A Japanese Treasure

Hello again

This post has a lovely story.

Keiko’s Obi

One of our members Irene Burton has a treasured Japanese friend Keiko. Last September Irene received a surprise gift from Keiko – a Japanese obi. This is a long wide sash which is traditionally used to secure a kimono around the waist.

Here’s what Keiko wrote about this particular obi:

” This obi was made about 100 years ago. This is what my grandmother used, then my mother used, after that I used (only once). The 30 years, this was sleeping in the chest……………Please refer to the old Japan embroidery. This obi with floral patterns, an iris, a pink, a bellflower, a paulownia flower, a mallow and a ripple of sea…..”

Then Stewart Bath took on the challenge of photographing it. He had great difficulty getting a photo of the obi as a whole because it’s so long that it requires special equipment to fold and hang – something he hasn’t got. But he had a go and here it is:

Keikos Obi

And here’s a close look at the embroidery that Keiko mentions:

Detail 1 of Keikos Obi

Detail 2 of Keikos Obi

Detail 3 of Keikos Obi

Detail 4 of Keikos Obi

Detail 6 of Keikos ObiDetail 7 of Keikos Obi Detail 8 of Keikos Obi

Detail 9 from Keikos Obi

Detail 10 from Keikos Obi

Detail 11 of Keikos Obi

Detail 12 from Keikos Obi

Did you enjoy looking at the obi?

Well here’s another treat…..

Japanese Embroidery from Italia Invita 2013

At Italia Invita there was a stand displaying some stunning Japanese embroidery. I took a couple of photos and thought you might also like to see them:

Japanese Embroidery from Italia Invita

Japanese Embroidery from Italia Invita 3

Japanese Embroidery from Italia Invita 2

Irene – thank you for sharing with us the story of your friendship with Keiko and her awesome gift of the obi. It’s very special.

Keikosan – arigato (thanks) and a deep bow.




Italia Invita 8: Umbrian Embroidery

The first signs of autumn have arrived here in Canberra over the last week. There’s a chill in the morning air, the light’s changing from the brilliance of summer to the softer golden tones of autumn and the Gang Gang Cockatoos with their ‘squeaky door’ calls are everywhere – back from their summer sojourn in the mountains.

120px-Gang-Gang-male444                                                (Gang Gang photo from Wikipedia)

Italia Invita

There’s been so much creativity going on in the Guild that it’s been hard to find the time and opportunity to get back to writing about Italia Invita. This is the first of two new posts and then the series will be complete. This post needs to come with a warning – there’s a lot going on in Umbrian textiles so this post is a bit epic to say the least……..


As mentioned in earlier posts the region of Umbria in central Italy has a very rich textile history, especially the province of Perugia. We’ve already covered some of the textiles from this region: Orvieto lace, Punto Umbro and Ars Panicalensis. Here are some others:

Perugia & Punto Perugino

Perugia is a beautiful medieval city in Umbria. It has a famous chocolate festival and wonderful textiles – what’s not to love?! As the name suggests Punto Perugino is associated with Perugia and the history of this embroidery technique is interwoven with that of the city’s literature, art and agriculture.

It’s a counted satin stitch technique on even weave fabric. Designs can also use cutwork and eyelets, bullion knots and curl stitch. The patterns are geometric and larger scale designs can also have strong figurative elements such as birds, animals, flowers and mythological creatures. These come from the medieval art and literature of Perugia.

Most of the research on Punto Perugino has been done by the Punti d’Arte Workshop in the town of Pieve near Perugia. They had a stand at Italia Invita with wonderful examples of this embroidery style. As they’re in the process of writing a book they couldn’t allow photos but I did buy a couple of items and I can share these with you. Here’s a tiny needlebook with a simple but very characteristic motif in satin stitch:

Perugino Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 and a closer look: Red Perugino detail on Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 Now for a more elaborate square:

Perugino Square from Italia Invita 2013 And a closer look at a corner:

Corner Detail on Perugino Square from Italia Invita 2013

When I showed this piece to Guild members Meryl Fellows immediately spotted that the needlelace inserts are in fact the sunflower motif also used in Hardanger:

Sunflower Motif on Perugino Square from Italia Invita

Meryl is an amazingly talented stitcher across a whole range of embroidery styles and she’s been showing me how to do this motif. We just have to find some time to photograph the process and put it in the Tips and Techniques section.

