25 Oct 2013
I have a stationery obsession, which is not surprising, as I am an editor; it's a recognised occupational hazard. I can't work with those standard pale yellow post-its; mine have to be vibrant colours, or sprigged with quirky prints or stamped with ironic sayings, or cut into impractical shapes.
Visiting M in Melbourne exposes me to many more retail opportunities to indulge my habit. I overdose at Kikki K, hyperventilate at the art gallery shop, and go into a blind haze of euphoria at those glorious independent stationery boutiques, especially the ones that evoke bygone European eras. Beautifully designed notepads, cards, to do lists - I cannot and do not resist, and have the boxes and drawers full to prove it.
My latest tick is washi tape (as seen in the first photo). I don't do craft, which I believe is its primary purpose, but I do label bags of produce in the fridge:
Isn't that better? I have four rolls - now. I'm sure I'll acquire more.
Stationery fetishes can be adapted to the kitchen, as you can see. Another case in point: cupcake papers. A few years ago when cupcakes were at the height of their delirium, you needed cupcake papers, and not plain white ones, no! They need to be metallically elegant, beautifully baroque, retro-kitsch, or florally romantic. They need to be anything but plain.
One visit to M, I lost my head and came back with hundreds of the things - it was a bit of a joke by the end of my visit - but that quantity is not hard to achieve when they come in a pack of 50 (you do the maths). To ease any guilt, I split the packs with mum.
It's a shame sometimes to throw them away once you've eaten the cake, and I do get sad when a particularly lovely design is finished. But then, that's life for a cupcake paper. Use it once; that's it.
Writing lists - be it the weekend to do list or the grocery list - is never done on the back of a recycled envelope in my house. Not when there are specialist tools available!
Something like this makes walking around the grocery aisles and picking up toilet paper and rolled oats almost a joy. And what did William Morris say about making the beautiful practical, and the practical beautiful? There you go, his words of wisdom proven by a shopping list. Though I'm not sure that is what he had in mind.
Now, having moved on from the buzz of cupcakes papers and having enough post-its to last a very long time, I seem to have settled into paper napkins.
Yes, I'm aware some of these packets are still unopened... Pretty printed things; mostly, I noticed when taking this photo, I'm veering towards kitchenalia or colourful florals, some so delicately sweet they are almost perfumed. There's a design for every mood, meal and cup of tea. All to be used for wiping your hands and mouth, then crumpled up and thrown away. I'm sure they can't even be recycled once they have foodstuff on them.
And here is the quandary, the delicious little pickle that any fellow stationery obsessive will recognise: a beautiful shopping list, lovely napkin or just plain pretty stretch of tape is a thing of joy, but such a fleeting, impermanent one. To use it and bring colour and quirk to the most ordinary of daily tasks is such stationery's purpose in life. It is not meant to be forever. Use it up and you'll run out and never see it again. You could stockpile it and lock it away, but that negates the reason you got it; it's not the good crystal or heirloom silver, afterall. Or you could use cloth napkins, but you'd be using the same ones over and over, risking familiarity and boredom; plus you'd have to launder and iron them, and that's work. Or you could use an app on your smart-thingy, but would that elicit the same feeling as crossing off accomplishments from a colourful, well-designed piece of paper?