Friday, June 10, 2011

From the "Too Cool for Words" Department...

Here's an item that most of us don't get to see everyday - sample books!

As you may imagine, when I found the wool and the Japanese paper ones, I nearly plotzed.  I discovered them at a used book store in Plymouth, Wisconsin about 10 years ago.  Apparently, they had just come in that day and the owner was eyeing them up for herself - when I went to check out she said, "AW!  I was hoping no one would find these!".  :D

I'm going to say that both those books are from the Fifties, just judging by the fonts used and the way they're put together.  Both are VERY comprehensive - the wool one has 14 very different samples of woven and worsted wool fabrics, including some gorgeous tweeds and houndstooths (it's a British book, though, so they call it "dogstooth").  At first I thought perhaps this book was made for a clothier but on the back it says it was published by The Department of Education & Training, UK  Branch, The International Wool Secretariat, Wool House, Carlton Gardens, London SW1.  The Brits have a Wool Secretariat?  That sounds like a super cool job to me!

The Japanese Paper sample book has a lot more samples in it and was put out by Aiko's Art Materials Import in Chicago.  By my count there are 150 different papers in the book.  Finding this book was like discovering a pot of gold and for the longest time I wouldn't even DREAM of cutting it up; I would just skim through it and admire the different papers.  One day, however, I was doing a project that required a wood-type design and I knew there were a couple of different pages I could use.  I must've agonized about it for an hour before I took the plunge.  It is still the only page I've used but I'm not sorry I did it.  It says right in the front of the book, "We take great pleasure and pride in introducing this beautiful product to you and hope that you will enjoy it in your creative work."  Permission granted!  :D

The third book in my collection, the Warren's Standard Printing Papers, is a whole other animal.  When I got this sample book it had already been decimated by some bored school kids who knows how many years ago.  There is a copyright on this book - 1949 - so the scribbles in the book could very well be over 60 years old!  I like to wonder who owned this book - was it a salesman's?  It says it was distributed by Nackie Paper Company out of Milwaukee, which existed until at least 1976 (that whole area of Milwaukee, where all of the paper and office supply stores used to be, is a shell of its former self.  It's very sad).  Besides papers for printing, some of the papers in the book are typing or letterhead-style papers.  There are some onion skin pages as well.  Many of the pages have black and white photos on them to illustrate the clarity and sheen (or dullness) of the finish.  What a long way we've come in printing!  I haven't used this book yet, but I know I will someday and it won't bother me at all.

Perhaps you're wondering at this point whether or not I've used the wool book and the answer is....yes.  Yes I have.  :D  It was harder to work with than I thought it would be and I'll only be using it in the most desperate of occasions.  But I like how the piece turned out!


  1. You are one of the most talented and interesting artists I have known. I love your posts!

  2. Oh my goodness, Bev - thank you so much! You totally just made my day with that comment, and it makes my heart glad to know that you enjoy my blog posts! :D Thank you again!

  3. What treasures, and I love the use you've made of them!

  4. Very cool Mel - real treasures and I hear ya about the dilema of "pulling apart" for the sake of art....

  5. Thanks Trina and Jewels! I NEED to get over my peccadilloes about "pulling apart for the sake of art", and most time I'm okay, but sometimes I pull a Hoarders and freak out. I'm an EPHEMERAOLOGIST and need to start acting like one at all times! :D