Category : Paper

Supplier Rave – French Paper Company

Yay! Today I get to buy paper.

As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m going over to the French Paper Company website and I’m going to buy me some paper. There are a lot of reasons for me to love French Paper.

Speckletone is my longtime love. I use the text weight for my journals and the 80 lb cover for my photo album pages. It’s such a lovely paper, nice and smooth. French Paper claims that Speckletone was the first recycled paper to include visible flecks. I’m inclined to believe them. They wouldn’t lie to me. Liars don’t make paper.

I also love Frostone, which I talked about in this post.

Ooohhh, and I also love their Pop Ink Patterned Papers.

Okay, all of the papers rock. They’re also environmentally friendly. They have used water to power their plant for the past 84 years. And they’ve been making recycled papers since 1953. They also have great customer service. If your order arrives damaged, they’re always quick to remedy the situation.

Annddd…they have the best sense of humor. Below you can see the lovely surprise I received with not one, but THREE of my orders last year.

Inflatable Jerry French

It’s the one, the only, inflatable Jerry French (he’s the Big Cheese). Inflatable Jerry has become one of studio mascots and he guards my bookboard. Maybe I’ll have a contest and give away a Jerry as the prize.

But wait, there’s more. Before I received my first inflatable Jerry, I received a Jerry French action figure. I call him Little Jerry. Not to be confused with Little Jerry from Seinfeld.

As you can see in the photo below, he kinda looks like a monkey. In a suit. With a comb-over.

Jerry French action figure

Okay, so he’s creepy, but he’s still THE MAN. Do you have an action figure of yourself? Do you? Do you? Didn’t think so.

Don’t worry, I don’t either.


Okay, you got me. This post is not about scrapple.

I just like saying scrapple.

I went to college in Philadelphia and actually ate the stuff when I was there. I did not know what was in it at the time, I swear. The stuff actually tastes good until you know what’s in it.

I don’t like to throw things away. I’m a saver. It drives my husband nuts. This is especially true when I’m working in the studio. I will save the smallest scrap of paper because I can’t bear to part with it.

Piles of paper scraps

I have a plastic tub to house these treasures. Then the tub gets full.

And I get cranky because things get all smushed.

At this point, I have two options:

  1. Make cards – This is a great way to use up yummy paper scraps.
  2. Make scrap bags – Part with your dear friends and share your scraps with the world.

Once a year I endure the trauma of option #2. I make batches of scrap bags for folks to purchase during Open Studio Weekend. As I go through my scrap tub, I will inevitably have these moments where I look longingly at a scrap and think, “I remember you. You are so pretty. I glued some of you to a book. I’m sorry that you didn’t make the cut. Please don’t hate me. I changed my mind. You can stay.”

After going through enough of these moments, I finally grab a bunch and start sorting. In the image below, you can see what my work table looked like today.

Piles of paper scraps

Ah, the memories. Scrapple. [Focus, Elissa, focus]

Lucky me, I was able to engage in happy pile-making for a few hours. Even though it looks messy, the piles are organized using a highly scientific method of looking at scraps and putting them in a pile. It’s a skill that took years to develop.

I’m hoping to have around 20 scrap bags done by next weekend, 24 if I’m lucky. It’s a little known secret that if you visit me at a craft show and ask me if I have any scrap bags, I will likely have a few hidden under the table. So if you can’t make it to Open Studio Weekend and want to see one, just ask for one at a show.

I’m always happy to pull one out of my scrapple hat.

I learned a new thing – teabag folding

“What the heck is teabag folding? Why would you fold a tea bag? Aren’t they too full of tea to fold?” Those were my questions earlier today.

I just got back from the monthly meeting of the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. We meet up in Burlington on the first Wednesday of every month. The group is around 3 years old and there are over 200 people on the Email list for our group. Quite a large group of book arts lovers for such a small state as Vermont!

I love going to the monthly meetings. Members lead the evening programs and we learn something different every month. Tonight’s experiment was teabag folding. After spending all day on my computer, I was game for anything.

I learned that teabag folding originated in Holland and that you don’t actually fold teabags (duh). It seems that folks used small papers to wrap their loose tea. A woman named Tiny van der Plas decided to fold these papers for decorating greeting cards. A new art form was born. You can read more about teabag folding on Wikipedia.

