Foil Stamping Basics

One of the things we love about paper is that it is offers the designer so many options. While we get to work with creatives on projects that use all kinds of print techniques, we thought we’d profile the basics of one of our favorites – foil stamping.

L.A Magazine «Les Ambassadeurs», couverture n°11

Foil stamping is a process that uses a metal plate that has been engraved with an image of the desired design to be foil stamped. The die or sculpted metal plate comes in contact with the foil and transfers a thin layer of the foil film onto the surface. As the metal plate is heated, the foil sticks to the surface only in the design of the plate and in the areas with the desired imprint.The result is a finished piece with a highly reflective image.

The Art of the Thank You Note

art-of-thank-youThey say the handwritten note is making a comeback. The reason for the resurgence in popularity is obvious to those who understand the note conveys so much more than those two words. As we spend our days in a digitally dominated world, it means something to sit down and write a message in your own handwriting. It’s just a nice thing to do, both for the unsuspecting recipient as well as you, the writer. There was a great article in the NY Times recently that’s worth a read on the subject.

There is nothing that makes me happier than the act of selecting the perfect paper to express my gratitude to someone. This goes back to gradeschool, when my best friend Cindy and I began collecting stationery. We loved sending notes to friends and teachers. Today I’m fortunate to have access to some of the most beautiful papers made, so the idea of selecting just one can be a little daunting.

When I’m sending a note from Parse & Parcel, it’s easy. I’m using our notecards printed on Classic Crest Solar White Stipple 130# Cover, featuring our signature dotted rule and logo, hand stamped in silver metallic. It all fits neatly inside a no. 10 policy envelope in either black or kraft. It’s the details like an envelope flap style that make the difference.

For a more casual note of thanks to friends, I lean towards color. Some of my favorites are Poptone’s Orange Fizz, Astrobrights Lunar Blue and Mohawk Via Safety Yellow. Although, I am loving the new color palette in Environment, especially that raw finish in Honeycomb, so friends may start to see that one in the mix.

Other factors I consider beside color are basis weight and texture.  I like a paper stock with some heft to it, usually opting for 120# – 130# cover and depending upon the writing instrument  I am using, I will usually go with a tactile finish – somewhere between a wove and a toothy vellum.

The biggest source of angst among the design community when it comes to note cards is probably the envelope, but it shouldn’t be. Finding envelopes in your color and size of choice is so easy now. Unlike how the industry worked just a few years ago, you no longer have to worry about selecting a paper whose matching envelope was stocked locally. It used to be only one or two national envelope converters were responsible for making all of the proprietary envelopes for the paper mills. Which meant the local merchant needed to stock them if you, the designer, wanted to to use one in a smaller quantity (by small I mean less than a carton which is usually 2500 envelopes/250 per box). As a former paper rep, I can tell you this was frustrating for all parties involved: designer, printer and paper merchant. Thankfully that all changed a few years ago when mills like French, Neenah, Mohawk and Reich began converting and stocking their own envelopes and making them available in small quantities online. The minimums vary by mill, but some are available in quantities as small as 10 envelopes!

So if you haven’t started writing thank you notes yet,  give it a try. I guarantee you it’s not so much what you say but the fact that you took the time to sit down and write a note for someone personally that will be remembered.

Paper Inspiration: Samples Delivered to Your Doorstep


Is it any wonder creatives are frustrated when it comes to print? Designers love print, yet convincing clients to invest in it can be difficult – especially when budgets are tight. Samples are a great way to show clients how print creates brand value, but accessing them is another story. Relying on sales reps only gives you a small idea of what’s available and limits you to one company’s capabilities. We know what it’s like to see all these incredible print projects being produced but have no idea how to find the resources to produce work featured in your favorite industry magazine and online publications.  Paper inspiration starts with access – how can you spec it if you don’t know it exists?


Each month subscribers of The Parcel receive a curated box of luxe paper, print and design samples. Meant to help educate and inspire, The Parcel showcases samples from your favorite paper mills like Neenah, French, Mohawk, Sappi and more.

Here’s how it works:

  • Choose from our monthly our yearly subscription packages
  • Each shipment includes 5 – 7 premium print + graphic design samples
  • Showcasing premium suppliers and paper options
  • 1-2 personalized samples for your design preferences (ex. Letterpress printing, identity, illustration, etc.)
  • Tutorials showing you print techniques, trends + tips from industry experts

Our experts personally curate the samples each month and include highlights on each piece we think are unique and interesting. Included in each shipment is an interactive tutorial – learn about the latest design trends and print techniques from your phone or tablet. In addition, each shipment of The Parcel includes detailed production notes, you’ll know exactly how something was produced so you can show your client (or printer) what to expect when using those techniques in your own design.

