Stop by Spark this Saturday during Hot Harley Nights and print your own letterpress coaster!  We will be open from 5PM to close Saturday.  BYOB!  ;-)  In addition to coasters, we will be handing out letterpress goodies to designers and bridal couples.  Make sure you ask us!  Questions?  Contact us at 605.221.5997.

Spark Reflections

In December of 2010, we launched the letterpress love albums.  It took us months to produce the line, so it was such a good feeling to get them out the door and in the hands of our retailers.  The launch of our albums seems like such a long time ago because since that time, it's been a long, hard road for our little company. 

We experience growing pains just like any company, the family members at Spark trying to remain optimistic and focused on our future endeavors.  We call it the "Spark Train" amongst each other.  People get on and people get off the train and no matter how tough of a day we've had, we have to keep chugging along.

Unless you own a business, you don't quite realize the blood, sweat and tears that goes into making it a success.  You have to be all in - 'go big or go home' as they say.  But with that drive, all of us realize that we are human and honestly, just plain tired.  Really tired.  We have families, children, grandchildren and friends who need our attention just as much as the clients we serve (thank you!).

And then one of us shares a conversation with an elated bride who just received her wedding stationery.  It is the best thing in the world to know that she is happy and that your work really paid off.  We share her enthusiasm with each other, our employees and families  - everyone on that fast train of ours.

We recently opened a store just a couple weeks ago (yes, we're crazy) and it is SO good for us to see the other side of story.  As many of you know, we sell our stationery in over 100 retail stores around the country.  Our own retail experience humbles us a bit because we are quickly understanding what it is like for retailers.  (To start, none of us has ever used a cash register!)  Of course, we've only been open a couple weeks and most people haven't figured out where we are yet...BUT, it's all good.  :-)  We're ready and waiting for our local and not so local clients to walk through our doors!

The picture in this post is our Carter announcement atop our baby press that we have at our store.  Carter was created for the original albums.  Carter and the baby press reminds us where we've been, of the people who have passed through our doors, of what lays ahead.

Right now, we are all taking a deep breath in and preparing ourselves for our next stop.  Thank you to each of you for your support, we don't say that enough!

National Stationery Show here we come!

Well, the National Stationery Show is still weeks away, but amidst the craziness that is wedding season here at Spark, we are spending every spare millisecond preparing for the stationery industry's biggest show of the year! Whether it is putting the final touches on some of our notecard designs or press checking a freshly picked Pantone color, we are all about new product lines here at Spark in 2012.

Here is a brief summary of what we will be debuting at NSS:
  • Party Papers: A line of letterpress lovelies for the stylish soiree. We're giving all of you hosts and hostesses a running start on your next party with this new line or ready-made party stationery including invitations, thank yous, coasters, gift tags, place cards, decorative food picks and small signage. Choose from our lightly-themed designs and coordinating pieces to make your event shine when all of those little paper details are attended to perfectly!
  • Foil + Letterpress Cards: It was a thrilling moment when I hit the send button to get our copper engraving dies made for our new line of foil and letterpress blank cards. We have been doing foil on many other things here at Spark for years, so we figured it was about time to pair our two favorites together for a stunning suite of cards. Four patterns will be available and each will be done in two colorways.
  • Our Signature Collection: Like many of our esteemed colleagues in the world of paper, we have a few patterns and some stunning vintage maps as part of our collection. Tired of being relegated to the occasional envelope liner or only being printed in subdued tones, these cards take advantage of some of our favorite colors (think bright, fluorescent and metallic) and are ready to jump out of their adorable little boxes into the hands of retailers everywhere.
  • Impress: We launched this line at the beginning of 2012 to a small group of current Spark retailers and are ready to show off what this line is all about at NSS. We are only looking for a select few more retailers because this couture line is meant to be lovingly represented. If you are interested, please make it a point to see us early in your show plan so we can talk the talk!
  • Mitzvah: Many of you that we have talked to over the past few years are muttering to yourselves "it's about time!" and we couldn't agree more. We know we've promised to get this line out for a while now, but we promise that good things come to those who wait! You can check out some of our more fun non-traditional designs as well as those with a more classic feel. Either way, everything we offer for this line is fully customizable.
  • The Pressroom: In 2011 Spark undertook a major endeavor of launching an online-only company to carry designs of some of our favorite stationery designers (who also happen to be some of the most talented out there)! The Pressroom has met great success and we are excited to share these amazing designs with our retailers. You can expand your collection of event stationery designs by more than 80 when you purchase the rights to represent The Pressroom.
NSS Buyers, visit us in Booth 2174/2175!

