A little over a year ago, I wrote a piece on how cards can help build a stronger community. Pleasantries, I wrote, “have been previously defined on this blog as the hydrogen bonds of community building” which although “are not in themselves strong enough to hold a molecule together, but can still change the properties of elements such as water.” I argued that while they “might seem superficial, pleasantries—which do not, alone, create cohesion—strengthen an already present community, affecting the way it looks. Pleasantries, then, are an essential part of community building, even if they are not enough on their own to create a community.”
One such pleasantry identified was old school, paper-and-envelope, card writing. After all, “there is something to say about a handwritten card. Maybe it’s knowing that the card you are holding was specifically chosen for you by someone who took time and made the effort to either go to the store or order it online; maybe it’s the thought of how the card you are holding was held by the person who gifted it to you, or that the words you are reading were carefully put together and then just as careful transcribed. And that the person took the time to go through all of this in an increasingly busy world means even more.”
Since then, I have discovered so much more than I ever thought possible about cards. I still love Fox & Velvet, Anne Garrison Studio, and Cove Home, three great Etsy stores. And, if you are the kind that likes to make their own cards, I have also put together a Pinterest board filled with the ideas of some really talented people out there. I purchased a few sets of cards myself; during the process of reviewing them, I also learned that I really should take photography lessons, because I couldn’t do any of them justice.
Crane & Co has some of the most beautiful quality cards I have yet to see that are not over-the-top expensive. They typically use thicker cardstock on their cards, the envelopes are smooth to the touch and embossed with the company’s name, and the sizing is impeccable—as far as I know, you will never fight to slip a Crane & Co card into the envelope! Their simplistic designs make them much more readily accessible for a broad set of occasions. The Capital Flat Correspondence Cards are very easy to write on; all types of ink leave behind little to not bleeding and dry quickly. I use these cards for unique, super special occasions—weddings, births, the like—or more serious ones—death.
While I love almost everything Kate Spade has to offer, I feel that their stock is overpriced—including this gorgeous card set. The quality is excellent, although the card doesn’t slip as easily into the envelope as it does with the Crane & Co cards. The envelope’s yellow interior is a particularly appreciated touch. I use these cards for happy occasions—births and cancer remissions, for example.
Mint on Pink Blank Foldover Card, by Mudlark
I discovered the Mudlark brand at Papyrus and have used cards from their collection a few times over the last couple of years. They are typically printed on thick cardstock in vibrant colour which feels textured to the touch and usually come in a box like this. This same texture though that makes for a great sensory experience makes the cards a little difficult to write on except with felt tip writing devices. I’ve been using these cards when I want to show someone my gratitude for either something they did or for just being themselves.
Available at Chapters, Andrews + Blaine cards tend to be more modern and minimalist. The Hello notes I purchased make for great random mailings that I send to people just because I want to—usually people with whom I have had recent online conversations lasting hours and hours that I almost want to transfer into the material realm through this card. There are two things though that I don’t like about this particular set. The golden polka dots seem to have been stamped onto the thin cardstock, making circular impressions on the inside that requires an extra steady hand to navigate a pen around. Also, the paper is glossy and slippery, making the good old ballpoint pen the best option so us. I love that the envelope matches the peach colour of the font rather than the white of the card.
These were by far the cheapest cards that I purchased and I have to say, I got what I paid for. The envelope is so thin that almost all inks bleed through; the cardstock is so slippery card that it doesn’t take well all the inks I tried on it; and the print quality makes part of the card’s design look blurry. I’ve been using these cards for daily, almost routine thank yous, such as dropping off a homemade loaf.
It seems that Spr!tz cards might be a good balance between price and quality for those of us who cannot afford the higher range cards. The envelope is thick enough, the cardstock is sturdy enough, matte and easy to write on with pretty much any pen, the printing is clear—making for a card both affordable and a pleasure to send.
There you have it! Some thoughts on the cards I have been using in the last year. I’m also looking into reviewing the experience of card-writing, so stay tuned for that post in the coming months!
First published on 24 February 2016 Sahar’s Blog.