‘Look at this cool paper loot,’ she exclaimed.

[Alyson Kuhn] This post is my salute-to-spring paper fling thing, showcasing my current favorite notecards and their colorful friends. The cards are so lively, I don’t even like to keep them closed up in their boxes. Some of them are companions to current books; others are vintage advertising images. 

Nurseryman’s Catalog notecards, Flower Set 1, from RIT Press. L to R: Chinese wisteria, Coccinea, Clematis Jackmanii.

The Cary Graphic Arts Collection at RIT Press is home to a series of late 19th-century plates printed by C.M. Search of Rochester for a nurseryman’s fruit and flower catalog. Imagine receiving this catalog by post, especially in the winter. Apparently, the printer was also the artist and “often used watercolors and a stencil process to produce his lush and evocative images of horticulture products.” The back of each card also includes the delightful original catalog description. Flower Set 1 is completed by a sumptuous red rose, the Duchess of Edinburgh: “A new tea rose from the south of France. Medium size, a free bloomer, and possessing the most delicate and lasting fragrance. Excellent for house blooming.” And sure to delight any flower-fancying correspondent.

Ornamental splendor: Vintage advertising elegance from the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at RIT

The three cards directly above are from RIT Press’ Will Bradley Series 1 assortment. Left and center are Bradley’s advertising posters for Ault & Wiborg, manufacturers of lithographic and “letter press” (yes, it was written as two words at the time) printing inks. Both posters are from 1902, and the type at the very bottom specifies the inks used to produce each. The one on the left was printed in seven colors; the one in the middle took eight. The card on the right features a page from “one of the rarest wood type catalogs of the 19th century,” Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, &c., manufactured by Wm. H. Page & Co. in 1874.

Woodcut, prints by Bryan Nash Gill, Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Speaking of wood type, Woodcut is Bryan Nash Gill’s exquisite distillation of 15 years of printing large-scale woodcuts of…wood. He doesn’t carve an image out of the wood; he sands and finishes the wood to bring out its rings, showcasing the natural beauty of the cross section. Gill’s preface drew me right in—I remembered fallen trees in Yosemite and Carmel and on Mt. Tamalpais. His interview at the end of the book is like a gallery talk that you don’t want to end.

Woodcut Notecards from Princeton Architectural Press

Verlyn Klinkenborg’s lyrical and insightful foreword provides food for thought. Just one example: “Seen in cross section, [humans] are a mess. Things would be very different if we absorbed time the way trees do, with such structural integrity, such an uncanny ability to preserve the year that’s just escaped but also to fold it away out of sight.”

Write a note. Take a walk. Breathe more deeply. (And I’m happy to report that these cards are great to type on.)

Speaking of walking, Paris in Color by Nichole Robertson completely transports me each time I open it. Robertson brilliantly presents her wonderful photos of Paris organized by color. She starts with noir (basic black), the color of wrought iron and chalk boards and classic spray paint. She moves on to bleu and then marron (French for chestnut). Followed by vert, orange, rose, violet, rouge, blanc and jaune.

Paris in Color by Nichole Robertson, Chronicle Books, 2012

Robertson’s photos are the next best thing to a great seat on a café terrace. Speaking of which, she includes shots of café rattan in: black, black-with-white and white-with-black, aqua, chocolate, green, orange, red—and great shots of molded plastic metro seats in orange and pink and purple…and slightly acidic yellow.

These petite notecards (3-3/4 x 4-3/4 in.) look a little Polaroid-like, what with their white borders. Very tempting to write a shorty caption underneath.

Robertson also zooms in on cheese and pastries, graffiti and signage, flowers and vehicles: beautifully painted Deux Chevaux, Vespas pretty enough to eat, a gorgeous aqua bicyclette.

Photographer Jennifer Causey takes us on a very different sort of tour of Brooklyn, in Brooklyn Makers: Food, Design, Craft, and Other Scenes from the Tactile Life. Over the past couple of years, almost every time I read a review of some lovely non-high tech enterprise, it turns out to be in Brooklyn—where I have never been. Causey offers exquisite consolation: fab photos of makers in action plus great mini-interviews.

