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A Little Q + A with Patricia Mumau from Primele Studio

New for 2010 and recently unveiled at the National Stationery Show, we are excited to introduce you to the second of our two new calligraphy fonts exclusive to Smock! Calligrapher Patricia Mumau of Primele Studio created our new Harrison font, a bold, fresh calligraphy lettering style that we showcased on our 2010 NYIGF invitations. Patricia worked alongside our internationally recognized typography firm to create her amazing new font and we’re proud to show it off! All of our calligraphy fonts (now four in total) are available with no additional calligraphy fee when you order custom letterpress stationery from Smock. Visit one of our awesome Smock dealers to see samples!

Today it is our pleasure to welcome Patricia to the blog for a little Q + A session. Welcome, Patricia!

How did you become interested in calligraphy?

I was studying in Rome at the time, and I came across a street vendor selling antique mail to collectors – old letters and postcards, amazing postage, meaty papers – and all with the most fascinating handwriting.  The penmanship was imperfect but graceful, for everyday and yet lucidly personal. I wanted to capture that candid natural hand in a contemporary calligraphy and began experimenting.

What tools does someone need to start learning calligraphy?
Patience, creative freedom, access to a  library, a pen nib and holder, and a bottle of ink in a irresistible color.

What was the process like for designing a font for Smock?
For my part, I created gobs of handwriting samples. I took time to consider the nuances of my mark making – the way I dotted my “i”s,  the curve of my question mark…

What do you think makes hand calligraphy so special?
Some projects really need that look of handwritten typography, and having access to handwriting styles on demand with calligraphy fonts makes a great addition to a graphic designer’s toolbox. But however useful, fonts can’t do everything. When it comes to spot phrases that require a bit of artistic flare and incorporated flourishes, hand calligraphy is the better fit.

What was the first lettering style you learned?
Classic American Cursive in 2nd grade. I am glad to have put those “Q”s masquerading as “2”s behind me.

Are you right or left handed?
I’m left handed, which made things interesting at first as I was learning. But with a bit of trial and error I figured out techniques that worked for me.

What’s a normal workday like for you?

#1)  Coffee.  Next I usually go over what’s on the docket with my sister Rachel who manages the studio’s projects. I do most of my addressing in the late morning and early afternoon, and work on design projects such as invitations in the later part of the day.

Other than invitations, envelopes and place cards, what other fun things do people have hand-lettered?
I’ve created logos, transcribed letters, and designed calling cards.  Currently I’ve been creating a lot of hand-lettering for return address stamps.

What is your favorite letter in the alphabet to calligraph?
A capital “Z”, all the way.

What fictional character would you be and why?
Virginia Lee Burton’s Little House. I’d like to think that while the world is constantly changing all around me, that I’d remain true to the builder’s intentions…and maybe someday make a move to a fantastic landscape and get a new coat of paint.

Where do you look for inspiration?
Mid-century picture book illustration, piped birthday cakes, American folk needlework, Swiss graphic design, opening credits to films from the 40’s and 50’s, Swedish decor, happy thoughts.

What is your favorite book of all time?
A Hole is to Dig by Ruth Krauss

How long have you been doing calligraphy professionally?
I started marketing my services late summer of 2009, so a little over a year now.

Primele consists of you and your two sisters, does everyone have a say in the design process?
We all bring our own strengths to the table. For me it’s the hand-drawn typography and illustration. I also tend to work a lot with the initial concepts and designs. Rachel does most of the work once a design is brought into the computer. She’s our Adobe software guru who makes everything graphically perfect. At different times throughout a project we’ll run it through the-kimmy. Kim has an amazing eye and a sensitive design palate, and her perfected taste acts as a kind of editor to my sometimes too-funky ideas.

