Since day dot, Lovely Paper has been focused purely on letterpress. One of the reasons for that is how letterpress makes you feel something - they’re not the throwaway digitally printed greeting cards that we have become so used to. There’s weight and texture and quality that comes through as soon as your fingertips touch the paper, nevermind the imaginative designs that come from the innovative small makers that we work with!
But my love of stationery has always expanded beyond letterpress. One of my funny memories is moving from the UK to Australia and in doing so, having to get rid of everything I owned. Turns out I owned a lot of cushions, and a LOT of never-once-touched notebooks. At the time, I swore that I would never again spend so much money on cushions or notebooks.
Well the cushions thing stuck, but the notebooks definitely didn’t. I have tried to not be so weird about not writing inside them though…
I love notebooks, you see. Different covers, patterns, papers. Lined, blank, dotted. I often buy them with an intention. An excuse perhaps. A reason why I need this one (even though my house is full of the things…) I bought a special notebook to write out the verb conjugations in Italian, one for work, one to make plans once I learned about how to make those. A small one for my handbag, one to try to use as a journal - although I never got the hang of that.
So thinking about Lovely Paper expanding away from purely letterpress was a big decision, but one that happened quite quickly in the end. It made sense that notebooks would be our first stop. But not just any notebook would do!
What was important to me was selecting makers that fit with what I love from the letterpress world, and so what’s important to Lovely Paper. Makers who are committed to continuing traditional methods and techniques, creating unique, beautiful products without a heavy reliance on industrial production or standardisation.
So finding Emilio Braga, a family business who have been making handmade notebooks for over one hundred years using traditional methods… well it felt right.
For those of you who have followed the Lovely Paper story, you’ll know that when I started the business, I chose to work with makers from places I have a personal connection with.
Portugal is one of those places - I’ve been lucky enough to visit many times through my twenties and thirties, mainly to the beautiful Algarve area. One of the things I noticed and loved about Portugal during my visits is that there is a thriving creative culture, that spans many generations. It’s just as true for the young people of Portugal as it was for their artisan and craftspeople ancestors.
My introduction to this creative culture was through fashion at first, but I have since discovered that Portugal has a long and illustrious history in stationery too. (I knew I liked the place!!)
It was this discovery that led me first to more beautiful pencils than you can shake a stick at (have I explained my weird obsession with pencils before?! Another day...) and then to Emilio Braga, with their incredible notebooks.
What first attracted me to Emilio Braga was their wild colour combos - a range I will hopefully carry in future, but I also fell in love with their simple classics, the range that became the first of my choices. The black marbled notebook for example, looks exactly like the notebook emoji! Their Seasons range appealed to me straight away, with lovely white marbling on a backdrop of beautiful classic colours (I find it tough to go past a red or a green notebook…) - and of course, why stock Portugese notebooks without choosing the Tile print reminiscent of the beautiful tiles that cover every Portugese town and city.
I loved that these notebooks don’t really too much on the digital world - in fact they’re made in virtually the same way as they were back in 1918. There’s hand-stitching, hand-gluing and hand-binding. Made by a family business, in the city the business is based and the traditional way. It makes every one feel special and made with love, care and attention.
If there was one thing that truly sealed the deal though, it was the edge painting. Every notebook has a distinctive pattern painted on the edges of the pages. Not only does this look great, the paint is also sponged on by hand - making every notebook one-of-a-kind.
For the notebook nerds amongst you, here are the specs:
- All the notebooks we carry are A6 size (if you are desperate for another size, get in touch and let us know!)
- They each feature a beautiful cotton fabric covered spine and corners
- Each one has approx 90-100 pages
- A mix of lined paper and unlined/blank paper
- The paper is cream-coloured and 90gsm, and it holds ink, gel ink and pencil very well indeed (this has been personally and thoroughly tested!)
- The paper is FSC certified and the product is made from recycled or recyclable materials
- They come with a cute label for the front so you can add your name or your notebook’s theme on the front
I wanted these notebooks to be practical for people to use, at work, for business, at school or uni, as a journal or diary or for their creative endeavours like writers - or just out and about. Lovely Paper’s tagline is ‘Say it with feeling’ - so beautiful notebooks that can hold your thoughts and ideas and allow you to express yourself was super important to our decision. This is why we chose mixed paper - for the structured amongst you, you can fill the lined pages with plans and to do lists, but if you want to use your creative mind too, you can doodle or mindmap on the blank pages.
Some people want perfection and uniformity in every detail. If that’s you, these notebooks aren’t for you - but keep an eye out because we have a different style of maker on the way soon who will suit you to a tee, while also using traditional craftsmanship.
But if you appreciate distinction, beautiful quality and the unique quirks of the handmade, you’ll love this range of Emilio Braga notebooks. I can’t wait for you to get your hands on them! (Before they all become unused members of my extensive personal collection…)