Tuesday, May 31, 2011

rock paper scissors

"A box without hinges, key, or lid,
Yet golden treasure inside is hid."

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

With the return of pleasant weather and more passable surfaces, the new season invites our travelling dreams. Road-trips may be of any duration- an afternoon or several weeks; ten miles or a thousand. For the moment, here is a place just an hour north of Portland, in the coastal town of Wiscasset, Maine- and a fine oasis loved by its customers: Rock Paper Scissors. The locally-owned stationer is now in its 10th year. Stopping in, as I like to do, for pencils and a friendly greeting, I asked the owner's permission to spotlight her shop on this blog. And we begin right here (below) on Wiscasset's Main Street:

Erika Soule (at left in the photo above) is the founder-owner of the shop. A Wiscasset native, her inspiration for opening the shop connects her commitment to making her livelihood in her hometown, her love of paper and art, and- as she says- being surrounded by things she loves. She began by selling bookbinding supplies, and housewares, and finally chose to focus on stationery and writing materials. "Buy what you love," she added, "and hopefully people will show up." Indeed, we do show up. The good word of an unusual, eclectic, and sophisticated inventory combined with the shop's neighborly atmosphere draws customers from hours away. Erika refers to regular customers who "make the pilgrimage." (In the above photo Erika, her customer, and I got into a conversation about typewriters- somehow- and that's my Olympia SF  visiting the shop counter during one of my road trips!)

A view of the shop's arrays of journals, handmade papers, ephemera, and writing tools.

I asked Erika about the shop's most popular items. She began with pens such as Microns, LePens, "Aquarollers," by Itoya, and Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens- all of which she demonstrated. Greeting cards are also very popular with all ages. In the photo above, Erika described the Apica "Twin Ring" journals which have become very popular, along with standby Rhodia and Moleskine blank books of varying sizes and paper styles. Quattro journals are another newly sought-after item.

Not to be missed, there is fuel for the graphite appetite. Erika's shop has long been my source for Craft Design Technology HBs. Pictured below are some amazing sculpted artifacts entirely made of graphite. These are unique items, each hand-carved.

In the photo below, Erika is writing with a graphite "branch." These tools do not smear or stain hands!

More popular items with customers are Japanese masking tapes (above) and journaling binders (below). The decorative tapes have more of the feel of a thick version of Magic Tape, and can be repositioned, and are entirely unlike what many of us know as painters' masking tape. Erika says these fly off the shelves!

Items such as these are enjoyed by all ages. The shop's customers include elementary-school-aged children, and span the generations.

As it may be evident by these pictures I took, people come to the shop looking for creative ideas. Being a longtime customer myself, I can attest to this serendipitous aspect of visiting Rock Paper Scissors. It seems there is always something new to try and people with whom to talk about the tools.

...and there's the shop's mascot and able assistant, Abby...

Along Route 1, just north of Bath, Maine, Rock Paper Scissors is at 68 Main Street (Route 1) in Wiscasset (the Prettiest Village in Maine), and their number is 207.882.9930.
(As yet, there is no web site.)


Richard P said...

What a great place. Thanks for sharing it. I've never seen sculpted graphite before.

Stationery Traffic said...

Amazing - you can get Craft Design Technology pencils locally? I've never seen them anywhere except online.

Looks like a wonderful shop.

Cappuccinoandartjournal.blogspot.com said...

You are torturing me!

Ton S. said...

Very interesting, I like shops like this.

private said...

Wow. I will most certainly have to stop by this place if I am in your part of the states. I think it would be easy to lose some money in there.

Jackie Flaherty said...

Love this store, photos and articles! What a great job you've done in capturing the magic of this place. I have added it to my store database as well as "places to visit in Maine".


titancia said...

That looks like such a fabulous shop!!! If I lived nearby I know I'd be there all the time. It looks like such a great place!

Cacophony said...

This place looks awesome! I wish I didn't live on the other side of the country :( I feel a road trip coming on!

Strikethru said...

That looks like HEAVEN. Thanks so much for the tour. The only place I have seen anything like it is Paper-YA on Granville Island in Vancouver BC.

Putting Rock Paper Scissors on my list for this road trip I sometimes imagine taking out that way.