Smock Store Spotlight – ecoEmporium in Atlanta

At Smock we love getting to work with incredible shops around the country and across the globe and ecoEMPORIUM in Atlanta is just one of those shops we wish we could hang out in all day long. Owned and operated by Carol Held, ecoEMPORIUM is Atlanta’s premiere destination for all things eco, including Smock’s letterpress wedding invitations, and is dedicated to introducing “customers to earth-friendly products with style, regardless of your shade of green.” We love it!

Carol grew up in South Florida where she inherited a love for gardening, landscaping and nature from her father. As a child she remembers being cautioned by her grandfather to always turn off the faucet while brushing her teeth, because someday the world would run out of safe drinking water. It seems even in the 1950s, Carol’s family was aware of greater environmental issues. According to Carol, “I always had a feeling that my purpose in life was to help people in some way but never knew what it was and as I’ve grown older it was getting to the point that I was afraid I would never know.

Eco Emporium - Smock letterpress wedding dealer - Atlanta, Georgia

About three years ago, Carol’s husband lost his job of 23 years and set up a new home office so he could work as a consultant, about which time Carol began experiencing health issues.  After visiting several health professionals and turning to home inspection professionals, she was able to track her health problems back to the formaldehyde in her husbands new office furniture and the resulting off gassing.  For her, it was a realization that proved life changing.  As she delved into researching various toxins and their existence in numerous household products, Carol grew increasingly concerned, especially having just found out she was about to be a grandmother for the first time. Understanding that such toxins and chemicals can wreak havoc on the body and pose threats to the nervous system and even cause disease, Carol knew she had finally found her way of helping people. Many months of research went into selecting the products and companies Carol represents at ecoEMPORIUM, where she is not only shop owner, but also educator and friend.

Carol encourages friends, family and customers alike to find small ways to make a difference. Whether it be using shower timers, glass straws, opting to use filtered stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic, considering bio-degradable diapers, or even something as simple as the advice of her grandfather to turn off the water when brushing your teeth, she recognizes that everyone is capable of making a difference with simple everyday changes in their habits.

Eco Emporium - Smock letterpress wedding invitation dealer - Atlanta

Carol makes educating the public a priority and often hosts great workshops on such topics as designing and setting up organic baby nurseries. Her latest endeavor is the creation of an eco wedding department, where she happily features Smock’s letterpress wedding invitations. We are thrilled to be among the other great products offered at ecoEMPORIUM!

As usual we just had to know more…

If you could describe your personality in letterpress, which Smock invitation would you be and why? My favorite would have to be Nevis. I’m wild about ivory and black and love the Tennyson & Hawthorne fonts With rounded corners and edge painting in blush ink, it makes it so sophisticated.  If I could get married all over again my wedding would be entirely ivory and black.  The quality of Smock is in a category all it’s own…everyone just loves the beauty and quality.

What’s your top pick destination for first time travelers to Atlanta?
Atlanta has so many wonderful things to do…but I’d have to say my favorite events are the Steeplechase, the Dogwood Festival, and the Atlanta Symphony’s Decorators Show House.  All take place in April and May during our beautiful Atlanta springtime. My top destination for a first time traveler to Atlanta would be The Aquarium, The World of Coke and the High Museum of Art. Families will love Stone Mountain Park.

Where are your favorite places to shop?
My favorite places to shop in Atlanta are the shops in the Midtown West area of Atlanta.  That’s where ecoEMPORIUM  is located. It’s an old area of Atlanta that is being rebuilt using the bricks and steel of the previous buildings.  It’s urban and chic with wonderful independent stores. Verde Home, Emily Amy Art Gallery, Ken Barber for men’s clothing and Toscano & Sons Italian Market are a few of my favorites.  Of course, for the mall shoppers..nothing beats Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza.

Thank you so much, Carol, for allowing us this amazing sneak peek into the inspiration behind ecoEMPORIUM! Also, we are thrilled to let you know that Carol is going to be sharing some great tips and insight into how you can introduce a little green into your life in the coming weeks so make sure to stop back!

