Friday, February 25, 2011

Stationers of Delight: Interview - Mitchell & Dent

Mitchell and Dent is a bespoke stationer, producing beautiful and quirky cards and invitations out of Leederville, Western Australia; the brainchild of graphic artists Angela Mitchell and Leah Dent. Angela had studied fashion and textiles before settling on graphic design, and Leah was formerly  a high school music teacher. Their ‘silent’ partner, hiding behind a dramatic black and white floor-to-ceiling curtain in their studio, is their letter-press, 105 year old ‘Herbert’.

How did you meet and begin working together?
We met while studying graphic design at Central TAFE. We had a mutual admiration for each other’s work, as well as a shared love for nostalgia. We always knew that we wanted to work together but we also knew we needed to get experience in the field first. We worked in other design studios for a few years which was valuable in some ways, but exhausting and unsatisfying in others. We both felt that we wanted to do things differently, which is why we decided to set up Studio Bomba.

What’s different about Studio Bomba?
It’s a much more open, collaborative environment than you find in the larger studios – we work at one giant desk, sharing ideas constantly, and we deal directly with our clients, so it’s very much about relationships.

How did Mitchell and Dent come about?
Our Studio Bomba designs respond to our clients’ ideas and needs. The Mitchell and Dent line gives us the opportunity to express our creativity in ways that resonate with us personally.

What's included in the Mitchell & Dent range?
Our bridal range is really taking off. It includes printed, letterpress or bespoke stationery, and some couples really appreciate the value of having something different, something designed to reflect their day. But we also do birth announcements, engagements, special birthdays, corporate events etc

How did ‘Herbert’ come to join the team?
Our range already included letterpress stationery, but we were having it printed elsewhere. We found Herbie on e-Bay and had him shipped over from Victoria in a giant box which even included some dirty old cleaning rags! He’s a tricky little beastie and we’re learning as we go but we enjoy the craft of the print process and the element of surprise that comes with having so many variables.  Letterpress is more textural than other printing, and the cotton paper feels beautiful, lasts longer and allows for a greater impression.

Is Herbert a grumpy old man?
He’s very gentlemanly but he needs little adjustments. And he runs slowly – the paper has to be hand-fed. [Leah] My husband, Duncan feeds the paper in. He’s a bass player so he’s got good rhythm!

The language on your website is unusually playful and full of curious words. Who writes the copy?  
[Angela] That’s Leah. [Leah] I’m a huge reader and we keep a collection of words for the studio, divided into nouns, verbs, adverbs and sayings. Sometimes, we listen to Big George on BBC Radio Talkback. His show is in the wee small hours so the people who ring up are either nutters or drunk people. We get a few new words there!

Can you tell me about a particularly memorable mailbox of delight experience you’ve had?
[Angela] Can it include things you order on the internet? I was pretty excited when I received an Audrey Kawasaki print in the mail.

[Leah] When I was 9 years old I went on holiday to Busselton and made friends with a girl called Gemma Jones. We became pen pals. I lived on a farm and I was always begging my parents to drive into town to see if there was a letter from Gemma. Because it was the eighties it was all about smelly pens, different papers and Garfield stickers so her letters were always exciting to receive. After a few years we lost contact, but then last year, I emailed Outre Gallery in Melbourne to order a book, and received an email back from my old friend Gemma Jones! So we are now, once again pen pals, although this time the stationery is a bit more classy!

If you want to delight someone's mailbox, their online store is a great place to begin. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Clip It!

As some of you may know, my latest novel has got sucked into a worm hole of late. I write a few hundred words, only to delete a few thousand others. My dear friend LKH found an article in the newspaper about creativity, and how to get it back when it seemed lost. Being a thoughtful lass and handy with a pair of scissors to boot, she snipped it out and sent it to me, with a cute card and some words of encouragement. Lucky me.

Do you ever read an article in a newspaper or magazine and think of someone who'd enjoy it? Do you have a pair of scissors? Do you know how to wield them? Well get onto it!

While you're doing it, you can sing this little song to yourself, to the tune of Devo's Whip It!

when an article comes along
you must clip it
before the mailbox waits too long
you must clip it
when something's going on
you must clip it

now clip it
into shape
shape it up
get straight
go forward
move ahead
envelope it
it's not too late
to clip it
clip it good

Monday, February 14, 2011

Put on the Ogre Costume!

I had a Mailbox of Delight today! My lovely friend Amanda sent me 2 cartoons from her New Yorker desk calendar, and some sprigs of lavender from her garden. Not only was the envelope hand-addressed but it also smelt delicious. And inside was something that made me laugh. Triple whammy!

 Image via Bleubird Vintage

What a lovely idea, to send a page from your desk calendar. It reminded me of a friend I used to work with who had a Spanish 'phrase a day' calendar. Whenever she came across a real gem she'd leave it on my desk. My favourite one ever translated as "Put on the ogre costume!" I can't even begin to imagine a situation in which that particular phrase would come in handy, unless it was your lifelong dream to work in a costume shop in Spain... or something for the bedroom perhaps?

Do you have a desk calendar? A rib-splitting one, or one with profound wisdom encapsulated in a tidy little soundbite? Next time you tear off a page, instead of putting it in the recycling, perhaps instead you can think of somone who might enjoy finding it in their letterbox.

Monday, February 7, 2011

In Praise of Snail Mail

Seems I'm not the only one who loves real mail. I came across a link on Oh So Beautiful Paper to an article entitled In Praise of Snail Mail by Meghan Daum from the LA Times. Meghan writes: 

For me, it's the trip to the mailbox, the opening of the lid, the retrieving. E-mail offers no such pleasures, nor can it do that magical thing that real mail can do : reminding you intimately and tactically of who you are. You linger over a letter from a friend; you don't hit delete. 

Have you ever thought about it like that? That just by sending a piece of REAL mail to someone you can remind them of who they are? It's not just delightful; it's life-affirming. Don't you want to remind someone of who they are? I do!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Personalised Tea Bags

Do you like tea? I have to confess I am in that group of weirdos who don't like it at all. Over the years, many people have tried to change my mind by making me exotic teas of all stripes but beyond the raspberry or nectarine or cloves they all still taste of ...well, tea. 

I have some friends, however, who are fiends for tea and I'm planning to make them some personalised teabags I found a DIY tutorial for on The Spotted Fox.

They are perfect for sending in the mail as they are so light and virtually flat. The ladies of the Spotted Fox suggest using paint chips, but you could use any coloured paper and if you don't have fancy zig-zag scissors little squares would still be cute. Get crafty! And tell me what you're going to write on yours. 
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