Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Guest Blogger: Bleubug discusses Marks on Paper


Our latest Guest Blogger is Thomas from the delightfully eccentric bleubug blog.

“I’m certainly a person who enjoys writing instruments both vintage and modern. Throw a few inks (or a few hundred) into the equation I’m happy as a clam or maybe an inky squid. But there are marks on paper beyond those made by fluid and pen which while archaic or unnoticed I do enjoy, so let me make mention of them.

Good paper is an important part of what is so satisfying in writing by hand. I love to use fine stationery like that sold by Clairefontaine and Rhodia which you can find tossed about my desk, shelves, and other flat spots (um…the floor) in my house. That’s mostly all smooth white or buff sheets which let pens glide like butter across them. Along with that are some more specialized sheets for correspondence and notes which are have a bit more tooth and texture to them. These often have what I always think of as a sign of quality: the watermark. I don’t know why it is so appealing to hold up a sheet and see light outline the logo or name in the weave of the paper to me but like a hallmark on precious metal there is a feeling of craftsmanship and history in it.

Paper is a slurry of wood pulp at the early stage of manufacturing and as that is flattened and dried, a number of methods can be used to create the thinner, more translucent sections of which watermarks are made. I happen to think the one in paper from G. Lalo is especially nice. The paper is of the laid variety and a bit rough but the tooth makes you feel the act of writing more and is very pleasant. When you hold the sheet up and see the pattern of text and watermark in the light it seems to be substantial and important. You’ve just turned your physical movement into something special.”

“Paper comes with watermarks built in already but if you wish to go further into inkless marking of paper you can get three dimensional by using a seal. Wax seals are an ancient way of providing privacy or authenticity to a document. An official or personal seal had gravitas and if broken you knew the information inside had passed under unwanted scrutiny. For me it’s closure on an important or heartfelt missive. You melt the wax and stamp it declaring your task is over.”

“There are many stamp and waxes available to purchase even in this modern age. J. Herbin makes my favorite waxes as well as very nice stamps. The two kinds of wax they sell, flexible and brittle, have their own purposes. The brittle will break when opened and is a nice way for the recipient to start off reading your words. The flexible is easier to use and can stay whole as a kind of keepsake to go along with the note. If you wish to get fancier you can even buy metallic powder to apply to the stamp making a lovely two-tone effect on the seal.”

“The last way to mark a sheet I will mention here is the least common. Years ago at an antique shop I found a vintage seal embosser. I had seen diplomas in the past with a raised mark on it which displayed the name of the issuing institution but didn’t give it too much thought. Suddenly I could do this myself for no other reason than it was fun. The seal came from my home town and even though I bought it far, far away that made me think it was meant to be. I have no idea what the “Peace Club” was nor have I found anything about it in searches but I love the idea of an organization dedicated to peace and I like to carry the name on. I don’t know how one would go about getting a seal like that now but there surely still are some businesses somewhere that do it. More fun probably is found in finding vintage ones to use.”

“The process is easy but takes a bit of strength. The paper is inserted between the positive and negative impression of the seal and then you must press down on the embosser handle hard. You can use a foil sticker on the paper to give it a more official look in you like. When completed you are presented with a readable bit of paper topography.

I must admit using fancy watermarked paper with an embossed and wax seal is a bit over the top. I’m not sure what a person getting all that thinks of me but I hope it’s that I’m just a harmless eccentric. The point is that you can go above and beyond in enriching and personalizing what you send to others and that in itself is a message.”

Images and contest courtesy of Thomas Overfield. Want to be a guest blogger on Rhodia Drive? Click here to learn more.

22 thoughts on “Guest Blogger: Bleubug discusses Marks on Paper

  1. I purchased an embossed at my local big box office supply store. They were called notary seals but you could order them with whatever text you wanted and a small center graphic.

  2. I purchased an embossed at my local big box office supply store. They were called notary seals but you could order them with whatever text you wanted and a small center graphic.

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