Friday, February 28, 2014

Maginating's Humble Beginnings

For those of you who might be interested in our Origin Story, here's a little ditty about how Maginating began…

Back in 2005 I was at a restaurant in Los Angeles with my sister (BTW - the restaurant is Clementines - believe me, it's worth mentioning). Fortunately, she suggested I check out the shop next door... thought I’d think it was pretty cool. Turned out it was Sugar Paper, a letterpress company who, at the time, specialized in their own stunning custom letterpress. This included a storefront as well, selling an amazing assortment of letterpress cards. It blew me away - I’d never seen anything like it before! One of the owners was in the shop that day and was very kind – she was happy to answer all my questions.  

About six months later I was fortunate enough to meet Bob Paduano – a master of all things letterpress. Bob had been in the business a long time and, eventually, was able to find and restore a Kluge 10x15 platen press for me.  This is an amazing press and, in my opinion, much better than the C&P equivalent. A couple features I really like on the Kluge, compared with the C&P, are:

- Kluge has six rollers
- ink disc can move up and down which really helps with cleanup
- has an ink fountain
- the cast iron bits are much thicker which = more robust (though I doubt you could do much damage to any platen press!)

Here's the unrestored version - yikes!

At the time I was doing freelance design work so, for about a year, whenever I had a spare moment, I worked down in the garage – trying to figure out this big hunk of cast iron. I never took any classes. I would have but wasn't able to find any that taught printing on a platen press. It seems that, for safety reasons, classes are most often taught on Vandercooks or very tiny table top presses. So I kept looking online for answers, spoke with all sorts of helpful and generous printers, read books - anything I could do to learn how to print well. It took some time but eventually my knowledge base grew to a point where I was able to get going at an operable speed.

Behold... a restored Kluge!

This went on for about a year until it got to a point where I realized that if I was going to create a greeting card company, I needed to commit myself, one-hundred-percent. So I did! I stopped taking on any freelance work and dedicated all my time to printing and building a card line. A pretty significant leap, somewhat blind, but something I felt was necessary.

 The Kluge arrives at our garage.

 Maginating's first "studio" (aka the garage) thanks goodness we were in Los Angeles at the time - no heating in there!

 On the bottom R corner of this image you can see a bit of my first print job - a wedding invitation for a friend. How crazy is that - a wedding invitation?! Please, don't be dumb like me, do anything other than a wedding invitation (and map and RSVP card and corresponding envelopes) for your first print job!

On the top R corner of this image you can see three cans of ink: Sage, Black, and Egg White (those are the names for our house colors). That's all I had - three colors! Just enough for the job. And it was rubber based ink. Maginating's cards were printed with that for a very long time.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Fabulous Picture Book

Every once in a while I'd like to feature some work by other artists who've honed their "maginating" skills to a very impressive degree.

Today will be Entry Number One which falls to the brilliant picture book, Journey, by Aaron Becker.

This is Mr. Becker's first foray into children's books. Not a bad start considering it's already garnered a Caldecott Honor, New York Times Best Illustrated Books Award, and a Junior Library Guild Selection, to name a few!

To tell it best, here's what he has to say about his book, My debut children's book, Journey, follows the adventure of a young girl who escapes the boredom of home to find a magical realm - in which she can control her destiny with her imagination. Though nary a word graces its pages, it couldn't tell a fuller, expansive adventure. It's an incredible accomplishment and is, in my estimation, one of the best children's books I've ever seen. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the unpredictable possibilities of a childlike, boundless imagination.

Check out if you'd like to know more about his process. Most excellent in every way!

Monday, February 17, 2014

It's Official!

In August, 2012 we began the process to apply for some federally registered trademarks. 

For those of you who are interested, here's a quick explanation regarding the use of a ™ (trademark) designation versus a ® (registered trademark) designation:

A trademark is a symbol, word, or words established by use or legally registered as representing a company or product.

You can use ™ on any mark that you wish to designate as a trademark. No registration is required, and in most states this will actually give you some "common law" trademark rights. Anyone can assert that anything is their trademark but it does not necessarily mean that the user has exclusive rights nor is it federally protected.

You can use the ® designation only after you obtain a federal trademark registration from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  This process requires filing an application with a fee and establishing that the owner is entitled to exclusive use of the mark associated with particular goods and services. During the application process you may NOT use the ® designation as it is illegal. You must continue to use nothing or the ™ designation until the federal registration is issued.

Sources: and

I'd wanted to do this for some time but didn't know where to begin. When we lived in Los Angeles, I'd spoken with a lawyer through the non-profit organization, California Lawyers for the Arts and had received some great free counsel. That said, it sounded very expensive, time consuming, and complicated. As there were plenty of other things needing my attention with this card company, I put it aside for many years.