As you can see from the square above the most characteristic pieces of this style of embroidery are done in a golden yellow coloured thread and materials. This dyeing tradition comes from the saffron growing industry around Perugia and the fibres are dyed using very old local recipes. Other traditional colours used are rust, red, light brown and blue. Here’s some dyed thread I bought from the Punti d’Arte stand at Italia Invita:

Saffron Dyed Thread from Italia Invita 2013

Until recently there wasn’t much detail known about the history of Perugino but then a conversation between researchers from the Punti d’Arte Workshop and a nun at the local convent of the Poor Clares led to the discovery of some historic pieces preserved by the nuns. These take the provenance of the technique back to at least the end of the 18th century.

In the Australian context I’d read some references to Punto Perugino having its origins in Sardinia but when I researched all the Italian material I couldn’t find any reference to Sardinia. This left me puzzled so I asked the representatives from the Punti d’Arte Workshop whether there was any connection between Perugino and Sardinia. They confirmed that there is no connection between this technique and Sardinia.

At the moment there’s only one book available on Perugino and this is Silvana Fontanelli’s Il Piacere del Ricamo:

Perugino book by Silvana Fontanelli It’s in Italian but the diagrams and instructions are excellent and easy to follow.

Punto Deruta

The town of Deruta in Umbria is famous for its ceramics and two lovely styles of embroidery developed there. These have medieval roots in the 13th century but like so many other Italian textiles faded and were then revitalised in the early 20th century as part of a more general arts and crafts movement.

The Deruta embroidery schools were started by nuns and two local sisters Aurelia and Luce Corcioni and their promotional efforts saw the embroideries exported worldwide. The Accademia Punto Deruta had a very popular stand at Italia Invita that showcased both embroidery techniques:

Accademia Punto Deruta Stall at Italia Invita 2013

The first style features the coloured Deruta embroideries stitched on a medium weight Umbrian linen with embroidery floss. These are typically homewares and the designs are based on a particular ceramic and are usually presented together with the ceramic. Here’s a wonderful example from Italia Invita:

Accademia Punto Deruta Ceramic Bowl and Wallhanging from Italia Invita and a closer look:

Accademia Punto Deruta 2 at Italia Invita 2013

Another characteristic of this Deruta style is the use of tassels that include a ceramic bead called a fuserole. You can see some colourful examples of these beads here on the Italian Needlework site.

The other type of Deruta embroidery is very different. It’s called Punto Deruta and is a drawn thread technique usually done on Buratto – a fine open weave netting. Here are some examples from the Accademia Punto Deruta stand:

Accademia Punto Deruta at Italia Invita 2013 Punto Deruta Wallhangings at Italia Invita 2013 This swirly tree of life really caught my eye:

Accademia Punto Deruta 3 at Italia Invita 2013 Accademia Punto Deruta 4 at Italia Invita 2013

This delicate embroidery technique deserves to be better known…..what do you think?

 Punto Assisi

Assisi work is one of the best known Italian embroidery techniques. The Accademia Punto Assisi had a large stand at Italia Invita packed with exquisite work both in the traditional Assisi counted technique and in the Punto Madama or Caterina di Medici technique – more about the latter in the next Italia Invita post.

Here’s some eye candy for you:

Accademia Punto Assisi at Italia Invita 2013 Accademia Punto Assisi 2 at Italia Invita 2013 Accademia Punto Assisi 3 from Italia Invita 2013

You can get more information on the Associazione Punto Assisi here – they have an extensive classes program.

Tuoro di Trasimeno

This is a picturesque town about 25 km NW of Perugia on the northern shore of Lake Trasimeno. It has an embroidery and lace school run by the Associazione Culturale Femminile P.Es.Co who were also at Italia Invita.

Irish Crochet Lace

The lace style that has flourished in this area is Irish Crochet Lace. It was introduced here in the early 20th century by Elena Guglielmi, the daughter of the Marchese Giacinto. She thought it was a particularly appropriate technique for the daughters of the local fishermen who were already highly skilled at weaving fishing nets.

The school she started was very active until the 1930s when it closed. There was then a break until the 1960s and 70s when the embroidery and lace traditions were revived. Here are some photos of the Associazione Culturale Femminile P.Es.Co’s stand at Italia Invita:

Tuoro sul Trasimeno at Italia Invita 2013 Tuoro sul Trasimeno 2 at Italia Invita 2013 The Association has published a book on Irish crochet lace:

libro1 and you can purchase it from their website here

Punto Umbro

The embroidery style they specialise in is Punto Umbro Antico or Punto Umbro. I’ve already written about this style in Italia Invita 5. The Trasimeno Association have also published a book on this technique:

libro2 which you can buy here.

