Saturday, 13 June 2009

For Gloria, 2. ¿Big... or small?


Not long ago, according to an information provided by Oughzan, Oz, from Istanbul, the marbling master Ali Sentürk managed to raise the record of the biggest Ebru realized up to date in 4,6 square meters … more. That is to say that the previous record was established in 20 square meters, and now it has remained in 24,6. I do not even want to remember the mats suffering, but anyone can do the account and transform this measure to breadth by length, a bucketful atrocity is what it is necessary to marble this ebru, undoubtedly.

Another Turkish artist, Hikmet Barutcugil, realized a demonstration in the book’s fair at Frankfurt, although very deficient I have a photo of this event, and it is enough to look at it to see that things should have been very close, I don’t know if at the end he extended more the record.

There's a photo album of this event on Hikmet's web page, by the middle:

Hikmet, always following Oz, already marbled the curtains of a five stars hotel, by means of a special procedure opening the rolled cloth as it was introducing it in his bucketful. Probably these curtains are the longest fabric ever marbled.

But years ago another artist, this time from the USA, was going in another way. Christopher Weimann published in 1980 a book titled: marbling in miniature. His size is 7,5 centimeters high for 5,5 wide and the original samples "at full page" of 5,5 x 4 centimeters. He replicated in this size classic models that usually are made in sheets of 50 x 70 centimeters. In the sample of the "swirls" for example, it can be counted up to 15, so the visual effect is exactly the same one that if the model will be contemplated in "normal" size. For Oz, Weimann realized the smallest biggest marbling of the world. And, fortunately, others agree, as Weimann got the "Award of Merit the Western Book Exhibition" in 1981 for this little book.

Oz thinks, with good reason, that the size does not matter, not always a big work is synonymous of excellence, or the small work of unimportant. A big work can be a great work of art, or not; and a small work, as in this case, is a great work of art.


Thursday, 11 June 2009

For Gloria.


You already know my friend Gloria, the responsible of that I have begun with this blog.

Well, you must know now that when a thing gets in the head of Gloria she is terrible. Some time ago she said to me, as a gift, this way she is, that she would like doing a dress with some of my papers.

Now she is thinking about how to turn in reality her fantasy. She has suggested to me to try to print one of my paper designs on silk, something that today can be done perfectly by computer means with "tremendous" results.

It seems to me that it is not the way, Gloria. What really I would like to do is to be able to marble silk, or another type of cloth. A type of marbling that makes perfectly my friend Gail, who sent to me these photos.

Dresses, umbrellas, scarves, vests, handkerchiefs, shoes, ties... how many different things Gail MacKenzie could marble, I don’t know.

I got the surprise when I wrote to Gail asking for permission to include these photos in my blog, I mentioned to her that I wanted them to demonstrate Gloria that cloth could be marbled directly … Gail gave me the requested permission and … she suggested me to try to print on cloth … that has fantastic results¡¡¡

Now I don’t know what to do. I was saving money to make a trip to the USA, to visit friends from Boston to Los Angeles … and to learn to marble cloth with Gail.

But perhaps I should speak with Gloria’s printer first, isn’t it?

Art Bindings and Decorated Papers on Toledo Cathedral.


The Toledo Cathedral receives from today June 10th until September 10th an exhibition of the art bindings preserved in the Library and Archive of the Chapter. Doctor Antonio Carpallo, from the Madrid Complutense University, has directed the research works that have been extended from the year 2007, which fruit has been the complete cataloging of more than 1000 notable bindings belonging to these funds, between which he has chosen 104 exemplars, which are shown in this exhibition.

The commissioner of the exhibition, Dr. Carpallo, during his intervention at the opening.

The presentation of the exhibition took place in the Chapel of San Pedro and it was presided by his Eminence the Cardinal Don Antonio Cañizares, the Delegate of Culture, Tourism and Craft of Castilla-La Mancha, Dña. Maria Soledad Herrero and by Don Juan Sánchez, Dean of the Chapter of Toledo, at the end of the act these authorities went to the Chapel of Reyes Nuevos, (New Kings), a truly magnificent place for this exhibition, where there were shown to them the display windows that receive on chronological order the exposed bindings, some of them sheltering exceptional manuscripts.

Display window of classic bindings.

Dr. Carpallo showing a book to the authorities in the opening of the exhibition.

One exceptional manuscript.

