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Some of the prettiest papers that I use for my paper craft work are Florentine decorative gift wrap papers, rich in complex patterns and vivid color combinations. Several paper manufacturers specialize in these sheets, all located in Florence, Italy. Each paper house creates designs that are based on Italian Renaissance patterns and motifs, embellished and printed in specific ways, in addition to modern designs. Here are three favorite papermakers.

Rossi has been producing decorative papers since 1931. They purchased La Dordoni, a museum in Milan that houses over 6,000 decorative papers, many of which date to the Renaissance, and use this collection as a source for reproductions as well as inspiration for new designs.

Rossi describes their printing process as a mix between modern and traditional, with proprietary methods that give a “peculiar brilliancy” to their colors. They are brilliant, and offer some of the most striking examples of classic Renaissance patterns.

Bertini was founded in 1901 and is still operated by its descendants. Their papers can include powdered gold and are printed on a special offset press that prints ten colors plus gold. Until 1950, the papers were printed by hand lithography. Some Bertini papers have a lovely whimsical quality.

Kartos was established in the 1950s and is known for its gold foiled papers and rich stationery sets. They continue to use traditional production techniques such as copperplate engraving on some of their products, many of which are embellished with powdered gold.

Once we move away from classic Renaissance designs, the parameters are wide open. Here’s a mix of Rossi papers inspired by their museum collection, from the elegant to the odd. Robots, anyone?

There are hundred of designs; the variety is endless. And fun! I like to use the classic Renaissance papers as accents in my paper crafting. They’re great for a pop of color, a crisp pattern or that touch of gold. There’s a strip of Florentine paper wrapped around the bottom rim of this Audubon Elk pencil cup.

This cup features a funky paper, a Rossi sheet of sea life.

If you’re interested in buying papers, one of the best sources for Italian decorative papers is the FineArtStore.