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 walks 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?

Here in St. Louis, we have a fantastic hidden gem of a place called the Campbell House Museum. A mansion once belonging to one of the richest fur trappers in the country, the Campbell House displays all the most lavish luxuries the mid-1800s could bestow upon a family. They played host to presidents and heads of state, Native American chiefs and famous celebrities of the era.

And they had a lot of butter molds.

What’s a butter mold? Well, for fancy society parties back in the day, 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 said we’d be talking about this month. 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.

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 (March 12-15) we’re going to be 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 can be a difficult time for pet owners, and we try to find ways to help make it easier.

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.

Incorporating Eco-Friendly Wedding Products for your Big Day

When you’re planning an eco-friendly wedding, you find out about all sorts of products that you never knew existed, solving problems you never even knew that you had. Whether it’s an attachment to stop high heels from sinking into the ground during an outdoor wedding or a special lockbox to keep cards safe during the reception, chances are that someone else has already encountered your problem, solved it, and put the solution up for sale.

Which is why we’re so proud of our plantable seed paper throw cones. Some of you might be asking yourself, “What is a

Plantable Seed Paper Throw Cone
Plantable Seed Paper Throw Cone

‘throw cone?’” The answer is – it’s the solution to a problem that a lot of brides have.

Though throwing rice has fallen out of favor for a lot of reasons, many brides still like the idea of getting showered with something festive as they leave the ceremony. There’s actually a lot more options than you might think.

  • Flower petals are a favorite of ours, as we love all things floral here at Cast. More colorful than traditional rice, they fall gracefully and look pretty on the ground as well, so you won’t feel like you’re littering.
  • Birdseed is another choice people go with. Part of the reason people don’t throw rice anymore was the fear that it was making birds sick. It’s not actually true, at least not usually, but nevertheless the local wildlife is much more likely to prefer birdseed to uncooked rice.
  • Fresh-cut herbs make a unique option as well. Not only do they look pretty and break down naturally in the ground, but they can also make wonderful aromas depending on what you’ve chosen.

There’s more to these plantable seed paper cones than that, though. They can make perfect holders for unique wedding favors – candy, popcorn, small knick-knacks. Simply arrange them around your table settings, and they look fantastic.

Each cone comes with a customizable tag, which can include a welcome message, or perhaps a brief description of what’s inside your favor (if, for example, you’re exposing out-of-town guests to some local favorite candy), or even instructions on when and how to throw the flower petals (“Don’t throw your petals until the bride is in front of you” or the like).

The best part though, is that even the paper is a favor. All of our cones are made out of our plantable seed paper, which means that your guests can take the cone itself home, plant it in the yard or a pot, and watch as it blooms into a living memento of your special day.

We should also mention, of course, that the uses for these beautiful cones isn’t limited to weddings. Any special event, charity function, bat mitzvah or work retreat could make use of these if you can think of a way to deploy them. The limit is your imagination!

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.

 

Spring Products Perfect for Weddings

Love is in the air – not just this month, with Valentine’s Day and all that comes with that. No, for those of us in the industry, this time of year marks the humble beginnings of wedding season. While the dead of winter has the fewest weddings of any time of year, once the temperature starts to climb and the sun starts setting later, brides start putting together their special day.

Which is great, because our products go hand-in-hand with springtime – whether it’s our seed paper wedding favors, our plantable seed paper cones, or our eco-friendly wedding invitations, our specialty is products that bloom with the seasons.white-floral-overlay-e1360085296788

Cast Paper Art has scores of products, of course, and sometimes we get so excited about all the things we make for you that it can be difficult to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve decided, over the next several weeks, to talk to you about five of our products in particular. Through those, we hope to give you a window into all the ways our products can liven up your special events.

First off, we’ll be talking about our plantable seed paper ornaments, including our blooming heart ornaments (very popular this time of year), and our blooming shell ornament.

Why a heart and a shell? Because many people operate under the mistaken impression that seed paper wedding favors can only go with a certain kind of wedding motif – the sort of rustic, barn-and-Mason-jar wedding you’ve probably seen on Pinterest. Which is beautiful- those types of weddings are absolutely magical, especially if that fits with the bride’s dream for her special day, don’t misunderstand. But thanks to years spent collecting antique molds in a variety of shapes, we can make plantable seed paper ornaments that fit in with any type of wedding.

Whether you’re doing that classic rustic-barn wedding, a beach-themed backyard barbecue, or an Art-Deco red-carpet kind of affair, we’ve got the ability to make the eco-friendly wedding favor that’ll have your guests bringing home something special.

Later on, we’ll be talking about plantable seed paper cones – these can be used as “throw cones” for your exit from the ceremony. Instead of traditional rice, these can be filled with flower petals, birdseed, or even dried herbs for whatever look or feel you’re going for. Or, you can use them at the reception to hold guest favors- like candies or other small goodies.

Next, we’ll be talking about plantable blooming bookmarks – these make a particularly interesting parting gift for guests, as they serve a dual purpose. They can be used as a bookmark for as long as you like, and when they become too well-loved to continue on that way, you can plant them out back for wildflowers. Whether you’re a book-lover or just prefer a practical favor that your guests will get to use twice, these will be a unique and unforgettable option.

