Decorated Paper
August 26, 2010 9:54 PM   Subscribe

The Decorated and Decorative Paper Collection (University of Washington) offers digitized examples of "Western marbled paper, paste papers and decorative papers, such as Dutch gilt and lithographically or linoleum block printed paper." Marbled paper, which many of you will have seen in the endpapers of nineteenth-century books, developed independently in Japan (suminagashi) and Turkey (ebru), although the Turkish form is best known in the West. Some very striking endpapers have been known to crop up in unexpected places. For further historical examples, see the Salem Athenaeum, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.
posted by thomas j wise (9 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Great links for bibliophiles, but a quick nit to pick. There are two institutions called "Koninklijke Bibliotheek" ("Royal Library" in Dutch), one in the Netherlands and one in Belgium.
posted by dhens at 11:47 PM on August 26, 2010

What a guy:
Sheikh ─░brahim Edhem Efendi was known as 'Hezarfen' or 'master of 1000 trades'. A list of his skills includes carpentry, woodcarving, founding, printing, weaving and archery. In addition, he was a blacksmith, lathesman, calligrapher and a master of Ebr├╗. As well as being 'the first Ottoman to cast a lead pipe', he also taught 'making of umbrella handles to the poor'.
posted by unliteral at 1:42 AM on August 27, 2010

Marvelous, rich post and wonderful topic, as usual. Thanks thomas j wise. That first link is fabulous. Those beautiful marbled designs fill me with joy. The nonpareil pattern gives me thrills. I didn't know that Turkey or Japan had marbling artists. Adding to the international links.

I first fell in love with decorative paper in a small shop in Florence in the early 70's, which sold Florentine marbled paper. I think it was Rossi 1931.

I'm so glad to see marbling to take off in new directions too, even marbles. Ooh.
posted by nickyskye at 3:31 AM on August 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

A couple of things from my professional life...

There's also a wonderful collection of Ebru at the Newberry Library in Chicago, donated by well-known marbled paper artist Norma Rubovits. Some of my own work is there.

You can see me pulling a sheet of marbled paper from a demonstration I did a few years ago in my bio.

The Journal Of Hand Papermaking has quite a collection of articles on decorated papers they've published over the years. About 15 years ago they produced a limited edition book containing examples by 30 artists working in that field (including myself) titled Design and Pattern in Decorated Papers: Wet and Dry Techniques. The edition of 150 has long been sold out.
posted by Shadan7 at 5:27 AM on August 27, 2010

Mm. I love marbled paper. Always have.
posted by limeonaire at 6:00 AM on August 27, 2010

Thank you, the last link contains a really nice gallery, '100 Highlights' that makes great browsing as well.
posted by of strange foe at 10:20 AM on August 27, 2010

Also, the combination of calligraphy and suimonga makes me swoon.
posted by of strange foe at 1:39 PM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I couldn't find much about it online, but I read that one impetus for the development of marbled papers was as an antiforgery device. Apparently early Bank of England banknotes were printed on marbled paper; ironically, the wiki link is about a highly skilled forger who got around that obstacle tout suite.

A better application of marbling was to prevent tampering with accounting books. The marbling pattern was applied to the edges of the pages, the way some books are gilded. (I don't know how they kept the pages from getting glued together.) Because the marbling was so fine and intricate, it was quite obvious if any pages had been removed from or added to the accounts book. From what I remember, the early Turkish patterns were small-scale and complex for this purpose; the larger blotchy patterns were developed later for purely decorative use.
posted by Quietgal at 7:36 PM on August 27, 2010

oh my god is that museum's collection public domain? because i am so going to raid their high-res scans for my paper texture archive.

Guess it's time to play with patterns in my again!
posted by egypturnash at 11:23 PM on August 27, 2010

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