Napkin
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The art of folding napkins

Joan Sallas is a Catalan master of the art of napkin folding, a European tradition with its roots stretching back to the early 1500s.

Designed to impress guests, the intricately folded linen displays graced the tables of courts across Europe but the practice disappeared at the end of the 18th century.

No written instructions exist so Salas works from illustrations, interpreting details and shadows in an attempt to recreate the originals.

His latest work, a 1.5 metre table fountain flanked by a lion and a griffin took over a year and five revisions before the final version, which then took a month and a half to fold.

Sallas is keen to ensure the knowledge survives beyond his own lifetime and has amassed a collection of almost 3,000 documents on napkin and paper folding.

BBC News met Sallas at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, UK, which is hosting an exhibition of his work.

Video journalist: Neil Meads

Real Time is a series for the BBC News website in which ordinary people tell their own extraordinary stories.

  • 09 Oct 2013
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