Italian Paper

Italian Paper by Natalie Parker

It happened again. I tried not to, but it did anyway.

In Italy I found myself buying rolled handmade paper in Venice and having to carry it around for the rest of the time. Onto a vaporetto (public boat), into the rental car, across Italy, across Florence on foot to our new apartment, to the train station, onto a regional train, onto a bus, to the hotel, on the airport shuttle, through check-in and security, one flight, one layover with a run through the airport, one longhaul flight, through customs, on the train home.

It’s a good thing I could keep it on my wrist — just treat me like a kid with a balloon. At least I didn’t leave it on the airport check-in counter like I did in Buenos Aires.

I told myself I wouldn’t do this. In Venice, I suggested that the clerk cut the sheet into a couple smaller pieces. She looked horrified. Look lady, I’m going to cut it up anyway. Nope, I couldn’t bring myself to insist, so it got rolled and around my wrist it went for the rest of the trip.

Italian Paper by Natalie Parker

I really should stick to buying cards because they’re compact! When we got to Florence, I bought some Florentine paper that had to be rolled because why not? I was already holding a roll anyway.

Do you have a weakness when shopping abroad?  I’d love to hear it!

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London: Card Shopping at Selfridges

Selfridges Paper Shopping by Natalie Parker

I’ve been meaning to visit Selfridges for a while.  After an afternoon walk around Marylebone (more in another post), I was so close that I thought I’d pop in.

Wow.  If Harrod’s is fancy, Selfridges is just cool.  It’s still a massive department store, true, but the feel was totally different.  I could have wandered all day!

Selfridges Paper Shopping by Natalie Parker

thought I was just going to pop in and check out the food hall.  Then I went through the food hall to the chocolate section.  Then beyond the chocolate section was . . . wait for it . . . the stationary section.  Be still my heart.

Selfridges Paper Shopping by Natalie Parker

Seriously, this is where British department stores get it right.  A whole section dedicated to stationary plus several stores-within-a-store displays from prominent companies like Paperchase and Smythson.

I about keeled over when I saw the Smythson stuff, then came to my senses when I saw the price tags.  Birthday gift for me, anyone?  I’ll take anything in yellow, especially this.

Selfridges Paper Shopping by Natalie Parker

They had fabulous card and stationary sets.  I saw a map-themed letter writing set and really had to restrain myself.

The card selection was just excellent.  I had to actually put a couple back because I was close to buying all the cards.  I was happy though – I got a cute little yellow Selfridges bag of my very own to carry back to my flat.

Selfridges Paper Shopping by Natalie Parker

Mission accomplished.

If you go, I think the perfect experience would be to sample some chocolate, buy some stationary, then get a manicure (in the same section as the stationary, £19 for an express manicure).  You can’t go wrong!

IF YOU GO

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited (peach pins are stores).

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip.  I kept myself entertained on the weekends with a few adventures that I’m sharing here.  Click here to see all of my travel posts grouped by destination.

London: Shoreditch Design & Shopping Walk

Shoreditch Design Walk by Natalie ParkerShoreditch Design Walk by Natalie ParkerShoreditch Design Walk by Natalie ParkerShoreditch Design Walk by Natalie Parker

I spent one of my Saturdays in London wandering around Shoreditch, looking for design stores.

Okay, I confess: I never wander.  I walk with purpose and always know where I’m going.  It’s an affliction.

The Plan

My plan of attack for the day:  start at Old Spitalfields Market to check out the vendors and the area stores, make my way toward the Old Truman Brewery and Backyard Market, have lunch at some point, walk up Shoreditch High Street to Material, then bus down to the Design Museum if I had time.  While not technically wandering, I stopped at any store that looked cool along the way.

Shoreditch Design Walk by Natalie ParkerShoreditch Design Walk by Natalie ParkerShoreditch Design Walk by Natalie Parker

The Results

I had a love-at-first-sight moment with Oliver Bonas.  Bright colors, homewares with clean lines, cards, furniture, and more.  I thought about moving in.  I snapped a pictures of these quirky chests and sent them to my mom so we can make one (they don’t ship internationally).  I got out of there with a scarf and a couple of cards.

I almost tried on some clothes because the Old Spitalfields vendors were awesome.  But I was cold and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

I stumbled onto BoxPark and Tusch und Egon, contemplating for a while how I could pack home a beautiful modern fire extinguisher.  The shopkeeper told me they can’t be packed, even in the cargo hold.  Rats.

Double rats: I didn’t realize there were more BoxPark shops upstairs!  I really should learn how to wander.

