Marbled or Hand Decorated Paper
With probable origins in Japan or Persia, marbled paper evolved from a long tradition of hand-decorated paper in Europe, which began in the 16th century. This technique, which requires great skill and precision, reached its height of development and popularity in Italy and France.
Marbled paper is made in a basin is filled with gelatinous liquid of plant origin. This base is then splattered with a variety of colors, which float on the surface. The artist, using combs or pieces of wood, swirls the colors that spread and blend to form a pattern.
After the final touches, a sheet of paper is gently placed on the surface of the liquid. In just a few seconds the paper absorbs the colors, creating the decoration. A skillful artisan is able to complete a series using the same design.
The Italians are world specialists in this technique and especially renowned are the Giannini family, artistic bookbinders in Florence since 1856.
The Gianninis continue to make marbled paper according to this time-honored method, and family members are careful to pass down their knowledge of the technique to next generation. Since every sheet is made by hand, slight differences in a series are both characteristic of the craft as well as the norm. Numerous and varied types of paper—all 100g and cm 50 x 70 suitable for bookbinding or decorative objects—are used in this art.
Hand-printed Paper and Wood Engravings
Later used in inexpensive book editions, block print decorations on paper became popular in Europe from the 16th century onwards to decorate upholstery and humble dwellings. The motifs, incised on wood, were initially imprinted by hand, later by a printing press.
Each color required a separate block. Since the woodblocks were not large, the process had to be repeated many time to complete decoration of a sheet. This type of production became increasingly important in Italy during the 20th century also thanks to its practice in and promotion by our workshop.
Giulio Giannini e Figlio is also a publishing house, known for its limited edition (250 copies) on the subject of Italian folk art. Still available in its original version, the book contains a collection of ancient motifs from different Italian regions, with accompanying captions that describe their origins and history.
Decorative woodblocks have also inspired us to perpetuate their beauty on our line of greeting cards on hand-printed paper.
Representing unique cultural traditions of the Italian regions, each replica of a design on paper is immediately identifiable by name.