Traditional Florentine paper making

Last summer I had the pleasure of traveling to beautiful Florence, Italy, a Renaissance city steeped in art and culture.  Being a stationery designer, I couldn’t wait to explore the handmade paper the city had to offer. The art of marbled paper making dates back to the 18th century in Italy and is now done almost exclusively in Florence, and the peacock-esque patterned marbling has become almost synonymous with the city. While there, I had the opportunity to visit Alberto Cozzi, one of the city’s premier bookbinding and paper making shops. It was there that I met Ricardo, a fourth generation paper artist, and had the honor of witnessing him in action.

The process begins with drops of dye being suspended in a viscous solution in a large flat trough.

Next, the dyes are drug through the solution with a stick and then swirled by using a long metal comb in a jittery motion.

Once the desired pattern is achieved, a large sheet of paper (either kraft or plain white) is drug through the dye and somehow (???) maintains the pattern as it is pulled out over the metal edge of the trough.

The finished product is a stunningly intricate one-of-a-kind piece of art that is laid flat to dry.

The shop offers literally hundreds of sheet of individually dyed papers for sale and is an invitation designer’s dream. I ended up walking away with an arm load of paper and a head full of inspiration. Stay tuned for the results!

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