The Bottega dei Gozzi of Modena, artistic bookbinding since 1902
It’s called “Bottega dei Gozzi” and it’s been 119 years since Dante Gozzi opened it in via Toscanini 241. He was followed by two more generations of Gozzi before seeing Pierangelo Faggioli, the first successor outside the family and teacher of the current owners: Federico Montaguti and Davide Montorsi, 74 years old in two, take over. The first is a graduate in Cultural Heritage who from shop boy has become a partner of his master, the second a screen printer who after having met the bottega he brought in Medulla, his screen printing laboratory.
“Me and Federico we met in Nonantola at the inauguration of Medulla – recalls Davide – some time later I came to the shop to bind some silk-screened books and let’s say that I have never come out of them ”. Their company was born about six years ago. Since then the intent has always been clear: to maintain a sense of strong craftsmanship but contextualized today. In short, giving a modern touch to the past they have inherited. Today, within the workshop, 70% of the work is absorbed by the bookbinding of facsimiles, or rather the extremely faithful reproduction of unique codes preserved in any library in the world. “We get the pages already printed – explains Federico – we fold them, we combine them into files, then we take care of the hand sewing and the capitellation of the book, which is then cured, and finally we create the cover, usually in vegetable tanned leather. or in velvet, and we decorate it ». “The fundamental point of the facsimilar binding is that it gives life to an armored volume, inaccessible to the public – underlines Davide – by reproducing it for a large number of copies, usually from 300 to 600, it is put back into circulation and in this way fans can own one. In the case of facsimiles, the decoration of the gold skin is done with hot shear using zinc clichés, which act as matrices. When we talk about a printing of 300 copies, it is unthinkable to do it by hand for each book, while when we deal with fine bindery everything is done by hand using punches. We have more than a thousand of them ».
In Bottega dei Gozzi, next to the facsimilar bookbinding, there are also other craft activities that see the two young partners share the tasks: Davide deals with screen printing, Federico with book restoration. «Restoring ancient books is a bit like magic – says Federico – because you give new life to an object, an artifact, which by now would no longer have it. When our teacher was a student, 80% of the restoration work was commissioned by libraries while today, since that world is blocked, we work mostly for antique dealers and for private individuals in general ».
Instead, it is Davide who leads us into the world of screen printing, which has always fascinated him. «You can find previews of screen printing starting from Babylonians, but in reality what we know today is a young printing technique born for serial reproduction – he specifies – the peculiarity of Medulla is that it has rejected seriality as a printing element and everything that can facilitate a reproduction speed at the expense of attention to work and the environment. We have returned to an archaic, almost medieval production of colors, for which we use pigments extracted from plants, earths or minerals. Let’s say that between the pigment and the creation of the color for screen printing there is a process and that is what we came up with. We have our own creative line but we also work with Modenese and Italian artists, recently our most heartfelt collaboration has been that with the Cesare Leonardi Architect Archive and the Antonio Verolino Gallery ».
A shop, theirs, which as Federico points out has never taken a single step towards industrialization while remaining punctually in step with the times. Like? Netflix knows this well, which recently hired her to make the scene books for a new TV series, all to be shot.
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