Fabriano: UNESCO “Creative City”

Panoramic view of Fabriano - copyright Giorgio Pellegrini

Panoramic view of Fabriano – copyright Giorgio Pellegrini

Our journey in discovering Le Marche region today leads us to Fabriano, a city world-renowned for the handmade paper production. Not surprisingly, Fabriano recently received the prestigious award of “Creative City” by UNESCO – one of seven in the world and the only Italian with Bologna – in the category of “Folks Arts and Crafts”.

The historical identity of Fabriano has always been linked to its paper manifacturing.

8001348125273Back to your student memories, anyone may remember to have purchased at least once an album with the white background and blue lettering with embossed the name of this city … maybe without even knowing what it meant.schemaviaggiocartaIn fact, it is the traditional craftsmanship of paper that made Fabriano unique worldwide since ancient times.

Entry at the Museum - copyright Giorgio Pellegrini

Entry at the Museum – copyright Giorgio Pellegrini

To learn more, we visited the “Paper and Watermark Museum” in Fabriano, housed in the complex of St. Domenico, a former convent of the Dominican fathers.

Courtyard in the complex of St. Domenico - copyright Adriano Maffei

Courtyard in the complex of St. Domenico – copyright Adriano Maffei

Our guided tour takes about an hour, and allowes us to undertake an interactive journey retracing all the steps of the making of paper.

"Medieval Gualchiera" inside the Museum

“Medieval Gualchiera” inside the Museum

On site a “Medieval Gualchiera” (an original invention of the Fabriano Master Papermakers), has been rebuilt. This allows visitors to watch the entire process of paper production.

La scelta degli stracci - copyright Adriano Maffei

La scelta degli stracci – copyright Adriano Maffei

The first step is the selection and cleaning of rags, later soaked until soft and their subsequent reduction in paper pulp by the action of “a break down to fiber” mill powered by multiple hydraulic hammers.

The 'paste' of paper in the sizing vat - copyright Adriano Maffei

The ‘paste’ of paper in the sizing vat – copyright Adriano Maffei

The ‘paste’ is transferred into a sizing vat and sieved with suitable shock and vibration that are designed to drain the water. This apparently simple step, actually requires a lot of technique and slow and wise gestures, as shown by the Masters of Paper.

Colatura con gelatina animale - copyright Adriano Maffei

Immersion of paper in the animal gelatin – copyright Adriano Maffei

After drying, the sheets are immersed in a bath of animal gelatin, which aims to make them impermeable to the ink, as revolutionary invented by Fabriano Masters of Paper.

Drying of the paper sheets - copyright Adriano Maffei

Drying of the paper sheets – copyright Adriano Maffei

Finally, after drying again and being pressed, the sheets are ready for use.

Copyright Claudio Ciabochi

Copyright Claudio Ciabochi

All machines in the Museum really work and you can witness the creation of the paper live! Meanwhile, the guide explains every step and you can realize how revolutionary the techniques introduced in Fabriano are!

opyright: Giorgio Pellegrini

Ancient watermarks on paper – Copyright: Giorgio Pellegrini

A top floor of the museum there is a room entirely dedicated to the watermark, another excellence of the Fabriano tradition. An important collection of ancient and modern watermarks is hexibeted and you can also see the process to create the filigree papers.

By reservation, the “Paper and Watermark Museum” organizes educational workshop for teens and children like the one called: “We are all Masters of Paper.” During the course you will learn how to create your own real sheet of paper with watermark.

Educational workshop for children -copyright: Giorgio Pellegrini

Educational workshop for children -copyright: Giorgio Pellegrini

In addition to this, many other workshops are organized by this museum so active and interactive. As the “Paper, Print and Book 2015” in collaboration with the Pyramid Atlantic Art Center in Washington DC that next June will offer their participants a unique opportunity to explore the traditional craft of paper and Le Marche region, as well.

In the museum there is also a shop with many irresistible “paper-temptations”.

Paper sheets made by hand- copyright: Giorgio Pellegrini

Paper sheets made by hand- copyright: Giorgio Pellegrini

Despite we’re living a digital age, in our opinion, paper still maintains a very special charm and the feeling you get to stroke these light sheets will never be comparable to that of stake on the keys of a keyboard or touch the screen of a tablet …

Discovermarche really recommends a visit to the “Paper and Watermark Museum” in Fabriano to find out more about the tradition behind the renown of Fabriano.

Our special thanks goes to the Director of the Museum, to the Guides and the Masters of Paper for their passion and dedication which make their work great!

Please find out more by visiting: http://www.museodellacarta.com

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