With changes in family situations, romantic relations and business associations, greeting cards are becoming a social barometer of how Americans feel and are affected by new types of relationships. So instead of simply purchasing larger cards, many are turning to more personalized, cross-stitched greeting cards as a sentimental expression to loved ones.
Nancy Casson, owner of Red Ribbon gift shop in Cleveland personally cross-stitches her greeting cards which are designed to be keepsakes for the sentimental. Her cards are a specialty item in Cleveland.
Explaining her process, Casson said, “Usually each night, to unwind, I sit down about 9 p.m. and begin stitching. I will either finish one I started the evening before or begin another one. During the snow days when I was home and needing something to do, I did two to four cards a day. I usually don’t have that opportunity. Some evenings I can begin a card and finish it that evening. Depending on the pattern and the difficulty of that pattern — no more than two evenings.
While most greeting cards try to be memorable in their use of words, Casson’s embroidered cards take a different approach to appeal of her colorful hand-stitched originals.
“Almost all of the cards are blank on the inside so the person sending the card can write their own special message,” Casson explained. “I have several in many categories to select from so the person giving the card can really try to match the card to the sentiment. I hope people feel really special when they receive one of my cards from a friend or loved one.”
Her cross-stitched cards are 5-by-7 inches and can be framed for display. A few are 4x4. They cover a wide range of social events — from holidays and births to graduations, anniversaries and more.
“We just finished with Valentine season,” Casson said. “Now we have St. Patrick’s Day and Easter cards in the shop. We also have ‘Welcome new baby’ cards. These can be personalized with the baby’s name, birth date, weight, etc., if I’m given a few days notice. We even have milestone birthdays, like 40 or 50, etc. Our anniversary cards, engagement and wedding cards can also be personalized with a few days notice. We have Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards, girlfriend cards for that special friend who might need a laugh or a lift. Also retirement cards, thank you cards, get well cards, thinking of you cards, new home cards and a few others. Graduation cards will also be available.”
Casson is the only person doing the stitching and says she likes it that way, adding, “I advertise these as ‘Hand-stitched cards by Nancy Casson,’ so I want them to be done by me. Many years ago, I taught cross-stitching and did evening home shows. That was fun but I’d rather be cross-stitching myself than teaching others. As long as my eyes and fingers hold out I will be cross-stitching cards. I haven’t talked with anyone outside of Cleveland about carrying the cards. Right now I’m happy with them being in my shop.”
Casson said several people have told me that they have had their cards framed, something she personally appreciates due to the amount of love and attention she gives to each card.
“I recently emailed a friend in Sweetwater who has kept every Christmas card I sent her. Every year she takes a photo of her card display and emails it to me. The fact that she enjoys them so much makes it a joy to me,” she said.
While Casson has no aspirations of her embroidered cards increasing in value with time, she did say, “I have no aspiration about that but I do hope they are cherished for a while. I have seen antique samplers on “Antiques Roadshow” that are now worth thousands of dollars. I doubt that will happen with my cards, but it is a nice thought. After my mom passed away I was going through some of her things. She had kept every card — just the good-old paper card — that my brother and I had sent her and also the ones we had made. That really hit me as to how special cards are to some people. Sometimes a card can say what we can’t verbalize.”
For those who want a specially made cross-stitched card for a particular person, Casson said she offers, with a week’s notice, tailor-made cross-stitched cards.
“I have already done a 60th wedding anniversary card for a lady who came in the shop. She said that after 60 years of marriage her friend didn’t really need anything, so she wanted a special card which I did for her. Then she purchased a frame for the card and that was her wedding anniversary gift to her friend. She said that many years ago her friend cross-stitched but was no longer able to do that. She felt that her friend would really appreciate this card.”
According to Casson, it was in 1994 when she created her first cross-stitched cards for some 40 fellow church members as gifts, and 10 additional cards for family and close friends. The cards were so popular Casson continued to make more of them until she decided to feature them in her Red Ribbon gift store as a specialty item.
“I enjoy people looking through the cards at the shop and enjoying them,” Casson admits. “The end result, of course, is the person who receives the card, and I sincerely hope they enjoy and appreciate it. I enjoy the challenge of finding patterns for different holidays and events. Flavis and I never go out of town when I don’t find a craft shop where I can spend a while shopping and looking for new ideas. I even get a monthly magazine from England that has lots of neat ideas in it. Cross-stitch patterns and ideas aren’t as easy to find as they once were.”
For further information, email Nancy Casson at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 473-1114.