Paper, Paper, Paper
Today we went to the Laboratory of Lamberto to learn about paper, and to do a hands on exercise in the traditional Italian art of marbling of paper. Amazing. Bernardini Lamberto spent a lot time telling us passionately about the history of paper, from sheep skin parchment to tree bark, to cotton rag Fabriano watercolor paper. We talked about books, the illuminated manuscripts. About Gutenberg and his printing press, printing bibles and encouraging people to read them at home. Then we considered how the church came to the realization that it wanted to control what people thought, to bring them back to church, and to how that lead to books being banned. No independent thoughts or ideas for over 15o years.
Fascinating, to say the least. And what a wealth of information this amazing paper enthisiast was. A patient teacher, who sits in a studio space that served a meeting room in the 1400’s. The ceiling frescoes are still in tact, with recognizable family crests, animals, patterns, and designs. Lamberto used a laser pointer to teach us about the symbology in the art of the barrel vaulted ceiling over our heads.
The sheep skin parchment page with music for the choir, was 700 years old. You could see the hair on one side of the page. Lamberto explained to us that the black ink was made from the soot of a fat candle, collected and watered down and concentrated. The red came from ground up garnets, mined in the hills of the area. Can you stand it?
We all laughed at his story of how the farmer was rich in cheese, milk, and wool from his flock of 100 sheep. So rich that it seemed absurd to him, and funny to us, that anyone would even ask him to consider killing his flock to make ONE 100-page book. One.
And then we went exploring, digging through Lamberto’s marbled papers, his pen and ink sets, etchings, notes and cards, all of us lining up to purchase something special to take home.
Lamberto shared his very old books with us, explaining that they were from the 1400’s and 1600’s and (hard to even fathom, or calculate) showing us the hand written pages of a church’s finance ledger and a book that listed banned books–if you had them in your possession you had to burn them. He showed us the marbling of inside covers and front covers of precious and delicate old books in his personal collection. After Lamberto was done educating us on his very passionate history of paper, we were ready for the much anticipate opportunity to try our hand at the Italian art of paper marbling… in his studio!
The Cathedral Across the Street
There was an amazing cathedral in town, Le meraviglie del Duomo di Orvieto, that had frescoes (circa 1350’s) which were said to be influential in the work of Michelangelo. Not to mention a total glass tile mosaic facade with amazing marble columns and relief carvings. We are in the pre-renaissance region of Italy, the history here is incredible. I cannot tell you how amazing it makes me feel to see such artwork, preserved for all these years. I just wanted to cry, standing at the base of such amazing talent, gazing upward and wondering…
What a wonderful morning in the Medieval town of Orvieto!
The afternoon back at the villa was time to get to work for my future collage artists! I gave the presentation of ripping and gluing and my love of collage. We talked about creating volume with shading and directional ripping, working back to front, seeing in simple shapes, lost and found edges, and the collage that started me on my journey.
My students asked lots of wonderful questions and after the class time they were ready to watch me paint paper. I demonstrated the Gelli Plate, stamping, sponging, stenciling, texture rubbing, alcohol and soap bulbble resist, corrugated cardboard stamping, found objects, dry brushing, finger and toe prints… and more.
My traveling students were tired, and they went to bed with visions of paper in their heads. (And probably visions of me and Lamberto too).
Tomorrow morning we’ll see what they’ve got!
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Meet Me in Italy in June, 2016
June 9-16 we will be returning, you haven’t missed out!
Meet Me in Belize!
For an all inclusive 8-day Rainforest to Reef Adventure!