Choose Handcrafted Paper for Your Traditional Anniversary Gift

anniversary gift

When it comes to romance, some traditions just feel right: a suitor down on one knee, the tossing of the bouquet, the gifts that celebrate year after year of a successful marriage. 

Whether you just got engaged or are celebrating a special anniversary, we can give you gift ideas that are as unique as the two of you. 

Traditional Anniversary Gifts That Have Stood the Test of Time

While you could choose to celebrate your anniversary any number of ways, we think traditional gifts for the first year, the tenth, the twenty-fifth and so on are pretty special. The tradition of wedding anniversary gifts goes back to at least the middle ages, and maybe longer. But it was during the Victorian Era that giving a particular type of gift to married couples really caught on. Love and commitment became paramount ideals, and gift-giving reflected that. And so, silver and golden wedding anniversaries became events to truly celebrate. 

In case you’re not up-to-speed on traditional wedding gifts, here’s a simple guide on the first few years and the bigger milestones: 

  • First Anniversary: Paper A gift of paper symbolizes a “clean sheet” on which to write your love story. It also represents the sometimes fragile nature of a young relationship.
  • Second Anniversary: Cotton A marriage that has lasted into its second year is becoming more and more durable. Cotton represents a stronger bond, in which your lives are becoming intertwined
  • Third Anniversary: Leather At this point in your marriage, you’re relationship is stronger and provides shelter and security. That feeling is symbolized as leather, a sturdy material that will protect you from the elements.
  • Fourth Anniversary: Fruit and Flowers At four years, it’s time to celebrate the way your relationship is blossoming and bearing fruit!
  • Fifth Anniversary: Wood Like an oak tree towering above the forest, your love has grown into a stable, life-giving force. This gift symbolizes the strength, wisdom, and deep roots that come along with time.
  • Tenth Anniversary: Tin or Aluminum If you’ve made it to ten years, you know you have the kind of love that will last through the years. It’s appropriate, then, that this gift should symbolize a malleable metal, like aluminum, or a metal that does not rust, like tin.
  • Twentieth Anniversary: China China is valuable and elegant, but should not be mishandled or taken for granted. It’s a charming representation of your love at two decades.
  • Twenty-Fifth Anniversary: Silver This is a big one. If you’ve reached your 25th anniversary, the value of your marriage is precious, just like silver. After 25, wedding anniversaries are marked by valuable gems: pearls, rubies, and sapphires.
  • Fiftieth Anniversary: Gold It goes without saying that gold is the most precious substance, and the perfect gift to commemorate reaching fifty years together. It’s truly the gold standard.

Handcrafted Paper Makes a Special, Eco-Friendly Gift

Eco-friendly or “green” weddings are increasing in popularity, and so are handcrafted paper invitations. But these products aren’t just for weddings! 

If your marriage has reached its pivotal one-year anniversary – or two- or four-year anniversary – consider the way cotton and wildflowers blend together to make paper that is beautifully textured and completely unique. From stationary in your wedding colors to plantable ornaments, we can make a paper gift for you that’s both earth-friendly and thoughtful. 

If you have a special anniversary coming up, or an event that you’d like to make earth-friendly, let our artists know! We’re happy to discuss options with you and create handcrafted paper gifts that are truly special. 

5 Ways to Help a Loved One who has Lost a Pet

loss of a pet

If you’ve ever loved a pet, you know how much losing one can hurt. In fact, according to Psychology Today, the death of a pet can be just as traumatic as losing a close family member. Maybe it’s because dogs and cats can live for up to 15 years and become a long-term companion, just as important as a sibling or best friend. 

If someone you know has lost a pet, you may not know exactly what to say. They may not, either! Some people hesitate openly grieving a pet because it’s not as socially accepted as mourning a human being. However, it’s just as important to acknowledge their pain. A gift or a loving word can mean so much to someone dealing with the loss of their furry friend. 

We’ve provided handcrafted paper gifts to veterinary offices and humane societies, and we understand how important a loving gesture can be. Here’s what we recommend if you know someone who is missing their dear companion. 