I found a solar-powered dashboard corgi at Maiden and quickly snapped it up for the corgi-lover in my life.

I stopped to admire all the street art and got to see my very first Bansky!

I had an argument with myself at the Backyard Market about taking off my scarf to try on a necklace (it was cold).  The necklace won!  I bought it and a lovely hammered ring from Boém.

My patience rewarded, I found the street food vendors near Backyard Market and got a fresh juice and halloumi wrap.

Finally, I bused across Tower Bridge and walked to the Design Museum to check out the gift shop.  I’m not sure it was worth the trek since it was so out of the way from the other shops.  However, my opinion was probably influenced by the fact that it was cold and very windy on the walk there.

Not a bad day’s work!

Shoreditch Design Walk by Natalie ParkerShoreditch Design Walk by Natalie ParkerShoreditch Design Walk by Natalie Parker

If You Go

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited (peach pins are stores).

Websites: Oliver Bonas | Old Spitalfields Market | InSpitalfields | Backyard Market | Boém | BoxPark | Tusch und Egon | Maiden | Material | Design Museum

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.  

Finding Paper & Design Stores When Traveling

Dublin Creative Quarter

I love design shopping on the road.  It’s one of the best ways to see unique items I won’t find at home.

I’m always on the lookout for shops that sell stationary, gifts, goods by local artists, or well-curated home goods.  Put another way: cool stuff that I don’t have to try on.

It can be challenging to find stores that I want to visit.  If only Googling “cool design-y stores” would work!

How to Find Cool Shops When You Travel

Search your favorite crafty bloggers who travel.  There are tons of crafty ladies who travel.  I visit my favorite blogs and search for a city to see if they have any recommendations.  I found Material in London from Kelly Purkey.

Mine the websites of your favorite paper designers.  Many paper goods designers will list stores that stock their products.  Rifle Paper Co.’s stockist list is a gold mine for this — I used their list to help suss out shops when I had an afternoon to myself in Portland.  Sugar Paper also publishes a list.

I love a museum gift shop.  Museum gift shops are always so well-curated.  There’s nothing wrong with hitting up the shop if you don’t have time for the museum!  Modern art and design museums are especially good for this.

Trust the brain at Google Maps.  If you find a store you like and search for it on Google Maps in your browser, Google will show you similar shops in the area.  It’s not always perfect and works way better with restaurants, but it does help!  Note: I’ve only seen this work on a desktop browser, not on the mobile version of Maps.

If all else fails, Google it.  Sometimes I’ll search “paper store” or “stationary store” just to see what I get.  That’s how I found this great paper tour of Paris by Damask Love.

Do you have any tried and true secrets for finding good shops?  Please share!

Thinking About Paper and Scrapbooks: 2 Ways

Thinking About Paper

This continues last week’s discussion about paper, which started with my post on Acid & Lignin.

I’ve been learning a lot about paper and it’s made me think about why I scrapbook.  Here are two wildly different ways to think about paper.  There’s a happy ending, I promise.

Paper is Organic

All paper is organic and will eventually deteriorate.

That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

I think about this when Mr. P is watching episodes of the Universe.  It makes me think of how short and small our existence is, what will eventually happen to our planet, and why I even bother scrapbooking.  Even the most archival quality papers will deteriorate eventually, probably before our planet will.

When I think in those terms, I have to get my head screwed on straight and think about why I scrapbook.  It’s my hobby, I like doing it.  The byproduct of the hobby is something to show to family and friends.  Still, at the end of the day, I’m doing it for me.

Paper is Still a Very Viable Record Format

Let’s look at this from the other direction.  So paper deteriorates.  You know what deteriorates faster?  Much much faster?  Digital media.

After reading the above, you are probably wondering why you should scrapbook and maybe that you should just keep digital files and not print anything.  Wrong!

One of the fascinating things I’m learning as I study paper is how versatile it is.  You don’t need special software to read a paper book.  You don’t need a password.  In our society today, there is such a concern about how to disseminate information quickly and little thought put into long term preservation.

Some even argue that our cultural record of today will disappear faster than the cultural record of the past because today’s record is digital.  Digital material can degrade, become obsolete or become unusable much faster than paper.  There are no standards on how to preserve digital data for the long term.

So, even though paper will eventually deteriorate, it’s actually more reliable than digital.  What’s the point here?  The time you take getting photos off your computer and into scrapbooks or albums matters.  Yes, everything will eventually deteriorate, but paper is still a very reliable method for storing information.

Happy ending?  I’m still scrapbooking!