Essay

By Peter & Donna Thomas

Each book we make begins with a dream. Not a dream telling us what to do, but a dream for what our book can be and do. Donna and I have aspirations for our books, just as parents have aspirations for their children. With A Collection of Paper Samples from Hand Papermills in the United States of America we have had the good fortune to see many of our dreams realized.

We have always admired paper sample books, both for their beauty as objects, and for the information encrypted in the paper. Inspired by paper sample books from the past, Donna and I decided to make a contemporary sample book. We wanted to produce a book that was beautiful as well as useful, a book that would highlight the variety of visual and textural qualities found in today's handmade papers.

The introduction states, "This book documents the range of papers made today in American hand papermills. Not every papermaker able to meet the criteria for this project is represented, but the vast majority of America's premier papermakers have provided examples of their finest work. The first requirement for inclusion was a demonstrated history of excellence. The papermakers were then asked to produce two hundred sheets of a consistent quality and weight. The pulp was to have been beaten at the mill, and only papers produced by the western method of sheet formation have been included in this volume. The following collection of papers represents the current state-of-the-art in this vital and exciting medium. It will serve as a valuable resource for future paper historians, and is offered as an inspiration to the modern papermaker."

We completed A Collection of Paper in 1993, the year designated by congressional proclamation to be "The Year of the American Craft: A Celebration of the Creative Work of the Hand." Our book featured the work of twenty-eight American hand papermakers and it occured to us if a similar number of hand bookbinders could be recruited we could create a grand exhibition of American craftsmanship. Paper Bound, sponsored by the Guild of Book Workers, provides this showcase.

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