Breathing life into old books & embossing the natural world onto leather

Breathing life into old books & embossing the natural world onto leather
By Robert HackwillDoloresz Katanich
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Two Swedish artists take novel approaches to creating objects for the home.


Eggshell thin, yet remarkably strong, Swedish artist and graphic designer Cecilia Levy, a former bookbinder, makes a variety of objects out of old books.

Marine Lemonnier-Brennan

She started experimenting in 2009 and today she creates exclusive pieces in her workshop in the Swedish countryside. She carefully handpicks old unwanted books that she wants to give a second life to. She uses paper-mache techniques and highlights the books' special characteristics.

"The dedication in the inside, which really touched me, says, "to Hannah, from her loving brother, John," she says, holding up a bowl that has an inscription from inside the book prominently displayed.

Marine Lemonnier-Brennan

Old stains and dog-eared pages have their special roles as well.

"I only use books from the 19th century, and well, up till the 1950s. And I appreciate when the paper has become slightly damaged because I use this in my pieces, it gives patterns. And I don't use much colour, and this somehow, this is my colour, this is my palette. So I use these things in different ways. It gives life to the piece," she says.

Marine Lemonnier-Brennan

She has solo exhibitions in Sweden and abroad. Some of her creations are displayed in an historic paper mill in the countryside, originally built at the start of the 20th century.

Cecilia Levy is one of a few selected artists from Europe to showcase their rare crafts as part of the Best of Europe section at the Homo Faber exhibition in Venice.

"While Cecilia Levy’s art tells the stories of old books, another artist living in the Swedish countryside has decided to tell the stories of leaves. Carina Sohl’s art is sought-after by luxury brands as she creates bespoke pieces of art by embossing leather with hand-picked plants," reports euronews' Doloresz Katanich.

Another artist looks to preserve the fingerprint of nature on leather items, some of which have been created for limited edition dresses, phone cases and interior design elements.

Swedish artist Carina Sohl's handcraft has been discovered by luxury fashion brands at a fashion fair in Paris. She studied art, design and leatherwork before she created her very own type of craft by mixing organic flowers, craft and eco-friendly technology.

"I remember it was an autumn day I think, I was walking on a small trail by the sea, and I found such a beautiful leaf, it was so nice with these fine lines and details, and I thought what beauty and how could I preserve this in some ways? So I just got the idea. Maybe I could transfer the leaf onto leather material. I brought it home and made several attempts and from this first idea it has taken me several years to develop the technique."

Marine Lemonnier-Brennan

She uses a specially developed table, powered by hand. It helps her to make one-of-a-kind imprints, and she uses no chemical products.

The process only allows limited editions and imperfections make this art unique. She says she goes out to pick slightly blemished flowers with her daughter. Their next idea is to make bespoke handbags on their own.

Carina Sohl will also present her unique craft at the Homo Faber exhibition in Venice.

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