I love an original card that surprises me with a laugh. I first saw the Blue Barnhouse cards in my friend Bryce's store in California and I've been a fan ever since. Blue Barnhouse is now based in Wilmington, North Carolina (relocated from Asheville.) You may recognize the cards at first glance- lovely letterpress, irreverent, must-buy-now.
While on a recent visit to Asheville before the store's big move east, I met with the founder and owner of Blue Barnhouse, Brandon Mise. His retail space also houses his letterpress machines which are constantly churning out cards the old fashioned way. All cards are made in house on letterpress machines that were obviously built to last. Brandon has four machines, ranging from an 1897 Chandler and Price to the newest, a Vandercook Universal 1 built in 1960. Most of the machines require a personal touch, powered by a person's feet or hands. The normal amount of time it takes to print 3-400 cards is three hours.
It's always fun to take a peek into an artist's workspace. These labeled boxes on a back shelf offer some insight into Blue Barnhouse's wide range of interests...
Launching his business in 2002, Brandon has since found an ever growing and devout following. His cards have taken off, not only because of the ingenuity behind them but because they deliver a message of hope, laughter...and more laughter. Each card's message can be a welcome respite in these tough times. As Brandon says, "even in the bad economy, people will still buy a card." I love their 'discontinued stock' area where you can pick through hundreds of older cards for $2 and less.
Not wanting to create the standard greeting card fare, Brandon and his team went for all the things you shouldn't say but maybe always wanted to. The 20 and 30 year olds appear to be his target market, as well as older women. Brandon admits he grew up a repressed Mormon kid. If there was ever an outlet for him to vent his repression, I suppose this was a pretty good way to do it. Brandon creates most of the designs himself as well as relying on good friend, Tyler Dockery to assist with the writing.
Brandon just recently made the move to the oh so lovely beach town of Wilmington, NC. The move brings him closer to family, friends and the surf. He truly loves living in the South, although he does wish we Southerners bought more of his cards. Currently, NY, Chicago and the West Coast take up most of the sales. Maybe this posting can help up the numbers as there's at least one card for everybody in his collection of over 300 original greetings that range from sweet and loving to completely inappropriate (which you have to admit are the best.)
Browse the online store to find your favorites. Thanks Brandon for your hospitality and best of luck in Wilmington!
Photos and Content: Sweet Peach