oh the things i want to learn

  • geology
  • gemology
  • book-binding
  • paper-making
  • how to make clothes
  • knitting and crochet
  • the art of chinese knots
  • mosaic techniques
  • sculpting
  • papier mâché

some days i get so excited about such things i wish i could just drop out of school and spend my life as an apprentice chez one master after another. D, E and i wandered around the sunday knick-knacks market along the boulevard richard lenoir today and ended up spending a good part of an hour at a stall which sold handmade leather-bound notebooks. our vendeur had leather from old indian account ledgers, covers embossed with ganesh, sanskrit text, spirals, patterns… he had all manner of sizes, colours and bindings, all of them impeccably made. he showed us an old indian account ledger, with long columns of accounting in hindi still intact, the pages so long that you could fold it onto itself as a manner of “binding”.  a few had stones set into the leather, which had me obsessing over them for ages while D asked away amiably about the man’s craft and origins. it seemed that he spent 5 months in a year in india amassing old books, antiques and collectibles, parts of which he recycled for his bookbinding designs, and that he’d also spent quite an amount of time in south america. i almost wanted to beg the man to teach me his secrets, to emboss and sew leather, to make paper, to bind books together, to set stones in leather – which i’d never seen anywhere before. i’m usually a complete scrooge  when it comes to buying quality journals and have never been convinced to spend a cent on a moleskin, but today i left with two gorgeous deep brown leather notebooks with cotton paper – one with an ammonite set in the middle of the cover, another with ruby zoisite, both beautifully bordered by an impeccable weave. modern life doesn’t seem to have a very settled appreciation for handicraft and worksmanship anymore except in luxury goods like jewellery or in tourism. it makes all my pet interests seem irrelevant and obsolete, unmarketable and out of sync with time.

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