Everyone knows that it is important to have ecological and environmental awareness and responsibility, yet every day we encounter a mess of packaging that is an eyesore and an assault on our aesthetic sensibilities and quality of visual life. Here’s an example of what I consider to be a much more clever and sensitive way of getting a message across. Brown paper packaging, simple one-colour printing, and using a recognised symbol as part of the illustration—resulting in a serious message delivered with lightness. In fact I kept the packaging and brought it home half way around the world in order to re-use it in some way! I’m momigami-ing it and using it in my next artists’ book.
This year I went to the Auburn cherry blossom festival for the first time. I suppose it was pretty naive of me, but I thought I was only in for a display of cherry blossoms. I did indeed get that, and they were spectacular, but what I hadn’t accounted for was the hordes of people being shuttle-bussed in, the extensive cultural program, the amazing sight of cosplayers and kimono wearers, and the prepared-for-everything picnickers. Unfortunately I missed the haiku workshop, but I did get to see this impressive tree of origami birds.
I doubt the graffitist was thinking about the weight of paper when they altered this ‘no standing’ sign, but in my world, GSM stands for ‘grams per square metre’, and is the standard of paper measurement that allows people who work with paper—printers, designers, artists, bookbinders, etc—to know exactly what they’re dealing with in terms of thickness. This week I replenished my paper supplies with two of my favourite papers: Stonehenge White (245 GSM) and Zerkall Laid (120 GSM). Stonehenge is a machine-made fine art paper with a smooth surface, made in the USA, and Zerkall Laid is a German paper with irregular wavy laid lines. I like them because I can draw and paint on them, print on them, cut them up, fold them, glue them, and I can put them through my inkjet printer and get the result I want before I fold them and bind them.
In Australia, the most common paper size is A4, and measures 210 x 297 mm. The format from which A4 is derived is a metric system called ISO (International Standards Organisation) 216, a system which uses a ratio of 1 to the square root of 2, yielding a 1:1.414 ratio across all paper sizes. Using this system, when the paper is halved, the resulting size maintains the same proportion. An AO sheet (rounded to the nearest millimetre) measures 840 x 1188 mm, and is 1 square metre. Each ISO paper size is one half of the area of the next size up: A1 is 840 x 594, A2 is 420 x 594, A3 is 420 x 297, A4 is 210 x 297, and so on, all the way to a tiny 26 x 37 A10.
There are various methods of marbling, but the one I tried my hand at recently is commonly referred to as Turkish marbling, most likely because the Europeans first came across it in Istanbul. Marbling became widespread in Europe with the development of printing: marbled papers are particularly popular as endpapers in bookbinding. To make the marbled pattern, a tray is filled with size, and colour is added using whisks made from a millet broom. The colour, which floats on the surface, is manipulated using rakes and combs, and is transferred to paper which has been treated with alum to make it absorbent. Most interesting are the pattern names: stone, nonpareil, waved get gel, flame, gothic, feathered chevron, reverse bouquet, American, cathedral, fountain. It must take a great deal of expertise to get them right. Mine ended up with names like accident and experiment!