This post won the award by Italy Magazine as the best blog post on an art and culture blog for 2014!
Rumbling down the road, past the emerald green pastures, dirt, and signs in Italian, I knew I was up for this adventure. The roads became tinier and tinier as we headed toward Carpegna in the Le Marche region of Italy. Le Marche is the region in east-central Italy nestled between Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. I was on a day trip from Mercatello sul Metauro, where I had been staying at the stunning Palazzo Donati in the center of the town square.
Lost Art of Print Blocking
Fascinated by Old Art Forms
Today I was going to meet an amazing artisan at work. I have long been fascinated by old art forms and handicraft skills that have been passed down from generation to generation within communities, some of which are centuries old.
Danger of Extinction
There are so many that are in danger of going extinct today due to the pressures of modern development, that I get excited when I hear of a new generation taking on an old skill. Yet, I continue to worry about the preservation of some of these skills and whether or not they will be lost through the generations. Do you remember my story about Mr. Luigi Lombardi, where, right now, no one is there to learn his ancient art skill of violin making?
Worn Cobblestone Workshop
When I step inside the worn cobblestone woodshop, it is as if I have been transported back in time. More precisely, 300 years. When I stand in front of Emanuel Francioni, hear his story and admire his intricate work, I am speechless, and can barely believe someone can actually have such an amazing skill, and yet astonished in the way in which he has perfected this ancient art form.
Today I lucky enough to meet Emanuel Francioni – he creates woodblock prints, like his grandfather before him in their timeworn wood shop called Antica Stamperia in Carpengna, Italy. The workshop has always had the same family name.
“Woodblock prints?” You ask, “what is that?”
An Ancient Italian Tradition
It is an ancient Italian tradition of using hand-carved pear or walnut woodblocks to create the “stamp” that makes the patterns upon linen fabric, which is placed there using a simple dye of vinegar and rusted iron. They create these hand-printed fabrics using traditional Italian designs. These hand-engraved wooden molds are made according to an old tradition of block printing.
The Boiling Process
The recipe to create the rust color has been passed to Emanuel by his Grandfather for 7 generations. The rust color is made of wine vinegar, wheat flour, and iron rust from old barrels and pieces of metal found strewn about in the yard. The boiling process is one of the key elements of the Antica Stamperia studio, which fixes the color onto the fabric.
Fixing the Fabric
Use of Natural Colors
Antica Stamperia Shop
Old Woodshop Creates Quality Work
It is as if the heritage of the people still live in the fabrics printed in rust.
Tuscany Region, Italy:
Lazio Region, Italy:
Campagna Region, Italy:
Emilia-Romagna Region, Italy:
Veneto Region, Italy:
Puglia Region, Italy:
Liguria Region, Italy:
Le Marche Region, Italy:
Calabria Region, Italy:
Disclosure: I was invited on this tour by Luisa Donati of Pallazzo Donati. If you would like to take this tour along with other tours offered by Luisa, you can contact her on the above website.