Monday, 8 November 2010

Short Week

We had a short week imposed on us by the lovely people at London Underground. They were striking from Tuesday evening till Wednesday evening. The last time this happened, last month, it took me almost 2 hours to do a journey that normally takes 20 minutes. And I mean 2 hours to get to the studio and then 2 hours to get back home. So I thought, as there is enough work to do on the copy for the website, think about the direction of the stationery business, working on the hieroglyphs book, (you get the picture) that it would make more sense to shut the studio on the Wednesday. This also meant leaving early on the Tuesday to avoid the rush as the strike was due to start at 7pm.

The thing about shutting for a day is you expect it to all run smoothly, like every other day and then the proverbial fan appears. London Business School called us in a panic asking for our assistance on filling in approximately 700 certificates. This is something we do every year for them, but this year there was a little bit of a mix up on the part of the print buyer. Clare called up and was so stressed I could not see how we could not not assist. She turned out to be good fun to deal with, despite the stressful situation. Unfortunately the late arrival of the certificates to the studio and the additional text that needed to be added, increased both the cost and the duration.


Sarah also came in with an envelope from Ruth at Ruth Kaye Design. Ruth is looking to get some writing on a kind of paper called ‘Skin’. So you can imagine what this feels like. I did some trials and left it overnight. The next day, the Tuesday, I came in and ran my finger over it, and it smudged. I did have some Dr PH Martins Spectralite Bronze and Copper, they both worked a charm but can only be used for formal script work. Usually it is the quick scripts that work all the time, but the problem here is the paper is coated and slick but the writing needs to be in a metallic colour.


Tuesday saw us rushing to leave but still had time for a visit from the wonderful Alyson Hurst from GFSmith. We have some plans on the table which I will talk about as they come closer to fruition. They are VERY exciting.

P1060290Sarah also reminded me that I needed to handwrite a letter to be copied and posted out to people who contacted us through Brides Magazine. I wrote the letter out and decided to put Sarah’s name on the bottom as she is the one who would have to deal with them in the end.

I thought it might be better if she didn’t have to sign all of them. And since the recipients would need to know who to ask for, writing her name out clearly was a better option.

Once they copies are made I will write the names in, still debating whether I should address the envelopes to correspond with the writing on the letter. Will decide when Sarah is back!

I work up on Wednesday and checked the email. We work off a Microsoft Exchange Server and the laptop at home is configured to the server so I can work from home. We also have Go To My PC so I can log in from anywhere in the world and check email (if the main studio PC is on!). Not sure if that is a good thing or not. I had about 10 urgent things to deal with, arrived via both email and phone calls to the mobile. It is always the way, no?

Rebecca at The Communication Store needed calligraphy on about 150 invitations and Lucy at Halpern also called to finalise a job for some last minute invitations for Tiffany’s. Needless to say, nothing could be sent to the studio as no one was in to receive it, so it all had to wait for Thursday morning delivery. Got some of what I needed to get done dealt with but no where nearly as much.

Thursday morning bright and early! Got in for 7:30 and started prepping for the day. Clare from LBS was bringing in some of the certificates for me to test the paper, a courier was on his way with all the certificates. Then things started to arrive. The invitations for Rebecca arrived (with a Versace logo on it) and Lucy’s invitations for Tiffanys came in immediately after. I had already stared to make a dent on LBS certificates. Then the box of stuff, birthday cards from Liberty arrived, and then Jess and Jo Malone called up for us to design a Pour Memoir card for them, as well as to talk about another invitation for the JM London – all to be done in our Small Capitals.


I had a wonderful surprise, Macki, who I used to work with at another event planning company called and is now at Family, dealing with a job for Annika at The Communication Store. I love reunions!

I did promise to document what happens when we start a job for stationery so here it is. The first thing we do is get the text. I then mix up some Process Black. This is a very dense black with wonderful contrast capacity. Problem is it takes very long to dry before we can put it on the scanner bed. Angelo scans it at 1200dpi, imports it into PhotoShop and does his magic putting it together. We have to find out size, weight and colour of card, if a gild or brushed edge is wanted and if envelopes are needed as well. We also need to check to see if the invitations will need names written on once they are printed, and if envelopes will need to be addressed as well. The reason for checking all of this, i.e. if calligraphy will be needed after the printing is completed, is to book it in so we know it needs to be done.


So this is what the initial thing looks like. I use Character High White Wove to write on as it is clean and crisp and does not create any unnecessary scanning problems. If I want something that is more artistic I would use my favourite Colourplan but it does have a tooth to it and make for more problematic scanning.

Once the ink is dry it is scanned and digitised. Working on an A5 template in PhotoShop, the text is then placed where we think it should go and we print if off to check the justification, centring and scale. Looking at it on the screen is no good, you need to see it for real. All of this I leave up to Angelo. Since his calligraphy practise is going so well, he has a much better understanding of letter spacing and placement. Far better than any graphic designer trying to use hand lettering for the same thing, except maybe Rachel at Mount Street!

The image then has to be sent to Mount Street with the necessary information for the printing and envelopes and then we play the waiting game – it usually takes about 4 working days to get an invitations litho (flat) printed. This is being done in black on oyster card, nice and simple! Will take a photo of the final product when it arrives next week as well as a mock up envelope, if we have to do one.

P1060306Once the Jo Malone text was completed and moved off the desk I had to do something known to gym bunnies as ‘SuperSetting’ which is where you work 2 or 3 different muscle groups at the same time. In this instance it was to do both the Tiffany invitations (on the left) and Versace invitations (on the right), in tandem. I started with the Versace ones but ran out of invites so while the bike was on its way with more I did the Tiffany ones. Once dry they were proof ready by Sarah and 2 mistakes were found on the Tiffany ones which needed correcting and then left to dry. With both jobs completed I went back to the LBS certificates.

Last week I promised to take some photos of envelopes done in decorative copperplate, these are only partial ones as they have friends addresses on them. I would never use this kind of over the top envelope work for clients as the cost would be too high. I would think somewhere in the region of £5.50 (10 words) plus something like a £5.00 supplement for the decoration and hatching. Hope you enjoy them.


The day ended with us saying Bon Voyage to Sarah as she heads off to her home in Sicily for a week, to clean up all that volcanic ash. It is always a slough when Sarah goes off as we all need to double up on work but makes us realise how important all the members of studio are. I always tell them there is no way I would be able to run this business without them. In fact, some people are happy when Sarah answers the phone and not me! Temperamental Artisans! Huh! Speaking of which, we had a call from Javier at By Appointment Only Design to do some placement envelopes and escort cards. To which was added Placecards and then table numbers, all this after the original order of stationery arrived so more had to be sent. Javier’s work will be done this week (8th of Nov) as the stationery for the last minute additions (placecards and table numbers) have yet to arrive.  

Friday saw Keiko and Angelo working away on separate things. Keiko on LBS certificates and Angelo on his caps, moving back to Italic with ‘The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog’ – every letter of the alphabet is in that sentence!

Friday was also the celebration of Divali, so took a card to the wonderful guys at Roti Joupa. They are from Trinidad as well and the food they make is great.

I stayed back late on Friday to continue with the tidying up of the studio.

Will post a special weekend blog as I know some visitors (other calligrpahers) are keen to see how the studio is coming along.

Thanks for reading. Now back to the LBS Certificates.

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