Anyhoo, we started folding squares of paper into origami-esque shapes.

Teabag folding - square pieces

After completing 8 folded squares, we assembled them into a star-like paper thing.

Completed teabag folding - star

After feeling happy at having completed my starry creation, we then moved on to circles. More happy folding.

Teabag folding - circle pieces

Then we assembled the pieces into a super cool flower.

Teabag folding - completed flower

Overall, the folding was really relaxing…that is, after I knew what I was doing. I had many moments of “Whadshe just do?” I could see myself zoning out for hours, folding paper squares. What most appealed to me about the process was the symmetry and the precision involved.

I’m very much a structure girl. When I have clear and concrete directions to follow, I’m super happy. I’m not sure if it’s something I’d ever do again or incorporate into my bookbinding. It’s still cool to learn a new skill.

The weird thing happened on the drive home. A 40 minute drive home (alone) will get your brain going in weird directions. I thought to myself, “If someone put a gun to my head and told me that I’d have to be either a square or a circle, which would I choose?” I came to the conclusion that I’d have to be a square.

The thought of having no sides and no corners just sorta freaks me out.

Super Happy Paper Fix, Part II

I got more paper today. Not a lot, but enough to tide me over for a while (apparently the 28 sheets I bought a week ago weren’t enough).

On the way back from a visit with my sister in MA, I stopped at Paper Source in Cambridge. I worked there when I was in graduate school and that’s where I learned how to make books. The main objective of the visit was to buy some laser vellum for wedding invitations. Laser vellum is a translucent paper that you can print on and lay over a decorative paper for a see-through effect.

After I got what I came for, then I could shop for fun. I found the decorative paper you see below. 

New Paper Source papers

The first one from the left is an original print by Paper Source – Flora & Fauna Pool Pinwheels Moss.

The second one from the left is an Italian paper, but it doesn’t have the maker printed on it. I’ll have to do some research to figure it out.

The third one from the left is an Italian paper by Cavallini & Co. They have lots of traditional paper prints, like maps and old travel labels.

My favorite acquisition, however, is the fourth paper from the left. I have never seen anything quite so goofy before. I almost didn’t buy it.

Yearbook paper from Paper Source

It’s another Paper Source print called Graduation Photos Sheet. It’s one of the selections from their new Paper Source Green Selections line. This pattern has been printed on 100% recycled paper with 30% post-consumer waste (go Paper Source!).

I love love love this paper! Who are these people? Why are they on this paper? Do they know that they’re on it? Do they care? So many questions.

I think I find this paper particularly intriguing because I have my high school reunion coming up and I’ve been very nostalgic as of late. I plan to use this paper on the cover of (what else?) some photo albums.

Maybe someone will recognize themselves on the cover of one of my books at a craft show and buy all of them out of humiliation…

Elissa’s Super Happy Paper Fix

Oh baby, I finally got my paper fix. I have been craving paper for weeks and sadly, haven’t acted on it until today.

Earlier this afternoon, I took a trip out to East Topsham, VT to visit Langdell Paper. Driving out to Richard Langdell’s studio is quite tricky and my usual route proved to be quite a challenge. Initially I thought I’d be 10-15 minutes early, but then I hit the dirt road portion of my journey.

I know that this is going to sound overly dramatic, but I’m telling you, Willey Hill Road tried to kill me today.

If you’ve never been on a dirt road in Vermont during mud season, it is not for the faint of heart. Lumpy, rut-riddled, and gooey are only a few of the words I can use to describe this drive.

But it was so worth the drive.

Handmade papers by Richard Langdell

Richard has been making paper for about a gazillion years. I first became aware of his paper when I worked at Paper Source in Cambridge, MA. His paper is sold throughout the country and is used by many artists, designers, and other paper artisans. I consider him a paper rock star.

When I moved to Vermont and found out that his studio was here, I couldn’t believe it. Richard makes every studio visit worthwhile – he clearly has a passion for his craft and it shows in his paper.

So I came out of today’s visit with 28 sheets of paper, 17 of which will be used for a custom invitation order. I’ve been buying Langdell paper for a number of years, so I decided to go into my paper drawers to see how big my stash is.

I have 96 sheets of his paper, not including what I bought today. I can’t tell if I should consider this an accomplishment or be embarrassed that I haven’t used it all yet.

