Gotta pen?

The pen is the tongue of the mind. Horace

It may have rolled under the seat of your car, is hiding in the gadget drawer in your kitchen or settled into a dark corner of your handbag but when you need a pen, there is no substitute. Despite our fascination of all things shiny and new, the basic pen is a tried and true favourite tool.  When it comes to recording history, sharing thoughts, committing our future on a document, or creating art, we tend to reach for a pen.

The utility of pens flows into the very fibre of our lives.  We create with pens filled with fabulously coloured inks. We give pens at special moments to mark coming of age, accomplishments, and social occasions. Pens can become family heirlooms based on ownership and the writing they produced. Pens have re-surged as tiny perfect canvases for design offering an exciting array of choices and that is before you even pick them up to write. Along with power suits, pens can be a strategic fashion accessory.

Other tools have emerged to challenge the utility of the pen as a writing instrument but it remains essential. The technical development of pens never ceases: ink and the process of delivering it onto paper continues to challenge curious minds. The core factors in written communication, pen, ink and paper, are constantly changing; the pen being the key device.

Of course, our interest in pens rests in the organic connection to paper. With so many choices: we like to encourage choosing the best you can afford for both pen and paper.

Scriptus, the pen and writing show is happening on 30 October 2016 in Toronto. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with the pen loving community.

Since the National Stationery Show in May we have made many new retail friends!  Now you have even more opportunities to discover our products close up and take up your pens!

The Artworks
101B Edmonton City Centre
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2Y8

Charals Luxury Goods and Accessories
171 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8

Eco Denizen
999 Peachtree Street NE Ste. 180
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Frame Up
1920 Oak Bay Avenue
Victoria, BC V8R 1C7

Kew Authorized News Agency
175 High Street Kew
Melbourne, Australia 3101

The Hive Design
127 West Main Avenue
Gastonia, North Carolina 28052

Laywine’s Pens and Accessories
25 Bellair Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3L3

Madison & PAGE
+15 Level Fifth Avenue Place
230, 425 First Street SW
Calgary, Alberta, T2P 3L8

McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

Museum of Art and Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019

The Papery
669 Fort St
Victoria, BC V8W 1G6

Phidon Pens
63 Dickson Street
Cambridge, Ontario, N1R 7A5

Pulp & Paperie
1042 Coxwell Avenue
Toronto, ON M4J 2W9

St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange
5 Highland Park Village
Dallas, Texas 75205

Stylus Fine Pens + Desk Accessories Inc.
10538 -102 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 3P3

Toronto’s First Post Office
260 Adelaide St E
Toronto, ON M5A 1N1

Letter Locked and Loaded!

“Letter writing is probably the most beautiful manifestation in human relations; in fact, it is its finest residue.”

John Graham to his third wife, neither Elinor 7 July 1958

September is here; are you yearning to learn? As a student of history and lover of all things relating to paper, I was delighted to find a field that connects both: Letter locking.

All good studies start with a definition: Letter locking refers to the practice of folding a letter to become its own envelope, contents secure from prying eyes save for the intended recipient.  The history of this practice is deep, about 10,000 years!

Think court intrigues and passionate letters between secret lovers and you understand the need for security and authenticity. The methods of securing the letters are as mesmerizing as origami and heighten the value of the message contained. My first exposure to this technology was accidental. Intrigued by a social media post, I was soon watching skilled hands gracefully folding a heavy piece of paper. Some carefully placed cuts with a knife, a dab of sealing wax, and a firm press of monogrammed seal created a treasure ready to be slipped into the brocade sleeve of a trusted messenger to deliver to a waiting recipient. Just imagine how exciting it is to receive a letter so carefully presented!

The acknowledged authority in this unique field is Jana Dambrogio and I urge you to explore her web page for inspiration. At a time of year when we are open to new adventures, perhaps you will fall under the ancient spell of Letter locking.

Dreaming of your own personal letter pressed stationery? Contact us at timeless@refinemark.com for our elegant custom program options.

Since the National Stationery Show in May we have made many new retail friends!  Now you have even more opportunities to discover our products close up and take up your pens!

