To me, true genius in stationery occurs when the established forms we know so well — in this case, a save-the-date — receive an unexpected, not to mention gorgeous, tweak.It all started when New-York based designer, calligrapher and hand-letterer Chavelli Tsui decided to have some fun with her Christmas cards and instead make elaborate hand-painted, hand-decorated and hand-calligraphied scrolls — wrapped around spools topped with wee decorated Christmas trees no less! — for her clients.

“My approach to designing is that every bit of correspondence is a chance to bring delight and joy to the recipient, and I love sharing heartfelt messages along with a bit of interactive play,” Chavelli told me. “When I conceived the Christmas tree card I wanted something that would stand the test of time, and be kept long after the average card, serving as a mini memento. I love the feeling of unfurling pages of a book, and handling paper that reveals messages, so I wanted to bestow this delight on others”

A Brooklyn bride-to-be client was among the dazzled recipients, so she and her groom reached out to Chavelli for their save-the-dates. There was some back-and-forth over the topper that would be hold everything together. “We discussed everything from New York City-related toppers — like a mini Empire State building — but decided that because they wanted a sophisticated vibe for their black-tie wedding (having a black and white color palette) that simple and beautiful flowers would do.” So soon Chavelli found herself carefully hand-assembling 75 most spectacular creations. “I created each tiny hand-made scroll from scratch. Each wooden piece was hand-painted, with tiny flowers pieced together into a bouquet, and the writing on each scroll done in flourished copperplate calligraphy on lightly textured watercolor paper. They were polished off with black satin ribbon to tie the piece together, threaded through glittery silver tape.” The finished pieces stood at just under 2 inches tall, and were delivered to each guest in a small white box elegantly sealed with a black satin ribbon. “My favorite comment from the bride was that she had to see how people would react so she hand-delivered a few of them, just so she could watch their faces light up as they discovered what was inside!” Chavelli is not just an artisan, she’s a visual communicator unafraid of taking design risks. She strives to make each piece that comes from in her studio not just a rendering of an event’s details, but a one-of-a-kind means of self-expression. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next as she continues to venture into uncharted stationery territory!

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