The Chinese invented a lot of stuff. Umbrellas, chopsticks, kites, and of course firecrackers. They also invented paper, one of my weird obsessions. Being back in California means I get to go to stores like Paper Source. Strange to some but quite clear to me, although don’t ask me to explain it.
San Francisco most likely has the highest concentration of small shops selling letterpress cards (I have not yet been to Portland). Just before moving to China I did a few letterpress printing workshops at the San Francisco Center for the Book and there is nothing more enjoyable than pulling your own prints off a press (except for eating oysters of course).
For a little history, paper was invented in China around the 2nd-century BC. Recycled fibres from used textiles such as hemp were used to make paper along with (paper) mulberry. It made it a lot easier to transport documents which were once written on bone or bamboo. Silk was also used but it was expensive. Around the same time the Chinese invented paper, they also had a crack at woodblock printing (carved woodblocks used kinda like stamps). Around 1040 came movable type (also invented by the Chinese), first with ceramic materials and wood, later with metal. The Germans took over in 1450 with Gutenberg’s mechanical printing press.
Still on my long list of things to try is actually making paper. It does not look complicated, but no doubt it will be messy. A great photo stream on how to make paper is awaiting me when I manage to find a good spot for it. Our next place will have a shed, or so I keep saying…
My favorite paper discovery in China so far has to be the lovely paper from Paper Tiger Shanghai. I’m always on the lookout for places that sell cards and paper goods and can recommend Madame Mao’s Dowry on Fumin Lu in Shanghai. They have a small selection of nice cards and they stock Paper Tiger’s wrapping paper.
Finally, I felt I had to share this one since I do come from a nation of caravan pullers… and in the spirit of holidays!