Dear Mrs Danvers, I am trying (and have tried in vain) to find black blotting paper. Have you any idea where some sheets may be obtained? Dark red would be a suitable alternative.

Like all the stationers I asked, I wondered why you wanted black blotting paper. Is it a style statement? Or do you not want people reading your correspondence via a mirror? Either way, there is absolutely no demand for black blotting paper, and even blotting-paper makers say that they would not dye white for you because the dye might transfer itself to your correspondence. But, with the help of Roy Barker of the big paper company R.K. Burt, 57 Union Street, London SE1 (020?7407 6474) I have come up with an alternative.

This is a heavy, 250gm black paper, 22 in by 30 in, which is meant for print makers and, therefore, designed to soak up applied ink. I have tried samples myself and it does work, although perhaps not quite as well as ‘real’ blotting paper. You will need to hold it on a touch longer. Burt can sell you a pack of 100 leaves for £133.27 plus VAT. If the paper had been dyed specially for you, you probably would have had to buy it in thousands or reams.

Dear Mrs Danvers, I would like to commission a special large vase for my husband because he has recently been knighted and now has his own coat of arms. Can you tell me of anyone who does such work?

You should contact Muffet Monro (01363 877604; www.muffetmonro.com), who is based near Crediton in Devon and specialises in exactly this sort of work, having designed and made plates, coffee cups and loving cups for City livery companies with their coats of arms.

Obviously, this sort of work is not cheap a loving cup might be £120 plus the initial artwork but she will quote you a price for your vase. As well as heraldic work, she will make porcelain with racing colours, clan tartans and regimental motifs, illustrated tiles to back a cooker, and even replacements for precious dinner or tea services.