Thursday, September 25, 2014


We are surrounded by poetry on all sides, but putting it on paper is, alas, not as readily done as looking at it.
~Vincent Van Gogh

When I decided to have watermarks on paper be the theme for this Art Thursday, I wasn't sure it was a good idea. Watermarks, by their nature, are subtle: "A watermark is a change in the thickness of the paper that can be seen when you hold the paper up to the light" (Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking). But I wanted to, and nobody argued with me, so watermarks it is.

How are watermarks made? Gravell Watermark Archive says they are: "designs impressed into paper in the manufacturing process resulting from wires twisted into shapes and sewn onto the mold used to make the paper...they came to be used by paper manufacturers as a kind of trademark for them and their mills." The Williams Museum explains that watermarks can also be made by "relief sculptures on the mold."

In addition to stationery watermarks, there are banknote and stamp watermarks. Info about the making of stamp ones is located here and more links are included below the images.

P&O 1837 (Peninsular & Oriental)

Parchemín Calidad Extra

Watermark - Dard Hunter exhibit
Robert C. Williams Paper Museum

Self-portrait in a cap and scarf with watermark Basel crosier
by Rembrandt (1606–1669)

Hermann Eidenbenz for the German Bundesbank - banknote

Holy Apostolic Palaces
The Vatican

Un Caballero (El Greco)
Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre, Burgos, Spain (FNMT)



* A Teacher's Guide to the Science, History, Art, and Technology of Papermaking
* A history of watermarks
* A student project with watermarks
* An Instructable about how to make paper

1 comment:

Pop said...

These are wonderful "works of art" so they definitely qualify for Art Thursday, Tab!

Obviously some of these *had* to come from molds (e.g., Hunter and Rembrandt); can't see wires being used that precisely!

But whoever did the wires for others must have been very skilled.

And thanks for the education, too. :-)