Monday, March 29, 2010

Rue Vavin

After the experience at Relma, I headed for another favorite paper store in Paris, Marie Papier. It is located at 26 Rue Vavin in Montparnasse, a few Metro stops and a short walk away. Rue Vavin is one of my favorite small streets in Paris; it is lined with one little boutique after another and makes for great window shopping while you head for your destination. In addition to Marie Papier on Rue Vavin, there is also an Art du Papier shop (think very small Paper Source type store; these are found in several locations around Paris) and also a fabulous game shop, with a display window guaranteed to pull you in if you weren't already so inclined. What's the attraction? A collection of stunning and fanciful Tarot and other card decks, handcrafted wooden games with very cool game pieces, small figures, small toys, little figures .... so wonderful, you'll think you've gone down the rabbit hole.

Marie Papier is a lovely store, the walls lined with beautiful hanging sheets of paper, and a huge center island with dozens of small objects in little wooden bins ... pencil sharpeners, miniature pens, clips, tools, erasers, calligraphy ink canisters and pen holders, everything to do with writing and making marks on paper. The store also carries its own line of exquisitely made journals and portfolios, in luscious colors, many soft bound, in a wide variety of sizes. On my visit here in 2009, I had purchased some papers, and my visit this time was not only to see what was new but to do a little buying for friends who had been lusting after some of last year's purchases.

Shown here are some of the papers that I purchased this year. I am absolutely in love with the batik style dot paper, so I bought it in every color. It folds nicely and takes adhesive well; it's also quite strong. Haven't seen it anywhere in the states. The striped sheets are screen printed and also fold and glue well, like a fine Japanese yuzen sheet. The "olives" were just too much fun not to bring home. Martini book, anyone?

You can make a virtual visit to Marie Papier using the link at right; the website has an English language option, and if you click on La Boutique you can see the store for yourself!

Another post, another paper store ....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Visit to Relma

I can't imagine a trip to Paris without a visit to Relma, the mecca for bookbinders and lovers of fine art papers. There are so few retail stores in the world devoted entirely to our craft, and this one is perhaps the finest of them all. Tucked away on a little side street close to St. Michel, Relma is easily reached by Metro (exit St. Michel) followed by just a short walk on Rue Dandon to Rue de Pointevins. The street is so small, it did not appear on any of my maps, but not to worry, because each Metro station has a highly detailed map of the quarter it serves, and a good index so you can find even the smallest of rues.

This is not to say the store itself is small; oh no, quite the contrary. There are at least four large rooms, and probably more that are not open to the public. Relma sells everything for bookbinding--decorative papers, luscious leather skins, headbands and linen tapes, adhesives, hand tools, instruction books and breathtakingly beautiful wood equipment: sewing frames, presses, and so on, along with cutters and board shears. Conspicuous by its absence is the lack of waxed linen sewing thread in the many colors we love to use; Relma sells only white thread for this purpose.

When you walk in the front door, you enter a large room with ceiling high, three inch deep shelves around the entire perimeter and several large tables in the center. This is the marbled paper room, with a few leather skins occupying some of the back portion and a large display of hand tools on the wall. There must be several hundred different pattern and color combinations of marbled paper housed here. To the left, a similar room devoted entirely to leather and suede skins, arranged by color. To the right, a room devoted largely to book cloth, with a wall of open shelf storage and a hundred (perhaps more) little cubby size drawers, each one containing a tool or supply. The fourth room, reached only by walking through the book cloth room, contains the fabulous wooden equipment for which Relma has been known in fine binding circles for decades.

Entering the store calls up all sorts of sensory delights; it looks like something from 50 years ago, and it smells, well, like paper and leather and wood all mixed together .... three of my favorite things. I take a deep breath as a I close the door behind me, because I know I'm going to be here for a long time. The staff is small, usually one or two people, but there is a nice Indian gentleman who always seems to be there, and he speaks English very well, enough to answer the technical questions you might have. Otherwise, you can simply wander from area to area, pulling out the papers you want to see in detail, creating your stash on the tables in the center. No one seems to mind if you want to open the many cubby drawers to see what delightful items are waiting inside. You're never rushed or pressured to move on; it's a little piece of heaven where time has stopped just for you.

My mission was to find some luscious papers for my summer students, and I also had shopping lists for friends and students with specific requests. So, I will share with you photos some of my paper purchases, knowing that some of you will actually be able to get your hands on these and work with them for our book projects in July.

In a small lapse of judgement, or maybe not, I purchased a bookbinding book, La Reliure (the French word for binding) because it has good photographs inside of some production techniques that interested me. I will sit down with my LaRousse French English reference at some point and translate the sections that are most useful. I have checked for this book in English but it does not seem to exist in any other language, nor is it available from Amazon.

This is not the only paper store I visited on this trip--more to come in future posts--but if you love making books and find yourself in Paris, you should treat yourself to this heady experience.
Bon papier appetit!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Back from a paper grab

Well, yes, I did leave you here with a couple of CDs for quite some time. Not too long after my last post here, we had an unexpected trip to New York, a flurry of events and activities here, and then shortly after that, took off for France for my annual paper buying frenzy. There are all kinds of wonderful things to show and tell, so watch for a series of posts in the next few days about these adventures.

I also want to report that my summer workshops here at the studio are full; if you didn't apply in time for 2010, please consider this experience for next year. In the meantime, you can still catch me in Cleveland, Columbus or Pittsburgh. Check the workshop schedule in the right column and click on the links for availability and other details.

Jet lag sucks. I must sleep now...........