Brooklyn Makers, 30 chats with makers and a bonanza of photographs, by Jennifer Causey. Princeton Architectural Press, 2012.

For example, Kari and Tyler Morris are brother and sister mixologists. At Morris Kitchen, they make specialty syrups—each amber glass bottle of which has a letterpressed label, complete with rubber-stamped date of bottling. In response to Causey’s request to describe a typical day at work, Kari says: “Juicing, labeling, shipping, bottling, and more juicing.”

A handful of my favorite photos from Brooklyn Makers

Let me tell you what you are looking at above. Top right: Sarah Ryhanen’s floral studio, Saipua, in a profusion of production. Bottom (L to R): Jennifer Sarkilahti’s inspiration board (for her jewelry line, Odette New York) looks like a still life; Michele Michael of Elephant Ceramics, with some of her tableware (which looks great with her clotheswear); a corner of the live-work studio of brothers Evan and Oliver Haslegrave (Their business, hOmE, is an anagram of their names and those of their younger sisters, Hadley and Morgan).

My current favorite quote in the entire book comes from James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee. In response to Causey’s query “What is the best part of working with your hands?” he says, “Having a tangible product is just the best. I love that coffee smells so good, tastes even better, is fun to make, is delicious, and makes us smarter, happier and more charming.”

If Freeman’s statement makes you want to make something—not necessarily a cup of inspiring coffee—how about hand-coloring a postcard, using the handy-dandy art kit below? Colored Pencil Postcards from Chronicle Books is one of the niftiest, giftiest boxed products I’ve seen.

Behind the instructional booklet in the right-hand window is a supply of postcards (10) made from Strathmore Watercolor cover. It’s heavy, it’s toothy, it’s ready….

I love colored pencils, but I tend to use mine like crayons—I just color things in. The booklet that comes with this kit shows techniques, introduces color relationships, and explains the importance of pressure.

Just add stamps, and you are good to go! 

Speaking of going, I am going slightly gaga for these brand-new creations from Mr. Boddington’s Studio. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up. We have the Every Day Notebook Collection, a set of three paperback notebooks with center-sewn binding. If I didn’t know better (and I might not), I’d say that the top notebook sports a cross-view of macaroons. Next, Every Day Eco-Notecards. Then, don’t faint (or cringe), a “five-year memory book” that is not what you think—or at least not what I thought.

It would be a towering achievement indeed if I managed to write in the Five-Year Memory Book.

Here is how it works: “To begin, turn to today’s calendar date, and fill in the year at the top of the page’s first entry (for which there are five lines).” So, after the preprinted 20, I would add 13. The next day, I would turn to the next page and fill in the year, and write my thoughts on the day’s doings. One year hence, on March 18, 2014, for example, I would write in 14 after the preprinted 20, directly beneath my entry for March 18, 2013. If I were to stick with it, I would have “a condensed, comparative record for five years” of “events most worthy of remembrance.” Since last week is already a blur, this seems like a good exercise. I am going to try it!

Mr. Boddington seems to have made his hand-lettering into a jaunty font—”Boddoni?” Bonne idée!

This almost concludes my show-and-tellethon. I have just one more point to make, about the exclamation cards below, both from RIT Press. They are letterpress printed from wood type in the Cary Collection. When I asked Amelia Hugill-Fontanel (the steward of the fabulous Adopt-a-Font initiative at the Press) just how big these exclamation points are in type terms, she wrote right back: “The larger one is 50 line—or 50 picas high—and the smaller one is 20 line. Multiply by 12, and you get the approximate point size: 600 pt. and 240 pt. It’s easy to do the conversion math—or you can get an app from the Apple store called ‘TypeCalc.'”

“These are the biggest punctuation marks I’ve ever seen,” she exclaimed.

Photos: 1, 2, 3, 15 © 2013 StudioAlex; 4, 5, 6, 10, 11 courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press; 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15 courtesy of Chronicle Books


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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by lee moody on 03.18.13 at 3:01 pm

    Y U M M Y ~ I want them all ! so cool ~

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