1840 Journal

Meet the artisans, discover their expertise, and share their passion.

Chronicles

The ABC's of Papermaking, by Baltic Club

19 Aug 2019

In their Montreal studio, Brice and Mélanie from Baltic Club transform raw paper into a thousands of colorful and well-designed stationery items. In their expert hands, simple sheets become inspirational posters and notebooks for keeping all your secrets.

Making stationery from A to Z can take a long time. “To get from idea to finished product, it generally takes about three months. Sometimes, it can take two weeks, but we’ve also spent one or two years on projects that are more complex,” Brice explains. Everything is made by hand: Mélanie comes up with the ideas for the patterns, while Brice brings the finished product to life.

The 5 Production Steps

1. Choosing the Paper

Baltic Club buys its paper directly from a wholesaler or a mill in the Laurentides; this paper is 100% from Quebec, made entirely with biogas, and is FSC- and Rainforest Alliance-certified. These two certifications guarantee effective protection of forest ecosystems, rare species of fauna, and biodiversity. “Choosing a local and eco-friendly paper is essential for us.”

“We pick up the paper in large sheets and head off to transform it. We use natural paper that’s unwashed, unbleached (so it’s acid-free), and that’s composed of at least 30% post-consumer recycled fibres. It’s a paper that’s very soft and very smooth—perfect for our creations!”

 

2. The Idea and Prototype

Once they have the raw material on hand, Mélanie and Brice come up with an idea. “We do freehand drawings on the computer, prepare the files, and then print them in our studio on pre-cut paper.” Sometimes it takes a few tries before getting a functional prototype that replicates the original idea.

“There’s always a part of our work that’s dedicated to research and development. We make a lot of prototypes since the materials are different and we have lots of ideas for combining colours, materials, and assembly… We always have three or four projects continually in R & D at the studio.”

3. Printing

When Mélanie and Brice are satisfied with their prototype, it then goes to printing. For small quantities, they print directly in their studio. When there’s a high volume, they rely on a printer in Rosemont. The prints are then brought back to the studio for cutting and assembly. 

 

4. Assembly

“Cutting and assembly is 75% of our work!” Since everything is made by hand, it’s the step that’s the most time-consuming. The printed paper is cut with a trimmer, but the scraps don’t go in the garbage! “We throw away very little. We recycle of course, but we also give it to our friends, or we make other products, like second-chance notebooks, made exclusively of scraps from other projects. We also reuse them in our prototypes.”

Depending on the project, Mélanie and Brice can do hot stamping, applying logos or designs using gold and silver sheets or iridescent film that’s heated on metal plates.

German case, stitched, flat, spiral—the talented fingers of these two designers can do all types of binding. Once again, the journals are carefully bound by hand and their edges are delicately rounded. The notebooks are then gathered together and are ready to be packaged. 

5. Packaging

In order to be eco-friendly, Brice and Mélanie are always looking for new ways to limit their packaging waste. “We’re progressively getting rid of our plastic packaging in order to replace it with a compostable product, or we’ll just not use packaging at all. The cardboard tubes for our posters are kept in our Montreal store and we’re increasingly turning towards 100% recycled paper.” Together, they also give production workshops in which they explain the good practices of reusing paper to creating books, notebooks, and sketchbooks.

“It’s natural for us to get our supplies from sustainable sources. In our minds, we couldn't do it any other way. It’s part of our DNA. Our customers want it as well and it doesn’t change the price. It's a win-win situation, as much for the customer as it is for the environment!”

Mélanie and Brice from Baltic Club make sure that their meticulously handcrafted journals and notebooks will last for a long time—one page and one tree at a time. 

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