While at Italia Invita I bought a needlebook in the Punto Umbro technique from Giusy Federici and it has now been photographed. Here are some photos:

Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 Close up of Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013 Corner Detail of Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013

Here’s a fine detail of the Puncetto needlace edging:

Puncetto Detail on Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita

and a close-up of the punto ricciolino on the left of the photo:

Punto Ricciolino on Punto Umbro Needlecase from Italia Invita

I bought a number of needlebooks in different styles in Italy and what fascinates me is that it’s this one in Punto Umbro that everyone responds to and wants to keep. They love the richness of the surface stitches and the tactile quality they give to the piece.

Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop in Perugia 

There are two other wonderful embroidery and textile experiences in Perugia.

One is the Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop (Museo-Laboratorio di Tessitura a Mano Giudetta Brozzetti) in the city itself. It’s located in the deconsecrated Church of San Francesco delle Donne at Via Tiberio Berardi 5/6, Perugia. This is one of the oldest Franciscan churches in Italy and dates from 1212. This workshop specialises in handwoven textiles and their work is stunning. They also offer courses in weaving, embroidery and lace making.

This Workshop was founded by Giudetta Brozzetti in 1921. She researched and collected local medieval and Renaissance designs and then got local women to weave them into products for homes and churches. There’s important women’s history here too because she allowed women to work from home so that they could earn a living while caring for their families.

The Workshop is currently run by Marta Cucchia – the fourth generation of the family. She was at Italia Invita:

Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop at Italia Invita 2013 Giudetta Brozzetti Workshop 2 at Italia Invita 2013

You can get more information on their website and Facebook page.

Hand Embroidery and Weaving Exhibition in Valtopina 

The other wonderful textile experience is the above exhibition (Mostra del Ricamo e del Tessile di Valtopina) at Valtopina in the province of Perugia. This town is located about 47 km from Perugia and the show usually takes place over 3 days at the end of August – beginning of September. What’s great about this Exhibition is that it includes classes and attracts some of the best teachers from all over Italy.

Here’s some work that the Valtopina group were showing at Italia Invita:

ABC of Valtopina School at Italia Invita 2013

The dates for 2014 aren’t yet on their website or Facebook page but if you’re interested just keep an eye out here. The only information I’ve been able to find out is that the Canadian quilter and textile artist Sandra Redford will be co-curating an exhibit with Joe Lewis at Valtopina 2014.

Punto Antico

Just to let you know I’ve added some photos of a needlebook with an Aemelia Ars needlelace insert to the Italia Invita 4 post.

Bye for now



Italia Invita 5: Punto Umbro & Puncetto Needlelace

Somehow I blinked and a whole week has gone! It’s been a busy week with school holiday classes and getting ready for Young Stitchers tomorrow but more about that in the next post.

In this post I’m going to focus on Punto Umbro embroidery and Puncetto Needlelace.

Italia Invita was held in Parma which is in central Italy in the region of Reggio Emilia.The Region of Umbria is also in Central Italy and this meant that quite a number of Umbrian Associations and embroidery schools were represented, mostly from the province of Perugia. Most people go to Perugia (the city) for its chocolate festival but for stitchers it has the bonus of an incredibly rich textile history – Punto Umbro is just one facet.

Punto Umbro – History

Punto Umbro means Umbrian stitch. This technique was developed at the turn of the last century by an American woman Romeyne Robert who married an Italian nobleman, the Marquis Ruggero Ranieri di Sorbello. They married in 1902 and went to live at the Palazzo Sorbello in Perugia. This Palazzo is now a museum and includes some exquisite examples of Punto Umbro embroidery which you can see here.

Romeyne Robert established an embroidery school on one of their estates at Villa Pischiello near Lake Trasimeno. The woman she chose to lead the school was a talented needlewoman from Florence called Carolina Amari. These two women made a great team and the school ran very successfully until 1934.

The Punto Umbro technique developed from their study of antique Arab embroideries in the collection of the Countess Edith Bronson Rucellai of Florence. They gave a new lease of life to arabic stitches that had been used in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese embroidery.

