Where to start? We just received a delivery from Yellow Owl Workshop with plenty of New Arrivals! and we just made a visit to the Yellow Owl Workshop in San Francisco! The very headquarters of the company itself! Although it's so small that I am hesitant to call it a headquarters and only really consider Yellow Owl to be a company in the same sense that a local theatre company is a company or possibly even something smaller...and i mean that in the most complimentary fashion possible!
I don't quite know what i was expecting...I knew it's a small operation of passionate people who were driven and lucky enough to make a business out of what they love doing, a hobby, but still, one expects some degree of mechanisation somewhere...no such luck here! There are no big printing presses, no shiny cut-o-matic machines, just happy, smiling people, comfortably absorbed in what they're doing. I mean there is ink, paper, knives, rubber, pencils etc everywhere, if the space race of the 60s was actually a stamp race i imagine the NASA headquarters would have looked similar, but the whole scene taken in kind of stamps this impression (totally intended the pun!) of optimism on the lucky visitor.
See, i really like author Kurt Vonnegut and probably my favourite of his novels is Player Piano. It was written in 1952 and presents this dystopia, a caricature of the future as seen in the 50s really, where mechanisation has become complete and there is no longer any meaningful work for human hands, just a mass of unsatisfied, undignified people who clean and service machines. It's easy to fall for this with the scale of production in the 21st century, to think that any manufactured good which isn't wrapped in a calico bag or in a jar and bought at a farmer's market was actually just made by some cold humourless machine, but the paradox here is that the 21st century is more than ever an environment where genuinely hand made goods can be found easily and supported. The 50s may have been bleak but that's just because all of those things that open up markets, like transport, communication and travel hadn't caught up yet.
I mean look at this photo above! I love this, it looks like the sort of home storage for your old sewing materials that are kept on the top shelf in that cupboard that you really don't want to open yet this is how Yellow Owl run their workshop! It's because of the amazing internet that we first found Yellow Owl and because of the wonders of the modern world that we are able to have a relationship with them, to support this kind of hand made manufacture on a scale which is bigger than the first Sunday of every month. Vonnegut saw man serving machines but really, it's the other way around. So a triple thanks to Yellow Owl. Their lovely hospitality, awesome cards and stamps and a dose of optimism for the times we live in. Hurrah!