Keep those cards and letters coming


January 16, 2000|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,SUN STAFF

It would be a nice reaction to the recent hoopla over possible high-tech disaster if some people developed a new appreciation for low-tech alternatives -- such as swapping e-mail for old-fashioned, courteous, personal, hand-written letters and cards.

Bethesda Engravers/Dempsey & Carroll, a Baltimore firm that's been in business, in various forms, for 120 years, still reliably offers all kinds of stationery -- from formal invitations and business cards to more casual note-cards. Some feature garden motifs, creatures such as running foxes, frogs and ladybugs, or nautical or sports designs.

Prices typically range from $20 to $28 for 10 note cards and envelopes, to $382 for 100 engraved sheets and envelopes and 100 calling cards. You can even have the image of your home, from an original artist's sketch, engraved on your paper (prices begin at $500).

The firm also sells desk accessories, pens, keepsakes and corporate gift items.

The papers are available at stationers such as Invitations by Gail, 9199 Reisterstown Road (410-356-3340), and the Pleasure of Your Company, in Greenspring Station (410-821-6369). There's a Dempsey & Carroll store in Washington, 750 17th St., N.W. (202-331-0550). There's also a catalog; to order a copy, call 800-444-4019.

Dressing up your walls

Want to give your home decor a personal look? Think Wallies, a line of wallpaper cutouts designed by Julie Gray that stick to any smooth surface. The designs range from folk art-y (cows, flags, hearts), to fruity and floral (Pfaltzgraff Naturewood tile patterns) to funny (footsteps, '70s-style daisies) to motifs from artists (Beatrix Potter, Walter Kimble and Mary Engelbreit).

Wallies, a division of the McCall Pattern Co., are easy to install -- just brush them across a damp sponge and stick to walls, furniture, cabinets, containers and flower pots. (They're strippable if you make a mistake.) The designs can be combined, mixed and matched for a customized look. They cost $9.95 for a package of 25 at many Joann ETC stores, at Michael's, Linens `N Things and other retail shops.

For a free catalog, or the name of the retailer nearest you, call 800-255-2762, Ext. 373. The Web site is

Fiestaware's new look

For the new century, venerable Fiestaware, from the Homer Loughlin China Co. of Newell, W.Va., is taking on a new attitude -- more sculptural, more architectural -- with the introduction of Fiestaware 2000, the first new design in 40 years. The solid-color mix-and-match dinnerware doesn't stray far from its 1936 roots as a "modern" style, but the new line has swoops of ridges and comes in jewel tones of cobalt, persimmon, pearl gray and juniper (a new color available this month). It's designed to fit in with the older Fiesta styles, but to offer consumers more choices.

Suggested retail prices range from $9 for a 9-inch salad plate to $11 for a 10 1/2-inch dinner plate to $27.30 for a 14 1/4-inch charger plate. Look for the new line at department and housewares stores. Call 800-452-4462 for the retailer nearest you.

A 'most beautiful' house

A new book by architect Michael McDonough, "Malaparte: A House Like Me" (Crown, 1999, $50) explores the 18-year relationship between noted Italian political agitator and writer Curzio Malaparte and his house, called Casa Malaparte, at Capri. Malaparte, who died in 1957, was a character who embraced, then rejected, fascism, spent several terms in jail, wrote novels, made movies and engaged all his life in what he called "creative dissent." Despite, or perhaps because of, Malaparte's eccentricities, McDonough says the linear, terra-cotta colored house has been often called "the most beautiful house in the world."

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