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Welcome to Sardinian Arts, where you’ll find exquisite handwoven textiles from the beautiful Italian island of Sardegna.

Major Updates to Website in Progress!

I’m updating the site to better showcase the textiles and reflect my dedication to ensuring the nearly-lost art of the Sardinian weavers — traditionally and nearly always women — is maintained in a sustainable, fair-trade manner, that the handweavers are respected, and that all forms of weaving and the traditional designs of Sardegna are protected.

Thanks for your patience as the pages here are lavori in corsi, work in progress. As with the weavings, the website is being updated by hand, by an individual, with care and love.

If you have questions, please contact me.

Thanks.

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

Welcome

These textiles are made with love and care by women who have dedicated their lives to the almost-lost art of traditional handweaving. These weavings are made one at a time, on looms powered entirely by hand and foot.

These unique weavings carry the invisible essence that’s a doorway to something we lack and crave in the modern world.

Handmade textiles — like homemade food — have an indescribable quality. That quality is love, the care and heart of the weaver. This quality is invisible in a photo. To most people, the essence of a handwoven textile is apparent only when you have the item in your hands. For some, we can sense when an item is handwoven from across a room.

There’s a light, a glow, a quality of love, care, and warmth that radiates from hand woven pillow, table runner, or rug.

The few remaining professional handweavers you’ll meet here work without the use of power looms. This is rare, even in Sardinia, for handweaving is difficult and time-intensive. The process and life of a hand weaver makes the artist inseparable from her art.

The weavings are made with care, attention, and respect for the old ways. Each row of every textile is woven and beaten (tightened) by hand. The women weavers love their art, and their love is woven into every fiber of every textile. The energy and feeling of their art is tangible.

These women work with heart and care. So does Sardinian Arts.

I’m personally committed to ensuring most of the sales price goes back to the weavers, the traditional designs and methods are protected, and that respect for Sardinian arts and heritage increases. It’s fair trade, sustainable trade, and more.

I’ve traveled — and travel — Sardinia to meet with the weavers. I’ve been in the studios of the true handweavers — and in the power loom shops and in the mills. I understand the quality, the intrinsic nature of the handmade and the textiles that carry this.

I can help you choose a rug, a table runner, a bag, a bedspread, a textile that brings the invisible essence of the handmade to you, warming your home as well as your heart.

When you purchase a textile from Sardinian Arts, or directly from the weavers mentioned here, you bring into your home  a textile that carries the indescribable essence of the handmade, a work of heart, a work of art — and you support sustainable, fair trade of a nearly lost art maintained by a few strong women determined to preserve their culture and heritage.

Please contact me if you would like to learn more or purchase an item.

The Art of Handweaving

Traditional Sardinian handwoven textiles are uniquely beautiful in their design and creation. The artistry and the intrinsic quality of the handmade are apparent. Your appreciation grows when you understand how the weavings are created.

Whether it’s done in the home or studio, handweaving is demanding and time-intensive. It requires patience, engineering skill, and physical strength. Weaving involves many steps, and progress is slow. The weavings are made with care, attention, and respect for the old ways. The results — rugs, tablecloths, bedspreads, pillow shams, bags, and more — are unparalleled.

Traditional Sardinian weavings are patterned with small raised bumps of thread, called pibiones. Each pibione must be counted and wound by hand, one pibione at a time, one row at a time, matched against patterns marked by hand on graph paper. In addition to the raised pattern of the pibiones, the base fibers (warp) of the textile create a second and complementary pattern.

A weaver making a bedspread on a medium-sized loom counts and hand-threads 4800 warp threads, tens of thousands of pibiones, and hundreds of thousands of warp and weft fiber passages — all counted and tracked by hand, eye, and graph paper.

If a weaver looses count of the pibiones or the warp fibers, she must recount from the last known position. And before even starting the actual weaving process, the weaver must set up (warp) the loom, a delicate and precise but demanding process. Looms operate on a system of levers and pulleys which must be perfectly assembled, balanced, and aligned. A weaving can be wrecked by one thread out of sequence, a warp that is a sixteenth of an inch off level, or pulleys that are a tad too tight or too loose.