This brings me to the following confession: I love piles of things. As you can see from my choice of photos, I love how things look when there are multiples of them, organized in neat stacks.

Handmade papers by Richard Langdell

I wish I could say that I am the queen of organized stacks in my studio. More often than not, I implement use of the disorganized traveling pile (a highly-specialized pile that gets moved every time you need to make room for something else).

Geez, just look at those piles of paper, sitting in the sun all happy and pile-y. Yum.

Papers by Richard Langdell

Richard told me that he’s hoping to sell his papermaking business. I wish him the best. I hope that the person who takes on this adventure will run it will as much love as Richard does.

And it will make this bookbinder happiest if it is kept in Vermont, even happier if it’s in Montpelier.

RIP: Pretty wood paper from Paris

My husband and I went to Paris in the summer of 2001. It was during this trip that I started the tradition of buying paper whenever possible on our vacations.

I can’t help myself.

When went to Washington D.C. in 2005, I made a stop at the Paper Source in Georgetown. In 2006, when we went to New Mexico, it was Papers! and Papergami in Albuquerque. Last year it was an amazing overnight stay and studio tour with Peggy Skycraft in Oregon (I have idolized her for years and her paper does not disappoint).

So back to Paris. It was our last day and we spent some time shopping in a department store. I turned a corner and saw a rack of wrapping papers. There I spotted the most lovely wood veneer paper – very subtle and light-grained.

I had to have it.

I picked out two sheets and had them wrapped up. I immediately realized how stupid this was, because now I had to get it home safely without a protective tube to carry it in.

I have never walked so defensively in my life – I held the paper close to my body with my elbows pointed out in case anyone bumped into me. I was really a freak. I did, however, manage to get it home without any damage.

I put it in storage for the day when I would use it for a journal or photo album – who cared? It was just so fabulous. So it sat in storage…for 6 1/2 years. I was afraid to use it. I would open my paper files and look at it lovingly, then close the drawer and work with something else. I could not bring myself to use this precious find.

Until recently.

A friend commissioned me to make him a sketch book and chose the wood veneer paper for the cover. I actually felt okay about it. So I cut up the paper and started to glue it to a piece of bookboard.

Let me tell you – this paper does not like glue.

It bubbled up like a bad sunburn. I swore a lot. A lot.

I waited 6 1/2 years for this?

Grrrrrrr….so I peeled the paper off and sanded down my bookboard, ready to give up. Then I waited a couple of weeks and decided to try Yes! Stikflat glue. I hate this stuff. It’s like working with a blend of Vaseline and snot. Somehow it always makes me dizzy when I use it. It claims to not wrinkle papers, so I figured why not?

So I gave it a shot.

Needless to say, I’m here on the computer and not in my studio.

The glue sorta worked, but the paper doesn’t like to be bent either. It cracked and peeled.

Grrrrrrr….fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice….whatever, I give up. I’ll use it to make some collaged cards.

Boxed In

Sea Green Floral Bridal Suite by Blue Roof DesignsToday I spent some time in the studio working on a hinged lid box.

To show you an example, the Bridal Suite at right includes a large hinged lid box that fits all of the contents shown.

The one that I was working on tonight is much smaller – just the right size for papers that you have hanging around, but don’t know what to do with.

The hardest part about making a box cutting out the pieces. It is really difficult to get the pieces square. I do all of my cutting by hand, so there’s always a chance for a small error. Usually these can be corrected with some sandpaper after gluing the pieces together.

Lucky for me, the box I was working on was from a kit so the pieces were already cut.

What a joy!

Today I glued the sides to the base of the box. I’m letting this dry overnight before I proceed to the next step.

Handmade box construction

You can catch a glimpse of my very green cutting mat that I have on my work table. I love the color, but it quickly gets grungy. I hope to kill this one off soon so I can replace it with a darker version.

My customer, who is my web designer Heather Boissoneau, picked out a lovely blue patterned Japanese paper from Paper Source.

Handmade paper and bookcloth

I worked at the Paper Source in Cambridge, MA while I was in graduate school. Back then, they only had 2 stores – they have over 20 now.

Paper Source is the reason for both my paper addiction and my love of bookbinding. They have so many drool-worthy papers…in case you can’t tell, I’m desperately in need of a paper fix.

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