Day Two of the Paper Paintings Italy Retreat
This morning we had a wonderful breakfast of fruits, cheeses, meats, pastries, and coffee served with a smile by Silvia. The word was not to be late for the vans, at 8:45 sharp we would head out Orvieto. Our smiling drivers, Hermano and Manuelle whisked us away to Orvieto, about 20 minutes away.
A City of Artisans
Orvieto is a town that is known for its ceramics, but we went for the paper.
As we did last year, today we visited the studio of paper artisan Lamberto Bernardini. This is a man who is passionate about paper. Lamberto talks to the students about the days before paper, when people wrote on stones, or sketched in sand, or maybe on a small and fragile piece of papyrus.
He tells the story of how parchment is made, from the skin of a sheep. It takes one big sheep and about a month of work, to create one piece of oversized paper for a music. These books would be hand lettered by monks and used in the church. Not exactly a process conducive for school books or reading for pleasure.
We get to hold a sheet of this parchment music book paper, examining the red and black ink that is over 600 years old and still vibrant. We look at books through the ages and talk about hemp papers versus cotton papers, watermarks, the famous Fabriano paper, to the papers of today. Lamberto shows us books held together by leather bindings with gold accents, with marbled paper on the inside covers and the edges. Books got very elegant as time when on.
After we enjoy a nice snack, each student gets an opportunity to try their hand at the age old tradition of Italian paper marbling, under the close tutelage and guidance of Lamberto. This is the highlight of the visit for our students.
Afterward, everyone is happy to look around the studio, picking out paper gifts for people back home, and perhaps a sheet of marbled paper to use in their collage work. Tomorrow Pamela will return to the studio to pick up our marbled papers when they are dry.
An Afternoon at the Villa
Upon return to Il Columbaio, we hit the ground running. The students sketched their sunflowers and got right to work on their under-paintings. Blue skies, yellow petals, and green leaves and stems, each one different from the next. Luigi finished first, and Elizabeth made multiple sunflowers on her board.
As with every class, I gave a demonstration of hand-painted paper techniques to include alcohol and soap resits, crayon texture rubbings, stamping, scraping, spritzing, and Gelli plating. So much fun!
The students were off to their desks, experimenting with found papers, purchased papers, and a plethora of supplies for creating. Big smiles all around.
Winding Down the Day
Apertivo hour at 7:00pm brought snacks, a glass of wine, and a view of the sunset outside the Villa. We talked about the day, what we enjoyed most about Orvieto, and about the art history of Michelangelo’s David.
Silvia came outside to call us for dinner (yes, she works a very long day) and we were all pleased to be presented with what Bobbie said was “The best ravioli I have ever had in my life!” Luigi and I decided that there must be nutmeg in the sauce that surrounded this hand-made pasta with spinach and ricotta. Fantastic!
Dinner winds down around 10:00pm, there’s not rushing when it comes to eating in Italy. After the group heads to bed, I bring out my computer in order to check email, upload photos, answer Facebook comments, and to bring you this blog.
No rest for the wicked, but I enjoy every minute of it!