Office supplies? Ostrich supplies!

By Troy Turner for Yanko Design

Introducing Ostrich. Never before has a paperclip holder been so awesome. The magnetic silhouette takes on the familiar form of the world’s biggest bird.

Beautiful on its own, the shiny metallic finish and funky red “sneakers” make it an interesting desktop ornament. Add on the included black paperclips, however, and you’ve got something entirely new.

This novel piece of stationery is designed by Arthur Xin.

By Maria Dermentzi for Mashable

Plastic Whale is a professional plastic fishing company that offers boat trips during which tourists — while sightseeing — will pick up plastic from Amsterdam’s canals. The plastic bottles that are being collected get turned into office furniture, in collaboration with Vepa.

Make ornaments from old greeting cards

Original article by Amy Johnson for Maker Mama 

It’s nearly time to start spring cleaning. Some things in life we find hard to throw away, and one of those is holiday and birthday cards received from those close to you.

One way to save them is to use old cards to make paper ball ornaments.

They’re free and easy to make with simple supplies, and would be perfect for your own decor or even as a little gift.

The main supplies you’ll need are some paper and a cutting tool, such as a circle punch.

You can use any paper you have around, but make sure it’s about card stock weight, otherwise it won’t keep it’s shape well. Likewise, if you don’t have a circle cutting tool, you can trace something circular and cut them by hand (double the paper up so it’ll go faster).

Start by cutting out 21 circles in different colours and patterns.

To create your template and start folding your circles follow these steps:

  • Lay out your extra circle piece.
  • Fold it in half.
  • Fold it in half again to make an X in your circle.
  • Fold a small section into the middle.
  • Fold an equal-sized section into the middle, overlapping the first section.
  • Fold the third section over the others, creating a triangle (try to keep the sections as equal as possible).
  • Cut away the flaps leaving your equilateral triangle as the template.
  • Place the template on top of a new circle and fold flaps along the lines.
  • Remove the template and you have the basic piece that will make up your ornament.

Now fold the rest until you have twenty folded triangle-circles (the template makes it go by pretty fast).

Next, bust out your craft glue of choice.

I went for the hot glue gun for the sake of time. I’ve used white glue on previous ones and had to paperclip the flaps together to ensure they stay together, and it took much longer to dry.

Take 10 of your pieces and line them up in a row, alternating the direction they’re pointing.

Next, glue the first and last pieces together.

You should have five flaps facing out on both the top and bottom.

Take your 10 remaining pieces and lay them out for the top and bottom of the ornament.

This time you want them all pointing toward the center, creating a circular shape.

After you glue the flaps together, you’ll have two domed pieces with five flaps on the bottom of each.

Glue the top and bottom pieces together along the flaps.

To hang it up, punch a hole in the top and string some yarn through.

By Veronica An for The Hub

Despite being known as the digital generation, tech-obsessed millennials are spending more money on handmade cards and letterpress stationery.

“Everyone says that paper is dying but our experience is that paper is not dying,” said Rosanna Kvernmo, who runs Iron Curtain Press and the adjacent stationery store, Shorthand, in Highland Park.

According to a report by Paper Culture, the average number of holiday cards purchased by customers has actually increased by 38 percent over the last five years.

“I don’t think this is just a flash in the pan,” Kvernmo said. “I think stationery is here to stay.”

Stationery makers and letter pressers agree that millennials are some of their biggest consumers.

“I interface with people a lot and, yes, I can say that people are sending cards again,” said Elisa Goodman, 62, owner of Curmudgeon Cards. Goodman has an online store and travels to various art fairs and open air markets in Los Angeles to sell her cards.

Goodman has been making her unique brand of handmade cards for 18 years and says her message is one that resonates with millennials as well as Baby Boomers. Goodman started making cards while dealing with a difficult time in her life and said that encouragement cards were among the first she created.

“I’m happy millennials are resonating with my brand so much. They really are appreciative of the quality and not price-resistant to the cost of handmade cards,” Goodman said.

Curmudgeon Cards retail for $10-$12 – about double the cost of digitally printed cards. Goodman sells many of her cards at craft fairs and farmers markets across L.A.

Cost still a factor
Still, other stationery-makers cite price as a sticking point with customers. Letter pressers say that the cost of paper and ink have gone up, not to mention the difficulty of working with machines that are out of production.

Adam Smith, 38, the owner of Life is Funny letterpress, got his start at Sugar Paper letterpress in 2006 and purchased his own press, a 1953 Heidelberg Windmill, in 2013. He said his cards retail at comparable prices to digitally printed cards which make them more affordable than most.

