Michelangelo Foundation - Newsletter, August 2019 - View online

© Officine Panerai

Water has been an inspiration, a tool, and the source of raw materials for artisans for centuries – though humidity presents a number of challenges, altering the shape and behaviour of materials. Are you aware that Venetian silk is woven differently when the water rises? Or that a higher percentage of pure silver will keep silverware from tarnishing when it comes in contact with splashes of the liquid? Have you thought of visiting one of the last mills weaving Harris Tweed - on the Isle of Lewis ? Or a grotto full of coral sculptures in Naples? We invite you to discover new craftsmanship stories.

Emanuele Zamponi © Michelangelo Foundation


A softly shimmering metal, silver takes a great amount of heat, tools and punches – and even acid - to be shaped into jewellery and silverware. It is hammered cold, and has to be annealed to become more malleable. To be cast, it is heated until liquid. The Wiener Silber Manufactur workshop produces silverware with an exceptionally high percentages of silver, including an array of vases and water jugs. Discover the skilful soldering, hammering and polishing techniques of their Viennese artisans – and their stories - on our Youtube channel here. The channel allows you to delve into the daily life of several remarkable artisan workshops, visiting the terracotta masters of Poggi Ugo, Fundação Ricardo do Espírito Santo Silva and Bottega Ghianda's outstanding woodworkers, and the ceramics atelier of the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg.

Emanuele Zamponi © Michelangelo Foundation

Courtesy of Bevilacqua Tessuti


At the last fabric mill remaining in the historical centre of Venice, Emanuele Bevilacqua masters the mechanics of ancient looms. His family’s Tessitura in la Serenissima produces the region’s traditional soprarizzo velvet. He says it has also taught him to “accept the unexpected. Silk changes according to humidity – when the water rises during aqua alta, our looms work in their own unpredictable ways.” His atelier is filled with a labyrinth of foot-treadle floor looms, with creaking wooden beams dating back centuries, and thousands of suspended threads. Creating the relief effect of the textiles is an intricate, rare, and delicate process of warps and wefts, requiring the use of two different irons.

Courtesy of Bevilacqua Tessuti

© Officine Panerai


As one of Italy’s most eminent restorers of wooden sailboats, Guido del Carlo has been familiar with the swaying seas – and their effects on sails, ropes, decks, and sailors - since childhood. His family’s Francesco Del Carlo boatyard is specialised in the use of wood for the high seas. For the restoration of the legendary 1936 Eilean yacht, he sourced a single Alaskan spruce tree to replace the original two masts, African mahogany for the hull, and Burmese teak for the deck house. To make the wood malleable enough to achieve the necessary streamlined bends, he and his team use heat and humidity. Each wood reacts differently, and is also sanded, sealed and varnished in distinct ways. At the end of the Eilean restoration process, supported by Officine Panerai, which lasted over two years, he had the original boatyard’s dragon motif re-carved onto ketch’s hull, as an homage to the original makers.

© Officine Panerai


Ph. by Giuseppe Cicala, courtesy of Enzo Liverino


Step into an underground coral grotto to admire the centuries-old tradition of coral-sculpting. The secrets of the polishing and carving “red gold” have been handed down in hushed whispers for generations at the Liverino family business in Naples, which includes a museum. The founder, Enzo Liverino’s great-grandfather, was a coral diver. When Enzo started his own sourcing – at fairs – his many years of observing coral carvers in the family atelier helped him chose the most suitable branches: each piece is cut following its natural shape of growth.

Ph. by M. Kesseler © Michelangelo Foundation


Bespoke Harris Tweed stems from only three mills in the world. You can visit this one, on the Isle of Lewis, and witness the signature hum of the historical machinery. Before they finish the fabrics, which are handwoven by islanders across the Outer Hebrides archipelago, experienced darners at the mill find and correct the smallest of flaws. The surrounding ocean profoundly defines the identity of all the island’s makers– as well as the fabrics they pluck and weave. One of their tweeds is called Druim –a-chuain, which means Deep Blue Sea.

Ph. by Hardanger Fartøyvernsenter, courtesy of I. Undrum & S. Sjorgen - Cortesia di


Ingunn Undrum and Sarah Sjogren are the last artisans handmaking rope in Norway. At the ropeyard of the Hardanger Maritime Museum, they spin, twist, and lay natural fibres into ropes used for rigging and mooring boats. They use an ancient ropewalker machine, taking many steps each day crossing their studio to bind the fibres, including hemp, manila, linden and horse hair. Some ropes a tarred in steaming pots, to better resist water.The pair mainly make rope for rigging on traditional boats, but also for railings, lassos and decoration.

Theodora Chorafas, Flowing Form © Ioanna Nikolareizi- I&O Photography


On the island of Aegina, she creates contemporary ceramics using the blackfired bucchero technique found in ancient Greek vases, as well as glazes from the byzantine era. She dips her hands in water when shaping then thin bands of clay into light and airy sculptures. She prefers working with her hands, she says, “so that the surface of the clay is covered with my finger prints - that makes it vibrate.”


Ph. by Lundi13 © Michelangelo Foundation


This summer, the Lithuanian jewellery student Lauryna Kiskyte, a Young Ambassador at Homo Faber in 2018, explores gilding in Geneva, Switzerland. “As a side job I work as a restoration assistant, mostly on altars in churches. Gilding, like jewellery, is such a precious and precise process. I am thrilled to deepen my knowledge of this field”. She heads to the framing studio of Belén Ferrier in Geneva, and is also very excited about Switzerland’s mountains: “Lithuania is a really flat country!”.

“Gold is such a noble material” says Belén Ferrier, “and from the warmest pink to the coldest white, each nuance ages differently”. A world expert in gilding and framing, she was awarded the Prix de L’Artisanat of Geneva in 2017. Originally from Madrid, she founded her Atelier B in Geneva in 2006, after being taught the trade by masterframer André Buchs. She shares far more than her knowledge of gold pigments: “each wood has its own character, and each glue has its own recipe and story.”


Get up close to craftsmanship this month
with these forthcoming events

30 Aug - 1 Sept


CHART Art & Design Fair

Rethinking society lies at the heart of this leading Nordic art and design fair, featuring an array of exhibitions, talks, screenings and performances.

Sept 23rd


Né arte, né design, Triennale di Milano

The Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte presents “Né arte, né design”, a day of conferences on applied arts curated by Ugo La Pietra and Alberto Cavalli on 23 September 2019 at the Hall of Honour of the Triennale di Milano.

3-6 Oct


Stockholm Craft Week

For four days, Stockholm and neighboring Värmdö will be filled with crafts events, seminars and exhibitions. An event organized by Konsthantverkscentrum, Värmdö municipality and Konsthantverkarna.

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