Find Your Marbles

Courtney Barnes at Style Court did an entertaining series on magazine and tear sheet storage a while back. Yep, about six months ago. Or so I thought. It was actually a year and a half ago. Yes, a year and a half ago I read Courtney’s posts and thought, “I need to get on that.”

My magazines were stacked on shelves and as I pulled and replaced them they were all a jumble. The tear sheets are in horribly mismanaged files. Some are actually in folders by the subject that inspired the ripping, “Curtains,” “Product,” “Fabric” and the like. There is a broadly named and useless file brimming with treasure entitled, “Whole Rooms.” Another over-full and wobbly folder contains dozens of vintage features. Nonsense.

So I used a little of my Christmas money to buy lucite magazine holders from CB2 for the current magazines, which has left just the tear sheets to corral.

Thomas Britt covered many books on his Chinoiserie bookcases with cream-colored paper and gilt-edges stickers, but it was his engaging story of learning to marbleize paper as a teenager that has been bouncing around in my head for weeks.

Then I saw this. Stumbling upon things that have not caught your eye before is one of the advantages of poor organization. This charming shelf belonged (and may still belong) to Hitch Lyman, a garden designer and artist, who covered “treasured garden volumes with marbleized paper.” This image appeared in House Beautiful in February of 1998; the shelf may look the same today, though I have no way of knowing. Regardless, I don’t think I have seen anything as charming in months.But. I’m not a girl with a lot of time on my hands. I can’t go around willy-nilly covering books in my office. And yet. I do need binders. Binders to hold the tear sheets. In fact, I need several, which is why the lovely but somewhat pricey linen ones have never hit my shelves. Last week I picked up several of these cardboard binders and plan to cover the spines with wonderful paper.

I do. I plan to. Stay tuned.
For more information on marbleized paper, check Courtney’s posts here which includes a link to a post by Janet Blyberg on the same. Google turned up several how-to’s on marbleizing paper; Martha shows you how here.
Images of Tom Britt’s home via New York Social Diary, photography by Jeffery Hirsch. House Beautiful image by Richard Felber. Click on the image to see the books, and the “cat scratching post disguised as a chair,” bigger. It’s delightful. Top five paper images from Paper Mojo; bottom two from Paper Source.
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39 thoughts on “Find Your Marbles

  1. Nice collection. Loved the patterns. Some of them are really lovely and as balsamfir had said, well worth imitating. After all, it's the best form of flattery.

  2. I found some great binders & paperies from Muji while in NY; I am haeading back this week, ….lovely things. Then I wondered into Kate's Paperie;…..dry throat, lump in back of throat, ….my goodness hotflashes, the papers, I picked up a few sheets ( which you can grab for a song ) a paper project in mind as well!
    Love the marbelizing though as well!

  3. How fun! I agree and seem to re-organize all those magazines and tear sheets once every year– since it always gets out of control!

  4. Where do you get cardboard binders? My tear sheets are in regular binders and go back to the days when I first started working. They've lived in boxes, drawers and finally in plastic sleeves in the binders. A binder per subject (or two or three) — but they are behind doors so pretty isn't necessary!

    And sometimes I go through them and look at those early tear sheets and wonder — "what was I thinking?"

    But I still save them!

    I need to go through them at some point and probably get rid of some of them because I'm not sure why I kept them!

  5. Patricia, wish I'd thought of doing just the spines! So smart. I covered a few small books with old fashioned marbled paper jackets, but I didn't think about doing the binders.

    I'm totally running out of shelf space for the magazine holders and red linen binders, so I think in the future I'll just go digital. Can't wait to see your finished project.

  6. Thomas Britt….Swoon.

    I can't wait to see the end results of your project, do post! Do the CB2 lucite containers keep your Elle Decor mags? The ones I have do not, as they are not deep enough. So curious on that

  7. I adore that regency chair/cat mecca. Now I can simply let the cats go to town. Thanks for the marbleizing resources. I have a great faux painter, but it would be very pricey to have her do book covers. That chinese chippendale bookcase is definitely a goal. Thanks for this great post. Mary

  8. Joni – gladly.

    Ashley and Leslie – thanks, I am going to shop in town first. Seems silly to pay shipping on sheets of paper that are a dollar or a little more. And, yes, I've had that feeling in paper stores before.

