Rachel Hazell (2/4)

Paper artist Rachel Hazell from Edinburgh will be writing our guestblog this month to tell us more about her work and adventures as ‘The Traveling Bookbinder’. In the second episode she shares her story about why she’s going to Paris for her Parisian Love Letters experience.

Why are we going to Paris to write Love Letters and make books? The City of Light is renowned for being the most romantic place in the world. Perhaps we’ll linger on the Pont des Arts, on the way to or from some papery place, and swoon in the embrace of the capital’s attractions; bookish, papery, delicious and inspiring.

The city has a long history as an academic and literary centre.

Let’s nip in to legendary bookshop Shakespeare and Co. to explore the rooms beyond rooms. Find a mirror full of messages, a first edition, the latest guide… or maybe take a seat in the typewriter cubbyhole and start your own story. Along the Seine, elegant dark green glossy cabinets house the bouquiniste’s treasure; sepia prints, obscure series, lascivious postcards and uncut edges.

We’ll definitely fit in a ride up the Centre Pompidou’s escalator to the top floor to discover a different perspective on the city’s roofs and spires whilst drinking chocolat chaud poured from a silver jug. This will rejuvenate body and soul before diving in to the gallery’s incredible bookshop, with it’s vast selection of monographs and artist’s books.

If you are a paperlover, DO NOT leave Paris without going to rue Pont Louis-Philippe. This street has the highest concentration of the paperiest boutiques anywhere in the world. Dear Eric, the gentle calligrapher at Melodies Graphiques, has a wall of envelopes behind the counter, all exquisitely addressed in looping scripts.

He sells a wonderful range of nibs, ink, correspondence cards, marbled papers and leather-bound books. I will surely succumb to a pot of poetically named ink by J. Herbin. How about you?

Across the rue at Papier+ are rows of rainbow spines, a whole spectrum of coloured notebooks, albums, portfolios and box files. I defy you to choose just one!

On another afternoon, whiz by metro to Adeline Klam, whose boutique bursts with pattern. We’ll stock up on Japanese printed papers, washi tape and no doubt admire the charming origami installations.

Paris is also famous for it’s flea markets, so of course this bookart workshop will include an expedition to a specialist market on the city’s outskirts, to rifle through boxes of old letters and stacks of postcards.

I recommend Porte de Vanves for street-side stalls, and the grand dame Clignancourt for an entire village of smaller markets, with many streets and alleys to peruse.

Look out for materials that can be incorporated into your book. Stitching and embellishing the pages will happily absorb hours, in a state of pure flow. Rummage through dusty boxes and negotiate a bargain with a smile.

Café stops are a fundamental part of the Parisian paper experience. One of my favourites doubles as a second-hand book emporium! The Library Café at Merci is going to be included in the Love Letters schedule somehow….

Creating an effective workshop ambiance is important, so at the first opportunity, I’ll visit the linen-suited gentlemen at Mariages Frères and pick a box of Dream tea to warm us from the inside. Round the corner from our base is the oldest patisserie in Paris – Stohrer was established in 1730! Hands up who could resist a delectable sweet treat served from here?

The next blog post will come to you from the heart of Paris, in the middle of the bookart workshop, surrounded by paper, envelopes and ink: I look forward to reporting on progress and new discoveries then.