It’s not uncommon for a weaver to climb on or crouch under looms to tighten, loosen, balance, and align pulleys, levers, and other pieces of the loom. Weavers don’t always sit when doing the actual weaving, and even when they do, moving the beater bar to finish each row of the weaving takes a good bit of strength. Larger looms require two, three, or four standing people to pull the beater bar after each row of weaving is completed.

When you experience the process, grasp the time it takes to weave something by hand, and understand the mental skill and the physical work involved, you appreciate more fully the beauty and detail in each row of an expertly handcrafted textile. The artistry becomes more perceptible, more personal. You realize the finished textile you have in your hands is not just an object, but a creation born of the skill, concentration, and love of the weaver.

Showcase

This is a showcase of Sardinian textiles, rather than a click-and-buy catalog of items.

Why?

A showcase better supports the weavers, the traditions, and the artwork shared on these pages.

I’ve found that meeting or talking with people one-on-one or in small groups the best way to convey the unique, exquisite nature of the weavings and to ensure the weavers, artwork, and more are honored and protected.

A click-and-buy online catalog and the underlying business methodology would reduce the women who create these beautiful textiles to producers,  commoditize the exquisite art they make, and endanger the art, traditions, heritage, and even the commercial textile industry and economy of Sardinia.

Work in Progress Area

As you saw on the home page, the website is undergoing major transformation, and I haven’t yet uploaded the many, many textile images.

If you’re interested in seeing more before the photos are uploaded, visit the Sardinian Arts Facebook page, other social networking sites, or contact me.

Isa, Susanna, and Anna Maria

Weaving is an ancient and revered art in Sardinia, and in Samugheo, Sardinia’s weaving capital, Isa and Susanna’s studio is the oldest and most respected. Their work has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and documentaries around the world, as well as showcased in the homes of famous clients. They have won awards and competitions. Collectors from Europe, the United States, and the Middle East commission weavings, valuing the Frongia’s skill and commitment to producing the highest quality, especially as the art of and appreciation for fine handweaving are being lost.

When Susanna built a weaving studio open to the public in 1960, her move was considered bold – especially for a woman. Women traditionally wove in their homes, and passed their craft from generation to generation within a family and village. Families were self-sufficient, and every household had a loom on which the women made clothing, tablecloths, napkins, bedspreads, curtains, and other household goods. Items were made with care and consciousness, and often used and gifted at ceremonies marking life events, such as weddings, comings-of-age, and funerals. Handwoven items were treasures used, worn, and valued for carrying symbolic meaning, love, and respect of the recipient and the weaver.

In the 1950’s, power looms and textile mills arrived on the island, and the art of weaving started to decline. Susanna opened the studio as the practical means to support a family and preserve an art: weaving is what she did, and what she and Isa still do. Weaving is their life.

The attitude, skill, and way of life of Isa, Susanna, and Anna Maria are rare today: The number of artists, especially those working in traditional methods, has diminished, and their work is rarely found outside the island.

Most weavers working in small studios today use electric powerlooms, calling their weaving handmade because they stop the powerloom at intervals to perform a small amount of hand decoration before pressing a button to once again engage the automation.

Large mills produce thousands of computer-designed textiles in a single run of an automated loom, providing Sardinian households and the tourist industry with useful, low-cost replicas of traditional Sardinian art.

Isa, Susanna, and Anna Maria weave entirely by hand, in the same studio Suzanna founded more than 50 years ago. They work using the time-honored methods of generations of Sardinian handweavers, producing textiles that display supreme technical skill and bear the essence of their tradition, their culture, and their dedication to the art of fine Sardinian handweaving.

To learn more about the art and process of traditional Sardinian handweaving, see The Art of Handweaving.

To see a selection of handwoven textiles, see the showcase or visit Isa’s Facebook page for the studio

You can see how the women work and learn more about handweaving by watching  I Want to Weave the Weft of Time (Tessere le Trame del Tempo). This 29-minute film features Isa, Susanna, and Maria and shows the art of the tessitori artigianli and the importance of what their work and lives brings to the world. You can watch the trailer here.

See the Sardegna Digital Library for this older video about Samugheo, featuring Isa and Susanna.

This newer video about Samugheo shows a bit of the town’s culture and traditions, of course including the textiles. Isa’s studio and the Regional Textile Museum are both shown.