPrinters.com - this letter press pioneer pushes the design envelope in a fresh direction with a beautiful collection of archival quality giclée printed photographs that are duplex mounted with pristine letter press invitations.

Envelopments.com - Mix-and-match offset printed card stock and basics available through retailers. Plant improvements include more windows to utilize day light, sensors to turn off lights when rooms are empty, employee friendly amenities to encourage less driving.

Eco-friendly Vendor Boasts:

> Little or no VOCs ( volatile organic compounds)
> Paper made with post consumer waste
> FSC approved (Forest Stewardship Council)
> Fair trade
> Recycled or recyclable packaging
> Made with alternative energy sources
> Handmade and human powered
> Reduced, reused, recycled
> Conscientious marketing
> Eco-smart plant design

Stationery Show Review

May 18 - May 21: The Stationery Show and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair took over Jacob Javits selling next year's fashion to buyers and the press. My report:

The letterpress explosion continues! Walking the thousands of yards to cover the annual stationery show in New York City last week finds this pre-industrial printing technique, an obscure craft a little over ten years ago, totally flooding the marketplace. Designers and printers presented note cards, book marks, tags, coasters, calendars, place cards, table numbers, tiles, books, and of course event and wedding invitations. Letter press is a hand-cranked technique that pushes type into sheets of paper creating an embossed result that has to be felt to be truly appreciated. Although the printing process is virtually unchanged since Gutenberg perfected it centuries ago, contemporary artisans offering modern mixes of type styles and inks have been revitalizing this craft. Riding the trend, Crane & Co., the venerable engravers (instead of using individual letter type, a metal plate is engraved to create the finished print) have added even more letter press options to their collections, my favorite were the initial note cards. The NY show even drew the premier letterpress printer from Australia (ChapelPress.com.au) looking to break into the American market.

The letter press craze has non-letter press printers jumping on the letter press bandwagon with design styles that mimic letter press using wallpaper designs, mid-century mod prints and graphic lettering in colorful combinations.

The saturated stationery category has compelled printers to distinguish their designs, business practices and paper stock. The grooviest bandwagon, with very good reason, is eco-sensitive, the scramble is on to define brands as greener than thou.

My Favorite Combinations

Clever color combinations, graphics and unusual papers that stood out in the market place:

PressNewYork.com -great prints, love the directional gray and yellow designs.

DauphinePress.com -wallpaper jacquards, love yellow, red, brown, gold and green designs.

DelphinePress.com -there are turquoise and lime designs.

Maginating.com - hot pink giraffe letterpress patterns make great bridesmaid party invites. (See image just below.)

BlueRibbonDesign.com - contemporary florals, pairing black and pink, gray and pink, yellow and pink designs.

BirdDogPress.com - letter press coasters in graphic patterns sold by bakers dozen.

SparkStationery.com - letter pressed cardboard note cards.

NightOwlPaperGoods.com - yellow birch cards are flexible, durable, break resistant wood post cards printed with Scandinavian-inspired prints or left blank for custom designs.

AlbertinePress.com - note cards are letter pressed with a charming collage of vintage postage stamps.

Papeterie.ca - markets made-in-India embossed envelopes with tassles, embossed die-cut flower stickers.

ThreeDesigningWomen.com - coins a new word, instampables: Affordable offset printed decorative paper note cards and gift tags, with blanks for customizing with self-inking rubber stamps.

Abstationers.com - where engraving still reigns! 4- and 6-ply papers offer bespoke appeal.

ElumDesigns.com - mid-century style mod prints are blind embossed (no ink used) then letter pressed with copper and smoke lettering. (See image just below.)

Party Goods

CardBoardDesign.com - Tables, vases and platters made from 100% recycled cardboard. (See image at the top.)

PaperOrchidStationery.com - Laser-cut (the other hot technique of the season) cup-cake wrappers and charming peek-a-boo laser-cut favor boxes look like lace. (See photo on the left.)

Mmckenna.com (ICFF) - Sells a rechargeable LED flashlight, a metallic disc and a glass dome under the name Bettylou to turn any glass you own into a lamp.

SuburbanSilk.com - Well-crafted silk boxes, folios and envelopes are available in 60 solid color options or in 16 prints. Add on embellishments include embroidered monograms, jeweled brooches, shells and buttons.

PinkLovesBrown.com - Colorful paper suitcases and gift boxes are great for welcome gifts for out-of-town guests at weddings.

Tallu-lah.com - Printed paper place mats are sold with optional imprintable paper napkin bands.

PeacockCalligraphy.com - Computer generated calligraphy printed on 100-pound card stock for party stationery from place cards to table numbers. Expect a 5-day turnaround for envelopes, 3-days for place cards. Only 99 cents for outer envelope or $1.49 for two envelopes.

AngelAliguori.com - Italian cotton ribbons, the tight weave can be imprinted with rubber stamps, the embroidered alphabet brocade ribbon repeats a single initial.

CharlesandMarie.com - A collection of all things clever and smart. Including parchment shades to fit over wine glasses, just add a tea light for elegant candlesticks and dish washable Italian baroque plastic cutlery in transparent emerald, amethyst, ruby and sapphire.

GirlMetro.com - 10" square letter press tiles, to retail at $10 each, are fabulous as table runners, placemats and tray liners.