I arrived in Tolosa on Thursday evening after a night in Bilbao and a day/overnight in Deba.
Deba is a short bus ride from Mutriku, where I stopped by Bar Cristina to thank Pedro for all the helpful advice he had emailed me before I started my trip. What a kind, modest and generous guy! If you are ever in Mutriku, please say hello – and patronize his establishment 😉
On arrival, I walked from the Tolosa-Centro station and checked into the Zuloaga Txiki Aterpea hostel I visited last year. Very nice to see everyone again! On Friday morning I walked from the hostel ~1 km back to the train station and caught a train to Billabona-Zizurkil where Juan Barbé picked me up. It was great to reconnect.
At the Eskulan studio up the road in Zizurkil I met his associate, Javier Viñarás; he and Juan were in the middle of producing 100 sheets or so for a silkscreen artist, making 4 sheets at once: cotton rag with Euro cuttings mixed into the pulp.
Juan pulls & couches the sheets; Javier hangs all up to dry. All at a steady rhythm. My first day was really an orientation to the shop, helping here and there to shuffle the heavy stacks of wet sheets, and observe.
We went over to the fibre & paper warehouse to sell a giant roll of cream coloured amate paper to a French-Basque photographer, Patxi Laskarai, who is doing a commission for a hotel. Then after touring Juan’s current stash of Kozo, raffia, gampi and other raw materials, checked out the bike Juan is loaning me. Perfect for the commute! Then we went for lunch with his wife, Carmen. She has done a lot of printmaking, and the monotype I saw was lovely.
After lunch we visited Juan’s friend Juantxo, who is a welding wizard. His shop was heaped with projects in progress, and the living space upstairs, with features like a 6′ high curved steel wall, was inspiring.
We picked up the pulp boiling pot he was repairing (which needs to resist boiling lye) and checked on the current state of a custom Hollander Beater he’s fabricating for Juan, with curved blades offset from each other. A scarey looking machine, but inspiring!
One of our last stops was to buy a better pair of boots for me. Now I have gumboots with safety toes 😉 It was too dark by then to cycle back to the hostel, so Juan kindly drove me back, and showed me the best and safest route to bike or walk along the river and railroad.