Our First Full Day with the AWAI in Venice

We took a vaporetto along the Grand Canal to San Marco

Our first full day of the AWAI photography workshop was full on. We began the day in small groups in San Marco and the surrounding area photographing the iconic sights of Venice.

 The Basilica in San Marco

Beautiful mosaics decorate the entrances

More beautiful mosaics

After a well-earned lunch, there was a two-hour classroom session on Lightroom, the software programme specially designed for photographers to enhance their images. This was followed by a visit to a mask-maker and a paper-maker.

Carlo Marega with a wall of his hand-made masks

The mask-maker was Carlo Marega, of Atelier Marega, who gave us a fascinating glimpse into the art of hand-made Venetian masks. His masks are constructed of “paper-machè”, and he follows the traditions of the ancient mask-makers dating back to the beginning of the XIVth century.

This is a traditional "plague doctor's" mask. The beak was filled with 
sweet-smelling herbs to protect the doctor from inhaling the the 
foul air and catching the plague. The doctor also wore a long coat and a 
large hat to keep his body covered as further protection.

 We watched how the masks are made with layers of card and glue.

Carlo Marega uses a card, something like construction paper, and although his masks are only made with three layers of card and glue, they are surprisingly strong and durable. Every mask is uniquely decorated, even if the base moulds are reused many times.

Carlos Marega also showed us how gold-leaf is applied to the masks

Our next stop was at the home of Alberto Valese, who makes hand-decorated paper, with a system first developed in the Byzantine era, called ebru. He studied for many years in Istanbul, and is the only foreign artist recognized as a "master" in Turkey. One of Alberto's specialities, is the marbled paper that was originally imported through the Silk Road from Japan and China to Turkey, and gradually spread throughout Europe during the XVII century.

Alberto Valese demonstrates his technique of splashing different paints 
onto a water and gel surface, before carefully placing the paper 
on top to absorb the pattern.

Paint on the surface of the gel

The patterned paper is then dried on racks. Every design is unique.

Alberto Valese also demonstrated the highly specialised technique 
of painting on the gel with very fine brushes, to produce a 
uniquely Turkish design

The finished design.

This day was amazing, and I waited with anticipation to see what the next day would bring.

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