The name of the workshop comes from the Latin Incunabula, a collective name for all objects pertaining to a cuna, a cradle: delicate linens and long strips of cloth, once used to wrap an infant with. Thus, by extension, it came to mean the cradle itself, the texts of a culture’s origins.
As soon as one enters this little workshop one feels transported in the antique, silent atmosphere of an old convent: hand-torqued presses, paper cutters, paper drying frames…everything here harkens back to the bygone time of old workshops. The ceiling is covered with sheets of copper, giving the ambiance a warm, special colour. We are here in a very personal, unique domain: Milica N. Popović’s own.
Milica was born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1967. There, in July of 1993, she obtained a degree in Technology from Belgrade University, with equivalency at the University of Milan. The same year she leaves her native Belgrade for Italy, where, in Florence, at the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, she moves her first steps as a student in the world of art restoration. It was an intense period… she was working as a volunteer, but this gave its fruits: she will later become a teacher of restoration of paper documents and parchments right there, at the BNC of Florence and in later years at the Accademia di Brera, in Milan. These experiences help her to discover her love for reclaiming the artistic and humanistic heritage of the Renaissance.
In April of 1998, she obtains recognition as a restorer of ancient texts from the Institute of Book Pathology of Rome. In 1999 she opens her own workshop: L’Incunabolo, at number 29 of Piazzale Donatello at the Bottega degli Artisti, the historical building intended to house artist’s workshops since its origin. Here Milica can give full expression to her love for ancient texts, manuscripts and incunabula, codices and old and rare books in print, thus giving new life to things otherwise condemned to decay and vanish.
Soon she will get the prestigious job of restoring thirty codices compiled by Galileo Galilei and other scientists working in Florence at the Medicean Accademia del Cimento.
In the course of these years of dedicated activity, she has had the rare opportunity to come upon old loose sheets, not connectable to any collector’s work, yet authentic witnesses of eras gone by. She collected these pieces lovingly, saving them from oblivion and decay.
Utilising this historical material, she has now begun to teach short workshops on the art of book restoration. Within a brief course, someone with love and interest can learn not only the rudiments of this fascinating activity, but can also craft some small jewels of bookmaking, further made precious by personally created details.
In the span of a few hours anyone can make and take home something truly beautiful, using some authentic antique scripted sheets of paper, thus giving them new life. Just a few examples: create a cover for a beloved book, or make a unique personal diary, or restore a single antique paper and make it one’s own little personal treasure. And this, quite in keeping with a time-honoured activity, because old written sheets of paper used to be bound together to make a stouter sheet, suitable for a simple cover for newly written works, at a time when paper was a much more valuable commodity than today, something precious, not to be tossed lightly away. Having created such a unique piece, one can then bring back home, in one’s contemporary ambience, one object that gives further value to one’s visit to the historical city of Firenze, or Florentia, as it was once called, something which can rightly belong among cherished family heirlooms.
30 Codes belonging to the Galileo Galilei Fund.
434 printed volumes.
55 Scrolls belonging to the Bardi di Vernio archive, Poppiano Castle, Guicciardini family, Florence.
Contract professor at the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. For the teaching of “Restoration of book and archival materials”.
CODE CALLED “AGNUS DEI”, parchment code of c. 142, Ecclesiastical Memories, privileges relating to the Secular Opera and to the church of Santa Maria del Fiore.
Illuminated codex N ° 25, Inv. 1958: N. 25
Antiphonary containing the responses and antiphons for the Proper of saints from the feast of Saint Agatha, Saints Peter and Paul, the Annunciation and the name of the Virgin, up to the feast of Saint Zanobi.
‘Istituto degli Innocenti, 6 floor plans, by Gaetano Coli and architect Pasqui from 1838, the State Archives of Florence, 54 archival units (Year 1354-1880), belonging to the “Camaldoli Appendix” Fund.
10 volumes “ACTA SANCTORUM”, Year 1643-1758
FIORENTINE METROPOLITAN CAPITAL ARCHIVE,
2 FILZE, Lives of our canons, Volume I and III, year 1500-1600.