Portrait detail: Merchant Georg Gisze by Hans Holbein the Younger
The Artworks
101B Edmonton City Centre
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2Y8

Charals Luxury Goods and Accessories
171 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8

Eco Denizen
999 Peachtree Street NE Ste. 180
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Frame Up
1920 Oak Bay Avenue
Victoria, BC V8R 1C7

Kew Authorized News Agency
175 High Street Kew
Melbourne, Australia 3101

The Hive Design
127 West Main Avenue
Gastonia, North Carolina 28052

Laywine’s Pens and Accessories
25 Bellair Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3L3

Madison & PAGE
+15 Level Fifth Avenue Place
230, 425 First Street SW
Calgary, Alberta, T2P 3L8

McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

Museum of Art and Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019

The Papery
669 Fort St
Victoria, BC V8W 1G6

Phidon Pens
63 Dickson Street
Cambridge, Ontario, N1R 7A5

Pulp & Paperie
1042 Coxwell Avenue
Toronto, ON M4J 2W9

St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange
5 Highland Park Village
Dallas, Texas 75205

Stylus Fine Pens + Desk Accessories Inc.
10538 -102 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 3P3

Toronto’s First Post Office
260 Adelaide St E
Toronto, ON M5A 1N1

For Your Eyes Only

Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say. Mitch Albom

A friend asked me about the concept of writing a letter that is never read. Some might say that is a waste of time and effort!

But wait, the point of such a letter is to unlock thoughts and activate feelings, safely and privately. Maybe writing with hope, recalling memories, aiming for reconciliation or revealing a truth. You might write a message you are not brave enough to deliver but need to express. Knowing the letter will be unread can settle your fears of airing sentiments deeply buried within. Release them with pen and paper and your burden is lightened.

Let your words flow. Feel the weight of the pen balance between your fingers, smell the ink and see it glisten as it conveys thoughts. Commit those thoughts onto fine paper and the therapeutic experience is complete. Cross outs, spelling errors are part of the expression. When the words get “stuck”, let a doodle tell your story. You may be writing to someone but you are writing for yourself.  What a gift!

Disowned by her parents for marrying Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett wrote frequent letters to them from Italy. Even without replies, she continued to write. After ten years, she received a large box containing all her unopened letters. Sadly, her hopes were crushed. The letters remain as a record of vulnerability and steadfast love. Doubtless, writing helped Elizabeth bear the broken relationship even though they were never read.

Writing a letter that will not be read puts our perspective under a lens of discovery and potential objectivity. We stand to gain a fresh appreciation of our relationships and enlighten our steps forward.

Since the National Stationery Show in May we have made many new retail friends!  Now you have even more opportunities to discover our products close up and take up your pens!

The Artworks
101B Edmonton City Centre
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2Y8

Charals Luxury Goods and Accessories
171 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8

Eco Denizen
999 Peachtree Street NE Ste. 180
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Kew Authorized News Agency
175 High Street Kew
Melbourne, Australia 3101

The Hive Design
127 West Main Avenue
Gastonia, North Carolina 28052

Laywine’s Pens and Accessories
25 Bellair Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3L3

Madison & PAGE
+15 Level Fifth Avenue Place
230, 425 First Street SW
Calgary, Alberta, T2P 3L8

McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

Museum of Art and Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019

The Papery
669 Fort St
Victoria, BC V8W 1G6

Phidon Pens
63 Dickson Street
Cambridge, Ontario, N1R 7A5

Pulp & Paperie
1042 Coxwell Avenue
Toronto, ON M4J 2W9

St. Michael’s Woman’s Exchange
5 Highland Park Village
Dallas, Texas 75205

Stylus Fine Pens + Desk Accessories Inc.
10538 -102 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 3P3

Toronto’s First Post Office
260 Adelaide St E
Toronto, ON M5A 1N1

I LOVE Stationery

There is something magical in seeing what you can do, what texture and tone and colour you can produce merely with a pen point and a bottle of ink. Ida Rentoul Outhwaite

April was National Stationery Month and May hosts the National Stationery Show in New York. No surprise then about what has been on our minds!

Originally the term stationery referred to all goods sold by a Stationer; the word “Stationer’  implied that his shop had a fixed location as opposed to goods sold by a travelling salesman. Often Stationers were established near a university (location, location, location!). As a twist to this definition, the National Stationery Show draws together Stationers from their shops and studios all over the world to New York for a energy charged annual celebration of stationery.

We love stationery because of the creative rocket fuel packed in every item. Pen, ink, pencils and paper are only some of the fascinating materials connected to the process of visual and written expression. Don’t bother drawing a boundary around this definition unless you do it in pencil. Stationery is expanding!

At the very heart of our stationery obsession is paper. As designers for letterpress, we aim to create printed designs that captivate the senses and inspire your written words.  Our cards weave together text, images, typeface, ink and paper to create a compelling platform for your message. We are very excited to show off our latest concepts and to meet other attendees who share in our passion.

If you are going to the National Stationery Show this year we look forward to meeting you at Booth 1870.

