On Paper: The Everything of it’s Two-Thousand-year History
By Nicholas A. Basbanes
This book took me by surprise in several ways. When it arrived I was disappointed to see that it was written by a journalist. I had been expecting a scholarly history of paper written by, say, a hand paper maker; someone with an artistic love of the subject.
My fears were quickly allayed and I have to admit that I’m so glad Mr. Basbanes took up the topic! He used his journalism skills to seek out all kinds of information that I didn’t expect. Yes, there is the very well researched and written section on the history of paper, but there is so much more substance to this book. The author discusses the people involved in papermaking, the inventions of machines, the evolution and uses of paper. He covers the past, the present and the future of the subject and the techniques in making it.
I was satisfied with this book both as an artist who uses paper in bookbinding, and as a curious human who loves receiving the answers to questions I hadn’t thought to ask. My biggest surprise was that it made me cry. Yes, it’s a non-fiction book about paper that had me bawling through the final chapter. I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say that this book brought home the 9/11 attacks and the human impact like nothing else that I had seen or read before.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys paper, history, or just a good read. You’ll come away with a greater appreciation of the subject and its affect on our culture.
Purchase the book from Amazon from this link:
On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History (Vintage)
Here are 2 hot publications for your Independence Day consideration.
The first is a great article from The Public Domain Review showing representations of fireworks from past centuries.
The next is a 1785 manuscript showing how to build fireworks. It can be read online or downloaded as a PDF.
Both were fun reads in anticipation of the displays of patriotism scheduled for the day.
$1,000 prize went to the first person to identify the script
A recent contest to identify the script in a 150 year old copy of “Homer” resulted in a huge online response and a mystery solved!
Check out the full article from UChicagoNews here
“Medieval Calligraphy: Its History and Technique” by Marc Drogin
I have a whole bookshelf full of books on calligraphy, but this title is extraordinary. The author wrote it in 1980 as a frustrated calligraphy teacher who wanted a comprehensive book for his students. He felt that most other books on the subject were either too simple and glossed over important information, or were written for scholars and therefore inaccessible to the average student. “Medieval Calligraphy” is the result, and an impressive one it is!
The book is full of history and technique, but more importantly, it’s eminently readable. Most books on calligraphy are heavy on technique (unfortunately “modernized”); more of a reference than a good read. I sat and read the book as if it were a novel, looking forward each day to my private reading time, and as with reading any good novel I was sad to come to the end.
The scripts are explained in chronological order so there is a clear historical line drawn from, say, Roman Rustic to Roman half-uncial and the scripts in between. Drogin explains the pressures of the day, the movement of people, the politics and other factors that went into the development from one script to another. Included are dozens of pictures of original documents so that you can see the scripts in their native habitat. The author also includes technical notes on each script, though full alphabets are not included. Other interesting sections show page layout used by the scribes and also how to order facsimiles.
If you are passionate about calligraphy and are hungry for more than mere technical guidance, I highly recommend this book.
Get it on Amazon.com
Thank you to everyone who read and recommended my blog in 2013. I plan to do even more with it this year. In the meantime, the WordPress.com stats helpers prepared a 2013 annual report for the Volcano Arts blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,400 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
Click here to see the complete report.