“I’ve got to go all the way to Pimlico,” I might be heard saying, as I leave the house. I’m pretending that I’m on a serious mission right across London and it’s going to take me ages. Secretly, I’m whooping with delight at the knowledge that I’m going to visit Shepherd’s Bookbinders and I’m going to buy paper.
Shepherd’s is the Mecca for anyone who loves paper and is involved in creating handmade books. I don’t make books – though I do love all the leather, the tools, the end-papers and the accessories – but I do love paper. This shop has shelves, cupboards and drawers filled with the stuff. But the process of choosing begins as if you’re in a library crossed with Argos or Ikea. There’s a counter above a row of large boxes filled with sample papers and you flip through all the pages making a note on a little slip of paper the sheets you want to buy. The sifting and handling of samples is an experience of utter pleasure to a paper junkie like me. “Oooh,” I hear myself saying out loud, as my fingers and thumb test the texture, weight and substance of a sheet of paper. “I could do so much with this …. maybe I’ll order just one sheet, for research purposes.”
The next stage is equally delicious. The little list of choices is then taken to the keeper of the serried files of paper and the selected sheets are drawn down, placed one on top of each other and then gently rolled up into a perfect cylinder, wrapped and handed over. At that moment I know it’s time to leave but my eyes will still gaze around the shop, drinking in the potential of all the products. I know I must go but, deep in my heart, I know that I will have seen something I simply MUST have ! And that will provide an excuse to sigh deeply and head back to Pimlico!