vellum parchment

I forgot all the witchcraft. There totally has to be witchcraft. And divination. With bones. Crackling dead leaves and the brush of thin mimosa branches across bare shoulders, shaking just slightly with the rain that never reaches the forest floor. Full moons and dirt under their fingernails. Someone spilling the water in the cauldron when someone else steps on their heel and goddamn it Melissa, get it together! Did you bring the salt? Shit, we forgot the salt.

At least Jett remembered the lighter.


Designer Spotlight: Carlo Bugatti 2

Part 1:

1. Room in the Turin exhibition

2. Fire screen

3. Throne chair

4. Settee

5. Mirror

6. Chair and desk

7. Mirror

8. Tea set and stand

9. Teapot

10. Lute 

Carlo Bugatti’s work represents one of Art Nouveau’s most eccentric variations. Highly innovative in almost every respect, Bugatti’s work made use of unusual materials, primarily exotic woods, vellum, parchment, and nacre, to create very unique, unmistakable work that seem at times more meant to be appreciated as sculpture than actually used. Apart from making chairs, cabinets, desks, and tables, he also produced a limited amount of silver, textile, and ceramic work, as well as musical instruments, screens, mirrors, and wall decors for his most fully-designed interiors. His work falls in primarily two unique phases and styles: the first occuring from the late 1880s until around 1900, and the other from 1900 until he stopped producing furniture in 1918. The two styles have many similarities, but are also highly distinctive.

The first phase of his design is dominated by a certain interest in exoticism. His works of this time draw heavily from Moresque, Arabic, and Japanese design, which he synthesized in a very modern version of Orientalism. His design of this period is dominated by strongly geometric furniture covered with decoration evoking Japanese screens, Islamic geometric patterns, and text resembling kanji and kufic script. Ogee arches, spires, columns, jagged edges, and tassels are common decorations of his furniture at this time. Dark wood predominate and define the strongly sculptural forms, while painted vellum or mother-of-pearl inlays provide most of the decoration. His furniture of this time is also defined by a predilection for asymmetry, though this is not always the case.

The second phase of his work is defined by his four interiors done for the Turin exhibition. Here his work becomes even more sculptural and geometric, but rather than favoring the rectangle, his work becomes more and more curved. Vellum becomes the main material, with whole pieces in furniture completely covered with it. The exotic imagery become less pronounced and are replaced by highly geometric insect and bird motifs. It is perhaps these works that are the most obviously Art Nouveau of his work, with the surplus of curves and insect motifs. However, they maintain a highly unique character, their subdued, pastel decoration and large expanses of off-white color having a very modern feel that predicts the predominantly single color furniture of the International Style. 

Bugatti’s style was always unique even from other Italian designers, who tended generally either to imitate the floral style of French Art Nouveau designers, follow in Renaissance and Islamic Revival styles, or design works that looked forward to the heavily angular machine aesthetic of the Futurists. Bugatti seems to draw a little bit from all three traditions, but his work also seems to draw a bit from a love of primitive culture. His use of vellum, covered with pale decoration and cryptic pseudo-script, seem to remind one of old manuscripts and lost civilizations. His style is thus one highly suitable for the end of a century and beginning of a new one. It both looks back to the styles before it while feeling very strongly like the first breath of an entirely new one.


Ege continued

After carefully cutting each leaf free we applied a methylcellulose poultice on top of the remaining hinges. The poultice allows moisture to absorb through the hinge fabric and into the adhesive and if timed correctly lets us to control how much moisture is absorbed by the parchment or vellum. Additional applications were necessary to remove as much adhesive residue as possible. This required quick work to keep the moisture exposure to a minimum.

Because there is interest in using this collection in classroom we decided to place each leaf in an L sleeve of 3 mil Mylar. We then positioned the leaf within the frame of the window mat on a sheet of heavy-weight acid-free paper using a polyethylene strap with an adhesive back. The Mylar sleeve and the addition of the heavy-weight paper is a compromise, which will allow the leaf to be completely removed from the mat, but handled more safely. This approach also allows for the use of an unobtrusive polyethylene strap without pressure sensitive adhesive coming into contact with the original mat.