Friday, October 8, 2010

Raiders of the Lost Arts

Lost Art #1: Architecture/Interior Design

Now I know that sounds silly, but after you've seen what we've just seen, you know it's a lost art. Everything today is cookie cutter. It's drywall and paint. An occasional mosaic may surface or striped walls, but nothing like what they were doing centuries ago.

America is so young. Our country hasn't had centuries of artifacts rotting away in the underground waiting to be rediscovered by a new generation of people. Between Rome and Greece we saw about all the ruins available in the European world. Including the oldest ever discovered: the Palace of Knossos in Crete, circa 3000 BC. Uh hello.....that's frickin old. And by the way, they had an indoor water system. Still visible (and currently walked on) is the marble and red paint on the floors. Did you hear me? They painted their floors red 5000 years ago and we are still walking on it today!

(Ok if you're bored here, skip on down to Lost Art #2. It's way cooler.)

The Queen's room had a painted fresco of dolphins with a celling built as if it were just underneath the surface of the ocean's waves. Red and black painted columns acted as the doorway:

We also walked the ruins of ancient Ephesus where rows and rows of intricately sculpted marble columns lay waiting for their discoverer to deduct the place of their original standing.

Ephesus is still being excavated. There was a archeological work crew on site at the Great Theater where the riot broke out due to Paul's work in Ephesus (last half of Acts 19).

Also in Ephesus is a library that is adorned with marble statues and columns, standing 3 stories high. Mosaics adorn entryways, and everything was covered in marble. (A lot of things that "were" adorned in marble were pillaged by the catholic church and used for their own buildings.)

I'd like to have seen this process in action. How did they build such massive structures with stone and then proceed to cover it with marble? And thousands of years ago?!

In Venice there is the Basilica San Marco which was originally built in the early 800's, then again in the late 900's, and lastly in 1034...with some of the original mosaic still intact at the west entryway.

Inside there are marble mosaic floors. But we're not talking about pieces the size of a floor tile or checker board designs....we're talking meter after meter of art....

The Basilica wouldn't allow pictures or video, but I got one in this church that is very similar to it. Although the Basilica San Marco is 5x the size....

Lost Art #2: Paper Making

Venice is known for 3 things other than it's streets of water: glass, masks, and paper.

We came across this paperie called La Carta in the district of San Marco. The shop owner and paper maker began telling me about the differences in the journals he sells. (And don't you know I love a good journal...) I became completely enthralled with the detail of his shop. I picked up one journal, flipped through it's blank pages, and in perfect English with a thick accent he began telling me about the quality of it's watermarked pages. He scurried behind his desk, disappeared into a back room, and brings out an old, worn, leather journal. From 1600. He opens it to show me the quality of it's paper. How it's held the ink and outlasted the weather for over 400 years.

He holds up one of its old, worn pages to the light to show me the exact same watermarks as in the journal I'm holding. Each of these journals are bound and covered by him with decorated paper he dyes by hand using water, oils, and metals. Some designs require the use of a comb. Others, he tells us, a paintbrush.

He shows us his handmade leather journals with handmade paper. "100% cotton and water," he says. "Then, like in the old days with the cowboys," he says as he pretends to hike up his pants and kick his boots out, "you do it like this," and he makes a motion like he's sifting for gold. He shows me it's paper up to the light and points out the very fine pattern of a net. For these journals he hand picks the leather and sews the pages together in groups of 4.

We took mom and dad back in the next day to meet him and show them his beautiful paper.

We got a little lesson in how he dyes the paper that he uses to bind journals and to sell as loose leaf.
A true joy Mr. Vianello! A lost art. And he wrapped them for me.

In paper.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone (in the usual Broadway song and dance style)

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