Friday, July 20, 2012

Making Paper in Fabriano

On our first full day in Fabriano, we made our way to the Museo della Carta e della Filigrana (Museum of Paper and Watermark, check out their website here) in the morning and set up our art supplies in the library.  The room with the beautiful fresco on the wall.

We were given a tour of the museum, which I believe used to be a monastery

and were shown various examples of watermarked paper they have made over the years for clients from around the world, one of which was this Canadian sample:

We were also shown the various pieces of equipment that were used centuries ago to make the paper, like this machine that mashed up linen and cotton into pulpy bits that then went into a huge vat of water to make the paper.

In the late afternoon, we had a 3 hour lesson in the craft of papermaking.  Roberto taught us the proper technique to shake the pulpy substance in this huge vat of water onto a metal screen with a wooden frame.  None of us thought we were doing too badly but Roberto never seemed to be 100% pleased with any of our efforts.  Then again, we had been told that it is a skill that an apprentice would take 6 to 7 YEARS to learn how to do properly, so we didn't feel too bad!
Denise and Roberto

Maggie and Roberto
Susan and Roberto with the vat of pulp, making paper
Once the pulp is on the screen, it is laid onto a felt sheet, two pieces of paper per sheet.  Once you get a big enough stack, it is placed in this enormous machine and the excess water is squeeeeezed out.
The pages are then removed from the felt sheets
Irena removing the paper

Diana peels the wet paper from the felt
and normally they are hung to dry on this wooden contraption. 

But since it had been so warm and sunny all day, we laid our pages on the slate benches in the centre of the building's courtyard and they dried very quickly.

I made the most interesting piece of paper of the group.  Okay, it was a very sad example but Roberto was out of the room at the time and we snuck it onto the felt sheets.  When he found it later as we peeled off the sheets to dry them, we finally got him to laugh.  :)

Not sure what I'll make with my special piece of paper!
Here's Susan and Holly holding our dried stack of pages.

Of course, nowadays, most of the paper you might buy for painting on or making books is made in the large, fully automated paper mills located on the edge of the town but we were thrilled to have been given a demonstration of how they have been making paper in Fabriano for hundreds of years - by hand.


Anonymous said...

That looks so interesting. Would love to be able to work with that old machinery.

diana trout said...

Wowza! You are the best! Thanks for taking all of these pictures. That was really a highlight of the trip. Next year, I'd like to spend more time in the paper making. Roberto was great.