Who it can help:

  • Freelancers who don’t have anyone calling on them and don’t know where to turn for help
  • Junior designers and students looking to build a stellar library of samples that can assist them throughout their career
  • Creatives who feel their options are limited due to in-house print shop requirements – the proof is in the paper samples
  • Print sales reps looking to expand their customer base through great paper and print samples
  • Paper merchants who don’t have a dedicated specification sales force but still want to educate their market
  • Creatives looking to learn about the latest design trends and print techniques

THE PARCEL helps during the creative process by showing exactly how a project was produced, which also helps keep production costs in check – not to mention avoids disappointing clients later on.  Think of it as your own personal paper rep.



Hatch Show Print Giveaway

If you’re a fan of music, design and Americana then chances are you’re already familiar with the work of Hatch Show Print. Founded by Charles and Herbert Hatch in 1879, it’s one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America. Located in Nashville, Hatch Show Print posters have featured a host of country music performers, ranging from Country Music Hall of Famers Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, and Johnny Cash to contemporary stars such as Garth Brooks and Wynonna.
Their technique, tried and true, has been to combine color, authenticity and a bold tactile design. According to their site they’ve “done it all without losing that irresistible appeal of turn-of-the-century Hatch posters, which were used to promote vaudeville, circus, and minstrel shows across the country. There’s a reason why music lovers, Americana buffs, graphic arts collectors and designers, and commercial advertisers of all persuasions continue to turn to Hatch for inspiration. We are, indeed, a tonic for the information age.”

To celebrate our launch, we’re excited to give away a limited edition Hatch Show Print (numbered and all) to the first 100 subscribers to The Parcel.

A Designer’s Delight: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Wes Anderson creates a world with his movies and the goal is for that world to come to life. His current film, The Grand Budapest Hotel certainly does that. Featuring a palette of pinks, violets and reds, the film tells the story of the charming, dedicated hotel concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) as he fights to claim the inheritance left to him by one of his beloved clients (Tilda Swinton) from her villainous sons (Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe).

Tips for Designing Luxury Packaging

luxury packaging tips
The Creative Director at Design Packaging Inc., Evelio Mattos, shared his tips for successful packaging design by stripping out the visual noise and creating timeless impressions through sensory primers. His post is full of great information and we love the #DPiPackTip’s, read it in it’s entirety here. We’re highlighting his top cues to consider:

1. Interactive – Guide consumers to self discover layered micro-interactions designed into the packaging or product. In addition to pop-ups, pull tabs, and unique closures think tactile substrates. If you follow P&P you know we are all about paper, some of our favorite go to’s for luxury packaging are those with a lush, suede like feel (Plike, Curious Cosmic, and Touché to name a few).

2. Audible – Higher pitched retail packaging can lower the perceived product value. Did you know thinner materials will provide a higher pitch than heavier weight materials? Some of our favorite choices for heavy weight shopping bags are text and cover papers in finishes like felt, vellum and eggshell (no coatings needed for protection).

3. Olfactive – Packaging designed with an unveiling process that considers powerful sensory cues, can transport users and create lasting olfactory impressions regardless of the environment their in. From traditional florals and food scents to non-traditional ones like suntan lotion and leather, scented ink offers a wide range of options.

4. Haptic – Nonverbal communication involving touch can impact a brand’s perception. Sharp folds and ease of use speak to quality and craftsmanship, both virtues of luxury. Redundant hand positions required to open packaging can reduce perceived product value.

5. Tactile – Tactile design features are able to create brand-defining cues. A classic tactile cue to luxury is pairing an all-over embossed uncoated paper with a sculpted metallic or high-gloss hot-stamp.

6. Closures – Much like fashion, packaging can be all about the accessories.  Luxury products require  a well designed layered unveiling process to build suspense up to the final reveal in the user’s personal environment.

7. Contrast Finishes – Classic visual cues to luxe, matte black with metallic gold, or crisp white with gloss black accents.  Our current favorite is copper foil on kraft paper, connoting luxury in an unexpected place.

8. Heritage – From custom papers, and fabrics, to stock materials with custom processes, luxury and prestige is a matter of restraint, not excess.

9. Anticipation – The idea of opening a box and revealing the final product immediately, leaves much to be desired. Poorly designed unveiling processes have been know to increase buyer’s remorse and product return rates.

10. Quality Control – Understanding how climate impacts materials and print processes at every stage of production through final user interaction is critical to understanding luxury packaging. This is why it’s so important to work with an experienced supplier, they’ll help guide you through the process.

Working on a luxury packaging project and need some help with paper selection or finding an experienced supplier in your area? Drop us a note at


The Paper Skin

You may not be familiar with Italian paper manufacturer Fedrigoni in the U.S., but rest assured they have been making fine papers for centuries. I was lucky enough early on in my career to have been introduced to their Constellation Jade papers by one of the best reps I’ve ever worked with (thank you Anita McKinley wherever you are). While not widely known in the U.S., if you are a designer or printer specializing in packaging you’ll want to get familiar with this grade offered by CTI Paper USA.