So far, this could be a small chronicle of an interesting exhibition of art binding. But: does this information have sense in this blog dedicated to marbling? Not very much, isn’t?

It would be an enormous mistake to think this way; on the contrary I believe that it has a lot of sense. Principally one display window, that one of the neoclassical bindings, has greatly sense here. Because there, it has been very important to give way to the exhibition of the decorated papers, the so named “endleaves papers" that were used in these bindings. The bindings can be contemplated opened showing obviously the papers that accompany them, or these can be seen observing a mirror placed behind the books.

Display window of neoclassical bindings and decorated papers.

Another aspect of the same display window during the acts of the opening of the exhibition.

I have had the occasion to take part in the works that have led to this exhibition, describing the papers that adorn 330 of the bindings that have been catalogued and writing a study on the principal techniques of paper decoration used in its production.

Marbling is not the technique that prevails between these papers, undoubtedly due to the weight, between the art bindings, of the fund belonging to the Cardinal Zelada, which was formed and bound in Italy in the epoch in which this Cardinal resided there, being the use most extended in this country then, the xylographic papers. Although, we can verify it, marbling is widely present in these funds.

In a much more limited proportion we can find also exemplars bound with brocade and paste papers.

On the first line, on the right: binding with a paste paper; on the left: with a xylographic one. On the second line on the left, whole binding in brocade paper.

At the end, on the left, beautiful binding case realized with paste paper.

The whole description of a binding must include the description of the decorated papers used, not already in a generic way, alluding to it simply like colored or decorated paper, wishing to indicate this way that it is not a white paper, but in a single way, individualizing the technique used specifically. The state of the studies on paper decoration on a global scale allows it, being written several works of primary reference. I am enormously grateful to could have collaborated with Antonio Carpallo in these works, and to could have introduced in this exhibition, even a slight sign of the beauty that decorated papers contain.

I invite all lovers of bookbinding who have the opportunity to visit Toledo to admire the exhibition of these funds as rich as the Cathedral to which they belong. And to all those who are also lovers of paper decoration, marbled or not, I present the lines that I wrote for the poster of the exhibition.

Because very often, a decorated paper was something more than just a paper added to the binding.

Text on the show case:
Papeles decorados... (Decorated papers)

"With the generic denomination of “endleaves papers” it’s named a group of techniques of paper decoration of very diverse characteristics. Two of them, the xylographic decoration, that uses wooden engravings printed by special procedures as printing was reserved to books printers; and the brocade decoration, realized with engravings in metal plates and with the help of a cylinder press, they have its origins in the most ancient engraving techniques, which turns into a decorated paper by means of the later application of color or metallic inks that replace it. Other two nevertheless, marbling, an indirect method of decoration that uses the surface of a bath for his achievement that once completed is transferred by contact to the paper; and the so named paste papers, who use this glue dyed in diverse colors, were originated in bookbinding workshops and they were developed by the same bookbinders who were using these papers in his works.
In this display window we can contemplate several examples of xylographic papers, on its majority Italian, made by Remondini, the most famous manufacturer of Italian decorated papers, which lasted during three generations and which became one of the biggest factories of Europe dedicated to the impression of papers, as engravings, or as decorated papers; and other examples of marbled papers. In other display windows it is possible to contemplate a brocade paper and some more paste papers. Thus, this exhibition of art bindings is also a small show of some exemplars of papers used as “endleaves”, papers that some bookbinders were not limiting to place in his works, but they were making it themselves, being this one more of his binding works ".

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A marbling course.


Central courtyard of the Barracks of the Count - Duke and the entry of the Historical Library.

Felipe V ordered the construction of an enormous building that was during long time the barracks of the Royal Guard and a Military Academy. In 1869 a fire destroyed it, and although the town hall of Madrid acquired it in 1969, it was only possible to begin the restoration works in 1983. The Barracks of the Count - Duke, one of the biggest buildings of Madrid, turned then in Cultural center. What people living in Madrid have not been present at any event of the famous “summers of the town”? But also, here there are the Municipal Archives, the Newspaper and periodicals library, the Historical Library, the Musical one, there are several exhibition halls … and here there is installed the Handmade Printing of the Town hall of Madrid, heiress of the ancient Printing and Municipal Lithography, established already in the XIXth century.

North courtyard, the Printing occupies the second floor of the building.

