Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Artsy Wednesday: From Scratch

My first job was at a smallish ad agency in Annapolis. I spent four years there, and the job wasn't actually right for me in more ways than I can count, but I did learn a lot.

One of the cooler things I took away from that job, largely thanks to my friend Joyce, was a fascination with different types of paper. Not long into my time at the agency, Joyce and some of the graphic designers (including my old roommate, who now owns this company) took me to a paper show at the Belvedere.

It was wildly cool and I went home with a bag full of samples (that are probably still in my attic). Paper can be so tactiley and visually cool - it has the power to inspire so much creation.

I wish I had enough time to take one of these papermaking classes at Pyramid Atlantic. I also wish I was more of a visual artist, but I just don't have what it takes. Then again, some days, I also wish I was a spy, a jewel thief (did you all hear about this craziness?) and an art thief. I get over my career fantasies.

And how is this about food? As usual, I think it is.

First, there's something inherently creative in making paper, much like there's something creative in making food. In both cases, the final product is something practical. But also in both cases, modern technology could actually take over most of the human role in the practice. But just like we'd only end up with boring, processed, not-so-great food if the cooking process was 100% automated, if people weren't involved in the papermaking process, it seems unlikely that we'd ever see some of the cooler specimens that exist.

Of course, a lot more people cook than make paper. But still.

Also, there's something about papermaking that reminds me of what I always read about breadmaking. Culinary novice that I am, I've never made my own bread. Something about yeast makes me nervous. But when I read stories by people who do make their own, I'm always impressed by how therapeutic and elemental the process sounds. It seems to always involve so much love and to offer the kind of zen you usually find closer to a yoga mat than a stove.

I could be wrong, but I get the impression papermaking would deliver something of the same emotional/mental result.

Will the search for inner peace drive me to get over my yeast trepidation? Or to a papermaking class? Well, not this week at least. But isn't it just kind of nice to think about?

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