“One of my biggest clients is Alfred Coffee so the people who are buying these cards are who you’d expect …millennials with money,” Smith said.

According to customers, Smith’s sarcastic cards appeal to millennials. One card under the “Love” category tagged as #FirstDateWarnings says “I Use A Lot Of Emojis…I Hope You’re Okay With That.”

In addition to letter presses that have opened recently, older L.A.-based companies are also seeing an increase in business. Aardvark Letterpress, a family-owned letterpress in MacArthur Park, celebrated its 50th year in 2018 and owners say that not much has changed in terms of production.

“People are rediscovering [letterpress] and coming back to us…but the economic factors are still an issue,” said Cary Ocon, co-owner of Aardvark Letterpress.

Ocon said the company saw a drop in sales during and after the 2008 recession but that they are currently doing well. Although sales have not quite surpassed pre-recession numbers, Ocon said Aardvark still does solid business with many celebrities, entertainment companies, and governmental organizations, including the mayor’s office.

“I think there’s this reaction to the temporary nature of stuff – most things aren’t even printed anymore, they’re just read and shared digitally,” Ocon said. “I think people realize that this is a whole different product…so much more work goes into it than digital printing.”

Unique feel
Customers at Aardvark agree, saying that they are willing to pay extra for the uniqueness of letterpress.

“The presentation is everything,” said Darius Washington, founder of the D Hollywood Agency.

Washington was shopping for letterpress and foil printed business cards for his clients and said he had heard about Aardvark Letterpress through Instagram.

“Letterpress has that special feel to it. It’s like old cars, there’s something special about the handcrafted effort,” Washington said.

The handcrafted nature makes letterpress and handmade cards ideal for customization.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine and a report by Forbes, customization is a major selling point for millennials.

Specialization works for Goodman, who said she accepts many commissions for Curmudgeon Cards and Aardvark Letterpress has an in-house designer who can make custom designers for clients.

“People want to connect,” Kvernmo said. “There’s something about connecting with paper that’s more special than connecting through text.”

By Wendy Knowler for Times Live 

You probably wouldn’t dream of eating the glitter sold in stationery and craft shops‚ but almost all the glitter sprinkled on iced cupcakes has no business inside a human body either.

Confusingly‚ the labels say “non toxic”‚ which leads many bakers and consumers to believe that the glitter is edible.

An admission by a contestant on the Great British Bake Off TV show in 2012 – that she didn’t know if the glitter she was liberally sprinkling on her cupcakes was edible or not – went on to make glitter one of Britain’s top 10 food safety concerns. Two years ago the USA’s Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about non-edible decorative glitters and dusts being promoted for use on foods‚ saying there was no difference between craft glitter and “non toxic‚ decorative” cake glitter.

South Africa’s health authorities have yet to take such a stand‚ and there is relatively little awareness among bakers and consumers about the fact that most cake glitter on sale in baking goods stores is a form of plastic.

But it’s not just the composition of cake glitter which is now called into question – it’s all products used to create “edible” decorations‚ including colouring powders‚ dusting powders‚ gels and gold and silver leaf.

Should it be swallowed‚ it will simply pass through the body same as a Lego block would.

This week the UK’s Food Safety Agency dropped a bombshell on the global baking industry by issuing an alert about the entire range of products made by South Africa’s most prominent cake decorations company Rolkem‚ saying the company had “failed to provide assurances of product safety”‚ and thus there was a potential risk that they could contain heavy metals‚ unapproved non-food pigments and/or other unapproved ingredients”.

Earlier this year a batch of two Rolkem gold products were recalled from the UK market after being found to contain high levels of copper. Those batches were not sold in South Africa.

Rolkem CEO Andries Kemp said the Food Safety Agency issued the alert because the company couldn’t meet the “unrealistic” deadlines imposed on it to produce test certificates for its 400 products.

“We shall supply the test certificates to all our stockists locally and internationally as soon as we receive them from the laboratory‚” he said.

“We are confident that all products will test clear.”

Pinetown-based baking supplies retailer Bake-a-Ton has since put a notice up in its store advising the following about all Rolkem products: “Until such point as our suppliers can provide proof of food grade certificates we do not recommend these products for use as edible in your baking and decorating.”

“We have also instructed our staff to educate customers correctly with regards to product usage‚” operations manager Justin Baker told TimesLIVE.

Despite Rolkem and other local manufacturers insisting that they stipulate that the glitter should be applied only to decorations which are removed before the cakes are eaten‚ it would appear that that message has until now been very poorly communicated between factory and retail shelf.