Punto Avorio

One of the most important was Punto Avorio (Ivory Stitch) which is one of the oldest needlelace stitches brought to Italy by the Arabs. It’s also found in Puncetto needlelace which we’ll talk about a bit later.

The name of this stitch is said to come from the designs and motifs on the ivory grates in the walls of the harems.

In Punto Umbro it’s used both as a surface stitch and a needlelace stitch.

You can see the surface version in this detail from a work on show at Giusy Federici’s stand at Italia Invita – it’s used in the outline of the heart:

Punto Umbro Hearts Italia Invita

The other characteristic  stitch that you can see here is punto ricciolino (little curl stitch) which is used on the curlicues in the flowers and leaves. It’s an inverse version of Palestrina stitch. If you’d like a closer look just click on the photo to enlarge it.

In the next photo you can see the use of Punto Avorio needlelace in the insertions on the tablecloth:

Lamp shade Punto Umbro Italia Invita

Characteristics of Punto Umbro Embroidery

Just as a technique like Crewel is defined by the use of certain fabrics, threads, designs and stitches (i.e. linen/twill, wool threads, Jacobean designs and certain stitches) the same is true of most Italian traditional techniques.

In the case of Punto Umbro the key features are:

  • the use of heavier and coarser linen, hemp, linen/hemp mix or cotton fabrics,
  • threads in certain colours (e.g. antique blue, copper green, red, rust, ecru etc),
  • Geometric Renaissance, Arabic & Portuguese designs,
  • insertions and edges stitched in Punto Avorio needlelace,
  • elaborate tassels and embroidered buttons,
  • and particular stitches –  the most important being satin, stem, chain, punto avorio and punto ricciolino (little curl stitch).

This embroidery has a very textured surface created by the extensive use of knotted and filled stitches. Interestingly herringbone stitch is sometimes used to fill shapes outlined in stem stitch. In the more elaborate pieces raised stem stitch is also used to great effect.

While Punto Umbro doesn’t have the elegance and refinement of Punto Antico, it’s a very attractive style of embroidery because of the elaborate surface, interesting motifs and very tactile quality.

Because of the fabrics used it’s very hard wearing and versatile for household goods such as these cushions:

Three Cushions Punto Umbro Italia Invita

Italia Invita

There were two stalls with Punto Umbro work at Italia Invita.

One was that of Giuseppa (Giusy) Federici who has written a number of books on this technique. She very generously allowed me to photograph some of the pieces she had on show. Here are some more photos from her stall:

Bird on Crown Punto Umbro Italia Invita


Green and Gold Table Runner Punto Umbro Italia Invita

And here is the cover of her book on Punto Umbro:

Giuseppa Federici Book Cover Punto Umbro o Sorbello

I’m working on a sampler of stitches from this book which also has a very good selection of patterns from easy to more advanced. While the text is in Italian the stitch illustrations are excellent.

There’s been an interesting conversation going on over time between Giusy Federici and Meri Almeida on the Avomeri blog.  They’ve been exploring the similarities and differences in the stitches  and traditions of Portuguese embroidery and Punto Umbro – most recently in a post on 28 August 2013. You can see the Sampler from Giusy’s book in Meri’s post of 7 December 2012 – the easiest way to get to this post quickly is to go to the ‘search’ box at the top right hand side of the blog header and key in ‘Giusy Federici’ then hit the return key and then go to the post.

The other stand belonged to a woman from Perugia called Genevieve Porpora. She recounted that she learnt Punto Umbro from Margherita Biancacalana, the last surviving student of the Marquess Romeyne Robert’s school.

Genevieve Porpora has also published a book on Punto Umbro with a modern twist – some of the traditional patterns are stitched in black on white.

Here’s a look at the cover:

Genevieve Porpora Book Cover

Again the text is in Italian and I’ve found that the stitch diagrams are not as detailed or helpful as those in Giusy Federici’s book. I bought this book for the patterns which include a number with birds. These can be worked either in the black or the traditional thread colours.

Puncetto Needlelace

Punto Avorio links Punto Umbro and Puncetto needlelace. This style of needlelace is used in the insertions and edgings of Punto Umbro work.

Puncetto is a knotted needlelace made using only needle and thread. You don’t use a hoop as there aren’t the same issues of maintaining tension that exist in needlelace styles based on buttonhole stitch.

