John C. Bielik is an itinerant artisan, instructor, and living history interpreter who combines his fine arts degrees, art experience, and interest in history to help preserve the traditional trades of papermaking, bookbinding, and paper marbling.
Introduced to marbled paper through old books in the St. Louis Public Library as a boy, Bielik sought an alternative to modern marbled papers for his bookbinding while in college. He found it in the alum-free paper made by Curtis E. Finley, who taught Bielik many of the techniques of traditional marbling.
Bielik learned to make his own paints and continues to develop a base of knowledge of paper marbling chemistry, techniques, and materials. He considers himself a preservationist of alum-free paper marbling with the goal to preserve the craft as it appeared before the abundant use of wood fiber in the papermaking industry of Europe and America.
He shares traditional marbling methods through classes and demonstrations at historic sites throughout New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and the South as far west as Texas. In the October 2016 issue of Early American Life he shows how craftsmen marbled paper—and how you can, too. His products are featured in the Shops of Colonial Williamsburg, the Atheneum at Historic New Harmony, Indiana, and other retail venues.
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