A staff member at Durban baking goods supplier Party Themes told me this week that the cake glitter is “fine to sprinkle on icing‚ but you just mustn’t eat it from the pot”.

When qualified food technologist Kate O’Dowd asked Cape Town-based baking goods supplier Barco for a break-down of its “Flitter” glitter product‚ on behalf of a friend wanting to add glitter to a lip balm‚ the company sent her an email describing it as “non-toxic and for removable cake decorations and crafts only” and listing the ingredients as polyester (90 – 95%) aluminium‚ epoxy resin‚ chromium and dyes.

“The reason for this is that glitter currently sold in SA is made of very thin plastic and as such it is not a product that can be absorbed by the human body‚” Barco co-owner Kevin Ritchie told O’Dowd.

“Should it be swallowed‚ it will simply pass through the body same as a Lego block would.”

“I was flabbergasted‚” O’Dowd said. “I don’t think many people realise those glitters which we see on so many cup cakes these days are actually plastic. And I’ve never seen anyone picking it off.”

Non-toxic glitter may not kill you‚ but don’t eat it – that’s the advice of Dr Zhaoping Li‚ professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at the University of California‚ Los Angeles. “At least not regularly or large quantities‚” he says.

Bullet journalling drives stationery sales

By Tori Linville for Gifts and Dec

A journal is one of the most personal items someone can own, and the trend of bullet journals skyrocketed in the past year, driving sales of traditional stationery supplies like writing instruments and notebooks, according to The NPD Group.

The bullet journal was deemed “the analogue system for the digital age” by creator Ryder Carroll, and has seen more than 2-million Instagram posts relating to the trend.

Last year alone, consumers spend almost $210-million on unruled spiral, composition, graphing and other kinds of notebooks – 18% more than the year before.

Writing instruments that are often seen being used for bullet journals saw growth in sales as well: colour markers saw a 17% increase, paint markers had a 9% increase, permanent markers saw a 6% increase, gel pens increased by 6% and porous pens increased by 5%.

“Today’s continuously evolving digital transition makes for challenging times in the office supplies industry, but there’s still plenty of opportunity for traditional products to spark interest and maintain relevance,” says Tia Frapolli, president of The NPD Group’s Office Supplies practice.

“As bullet journalling and its close relative hand lettering are the most recent trends to emerge, it’s clear that notebooks and writing instruments remain important to consumers’ lives in terms of creativity, self-expression, and productivity.”

Tech-friendly letter writing

By Akanksha Singh for Grok Nation

Imagine sending out an email to a friend, only to receive a digital handwritten note back. Handwriting correspondence, snapping a photo and sending it digitally is what I call “tech-friendly letter writing.”

Once upon a time, people sat at desks with inked fingertips and wrote letters with quills. Messengers delivered them on horseback. Such correspondence was so culturally essential that collections of letters from famous authors became a means of insight into their lives. Then came stamps. Then email. Tech-friendly letter writing combines the best of handwritten notes with the convenience of technology.

Plus you skip on stamps by taking a photo and sending it via email, text–faster and there’s some guarantee of receipt. But, that’s not to say I’m against “snail mail.” I’ve been writing letters since college. When I moved from Dubai to Montreal for university, I was lonely and homesick. I remember feeling elated when I sorted through my usual spam (pizza fliers, bills), and finding a letter in the mix. My roommate’s mother had sent it, along with an exam-season care package. It meant the world to me.

So, whenever I write someone a letter, I think of them looking through bills and fliers, and finding something that was actually intended for them, created with love and thought.

Before you knock the idea for being a waste of time, let me give you some background: I attempted tech-friendly letter writing after I read this article about a Jordanian bookshop owner who replies to text messages and Facebook posts with a picture of his handwritten response. Around the same time, I decided I wasn’t immune to the technology-induced dopamine reward loops just because I was aware of them, and that I was sick of being glued to my phone all day, being plugged into everything from my Apple Watch (FYI: we broke up) to my Messenger app.

We’re all aware that our connectedness has made us bad communicators, and that we’re too busy nowadays; tech-friendly letter writing is a good way to disconnect without losing connection.

Often, when I’m typing, I’ve noticed that I type as fast as –if not faster than– I think. Word vomit all the time. Handwriting, I’ve found, has been a great way to slow down, reflect on my day and just breathe. And not surprisingly, handwriting has several benefits for the brain, like increasing neural activity, helping us learn, and more. In addition, letter writing increases those benefits!

