Aisle-hopping & window-shopping at National Stationery Show 2012

[Alyson Kuhn] The National Stationery Show is always a feast for the eyes. First, the grand buffet of booths: some arranged like shops, others curated like galleries. This year, some were pretty as parlors or enticing as treasure caves.

Marcia Ceppos runs Tinsel Trading, started by her grandfather in 1933. Shown at top: one zillionth of her cache of vintage ribbon, tinsel and other trims.

After the booth buffet, the main course: the merch itself. An embarrassment of riches if you are a retailer shopping for your customers — and a succession of endless distractions if you are me, always intrigued by the stories behind the products.

All that glitters: Wendy Addison in the Tinsel Trading booth. Long an avid customer, Wendy now offers her collections through Tinsel Trading — truly the perfect pairing of paper wizardry and vintage trims.

Lisa Geubtner Towne and Jen Pham-Corbett in their bluebird-of-happiness booth. Farewell Paperie’s tagline is as apt for the partners as for their products.

And for dessert, the fashionable frosting on the cake: the exhibitors’ ensembles. In coming weeks, we will publish interviews with the creators of selected products, along with a feature on extra-pleasing thank-you cards. Today, join us on a highly visual, lightly annotated tour of some of our favorite looks.

Art director Katrina McHugh in the Dauphine Press booth, which felt like a tea salon, complete with luscious letterpress-and-foil embellishments on tiered paper cakes.

My first visit to the Javits Center for the NSS was over two decades ago — when the show was bigger, letterpress was the exception, and “digital printing” wasn’t anything at all. This year, as I wandered the aisles, my path somewhat like that of a pinball in play, I thought a lot about the confluence of old and new — and, inevitably, about the wondrousness of paper.

Stephanie Monahan of Monahan Papers. The designs on these wraps (all printed on Mohawk, might we add) are based on her collection of family ephemera from centuries past.

Stephanie Monahan and daughter Elizabeth had a superb second year at the NSS. Their booth was a study — think British manor house — in ecru and black, with a bit of kraft. Every surface was covered in prints and patterns on paper and fabric — all created from old correspondence, documents and other family ephemera. (More, much more, about Stephanie Monahan in a feature next month.)

A rare dash of color from Monahan Papers. Stephanie calls these cards “pieced paper art,” combining floral designs from vintage correspondence and catalogs.

Brady Vest and Britta Rice of Hammerpress. They and their cards looked great on a blackboardy backdrop.

My handbag looks at home in the Hammerpress booth. Several exhibitors commented that my bag is Tangerine Tango — Pantone’s Color of the Year — but I think it’s a perfect match to Fiesta.

Speaking of orange, Sarah Almond of Shed Letterpress won my instant loyalty with her rattan-pattern thank-you card.

Sarah Almond, proprietress of Shed Letterpress, in the Ladies of Letterpress booth.

Lady of Letterpress Rondi Vasquez, proprietress of Sixpenny Press, on the opening day of her first NSS

The Ladies of Letterpress had a communal booth, and several ladies got delightfully dolled up. Rondi Vasquez’s Sunday best matched her freshly printed two-sided business cards to perfection. (Yes, you’ll get to see one later, but not today.) Although we couldn’t spot a speck of ink under her nails, she reveals, “The night before I had to board the plane for NY, I stayed up all night printing my new cards. I literally trimmed them, packed them, and drove to the airport. On the plane, I saw the red ink under my nails — and it made me smile. I know there are people who have a thing for nails and always check out people’s fingers. I’m just sunk with them.”

Annie Broderick (right) of Petal Press with booth angel (and childhood best friend) Walton Upchurch

Lady of Letterpress Annie Broderick was also a first-time exhibitor. I admired her cocktail attire and asked what she wears when she prints: “I normally print without an apron. I have much-loved jeans that are well splattered with ink, so they are my apron.” She adds, “I do not normally wear heels when I print.” After the show, I found this video on the Petal Press site, setting a new standard for printerly chic!


Filmmaker Jesse Goldstein’s glamorous glimpse of Annie Broderick, as happy as the seven dwarves on their way to work.

Petal Press’ bestseller was the Mason Jars card. Broderick observes, “Southerners and West Coasters were the most appreciative of my style. Shops in California placed the most orders.”

At the Chronicle Books booth, a great display of journals. It’s fun and fitting to judge these (mostly) blank books by their covers.

Speaking of California: Publisher Chronicle Books had a big booth full of, yes, books, and it was always bustling. It’s a treat to see a critical mass of Chronicle Books in a shop setting — they look so good together, and not just because of the eyeglasses logo on their spines.

An array of creative how-to photography books from Chronicle Books. Stickman (far right) was actually part of another grouping, but he hopped into this pic, and will hop into bookstores in October.

My favorite frock of the show belongs to Kara Yanagawa of Egg Press. Look how great it looks with Egg Press’ geometric wraps. Really, truly, goody.

Kara Yanagawa in the Egg Press booth, holding wraps she designed with Tess Darrow. The triangle grid pattern also comes on coasters and note cards and tags, oh my!

I asked Kara whether her dress was acquired recently, perhaps even especially for the Stationery Show. Here is the skinny on this second-hand gem: “My dress is by Piazza Sempione, and is two sizes too big, but I loved the print and the quality of the fabric and the garment itself. So the $26.50 price tag at the Buffalo Exchange here in Portland was a no-brainer.” Brava, Kara.

Thus concludes my, umm, unparalleled ramble through this year’s National Stationery Show. I’m proud to say I walked to and fro the show every day. But if I’d had a car, I would have gone out of my way to park at the lot shown below. Look and laugh (thanks to Michael Carabetta of Chronicle Books).

Share Post

Comments (2)

  1. Posted by Annie on 05.31.12 at 11:39 am

    Hooray for such fashionable and creative NSS stars! Thanks, Alyson, for a great post!

  2. Posted by Nancy Kuhn on 06.1.12 at 2:36 pm

    Just reading this post made me wish I had been there, great job! Nice to see paper is nowhere near obsolete….

Leave a Reply

[BLOG] Champions of Craft: Sebastian Cox: We know that materials matter, and the right materials can take a p... @feltandwire - View on Twitter
[BLOG] Inspiration, education + conversation: A Maker’s Field Guide to Texture and Color: The competition for... @feltandwire - View on Twitter
[BLOG] On The Wire: Designer to Watch, Mimi Kim: Today, guest blogger, Sarah Schwartz, editor of Stationery T... @feltandwire - View on Twitter
Submit a Topic or Article
We want to hear from you!
Send us your ideas for future articles, past inspirations, and present insights.
Submit a Topic or Article