It comes from the Valsesia area of the Piedmont region in Italy. The School of Puncetto Valsesiano (La Scuola di Puncetto Valsesiano) from Varallo was at Italia Invita and here are some photos of their work which they generously allowed me to photograph:

A selection of traditional doyley styles…

Puncetto in Frame Italia Invita


Round Puncetto Doyley Italia Invita

A decorative element in a table runner…

Pink and white Puncetto Rectangle Italia Invita

Colourwork inserts on a traditional costume and household items…

Costume and Orange Rectangle Puncetto Italia Invita

The School had various books for sale and I asked the women manning the stall for some advice on the best one for a beginner and they recommended the following book:

Puncetto Valsesiano Book Cover

I haven’t yet had a chance to use this book but it’s based on very extensive and detailed diagrams.

If  you’re interested in more information on either Punto Umbro or Puncetto then head to the blog Italian Needlework. If you scroll down the left hand side of the blog you’ll see the extensive list of headings.

Ciao Ciao!



Italia Invita 4: Punto Antico & Reticello

What makes Italia Invita special are all the regional associations and embroidery schools that come to demonstrate and share their traditional embroideries, laces and textiles.

One of the most popular traditional styles is Punto Antico.

Punto Antico

Punto Antico means Antique Stitch and it’s a traditional technique used for centuries in Italy to decorate household and personal linens. It’s still used extensively today. You often see it on the long narrow curtains in homes and restaurants but also on tablecloths, napkins and table runners.

Here’s a detail from a very old tablecloth in punto antico that was given to me by a friend in Treviso, Italy:

Detail of punto antico tablecloth from Treviso

If you want to look at this photo or the others in this post in more detail just click on them to enlarge.

In the past Punto Antico was done in white on white or ecru on white but increasingly it’s being stitched in colour.

This shift of traditional embroidery and lace from whitework to the use of colour was one of the clearest trends at Italia Invita.

Is Punto Antico the Italian Hardanger?

At first glance it can look similar to Hardanger as it’s usually stitched on evenweave fabric in geometric designs, has counted stitches (particularly satin stitch) and needlelace inserts. Here’s a piece that I saw at Italia Invita:

Green and cream punto antico tablecloth from Italia Invita

But a closer look…

Centre of Green and cream Punto Antico work

….quickly dispels this impression as the stitches used are different to Hardanger and the needlelace insertions are in Reticello, Punto in Aria and/or Aemilia Ars.

Jeanine Robertson has written a detailed article on Punto Antico for Piecework Magazine   including a comparison with Hardanger and you can read it here.

A Little Bit of Needlelace History

Reticello means ‘little net’ in Italian and is a form of embroidery that’s been recorded since the late Middle Ages. It’s created by drawing threads from a fabric and then refilling the spaces with stitched motifs in geometric designs.

Here’s an example from a friend’s home in Italy…

Table runner with reticello squares edging

…and a detail:

Reticello squares edging table runner

Historically it’s regarded as the transition point between embroidery and needlelace.

As the Reticello patterns and motifs became more complex more and more threads had to be withdrawn and the inserts became flimsier. As a result the lace makers created the Punto in Aria technique which is regarded as the first true needlelace.

Punto in Aria means ‘stitch in the air’ and refers to the fact that the lace is not created on fabric – it’s done on fixed threads on a temporary support usually parchment or a special type of paper.

Reticello and Punto in Aria had their heyday in the 17th century and here are two portraits of the time that show the ornate collars and cuffs in these techniques:

Portrait of a Lady by Scipione Pulzone

Portrait of a Lady by Scipione Pulzone at the Walters Art Museum

 Lady Dorothy Cary by William Larkin

Lady Dorothy Cary by William Larkin at Kenwood House, Suffolk Collection, London

Aemilia Ars

They went out of fashion at the end of the 17th century and were revived at the beginning of the last century by the Aemilia Ars Society in Bologna. This group is often compared to the Arts and Crafts Movement in England and it had some success in reviving needlelace traditions.

The term Aemilia Ars is used today to refer to the needlelace style that evolved from Punto in Aria.

Now to Italia Invita…

The Associazione Culturale Il Punto Antico (from San Giovanni in Persiceto near Bologna) is very active in teaching, promoting and celebrating Punto Antico in Italy:

Assoc Il Punto Antico at Italia Invita

and its stall and teaching atelier were incredibly popular as you can see in this photo:

Assoc. Punto Antico stand at Italia Invita

The women manning the stall were very generous in allowing me to take photos of the work on display.

Bruna Gubbini

Bruna Gubbini has written a number of books on Punto Antico which include a text in English as well as Italian and French.

