Tours of Artist Studios in Sardinia

I will be leading tours of artist studios starting in late 2018 or early 2019. If you are interested in participating in a small-group tour, which will include visits to the studio of Isa Frongia/Anna Maria Pirastu, other studios, Sardinia’s weaving museum, and time at beautiful beaches, meals at superb restaurants, and location tours, please contact me.

The Indescribable Energy of Beautiful Handwoven Sardinian Textiles

Traditional Textiles Samugheo, Orange + Black

Sardinian Arts doesn’t have push-button online ordering. Here’s why:

Fine handwoven Sardinian textiles are made one at a time by the hands of weavers who put their heart into each row and fiber of every weaving. This care and attention imparts a tangible energy into each weaving — and it’s this indescribable quality of love that makes the textiles so special, even beyond the museum-quality refinement of the craftsmanship apparent in each.

This essence, this quality is rare in the modern world.

I want to honor this uniqueness in the textiles, in the weavers, in you who seek to increase and cultivate these qualities in your life and your home. I want to help you find the right textile and offer you a connection to the integral spirit and beauty found in the traditional Sardinian handweavings.

Push-button online ordering breaks the connections. It commoditizes the weavings, annihilates the presence and individuality of the weavers, and turns you into a nameless consumer.

I don’t want to do that. The beautiful handwoven textiles of Sardinia offer a portal to a connection we all seek, and I honor this. It’s part of what I consider fair trade.

Please contact me if you want to know more and experience the textiles.

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

Handmade or Hand-decorated?

All too often across the world, items are classified as “handmade” when they are really not.

When the term “handmade” is used to market items that are not made by hand by an artesian, many problems arise, and the buyer, the artesian, and even the commercial makers of related products suffer. The buyer often pays too much; the artesian earns too little; and the commercial makers have difficulty maintaining quality and production in their home area.

This has been evident in food as well as textiles across the world (when you think of Parmesan cheese, do you think of a heavy round of solid cheese, a bag of shredded cheese, or green can?)

The European Union recognizes different classifications of traditional food to make certain we don’t confuse the green can that has nothing to so with Parma, Italy with the traditional cheese round produced in homes and cheese-making facilities in the Parma region, it’s important that Sardinian textiles are classified accurately with reference to the method and place in which they are made.

The textiles classifications Sardinian Arts uses and maintains are listed below. Any item we offer is accurately classified with integrity according to this system. Kelly personally visits weaving studios, custom shops, and mills to meet owners and verify how textiles are made. We are also working with weavers and others in Sardinia to adhere to this classification system to ensure the integrity of textiles “Made in Sardegna” and ensure the weavers, producers, and artists of Sardinian are treated with respect and that their items are sold in a fair and sustainable manner.

Hand made, Hand-decorated, Mill-made Classifications

The classifications are

  • Handmade textiles: Textiles made completely by hand, using looms where all the movements and beating are done only by hand/foot, and not by a hydraulic, electronic, or computerized loom.
  • Hand-decorated textiles: Textiles made by hydraulic, electronic, or computerized looms, where all the beating is not done by hand/foot. The weavers stops the mechanical beating of the loom to make pibiones and/or add other decoration by hand.
  • Mill-made textiles: Textiles made in mills, by hydraulic, electronic, and/or computerized looms with minimum human involvement, and often where many similar objects are produced at the same time.

All the classifications permit:

  • The use of fibers prepared in mills.
  • The use of a sewing machine, if the use is to make seams/hems after the weaving is cut from the loom and the seams/hems are not decorative.

The use of fibers prepared by hand without hydraulic, electronic, or computerized tools can be indicated with the label “Hand-spun fibers”.

Questions?

If you have any questions about whether the textiles you are buying are handmade, hand-decorated, or mill-made, please contact us.

How It Came to Be: The Film “I Want to Weave the Weft of Time”

I Want to Weave the Weft of Time grew serendipitously from the love of weaving, great appreciation of the women who continue the nearly-lost tradition of hand weaving in Sardinia, and the desire to share the art, lives, and importance of the weavers with the world.

When I first went to meet the weavers, I didn’t have a videocamera with me: I didn’t intend to film, much less make a documentary.

I wanted to meet the women who were Sardinia’s traditional weavers, learn about their particular weaving tradition, and bring a few textiles back to the United States. After meeting several weavers across the island, I called Isa and asked if I could return to Samugheo to video her, Suzanna, and Anna Maria. I had only my iPad — not the video cameras I had used to capture documentary footage for other projects! At most, I thought I would film a few minutes of the women working and make a 10-minute video to demonstrate the process of weaving.

