Monday, December 8, 2008
The Prints of Mariaelisa Leboroni
One of the most beloved collections we carry at Castle in the Air is the line of journals, albums, prints, and other beautiful objects from Italian artisan printmaker Mariaelisa Leboroni. Under the name Xilocart, Mariaelisa uses xilography (xilografia in Italian) printmaking tools and techniques that have been found in the artifacts of particular cultures reaching back across the millennia.
Xilography is a method of printing first employed by ancient Egyptians and later by the Chinese, who expanded from single block carving to moveable type as early as the 8th century, 700 years before Europeans began using similar techniques. Artists carve away parts from the surface of a block of wood, leaving intact the shapes they would like printed. Ink is applied to the carved surface, which is then pressed onto paper or cloth. A xilographic artist may print using a single impression, or let the first impression dry and add others using different blocks or colors of ink.
Perhaps more than for the sense of history conveyed by Mariaelisa's books, people love her work for its whimsy. Contented frogs, cheerful cityscapes, smiling suns, and simple pictures of trees in autumn grace the covers of her books, all in lovely color combinations. Because each print is handmade and one-of-a-kind, no two books will have exactly the same image, although it is easy to recognize pieces from the same "family."
Mariaelisa is truly a treasure for the beauty of her works and for her preservation of an ancient art form, and we are honored to know her and carry her books and prints.