The targets of the Handmade Printing are centered on the spread and maintenance of the traditional techniques of production of the book, and in this sense they print at least an annual volume for his poetry collection, using machines of the beginning of the XXth century, and bind and restore books attending the needs of the Town hall. Always with traditional, handmade skills, which this way stay alive in this enclosure.

One good day José Bonifacio Bermejo, manager of the Printing, telephoned me to say if I could be in charge of a marbling course for the internal formation of the personnel of the Printing. I resisted as much as I could, approximately fifteen seconds, before saying to him yes. Although in minor scale, my targets are the same that those of the Printing: to spread and to maintain the technique of marbling.

I could organize the course as I wanted, so I strained to combine a few theoretical chats, a little bit at the beginning of every day, as I did not want to overwhelm anybody with scientific treatises, with the practice of marbling, which was occupying us the rest of every morning. This way, from Monday until Friday, in two groups, from May 25 until June 5, with eighteen participants in total, bookbinders and restorers.

The chats livened up with presentations of slides and a projector that worked according to his desires, were focused to illustrate some aspects of marbling that would be impossible to develop practically: the knowledge of the oldest exemplars and more ancient manuals, the oriental techniques and the modern applications of marbling in the artistic field and on other supports different from the traditional paper. Another point in which was necessary to insist was that the classic techniques of paper decoration that has been used in bookbinding are different, each one with its own identity: under the generic name of “endleaves papers” it fits everything, being the same if it is an industrial paper of the actuality or if it is a handmade one of the XVIIIth century, being the same if it is marbled or a xylographic engraving. It seems very important to me that the differences between them would be known and that it would be possible to begin naming each one individually and not with these generic names like the mentioned earlier or as “fantasy paper”, just "painted", or even “colored” or as so many other appellatives between which I prefer, certainly, the modest one of “nice papers”.

A decorated paper by xylographic means, French, of clear inspiration in the "Indians" cloths...

...that was printed with a simple printing table, with the plate over the paper, according to the method developed in France and that would allow the printing of the valued papers named "panoramic", some of them with thousands of plates and colors.

The sprinkled, the marbled and the paste papers were born and developed in the classic bookbinding workshops. And the last two techniques have today an important artistic slope, in addition to being requested by lovers of the traditional binding and some restorers. On the other hand the xylographic papers, the flock ones, those of metallic varnish, and the brocades were created by engravers, descendants of the ancient ambulant engraving sellers who were selling his protective images printing them only with the force of his hands. When printing was born they couldn’t use it, so they designed some ingenious means to be able to keep on using his plates of wood or metal. Today most papers are decorated industrially and these handmade skills have disappeared practically.

A German brocade paper with figures of animals engraved on a metallic plate...

...which needed the employment of a cylinder press to exercise uniformly enough pressure to print the gilding on the paper and to produce a brocade relief.

And, what to say about the principal activity of the course? I did not count the papers that we paint. On the first Wednesday we had worn out the forecast of papers of the first group and it was necessary to ask for more.

It does not take a lot of time to explain the relations between the bath, the paintings and the ox gall, and when the love of the teacher towards his technique is shared by his pupils, everything goes in the air.

Mamen and Ana concentrated on her work.

Every day it was necessary to explain new effects, new models and new variants. The application of all the participants was enormous, only comparably to his anxiety for knowledge.

On Fridays we made the final exercise, the marbling of the edges of an exquisite edition of the “Quijote” in two volumes, of course from the Handmade Printing, and the marbling of its four endleaves.

Pablo marbling the edges of his ”Quijote”..., on top of the size, it is possible to notice the enormous regularity with which he was doing the difficult model he has chosen...

...and here the final result. His face of satisfaction does not surprise me at all.

The Handmade Printing of the Town hall of Madrid undoubtedly will help in the future to keep alive the flame of the Spanish marbling, well-known and respected in the entire world from the XVIIIth century, when such a famous model precisely named “Spanish” was invented here.

I want to express my gratitude to José Bonifacio Bermejo and to Eugenio Cano for trusting in me for the achievement of this course and to Acisclo, Agustín, Alicia, Ana, Ángel, Fran, Inmaculada, Jose, Jose Luis, Lidia, Mamen, Mari Carmen, María José, Mercedes, Miguel Ángel, Pablo, Paco y Rosa for their interest on marbling and for the affection with which they surrounded me. At the end I managed to learn your names!