I was asked to exhibit in the grande salle at a fourteenth-century château, in a room 100 by 30 feet, with 30-foot ceilings. While doing my research on the site, I watched the mayor of the village open the château for the tourist season by unfurling a fifteen-foot banner from the clocktower bearing a coat of arms. As it cascaded down the stone wall, I thought about the feudal system, how it was really just a house of cards. I turned to a French friend to ask the translation of “house of cards.” “Château de Cartes,” was the response. It was all I needed.
I paced the grande salle and found that nine rows with six 12-foot banners or 54 with two jokers— the perfect château de cartes. I made the paper by hand, casting watermarks for a complete deck of cards using molds to restrain the flow of the fibers, leaving faint traces of clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds. I would deal myself five cards a day (all I could make) and hope at least two would make it through the production. It took months to cook the kozo, bark, beat it into soluble paper fibers, then form them into fifty-four banners..
I put a sign at the entry to the salle: “Please touch.”
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