Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Il Papiro

Recently, my friend Yvonne gave me this charming pen holder from Il Papiro. It was a delightful reminder of a trip to Florence I took several years ago with my friend Sandy. I have a great love for beautiful paper, and I knew even before our departure that buying good marbled paper would be high on my list of Florentine experiences, right up there with visiting the Uffizi.

My favorite marbled paper is this feathery pattern, probably because it always brings to mind the end papers of finely bound books. I bought sheets of this as possible back-matting. Il Papiro sells other patterns, too, like the one below, which truly looks like marble.

We befriended Ricardo, the charming manager of the Il Papiro stores in Florence, who gave us a demonstration of this age-old art.

My focus was on paper, but Il Papiro has many stationery items, including beautifully bound notebooks. I couldn't resist getting several sheets of this quintessential Florentine paper, which I've somehow come to associate with Christmastime.

I enjoyed Il Papiro so much that I came to regret that I had not gotten a photograph of the storefront. I guess I voiced that regret several times because a year later my brother visited Florence, and upon his return, painted this lovely view of the store's entrance for me. What a thoughtful gift!

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  1. Hello Mark:
    An Aladdin's cave of a store to be sure. What wonderful marbled effects can be produced, they are certainly works of art in themselves. The pen holder is a most attractive gift and how lovely to be reminded of Florence and Il Papiro every time you take a pen out or put back a pen into it.

    We have yet to visit Florence and Il Papiro will definitely be a destination when we do.

  2. Hello Mark, I love Italian papers...always purchase a few little notebooks and notecards each time we visit. Have you tried making your own using Floetro and acrylic paints? It's easy.
    Great post, beautiful exampels you have chosen.

  3. SHUT UP!! Il Papiro was the first stationery shop I found in Italy. I have been to three locations in Florence and one in Venice. They do have the most wonderful array of papers for the artistically minded. This post brings back many good memories for me....lovely! Thanks Mark.

  4. Hello Jane and Lance - Sandy and I concentrated on Florence, spending a week there, and I'm so glad we did! We didn't want to do the three-countries-in-a-week type rush, and there was plenty to see in Florence for the whole week. Usually we'd visit a gallery or other tourist attraction in the morning, then wander in the afternoon (retail therapy). Memories of a place like Florence become all the richer when one sees it on different days, at different times of day, in different moods of light ... You'll love Florence.

  5. Hi, Gina - Thanks for the suggestion of Floetro and acrylics! Acrylics is my preferred medium, so that would be a natural for me.

  6. Hi, Theresa! I know you're a kindred spirit when it comes to marble! Not only did I visit Il Papiro when we were in Florence, but also a bookbinder called Abacus, that sold printed (not hand-made) sheets of marbled paper. Those papers, while not as rich as the ones at Il Papiro, had the advantage of being uniform, and those were the ones I thought I'd use as a series of back-mattings.

  7. I seem to be having problems commenting but I'll try again. I just wanted to say that I love Il Papiro as well!! There used to be an outlet in NYC - of course they didn't do the work there but you could still purchase their beautiful products!! Love your brother's charming painting!

  8. Hi, Stacey - I'm glad you like my brother's handiwork; I think, among other things, that he did a wonderful job of showing an interior glow.

    I have also visited the Il Papiro in New York, in fact was there within the last two months. It's located at 1021 Lexington Avenue.

  9. So I brought you memories of Maine years ago, and you have just reminded me of a time I spent in Florence a few years ago. It is such an interesting and beautiful city - I agree, it is easy to spend days on end there exploring historical spots and just wandering the streets and shops. It is better than retail therapy - it is richer and filled with beauty and charm. Oh, and I came home with some marbled paper and some blank journals covered in beautiful paper, and now just wish I had bought more!

  10. That was a really thoughtful gift. Lovely post, Mark.

    I've yet to visit Florence, although I've been to Italy many times. Should probably have kept that under my hat.

  11. Hi, HCH Girl - One of the things that happens when traveling in a slower mode, without forcing things, is that one allows serendipity to occur. Some of my best experiences in Florence happened when we threw our plans away, and a couple of times we had great experiences by simply following distant music.

  12. Hi, Alan - You of all people would enjoy Florence. Unlike many museums, the Uffizi allows the spectator to get very close to its treasures. I had a very emotional experience in front of a da Vinci painting when I realized that I was actually from the same distance it was painted.

  13. I prefer the papers that resemble marble, if I had to choose. But all are beautiful. I once wallpapered a tiny dressing room, shelves and all with sheets from Il Papiro for a Manhattan client with a theatrical bent.

  14. Dear Classicist - I can imagine that the room was stunning. I'd be interested to know the colors and trim ...

  15. Hello Mark,
    You must have a wonderful relationship with your brother - what a gift to receive! Two artists in the same family is a gift in itself. Lovely post.

  16. Thank you Anyes. I come from a household of artists, though I was the only one to make a career of it. The brother who painted Il Papiro worked for the Federal government, then had a second career as an art dealer.

  17. I have some antique prints I had framed and wanted an inset of marbled paper on the mat. It is very difficult to find paper in the right colour, and not overly bold so as not to detract from the artwork itself. It took me years...I always hold out until I get the right look, but it adds a wonderful accent to vintage and antique drawings, prints and engravings.

    I recently learned how to line an envelope, which is very elegant for special invitations and greetings, and marble paper looks fantastic used for this.

  18. Hi, Terry - When I was at Il Papiro, looking through many marbled papers of various styles, how they would look as back-matting was the primary deciding factor in my choices.

    You might do a posting on your envelope-making — I'd certainly be interested.

  19. Hi Mark,

    Great post! I met Ricardo a few years ago and had the demo too - he's great at enthusing people with a love of marbling and stationery generally!

    I wondered if I could ask a favour too please? I've started blogging recently and wanted to blog about Il Papiro too and wondered if I could use your photos of Ricardo as long as I cite your blog/copyright? I have the paper he made me last time I was in Florence but I would really love to be able to show him at work if you'd be OK with that? What do you think?? My blog is DreamDiscoverItalia.wordpress.com if you want to have a look and make sure I'm genuine!

    In the meantime, I'll be keeping an eye on your blog too for inspiration for trips in the future!!

    Many thanks in anticipation,

    1. Dear Liz,

      First of all, congratulations on joining the world of blogging! You'll eventually find out that it's really a most sophisticated way of having pen pals, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

      And I would be delighted for you to use my image of the charming Ricardo. Incidentally, I visited the Il Papiro store in NYC a couple of years ago and was told that Ricardo is now the manager for all of Il Papiro in Florence.

      All my best to you,