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While a rarity on modern shelves, marbled book covers span both the globe and the centuries, with the craft found in East Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and dating back to roughly 1100 CE. This short documentary from 1970 highlights marbling as practised by William Chapman for the now-defunct Douglas Cockerell & Son Bindery in the English village of Grantchester near Cambridge. The film captures Chapman as he layers watercolours onto a base of carrageenan (or seaweed). He then forms intricate designs by stirring the pigments with a comb – in a process that’s perhaps even more aesthetically pleasing than the final product itself – before finally applying them to the paper. With each of Chapman’s designs crafted by hand and subject to artisanal imperfections, every cover is a true original.
Director: K V Whitbread
Why one man spent 15 years in ‘self-imposed’ island exile
Nature and landscape
Take a serene hike through an ancient forest, inspired by a Miyazaki masterpiece
Design and fashion
The mundane becomes mesmerising in this deep dive into segmented displays
A song of ice, fire and jelly – exploring the physics and history of the trumpet
Tour the European architecture that dreamed of a wondrous, fictitious China
Trek alongside spiritual pilgrims on a treacherous journey across Pakistan
Thinkers and theories
Photographs offer a colonialist window to the past – one that must be challenged
Animals and humans
An artist and ants collaborate on an exhibit of ‘tiny Abstract Expressionist paintings’
How a curious question about colouring maps changed mathematics forever