Then I began seeing ads online for, an organization founded by the well-known O.J. Simpson lawyer Robert Shapiro, and thought I'd give them a call to see what kind of services they offered and, if available, what it would take to acquire some registered trademarks.

Turns out it's not very complicated or expensive so I proceeded to move forward with Legal Zoom and their trademark registration process.

I knew I wanted to register the word "Maginating" but also knew I didn't want to use "letterpress + design" any longer, let alone register those words. We were moving away from letterpress and into alternative printing methods so now was an appropriate time to substitute another phrase - something that described a "bigger-picture" company. I'd written down "a make-believe company" in my sketchbook several years before and really liked it. I thought the phrase best described who Maginating is with the same kind of whimsy our designs already exhibited, so we applied to register that phrase as well.

Throughout this process we, as a company, were claiming exclusive rights to the words "Maginating" and the phrase "a make-believe company" within the United States and the paper industry. But even though we were making this claim, in order to obtain a federal registration, we had to prove we were the first  and only company to use these words/phrases within our respective industry. We had to prove that no one else owned the rights to this collection of words.

I was pretty sure "Maginating" was available since it was a word I made up as a little kid. I'd use it like a verb, a way to describe the use of one's imagination. While I'd never heard the word used by anyone else before, that didn't eliminate the fact that someone might have made it up and was already using it somewhere else in the US. This registration process would officially prove who "owned" the word. The phrase, "a make-believe company," however, was not something I felt confident about. I figured someone else must have registered it already, but I liked the phrase so much I was willing to take the chance.

In late August of 2013, we received official paperwork from the USPTO that both the word "Maginating" and "a make-believe company" (with the hyphen) were officially, and most importantly, federally, ours.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Countdown to Valentine's Day: Part V

Happy Valentine's Day!

I wanted to save this card for today because it's fannncy. Not fancy in the way that cards of this generation can have all sorts of baubles and glitter and bits on the front, nor is it fancy in the way some cards have music or vibrating parts. It's fancy in the sense that it's a semi-popup, 8 page greeting card. I should also mention that it's pretty big, 10.75" x 7.5" on a nice matte stock and is produced by Hallmark.

It's simply divided into each season of the year. Spring gets the front page and the remaining seasons are full spreads. Unfortunately, the popup portions of each spread are not very clear in my photos, but  just know that summer and winter have some popup foreground elements.

Here's each season and the corresponding copy: 

We will be sweethearts 
when spring fills the air,
we'll find enough rainbows
and flowers to share…
and we'll love.

 We will be sweethearts
when summer's sun shines,
we'll dream dreams together
and have happy times…
and we'll love.

 We will be sweethearts
when autumn leaves fall,
we will be thankful
for joys great and small…
and we'll love.

We will be sweethearts
when winter winds blow,
we'll spend cozy moments
beside the hearth's glow…
and we'll love.

Happy Valentine's Day
To My Sweetheart for All Seasons 

While you probably won't see Maginating producing a card of this style in the foreseeable future, isn't it neat to remember how vast and varied the same fundamental sentiment of "I love you," can be conveyed time and again - and through the ages. Like I said in an earlier post, love is love - no matter what, and time never changes this fundamental fact.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Countdown to Valentine's Day: Part IV

Just wanted to add this little card today. Super cute!

And here's a detail of the caterpillar. Isn't it neat that so seemingly little "design" conveys so much. The inside message is cute, too, it says "iloveyouverymuch!"

BTW - this card was manufactured by Hallmark, in the Funny Expressions division.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Countdown to Valentine's Day: Part III

Today, I've like to share three lovely Victorian-era Valentine's Day popup cards from my grandmother's collection.

The inside of the first card is tough to read once it's opened. As you can see, on the front it says, "To Greet my Valentine…" but behind the roses, on the heart,  it says "...With My Best Love." A nice sentiment, indeed. A price of 3¢ can still be seen in pencil on the back of this card. Using an online Inflation Calculator, if we were to adjust this price for inflation, the card would still only be 81¢. Amazing!

As this second example is a love letter from Cupid, himself, I wanted to be sure to share the detail on the front, inside, and back of this marvelous card. The backs on today's other two cards are completely unfinished - just a simple, unattractive brown paper. But in this instance, no expense was spared on all surfaces. I wish I knew how much this cost back then. The assemblage is elaborate and obviously very durable. It's lasted a very long time.

The final image for today is an elaborate popup "To my Sweet Valentine." Once folded open, Cupid's message along the bottom says:

My hope,
my heaven,
my trust must be.

My gentle guide,
in following thee.

I'm not sure of the significance of the anvil on this card. I found some interesting information about blacksmiths and their association with weddings in Scotland through the famous Gretna Green marriages. Perhaps this is why an anvil takes center stage on this greeting?