How to go about implementing it

  1. Pretty stationery + camera phone
    I’m one of those people who indulges in stationery shopping at Kikki K whenever life gets too real. Pretty stationery does make the whole experience more enjoyable for you and the person receiving an emailed letter. Beautiful stationery options we love here, here, and here.
  2. Get over handwriting perfectionism
    Since I was a child, I’ve always prided myself on having nice handwriting; the sort that people looked at and commented on for its prettiness, which I’d counter with, “Oh, that chicken scratch?” Truthfully, I’d learned calligraphy in school (the real sort, not the messy sort that’s trendy nowadays), and picked it back up when I learned Meghan Markle was a calligrapher (shameless girl crush; judge away). So when I started writing several letters a week and experiencing hand cramps, and produced genuinely messy handwriting, I did what most perfectionists do: I’d rewrite letters that were almost ready to go, minding my cursive and avoiding spelling mistakes best I could.
    It. Was. Exhausting.
    Eventually, the reality of it (time wasting, neuroticism) dawned on me, and I let myself have messy days. The whole point of this exercise was to be real, after all.
  3. Take the pressure off
    When I initially committed to this, I overwhelmed myself with the need to do it all the time.. I eventually realized that I was taking the fun out of what was supposed to be a relaxing exercise, and I was stressing myself out. Which brings me to my next point…
  4. Accept that not everyone or every situation is deserving of a handwritten note
    Set aside a time for correspondence, like the “old days.” I know there are certain people who are worth my time and the paper and ink it takes me to write a thoughtful note. I want to be thoughtful for said people.
  5. Commit for a significant period to see if it works for you
    Like all habits, this will take some time to cultivate. In fact, it’ll likely take longer–texting is just so damned easy. Schedule an hour, half an hour, or even ten minutes per week and stick with it. When I started, I did it for a month, then it became three months, and now we’re going on four. (This is coming from someone who has issues committing to a favorite color, much less a favorite band or tv show, can I add?)

If the letters are long and personal —and sent to someone I really care about— I’ll spend money on postage and mail them off. If not, I’d have typically written the letter or note in my diary, so it will stay there. So, I definitely hang on to everything, sentimentalist that I am!

Friends writing back made this wholly worthwhile: I even reached out to a friend I’d lost touch with (life happens!), with a handwritten apology, and she called and we talked like no time had passed. The biggest benefit for me, personally, has been slowing down to reflect on my thoughts as I’m writing them. So, yeah–it takes longer than clacking out an email or a long text message. But that’s the point.

The nitty-gritty of hobby insurance

Source: SA Good News 

If you have, or are considering engaging in an expensive hobby such as Mountain Biking, flying model aeroplanes, collecting coins or artwork, being aware of the risks you carry and having adequate cover in place is essential to avoid financial loss.

Elizabeth Mountjoy, Private Wealth Manager at FNB Insurance Brokers says the first thing you need to understand is the niche types of cover required for your specific hobby and identifying an underwriter who specialises in covering such risks.

This is to ascertain that the insured asset can be covered for its full replacement value, as soon as it is taken out of your home.

Mountjoy says correctly insuring expensive hobbies can prove to be quite complex, leaving room for error if you try and manage it yourself. Therefore, it is essential to consult an experienced broker who can help ensure that you have covered all possible risks.

For example, there is a lot that you can overlook when trying to insure an expensive MTB bicycle valued at R250 000.

She says for expensive assets of this nature, there are a number of considerations that should be taken into account, such as travel insurance as well as tools or replacement parts to restore and rebuild the bicycle should it be partially damaged.

“As a result, a broker can assist you in correctly valuing the asset to ensure that you are fully covered in the event of a peril,” says Mountjoy.

“Although art purchases, for instance, would have an invoice to indicate the value, it can be difficult for an individual to determine a replacement value for an item they have painstakingly built up for months,” she adds.

A further consideration which can easily be overlooked when insuring a hobby is to get liability cover. The easiest way of doing this is by joining an association or club which could potentially offer this cover at discounted premiums.

For instance, when flying model aeroplanes you need to have personal liability cover to protect yourself in the event that damage or injury is caused to a third party property or individual.

“Lastly, if you have a hobby that requires you to provide advice or you are trading or swapping in items of a particular hobby; it is wise to contact your broker and find out what liability cover they can provide you,” concludes Mountjoy.

Source: Martha Stewart

Monogrammed boxes
These elegant containers are perfect for jewelry, gift cards, and small items.

Materials:

  • Coloured card stock
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Bone folder
  • Scissors
  • Straightedge
  • Glue stick
  • Heavy books

Instructions:

In a photo-editing program, create a 2-page document. On the first page, draw a picture box, and then import a box template, from a CD, centering it carefully on the page.

