Forget the Scissors and Rock; It’s All About Paper

17 Jun

OK, I’m not using paper as I write this, but paper and I go way back. One of my first paper memories is the Big Chief writing tablet. Those of you old enough to remember also will recall the smell of that tablet, a smell that said “back-to-school time.”

You no longer can buy the big red tablets that served generations of American pupils, but one has to wonder if the original iPad idea sprung from that early form of communication and learning.

Even after years spent in the newspaper industry and now in the book industry, I can readily attest to knowing about paper, particularly its cost, and weight. Yet, I never really have delved into its creation … until today.

My colleagues and I attended the Clampitt Paper School hosted locally by the American Advertising Federation of Waco. Don Clampitt, son of the company’s founding father, led the discussion along with his colleague, Lee Cockrell. I came away knowing a whole lot more about paper and feeling great about a company that is looking forward during challenging economic times.

“What a great marketing tool,” I thought as I watched the room full of business people engage in the two-hour paper school. At a time when print is considered to be going the way of the dinosaur, a company embraces its history of making a quality product. Using that paper product, Clampitt wants everyone to know how green it is. Each participant got four small booklets encased in a cardboard envelope with a title card, “Keeping Things We Like From Going Away.” In the first booklet, “Keeping Trees and Squirrels and Stuff From Going Away,” the company explains sustainability and recycling.

As a child growing up in the paper industry, Clampitt said he remembers going on paper mill tours that showed how trees are replanted (“We even got to take home a seedling,” he said). The tour showed the seedlings in the different stages of growth until they were replanted in a forest.

“Even then, we were about sustainability,” he said. A business is going to replant the trees it uses, because otherwise, its business would die without trees.

When asked if the paper school was a “green initiative,” Clampitt said it was his dad’s idea 50 years ago. What made good business sense then continues to move the company forward today.

I offer a few thoughts about the paper school from my colleagues:

Sales Manager Wes Lowe:

Aside from the cool industrial film on making paper, which was almost as good as a field trip, the thing I liked the most was the discussion of paper selection based on desired look and effect. It reminded me of my time at the University of Texas. In film school (in the dinosaur days) much attention was given to film stock selection. Even the various black and white stocks handled certain colors and lighting differently. Color films offered a whole other world of variation, just like the paper choices presented. But as I discovered, paper has another aesthetic- feel. Well, who knew you could be a paper geek?

Publishing Editor Ana Wraight:

Who knew that so much thought went into picking paper for a newsletter, a magazine, or a book? I thought it was particularly interesting when the presenters showed us the difference between ambiances that two different papers could give a document. Just changing the paper type could give a page a warmer, glossier, or homier feel, depending on what you are going for. It was really fascinating.

Art Director Stacie Buterbaugh:

What pound of paper would you like? Coated or uncoated? As simple as these questions may seem, it is one of the first questions you will hear being discussed between clients, designers, and printers. It is easy to get confused when choosing which paper is the best fit for your company’s project. Today Clampitt Paper and the AAF – Waco sought to help decode the different grades of paper. I found it particularly interesting how they took you from log harvesting through the entire mechanical processes of the Fourdrinier paper machine, right down to the formation of paper and how it impacts the ink absorption. Today after learning about the individual characteristics of paper, I can honestly say I will never look or feel paper the same way again. It is definitely going to help impact the decisions I make for our next print run without impacting our bottom line, quality.

Thanks, Wes, Stacie and Ana. Back to the paper… I mean, computer.


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