(1) Acknowledge that they have lost a friend. 

Some may feel embarrassed to openly grieve the loss of a pet. It’s incredibly important to recognize your loved one’s loss. Give them a chance to talk about their cat or dog. Offer words of support, whether it’s over the phone or on social media. Even the briefest gesture of support can help. 

(2) Send a little something. 

When Heather Morgan of St. Louis, Missouri lost a beloved dog, she was heartened by the thoughtful gifts her family sent, which included a blanket and a plantable sympathy card. Gifts can be as varied as a framed photo, a bouquet of flowers, a piece of jewelry or even a pet portrait. Another gesture to consider is a donation to an animal shelter in the deceased pet’s name. Your local veterinarian’s office can help you make a donation and send a card to your grieving friend. 

(3) Check on them. 

Remember that, for some, losing a pet can be just as devastating as losing a close relative. As your loved one grieves, check in on them from time to time. Do they need help with groceries or simple errands? Encourage them to get out and about, too. Sometimes keeping up a regular routine can help a person get through a time of grief. 

(4) Decide on a thoughtful way to memorialize their pet.

Taking a moment to memorialize a pet can help give a pet owner closure and ease the pain of their loss. This memorial doesn’t necessarily have to take the shape of a funeral. Maybe a scrapbook project or a memorial garden will make the pet owner feel that their beloved friend has been honored. 

(5) Make sure your friend gets out of the house.  

It’s common to isolate yourself when you’re dealing with a loss. Don’t let that happen to your friend or loved one. Especially for those who live alone, their pet may have been a big part of their social life. Invite your friend for walks, lunches, or trips to the store. It can be a way of helping them reconnect. 

What NOT to Do 

There’s no standardized way for dealing with the loss of a pet. It’s important, however, not to ignore the event or make light of it by saying, “it’s JUST a dog/cat.” Doing so won’t make your loved one feel any better. It’s also not appropriate to put a timeline on their grief or encourage them to just get over it. Don’t bring up getting another pet until the person is truly ready. Instead, be supportive and patient, just as you would if your friend had lost a close family member. 

Beautiful Products by Cast Paper Art Make a Thoughtful Gift

At Cast Paper, we make all of our eco-friendly products by hand, using the same technique that has been successful for hundreds of years. Each sheet of our paper is crafted using recycled fibers and other natural inclusions like fresh wildflowers and other plants. Whether you’re helping a friend overcome a loss or celebrate a big event, consider giving them a true work of art. 

Creating Specialized Paper

This week we had two special things happen at once. For one thing, we had our first batch of really fantastic weather here in St. Louis; it was around 80 degrees all week, and though we did get some storms, we had a lot of hours of sunshine, too.

The second, and more important thing, was that we received a rare and exciting type of order: one of our valued customers ordered our folio-sized sheets (23”x35”) of handmade, fern-embedded paper.  

Most of our orders are for our small products – our wedding invitations, our blooming floral ornaments, our eco-friendly paper cones. But every so often, about once a year, we get an order for the really, really big sheets.

These large sheets have a lot of uses – they make for a unique and colorful matte paper for art framing, they have enough give to make for excellent letterpress stock, and they can also be “parent” sheets for any number of uniquely-sized projects like bookmarks, invitations, or even business cards. This particular client uses these sheets as liner pages for signature books.

Thanks to the warm weather, we had perfect conditions to take the show outdoors, as Alvida walked us through the process of how this fascinating stock is made:

First, we take fresh green ferns and make cuttings in a variety of lengths – the fresher the plants the better, as they retain more of the color that way. That’s true for our fern-embedded sheets, and for our flower-petal line of products, like our Floral Expressions invitation stock.

Alvida floats some of the fern fronds in a vat of water, alongside a fairly-generous portion of our paper pulp. Alvida and our other employees have been doing this for years and years, so they know exactly how much to add in.

Next, we dip a screen into the water, scooping up enough of the mixture to cover the entire screen. This is trickier than it looks – you have to do it just right to get uniform coverage and thickness across the entire screen, so it lays flat, looks right, and can be used for projects.