Reflections in Ink

Your writing voice is the deepest possible reflection of who you are. The job of your voice is not to seduce or flatter or make well-shaped sentences. In your voice, your readers should be able to hear the contents of your mind, your heart, your soul.
Meg Rosoff

For many of us it is a challenge to find time to reflect. We live in times that find us striving to catch up, stay on top, and be current. Where can we find time for quiet thought? Often that moment comes at the point of a pen, when you have a blank card in front of you and a compelling reason to write.

Mother’s Day and graduations are looming, often giving rise to thoughts about someone or something that made a difference in your life. Mothering is a big job so it is no surprise that the duties are covered off by a wide network of people who encourage, protect, nurture and challenge us. Maybe you were privileged to have a superior teacher to guide you through confusing times.  Perhaps a neighbour or relative inspired your dreams. Even random events can change the course of our lives in a powerful way; write about that!

Reflection allows us to revisit those life changing people or events. So with Mother’s Day as an excuse, why not carve out some time to acknowledge those contributors with a letter. You might be writing to a stranger who said just the right thing at the right time or perhaps to “great” ancestor in your family tree. Your letter of acknowledgement is good therapy for you and a gift from the heart for the recipient.

Who knows, maybe you will become one of those milestone people in someone’s life!
If you are travelling to Toronto, Cambridge (Ontario), Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver or Victoria, drop by our retailers and check out our products.

Charals Luxury Goods and Accessories
171 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8

Laywine’s Pens and Accessories
25 Bellair Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3L3

Madison & PAGE
+15 Level Fifth Avenue Place
230, 425 First Street SW
Calgary, Alberta, T2P 3L8

The Papery
669 Fort St
Victoria, BC V8W 1G6

Phidon Pens
63 Dickson Street
Cambridge, Ontario, N1R 7A5

Pulp & Paperie
1042 Coxwell Avenue
Toronto, ON M4J 2W9

Stylus Fine Pens + Desk Accessories Inc.
10538 -102 Avenue NW
Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 3P3

Toronto’s First Post Office
260 Adelaide St E
Toronto, ON M5A 1N1

 

Pretty Words-the pull of calligraphic typeface

Style is a simple way of saying complicated things. Jean Cocteau

Watching trends rise and fall is more than a professional interest for me; trends reflect cultural moods and preferences. One vogue is what I call the “messy cursive” typeface used on everything from wedding stationery to corporate identities.  Going strong for several years now, this preference continues scrolling forward.  What is behind its popularity?

When our eyes see handwriting, something complex and essential happens inside us.  Handwriting signals that the message is important. It is personal. We slow down and focus more intensely on the words and how they are shaped. The meanings they carry are more heavily loaded than printed text.  The use of “messy cursive” typefaces are a throwback of sorts aiming to capture some of the intensity of handwriting.

Recently I heard a podcast interview with Julian Fellows on the popularity of Downton Abbey. He said that we live in disordered times and this leaves us bewildered. We are often in a grey area of behaviour and seek references that are tried and true.  So in those times of bewilderment we reach back to things that offer reassurance and for many that is the written word.

Make your contribution to a calmer, more intimate world and write on some of our stunning letter pressed cards. Order by signing up for our monthly newsletter or visit the following fine retailers:

Laywine’s Pens and Accessories

25 Bellair Street | Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3L3

 

Phidon Pens

63 Dickson Street | Cambridge, Ontario, N1R 7A5

 

Stylus Fine Pens + Desk Accessories Inc.

10538 -102 Avenue NW | Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 3P3

 

Madison & PAGE

+15 Level Fifth Avenue Place | 230, 425 First Street SW | Calgary, Alberta, T2P 3L8

 

Charals Luxury Goods and Accessories

171 Robson Street | Vancouver, BC V6B 2A8

 

Pulp & Paperie

1042 Coxwell Avenue |Toronto, ON M4J 2W9

 

Toronto’s First Post Office

260 Adelaide St E |Toronto, ON M5A 1N1

 

The Papery

669 Fort St | Victoria, BC V8W 1G6

Free Love

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Ann Landers

Flip the calendar into February and there it is, staring you in the face: Valentine’s Day. Ironically, there is a lot of bitterness and animosity about this celebration of Love. Hijacked by the floral, dining, and greeting card industries, the level of cynicism is not surprising.  If all those efforts are truly required to proclaim and reinforce love, just how genuine are those sentiments?  Hmmm.

Is there a kinder gentler way to approach this cultural event?

Maybe things are different now but as a kid, I remember a more democratic approach to the day. There were cupcakes, for all, and Valentines, for all. On that silly day, the whole classroom felt that they mattered. There was a flurry of fondness. At home, family members exchanged cards and small treats. In a family where overt expressions of love was rare, that day stood out.

