The next stop on my Swiss adventure was a day trip to Basel. My friend had suggested it because it is known to have a great art scene. The day was rainy and damp. And I went on a Monday so perhaps not the best time to check out the “scene”. I stopped at tourist information place and grabbed some pamphlets and started to wander. On a side note, by this point my crazy awesome and very pricey Frye boots are starting to kill my feet (very early on in the day). (They were supposed to stretch out. So far so such luck. Errr.) I stop in at the couple of small galleries and museums. I took some pictures between the raindrops…
An interesting window display.
A set of funky fountains.
If you are rusty on your Swiss German, it is the Basel Paper Mill – The Swiss Museum of Paper, Writing and Printing.
This was by far the highlight of Basel. It was super informative, it was hands-on and in a really cool old historic building.
Here is the first ever paper machine.
One of the many old printing presses that were housed in the museum.
And then there was this guy, just hangin’ out with molten metal, throwing it in to the old fashioned typeset molds and making some letters.
When I was there he was working on some A’s.
But I’m sure he would get o other letters so he could do things like this.
They even had some history on toilet paper. Little tidbit for you….apparently the Swiss and the Germans are “folders” and use less TP, but because of that their toilet paper is thinker and rougher. The rest of the world tend to be “ballers” requiring more TP, but it then can be thinner and softer.
But by far the BEST part was learning about the paper making process. Did you know that paper in Switzerland was originally made from rags that were left to decompose? Maybe because I’m from Canada the land of trees o’plenty, but I just always assumed paper had always come from trees/plants of some sort. Not the case.
The process was basically this: you take the rags, let them decompose till they are more malable, you grind them up ad water till you have a paste type material, then add more water, put it in a vat with the rag particulate floating in it, put your screen into the mixture, pull it up, dump out excess water, use a vice to squeeze out more water and then hang the sheets to dry!
And guess what? I got to make my own paper! Yes sir, I made two whole sheets of paper the old fashioned way. How fun it that? Check out my beauties…
Have you ever seen more lovely paper? I didn’t think so.
Anyhoo, I know I’m going on about it but it really was a highlight of Basel. If you are ever there I highly recommend you stop in.