Paper bits and pieces

By Webmaster

I’m just back from the most amazing trip to Italy and thought I’d share a few of the paper related bits and pieces I found during my tour.  Although short of individual time to wander (as this was a structured art history tour) I still managed to snap a few interesting things.  Sorry, most shots are through glass.

Illuminated texts:

We took in many beautiful illuminated manuscripts.

Colouring pigments:

It was fascinating to see, and read about, the original pigments and tools used to create the type of illuminations above.

In the Middle Ages and especially the 14th century they were able to mix up a huge variety of colours from their pigment powders.  One of the early jobs studio apprentices undertook was to learn (under the watchful eye of the head colourist) how to grind, prepare and mix colours ready for both storage and use.  Most of the minerals were so valuable, such as lapis lazuli, they were kept under lock and key with strict inventories to ensure there was no wastage or theft. Books were kept to record ‘recipes’ and methods so skills could be passed down over time.

Gold leaf was used in accordance with the requirements of the patron requesting an illuminated manuscript.  They may request their job incorporate a certain amount of gold or even gold to a particular value.  Competitiveness was common amongst the wealthy, the nobility and also the various religious institutions.  So to have a manuscript with an abundance of gold leaf demonstrated your social position, your wealth and could elevate you above your rivals.

Ancient books:

The 2 pictures on the left show leather covers with beaten metal ornamentation, whilst the right photo is a velvet cover with fine metal-worked embellishment, c.1500s

Shop window display:

This wrapped wire figure has a parachute made of paper leaves and seems to be falling through a shower of summer petals, each one suspended on fine silver wire.

Paper supply shops:

I saw Il Papiro in Florence, Siena and Rome – and what a feast for the eyes.  I understand they also have a store in Melbourne.

They supply both sheets of paper & finished items such as bound books, cards, paper-covered picture frames and more.  Gorgeous things.


Il Pavone in Venice is where I finally succumbed to buying some paper.  I had it rolled and was determined to get it back to Sydney un-crushed, and I managed it.

Yes, I bought the same designs in several colourways.  Well, it’s not like I can pop back and pick up more, is it?  Each time I touch the sheets they crackle and rustle, and the paper is a crisp white, probably around 120gsm and just perfect to use for book covers.  Click here to view more of their range and see some of the boxes, cards and other things they produce.


Another shop (name unknown as I couldn’t locate the sign):

Can you make out the 3d paper models in the bottom photo that come within the hand-made cards?


Yes, these body forms are papier mâché.  With the upcoming Carnivale in Venice starting this coming weekend they obviously thought some bling was in order!

The gold statue is fully encrusted with glass beads, some coloured, some clear.  The gold shines through these producing a startling brilliance – not appreciated from the photo.  The right hand image seems to evoke armour to my eye, even though it is a more filigree open design.  Again the shimmer doesn’t come through from the sparkling gold and silver.  I’m not sure who would buy these but they piqued my interest as they looked different to anything I’ve seen in papier mâché before.

A visit to a print shop and a purchase of some small water-colour paintings rounded out my paper journey.

About primrosepaperarts

Currently the Web Master for Primrose Paper Arts is Claire Brach
This entry was posted in Activities: Other, Book Making & Binding, Member Activities, Paper, Print-making, Techniques. Bookmark the permalink.

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