When I first discovered Renato Crepaldi’s marbled papers, I have to say I swooned a little. The colours and patterns are so deliciously seductive that I couldn’t resist featuring them on the blog in December last year.
The technique of marbling paper is such that no two prints are the same, so when Renato contacted me recently to let me know he had been working with digital versions and turning them into repeats in Photoshop, I was quite excited. He’s moved them beyond the one-off and made them into prints, which he’s making available on Society6 on a variety of products, including throw pillows, tote bags, stationery and mobile cases.
I jumped at the chance to talk to him and find out more about him, his process and this very niche product. I started by asking him how long he’d been working with the technique.
“It started in 2002. After living for 5 years in Japan, I got back to Brazil and started making marbled paper and dyeing calf skin to supply a bookbinding studio owned by an aunt in São Paulo. I was taught the very basics by my brother, who was doing the job back then.
“I quickly got obsessed with the process and started researching it, only to realize that I had no clue what I was doing, and that my papers were really crude. I bought some books on marbling and started reading everything I could about it. After lots of study, I made all new tools myself and then started from scratch. The results began to improve, and in June 2003, I launched my first catalogue.”
Besides using it in books (probably the most familiar application for marbled papers), Renato mentioned that his work was also used in interior decorations and furnishing. I was curious how this worked.
“I haven’t ever licensed a marbled design for interior decoration purposes; most licensing I’ve done is for the publishing industry; book covers, EBooks and apps. They usually already have the design they want for the project and just contact me to arrange the details of use. In interior decoration, original marbled paper sheets are always preferred, I have sold papers to be used as wallpapers, lamp shades, for matting artworks, to decorate small pieces of furniture and to be displayed as an art piece itself, like the limited edition print (text quotes, in hand pulled silkscreen on marbled paper) that I released in 2012.”
So, if the prints prove poular, what does Renato’s future hold for him? A full-time launch into surface design?
“I think that marbled paper patterns are very unique and exquisite, and it is a shame to keep it closed inside books. That is why I am always trying to find ways to bring it to light and make it available for contemporary spaces. The repeats are a wonderful way I’ve found to make that happen. It’s a very new approach to create marbled designs for me, and I think that it’s also a good way to keep me connected with the craft while I am not around the bath producing. I will surely devote more time to it, there are still so many patterns to try, and colour themes that were impractical in papers for bookbinding are now a valid choice.
I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface with it though; nothing beats real paint and the process of making marbled papers.”