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'Carta lana' is available in most large cities, US, GB, Europe

#1 2014-08-22 22:50:36

CatPerson
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From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1308

'Carta lana' is available in most large cities, US, GB, Europe

Since I first heard of ‘carta lana’ (translation: ‘wool paper’), the premier material for professional mask making, I’ve spent many hours online trying to find it in the U.S, to no avail.  I’ve had small samples of thin felt sent from several companies, including one from Germany that advertises as the best, but none were remotely similar.

Poster “Dwinitt  (U.S.) found it at a single source (Squires Kitchen online) in Britain, but for a rather small amount, the shipping costs were outrageous.  He ended up flying to Florence, Italy, and buying enough to pack a suitcase.

He generously sent me two pieces, one of each weight.  Thin, soft, very supple and flexible, with a slight sheen.  Yet….. it was oddly familiar, as from a memory from long ago.  Something I had seen and felt before.  And that memory annoyed me; if I had seen and felt it before, it should be available here in the U.S.

And then one day last week, an online word in an ad caught my eye and it all fell into place.

MOLESKIN.  ‘Carta lana’ is COTTON MOLESKIN fabric to the rest of the world.

Just to make sure before I posted here, I ordered some online.  It just arrived.  I was correct:  carta lana and cotton moleskin are the same thing.

Like many searchers for carta lana that I’ve read about online, I was blinded by the direct translation, “wool paper .  Well, it isn’t wool and it isn’t paper and it isn’t any kind of felt. 

In America, we call a loose mass of cotton fiber just ‘cotton’; in Britain, it’s called ‘cotton wool’.  I would bet money that Italy’s ‘carta lana’, which I translated directly to ‘wool paper’ REALLY translates to ‘cotton’ and a thin ‘sheet’ as in paper-thin:  a thin sheet of cotton fabric.  And that’s what it is.

It’s not in every fabric shop (sort of a specialty item) but at least one shop in every major city should have it, and if they don’t, you can order it online.  In the U.S.  In Britain.  In Europe.  Probably somewhere in nearly every country in the world. 

Look specifically for ‘COTTON MOLESKIN FABRIC’ (not just moleskin).  If that doesn’t translate directly in your home language, look via the most-common brand: ‘Chamonix cotton’ by the Robert Kaufmann Fabric Company.  It Must Be 100% Cotton.  There are similar names in polyester and poly blends, but that is plastic, which won’t do.  Less expensive brands might also be called ‘cotton suede fabric’, but again, it must be 100% cotton, and not too stiff.

In the U.S., the price for one yard (but 57  wide) seems to run $19-23 (57 x36  is really 1.5 yards).  If it costs about $6, it’s not likely cotton.

Sue

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#2 2014-08-25 09:45:37

Jackie
Moderator
From: England
Registered: 2002-09-14
Posts: 389
Website

Re: 'Carta lana' is available in most large cities, US, GB, Europe

You really are amazing Sue! Not only are you already a walking encyclopaedia, but if you don't know the answer you don't stop in your quest to get the knowledge.


Jackie

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#3 2014-08-25 18:17:46

CatPerson
Moderator
From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1308

Re: 'Carta lana' is available in most large cities, US, GB, Europe

Thank you, Jackie!

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#4 2014-11-04 06:14:43

maverick12555
Member
From: Florida, USA
Registered: 2014-11-04
Posts: 4

Re: 'Carta lana' is available in most large cities, US, GB, Europe

That is really fascinating, Sue! I love historical information about papier mache! I will have to check out this awesome 'cotton moleskin fabric'!

Since you seem to have a great knowledge base on papier mache, I am trying to find similar papers in the US as those used in Europe to make large papier mache big heads or giants. One appears to be a recycled gray chipboard like cardboard, the other two are general red and blue thicker papers. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,


- Jeff
aka maverick12555

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#5 2014-11-04 20:05:20

CatPerson
Moderator
From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1308

Re: 'Carta lana' is available in most large cities, US, GB, Europe

I'm afraid that I don't know much about those large heads, only that they are made in the Cittadella del Carnevale production center in Viareggio, Italy.

They were created originally by the carpenters and ironsmiths at the local dockyards, who built huge, but very light, structures of wood, jute and plaster. In 1925, some of the builders developed the technique of using 'carta a calco' (a form of papier-mâché) to enable even bigger and more intricate designs.

Huge models of the characters and structures are made from clay, wood and wire; then plaster is applied to the surface.  Then papier-mâché is applied, and the materials inside are then removed so all that remains is a very light yet sturdy, hollow paper structure.

For more info, see "Carnival Magic" at http://www.theflorentine.net/articles/a … tocId=7487

Most of the articles on 'carta a calco' are in Italian, but you can use Google's translation option to read them. 

Sue

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