February 28, 2013

Il Papiro

I'd like to share something special Jon did for me while we were in Florence, and it's fitting that I tell you today because today is the day before our the one year anniversary of our legal marriage ceremony. And, if I told you the story tomorrow, it would be too late because tomorrow is the day after our one year anniversary of our legal marriage ceremony. Do you follow?
It's me - the bride!
We got married legally one year ago on February 29, 2012, but we had our ceremony later that year in June. I am a lucky girl who gets TWO wedding anniversaries. Well, technically I get two anniversaries once every 4 years. Anyway, the traditional gift for the one year anniversary is paper, and that is exactly what Jon got for me in Florence - a tour and workshop at offices of Il Papiro in Florence.
This is the original preserved fa├žade of the first Il Papiro.

I first learned of Il Papiro a few years ago when we visited Rome. There are several stores in Italy, and I can say that I have been to the stores in Rome, Pisa, Florence, Siena and Orvieto. I am a fan! The marbled papers are decorated using traditional Tuscan methods. They also carry gorgeous printed paper, handmade journals and beautiful stationery items. All of he papers are beautiful - marbled with gold, designed with a unique Italian flair. It's just lovely. If you go in a shop they will even give you a demonstration:
First, the inks (watercolors) are splattered onto a thick bed of methyl cellulose. 
Next, a sharp tool - could be a bamboo stick or a chop stick, is run through the paste, side to side all the way down. 
Then, a wire comb moves through the paste. This design above on the right side of the photograph is called the peacock, because it resembles peacock feathers. After the first sweep the wire comb is dragged again in the opposite direction to create a "Missoni" like pattern. 

Carefully, the paper is placed over the design from corner to corner so as not to create any air bubbles. 
The paper is gingerly picked up off the methyl cellulose and VIOLA! Marbled paper. 
At one of the stores in Florence, I got to talking with a worker and she complimented me on my scissor necklace. I thanked her, then gushed about how much I loved paper, and how much I loved Il Papiro.

 "You should go visit! They will give you a tour."

 "What?!" I said. "That would be awesome!"

"Here's the number. Call them!"

That was on a Monday after lunch. About an hour later, Jon called to arrange a tour and a workshop - bookmaking and marbling of paper for me on Tuesday morning. I couldn't believe it.

"Happy Valentine's Day," he said. 

Awwww. He's the best!

The next day I took the number 31 bus from San Marco to Grassina, where I met a nice woman who drove me to the offices. I could not believe it.
Here I am making a journal with a sweet woman, whose name I cannot remember, and Gianni - one of the owners of Il Papiro. Gianni translated everything for me.

Always spread the glue from the center on newspaper. Then, allow the glue to set and the paper will go flat after about a minute. I never knew that! 
We worked with leather, which was a real treat, and just as easy as working with paper.
They even stamped my initials on the journal. 
Sorry for the blurry image, but this is the only photo I have of one of the systems used to apply pressure to the books.  Do you see the antique iron? That's my favorite.
Me, my paper and master paper marbler Diego.
In addition to the handmade journal, I was able to make a beautiful piece of marbled paper, although it is flawed in so many ways - it was my first time and I was nervous. I had to work fast, and it's harder than it looks.

I had such an amazing time, and never in my life would I have guessed that I would get to go behind the scenes of one of my favorite stores in the WORLD! It was a thrill, and the staff was so kind. I was given cookies and Coke (my vice) and even given a certificate that says I took the corso di marmorizzazione (marbling course). It's definitely one of the best experiences I have ever had and I really enjoyed taking a class while traveling. I think I will definitely try a similar experience on future travels. Graffiti in Paris? Why not?

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