Thursday, February 25, 2010

Properly stored, stories last forever

From time to time people call me up to discuss their business ventures, a possible project together, or just mutual interests. I invite them over to the studio and we usually end up talking a long time, connecting more deeply and satisfyingly in a way that social networking apps can never match.

It's always fun meeting new people, and as a small business person I appreciate the risks, inspiration, and desire to do something personal, with hopes that it has enough appeal to also be successful.

Gabe Weiss of Bamboo Grove Studio came over after delivering a pile of rock for a masonry project; turns out he studied Chinese medicine, reads characters (always makes me jealous), and runs a letterpress shop. How cool is that?

The space in Inner Southeast feels like a bona-fide Beijing pharmacy; the tango floor proves just as therapeutic.

Then there's Cynthia Brown, whose nascent company aims to help people document their stories. As memories fade quicker than the digital images stored on old, inaccessible hard drives, and traditional repositories, say, the family Bible or keepsake album, decrease in number, one wonders what will happen to the histories. I am forever grateful to one set of grandparents who were pressured to dictate the stories of their lives some years before they died. These sheaves of typewritten pages never fail to delight and entertain, no matter how many times I revisit them, and I expect to pass them to the next generation. (That reminds me—I better build a box.)

Come to think of it, if your family photos stack up nakedly as in the above picture, come see me for a custom light-proof, dust-proof clamshell box to store them for the next several hundred years.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sometimes the bindery has nothing to do with books

Like lately. When not editing like mad for the Sexo Puro project and Skyping with the sunny Brazilian songwriter Suely Mesquita, I've squeezed in a few afternoon practicas for tangueras looking to lead.

Some required decluttering of the garage also led to the pivotal point in the marriage when you finally commingle tools.

Thanks to bookbinding I have plenty of mallets for whacking things. It also appears we have plenty of hammers. I have a soft spot for the one I found a few years ago with Mabel Bailey's initials on it. She left it behind long before I moved into her tiny bungalow, from where I oversaw the construction of the bindery. I still feel awe for the woman, who raised four kids in an 800-square-foot house. She probably could have used some tango too.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Watch it while you can

I just came across a video on YouTube that divulges more than I've ever been able to learn (or see) about the making of China's renowned xuan zhi paper. I myself was cautioned not to travel to Anhui Province to see the process, but thanks to the Internet, we can watch this!

The video also features delightful subtitles. About halfway through some nice Burtynsky-Goldsworthy images come with the commentary "Working on the broad drying yard the locals are enriching the colour of the nature and appear to be holy and magnificent."