In Taiwan, I learned how to make paper: turning a mixture of pulp, water and heat into thick, artisanal sheets. When it came to adorning the paper with a design, we chose templates before stamping them onto the paper. After going through the various steps of creating paper from its raw ingredients, using a simple stamp was a little anticlimactic — like creating cookie dough from scratch, only then to apply some generic cookie cutter to the dough.
But, while traipsing through the streets of Florence, I discovered a more advanced — and more impressive — technique at Il Papiro, a hand-decorated paper company founded in Florence in 1976. Called paper marbling, the technique results in the creation of a gorgeous paint application to paper that is perfect for gift wrapping, wallpaper, posters, book and album covers and even stationary. Like the handmade paper, the marbled pattern is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation.
Though there are two Il Papiro shops in the U.S., there are six in Florence, and paying a visit to the stores in their home city adds a special sense of place to the experience. The saleswoman at the particular shop I visited not only demonstrated how to marble paper, but even let me keep the sheet: an intricate psychedelic pattern of flames that now warms up my workspace.
Next time, I might consider attending one of Il Papiro’s three-hour courses that teaches the technique and then allows students to try their hand at marbling and book binding. Classes are about $95 per person and about $68 for groups of three or more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
How to Marble Paper