Then, we dry out the sheets – we have a drying room, but when an order is for hundreds of these sheets, it really helps to have a nice sunny day so we can spill out into the parking lot a bit.

Once the sheets have dried, Alvida carefully separates the paper from the screens, taking care not to tear them. The resulting paper has a fine deckled edge – the slightly uneven end that you will only find on fine, handmade papers.

Projects like this are a lot of fun for us – it’s paper-making at its finest, a process we’ve honed over decades of practice. There’s really nothing better than spending a sunny day making great paper. If you’re interested in ordering some yourself, drop us a line for more information.

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You use a butter mold for what?

What’s a butter mold? Well, for fancy society parties in the mid-1800s, putting out a stick of butter simply wasn’t good enough. Special molds were used to create butter that looked like different items appropriate to the meal: fish-shaped butter for a seafood dinner, corn-shaped butter for a prairie theme, lamb-shaped butter for an Easter feast. They could also use these same molds to create specialty desserts.

You might be wondering why a blog about hand-crafted paper and stationery is talking so much about butter molds. It’s because those precious antique molds needn’t be used only for butter and chocolate! Over our decades of operating with fine handcrafted papers, we’ve collected dozens upon dozens of these molds from antique stores, estate sales, attic rummaging and the like, and amassed a truly impressive collection of beautiful, one-of-a-kind molds.

We’ve given these molds new life for our lines of plantable seed paper ornaments, like the blooming heart ornament and the blooming shell ornament. We have many different types of plantable seed paper ornaments, of course – shamrocks and Christmas trees, shells and easter bunnies, doves and angels… the list goes on and on.

Our Blooming Heart Ornament was a perfect symbol of February- not only Valentine’s Day, but also National Heart Health Month. Whether it’s for a Valentine’s gift, or favors for a heart-healthy charity event, or maybe just a little something to show someone you’re thinking about them, our blooming heart ornament is one of our most popular items year-round.

But with our one-of-a-kind-collection of the sort of molds that simply aren’t made anymore, we have all sorts of shapes to fit whatever occasion or event you might want. Take our blooming shell ornament – not many places have a mold laying around in the shape of a perfect seashell. But for your summer event or beachy-themed wedding, we’ve got that. We pride ourselves on our variety of products,

We’ve been making plantable seed paper ornaments for decades, now. It’s a family business and our lifelong passion. And part of that passion has been going out into the world and gathering the tools of our trade, so that we can boast that we have options that nobody else has – because the only way to get them would be to go back to the 1800s and buy them while they were still being made.

American Animal Hospital Association Conference

This week we’re taking a couple of days to head down to the AAHA Conference in Tampa, Florida.

Plantable Pet Cards
Plantable Pet Cards

Not that one really needs an excuse to head to Florida, especially when the Midwest is still only just starting to get temperatures in the 50s, but we’ve got a very good reason to head down there this time.

The AAHA is the American Animal Hospital Association, and as of late we’ve started to work alongside veterinary professionals to offer a line of pet memorial products.

Cast Paper Art is a family company, after all, and we know just as well as any pet owner that our pets are a part of our family. When you’ve lost a pet, you’ve lost a real piece of your family, and that calls for a real, dignified way to express your sympathy.

That’s why we offer a wide variety of products for pets, just like we would for any other member of the family: pet sympathy cards, eco-friendly pet memorial products, small blooming mementos – these gifts can help pet owners through a difficult time.

For veterinarians, we’re proud to offer these products as a way for them to offer their sympathies to clients. After all, nobody understands the bond between a pet and their owner better than someone who has devoted their whole life to healing animals, and they deserve a way of expressing their sympathies that reflects that.

This weekend, we’re bringing to Tampa samples of our blooming ornaments, plantable products, sympathy cards, and our bookmarks, which come printed with the “Rainbow Bridge” poem that every pet owner knows and loves. It’s our way of saying “hello,” and thanking them for the service they perform.

And don’t worry, folks – while we’re in Tampa, there are still going to be folks around the workshop, so you can still plant your usual orders.