Here’s a little bit of detail from Wikipedia; ( 

The local blacksmith and his anvil have become the lasting symbols of Gretna Green weddings. Scottish law allowed for “irregular marriages”, meaning that if a declaration was made before two witnesses, almost anybody had the authority to conduct the marriage ceremony. The blacksmiths in Gretna became known as “anvil priests”.
Gretna’s famous “runaway marriages” began in 1753 when Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act was passed in England; it stated that if both parties to a marriage were not at least 21 years old, then parents had to consent to the marriage. The Act did not apply in Scotland where it was possible for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12 years old with or without parental consent. Many elopers fled England, and the first Scottish village they encountered was Gretna Green. The Old Blacksmith’s Shop, built around 1712, and Gretna Hall Blacksmith’s Shop (1710) became, in popular folklore at least, the focal tourist points for the marriage trade. The Old Blacksmith’s opened to the public as an attraction as early as 1887.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Countdown to Valentine's Day: Part II

If you ask me, nothing says "I love you" more than a flower with a people stamen (see below). Sooo much love on one card - I can hardly stand it! This one was produced by a company called Gallant, from their Wood Winds collection.

This second card is from good old American Greetings. The photo is die cut cardboard. Inside, it says:

Where you are
       there are soft steps
       and gentle hands
       there is singing, tenderness,
       a comforting word,
       a happy whisper

Where you are
       there is all the peace,
       joy and contentment
       a man could ever hope for

Where you are
       there I will be forever!

Happy Valentine's Day, Sweetheart

These certainly convey a different era. But love is love, after all - nothing can change that.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Countdown to Valentine's Day: Part I

I have a small collection of greeting cards that I've acquired over time. A lot of them were produced in the 70's and 80's. I thought it might be fun to share some of the designs, most of which are not very good by today's standards, but give a nice feel for the design sensibilities of that era.

Since we are one week away from Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a handful of designs over the course of the next week, beginning today.

This first card was produced by Hallmark under their "Contemporary Cards" division.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

So You're Preparing For Your First National Stationery Show: Fire-retardant

I've received a collection of questions over the years regarding this Big Event. If you're like me, it can feel overwhelming, particularly if it's your first time, so I thought I'd share some ideas and experiences I've had over the years. I don't have all the answers and, obviously, these are just my opinions, not facts. I hope you'll find them helpful:

Question regarding flameproofing:
I was reading in the set-up manual that everything in the booth has to be flame-resistant - from the walls, etc. Does that mean that, for example, the table, chairs, lamps, FLOR carpet tiles, any sort of paper displays (I had been planning to make huge paper collage cut-outs of my designs, either from paper or foamboard) have to be treated with flame-retardants? The manual recommended some outside companies as well as their own flameproofing services in the Javits Center. I was wondering what your experience was with this - do you have a company you would recommend? 

I know your walls need to be flame-retardant. If you have fabric walls, you'll have to purchase some liquid flame-retardant and apply it to your materials yourself. There are some pre-treated materials out there as well but they can be expensive. If you plan on using foam core, you'll have to purchase a flame-retardant version. Wood walls don't need to be treated, however, they can be heavy which will add to your shipping expense.

Presently, I have fabric walls and have had to apply a liquid flame-retardant myself. Here's the contact information for the company I've used:

West Coast Fire Shield
Attention: John Cherry
1814 Elzworth Street
Bakersfield CA 93312
(661) 588-2183

These guys will also supply a certificate to certify that the fabric has been looked after with their product which is pretty useful.

You don't have to worry about chairs, tables, or lamps if they're made out of traditional materials. The fire marshal won't bother with these items.

I don't believe FLOR carpet tiles will need any flame-retardant treatment but I'm not 100% sure. I've never heard of anyone having an issue with this. There's a lot more that can be said about choosing not only an attractive, but COMFORTABLE type of flooring for your booth, but that's another topic for another time.

I'm not sure about big paper collage cut-outs. I don't think it's an issue and I don't know how you could treat any paper with flame-retardant. If you did, it would curl, thereby rendering it pretty tough to work with. I know of one booth that has had an amazing paper collage for the past two years. I don't know if they treated it or not, nor do I know if they ran into any problems with the Javits fire marshal. I doubt it.

I know of a manufacturer who ran into problems BIG TIME a couple of years ago when they tried to erect a booth made entirely out of corrugated cardboard. They were asked to take it down before the show began. They had to whip up a new booth at the last minute. YIKES! Again, you could treat the corrugated cardboard with flame-retardant, but it would warp and curl.

If you have any additional ideas or thoughts you'd like to add, please let me know. I'm happy to include them here so that we can all benefit from a collection of experiences.