I ended up filming for several hours that day, and then returned to Sardinia after a few months to visit and capture additional footage for what I still thought would be a very short video.

In the interim, Bruna had met the Frongias. While she lives in a town an hour or two away, Bruna by chance came to visit the Frongias the day I returned to Samugheo to film. As Isa prepared lunch, Bruna agreed to tell me the story of how she came to meet the Frongias and start to learn to weave. Her talk was entirely spontaneous, and absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have better scripted what she said: It was also what I felt about the weavers, their art, their lives, and the role they maintain, not just in terms of maintaining an artistic tradition, but in propagating a way of life that many in the modern world seek.

We filmed in the studio, with the kitchen (and the sounds of food preparation) above. Months later, when I showed Bruna the finished film, she told me she had completely forgotten that she talked with me! She also didn’t realize that the film’s title came directly from her statement, “tessere le trame del tempo”. Bruna forgot she had told me of the dream, and thought the title a coincidence!

As I was editing the footage, friend Ruth Mendelson – an amazing composer of wonderful original scores for documentaries — saw the draft, encouraged me, and agreed to compose and record the soundtrack. Ruth’s enthusiasm and support propelled me, and the truly heartfelt, complex tapestry of music she scored for the film perfectly captures the feeling of the women, the complexity of the weavings, and the mix of ancient and modern cultures that are Sardinia. Ruth’s score carries the film to a level that’s truly synergistic, much more than the sum of its parts.

I hope you’re as enchanted and moved watching this as we were making I Want to Weave the Weft of Time. The women have adopted me as family, and the film is truly a work of the heart.

Visit WeaveWeftofTime.com to see the film!

~ Kelly Manjula Koza

Thank You!

We would like to thank you for your participation in Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art and related events.

The show and related events were well-received and brought much attention to Sardinia and Sardinian textiles.

There were about 120 guests at the opening night of the show, arriving from many cities across California and even other states. Paolo Barlera, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute – San Francisco, and Luigi Biondi, the Assistant Consul General, welcomed the crowd and introduced two representatives from the Comune of Samugheo, Deputy Mayor Maurizio Frongia and Cultural Minister Manuela Barra. Maurizio thanked organizers, presented them with a book of Samugheo’s history and a bar of the local handmade Gaia soap, and talked about the history and importance of weaving in Samugheo. This was followed by the trailer from the film I Want to Weave the Weft of Time, demonstrating the importance of Samugheo’s last handweavers, and a slideshow and discussion of handweaving. After this, there was a short lecture about the show participants, the challenges weavers, shops, and mills face, and a presentation of high-resolution photos of key historic weavings from the MURATS collection.

The audience was captivated by the weavings, and very interactive. People asked many questions during and after the presentation and inspected the textiles on display. The crowd was also happy to be well-fed: San Giuliano of Alghero donated many cases of olive spreads and antipasti, all of which were eagerly devoured along with the kilo of pane carasau direct from Sardinia, sheep cheese, and, of course, wine. Local restaurant 54 Mint also provided Italian desserts, which disappeared rapidly.

In the weeks after the opening there were two film screenings of I Want to Weave the Weft of Time. The first screening was held in lieu of the planned pibiones workshop, as at the last minute the weavers were prevented from traveling by an unforeseen event. Lacis Museum in Berkeley hosted the event. The second screening was at IIC some weeks into the show, to bring a new audience to the exhibit.

Intrecciati, the intercultural project led by designer Silvio Betterelli, drew fibers from locations around the globe, including South Africa, India, Sardinia, Italy, and many states from the United States. Volunteers helping Silvio complete the project included weaver Reba Siero, students Maya Trifunovic and Alex Boccon-Gibod, and their grandmother visiting from Belgrade.

A number of newspapers, websites, and social networking platforms carried short notices and articles about the event, and longer articles appeared in L’Italiano-Americano in the US and a number of papers in Sardinia.

We would also like to thank the volunteers in San Francisco who helped make the event a success. Photographer Flavia Loreto took wonderful photos capturing the opening night (attached). Volunteers Arpana Warren, Mark Springer, Gab Koza, Anne Yale, and the staff of the IIC helped set up the show and opening night. Vera Lazarevic and Gilles Boccon hosted a wonderful dinner (at which Gilles prepared everything from scratch) where Silvio discussed his work and latest collection. Dhanya Olson created the looms for the intercultural project.

In addition demonstrating the interest the public has for Sardinian textiles and Sardinia, the show increased the public’s understanding of the importance of maintaining the traditions, history, and designs of Sardinia, and their support of efforts to ensure the creation of hand-woven, hand-decorated, and mill-produced textiles remains in Sardinia.

