The marbled paper in Venice : a living tradition !

Ebrû is a paper decoration technique that derives its name from a Turkish and Persian word meaning cloud: it consists in colorful motives imitating the veins of marble or, indeed, the shapes of the clouds.

The technique originated in Japan, with the name of suminagashi, and it was used to decorate sheets containing poems called waka and dating back to the beginning of the 12 century. Travelling through the Silk Road from China it reached the Middle East and then spread through Europe in the 18th century. Ebrû reached the highest achievements in Persia and Turkey. Historians tell us that every good bookbinder was expected to make at least one trip to Istanbul in his lifetime as every book used to be bound internally with this type of paper.

In 1975 Alberto Valese brought marbled paper to his hometown: Venice. Fascinated by the small encyclopedia Manuel Roret (1852) and the book Papiers de fantasie (1541) where he first saw it, in 1977 he spent some time in Istanbul where he came into contact with the world of Marbled Paper. His trips to Turkey went on for a few years, thus he got to know his master: the great Mustafa Duzgunman. In 1980 the volume Le monde du papier peint – Paris published a photo of Alberto Valese and one example of his paper. He is the only non Turkish artist that produces Ebrû that is acknowledge in Turkey as a master and one of the few who create precise figures (such as a flowers or fish or trees) above the marble pattern.

Since the nineties Alberto has started to teach and cooperate with set designers, costume designers and Italian artists. His passion for this art, the ability to experiment and his creativity allowed him over the years to refine an artistic technique and an extraordinary alchemical knowledge of the colors. Today Alberto creates unique and very special marbled paper sheets that reflect the changing nature of the lagoon waters and the colorful surface of the Byzantine marbles of Venice. His papers are like his beloved town: suspended between the water and the sky. Alberto invented the marbling of three-dimensional objects and silk: he was the first in the world to do it! All these wonders can be admired in his shop in campo Santo Stefano. The master of marbled paper also creates colorful jewelry and very light stones of paper which he uses in mobile sculptures.
Here you find the original marbled paper, which is now copied a bit everywhere in Venice and in the world but elsewhere they use semi-mechanized techniques.

Alberto Valese is the person who has revived this technique in Europe and also has reinvented it. Valese continues to produce it using artisanal methods, learned on the field and to search and study on traditional texts. Looking at it, the technique of marbling paper seems simple: Alberto tracks with different instruments the desired subjects using dense colors or lighter colors (the weight is calibrated through alchemical processes) on the surface of water or jelly, then he makes paper absorb the pure pigments thus becoming painted objects. Visiting his shop you can find his artistic papers applied to desk and home accessories and to clothing and silks.

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