    Patricia – except I want this project all to myself. If they would just PICK THEIR THINGS UP OFF THE FLOOR I'd be happy.

    Flair – wish I had held myself to once a year.

    Martha – Really stay tuned. I ordered these in bulk. Let me see if I like them, and, if I have extra, you can have them.

    Oh, Court, you're always one step ahead of me.

    Cyn – YES! I'm looking at them right now happily residing in their new shiny home.

    Mary – there is a lot – a lot – of marbleized paper available for a couple of dollars. The doing-it-yourself is only for fun.

  9. My heart jumped as I read about your "Whole House" folder. Still wondering why my whole house looks nothing like anything in my folder!

    Two shiny black filing cabinets hold all my folders. They are under my desk. They actually support my desk; the surface is a luan door, stained mahogany with an ebonized edge. Very handsome, very simple, very large. Happy New Year.

  10. Patricia,

    I am in the process of moving my office back home because we are bulging at my current design office, so I'm leaving my staff and fabric library in tact and bringing my oh, so messy self home AGAIN. This is a great idea and I hope I will have time to make my home office attractive instead of just there. That's why I left in the first place. I hated having all that unattractive mess at home. Thanks for the inspirations.

    Ragland Hill Social

  11. Eerie, because I've been on a marbled paper kick too lately. I spent a fortune recently on those clamshell boxes from Container Store. Now all of my tear sheets are organized. It was a laborious process but def. worth it!

  12. Organizing my files, catalogs and magazines is one of my New Year’s resolutions…hopefully I’ll be able to follow through!

  13. I have been a huge fan of your blog for the past few months…forgive me I am new to blogging! I can completely identify with this dilemma. My favorite tear sheets are currently in an ugly vinyl notebook, like the kind your kids have labled "math"! However, I do have all the favorites in sleeve protectors. This is the key to their longevity as I too have pages that date back more than a decade! I doubt mine will ever look as pretty as those shown here, but thanks so much for the visual dream.

  14. Mrs. B,

    thanks for introducing this subject! I am not an interior designer, and am wondering how tear sheets are organized! I have just kept the magazines, because it seems my tastes change. do designers tear the home design articles out, and ditch the rest of the magazine?

    here is where I will buy my marbleized papers. what a wonderful idea! please keep us posted on exactly HOW you attach it (eg. do you fold the edges of the paper?).

    I love your blog! It's one of my favs. your personality comes through.


  15. Hmmm, I had wondered how you kept your files so pristine. Mine are in one big folder titled "Home Miscellaneous". I stopped tearing out pages all together since this folder has become the equivalent of the circular file.

    What a great indoor project for these days on the frozen tundra.

  16. My question is always this, How do I catagorize??
    do I file by particular design element on the page? Or what if there are several things on that page? then what?

    And what to do when you start ripping {or x-acto knifing} and you end up with the entire magazine, save the ads? And even the ads are valuable at times.

    at this point I've just gone back to stacking the entire magazine on the shelf.

    Not at all pretty but definitely easy access.

  17. Patricia,

    I covered all the books in my family room bookshelf with either brown kraft paper or color photocopies of pages from an oversized antique French journal that I have. The link is here:

    It was really, really easy. I just folder the paper on all 4 sides and called it good. I stopped trying to slip the book inside the pocket of the paper to make it fit text book style.

    If you use spray mount on the back of your cardboard binders, it should work really well. If you like them when you get them, do post the source, as I would love to get my hands on some.

  18. what an odd coincidence! I was just reading a post from a writer in Spain yesterday, he stumbled upon some very artful paper book jackets. So I got to thinking how lovely would it be to make paper book jackets out of vintage wallpaper with a tiny little print so it would resemble an actual old book cover? I have simply dozens of uninteresting looking books on my shelves. But then, I realized it wouldn't work all that well since vintage wallpaper is somewhat fragile… so I'll probably use craft paper with a pretty printed paper for the spine, as you intend to do. Such a lovely little facelift for the bookshelf & wonderfully easy project to begin the year!!