As you know, the IIC-Chicago is interested in hosting a similar show in the future; I’m (Kelly) following up with the director to ascertain details of this future project. I’m also developing concrete opportunities to promote Sardinian textiles in a sustainable manner that brings visibility and sales to Sardinia by leveraging the the latest advertising technology.

While the show and the related events are over, the success has opened a doorway that I see as the beginning, an introduction of Sardinian textiles to the United States!

Thank you all for your participation!

Paolo Barlera, Italian Cultural Institute, Kelly Manjula Koza, Sardinian Arts, Inc.

Thank you to Flavia Loreto for the photos!

Grazie!

Cari Amici,

vogliamo ringraziarVi per la vostra partecipazione alla mostra, Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, e agli eventi collegati.

Si è trattato di una mostra esemplare e di una serie di eventi collegati che sono stati ricevuti con entusiasmo e hanno attirato molta attenzione verso la Sardegna e i tessuti Sardi.

I partecipanti all’inaugurazione sono stati circa 120, provenienti da molte città della California e da altri stati. Paolo Barlera, Direttore dell’Istituto Italiano di Cultura (IIC)- San Francisco, e Luigi Biondi, Vice Console Generale, hanno accolto gli spettatori e introdotto due rappresentati del Comune di Samugheo, il Vice Sindaco Maurizio Frongia e l’Assessore alla Cultura Manuela Barra. Maurizio ha dato il proprio ringraziamento agli organizzatori ed ha presentato un libro che narra la storia di Samugheo e una saponetta Gaia fatta a mano nel paese. Il Vice Sindaco ha parlato della storia e dell’importanza dell’arte della tessitura a Samugheo. In seguito si è svolta la presentazione del trailer del film “I Want to Weave the Weft of Time”, che mostra l’importanza dei tessitori che lavorano a mano. Al termine del film, si è svolto un discorso sulle sfide che i tessitori, i negozi, e le fabbriche della Sardegna sono costretti ad affrontare, oltre ad una serie di foto ad alta risoluzione di campioni di tessuti antichi della collezione del MURATS.

Il pubblico è rimasto affascinato: sono state fatte molte domande dopo la presentazione, e tutti hanno esaminato i tessuti. Gli ospiti sono anche stati contenti di poter godere di un cibo fantastico: San Giuliano d’Alghero ha donato scatole di creme spalmabili di olive e antipasti che sono state divorate con piacere, accompagnate da pane carasau portato dalla Sardegna, formaggio pecorino e, naturalmente, vino. Il ristorante 54 Mint ha offerto dolci tipici dell’Italia, che sono spariti rapidamente.

Nelle settimane seguenti l’inaugurazione, ci sono state due presentazioni del film I Want to Weave the Weft of Time. Il primo al posto del workshop di pibiones che era stato programmato inizialmente, perché all’ultimo momento i tessitori non hanno potuto partecipare a causa di una situazione imprevista. Lacis Museum a Berkeley, California, ha ospitato l’evento. Il secondo si è tenuto all’IIC alcune settimane dopo l’inaugurazione, per attrarre altre gente alla mostra.

“Intrecciati”, il progetto interculturale guidato dal designer Silvio Betterelli, ha raccolto fibre da vari paesi lontani fra cui il Sud Africa, l’India, la Sardegna, l’Italia, e diversi stati degli Stati Uniti. Hanno contribuito a realizzare il progetto con Silvio la tessitrice Reba Siero, gli studenti Maya Trifunovic e Alex Boccon-Gibod, e la loro nonna, che era in visita da Belgrado.

Diversi giornali, siti web, e piani di social networking hanno discusso brevemente gli eventi della mostra e articoli più lungi sono stati pubblicati nel giornale stampato e online di L’Italiano-Americano negli Stati Uniti e diversi giornali e website in Sardegna.

Vogliamo anche ringraziare i volontari qui a San Francisco, che hanno contribuito a fare dell’evento un successo. La fotografa Flavia Loreto ha fatto foto fantastiche dell’inaugurazione (allegate alla presente). Arpana Warren, Mark Springer, Gab Koza, Anne Yale e lo staff dell’IIC hanno appeso i tessuti e hanno messo in ordine tutti i dettagli dell’inaugurazione. Vera Lazarevic e Gilles Boccon hanno ospitato una cena deliziosa (fatta completamente a mano da Gilles), dove Silvio ha parlato della sua arte e la sua ultima collezione. Dhanya Olson ha costruito i telai per il progetto interculturale.

Oltre a dimostrare il grande interesse del pubblico per i tessuti Sardi e la Sardegna, il principale risultato della mostra è stato quello di accendere i riflettori sull’importanza di preservare la tradizione, la storia ed i motivi della Sardegna, e di supportare lo sforzo di mantenere in Sardegna la creazione dei tessuti fatti a mano, a telaio meccanico, e in fabbrica.

