Custom cards that say 'home'

Times Staff Writer

WHEN Dana Slatkin found her perfect home, she wanted to share the news with friends. Before sending out moving announcements, she hired an artist to draw an architecturally detailed rendering, down to the roof shingles and ivy leaves, of a greenhouse in her Holmby Hills backyard. That was the image she used on the card cover.

"We sent it to express our happiness and to capture our home's charm and 80-year history," she says. "We were so full of emotion it seemed unfitting to buy a prefab card."

Orders for custom stationery and calling cards bearing the image of a home, garden or even a favorite chair are on the rise at print shops, says Megan Kuntze, senior marketing manager of top-tier paper purveyor Crane & Co. Multiple houses, phones and e-mail addresses as well as the desire to separate from our work identities are creating a need for a wardrobe of personal stationery. Kuntze has even seen people request letterhead for their boat.

What once was reserved for wealthy families -- think Jane Austen characters corresponding from country estates -- is now available to many thanks to home computers and discount stationery suppliers. But if the keepsake nature of a handwritten note is the intent, nothing says class as quickly as quality paper imprinted with an original image by an old-fashioned letterpress.

Artists may charge from $250 to $2,000 or more to visit your home and create a sketch or watercolor drawing that can be reproduced onto anything including thank-you notes and place cards. Architectural renderings cost more and take up to eight weeks. Letterpress printing starts at $250 for 100 sheets and envelopes.

"I do believe it's a perfect monogram," says architect and artist Jean-Maurice Moulene of Beaux-Arts in Pasadena who drew Slatkin's greenhouse. "Putting your name or initial with a symbol in the middle is outdated. You need to come up with something else that can be personal and talks about you in a good, not pretentious way."

Humor can help. Moulene created a whimsical baby announcement that shows a nursery with a brother and sister peering over partitions. For another moving card, he focused on the kitchen, down to the turkey in the fridge. For client Will Paice, he captured an aerial view of an A-framed midcentury modern home with a pool and palm trees in Hollywood Hills. The image was printed onto 3-inch cards.

"I was inspired by the architecture and sunshine, and I wanted to communicate that to friends who live back home in England," says Paice, who hung the rendering on a guestroom wall so visitors could mark a spot and leave a message.

Slatkin too has the original drawing of her greenhouse on a wall in her master suite. "I can see it every day," she says. "It's an emotional thing. Sometimes an image can speak more than words."


Creating a unique look

Here is a sampling of artists, printers and suppliers of custom stationery:

Aardvark Letterpress, Los Angeles, (213) 388-2271;

Francis Orr Stationery, Beverly Hills, (323) 272-2013.

Designer Jo Gartin, Los Angeles, (323) 939-5707;

Artist Claudia Laub, Los Angeles, (323) 871-1400;

Architect Jean-Maurice Moulene, Pasadena,, (847) 541-5800.

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