commonplace

I have only recently become aware of the term commonplace book to describe a miscellany, scrapbook or collection of interesting snippets. Yes, we all know I am very slow. Stop laughing. But it's funny how once you hear of something, it keeps popping up. At the library where I work, we have lots of manuscript collections, but it was only through reading some of Joel's research notes that I found they were known as commonplace books. Then, only a couple of days later, the catalogue of this exhibition appeared on my desk for shelving. The title page contains this wonderful description of a study, from Comenius's Orbis sensualium pictus, published in 1672:

"... a place where a student, apart from men, sitteth alone, addicted to his studies, whilst he readeth books, which being within his reach he layeth upon a desk and picketh all the best things out of them into his own manual."

I have always kept a notebook in exactly this way, and a blog, of course, in the form that many of us keep one, is also a sort of commonplace 'book' or scrapbook to record things that interest us. This is an idea that much cleverer people than me have already explored, but I rather like the sense of connection with the past that it gives.

For me, certainly, this space functions in exactly the way that a commonplace book might have done, providing inspiration, a means to remember creative processes and experiences, somewhere to make lists, a place to collect my thoughts. I count myself lucky to live in an age where it's all made so easy and the pleasure to be gained from it is so great.

To suit the mood, the photos in this post are just ones I like and thought looked nice together. The last one is the beautiful fabric of a Nicole Farhi skirt I recently sold (for peanuts) on Ebay and now wish I'd kept for patchwork... what was I thinking?

7 comments:

Gigibird said...

Please put me down in the slow thicky list who haven’t heard of the phrase either…..

I don’t have exactly a notebook like you because that would be too organized for me but I do have several boxes of ‘inspiration’/crap that I consult when I need to be creative.
Nice photos – as usual.

Gilly said...

Lovely photos - but where are the bird boxes??

I'm trying to make a Commonplace book, or scrapbook as we dull ones call them, of what is me, but I'm not sure where to start! I must talk to you!

Ashbee said...

I've been keeping books like this for years without having a name for them...now I have. Thank you.

lisa said...

I'm glad to hear there's a name for such a book. I always seem to be placing pictures and photos and scraps of things in notebooks; I suppose I could call them commonplace notebooks!

Sue said...

What a relief to know that I have not been alone in my ignorance! Gosh though - think how many more things I don't know...

The bird boxes are at Bryan's Ground near Presteigne in Herefordshire... I did a post about it here

elizabethm said...

I love the idea of a commonplace book too. Just lovely.

cris said...

lovely !!!!
http://lascierie.canalblog.com