I met Juan Barbé serendipitously in 2012 through the Tolosa Paper School (EPT). I had planned to visit their facility and gift them one of my prints of Broom silkscreened on Broom paper, but by the time I got to Tolosa, Vicky at the EPT explained that the school would be closed for a holiday that day. However, in lieu of a tour, she asked if I wanted to meet a former student, Juan.
One of the first rooms we entered has a scaled down version of a typical paper mill production line with rollers, felts and cutters. This permits students to practise their skills and mechanical abilities with real equipment. At the end of the line is a large bin with crumpled paper tests destined for recycling.
Another room has an amazing collection of scales, beaters and pulping machines. Some units are used to make circular test sheets; one device delivers pulp under pressure. The school’s café has wall displays that illuminate the papermaking process. We were immersed in paper theory and practice!
Idoia Egurdibe showed us around the laboratory, which is full of microscopes, scales, chemicals for analysis, samples of various wood species and a digital microscopy unit. This is what Juan and others use to examine the fibres they work with. At some point he’ll use it to make micro-photographs of the Rumex crispus paper we made, along with the Fresno and Adelfa.
Pablo and Idoia were very generous with their time and kindly gave me and Juan copies of a new DVD history of the school. Eskerrik asko! To learn more about the school, visit their website.