Smock Store Spotlight – Six Chancery Lane, Hong Kong

Today we’re really excited to introduce one of the fabulous new stores Smock is working with in Hong Kong in our new Smock Store Spotlight feature. Julie Sung is the proprietor of Six Chancery Lane, the exclusive location of Smock’s letterpress wedding invitations in Hong Kong, and she happily shared some incredible insight and a look into her fabulous shop. Six Chancery Lane is a unique shop devoted to Julie’s handmade soaps and her love for letterpress, a combination we find especially fun.

Julie grew up in Taiwan, but spent many years in the U.S. when she was younger, having just recently moved to Hong Kong about five years ago. Her background includes experience in the media industry, in both television and movies, but her passion has always been design and creating things that are handmade. Julie shares, “I think I have found my calling with Six Chancery Lane – wonderful, thoughtful, handmade products and great designs just make me happy. I get so much satisfaction out of creating beautiful stationery for my clients or seeing them appreciate a beautifully packaged bar of our handmade soap.”

Six Chancery Lane - Smock's Hong Kong letterpress dealer

We were so intrigued by the concept of Six Chancery Lane as a soap and letterpress boutique that we just had to know more about Julie’s inspiration behind her lovely store…

Six Chancery Lane really is a reflection of who I am and what I love, bringing together my two passions – handmade soaps and letterpress – and combining it with a desire to share products that are unique, handcrafted, not mass-produced, environmentally-friendly, and beautiful, with people who care about the same things. Originally, I started making soaps myself when I couldn’t find anything suitable for my sensitive skin in retail stores. I immediately fell in love with the craft of soapmaking, ultimately spending countless hours in my kitchen researching, testing new recipes and improving upon existing ones, until I finally had to find more space! Our soaps are all made in-house at Six Chancery Lane from the very best ingredients and then individually wrapped in beautiful paper I have personally sourced from around the world. I fell in love with letterpress when I was planning my own wedding and discovered, to my dismay, that I could not find letterpress in Hong Kong. I decided to learn all I could about letterpress, through research and taking classes in the U.S. Through Six Chancery Lane, I have finally have a venue to bring beautiful letterpress cards and stationery to discerning brides and customers in Hong Kong.

Six Chancery Lane - Smock's Hong Kong letterpress dealer

And we just had to know…
If you could describe your personality in letterpress, which Smock invitation would you be and why?
I would have to choose “Haddington” in black and raspberry ink with a raspberry Champlain liner. It is simple, clean, and subtle; classic yet contemporary at the same time. The splash of bright color on a black and white background stands out without trying too hard.

What are some fun traditions typical of Hong Kong weddings that you enjoy?
An interesting tradition for Hong Kong weddings is something known as “Door Games”. On the day of the wedding, the groom accompanied by his groomsmen, must go pick up the bride at her home. But before he can get in the door to see his bride for the first time, he must pass a series of test and tasks presented to them by the bridesmaids who are guarding the door. The “games” include quizzing the groom on facts about his future wife and other physical and embarrassing deeds. The bridesmaids can be pretty creative with what they demand the guys to do. It’s always a lot of fun and laughs. Of course, I enjoy this tradition, because I’m on the serving end and not the receiving!

Six Chancery Lane - Smock's Hong Kong letterpress dealer

What’s your top pick destination for first time travelers to Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is such a dynamic city. It really is a blend of East and West. There is so much to do, but if you could only do one thing, I would recommend taking in the breathtaking view of the city on Victoria Peak. Hong Kong has some of the best architecture in the world, and when the city is lit up at night, there really isn’t anything else in the world that really compares.

Where are your favorite places to shop?
I love to browse small, distinctive, local shops in SoHo, Hong Kong. There are a lot of great boutiques selling everything from trendy clothes to antique jewelry. I also love night markets in Taipei. You can find all sorts of wonderful things for amazingly low prices.  Not to mention there is a lot of delicious street food for you to sample. Oh, and I can spend hours on Etsy.