Draw a second picture box, and place it on the template where you want the letter to appear. Import letter from a CD, sizing it as desired.
Copy template and letter from first page, and paste onto second page in the same position.
Delete letter from first page; delete template from second page.
Print first page onto colored card stock. Flip card stock over, and print second page with letter on other side.
(For a white letter, draw a picture box on the second page larger than the template. Color in box, make the letter white, and print onto white card stock.)
Cut out along template’s outside edges.
Using a bone folder and a straightedge, score straight dotted lines. Score curved lines using a round plate as a guide. Fold along straight lines, and seal with a glue stick.
Let dry between heavy books. Fold along curved lines to close box.

Punch-out pizzazz
Whimsical iron-on shapes turn basic T-shirts and totes into one-of-a-kind gifts.

Materials:

  • Photo-editing program
  • Iron-on transfer paper
  • Paper punches or decorative scissors
  • Iron
  • T-shirts or tote bags

Instructions:

In a photo-editing program, import patterns.
Print onto iron-on transfer paper, following the manufacturer’s instructions. (For crisp printouts, use paper meant for dark fabric.)
Cut out shapes using paper punches or decorative-edge scissors.
Iron onto fabric, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Memory DVD
Create a DVD full of memories for the favourite dad in your life.

Materials:

  • Blank DVDs
  • DVD labels
  • Digital images
  • Printer
  • Envelopes
  • Card stock
  • Ribbon

Instructions:
Share memories of your Dad by creating your own DVDs and DVD labels on a computer. Simply take one of your favorite pictures, and print the image on a sticky label designed to fit a DVD – it’s a small touch that makes the gift extra special. When packaging the DVDs, place them all into individual envelopes, and then take your chosen photographic image and print it on card stock to make a one-of-a-kind cover.

Custom treats container
Take holiday photo cards to the next level: paste an image on a small container and fill it with your Dad’s favourite treats.

Materials:

  • Small box
  • Red nontoxic acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Pencil
  • Card stock
  • Scalloping shears
  • Photograph
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Glassine
  • Favourite snacks (such as sweets, biltong and nuts)

Instructions:
Coat a small box, outside and in, with red nontoxic acrylic paint; let dry. Trace the box top onto card stock.
Draw a circle about 1/2 inch larger around the traced circle; cut out with scalloping shears. Repeat to make a second circle.
Print or photocopy a photograph, adjusting the color, if desired. Trace the box top onto the picture; cut out. Use craft glue to affix the photo to one of the scalloped red circles; let dry.
Affix that circle to the top of the box and the other circle to the bottom using craft glue. Line bottom of the box with glassine.
Fill with your Dad’s favourite snacks.

Source: BusinessGhana

Award-winning South African designers are taking on the world of online stationery with beautiful, locally illustrated designs.

Ink & Bash is a new Stellenbosch-based start-up that’s making it easy for anyone to design their own high-quality, one-of-a-kind event invitations. Their online store features a range of 65 invitations that allows people to insert their own event details into the designs. Invitations can then be e-mailed, sent via WhatsApp or printed for guests.

The Ink & Bash brand was incubated at Fanakalo, an award winning design team from Stellenbosch. They’ve long been known for their original, offbeat design work for wineries, craft spirits and beer both locally and abroad. They recently won a double Gold for their wine label work at the San Fransisco International Wine Competition and walked away with two golds at the fourth annual South African Wine Label Design Awards.

It was a simple problem that led to the creation of Ink & Bash: most people can’t afford to pay for a designer to craft an special invitation to their event, be it an save-the-date, kids birthday party or just a get together between friends. To solve this problem, Ink & Bash created 65 editable invitations for their website at R25 per design. If compared to the average cost of between R2 500 – R7 500 when using a designer, this is significant.

Customisable templates are a quick and easy way of creating stationery for special occasions, but the work that goes into the Ink & Bash templates is everything but instant. They’re thoughtfully created with a whole lot of love, and feature painstakingly hand-drawn illustrations. There are also plenty of themes to choose from, ensuring that there’s something for every kind of bash, from braais and kids birthday parties to kitchen teas and weddings.

“We saw the need for event stationery that is well-designed and different. An invite is the first thing guests see. It should say ‘this event is special and the party is going to be loads of fun’. Unfortunately the somewhat cheesy and cliched event stationery designs that are out there today aren’t making a great first impression. So with Ink & Bash we want to kick so-so, same old stationery to the curb,” says Frans De Villiers, one of the co-founders of Ink & Bash.

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