Introducing Spark Impress - New for 2012!

Spark Impress is more than our newest collection, it is the blueprint of what's next for the design studio at Spark. Whether you need custom stationery for a wedding or Mitzvah or simply want to write some beautiful notes to a friend; we will work with you to create stunning paper goods that fit your personal style. In addition to our design services, we handle letterpress printing, foil stamping, die cutting and intricate finishing methods in-house which means your order is lovingly cared for from start to finish. The 2012 Impress Collection Includes:

Dark purple matte and gold and gray metallic papers along with gold and purple inks create this stunning color palette. A new trifold design opens to reveal the invitation and a petite belly band holding additional cards.

Cream cotton and Japanese cane papers paired with melon, sunshine and mocha inks. A die cut seashell tag and folded seashell weekend events card make this suite even more special.

Andrea. Navy and fuchsia are paired in matte and metallic papers for a vibrantly chic look. This suite features a laser cut belly band and weekend booklet cover. All pieces fit nicely into our new luxury mailer.

Carina. This simply designed suite has a timeless quality and can easily be modified. Midori ribbon, Arturo paper and our house cotton stock all come together beautifully in this new square mock trifold design housed in pointed flap inner and outer envelopes.

Chelsea. Museum board and pale peach metallic papers coordinate swimmingly with pearlized peach foil used throughout the suite for the magnolia art. Our new calligraphy font is paired with classically styled fonts for an understated yet charming look.

Daphne. Already a favorite of our staff, this cheerful collection tells the couple's story through the die cut initials and heart invite. A modern tin sealed with a mailing label holds the various pieces including a reply postcard and detailed map.

Hilary. This oversized invite panel pairs cooper foil with steel ink and thick Arturo paper in soft white. The copper foil on the invite and reception card complement the copper metallic paper. A square crystal adorns the invite, menu and accessory sleeve.

This suite has it all - a pale amethyst crystal adorning the invitation, lilac color edging, our new calligraphy font and a laser cut wrap like no other. Arturo papers and envelopes only enhance the gorgeous details of this suite, especially the tone-on-tone letterpress printing.

The photos do not do this suite justice - what can be pared down to a lovely black and white suite, has been all dressed up with its details. Two new items for Spark include a luxury mailer with a curved flap and a coordinating accessory sleeve to hold additional cards.

Zoe. White foil and clear varnish letterpress create a tone-on-tone look to keep everything understated. Bright purple accents in the color edging, liners and backers that pop of color. This modern suite is perfect for the minimalist and type-loving couple.

Katherine. Based on one of our most popular custom designs, this design shows transparent gold and gold inks - one of our most popular pairings. The main panel uses our thickest paper, 4-ply museum board which pairs nicely with our soft white papers.

Tessa. Our increasingly requested airline ticket invitation design can be customized with almost any of our maps and your client's destination. Luggage tag die cuts complete this suite for a save the date or welcome basket, and can be finished with an eyelet, ribbon or string.

Visit an Impress Dealer to get started.
Spark has enlisted an intimate group of our best dealers nationwide who can help you create the stationery of your dreams. Our Impress dealers are just receiving the designs above in the stunning box pictured below, so CONTACT US to find a dealer near you. If you do not have an Impress dealer in your area, we are able to work with you directly.

Retailer Profile: Aileen Invitations

Aileen Invitations
2584 Miami Gardens Drive, No Miami Beach, FL 33180
Year Established: 2008
Store Owner: Aileen

Brag a bit about yourself and your company. What would you like people to know about Aileen Invitations? What are you most proud of?
We have the best selection of up-to-date invitations, are very selective on what we have in our store and order what our clients ask for. We take extra time to help our clients. We have an interior design background so we love to customize invitations. Our employees work hard to become friends with our clients and make our store very comfortable. We invite customers to come in, hang out and take their time looking around to get what they want. Letterpress is the most popular and we love to show them all the fun options available.

What makes you different from other stationery shops? What makes you unique?