Can Big Valentine and the Camp Cynical to meet in the middle and extend the hand of peace and love? Maybe, instead of reserving one arbitrary day for proclaiming love, the entire month can be set aside to reach out and remind those friends and family members that they are loved. Red envelopes optional! Maybe instead of a heart, adopt other symbols of love and friendship such as the blossoming almond tree.

Flowers fade, gifts and dinners are soon forgotten but hand written messages are treasured and preserved. You do not need to be a poet to write a few words telling a friend how much they matter to you. Love is not reserved for dating, engaged, and newlywed couples. It is a gift we all need and can share freely.  Select some fine paper or cards and write a note to someone who matters in your life;  send it any day.  That is the sort of Valentine is priceless.

Connections: Two Ways

2016  is fresh and full of hope.  Time to pitch out the old and unhelpful bits of our lives and create some healthy new routines. While we are in this mode, consider our social connections.

Most of us experience the paradox of modern communications. As we connect more digitally, we may be veering near the edges of social isolation.  A greater risk to health than obesity, smoking, and physical inactivity, social isolation is a serious concern.

Can we have it both ways?  Digital communication is essential in our modern lives but could we change it up a bit and go Old School? A bit more often than we do now?

To encourage you, we have a little incentive aimed at building healthy connections and supporting the writing culture electronically.  Like our Facebook page and/or follow us on Twitter.  Then email us your mailing address.  As a prize, we will mail you one of our newest cards that you can add to your correspondence wardrobe, ready to use.  Share this offer with your friends and family.

Connecting authentically requires time and commitment but the rewards are significant.  Your notes and letters add to the legacy of written communication.  Even by simply writing a journal or diary, you gain by expanding self-awareness and reflection.

We look forward to hearing from you!

“The proper definition of a man is an animal that writes letters.”
― Lewis Carroll

Auld acquaintance, not forgotten!

How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon? Dr. Suess

First off, our apologies for the gap in Journal posts. Refinemark has been running at a fast forward pace through the year and we are excited share some of our highlights and accomplishments of 2015.

This spring we developed a personal stationery program featuring the best choices for individuals and retailers. The result: your custom stationery suite created with style. Drop us a note and we will be happy to share that program with you.

Refinemark also took the plunge into matrimony. We are thrilled to offer stunning wedding stationery designed for the Day and the Life. In October and November we launched our new wedding templates at Vancouver’s elite wedding shows: Brock House and Creme de la Creme.One of our invitation suites was also honored with a finalist designation at an industry award event.

Always reaching for excellence in letterpress design, we developed an extensive line of RefinemarkScript cards which have received enthusiastic responses from our growing list of retailers. Our new Storyline cards are truly worthy of the name as they weave life experiences with a mysterious typeface and are wrapped in beautiful heritage hued envelopes from the Strathmore archives. We are proud of this collection; see our retailers and check out Instagram for new additions.

Our connections to the pen and writing community continues with sponsorship of Scriptus in November. Travelling to Toronto allowed us to meet with our retailers and hold trunk shows.The writing culture is thriving and we are happy to add to the enthusiasm and support.

Christmas and New Years is a time to connect. We hope you enjoy writing seasonal cards and letters and savor the ones you receive.

If you are in Toronto, Cambridge (Ontario), Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver or Victoria, drop by our retailers and check out our products at:

Toronto’s First Post Office

Laywine’s

Pulp & Paperie

Phidon Pens

Stylus Fine Pens

Madison & PAGE

Charals Vancouver

The Papery

Nasty Rumors

Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated – Mark Twain

Before we hammer down that last nail in its coffin let’s check again for a pulse. Our subject, letter writing, has been pronounced and proclaimed dead for decades. Is there any truth to the rumor?

Yes, statistics point to a decline in post office traffic. Electronic communications are soundly established as functional and fast alternative to posted letters but letter writing and especially hand written communication lives and breathes.

Those who are ready to pull the plug on letter writing make the mistake of identifying the process as a technology. Letter writing is not battery operated nor driven by operating systems that need constant upgrades. Letter writing is essential and organic just like us!

An expression of our basic natures, letter writing packs more emotion and humanity than any electronic alternatives. Melding our senses of smell, touch and sight and triggering emotion and memory, there is no “virtual” match for it.

But if you are feeling a bit like someone on a letter writing desert island, there is no shortage of encouragement and lifelines to buoy your spirits. Check in with Postcrossing, an online project aimed at connecting writers worldwide via postcards. Recently it celebrated its tenth anniversary.  With over half a million members in 214 countries it clearly has resonated with writers. The Letter Writers Alliance is a thriving organization using technology to promote and inspire communication by letters.  The Letter Writers Alliance members are steadfast in its mission to support all things relating to letter writing.

Long Live Letter Writing!  Make your contribution to this essential practice.