Thursday, February 28, 2008

Calligrapher to the stars – now available to you

The question of how to address invitation envelopes came up often when I was an invitation dealer. I told my clients they had several options:

Address the invitations yourself by hand or using a computer. This generally is the least expensive option.
Order invitations from a company that will deliver them with the guest addresses already printed on the envelopes – not the least expensive but probably the most very convenient.
Hire a calligrapher, which is generally the most expensive option.

For my daughter’s bat mitzvah I considered yet another option (otherwise known as "a crazy idea"): learning calligraphy so I could address them myself. A friend who is an accomplished calligrapher assured me that it was a matter of tools and techniques that I could learn despite the fact that I have terrible handwriting. So I took a class and learned that there are some skills best left to the professionals. I gained a new respect for calligraphers, and began to evaluate the options for our own event.

This collage features my daughter's bat mitzvah invitation. I drew my inspiration from the orchid ink and the beautiful marble envelope lining, rich with shades of purple and gold. The linings from two envelopes were pieced together to create the first layer under the invitation.

Fortunately, we had ordered a Checkerboard invitation, and Checkerboard was just introducing its “EasyAddressing “envelope addressing service. I didn’t want to recommend this to my clients without proof that it worked, so I used myself as the guinea pig. Following instructions, I submitted the list online and waited for the invitations. I speak from experience when I tell you that it was fabulous to have the invitations arrive all addressed and ready to go.

Checkerboard offers more than 600 fonts, and you can use any of them for your guest addresses. So it offers one of the advantages of calligraphy – having your envelopes addressed in a beautiful font (whether or not it matches the font used on your invitation).

Now Checkerboard is making the advantages of calligraphy more widely available – and not just for addressing the invitations. They have a gorgeous new line of invitations created by world-famous calligrapher Maria Thomas. To create these spectacular invitations, “your names or monogram are personally penned by Maria Thomas to create a unique calligraphic piece of art. This hand-lettered art is combined with a custom font chosen by Maria to complete your design.” And of course, “matching motifs by Maria are available to embellish your envelopes.”

Wow. These are just jaw-droppingly beautiful. If you're in the market for a truly personalized wedding invitation, this is the place to go. And if you're on the receiving end of one of these invitations, you can be sure that turning it into a framed keepsake will be a unique gift that will be very much appreciated. Visit and let us create something spectacular that will honor the invitation and be the perfect touchstone for memories of that special wedding day.

Maria’s bio notes that she has designed custom wedding invitations for the Trump family as well as for Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. So the same pen that creates invitations for celebrities is now available to create an invitation for you. How cool is that?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Do you have Educated Tastes?

At Purple Raincoat, we believe in giving back. There are so many wonderful organizations doing great work, and nothing feels better than being a part of a cause that’s close to your heart. That’s why I’m proud to be working with the Lexington Education Foundation (LEF), an organization dedicated to enhancing educational excellence for students and teachers in the Lexington, MA public schools.

Each year, LEF hosts the “Educated Tastes” (ET) fundraising gala, a festive evening that includes sampling food from local restaurants and caterers, plus live and silent auctions. Our auction committee works hard all year to gather unique and highly desirable auction items. You may not be able to sample the food in advance, but you don’t have to wait to check out the ET auction items: for the first time, all of the silent auction items are available for viewing online at This would not be possible without the website design efforts of students and teachers at Lexington High School, who have done a magnificent job in helping us spread the word about our auction.

Please visit the website to browse the silent auction items – there’s something for nearly every taste and budget, from vacation homes to Red Sox tickets to cooking lessons to jewelry. Included among the auction items is a Platinum keepsake collage donated by Purple Raincoat – and as you know Purple Raincoat collages make great gifts for all occasions. You’ll find lots of other great gift ideas (Mother’s Day will be here before we know it) as well as gifts you may want to give yourself (clothes, makeovers, a night on the town…).

This year’s event will be held on March 2, 2008 at the Boston Marriott at Burlington. There’s plenty of time to develop a bidding strategy before March 2, and to check your calendar to see if the available dates for your favorite item fit your schedule. We’ll be adding the live items soon, to whet the appetite of those who will be there. It’s sure to be a wonderful evening, and we hope you can join us – you can still order tickets through the website.

