A Paper Punch and OCD?

247Japanese Paper I collect things. One of my biggest collections is of paper. I collect all sorts of paper scraps such as old used stamps, Wrapping paper, packaging, vintage patterns, fortune cookie fotunes, old letters.... I am also a bit obsessive about waste. I do not like to waste things.

I work in a graphic design studio where paper is consumed and discarded as if it didn't come from trees. Every studio that I have worked in has had a paper swatch library. Once a year the paper rep comes to

the office and updates the library. They throw away all the old swatchbooks and replace them with the latest and greatest. After the rep leaves I sneak into the garbage bin a retrieve these books. I have stacks of them. I never had a use for them but I knew that I would eventually make them into something else.

The other day at work a friend and co-worker named Julie, who I have known for just under 10 years, mentioned that she had these punches that could cut out tags. In an instant my mind connected the dots. Paper swatch books and paper punch. I asked if I could borrow her punches and brought them home that evening.

248Paper punch

I took the punches upstairs into my work roomwhich is the master bedroom of my house. My bedroom is in the second bedroom which is smaller but all I do is sleep there so the size of the room is irrelevant. My house is semi-detached and not well sound-proofed on the upper level. Therefore at 10:00pm I try to keep my noise level to a minimum because my neighbour is in the next room trying to sleep.

Anyone who has used a paper punch could tell you that it is not a very quiet activity. In fact the noise the punch makes is a very satisfying crunch and thud. As well the paper punch is not very economical. It will punch one tag at a time. I do not mind. I like repetitive actions. I find the monotony soothing and relaxing. However due to my fondness for  repetitive motion I now have quite the problem with lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow from sewing, mousing, cutting and carving.

My point is that I began punching at 8:30 and was still punching at 10:00. I tried punching quietly by pressing down slowly but eventually the paper would give and CRUNCH, THUD. I tried to stop... but couldn't I tried distracting myself with sock monkeys but the punch was far more interesting. I eventually had to move my office into the dining room so that I could punch without feeling guilty for keeping my neighbour awake and annoyed. 

When I ran out of paper swatch books I panicked. I tried punching old gift bags which was not successful. I rifled through my paper collection to see if I had any thin card stock that I could use. It looked as if a bomb hit. Paper was everywhere. When I realized I could no longer punch because the paper was gone I began punching the hole for the tie. Another wonderfully satisfying action. I felt like a train conductor punching tickets. By now it was close to midnight. Time to decorate them!


I went back into my work room and rifled through my papers some more. This time I was looking for decorative off-cuts. I buy the scrap bags from the Japanese paper place. The little bags that you can buy for 5 bucks with all the ends that they cut off other peoples orders. These were the perfect size to cut down and glue to the tags. Needless to say that in one evening I had branched out my retail offering into gift tags.

250Baited Hook Gift Tags
Today I gave Julie back her punches. I think I may see if I can buy one somewhere. But then againthat might not be a very wise thing to do.