I just spent a truly marvellous afternoon pottering around the Scottish Poetry Library who, as part of Doors Open Day have not only opened their doors (I love the idea of that being the extent of the criteria…), but filled their gorgeous premises with about a million tiny independent booksellers and bookcrafters and bookbinders.

The highlight of my day was an amazing drop-in book-mark making workshop by Isabelle Ting, a Master Bookbinder (she learned her trade in Florence, which I think is the most romantic, Medieval sounding thing anyone has ever done. I wish I had learned millinery in Paris or glove-making in, erm, Bohemia(?)). She is also the curator of Owl & Lion Gallery in the Grassmarket.

I mean, isn't this the most adorable logo you have ever seen?

Anyway. I made BOOKMARKS!!! Proper leather embossed bookmarks.

Ok, so my photography skills are lacking, but my embossing skills are...well, a little shaky too, to be honest.

It was so much fun, all crowded round a table with the embossing tools heating on a George Foreman grill.

And then, myself and a nice friend went out for tea and cake. And we lingered and chatted, and then we got up and left. And then we walked homewards together. And then I got on the bus….

….and then realised we had completely forgotten to pay.

Cue guilt and inner conflict. There was no smiting, lightning, or divine retribution of any sort, so I can safely assume we have got away with it, and it was a total accident, but it just goes to show – sometimes, there is such a thing as a free polenta cake.

(Incidentally, polenta. It is grim. It doesn’t matter how you try to jazz it up. You can bake it, ice it, and tart it all you want, but polenta is always polenta, and polenta is grim.)

My favourite independent press of the day goes to Essence Press. For elegance, economy of form, and some of the most immediately affecting poetry I have ever read, they are unsurpassed. Be warned: your festive gift may well come from there. And if it doesn’t, then its only because I spent my budget there and had to nick you something from a bin behind Sainsbury’s.

So, stay tuned for more high adrenaline forays into Scotland’s independent art and crafts next week. Seriously, sometimes I reckon I would be better just keeping my thoughts to myself, and only blogging when I have been to a cocaine-fuelled rave dressed as David Hockney.

Off to make some tea.

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