The feed of @rippels_paperlover is a feast for anyone whose love for stationery is rooted in the past, coupled with a desire to carry it into the future in new and innovative ways.
If Menw’s environment and the creativity that thrives within it could be made into a perfume, the top notes would be flowers from the countryside, freshly picked and being sold in a Sunday market in France. The middle notes would be the paper of antique books and postcards from all over the world and the dry down would smell like wax and gummed paper. The bottle would be a precious parcel, hidden in the anonymity of a brown paper carton. It would be tied with twine and sealed with a multi-colored wax seal, securing one of those market stall flowers to the package.
Her feed feels like the best of the old world and the new, with letters and special packages being sent and received. It’s a lively spot, with a bustle of activity, ephemera being sorted, stamps and seals being placed in their proper places and envelopes being filled with thoughtful tokens and gifts.
But, it is also a warm place to land, where one can relax and admire the slow burn of candles and melting sealing wax and every once in a while catch an appearance by Guillaume, the cat.
Menw was gracious to share with us the origins of her collections, the items most important to her and what she’s looking forward to in 2020.
Herewith is our correspondence:
Your very first post was a photo of three vintage tins. Vintage tins are still included in your feed quite often. How did this love affair start and which have you kept for your personal collection that you treasure?
For a long time I have had a brocante webshop and we sold French brocante in markets. The very first Instagram photo is of a threesome tins I found on one of my first serious picking trips to France. This photo was also the eye catcher for my webshop. The tins still have a prominent spot in my living room. I have quite a large collection of little tins mostly from France but also a few American, Belgium and Dutch ones. If I see a tin and it’s love at first sight I know I will keep it. If it is not, I question myself if the price is right and if it would sell. In the end it comes down to my buying them all!
You seem to have a love for antique tools and processes, but used in a way that is fresh and new. What is your approach to making what is old, new?
I would say look beyond the prescribed options, just start and experience the possibilities. Sometimes an idea arises and I search for a tool to accomplish the idea or (mostly) I have come across an old tool or piece of paper or flower and in the back of my head the ideas will evolve and will result into many creative outbursts.
Without giving away your sources and secrets, where are you most happy to be hunting for stationery treasures?
I don’t mind sharing my sources, but mainly I find the vintage paperstuff at local flea markets in France. I also check Ebay on a regular basis and visit thrift stores. The “new” stationery can be found in many online shops like cafeanolog17, sumethingsofmine, cutethingsfromjapan. Please note: it’s addictive!
Your environment and workspace seem to change fairly often. How often do you change it and what is most important to you about the space?
I indeed used to shuffle a lot. This was mostly to squeeze in new storage items and to be able to expose all treasures for a while and then switch again. These days, after I moved to one of the rooms on the second floor of my house, I have not shuffled that much. I think it’s also due to the fact that I just have too much to expose and I would have to shuffle each week to be able to give all treasures their paddle stone moment.
The space must be inviting to me in a few ways, it must evoke creativity and radiate authenticity. As you may have noticed my clean desk policy, I also find it important that my tools are within reach and can be easily and quickly stored.
Your washi tape collection is a hallmark of your feed. How do you choose? Which kinds of designs do you like best and how do you decide which to let go of?
I would rather say that the wax seal is the hallmark of my feed. I mean I do have a gigantic collection of washi tapes but I don’t expose them in my creative outburst like I do with my wax seals. I do have a few favorite brands for my washi, Classiky and MT tape. In my opinion, these are the best value for the money. My all-time favorite design is of course the classic grid tape. I buy every single one I see. No, I buy two of every single one I see.
Lately I am a bit more meticulous and only buy high quality washi as there is nothing more frustrating than tearing or non-sticking washi tape. There have been a few times I decided to let go of some tapes as they were stored in a box for years. But now, most tapes with golden accents and very bright colors are moved to another happydesk.
Every once in a while fountain pens show up in your feed. Is this something that you are exploring? What do you like about them?
I am still a newbie with fountain pens and at the moment I am exploring what suits my writing style best and of course what pleases the eye. Every piece of brass and vintage color draws my attention. The choice in fountain pens is immense and I have to admit that I easily get lost. Therefore, I try to consult people who are experienced and visit pen shops. I also have a few vintage fountain pens, they still write as smoothly as any new ones.
The use of a fountain pen gives an authentic touch to your letter. A handwritten letter is always unique, and it gives me the feeling of a personal connection with the writer (although a letter typed on an old typewriter is also well appreciated). In my opinion a biro [ballpoint pen] can’t compare with a fountain pen, now that I am thinking about it, I only have one biro in my collection.
What do you love most about creating with wax and wax stamps?
The sky’s the limit with wax sealing and I think that we could discover way more techniques than we are doing now. Like for example the glue seals, I just can’t get enough of them! I have already seen wax stamps being used on chocolate, how cool is that?! For me it’s one of the most satisfying things to do. You can mix the colors and every time it’s a surprise how the seal turns out. It’s like the cherry on the papercreation.
The 3D wax seals are also getting more and more evolved; they have this amazing thick realistic print.
Old postage also seems to be a theme in your feed. Can you speak about why snail mail is so important to you and what you love about old postage, labels and receiving/sending snail mail?
There is so much history that can be revealed from an old piece of paper, a book, a letter or school material. For example, these days it’s just a printed little receipt, back in the day they had gorgeous pre-printed invoices with drawings and addresses in the most beautiful fonts. They wrote them by hand with a fountain pen. Somehow, the French ephemera is romantic and on the other hand the American ephemera has a more industrial look. Another well-represented vintage ephemera item in my studio is the gummed label!
This little piece of amazing old paper stole my heart a few years ago. There is one brand that is the absolute number one in the “vintage gummed label world” and that’s Dennison Mfg.
I mainly make vintage paper creations and wrappings for my penpals, or as we call it for swapping! It comes down to putting a lot of creativity, love and paper gifts in gorgeously wrapped parcels. Every parcel is unique and specially made for you. It is amazing to receive such a unique gift and see all the effort and love they put into their creations for you and to discover a little piece of the world from the person behind it. Some parts of crafting have developed their own art form, for example ABC cards and journals.
If you are interested in seeing some of these, check #snailmail #snailmailrevolution
What are you most looking forward to in your work and life in 2020? What can we look forward to in your feed and shop?
I just want to enjoy the moments life offers me. I am working as a project manager at the Maastricht University for a project which refers to the trajectory of a child and the transitions between all sectors in education and connection to the labor market, while respecting the capacities, talents and interests of the children.
About my feed, I do hope to continue to inspire people and to meet new people who share the passion for vintage papers and wax seals.
My shop will be filled with loads of vintage paper stuff…and although it is still at an early stage, I am working on producing my first labels, which will be in the vintage French style.
If you were to describe yourself with three adjectives, which would you choose?
Loyal, creative and caring.