Between The Sheets: The Pleasures Of Paper
October 24, 2003 2:11 AM   Subscribe

A Fresh, Clean Sheet Of Paper: Is anything you can't make love to, eat or sip, more sensual and inviting? In the age of the Internet, fine paper - specially if it's handmade - seems to become ever more precious. Writing or sketching on its slighly grainy texture, sliding ink along its invisible grooves (almost independently of the result...) is an extravagant indulgence; a romantic gesture; an almost guiltless pleasure. And something you can do yourself, satisfying that deep recycling urge, perhaps. A quick tour around some of the outstanding manufacturers and dealers - Fabriano; Canson; Pineider and Twinrocker, for example - will silkily reassure those of us whose pens trembled and blotted with the first mentions of a paperless future. Will it ever come? Unlike so many things in life, the rarer it gets, the better and, paradoxically, the more individual (nice set of paper links here) it becomes. (*imagines a complete multi-handwritten version of MetaFilter on good paper of all sizes and types and instantly snaps out of the daydream, as it reminds him too damn much of his attic*)
posted by MiguelCardoso (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Many thanks for these links, Miguel - I just got my own papermaking kit & am hoping to try it out over the weekend (the instructions in your 5th link are a lot clearer than the ones that came with the kit). I already know and love Fabriano paper & am looking forward to checking out the other manufacturers you mention.
posted by misteraitch at 2:41 AM on October 24, 2003

Is anything you can't make love to, eat or sip, more sensual and inviting?

A guitar. A piano. I suspect most folks feel this way about their musical instruments.
posted by namespan at 3:31 AM on October 24, 2003

"Is anything you can't make love to, eat or sip, more sensual and inviting?"

plus, as namespan pointed out, most musicians feel that way about their instruments (and it's difficult to argue that a sheet of paper is cooler than a Steinway, btw. more portable, yes. cooler, I'm not sure).
it's hardly surprising that a (fetishism-prone) writer has a fetish about his writing instruments, then (ran out of ideas for fountain pen threads, huh?). but since you spend a lot of time with blank sheets of paper (when you're not posting fpp's here or checking out bifurcated rivets or eating out or mixing martinis) it's ok that you kind of fell in love with paper.

to answer your question -- iPod? G5? Savile Row bespoke suits? Vintage Eberhard or Rolex watches? Vintage Levi's? Old grammophones? Original Jimi Hendrix vynil LP's?

there's lots of possibilities
posted by matteo at 4:01 AM on October 24, 2003

Since the first mentions of the "paperless office" our consumption of paper has done nothing but increase, and significantly, so I fear such a possibility is nothing more than a dream.
posted by nofundy at 4:57 AM on October 24, 2003

While we are throwing out non-paper related sensual-ness, for me it is old cameras. Those solid, mechanical wonders of light capture make me giddy.
posted by tcaleb at 5:28 AM on October 24, 2003

Not that good writing paper isn't cool too. Close second. Thanks Mig.
posted by tcaleb at 5:29 AM on October 24, 2003

Rives BFK is very sensual. It's an almost orgasmic experience everytime I draw on it.


Thanks for the links!
posted by grefo at 5:51 AM on October 24, 2003

> a paperless future. Will it ever come?

It is to be hoped not. There's a lot more you can do with paper than write (even at Proustian length - C'est fini, dit-il, et la plume tombe de sa main inanimée) on it. My mother was a commercial illustrator and my father an architect; both could work in pencil, ink, charcoal, watercolor, gouache, tempera, oils, etc. on paper and canvas of a variety of textures. I have used and built computers since the 8 bit generation of micros and in that time have seen some striking effects on the little screen (and the big one too, of course) but in general, and in my humble opinion, computer art is to art as plastic fruit is to fruit. I have loved this picture for years and years just based on printed and online reproductions. This past summer I at last got a chance to see the actual painting when it travelled from St. Petersberg to Atlanta. Seeing the real thing, compared to repros, is like meeting a live wolf in the forest compared to seeing a photo of one in Ranger Rick.
posted by jfuller at 5:55 AM on October 24, 2003

Crane's Paper, the Massachusetts paper company that has been the primary provider of paper for U.S. currency since 1879, has finally launched its own chain of retail outlets, one of which just opened in the mall we most usually frequent.

For pen-and-paper freaks like me and Migsy, it's a little piece of heaven.
posted by briank at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2003

Won't anyone think of the trees?
posted by rushmc at 6:23 AM on October 24, 2003

> Won't anyone think of the trees?

Oh, I think of 'em all the time. CRTs and LCDs for the masses, certainly. Paper just for me.
posted by jfuller at 6:29 AM on October 24, 2003

I have blank paper from my grandfathers NY Lincoln car dealership from the 1940s. It is a treasure in part because of the letterhead, but in part because it is very good quality paper that 70 years later is just as nice. Simple, elegant memento.
posted by stbalbach at 6:34 AM on October 24, 2003

Miguel, now I don't even have to get through the first line to recognize your posts - let alone keep scrolling to see that it's 12 lines long...

