How does an exquisite silk scarf come to be? If you ask our Milan-based artisan-in-residence, the soulful Claudia F, it begins with opening up your heart.
Claudia lives for her art, is overjoyed to be a creator of fine things, and is always looking for the opportunity to work as an artisan on natural fibres. Silk leads the way because, for Claudia, silk is a living thing. Her connection with it is almost surreal and spiritual in nature.
Its formidable qualities — both soft and feathery and yet imbued with Herculean strength — inspire Claudia to allow her own complexities to come to her art. She brushes into existence her innermost thoughts and heartfelt expressions. All done with a great deal of care and passion.
From beginning to end Claudia nurtures her scarf to be. The raw material, the blank canvas that she will transform into a silken beauty, comes from the mills in Como. The epi-centre of silk production in the world, Como has an interesting history. Here is a tidbit.
In 1400 Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan who had a residence on Lake Como had the brilliant idea of planting mulberry trees to the sheer delight of local greedy silkworms. The silk industry was born with factories popping up everywhere with production becoming increasingly refined in the cities of Como and Cernobbio.
Centuries later, around 1869, the famous silk school Paolo Carcano came to be for the purpose of training the most talented silk masters in all of Italy. Over time, silk from Lake Como gained so much popularity that, in 1972, its production exceeded that of China and Japan.
These traditions upheld in Como add to what makes Claudia’s scarves so special. Her technique is patient, contemplative and has been mastered over time. This is a creative process that starts with spreading pongee silk onto a frame. A choreography of sorts then emerges, a dance with a brush, a sponge, a roller, each one held confidently by skilled, eager hands.
She uses the humblest of tools to brush onto the silk canvas colours that depict moods and tell a narrative in “Seurat” hues — some strong, some soft, but never banal. Slowly naturally hypoallergenic water colours turn the blank canvas into a kaleidoscope of rich shades enhanced by the marbling effects of salt, and finally immortalised by steam. The nascent painted silk scarf is then washed and ironed, and once more spread on a frame to rest.
Myriam and Crisitina