Why did you feel compelled to bring Smock’s signature bamboo letterpress to the people of Hong Kong?
Well, first of all, the designs are amazing. So clean and classy, yet very modern. Also, I love the fact that Smock is so eco-friendly. A lot of times people think things that are environmental means you have to sacrifice on quality or looks, but Smock proves that that’s not the case. And basically because letterpress from Smock is about the most beautiful I’ve seen and I just want to share that with people in Hong Kong.

Thank you so much, Julie, for sharing a glimpse into what Six Chancery Lane is all about! We love knowing more about the great places where Smock is featured and hope you’ll make Six Chancery Lane one of your stops if you’re ever in Hong Kong. This is just the first of several Smock Store Spotlight features to come and we can’t wait to share more of the great shops where you can find Smock across the globe!

Double-sided letterpress save the dates in a cool pink

This is the Haddington letterpress save the date printed in a vibrant raspberry ink. We often print the Haddington design in dark inks — blacks, grays — but wow, it’s so pretty and cool in raspberry. We also love the mixture of fonts (the serif Inigo font + our Smock Spencerian font). And we love that it’s a double-sided save the date too, with accommodation information on the reverse side of the card. We can easily make any of our letterpress pieces double-sided — a nice option which saves paper and saves money too, when compared with the price of two separate cards. This save the date was sent to us by our friends at Events in Houston.
Double-sided letterpress save the date card - Haddington design - by Smock

The Rhon letterpress wedding invitation in pewter + sky blue loveliness

Here’s a great customization of our Rhon letterpress wedding invitation (check out the original Rhon here). The inks are a cool pewter and sky blue (pewter is such a great color to letterpress in!), and the san serif font really gives the invitation a modern elegance.
Rhon letterpress wedding invitations - blues and grays - by Smock
What a great idea to print the letterpress invitation in two terrific colors, and then letterpress the reply card in a single color. This keeps costs down and keep the invitation very, very special. This invitation was sent to us by our friends at the Write Image in Rockville, Maryland.
Rhon letterpress reply card - by Smock
Want to see other Rhon customizations? Check out the Rhon save the date letterpressed in pewter (a perfect color!) and raspberry; a Rhon letterpress Bat Mitzvah invitation; the Rhon wedding invitation in pewter and grass; and the Rhon letterpress invitation in a custom neutral ink + eggplant. Rhon continues to be one of our best selling letterpress invitation designs this year!

Brand new letterpress greeting cards! Happy birthday, love, and more

We just released 21 new letterpress greeting cards, all letterpressed sustainably on bamboo paper, and each with sweetly patterned lined envelopes. They’re the first greeting cards to be letterpressed on eco-friendly bamboo paper (hooray!), and the collection includes happy birthday cards, valentine’s day love cards, sympathy cards, congratulations cards (perfect for baby or engagements or weddings), and mother’s day cards. See the whole letterpress greeting collection – and buy your favorites! – at Here are a few of our favorites. Enjoy!
Letterpress stationery + letterpress cards - Smock
Letterpress greeting card - happy birthday - by Smock

Letterpress happy birthday greeting card - by Smock

Letterpress greeting card - valentine's day love - by Smock

Sweet custom letterpress stationery – gold edging!

This was a great idea we hadn’t seen before — custom letterpress stationery in the size of a reply card. It seems the PERFECT size to us — sweetly intimate, and just enough room to write a nice personal note (but not too much room!). An extra bonus: it uses less paper than larger social stationery cards (eco!), which also makes it less expensive (nice!). This letterpress stationery is in our Haddington invitation design, using our Smock Spencercian fonts (based on our favorite calligrapher’s penmanship). And the gold edge painting! Oh, gold edge painting makes us swoon — we would like to edge everything we could in gold right now. It adds such an elegant finish to a card. Sent to us by our friends The Write Image in Rockville, Maryland.
Sweet letterpress custom stationery - by Smock
Gold edge painting on a letterpress thank you note - by Smock