Meet the Maker : Pulp Paper Heaven
This week in Meet The Maker we are chatting to Suzanne from Pulp Paper Heaven. She creates amazing notebooks and paper stationery gifts by hand, from recycled and pre-used print. Original designs feature alongside vintage. You might find Marylin, or Morrissey alongside contemporary florals and knitting patterns. Each one is produced individually, combining recycled and vintage materials, that have often been rescued. Then using traditional bookbinding skills she cuts, stitches, and binds, by hand, so each finished book is unique as well as eco-friendly!
The books are blank inside so you can decide how to use them, but they make great sketchbooks, diaries, jotters, memory books, albums. As a lover of books and stationery, I have long been a fan (and have made many purchases over the years - my favourite being my Wonder Woman book pictured below) so it was my pleasure to find out more about Suzanne's work and her views on vintage ....
When did you start Pulp Paper heaven, and what was the impetus to do so?
Pulp Paper Heaven developed out of an idea that sparked in 2011, but I have had a passion for books since I was very young and later at art college produced my first illustrated, large scale book. The notebooks that I make now started to develop after a friend and I shared a stall selling items we’d made at a local market in 2011, my friend decided it wasn’t for her after a while and I took on the stall, it was then that I really got going.
How long have you been making books?
About 6yrs developing technique, skill ideas and branding
Did you receive training in book binding or are you self-taught?
When I worked as a designer, mocking up brochures for presentations was part of the job so, I was halfway there then! I still use the same metal ruler and scalpel I had at college I think it has mostly been second nature. I wanted to use traditional techniques and hand tools so did some research but, I have developed my own too, based around some of the more unconventional materials I use, such as the spines which are kraft paper.
Which is your favourite part of the book making process?
Hunting for books! and print suitable for me to use. They must be worn and torn to some degree, full of character, but the whole process of making is very satisfying. To start off with a pile of materials and ending up with a useful notebook. I love my nipping press which is the last process for my hand stitched books.
You must have a pretty extensive rolling collection of old books, where do you source the original books from? ... or is that a secret?!?
It’s not really a secret but I guess I keep some cards hidden! I go to all sorts of fairs and markets, book shops, vintage sales, car boots everything I can, it keeps the variety fresh. I do get donations or sometimes people think of me when they are having a clear out which is wonderful. It gets hard to go hunting when you are busy. Some bespoke orders are harder to find quickly so I may have to look online occasionally, I still use copies that are in disrepair.
What is it about old books that you love?
The history, design, craftsmanship, social history, language , colour, illustration, fashion, paper texture, embossing, nostalgia, the smell! I also really love to find letters, postcards, recipes and photos tucked inside the pages by someone unknown except for the name they may have written on the inside of the cover. These get bound back into my notebooks. They are important moments in time of past lives
I saw on Instagram recently that you had a few books going off to an exhibition ... care to tell us about that?
I was asked to put together a collection of notebooks based around nature and literature for an exhibition at the Richard Jefferies Museum in Swindon. It is a very special place, a thatched cottage that was a farm, next to Coate Water. It has a very peaceful atmosphere even in its modern day setting on the bypass! Richard Jefferies was a writer who immersed his life in nature during the emerging industrial revolution, and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Swindon has a festival each spring
that is literature and arts based. The other artists in the exhibition have work based on natural and recycled materials.
Have you had books in other exhibitions, or have your books ended up in any unexpected locations?
I met an American gentleman when trading at the Bath Artisan Market 2 years ago. He bought a Star Wars notebook for himself and we chatted a little. He told me he was in the film industry, working in the UK. A couple of weeks later he got in touch and ordered 15 Star Wars notebooks and each one was to be different! It turned out he headed a team at Lucas Films running a special effects department. They were wrapping up on the last Star Wars film that came out. He was giving them as gifts before they all headed back to the states.
It was very exciting to send my special parcel to Pinewood Studios.
I love the fact that you are rescuing old, unloved books and giving them new life. I have bought a few from you now, but I often find it hard to choose because they are all so beautiful. Have you made any books that you can't bring yourself to sell?
No but I do find books that I have to keep. I love really old western themes, early 1960s fashion and embossed antiquated books, they go into my collection, the loft is creaking.
How would you describe your own vintage style?
Back in the 70s and 80s I wore a lot of vintage clothing, shoes, hats, gloves, the lot although I was never a purist and mixed up styles putting my own spin on it. I do still wear vintage pieces day to day but I’m a bit more subtle now! We have a 1960s caravan which we take to the Vintage Nostalgia Festival every year and it’s fun to dress up for the event.
What is your favourite vintage era?
It changes but stays within the same few decades. I was really into the 30s and 40s when I was a teenager, but the colour of the 50s was always a big draw and those cars! How I’d love to cruise around in a T-bird. I was into all the music too. The early 1960s is popular in our house we have plenty of furniture from the era mixed with new.
All photos kindly provided by Suzanne (plus a couple of my own!).