Book Themed Weddings

Despite what people might say in this age of kindles and Twitter, books are not going anywhere anytime soon. And one way you can see this clearly is in the proliferation of book-themed weddings out there. Many a couple has come together over their love of the written word, and many of the more ornate, beautiful libraries in the world are capable of accommodating large events to hold a truly storybook wedding.

The trick to executing a good theme wedding, however, is commitment. If you’re going to have a theme, it can’t simply show up idly in 0c3d6e601e470e9827466443369437d2the corner of an invitation, or pop up suddenly atop your wedding cake. It has to be apparent, from the design of your place cards, to the selection of your venue, to the favors you distribute to your guests.

For a truly unforgettable wedding favor, our line of Plantable Seed Paper Bookmarks are a sure thing for the book lovers out there. Not only can they serve as an instant, take-home bouquet for your guests (just add water), they also make a fantastic wedding favor when actually used as a bookmark, often remaining in your guests homes – and hearts – long after candy would have been eaten or novelty items thrown away. A solid bookmark can continue serving its purpose for decades, after all.

Bookmarks can be used for any number of special occasions, not just weddings – you can distribute them with a favored poem or prayer at a wake or memorial, for example. They can serve as a special thank-you gift for charitable events, or as a giveaway item to include with informational mailings.

With the right word choice, you can also use bookmarks as a quirky form of invitation or save-the-date for weddings, baby showers, or other special occasions.

*Photo courtesy of Pinterest 

Sharing why we love what we do

We wanted to briefly share a note that we got the other day, which reminded us just how much we love what we do, and how important it is to us.

Though for many years our business has been focused around weddings and wedding products, that isn’t all we do here. Some time ago, we realized that our handmade products, floral themes, and biodegradable materials were also valuable for use in memorials, wakes and funerals. Flowers and paper celebrate life and love, but they also commemorate those people who gave us life and love who are now gone.

A customer recently ordered several of our small biodegradable token urns, and wonderfully, they took the time to send us a note:

Wish to thank you for the lovely crosses. They were sooo perfect. We went to sea last weekend off Southern California. All 25 of us had a white cross to write a special farewell note and float upon the blue water, even the youngest, age 7, wrote a note with pictures to Grampa.  Very touching day for all of us.   I sent your website to a few local mortuaries because our experience was unforgettable.

It’s always good to hear when our products have helped make a day special, but it’s even more touching when we feel like we’ve helped someone through a difficult time.

Cast Paper Art is a family company – Steve Deines turned his mother’s hobby into a thriving business many years ago – but it’s never stopped being a labor of love. It’s a monument to the time our family got to spend together, and that’s what our products are all about. Whether our plantable seed papers are being used to join two people together in marriage, or say goodbye to someone we will miss dearly, these items aren’t simply products to us.

 

How to Plant Seed Paper Products

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While we include planting instructions with most of our wildflower seed-embedded paper products, we know these sometimes get lost or forgotten. Here are some general tips on how to turn those little seeds into beautiful blooms.

1. We recommend planting within the first year of receiving your seed paper product. After two, it might be okay. And after that, well, it’s time to buy some new paper to plant!

2. For optimal results, only plant mid to late spring or early summer (it almost goes without saying that the dead of winter is not the best time for wildflower growth).

3. Remove any tags, ties, etc. You don’t want anything in the way of your young plant’s future growth spurt.

4. In the case of dimensional ornaments or larger sheets of paper, gently break apart or tear into smaller pieces.

5. Choose a sunny outdoor garden/spot or planter/pot.

6. Plant in 1/4″ to 1/2″ loosely packed soil. Give ’em room to grow!

7. Keep very moist, especially until the seeds begin to sprout…

8. Continue to water as needed….

9. Watch them bloom! Then do a little congratulatory dance because you just grew your very own wildflowers!

Please note that different varieties of wildflowers will sprout at different times of the growing season. So, if it’s not growing now, it might grow later!

If you have any further planting questions about our products (or would like to let us know about your growing success-we love to hear that!), please feel free to email us at customerservice@castpaperart.com or call 314-968-6896.