  19. this made me want to dig out an old book from aiko's on japanese marbling called suminagashi written by don guyot. i attempted the technique, but didn't keep at it due to a lack of time and the fact that the nature of this form of marbling asks you to relinquish control, which at the time went against my perfectionist tendencies. you've inspired me to try again.

  20. They'll be the best dressed binders on the planet.

    I, too, got ahold of some basic black textured magazine holders through Target and got at least some of the saved issues rounded up and into the bookcase. The progress is slow, but there is forward momentum building up!

    Keep on, keepin' on.

  21. It's a good thing the fine print in your post caught my eye as I was about to suggest as a source for beautiful papers, but see you've been there already. It's hard to image anyone going the Martha route and making their own marble papers with sources like Paper Mojo. Good luck with your project and would love to see photos when complete.

  22. Julia – this sounds like an excellent solution, and, by the way, my house does not look like anything in my "whole house" folder either.

    Gwen – it's taking that time that is the problem. You know, when there is so much work to be done. We should challenge each other.

    Jennifer – boxes sounds like a great solution; I might end up with some still.

    Karena – I promise to head there as soon as it warms up.

    Elegance – best of luck!

    A & A – sounds like you are taking good care of your inspiration – that is the goal after all.

    Kathy – I think I will attach the paper just to the binding with glue. We'll see. Sometimes I'm a better planner than doer.

    Tracy – a great project if I end up ordering the paper – otherwise I have to get out to hunt. Today I was wishing my children took the bus. Kidding.

    Ivy – Am NOT calling this a resolution. Just a little side project.

    Megan – this is part of the problem. I think I'm going to start by designer then work by room. I'm going through about three years now (I guess I've been distracted.) There are some issues that call for keeping the whole darn thing, but really, the bulk of the magazines need to go. I can't keep them forever and find I'm not really looking back through old issues all that often. I do, however, go back through my files when I'm on the hunt. And there's new stuff coming every month. At least I hope there is.

  23. Covetable – I'll check it out – thanks for the link.

    Poindexter – easy! Yes, I'll keep that in mind if my enthusiasm fades.

    Rita – well that does sound pretty jazzy.

    bella – yes! do! let us know how it goes.

    E & E – you're too kind. I could use the extra two feet of your ceilings.

    Boxwood – I promise to post. Unless it's a disaster. No, even if it is a disaster, I promise to post.

  24. Mrs B:

    Totally impressed…and clearly you 'found your marbles'.
    I can't wait to see the results.

    This is such an inspiring post. The papers are glorious and will all work together and look rich and delicious.

    I am especially impressed that you credited every photo so fully and meaningfully. I want to see all bloggers crediting for every 'tear sheet' they pull–and naming all names of designers, names of stylists, the publication and the date and of course the photographer. It's only fair and ethical! Behind each picture of great chairs and curtains–is a whole team of designers and stylists and editors and the real talent that should be thanked and credited and acknowledged. Otherwise a post featuring these ideas lacks gumption and integrity.
    As a recent victim of plagiarism, I feel that the next great leap in design blogging has to be thorough crediting.
    Thanks for your diligent crediting. It's wonderful…and essential.

    Cheers for your great spirit–oh, mother of school-age children and manager of household.

  25. Diane – I am sorry about the copy cat. All I can say is that I learned from the best. Courtney Barnes, Jennifer Boles and Megan Arquette sourced and credited everything and I just followed their lead.

  26. you are sooo good. i can't wait to see the finished product. i need to do this so badly. but i always run into an issue… what to do about the resources in the back of the magazine. i cut out an article or page I like, then if I don't cut out the resource information… years later i'm batty trying to figure out the "what and where" of some coveted something. this is why i have hundreds of magazines i fear cutting from. perhaps i just need to get over it!?

  27. Oh how I would love to have an organized workroom with binders covered in these marbelous papers. I am still thinking about how to reorganize my room, but this idea is definately going to be part of the final result. Thank you.

  28. Great ideas! I love to see people get excited about organizing. An organized home is so important.

    cristin @ simplified bee

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