We moved to the apple orchard when I was 6. My parents traded the neighborhood, and the paved streets for rolling hills, dust, and a long dirt driveway. The house we moved into was big, but older. With the older house came a few perks, like taller than normal ceilings, giant windows looking out on the valley behind us, and bigger bedrooms. It also came with a few downsides like one electric outlet per room, and no insulation in the walls. Being a child, I didn’t really notice a huge difference, because when the colder weather hit, I usually found one of the wall heater vents and plopped my reading pillow next to it, snuggled up with a book, and read while the furnace in the basement pushed hot air onto me. My parents usually found me under a side table in the living room when it was cold, and if I wasn’t there, I was curled up on my bed reading. I loved reading. I could spend hours reading. And I usually did. I read in the car, before bed, when I woke up, on the bus to school, and pretty much any other time I could. For some reason, I didn’t like to keep books though. I never read them twice, and couldn’t handle having them sit around when they weren’t going to be used again. The library was my happy place, and we went weekly. As I’ve grown up, I have allowed myself to buy a few books. I have a wire basket next to our bed, and it holds a handful of books. The ones from the library that are next in line to be read, or books that have made a huge impact on my life, or books that I pick up at a garage sale that I know are ones I will be reading soon in my book club. I’ve recently gotten into audio books on the iPhone. I love the fact that I can do the dishes, or fold laundry and still be sucked into a book, but nothing will replace the feeling of curling up with a book under a blanket for me. It is, and will always be my favorite pastime, which is why Lynn and her love of all things books is our featured maker this week.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Lynn Klopfer and I am a bookseller and creator of ‘Book Art.’ Growing up in the great, desert metropolis of the Inland Empire in Southern California, I tried filling any cultural voids by immersing myself in books. Now I make stuff with them. I currently live in a small mountain community high above the city lights, which provides me with just enough peace and quiet to focus on what I need to accomplish in a day.
What do you make or do?
Along with being a traditional bookseller, I create ‘rescued book journals’ using covers from discarded hardbacks. Vintage graphics and catchy book titles, taken out of context, inspire me to create new composing tools for someone to create their own ‘next project,’ be it in writing, art, or business ideas. We also use book illustrations to create one-of-a-kind cards and wall hangings. We’re like Native Americans; we use all the parts of a buffalo, except with books.
Where can we find your creations?
Brown Bag Books started out as mobile booksellers ten years ago, and we’re still out there, roaming the flea markets and pop ups around Southern California and beyond, like Patchwork Show, Artists and Fleas in Downtown Los Angeles. In October we’re traveling to the (Las) Vegas Valley Book Fair, and I cannot wait! We’re gonna knock Nevada’s socks off. We do currently have a permanent showroom, which feels very grown up. Every weekend you can find our shop at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, a cool World War II era warehouse full of like- minded artists. Our journals and cards are there, along with a large selection of curated books. We are also on Instagram at #brownbagbooks, where I love getting and posting ‘book art’ related posts. You can get in touch through www.brownbagbooks.biz You can also follow my blog at (www.travellikeateacher) trave
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
There was never a question that I would start a business involving books. Since I was a kid I’ve been, quite frankly, obsessed with books. Both for their physical presence in bookstores and libraries, as well as for the stories they hold. I am also a teacher, which allows me to be in and around books on a daily basis. But things are changing rapidly. As we’ve shifted towards digital (or tried to), I feel like there needs to be places where we can still feel the wonder of books in their original form. We can have both, printed word and digital. I just want to help insure that we don’t lose the older version completely. Nothing beats the filled bookshelves of a well stocked library, or the vintage graphics of a 1930’s Spelling Primer. And the beauty of books is that there can never be too many. At least that’s what I think.
What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?
There are always obstacles in leading any creative endeavor. What I keep going back to is the adage of “do what you love and the money will follow,” even though sometimes the money doesn’t follow the way you want it to. I’ve noticed that the successful people I see at these great handcrafted events we attend all have something in common – they have a real passion for what they do. To succeed you need a passion. Period. I hope that my customers and those who visit us can immediately tell that we have that passion for books. I’ve conducted BBB almost like a scientific experiment, to see what people will do in the presence of all these books and their by-products, how people will react, as if as a society we’ve forgotten how to shop in a bookstore. You see excitement when they find a graphic that reminds them of their childhood, or a gift someone gave them, or a beloved children’s classic. It’s been fun to watch. As a teacher I spend the school year with 7th and 8th graders who know me as “the teacher who love books,” and by being my “artist self” in their presence, I hope to spread an appreciation for the older style of books to a new generation. Because it’s true, they don’t make them like they used to, books that is.
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
For the future, I would like to see the business be able to take care of all of my financial needs, but while I’m teaching I would like to inspire as many future writers, readers, and artists as I can. They are our future customers! When I do have that rare day off from teaching and BBB, my perfect day off would be to wake up late and stay in bed for a while, reading a good book of course. I would spend an hour taking care of business, because when I do that, then I can relax. I would try to ride my bike, at least for a bit, then I would head out to my favorite antique and thrift stores where I troll for lost literary treasure. Lunch would be al fresco, sushi perhaps, and then a sit by the pool, with a book of course. Really, the perfect day off would be one where I could read as much as possible, because that’s what makes me happy.