Nothing sheepish about learning to bind a book in Iceland

Dear Everyone ~

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A couple of weeks ago, I received a surprise postcard from Iceland.
The sender’s message was endearing:
“I just finished my very first buttonhole stitch book,
guided by your lovely instructions.
It was so wonderful to bind a book after a long day
away for work, in my hotel room late in the evening.
So this is a BIG thank you card from Iceland!”
It was signed “@annainpaperland,” which is the sender’s Instagram address.
The watercolour illustration by Patra Tawatpol is charming —
its title is Flock of Love – Iceland.
I’m sure this is my first piece of mail from Iceland,
and I also appreciated the neatly hand-cancelled postage stamp.

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As you might imagine, I reached right out to Anna in Paperland,
first to see if I could share the particulars of her experience of
taking my online buttonhole stitch course.
When she replied so graciously, I gently barraged her with questions.
Here are some of her responses, plus her lovely photos.

“I live in The Netherlands, and I have been taking weekly bookbinding classes
for a year in the evening. They are held at a bookbindery called Papyrus,
nearby in Leiden. I discovered you on Instagram and have been following
@barizaki for awhile. I always check out the workshops you give in your studio,
but as we are over 6,500 km apart, I was thrilled to find out you have an online course
as well. I’d never made a buttonhole stitch book.”

“It was wonderful to follow your class and make the book in Reykjavík
in the evenings, after a long day standing on my feet.
I was working at an international civil engineering conference.
Back in my hotel room, it was like sitting next to you,
sharing bookbinding jokes and even saving all the paper scraps
as paper lovers do. I found your instructions very clear — and funny too.”


“I love making books, and seeing what you can create with paper still amazes me.
The idea of being away for a week with nothing to bind in the evenings
made me look for a project that I could take with me.
I usually bring some bookbinding tools and basic things
like beeswax on my travels.”


“Paper is everywhere. You only need a few things to make a book!
In this case, I printed out your list and brought the supplies
(paper and yarn) with me, as I didn't know when or where to get these in Iceland.
As far as I know there are no bookbinders in Reykjavík.
Then, it turned out that the yarn I had brought with me was too thin.
It cut through the paper.”

“So, the next day after work, I went to the wool shop
run by the Handknitting Association of Iceland
(at Skólavörðustígur 19, Reykjavík — in case anyone wants to make a note!).
They were really helpful in finding thicker yarn, and,
of course, since I was in Iceland, it had to be Lopi Yarn
made of wool from Icelandic sheep!”


“At work, I only use paper for writing notes, designs and printing.
At home, it's different. I've been writing letters and sending postcards
since I was little, and to my delight I was invited to join the snailmailcollective
on Instagram some years ago. I really love exchanging letters —
although I myself need some handwriting improvement. Haha!
And now I have the added bonus of creating books and boxes.
My workspace has doubled since :)”


“On September 1, 2018, I ‘introduced’ Anna In Paperland and posted on Instagram.
For me, Anna In Paperland is about the magical wonderworld of paper,
binding books and making boxes, exploring art —
and a reference to one of my favourite books, Alice in Wonderland.
It still amazes me who I have met through @annainpaperland,
what I learn, the fun and the support you can share.
When I received a request to make a wedding guest book,
I created my own blind embossing stamp to use
for each paper treasure I get to make.”


“My Icelandic buttonhole stitch book will be on display for awhile,
but as it is filled with lovely watercolour paper,
I plan to bring it on my next holiday near the sea
and use if for my watercolours. I will also make another one to further practice
the binding and to have a go with proper 7-ply yarn. Actually, at first,
I didn't use any of the books I bound, but you quickly get quite a collection :),
so now I’ve started using the books, giving them away,
or creating a book especially for somebody.”

“I sent quite a few postcards on this trip: to my family, and two friends at home,
and my snailmail friends overseas in Australia. I bought the postcards
for you and others at the bookstore Mál og Menning, right in the city centre.
I was lucky that it was open every weekday till 10 pm.
I wrote the cards in a cozy coffee house, Kaffibrennslan, across the street.
It's not every day you get to send postcards from Iceland.”


* * * * *

My heartfelt thanks to Anna,
for every wonderful detail of her online bookbinding adventure,
and for her fabulous photos.
I am so excited to have Anna in Paperland in my cosmos.

Enchanted, Bari

Back in July, I mentioned a booklet by Lewis Carroll,
called Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter-Writing.
It was first published in 1890 and enjoyed considerable popular success.
Thanks to the Internet Archive in San Francisco,
you can browse the entire booklet here. It’s a diminutive delight!