Paper making in Buenos Aires

Paper making in Buenos Aires
18 April 2012

Not only am I a bookbinder but I am also a tanguera. I travel every March to Buenos Aires looking for those great dancers, taking classes, doing very little tourism. Last year however, I took time off from dancing to visit the Biblioteca Nacional de Argentina, in Palermo. This year, I thought I’d take a more relaxed approach. Last year's conference The Gathering in Canberra taught methat networking is essential. In order to grow my skills and develop as a person, meeting and talking with other binders of greater experience than myself is a fantastic opportunity as well as of great benefit. Before leaving Australia I nutted out a plan of attack: take some binding courses and meet people. A quick search of the internet provided me with the Papelera Palermo, in the suburb of Palermo. Because of my short timeframe, I enrolled in a private class in oriental bookbinding. I had visited the Papelera four years ago. They sell locally sourced and made products as well as a range of Argentinian designed papers, and provide a range of paper based classes.

The workshop area, like a glass house

The workshop area, like a glass house

Dina Adamoli, president of the EARA, the argentinian bookbinding artesans’ guild, took the course. It was a rainy Monday, and I was slightly drowsy on hardly any sleep (I went dancing every day from about 4pm to 4am. So just imagine what it took to get up for a 10.30 class 40mins away from my apartment…).

Dina, myself and Florencia

Dina, myself and Florencia

It was to be a basic class on oriental binding. Although I have taught myself this type of binding, I just wanted to have someone to whom I could ask questions.

A small sample of my sewing

A small sample of my sewing

We spent a delightful 4 hours or so, talking about bindings, life in our respective countries, how we got started in bookbinding.  It was exciting to be able to communicate in Spanish. The most exciting part of the day came during our break when I was taken to visit the workroom of the store. I had not realised that they made their own merchandise and paper.

Making books

Making books

Making books

Making books

One of the reasons I became a book binder was my interest in all things paper; years ago I made and marbled paper in my kitchen. Paper making is one of those crafts that people long to do, but never get around to it. It sounds like fun, it's a bit mysterious. When our manager Jennifer visited a family run papermaking factory in Japan last year, she came back with an exciting array of photos. So I was thrilled to be able to visit the work room, and to discover that there was a small paper factory on the premises.  I’d never seen paper  made on such a scale. I met master paper maker Alejandro. The turn of the conversation did veer towards tango, of course, and it turns out his wife dances and sings tango.

Master paper maker Alejandro

Master paper maker Alejandro

Alejandro was very happy to explain the papermaking process to me, showing me the materials he used and his work space. He had just finished a batch and was drying his blotters.

Paper deckles

Paper deckles

Paper drying

Paper drying

I left the course with 8 examples of different styles of oriental binding: basic, kanghi, tortoise and hemp patterns. The connections I made that day have made my life richer, and will, I am sure, be very useful for me in the future.