WASHINGTON — Peace is in the cards this year.
The fragile dove of peace, an endangered species on last year's happy holiday cards, has fluttered back like a homing pigeon.
This year, Hallmark Cards, the biggest greeting card publisher, and the Greeting Card Assn. both say peace doves and peace wishes are again a major trend.
"Peace is in the air," said Rachel Bolton of Hallmark. "People today like to express specific views with their cards, not just say 'Merry Christmas.' "
Evidently the card designers are good at predicting the public mood. Since they work a year or two ahead, the cards were under way before such peace-minded global concerns as 1985's summit meetings, Live Aid or "We Are the World."
Sandy Koeser of Hallmark designed her card not just for world peace, but for galactic peace--the starry firmament brightened with Christmas stars of great magnitude above a shining Earth. Its legend: "To wish you peace at Christmas."
She's not the only one out of this world. "Deck the Stars" design for Summertree shows a space station beaming out a Christmas tree. A space shuttle on a card by Rob Furman for Hallmark, called "Joy to the Worlds," has a Christmas tree below decks and a wreath on the tail. Don't stare too long at the space station dovecote on the cover of M.C. Escher's 1986 calendar by Pomegrante--the op-art image seems to propel the viewer into the universe. To cope with all this, Landmark Calendars offers the "Astrologic Everyday" calendar.
"Contemporary Christian" cards using modern graphics are the big trends with card publishers as well, said Melanie S. Howard of the Greeting Card Assn. Hanukkah cards are becoming increasingly popular, with menorahs and Stars of David as motifs.
If the cost of many cards and calendars is any indication, look forward to an affluent new year. Some cards cost almost $6 each, and the larger art calendars run near $20.
Doves are more art than bird on the cards designed by Ted Naos, a Catholic University architecture professor, who last year was one of the few designing peace cards. Five doves fly through four almost invisible panels to hang or stand as ornaments. His "Shalom" card and "Peace on Earth" die-cut tripanel white cards, when hung in a window, make a message in light on the floor. The die-cut cards, technically difficult to make, are a cottage industry with the Naos family.
Picasso's dove perched on prison bars, Virginia Walker's dove wreathed with barbed wire and Jude Delaney's dove nesting in shackles are Amnesty International's big sellers.
Small stamped-out metal ornaments are a change from paper cards. A solid brass dove of peace comes from the Library of Congress. The Metropolitan Museum of Art uses gold electroplate and silk-screened colors on a dove-and-wreath ornament adapted from an 1850 Baltimore "friendship quilt."
A religious card by American Greetings is embossed to look like a quilted dove. UNICEF has a dove with rainbow streamers by Brazilian artist Paulo de Oliveira and a pastel card with a sky-blue "Pax" by Vietnamese artist Pascale Tran. Among the rare birds is a partridge in a fold-out six-sided pear tree by Graphics 3.
A lot of black night and gloom surrounds the starlight. For instance, Stephen King's "Year of Fear" calendar warns of the dark side by listing birthdays of King's fear-inducing horror heroes, including Alfred Hitchcock and Ray Bradbury. The "Miami Vice" calendar from Universal City Studios-Ballantine takes you month by month with the celluloid squad.
The "Mystery and Suspense Engagement Calendar" from Main Street Press, compiled by Basil Santoine, has photos of whodunit writers or impersonators for every week, including writer Ross Thomas, whose latest book is "Briarpatch," Ronald Colman as Bulldog Drummond, the Baroness Orzy, who invented "The Scarlet Pimpernel," Peter Lorre in "The Maltese Falcon."
Women may not have achieved all they want in every area, but this year, they're making up for lost time in calendars. Sports Illustrated does have a 1986 calendar of women in swimsuits photographed by Brian Lanker. But no fewer than four Hallmark calendars are men photographed for women. "Classics" offers men "old enough to know what they want and young enough to go for it. They're suave, sophisticated, sexy. . . ." Unfortunately, they don't come with phone numbers or names. "Great Guys" shows a younger set characterized as "not superstars. They're just great guys." "Men in Perspective" published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art-Universe is perhaps the only generally sold calendar including a nude man (a Greek sculpture) and ergonomics. For those whose heart remains steadfast, Hallmark has done yet another James Dean calendar.