That said, you've hit one of my weaknesses here. I also have a fetish for clean white paper. I have an excuse, being a cartoonist, but it goes back to my childhood, drawing incessantly. One of my most cherished Christmas gifts (if not my most cherished) every year was a ream of new typing paper to draw on.

Nowadays, of course, plain typing paper doesn't quite do it for me - there's a certain kind of laser printer paper that the pen just glides over in such a smooth, sensual way, making such wonderfully free, arcing lines that swoop and... flow and...

Excuse me. I have to go, uh, do something.
posted by soyjoy at 7:18 AM on October 24, 2003

Trees for paper are essentially and agricultural product these days. Not to put too much of a cheery light on things, but I think we're close to sustainable practices for softwood pulp now, at least in the temperate climes. Hardwoods, of course, are a complete disaster, especially in the tropics.

As sensual as a clean sheet of paper? My main tempters are tools: a hammer , a wrench or a knife seduces the hand and fires the imagination.
posted by bonehead at 7:38 AM on October 24, 2003

There's nothing quite like a perfect sheet of acid-free premium vellum paper, the kind that both gladly accepts your line and provides just enough resistance, upon which the first word you write is "Gretings!"

This is why I stick to basic papers.
posted by furiousthought at 8:00 AM on October 24, 2003

Amen, Matteo. As much as I enjoy many of the finer things in life, my most prized possession is my Steinway Model B.

I have fine paper and pens, for those rare occasions that I wish to write an actual letter, but I can better express myself by sitting on my piano bench and playing a carefully chosen and studied piece of music on an instrument that allows every ounce of emotion to flow through it and be amplified by it.

The art of the letter is a dying one, and it's beautiful, but for personal, sensual communication, give me a fine piano and let me play.
posted by mosch at 8:14 AM on October 24, 2003

This is why I stick to basic papers.

Yeah, I do, too. That's why I prefer the smoother, glossier...

Oh wait. You meant that figuratively, right?
posted by soyjoy at 8:16 AM on October 24, 2003

Is anything you can't make love to, eat or sip, more sensual and inviting?

I've had to fend off the urge to put great paper in my mouth before. Sometimes it just seems good enough to eat. I always loved Somerset Satin w/ condensed charcoal for the insane contrast. And Yupo is some really strange stuff. How do they do that?
posted by BirdD0g at 8:21 AM on October 24, 2003

Is anything you can't make love to, eat or sip, more sensual and inviting?

My SUV? [ducks]
posted by keswick at 10:24 AM on October 24, 2003

This will teach Miguel to begin an otherwise well-constructed post with a silly rhetorical question.

Wait, who am I kidding - of course it won't.
posted by soyjoy at 12:25 PM on October 24, 2003

I have a paper making set up that I used to use to recycle most of my junk mail. I haven't had time to do it lately...but I loved my handmade made notes to people so much more personal, and it made my to-do list seem a little more friendly.
posted by dejah420 at 1:04 PM on October 24, 2003

Mmmmm...paper. Great links! I collect paper, horde paper, fold paper, correspond on paper, weave paper, sew paper, cast paper, make paper, paint paper(not paintings), cut paper. Wonderful things--watching my mother make embossings(not some rinky-dink scrapbook type thing, but large sheets of heavy, dampened paper laid over a big stone with an image she carved and coaxing the detail into the paper), the way rice paper takes brushes of ink, the way good paper sounds when it tears. I've maintained a 13 yr. correspondence in part so I could justify buying more paper.
posted by lobakgo at 1:18 PM on October 24, 2003

this is my favorite label.
During world war II, the company redesigned their boxes to converse on material and put a note in the box to say so, which i though was rather courteous.
posted by clavdivs at 3:14 PM on October 24, 2003

I'm in the process of packing my life into boxes and moving, and the one thing I am finding more of than I could have imagined I would are pieces of paper that I kept just because of the paper. I have one large box that I am putting all these pieces on lovable paper into, and when it's full it will probably require a crane to move. I love paper. I love the feel of a good paper. I love writing or drawing on fine papers. I love recycling paper. For me the thought of a paperless world is almost terrifying.

the way rice paper takes brushes of ink

The best find in the boxes I had in storage was my set of Japanese ink brushes and a large collection of gorgeous rice paper. It took all my will power not to sit down right then and there and play with it ... but then, I'd never get moved if I stopped to play with every cool thing I have rediscovered during packing. :D
posted by Orb at 3:19 PM on October 24, 2003

French Paper anyone? not quite hand made, but some darn fine paper. fun website as well, do yourself a favor and read the history secton.
posted by skatz at 5:39 PM on October 24, 2003

Fine paper is all well and...fine. Sometimes I wax nostalgic for a good old yellow legalpad, but only very briefly! My life is in better order thanks to the computer and less paper.
posted by Goofyy at 12:52 AM on October 25, 2003

This is why I stick to basic papers.

I just bought two boxes of gorgeous, embossed Crane thank-you cards to use for business correspondence. Painful experience has taught me to write my messages out on scratch paper before writing them on the good stuff!

posted by halonine at 2:52 AM on October 25, 2003

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