I think we’re young and fresh and up-to-date on trends. We’re all very fashionable and do a lot of research to stay ahead of the rest. We’re not only an invitation store, we also have other fun paper products as well. We try to read the client on what they want so we can set the tone for their event.

What is your favorite Spark design and why?

Margaret – I did it for a client in Napa. It is so beautiful and I love the detail of the design.

What are some current trends you’re noticing in the stationery world?

Weight of the card is becoming more important to the customers. If it were more affordable, they would like more of a heavier cardstock. This year there were a lot of elegant and formal designs.

2012 is approaching quickly. What do you predict will be the biggest wedding or stationery trend for 2012?

I think people are definitely still going with letterpress. Mixing letterpress and foil is becoming big and being requested more. So I think foil will be bigger in 2012. People are slowly moving away from the elegant and formal designs and going more towards modern, fun and casual.

Retailer Profile: Landis Gifts & Stationery

Landis Gifts and Stationery
Established in 1990
Edie Frere, Owner
138 N. Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Brag a bit about yourself and your company. What would you like people to know about Landis Gifts & Stationery? What are you most proud of?

(Allison) Not only are our employees knowledgeable and helpful, but everyone who works here has great taste, which is invaluable when it comes to designing your own stationery/invitations.
(Erin) And in addition to stationery we carry a variety of gifts, from deliciously-scented candles and monogrammed silk pouches and bags to beautifully packaged soaps and so many fun little odds and ends.
(Joanne) We are a store who takes time to know our customer. Some of the people who come to the store just come to chat and ask what is new in the store.

What makes you different from other stationery shops? What makes you unique?

Twenty years of experience, to start. Also, we offer invitations and stationery by a wide variety of companies, as well as our own designs, so there is something for every desire and budget.

(Joanne) Some of our staff live in the area and know many of the people that live in our area, which makes our store more neighborhood friendly.

What is your favorite Spark design and why?

The fun die cut shapes for business cards and holiday cards are my favorite. No one else has fun shapes like these so they are fun to see.
Lucinda – I love the bark’s texture.
I love the chipboard paper so much I bought Spark business cards using it!
I’m torn between the Ava and Joy styles. The peach and pink are just lovely, especially for springtime or summer weddings or soirees.
I like the transparent silver ink. To me it looks blind embossed which is a look I always liked.

2012 is approaching quickly. What do you predict will be the biggest wedding or stationery trend for 2012?

We still see lots of plum and green combinations, and also a trend toward black and white. Simple elegance seems to be the biggest trend. There is a definite trend toward relating the Save the Date cards with the wedding location, and sometimes with the wedding invitation.

(Joanne) Something that catches the eye and allows the engaged couple to put a personal or unique style to the invitation. Affordable but not cheap looking.

What are some current trends you’re noticing in the stationery world? Colors, designs, papers, etc.

(Allison) Modern shades of purple are popping up more and more. Also, business card-sized enclosures with the couple’s website info in wedding.
Personal calling cards, with just a name and perhaps an email address.
Letterpress invitations, as they are becoming more affordable, more popular. Bold pattern borders or a bold motif seem to be chosen more often.

The staff at Landis Gifts & Stationery offers so much creativity and stationery expertise. Stop by and talk to them about your next stationery project! Please tell them Spark sent you!

The Dandelion Patch and Spark Impress

The Dandelion Patch, Vienna, Virginia Location

Thanks to The Dandelion Patch for the above photo.
Left to right: Heidi Kallett (Owner),
Valerie Carlson, (Spark Art Director),
Chen Li (Winner of Free Invitation Suite!)

Thank you so much to all of the staff at The Dandelion Patch for having us at their stores last week. Valerie and Andrea enjoyed meeting the staff, taking part in a special paper party event and offering individual stationery consultations at three of the four store locations in the DC area. The Dandelion Patch staff are truly experts when it comes to creating custom stationery, which is why all of us at Spark enjoy working with them.

Spark sponsored a giveaway at the paper party, a FREE 1-color letterpress invitation suite. The lucky winner will be working with the staff at The Dandelion Patch to create her custom Spark look. Congrats to Chen Li and her fiance!!

