Thursday, November 7, 2013

Papers Please

Aren't they gorgeous?!  These are individual sheets of rather expensive gift wraps that we sell at the bookstore where I work.   I put these in the same category as athletic young men, expensive cars, and blank books; things I very much admire, but really haven't much practical use for.  What would I do with such luxuries?

Not that I would refuse any of these, or find my way to doing... something with everything on the list above, but I obviously haven't the need of any of it.

Blank books and pretty journals I've been given aplenty over the years.  All that creamy, blank, white paper between handsome hard-covers tends to intimidate me.  The kind of scribbling and scratching I do is easier in cheap materials; if anything goes wrong or I simply don't care for what I've done, I'm better served by recycled scratch-paper I can toss.  Lovely, big portfolios of clean, stiff pages, even simple tablets of better stuff seem entirely too grand for my ephemeral purposes.  (As a child, a friend of my grandmother gave me stacks of the pristine white cardboard from shirts he'd had professionally laundered. Those were a treat!  They made the lined paper and cheap notepaper I usually drew on seem hopelessly inferior.  No one would have thought to buy me tablets of art-paper, even had anyone in my family then heard of such a thing or had access to any.  By the time I became acquainted with such superior materials, the habit of drawing or writing on whatever was to hand was already ingrained.)

As for expensive automobiles and healthy, handsome youths, I am now content to admire as they pass me.

Really beautiful papers like the above, I am lucky enough to work around every day.  In the Supplies Department in the basement, I can, whenever I like, go and lose half an hour in admiration of handmade papers, foil prints and the most delightful graphics; a feast.  I am more than a little in awe of the artistry of such things.  I am dazzled by the color and the grace of such things, and no little envious of the craftsmanship that adds such loveliness to the world.  (I have little or no command of color, artistically or otherwise.  Witness not only my stated preference for white paper and plain, #2 pencils, but my wardrobe.  Were it not for my beloved husband, dear A., I would dress like an Amish farmer.)

On the rare occasion that I've indulged myself in wrapping things in such gorgeous stuff, or received presents wrapped this way, I am always so shy of wasting the paper I tend to wince at every crease and go all but dizzy when Scotch Tape touches pattern.  (I'm not so indifferent to design as was my brother in our childhood.  He was perfectly comfortable wrapping Christmas gifts in the newspaper funnies -- which, now I think of it, looked rather wonderful.)  Still, I am content with using pretty inexpensive gift-wrap, bought on a roll, when necessity arises.  What, after all, is the utility of such things if not to be used the once and discarded?  Truth, ladies of my mother's generation still invariably unwrap every present ever so slowly and neatly, so as to preserve the paper for another use or two, but that example proved a negative to me, and, I should think, to anyone else who remembers the pure pleasure of ripping into a pile of wrapped presents Christmas morning, hellbent to get to the toys, the candy and the surprise.

I begrudge no one the more refined satisfaction of using beautiful papers like those pictured here, and to any purpose including tearing them to pieces.  Not for me, is all.  As with strapping college wrestlers, cross-country runners and the occasional tennis-pro, I am content to know such things exist and to simply look.

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