Our newest launch in the Food52 Shop is—quite literally—for everybody: It's a product that's innovative, with a rich local history, exceedingly useful, and perfect for most any purpose: Gift it to win friends, tape it to on the wall (DIY below) to spruce up any room, or use it as a novel place to write things down.
Please welcome our new Paper Pad, Hand-Lined with Squid Ink on Upcycled Metal & Grecian Saffron Pages to the Food52 Shop. At just $356.70, it comes sweetly packed in a manila-and-bubble-wrap envelope that will look perfectly rumpled when it arrives at your door.
The makers, Torn and Pulp Ledger, were born and raised in and will never leave Brooklyn ("are there even other cities out there?," Torn asks me via Snapchat video). They wanted me to mention that they were both accepted to Harvard but decided against college, intent as they were on solving "majorly annoying" world issues instead.
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Their company—Cornice & Grout—was born a few years back, with the single goal of coming up with something, anything, to write on. From these studies, this new pad of paper was born.
The first step towards a good pad of paper is, as Torn and Pulp knew by Googling, good paper. They looked for a local paper mill, but the closest one turned out to be in New Jersey—so they started processing paper pulp in an antique butter churner in their Brooklyn townhouse instead. "If a pad of paper's not local," Torn asked me to consider, "what's the point?"
Processing paper smells heinous, so the brothers spent years collaborating with Glade on a line of plug-in HEPA filters that smell like the air at Smorgasburg, before returning to the task at hand.
Inspired by a Pinterest post they once saw and now can't find anywhere, Torn and Pulp upcycled used iPhone parts into faux-paper pulp in a patented process that takes place in India ("we're basically treehugrs," Torn types on a Word doc on his screen and points to while I'm sitting next to him), before the material is brought to their plant in Brooklyn.
To Dye or Not to Dye
To make their paper stand out, the Ledger brothers chose to dye the pulp with strands of saffron harvested from the Greek island of Nisyros, a place that holds no special meaning for them. Did they consider turmeric, for a paper with spice and more medicinal qualities, I asked? "No," Torn Facetimed to tell me.
Instead of using a printer to print lines on their paper, the brothers decided to take a more hands-on approach. "Yes, we actually hand-stencil every line on every piece of paper," Pulp G-chatted me at 4 A.M., "can you please make sure everyone knows that's why they won't ship for a month?"
At about 50 sheets each, it takes roughly a month to line a whole pad of paper, factoring in daily breaks for when the weed or Maple delivery person arrives. On the increased likelihood that this introduces opportunity for human error, Torn comments: "If we mess up, we just toss the whole pad into the Gowanus Canal and start over."
For ink, they use squid ink thinned out with that very canal water, the former harvested from a giant pet cephalopod called Larb that lives in offshore near Rockaway Beach. "We go surf, and if we see the squid, we grap up some ink before hitting the subway home," they email me in a new email thread disconnected to all our other email threads ("who even replies anymore?" Pulp asks in a direct Instagram message).
How to decorate with saffron paper (left: a series, right: a solo exhibit).
If you like, you can just use your Pad to write notes on, but as Pulp and Torn say, "We don't really use ours for writing on, because they're so special!" Other uses:
Art. Use a metallic duct tape to secure the pad of paper to the wall, where you can admire it.
A Series of Artworks. Carefully tear off each page, have it matted and framed, and hang them in a grid.
Origami. Each sheet is a rectangle, but you can trim them down to squares and whip up a series of small paper cranes that would look neat hung from the ceiling with fishing line in a sedge.
Blinds. Tear off all the sheets, and bing them together along the edges so they form one large sheet. Secure this with packing tape over your window for a yellow-ish glow.
Window Cleaners. As Leslie mentioned here, using scrunched up newspaper to do the final dry will leave your windows streak-free—and you could test that out with this pad of papers!
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