The Guild’s library has five of these and they are full of wonderful designs and very clear instructions on how to do the stitches and needlelace.

She is also a leading member of the Associazone Il Punto Antico from San Giovanni in Persiceto and she was teaching at Italia Invita but better still…….

Fratelli Graziano stall with giant hoops at Italia Invita

….the linen manufacturers Fratelli Graziano had commissioned her to stitch two tablecloths to display on their stall. You can see them in those giant hoops above.

They were both jawdroppingly beautiful with a flawless technique and were widely admired.

One was in Punto Antico:

Bruna Gubbini punto antico tablecloth in giant hoop

and again closer up:

Detail Bruna Gubbini punto antico tablecloth in giant hoop

The other was in satin stitch and shadow work which I’d also like to share with you:

Bruna Gubbini Shadow work in giant hoop

This grey smokey colour tone is called sfumato in Italian and is very effective and elegant in this tablecloth:

Detail of Bruna Gubbini Shadow work at Italia Invita

And Now the Showstopper!

As if Bruna Gubbini’s tablecloths weren’t spectacular enough the Associazione Il Punto Antico pulled out all stops with this stunning work in Punto Antico with a decorative tree in Aemilia Ars needlelace:

Aemilia Ars Tree motif from Italia Invita

and another small insert:

Aemilia Ars detail from Italia Invita


I bought a needlebook in the Punto Antico style with an Aemelia Ars insert from the Associazione Il Punto Antico stand at Italia Invita and here are some photos:

Aemelia Ars Needlecase

And some more detail:

Aemelia Ars Detail on needlecase from Italia Invita 2013

It’s finished around the edges with four sided stitch:

Four sided Stitch detail on Aemelia Ars Needlecase from Italia Invita 2013

More Info

If you’re looking for more information on Punto Antico, Reticello or Aemilia Ars then head over to Jeanine Robertson’s blog Italian NeedleworkIf you scroll down the left hand side of her blog you’ll find a comprehensive list of topics covered.

Free Biscornu Pincushion design in Punto Antico

Jeanine has also designed a Punto Antico Biscornu freebie and you can get it here.

What do you think of the Punto Antico and Reticello techniques? Do you have a favourite among the works in this post?

If you feel like leaving a comment we’d love to hear from you.




Italia Invita 3: Museum Pieces

There were a couple of special museum exhibits at Italia Invita 2013.

Museo Glauco Lombardi

One of them was this Museum which is located in Parma and focuses on the cultural heritage of Bourbon rule and in particular that of Maria Luigia of Hapsburg (1791-1847).

Maria Luigia was the oldest child of Franz 1st Emperor of Austria and Maria Teresa of the Two Sicilies. As part of a set of diplomatic moves she married Napoleon in 1810.

In 1815 the Congress of Vienna assigned her the Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla and she arrived in Parma in 1816.

The exhibit at Italia Invita focused on textiles used and worn by Maria Luigia including her embroidery tools:

X-stitch from Museo Glauco Lombardi

Here you can see the scissors and tools she used to create the cross stitch of flowers.

While in this photo we see her silk threads and a design for an embroidery. My apologies for the quality of the photo but it was impossible to avoid the reflections.

Glass cabinet Museo Glauco Lombardi

I found these personal objects very moving – they gave you a sense of her as a person and not just a historical figure. This was reinforced when we later went to the Museum itself and saw her watercolours and artefacts from other pastimes.

The Museum also has an extensive collection of costumes. This one was at Italia Invita:

Gown from Museo Glauco Lombardi

This is a gem of a museum and worth visiting if you’re in Parma. It came about as the result of the passion, energy and tenacity of Professor Glauco Lombardi (1881-1970).

Maria Luigia lived in turbulent times politically and after 1831 Austrian rule of Parma and other parts of Italy came under increasing attack from revolutionary uprisings – this period is known in Italian history as the Risorgimento. Over time the artefacts and objects belonging to Maria Luigia were dispersed in various Savoy palaces.

And this is where they remained until Professor Lombardi collected them and persuaded the relevant authorities to set up and fund the museum. It’s an inspiring story.

If by any chance you’re going to be in Parma on 29 September the Museo Glauco Lombardi will be holding an event dedicated to the lace of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany in the first half of the 19th century.

You can find the Museum’s website here.

