Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Esther Howland's Valentine Cards

Esther Howland (1828-1904) is credited with creating the first Valentine's Day cards in the 1840s. Today, it is estimated that nearly one billion Valentine's cards are sent each year worldwide, and the Greeting Card Association honors her by hosting the annual Esther Howland Award.

Esther's family owned a large book and stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts. When she was young, they sent her to the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary where she graduated in the class of 1847, as a contemporary of Emily Dickenson. While at the Seminary, she participated in annual Valentine festivities. Upon graduation, one of her father's business associates sent her an elaborate English Valentine. Made with perforated and embossed lace paper, these cards were popular in England.

Realizing that she could make these beautiful cards herself, she convinced her father to order supplies from England and New York City. She then made samples which she sent out with her brother on his sales trips. Secretly hoping for $200 in sales, she discovered upon her brother's return that he had garnered over $5,000 in advance sales. She asked her friends and family to help make them assembly line fashion, and her $100,000/year business was born.

Esther Howland Valentine
Esther is credited with introducing many innovations in Valentine design, including placing a brightly colored wafer of paper underneath the embossed lace to create more contrast. She also created the built-in shadow box that became popular in the latter part of her career.

In business for over 30 years, Esther established herself and earned a good living at a time when many women were marginalized. She never married, and during the last 15 years of her career, a knee injury forced her into a wheelchair.

Esther Howland Valentine
In 1881, Esther sold her valentine business to George Whitney, a valentine manufacturing company in business from 1866 to 1942. Whitney installed the machinery necessary to make paper lace domestically. By the time of her death in 1904, Esther had earned the accolade of "Mother of the American Valentine."

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

The Pantone Color Institute has announced that the color for the year 2018 is 18-3838 Ultra Violet. Pantone's website indicates that Ultra Violet is suggestive of the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.

Pantone's top 10 colors for Spring 2018 were created to encourage a sense of fun and playful release--a sanctuary of color ideal for unique and dramatic color mixing. They will be seen in Runway Fashions, quilts and sewing projects. For more information about these colors, click here.