Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Design on the vine

There’s something about vineyards…
For many people, vineyards are associated with romance – after all, wine is a traditional symbol of joy, while vines traditionally symbolize life, abundance, and fertility. And isn’t that what we would wish for any couple taking the leap of faith to join together in marriage? So it’s no wonder that a vineyard, full of fruited vines inseparably intertwined, offered the perfect setting for the engagement of one California couple. Their unusual green and brown contemporary wedding invitation featured leaves and curving vines in the design.

Our mission: expand on the “vineyard” theme in creating a keepsake collage as a gift for this couple.
The single-layer invitation is mounted on swirled white vellum, textured chartreuse paper and a green shimmer paper with printed swirls and miniature flowers in brown and maroon. Bronze metal square brads anchor the invitation on the vellum layer. The background paper is a bohemian print of green and brown with a white swirled accent. A brown and gold embossed leaf-print paper tops the background layer. Under the invitation, the horizontal strip includes shiny brown textured paper, olive striped vellum and a knotted olive ribbon. Pulling the entire design together is an unusual brown felt dimensional lace with a leaf-and-vine design. The warm maroon/brown frame (not shown in this scan) finishes this unique framed invitation keepsake.

Were we successful?
When Purple Raincoat collages are ordered as gifts, we send scans or photos to our clients so they can see the results. Here’s what our client had to say about the final product: "I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!!! I'm sure (the bride and groom) will love it, too. You really brought out all the features of the invitation.”

And here is what my client reported after the wedding: "The happy couple loved your design. Here is her comment:

I LOVE your gift!! Thanks sweetie, that is such a cool gift as a memory keepsake too!"

Our best wishes to the bride and groom – may their cup overflow and may their hearts be forever entwined.

What can we design for you?

At Purple Raincoat, we are dedicated to preserving invitations by showcasing them in unique framed collages. No matter what the occasion, no matter what the invitation looks like, no matter what your design request – Purple Raincoat will do everything we can to fulfill your requests and create a one-of-a-kind keepsake that will be cherished forever. Come on, challenge us – we’re up for it. Check out our wedding and anniversary keepsakes portfolio and get inspired. Then visit our contact page and give us a call or send an email. We can’t wait to get started making something beautiful for you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Where have all the pressed flowers gone?

Although I would like to believe that Purple Raincoat invented the concept of framed invitation keepsakes, the truth is that people have been decorating and framing invitations for many years. One popular style, which has been around since at least the 1970s, involves using pressed flowers as decorations for invitations.

Crafting with pressed flowers first became popular during Victorian times. The creation of modern pressed flowers involves – no surprise here – the use of a flower press to flatten the flowers and remove all moisture. A pressed flower has a beauty all its own; for example, the pressed version may be richer in color, and have a different “geometry”, than the live version.

A beautiful dried pansy (in my favorite color, of course). You can see other examples of pressed flowers at the Pressed Flower Store.

Pressed flowers can be incorporated into invitations themselves – see how a pansy is used in this elegant invitation, one of a series of pressed flower invitations by Pressed Petals.

I think pressed flowers are beautiful and I think that many beautiful framed invitations have been made using pressed flowers. If that style appeals to you, that’s great. But it’s not my style. From my perspective, in many cases the floral designs are beautiful but it’s not always easy to see how the design are connected to the “tone” of the invitation.

One reason I started Purple Raincoat was my belief that each invitation uniquely reflects the personality of the person (or people) behind it. Consequently, each invitation keepsake should be uniquely designed to capture and preserve the spirit of that specific invitation. To achieve this, I use a broad range of materials including paper, ribbon, mesh, metal brads and eyelets, wire, buttons, skeleton leaves, and silk and fabric flowers. So far, no pressed flowers, but I promise to keep an open mind about incorporating them into my design should the right invitation come along.