‘Tramare e Mare’

This was a small exhibition put on by a group called La Congrega from Ancona in the Marche region of Italy. Ancona is a port city on the Adriatic Sea and has a rich maritime history as a centre of trade.

La Congrega is a textile group that conserves, recycles and repurposes antique and second hand textiles. According to their website they are in the process of studying and cataloguing a data bank of some 2500 textiles.

This was an intriguing show that took you back to Ancona in the second half of the 16th century. In this period Ancona was a trade hub and a melting pot of peoples from all around the Mediterranean who brought with them a rich diversity of textiles – tapestries, carpets, clothing, fabrics and fibres.

The purpose was to show how this mix of people, cultures and trade influenced textile design and the sharing of motifs, styles, stitches and techniques around the Mediterranean. It was very thoughtfully put together.

Here’s a striking work from the exhibition:

Round Folkloric embroidery Italia Invita

What’s Next

From now on I’ll be concentrating on the various embroidery techniques and traditions shown at Italia Invita starting with Punto Antico and Reticello in the next post.

Until then, Bye!


Italia Invita 2: Competition winners

Before starting this new topic I’d like to go back to the previous Italia Invita post on the Japanese quilt artist Noriko Endo and confetti naturescapes.

Carolyn Foley of the Caro-rose blog commented that Noriko Endo and an Australian quilter, Ruth Bloomfield, began working on confetti quilts at around the same time and independently of each other. She includes a link to a behind the scenes look at Ruth Bloomfield’s work in her comment – go to the comments section of the previous post and check it out if you’re interested in a different approach to this technique.

Now for the competitions at Italia Invita…

Cerchio Internazionale/International Circle Competition

This was a national needlework competition for embroidery, lace or weaving. The requirements were that participants interpret their idea of internationalism in a circle of textile material or woven fibres of different kinds. The work had to be original and not previously exhibited.

There was a very interesting range of entries.  Each work was about the size of a dinner plate.

First prize went to this work called L’albero/The Tree by the group Atelier Merletto di Orvieto.


Circle with tree in Orvieto lace from italia Invita 2013

Orvieto is a small city in Umbria in central Italy and has one of the most dramatic locations in Italy – it sits on top of vertical cliffs that rise up over the surrounding plain. Because its setting made Orvieto a fortress it has rich layers of history – Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and Renaissance. It’s also part of the very rich needlework history of Umbria.

Merletto is an Italian word for lace. Orvieto lace is a type of crochet lace with strong bas relief (raised) elements in the designs – in this case the tree motif.

The traditional bas relief motifs for this type of lace are based on those on the facade of Orvieto cathedral and include leaves, acanthus, vines, flowers, animals and figures. The bas relief effect is achieved by shaping the motifs with special irons. This must be a risky and difficult process for a beginner!

This competition piece was exquisite. The jury notes comment that it takes traditional needlework and interprets it in a contemporary way relevant to the theme of the competition. They also liked the  refined three dimensional presentation of the tree motif.

The Atelier Merletto di Orvieto had a booth at Italia Invita with beautiful work on display as well as information on their classes. Unfortunately they also had a sign up asking people not to take photos so I can’t show you any other examples of their lace.

Second Prize went to a very different kind of work:


Green circle with smaller circles from Italia Invita 2013

This piece was called ‘Ma che strano questo mondo..’/But how strange is this world… and was by Emanuela Micucci. The jury commended it for the originality of its design and colour composition and the fact that it was a fusion of different techniques.

Third prize also went to a contemporary piece called ‘il sole luminoso, vitale e internazionale’/ the sun – bright, vital and international by Maria Grazia Giacomini.

Orange contemporary lace circle from Italia Invita 2013

The jury highlighted the range of natural and metallic fibres  and weaving techniques used to create a very original work.

There were a couple of other entries in more traditional Italian styles that also caught my eye:

Lace circle with heart from Italia Invita 2013

Colourful embroidery circle from Italia Invita 2013

Thick geometric lace circle on net Italia Invita 2013

Art Quilt Competition

The theme for this national quilt competition was La Quadratura del Cerchio/ Squaring the Circle and here’s the winner of the art quilt section.


Art Quilt of globe from Italia Invita 2013

Free Pattern for heart scissors keep

If  you’re looking for a small project to do over the weekend then head over to Anna Scott’s blog and her post of 3 September. She’s gifting readers a small hearts and flowers design for a scissor keep, Christmas ornament or whatever takes your fancy!

Have a great weekend!