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mid 17th century marbling



Martyn Ould asked about mid-17th century marbling

Sorry to take so long answering......life got in the way, as always.

Typical papers from the 17th and early 18th centuries contained deep red
(often now a bit faded), red ochre, dull orange, or yellow ochre (or
orpiment....which I can obtain and make a paint from, but consider too
dangerous to play with....it's made from arsenic!), a medium to dark
blue,pale blue and a deep green, and a dull pink. Sometimes papers had a
black vein, though not that often, though I liked these best...it picked up
the contrast and made the other colors stand out. Not ALL these colors were
used in every paper, but at least three, generally a  red, yellow (or dull
orange) and blue or green. The underlying paper almost always showed
through as a white (usually now oxidized to a pale  ivory). Patterns were
crudely, but charmingly combed, then sometimes raked or swirled. The ones
that were not combed were often given a white spot as a final color ( or
sprinkled with ox-gall mixed in water to allow the white paper to show) and
then swirled, or drawn into leaf type designs. Some were just left in the
"stone" stage.....a simple drop pattern, with or without a sprinkling of
white. The paper stock was generally a white laid rag paper.

These patterns can be reproduced fairly well, however, the paper will look
new. This is a question I always have to ask before re-creating an old
paper......does the bookbinder want the paper to look old, or want the
paper to look as it probably originally did. Some feel that if the book is
being restored with new leather, pages washed, etc, the paper should look
new and be allowed to age along with the rest of the elements of the book
once more. But many of their customers do not get this and think the paper
should look aged. In this case I would start on an ivory paper stock to
mimic a bit of oxidation, though the paper will still look fresher than the
old one unless the binder "dirties" it up a bit.

I  don't know if you are planning on marbling a paper yourself, but if you
are and need more technical advice, feel free to e-mail for
it...............best wishes, Iris Nevins.


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