Even if you can’t attend, you can bid on these exciting silent auction items. “Outside” bids will be accepted on these items by phone or email from Monday, February 25 through Friday, February 29th; bidding instructions are on the website. Good luck – you may be a winner!

Are you involved as a volunteer with a local charity? Here’s a great idea – if your organization is holding a major event, there’s probably an invitation associated with it. Are you honoring someone? If so, give them a framed keepsake by Purple Raincoat to help them remember the occasion. Have you been the chair of a successful event? A Purple Raincoat keepsake collage will bring back memories of that special day.

No matter what the special occasion, Purple Raincoat can create the perfect gift. Visit us at and see what we can do for you. Then get in touch with us so we can get started.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What’s cream and black and red all over?

Happy Valentine’s Day! Because this is the day when roses and the color “red” rule the world, I thought I would share a collage that takes a simple cream and black invitation and kicks it up several notches by adding red roses.

When I was gathering papers for this collage, I came across some gorgeous red rose printed paper by Stemma. The roses on the paper are so vivid you can almost smell them.

Previously, I had worked with white, pink, and yellow rose paper, but I had never seen red rose paper, and I was drawn to it immediately. The dark tones of this paper just seemed to complement this invitation, so I decided to be bold and "go red" with this keepsake.

Along with the red rose paper (see it in the lower left corner), textured paper in various shades of cream, red, and black are incorporated into the design. Texture and dimension are added by the unusual "fabric" paper with the red, black and gold floral print, the beaded cream paper, black ribbon, satin flowers, and gold and black skeleton leaves.

Sometimes, people tell me they don’t want to have Purple Raincoat create a collage because they receive an invitation that they think is “too simple” or even “ugly.” I say that just as all babies are beautiful in their own way, all invitations have “inner beauty” that doesn’t always shine through until put into the right context. And that’s what Purple Raincoat can do, no matter what the invitation looks like.

And here's something I learned today about St. Valentine: "He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people." According to the same source, "saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural." So if you need a miracle in any of these areas, now you know who to ask.

On MSNBC, Keith Olberman just mentioned the beekeepers and as he noted, maybe that's why we call each other "honey". Have a sweet day.

Purple Raincoat
collages make any day a sweet day. Visit us at to see samples of our unique collages, which make the most memorable gifts.

Monday, February 4, 2008

It's all about fonts, for a change

Will the presidential nominees be decided by their choice of font?

One of the most important thing I learned in my years of designing and selling invitations is that the choice of font contributes enormously to the emotional impact of an invitation. As I always told my clients, “fonts have feelings.”

Using a font that looks like a ransom note, for example, may be appropriate on a surprise birthday invitation but probably wouldn’t be right for a wedding or a retirement party. Fonts that are straight up feel different than slanting fonts - look at the difference between regular Georgia (that's the font used on this blog) and Georgia in italic, for example. Similarly, an invitation in a very formal and intricate script-type font will have a different feeling than the same invitation with a newspaper-type block font.

Bat Mitzvah Framed Keepsake 12x12
This invitation successfully combines a block and script font. See more samples of bat mitzvah invitations at

So what does this have to do with the presidential election?

The emotional connection that people make with fonts undoubtedly was considered by each of the major candidates for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations in designing the graphics for their campaigns. A few days ago, the Boston Globe published an analysis of the candidates' logos to see which fonts were more effective in promoting the idea of “change,” something that has been embraced by so many of the candidates as a central theme of their campaigns. This fascinating assessment, written by Sam Berlow and Cyrus Highsmith of The Font Bureau, highlights the subtle and not-so-subtle influence of the chosen fonts on how voters decide which candidate to support.

The presidential race is evolving so rapidly that several of the candidates mentioned in the article are no longer in the running. Who knows what impact the fonts in their logos had on their lack of success in winning the nomination?

So on the eve of Super Tuesday, I thought it would be interesting to pass along their article, which draws an interesting conclusion: “If we were to predict the results based on typography and design, we would pick McCain and Obama.”

By Wednesday morning, we will have a great deal more evidence of how accurate their analysis is.

If you’re in a state with a primary election tomorrow, don’t forget to vote! And if you’re still undecided, maybe this information will help you make your choice.

Looking for a unique gift? Turn to Purple Raincoat, where we are experts at creating the gifts that people will be talking about. Visit us at to see what we can do for you.