Monday, September 7, 2009

Fabriano Paper

I looked at the AIGA design archives and specifically at some of the typography design. Of course there are so many fabulous designs (goes without saying, really) but there was one, in particular, that I think is really amazing . I love paper crafting so Paper Alphabet for Sculpture Today by Phaidon Press, 2007 is really wonderful in that it looks so simple (but as designers, we know that it wasn't!!). Unfortunately I can't post or copy that imagery here but it got me thinking about paper and how it (paper) changed the world in so many profound ways.
I wanted to look at Fabriano Paper. Started in the late 13th century, it is still a leader in the paper industry today. (above is a picture of the Museum of Paper and Watermarks.)

"In all likelihood, the reason that Fabriano became the most important papermaking center in Europe can be found in the fact that it is located near Ancona, a port particularly open to commercial exchanges with the Arab world. It must also be noted that the ever greater skill shown by the growing numbers of qualified craftsmen in Fabriano led to a significant increase in the quality of the paper made here. Two important process innovations led to the rise of Fabriano as the cradle of papermaking in the modern conception of this term. One was the use of animal gelatin for surface sizing of the paper. This innovation permitted better writing on the sheet and solved the problem of aging caused by starch sizing, the main reason that chancelleries and notaries were forbidden to use paper for public deeds.

The second innovation was the invention of the hydraulic hammer pile with multiple screens (13th century) used to beat the rags, thus eliminating the stone mortar and wooden pestle, which had to be operated by hand, in use among the Arabs.

Another major product innovation in Fabriano was the use of watermarks on sheets so that when they are held up to light, these famous symbols can be seen. They were used initially to reproduce the trademark of the different papermakers."

kristen powers

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