Constellation Jade is unique in that it is an embossed coated sheet with a matte coating on the back – but unlike any you have ever seen before. I hesitate to use the description “coated one side” because it hardly conveys all that this paper is. The sheet has a luminous quality due to the mica coating on the surface, it’s this coating that imparts an iridescent sheen to inks when they’re applied – flat grey ink takes on a shimmery, metallic appearance. In addition, the grade comes in a nine embossed patterns: Country, Reptile, Satin, Laser, Raster, Riccio, Silk, Wave, and Spring. If you don’t have this one in your swatchbox you really should.

This is a recent promotion designed by Geometry Global Frankfurt for Fedrigoni, The Paper Skin, showcasing Constellation Jade in a limited edition Leica X2 camera. A piece of paper merges an extraordinary packaging concept and an exceptional product into one. Sold in Fedrigoni showrooms only, the limited Edition of Leica Cameras is wrapped so intimately by fine paper, the “unboxing” reminds of a paper sample book and turns into a Fedrigoni brand experience. Finally, the paper also replaces the cameras traditional leather banderole and becomes an integral part of it and not just its packaging.

Neenah Environment – Fresh Colors, Raw Finish

Environment_Swatch_OpenIt’s hard to believe that Neenah Paper’s Environment grade has been around for 25 years, but it’s true. Long known for its sustainable offering of papers, the grade has been refreshed with a new look and some fab new papers added to the line, and we couldn’t be more excited to check it out.

After looking at the new swatchbook, designed by Jake and Pum Lefebure and the team at Design Army, it’s clear Neenah has given designers what they’ve been asking for: a fresh color palette inspired by natural, real-world surroundings. With descriptive names like Grocer Kraft, Honeycomb, Weathered and Concrete, the line includes seven new colors. Displayed in the swatch alongside the white & midtone shades, they create a simple, fresh waterfall of 30% – 100% PCW paper offerings. But wait, that’s not even the best part.
Neenah added an amazing new tactile finish to the mix – RAW™. Described as “a unique hand and a generous loft,” we love the way it feels. It’s got a textured, earthy, natural quality to it – and the Grocer Kraft shade is available as a digital sheet as well. Finally, a go to kraft sheet for those smaller print runs. Oh and did we mention Neenah is stocking MATCHING ENVELOPES as well? They are, in 19 styles. And yes that includes catalog, booklet and – wait for it – No. 10 policy envelopes!! (Hello, we just found our correspondence envelope).
New_Environment5As if reading our mind, Neenah has thoughtfully designed this swatchbook to be a great print sample as well. The cover features the new Weathered 130#C and shows off how beautifully the sheet holds an emboss. Flipping it open, on the left side are six pages of print samples, showcasing everything from straight up four color process to silver metallic ink on the raw finish. This piece includes samples of embossing/debossing, opaque white ink on a digital application and a great die-cut and score.

Fresh Colors_Raw finishWe can think of hundreds of way to use this grade – luxury packaging, shopping bags, gift card sleeves, direct mail and the list goes on. So excited to try it, we especially want to see what that Concrete shade in the new RAW finish looks like with copper metallic ink on it. Did you know Neenah offers this really cool tool where you can upload your design and get a real, digital print proof on the actual paper stock you want to use? Such a great way to try before you buy.

Make sure to update your paper cabinet with the new Environment swatchbook, available today. We’d love to hear how you’re using the sheet, join our community and you could win a sampler featuring the new Environment papers.

Jameson St. Patrick’s Day Limited Edition Bottle

Inspired by the sights and sounds of its hometown, Dublin, Jameson is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a new limited edition design for it’s legendary bottle.

The fourth in its St. Patrick’s Day series, was designed by Dublin born illustrator, Dermot Flynn. Flynn’s illustrated label features the world-renowned Dublin pub, The Stag’s Head; historical figures such as W.B Yeats; and a selection of ‘local Dublin’ phrases to bring the city to life. Flynn’s design features across the Jameson Limited Edition bottle, St.Patrick’s.Day promotional materials, HelloDublin! website, festival promotional video and the ‘Win A Trip To Dublin!’ social media campaign.


A Tale of Two Type Designers


Creatives know a typeface communicates more than just the mere words they carry, perhaps no two people better understand this premise than Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones of Hoefler & Frere-Jones. For 25 years, they’ve helped brands develop unique voices through typography. The two are now embroiled in a $20 million lawsuit over their type foundry.

A short film, Font Men, presented by AIGA and directed by Dress Code, gives a peek behind the curtain into the world of Jonathan and Tobias. Tracing the history of their personal career paths, sharing the forces that united them and giving viewers an exclusive look into the successful empire they built before their split.

Font Men – SXSW 2014 Official Selection from dress code on Vimeo.

Recipients of the AIGA 2013 Medal, “Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones are responsible for some of the digital era’s most well-designed and beautifully crafted typefaces. The type designers bring to their collaborative work a formidable knowledge of typographic history paired with an impeccable eye for combining, adapting and evolving traditional letterforms into entirely original type systems. As a duo, Hoefler and Frere-Jones have a singular ability to decode contemporary visual culture, translate it and express it in typefaces of considerable technical quality and emotional impact.” That certainly says quite about their contributions to design. Learn more about the duo in this profile by AIGA.