We’ll be ending this series talking about our A7-sized overlay seed paper invitation. Using delicate translucent stock, your invitation message takes on an ethereal quality as it hovers over our signature blooming paper, which is flecked with beautiful flower petals and wildflower seeds. A traditional wedding can create a lot of paper waste, and with our eco-friendly wedding invitations, you can start off the whole event caring almost as much about your carbon footprint as you do about one another.

We’ve got a lot more to say on the subject, so keep an eye on this space – we’re going to have several posts elaborating on all of these products, along with helpful tips, tricks, and inspirations for you to build the event of your dreams.

Eco-Friendly Funeral Ideas

Today, being eco-friendly has become increasingly popular. From living an environmentally friendly life to planning a good-for-the-earth wedding, leaving a positive mark on this planet has become a number one priority for many. Sadly, there are times in life where planning an event such as a funeral can become a heart breaking and overwhelming experience but one that can be done while keeping the planet in mind.

Green funerals are now a respected part of the funeral and cremation community. These funerals are beneficial to both the family and the environment, and it is one of the better alternatives when choosing to arrange a memorial.

The following are some of the green products we carry to assist with memorial service planning:

  • Hospice Sympathy Cards
  • Plantable Memorial Bookmarks
  • Plantable Memorial Cards
  • Plantable Seed Paper Adornments
  • Tribute Angels
  • Biodegradable Urns
  • Biodegradable Token Urns
  • Bio Scattering Vessels
  • Eco-Friendly Guest Registers

People often overlook green funerals because they are concerned that they are non-traditional or more expensive. However, one of the best things about a green funeral is that it is very similar to a traditional funeral in many ways and is often less expensive.

 

Plantable Wedding Invitations

In the wedding industry it has been a long time tradition to use a printed, standard card stock for invitations. These cards can have wild designs or show a simpler theme and are accompanied with a standard stock envelope. Using this type of card means an industrial paper making process that includes cutting machines, duplex board machines, hydraulic head boxes and pressurized screens, not to mention a great loss of trees in the forest. Smoke from the factories and exhaust pipes of tractor-trailer delivery trucks bound to all four corners of the lower 48 causes additional harm to the earth that cannot be reversed. All of this energy — the fossil fuels, the man-hours — turns a simple wedding invitation into a giant carbon footprint.

Reducing your carbon footprint is a large topic in today’s society but through the use of recycled products, your effect on the ecosystem becomes just a little less.

When we began making plantable products, we were the only company to do so. Our mission was to provide customers with popular products that were eco-friendly and could be used for a dual purpose. That mission is still true today as more people become concerned with the effects their lifestyles have on the planet.

Wedding Invitations with a Lasting Impression

Our favorite eco-friendly invitation idea is, of course, the plantable card. Our plantable invitations are made with seeds embedded in the paper. The paper and ink is biodegradable, so the recipient can simply stick the invitation in a hole, water it, and watch the flowers grow. This invitation is embedded with wildflower seeds:

pocket-w-card-2-cutout-e1355431939976

If leaving less of a carbon footprint is important to you, using recycled or plantable invitations is the sure fire way to make sure your efforts don’t go unnoticed. Recipients will be able to watch the flowers from your invitations bloom as a constant reminder of your love.

Top Tips for Eco-Friendly Wedding Invites

Whether you realize it or not, paper plays a very important part in the wedding planning process. From programs and RSVPs to invitations and save the dates, they offer your guests the essential information for your big day. If you are an eco-conscious couple, you understand how using so much paper can harm the environment. Thankfully, there are several eco-friendly alternatives to help make your wedding as green as possible without losing the elegant touch you might be hoping to achieve.

 

Using Recycled Products

The first and most important decision is to use recycled paper for wedding invitations, programs and RSVP cards. Using recycled paper reduces your carbon footprint and offers a large variety of options.

 

Finding Products with Multiple Uses

The average wedding guest can receive as many as six different wedding paper products: an invitation card, a main envelope, an RSVP card and envelope, directions to the venue and a reception card. An easier and cheaper option is to opt for a recycled paper product that can be used for multiple items. Our Pocket Fold Seed Paper Invitation is the perfect example of a multi-use invitation and as an added bonus these invitations bloom into perennial wildflowers. The pocket allows you to add the RSVP card, envelope and reception details all within the same main invitation. This can save on cost for mailing and additional envelopes.

 

Reuse Invites for Fresh Flowers

For a truly unique option, you can go for an invitation that will always remind your guests of your wedding day. Plantable invitations and paper products, like the ones we specialize in, are made of recycled cotton paper that is embedded with perennial wildflower seeds. They can serve as a keepsake on your guests’ mantles or planted in their yards. This not only helps in adding to the plants in the world, it also serves as a (growing) reminder of the day that you tied the knot with your special someone.

 

No matter your style or season, you can find the perfect way to green your wedding correspondence. Explore our recycled paper products here.