Using time honoured jewellery making methods

On the trail of the artisan-maker

“He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsperson. He who works with his hands, and his head and his heart is an artist”. St Francis of Assisi

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St Francis of Assisi in Ecstacy by Caravaggio 1595

Such wise and tender words, uttered by a much-loved saint, both inspire and define the essence of the artisan. These words also define the essence of theitaliancollection.com, which seeks to represent those in Italian “moda” who aspire to St. Francis’ characterisation.

The Milan-based Association of Artisans defines them less philosophically and more practically as: “A person who has an activity (or artistic endeavour) that produces (or repairs) goods made by a select group who do not make multiples of an item, or a series, and who tool, by hand, in a workshop.”

Unione Artigiani

Unione Artigiani

Moreover, master and apprentice artisans frequently work together on projects, with experts ensuring that a workshop maintains its quality. No short cuts allowed!

Before he passed in June 2015, Pierluigi Ghianda, known as “the poet of wood,” spoke of the importance of quality and the crucial role masters play in transferring their legacy. He shared that “quality plays a dominant role in the life of the craftsperson; as does the time-consuming task of finding the right material.” He goes on to say, “a meticulous attention to form and detail, and a strong leaning towards a flowing and clean process, belong only to those who from a very young age have worked in their field, and who have along the way acquired centuries-old knowledge passed down through the generations.”

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Pierluigi Ghianda, Poet of Wood

Indeed, there are two types of makers – the crafts’ people who labour in large industrial settings producing an endless stream of sameness; and the artisans, guardians of age-old methods, creating masterpieces and heirlooms to covet forever and a day.

Hand-tooled leather

Hand-tooled leather

Artisans who have a vocational calling rarely succumb to industrial levels of production; rather their hubs are manned by a few skilled in one field or another. Our own Lucilla Giovanninetti, for instance, works alone in her studio in Milan. There she doodles on paper, designing and making prototypes of her artistic leanings manifesting in beguiling jewellery.

Using time honoured jewellery making methods

Using time honoured jewellery making methods

In Piedmont, not far from the Lombardy border, Colette della Vedova (endowed with a keen eye) works alongside her spouse Nanni making what are undisputedly gorgeous rain warriors. Nanni’s skilled hands make the infrastructure for each umbrella and also sculpt precious wooden handles out of Malacca or other pliable materials.

Back in Milan, Maria Vittoria Albani, creative genius of Ornella Bijoux, who learned the trade from her mother, works tirelessly holding court in a space filled to the brim with adornment revered in the hallowed galleries of quite a few museums, most recently at Palazzo Reale in her hometown.

Ornella Bijoux at Palazzo Reale, Milan

Ornella Bijoux at Palazzo Reale, Milan

All of their hands, minds and hearts are inextricably linked to the creation of their artworks. Their artistic expressions, be they soulful charming bijoux, or umbrellas that ooze a lightness of being, collectively demonstrate an immense love of art and a passion for life itself.

Umbrella Museum, Gignese, Piedmont

Umbrella Museum, Gignese, Piedmont

The Co-founders of www.theitaliancollection.com feel enormous pride in being the gateway to a treasure-trove of unsung “heroes”, traditional artisans, and old-school craftspeople whose masterpieces will endure swings in taste and the current trend of mass consumption.

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Pongee Silk Scarf hand painted by Claudia F

 

So, if at any time you seek refuge from the proliferation of fabricated values or items in daily modern life, theitaliancollection.com will virtually transport to the seductive charm of Italy’s no-label, sartorial nooks and crannies.

Myriam and Cristina

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