During our visit, we were proud to introduce our new luxury line of custom stationery - Spark Impress. Check out these quick shots below of the new designs taken at the paper party last week. The Impress designs are fully customizable, featuring new papers and envelopes, custom luxury envelopes, laser wraps, foil stamping, jewels, color edging and more. There will be a total of ten Impress designs, and we can't wait to show you more!

Impress will be available in select retail stores soon. If you would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact us.

The photos below feature Whitney (black & white), Mia (beach theme), Daphne (die cut letters mailed in silver tin), Gemma (purple and gold trifold), Chelsea (coral foil magnolias) and Katherine (elegant scroll). Don't worry, more photos and details coming soon!

AIGA Minnesota Design Camp!

Normally we leave the shop about once or twice a year, which I realize is not nearly enough by my calculations nor the standards of a normal person. So if we are going to venture out we want it to be worth our while.

Design Camp was all that and more for us. The event was well-organized, full of awesome printed lovelies, and there were happy designers conversing and finding inspiration in every direction.

Spark was thrilled to host three letterpress workshops. We had two projects: a calendar and a set of coasters.

For the calendar, we made a 15-month wall calendar printed on various stocks. It had the words I am knocked out of a vintage Minnesota map. We did a split fountain from silver to copper and went for a very deep impression. We were very pleased with the results and were excited to get it into the hands of our workshop attendees. We brought along photopolymer stamps that completed the “I am” statement. Things like married to my iMac, creative, honest, caffeinated at all times, a Minnesotan, etc. Everyone had fun adding these words and phrases to their calendar. We had a few attendees who did not want to disturb the beauty of the calendar and that was cool too.

The coasters project was a simple one, but oh-so-fun. Before camp we printed up coasters in two colors – a minty green (with an opaque white base) to match some of the print materials and then black. The coasters featured some of über-awesome icons created by the Target In-House team. Then at camp we letterpress printed the AIGA Minnesota Design Camp 2011 logo in the upper left corner of each one. It was great fun to see the workshop attendees carefully pressing their coasters. This year we were the only hands-on workshop so I know it was an exciting break for all who came.

We’ll do a separate post to tell the story of our C&P Pilot because that has its own storied past.

Images in this post are courtesy of Lisa Valley.

Here are a few more pictures from the event courtesy of @iBran (Brian Douglas Hayes):

And even a few more pictures that we took:

Thanks again to everyone at Design Camp for making this our amazing outing for the year. We hope to see you again next year!

- Valerie & Jim

Spark Visits Virginia and Washington, DC!

If you live in the Washington, DC area, don't miss your chance to meet Spark's designers in person for a paper party sponsored by our retailer, The Dandelion Patch! We are giving away a FREE Invitation Suite on Thursday, October 13th and you must be present to attend. In addition to our special giveaway, we will also have some other special offers and letterpress lovelies.

Here are the details:

The Dandelion Patch Paper Party with Spark

When: Thursday, October 13th
Time: 6-8 pm in our (newly renovated)
Location: Vienna Location, 111 Church Street, NW, Ste 101

Details: The Dandelion Patch will be hosting Spark Letterpress and offering an educational and entertaining invitation workshop. All attendees will have the chance to enter into a FREE invitation suite give-away*! This is a $1000+ value!! (A 100 quantity, 4-piece set in 1 color letterpress.) Winner must be present to win and you must register for this exciting evening at The creative designers from Spark will also be on hand for personal consultations (please register!), and everyone will leave with a SWAG bag full of goodies! If that isn't enough, Spark is also featuring their new couture line - Impress - that shows what affordable luxury is all about.

Spark Stationery Consultation Sessions at Reston

When: Friday, October 14th
Time: 5-7 pm
Location: Reston, 11923 Market Street

Details: Spark will take personal consultations at their Reston store (ask for a time slot when you register), and every bride that orders will receive an additional FREE 1-color letterpress insert for their custom suite (not including reply). To register, email

Spark Stationery Consultation Sessions at Georgetown

When: Saturday, October 15th
Time: 1-3 pm
Location: Georgetown, 3222 M Street NW, Ste W-055

Details: Spark will take personal consultations at their Georgetown location (ask for a timeslot when you register), and every bride that orders will receive an additional FREE 1-color letterpress insert for their custom suite (not including reply). To register, email

For more information about The Dandelion Patch, please visit their website. We hope to see you there!