You don't have to understand the world. You just have to find your own way around in it. - Albert Einstein

Friday, 11 May 2012

of Treasure Found - Op Shopping for Stationery

I've been a stationery addict since I was just a little kid. I remember the first time I felt that thrilling rush that girls can get while shopping, the one that the whole consumerism movement depends upon exploiting. I was seven years old and in a newsagency/bookshop, surrounded by books and notepads, pens, pencils, rulers and rubber erasers in such an astounding variety of shapes and styles that I marvelled that anyone could come up with the idea to make all these things into colourful little rubbers. Shining accessories were lined up in neat categories, each item defined by its little perspex slot. I can remember the absolutely rapt fascination with which I regarded my first-ever start-of-school-year supplies, aged four. I don't remember ever feeling so deeply about any toys or dolls. It was books, and paper and scissors, and tape and glue and suchlike, that inspired my early explorations of the properties of the physical world.

I can still become overwhelmed by such feelings if let loose in places like Officeworks or those funky Scandinavian stationery stores. So when I began to fully embrace the Buy Nothing New movement as a lifestyle a couple of years ago, I wasn't sure that I could pull it off when it came to stationery. I do have to have things to write on or in, and it's not like paper is something that one can re-use directly. I wasn't prepared to start pulping and moulding my own recycled paper, and I didn't think of stationery as being the sort of thing that was usually found in op shops. Now I think I just mustn't have been looking with the right eyes, because once I decided to look for and hoard any second-hand stationery I came across, a whole new world opened up. Every now and then I come across a section or a pile in an op shop where it looks like someone has cleaned out that part of their desk drawer. Just look at some of the incredible stuff I've collected. 

Boxed sets, apparently untouched.

I think I gasped when I discovered these gorgeous ladies. How long has it been since people have been making stuff like this?

And inside the folders, writing sets that just make you want to write letters. And address and stamp them. That's the really fun part.

I SO remember this 'fashion' chick from the 80's. And that clown in the black cap - that was actually the motif theme of my bedroom when I was ten years old.

And, yes, we'll look inside...

"#%*!@*something unintelligible but clearly very funny#*&@$!*"...

This handmade paper writing set is of exquisitely fine quality. Delicious.

The text on these Korean envelopes reads - All by myself, don't wanna be all by myself... I can't help but think of Bridget Jones alone on her couch on New Year's Eve.

I would have bought this gorgeous paper wallet regardless of the contents - which was some very fine, plain stationery.

Random little pieces, from a diverse range of sources, some clearly homemade on closer inspection.

And envelopes! Really, who bothers to print the inside of envelopes any more... and envelopes lined with tissue paper! Oh my, the decadence!

These cards feature artworks - top, "MEMORIES" by F. Botha, and left, "SCARLET" by N. Grob - that were painted with the mouth, and came with these unusual envelopes - very plain and utilitarian from the front, with postcode squares marked, and then this asymmetrical scalloped detail on the back flap.

Sweet, retro strawberries...

Plenty of daggy or plain notebooks and exercise books for day-to-day domestic journalling, my list-making and attempts at organisation and such, or for 'morning pages' ramblings of the kind that Julia Cameron encourages. Some are still new in their plastic wrappers; some of them have been used halfway and the pages torn out before giving them to an op shop.

My mum found this adorable, and unused, little Beatrix Potter notebook. Each page features a small illustration and a quote. This frog looks comfy - '...he lives in a little damp house.'

This one features not only a very stylish magpie illustration by Antonia Pesenti on the front cover, but also blank pages inside. 'Unlined' is a highly-prized quality among op-shopped stationery.

I started to think that maybe I could cross trips to Officeworks off my list of things to do... but now I've run out of black pens. And no, I really don't like to write with coloured pens. Ah, the next dilemma...


  1. I absolutely adore stationary...I think it was a few things first - I love being organised and organising stuff. I only gave up my paper planned when I realised my iphone linked with the software I used to run the studio. Then there was the fact that my nan and aunt are artists and always had paper around. And I wrote a lot of letters growing up. My mum never had a home phone (or mobile) when I was living there and I moved so frequently it was my only way to stay in touch. Then there was the fact that my grandmama kept a cards for every single occasion. Now I keep a pack of thank you cards in my drawer...and I write them out for every present I get (and the girls have all started to send them out too) but I am terrible as I have like 7 that haven't been posted since xmas! Must remember to stash stamps with them.

  2. What a wonderful find! I must admit that I've never even thought to look in "second hand shops" for stationery or other paper works! It seems odd to me that people buy it and then just toss them to the side; why on Earth would you buy the stationery/cards if you didn't intend to use them? Ces't la vie..

    Fortunatly for me, there are a number of these type of shops in my area, as well as some weekly farmers markets, swaps, and flea I will just have to see what I can find!

  3. lovely post! come by and lets follow each ohter sweetie:)

  4. hello...i really happy for ur comment.I think ur comment is not all about my outfit(although well,i love outfits cause i wanna be a designer) and i really like it.You always read what i really mean... thanks so much :))
    ur collection is really cute... u really serious if u addicted to something right?
    p.s: envelopes <3 especially Korean,they are really cute but i dont collect it :((
    keep smile for the beauty of childhood but dont be like peterpan,forever child

  5. love the beatrix potter book and the hand made paper stuff - beautiful!

  6. wow! amazing pitures! i love all them! i want to be on holiday to use all!!!!
    keep in touch! i want follow you now, and i hope that you will mìvisit mine and you'll do the same! i love it! ;-)
    a big kiss
    Miriam stella fashion blogger

    is fashion my Passion? the MiriamStella's Blog