I do love using flowers when they are appropriate to the spirit of the invitation. Here’s a recent Purple Raincoat wedding invitation keepsake that incorporates small pearl-centered silk flowers as well as a beautiful stephanotis floral accent.

The invitation itself has two layers of paper, white (with hunter ink) and navy. Beneath the invitation are a hunter green vellum, a textured glossy white paper, and an embossed navy paper. A subtle blue and green printed paper is used as the background, topped by a textured white vellum anchored by white metal accents. A vertical strip of textured green paper is accented with dark blue mesh. A double knotted piece of hunter green ribbon tops a horizontal strip of embossed white paper. White silk flowers with pearl centers decorate two corners of the invitation. The design of the framed invitation features a beautiful stephanotis bouquet as an accent. The washed blue frame softens and completes the design.

And take a look at the statement made by the large pink flower on the birth announcement featured on our homepage. Read more about this birth announcement and see many more examples of our work to get a better idea of what the Purple Raincoat style is all about.

The bottom line: Diffferent strokes for different folks

Just as some people like to listen to National Public Radio while others prefer oldies or current popular music, different styles of preserved invitations will appeal to different people. If you’re looking to preserve an invitation in a way that is unique, contemporary and timeless, and you’re not insistent on dried flowers, you’ve come to the right place – visit our ordering page to get started.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Please Mr. Postman, part II: "Deliver the letter, the sooner the better"

“How much is it going to cost to mail my invitations?”

That’s a question I often was asked when I designed and sold invitations. I always said, “there’s no way to know until you take a full invitation, complete with all inserts, to be weighed at the post office.” Unless you’re sending one folded piece of paper in a standard business (#10) envelope, determining the postage required for a mailing may be more of an art than a science. You’ve got to be persistent sometimes to get the “right answer” that will make sure your invitations reach their intended recipients in a timely manner.

One of my Purple Raincoat clients wanted to order personalized postage stamps for her daughter’s bat mitzvah invitations, so she took a “fully loaded” invitation to the local post office to find out how much postage was needed. The invitation fit into a standard invitation envelope but included several layers and multiple folds; the invitation also included a ribbon tied into a bow. The post office has different postage requirements for mail depending on its size, shape, thickness, and what is enclosed. My client was told that her invitation was “borderline,” meaning that it could qualify for one of two different postage requirements. A recommendation was made to go with the lower amount of postage and personalized stamps were ordered.

The invitations were mailed using the rate recommended by the post office. But a number of them were returned to the sender for “insufficient postage,” which meant considerable extra work for my client. Eventually, she negotiated a “compromise” with the post office – she added extra postage to mail going out of town, but the post office agreed to deliver the in-town invitations at no additional charge. That’s stress that no one needs during the preparation for any special occasion. All’s well that ends well, of course, and everyone told my client how much they loved the invitations, which were really beautiful. And she can laugh about it now. But it wasn’t much fun at the time.

Lessons learned:

When in doubt, use the highest amount of postage recommended by your post office.

• Be aware that unusual shapes – even squares – usually require “extra” postage. But don’t let that stop you from ordering the invitation you have your heart set on – the cost of postage is literally “a drop in the bucket” of your event costs, and there are other ways to save money if you’re watching your pennies.

• Also, remember that not all post offices are created equal, so you might want to get a second opinion if your invitation is diagnosed as “borderline” postage. Many people have had poor experiences with customer service at our local post office, so we choose to visit the post office in a neighboring town. To make absolutely certain you’re getting the right price, it may be smart to get estimates from more than one post office.

If you’re working this hard on your invitations, or you receive one with personalized postage, you’ll want to be sure the design is preserved and showcased in a Purple Raincoat collage. It’s the perfect answer to the question, “what would be a good gift?” because it is completely personal and can be ordered at a variety of price points. Consider this your invitation to visit our galleries of bar/bat mitzvah invitation keepsakes, wedding and anniversary keepsakes, and special event keepsakes. No postage required!