Thank-You Cards: Frank Lloyd Wright. Pomegranate. $8.95.
Notecards: Sierra Club—Wildflowers. Pomegranate. $15.
Knowledge Cards: What Did They Do? Pomegranate. $9.95.
’Tis the season for cards, in case you haven’t noticed. ’Tis the season for self-consciously arty cards, silly cards, family-photo cards, cards containing exhaustive letters about the rapidly passing year, tacky cards, religious cards, cards expressing almost everything except a genuine sense of serenity and peace – the aspects of the season on which all religious and nonreligious people can, one hopes, agree. All of which leads one to be thankful that ’tis also the season for Pomegranate, a Northern California company whose devotion to fine art and beauty for its own sake is scarcely to be found anywhere outside museum collections (and, come to think of it, is not always found even in them). Pomegranate makes a really huge number of cards, in an almost bewildering variety of styles, for any occasion you can imagine. What they all have in common is very high quality of art, presentation and construction. It’s a good place to go for the season’s beauties.
Take, for example, just two of the company’s many card lines: those focusing on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and those from the Sierra Club. The 20 holiday cards in the Frank Lloyd Wright Designs collection – one of several card boxes featuring Wright’s work – come in four designs of abstract colors on an attractive silver background. These designs have a real seasonal connection: they are details adapted from Wright’s 1926-1927 presentation drawing, “December Gifts.” The designs are wholly secular, their shapes vaguely suggestive of holiday trees, ornaments, balloons, or nothing in particular at all – except a spirit of celebration. Each of the cards has the same interior message: a simple “Season’s Greetings.” Or, for something from the real world rather than the mind of a great architect, consider Sierra Club—Nature’s Details, also containing 20 cards in four designs – in this case, exquisite photos of winter scenes that are anything but traditional in the Currier-and-Ives sense. Each scene is a closeup of one of nature’s cold-weather wonders, using a different palette. “Frost on Winter Berries” is primarily green, with bright red berries just above the center. “Frost Rosettes on Creek Ice” is dark, dark blue, with white highlights. “Crab Apples in Snow” is predominantly white, with the red apples peeking through their snowy covering. And “Frosted Red Maple Leaves” is a splash of dark red. Again, every card says “Season’s Greetings” inside, and each reflects the quiet joys of a season that tends to become, for too many of us, frenetic and stressful.
This is not to say that Pomegranate’s Wright and Sierra Club offerings are only for this time of year. There are any-time-of-year cards with similar designs as well – attractive enough to give as gifts or to use yourself throughout the year. One example is a pack of 10 small Frank Lloyd Wright thank-you cards, each bearing a dark red design on the front that is adapted from a decorative grille designed in 1895 for one of Wright’s first commissions. The words “Thank You” appear under the design, with the inside of the cards blank so you can include a brief note about what you are thankful for. Or, for even more general use, consider the beautifully embossed Sierra Club Wildflowers notecards: a dozen of them, four each of three stylized floral designs, every card highly elegant – and all of them blank inside, for any personal message you may want to send, at any time of year. One caution: the Wildflowers cards are square – one thing that makes their design unusually attractive – and that means they require additional postage (currently 58 cents rather than 41). For this sort of beauty, it seems a small price to pay.
Pomegranate even does some intriguing things with playing cards. The company offers many dozen “Knowledge Card” decks, each focusing on a particular subject, asking questions on the front of each card and giving the answers (in brief and entertainingly written form) on the back. A single example: the What Did They Do? deck celebrates the extraordinary accomplishments of people whose deeds are far better known than their names. This deck’s subtitle, in fact, is “Big Accomplishments of Not-So-Well-Known People.” The compilation, by Steve Pastis, gives you the names of inventors, discoverers and other notable people whose lives retain more interest than their identities. It is both fun and informative to find out – among many other things – who invented the potato chip, who was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest, and who did the first drive across the continental United States (at a time when the country had only 50 miles of paved roads). This and the other “Knowledge Card” decks make wonderful stocking stuffers at this time of year – but they also make great gifts, for others or yourself, anytime. You’ll enjoy them – it’s in the cards.