Come sapete, I’Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Chicago è interessato ad ospitare una mostra simile a quella di San Francisco; sono (Kelly) in contatto con la direttrice per delineare i dettagli di questo progetto futuro. Sto anche lavorando a delineare alcune ulteriori opportunità per promuovere i tessuti Sardi in modo sostenibile che possa portare a vendite e visibilità per la Sardegna con una nuova tecnologia di advertising.

Mentre la mostra e gli eventi collegati sono finiti, il successo ha aperto una serie di porte e io li considero come un inizio, un primo passo per l’introduzione dei tessuti Sardi negli Stati Uniti!

Grazie a tutti voi per la vostra partecipazione!

Paolo Barlera, Italian Cultural Institute e Kelly Manjula Koza, Sardinian Arts, Inc.

Grazie mille a Flavia Loreto per le foto!

Weaving Terms

This is the text of one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in January and February 2017.

The loom is the framework on which weavings are made. The basic fibers of a weaving are known as the warp, or foundational threads, and the weft, or the fibers that are drawn between the warp threads.

Textile patterns and designs are created by the interactions of the warp and weft threads. The weft threads can be passed under and over the warp threads in different sequences, wound to create pibiones, or knotted, twisted, or otherwise worked into, over, or under the warp.

Weavings that use raised techniques such as pibiones display several patterns: the raised design and a subtle background pattern created by the sequencing of warp and weft threads.

Textiles created using use flat techniques generally have vibrant designs created by the color of the weft threads.

Loom Types

This is the text of one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in January and February 2017.

There are many different classifications and types of looms, generally referring to how the movements of the loom are made and the structure of the loom.

Traditional hand looms are powered entirely by hand and foot. Power looms are those in which movements are powered by hydraulic or electric means. Weavers can stop the motion of a powerloom to add hand decoration to a weaving, and then engage the loom’s automated power function to continue. Mills use large computerized electric or hydraulic looms that require little to no human interaction to create many identical items within a short time.

There are two primary configurations of looms: horizontal and vertical. Weavers using vertical looms start from the bottom of the loom and build the textile upwards, using their fingers to pass weft threads through the warp threads one at a time. The threads are tightened, or beaten, using a small hand beater distinct from the loom.

Horizontal looms are generally more complex than vertical looms, facilitating the construction of pibiones as well as complex repeating warp/weft patterns.

Heddles, or frames that contain needles through which warp fibers are threaded, are controlled by foot pedals, and raise or lower many warp threads at one time. This enables the weaver to pass a wooden shuttle carrying weft thread through the warp, or place a needle around which pibiones are wound on top of the warp threads. The threads are tightened using a beater bar that’s attached to the loom and runs the entire width of the warp. The beater bar is moved by hand or electric/hydraulic power.

History

This is the text of one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in January and February 2017.

Looms were prized and essential items in Sardinian households for centuries. Weaving was every woman’s work, and girls learned to weave at a young age. The women wove their corredo, or hope chest textiles, as well as items for daily use and various ceremonial items that were gifted, often prized and used for a lifetime.

After the second world war, power looms and commercial mills began to appear on the island, and production of everyday items started to shift away from the household.

By the late 70’s, almost all of the studios and small shops had switched to using power looms, and items for daily user were made in mills. Today, very few professional handweavers remain.

Similarly, the process of collecting and preparing fibers by hand has virtually disappeared. The preparation of wool, linen, silk, and cotton fibers for weaving was often a communal event.

Today, almost all Sardinian handweavers use fibers that are processed at Sardinia’s one remaining wool processing house, and/or high-quality linen and Egyptian cotton.

Designs

This is the text of one of the educational posters from Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, held at the Italian Cultural Center – San Francisco in January and February 2017.

Designs and motifs used in the weavings vary according to the region, type of loom used, and the items woven.

Birds — doves, peacocks, and domestic hens and cocks — are common, as are deer, baskets of eggs, bunches of grain, grapes, grape leaves, flowers, and other agricultural symbols. Dragons, gryphons, and mythological figures are also found, especially on older textiles.

Many textiles have geometric designs, ranging from stylized flowers to diamonds, triangles, and stepped shapes representing the cycle of birth, growth, harvest, and death/decay.

The zig zags typical of funerary cloths represent water and the ebb and flow of life. The stars and seven colors traditionally used in Nule’s carpets are ancient symbols of power.

Weavers familiar with their own traditions may create textiles that are highly traditional, or they may experiment and mix modern designs with ancient patterns.