The Provenance of my Passion for Paper

Provenence My Family was in the printing business. My dad regularly brought home paper in various forms; stacks of paper, scraps of paper, pads of paper, & assorted printed samples. This was my FAVOURITE part of the day. There was never a shortage of paper to write on…but there was always a desire for more.

In my bedroom I had a little walk-in closet. I often hung out in my closet and could amuse myself for hours arranging all my paper samples. I often think of my bookbinding studio as a larger version of that closet - my studio is also quite small.

Visiting my dad at work provided other sources of inspiration. The office was the most fascinating spot to hang out, particularly sitting at the receptionist’s desk. The receptionist was single, young and hip. She had her own apartment & I wanted to be like her..

The center drawer of her desk was stuffed with the expected office supplies. But, as I pulled the drawer out further, I discovered photographs, matchbooks from cool restaurants, and glamorous correspondence she received in the mail. Remember the days when the post was our most relied-upon means of sending word?.

Every desk was equipped with an IBM Selectric typewriter, a pencil cup, and a desk blotter with a super size calendar, the days measured in squares to be filled up before the month’s end. Even back then, I sensed that everyone’s desk had its own personality, from the nonsensical notations to the appointment-filled days on their blotter, which were then obscured by printed samples that would become orders.

I also became intensely curious about everyone’s handwriting, and how this too contributed to the uniqueness of each desk..

Beyond a single door at the back of the office was the hum of printing presses. When the door swung open, the whiff of inks and solvents wafted in. In the huge plant, bindery carts were rolled across the uneven wooden floors, filled to the brim with freshly printed letterheads, engraved business cards, invitations, and lined envelopes..

This is where my curiosity began to twirl, where my love for the materials of corresponding and the setting of the desk came to life..

Desks and the contents of them continue to intrigue me. This blog is about that.