Click a question to go to the answer.
Why do you work with handmade items and handweavers?
Fine handwoven Sardinian textiles are made one at a time by the hands of tessitrici artigianali, women 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 by purchasing handwoven textiles. I act as a conduit, a tramite, to bring these textiles and the qualities they exude to you.
In modern times, the commoditization of the textile industry has dehumanized textiles as well as those who make them, most especially the women weavers who still work by hand. I work to help preserve a beautiful tradition of handweaving, the women weavers, and the island of Sardinia in a respectful and sustainable manner.
What is Sardinian Arts?
With Sardinian Arts, I share my love of Sardinian handweavers, their art, and Sardinia in general. I seek to help preserve, protect, promote, encourage, and advance the tessitrici artigianali and the arts, culture, heritage, land, economy, and people of Sardinia in a sustainable manner.
I document, film, write, present, and promote the weavers and the majesty of the island and her people. I help bring textiles into the hands of those who appreciate the weavings and the artists, via trunk shows, pop-up shops, exhibits, and individual connections. I offer tours and connections of Sardinia. And more. In short, I serve as a tramite, a conduit to the tessitrici artigianali and to Sardegna.
I’m personally dedicated to ensuring the nearly-lost art of the Sardinian tessitrici artigianali is maintained in a sustainable manner, that handweavers are respected, and that the weaving, traditional designs, and heritage of Sardegna are protected.
I can help you:
- Learn more about Sardinia and Sardinian textiles, via this website, my short film, I Want to Weave the Weft of Time, other short films, and in-person talks, showings, and classes customized for your group. And yes, I present online as well, especially during this time!
- Experience and purchase the textiles at trunk shows, pop-up shops, exhibits, and private showings for your group
- Tour Sardinia with me, visiting weaving studios and cultural and natural attractions
- Promote your Sardinian products supporting the island’s sustainable development
- Offer help and advice if you are traveling to or relocating to Sardinia
What does Sardinian Arts do?
In short, with Sardinian Arts, I work to:
- Promote: I promote and raise awareness about the art, tradition, and handweavers of Sardina, especially the contemporary weavers working entirely by hand. My love and respect for Sardinia combines with my holistic view of public relations so that in reality, I educate the public and media about the island of Sardinia, her wealth of culture, people, traditions, arts, beauty — and much more.
- Organize events and experiences: To advance awareness of Sardinia and bring the island’s traditional arts to interested audiences, I organize, produce, and promote events including exhibitions, trunk shows, pop-up stores, tours, presentations, in-person/web-based experiences, and more.
- Offer textiles: I support and facilitate in-person sales of handwoven Sardinian textiles through direct connections with weavers, one-on-one meetings with interested buyers, and at events, so that sales are transacted in a manner that benefits all parties and weavers are recognized as artists in their own regard, not as mere producers of others’ designs.
- Liaise: I connect those outside Sardinia with what the island has to offer, in mutually beneficial situations that offer fair and sustainable opportunities for Sardinians.
- Protect: In all I do and promote, I seek to protect the heritage, culture, traditions, nature, beauty, and economy of Sardinia, her arts, and her people supporting sustainable growth, projects, and livelihood. Key focal points are currently:
- Textile classifications protected and recognized: Promote common understanding, adaption, and eventual legislation recognizing the terms hand-woven, hand-decorated, and mill made as they apply to Sardinian textiles.
- Textile designs protected and recognized: Help weavers protect traditional Sardinian designs from being copied off-island and marketed as Sardinian.
Do you ever have shows?
Yes. I organized and curated Sardinian Textiles: An Exhibit of Handwoven Art, with a number of related events, at the Italian Cultural Institute – San Francisco in January and February of 2017.
Can you talk with our weaving guild, our school or class, or present for our event?
I’m always happy talk with and show the textiles to weaving guilds and your interested group, be it in a craft studio, art class, or at another event. Depending on the group, event, and venue, I can even show my documentary I Want to Weave the Weft of Time.
Would you be willing to talk with me for my research paper, news article, podcast, or so forth?
Yes, I’m happy to talk with students, researchers, and others interested in Sardinian handweaving, Sardinia, the tessitrici artigianali, women artists, items made by hand, textiles, and so forth.
Please email me and let me know a bit about yourself and your project, and what time zone you’re in. I’ll reply with a few potential times we can chat using Zoom, and send a meeting link.
Before we talk, if you could send me links to your website and/or social networking pages, I can do my homework to learn about your project. Similarly, I suggest you read through the website before we talk.
What is the difference between handmade, hand decorated, and mill-made?
The difference has to do with the time and care taken to weave a textile, whether it’s considered art or commercial, and the cost.
A brief description is below; see the post Textile Classifications for more information.
- Handmade textiles: Textiles made completely by hand, using looms where all 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 the beating is not all done by hand/foot. The weaver 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.
Unfortunately, textiles — including those in Sardinia — are often mis-classified, and hand-decorated and mill-made textiles are too often marketed and sold as handwoven, when they’re not.
What does handmade textile or handwoven mean?
Handwoven textiles are made completely by hand, using looms where all movements and beating are done only by hand/foot, and not by a hydraulic, electronic, or computerized loom.
See the post Textile Classifications for more information.
What does hand-decorated mean?
Hand-decorated textiles are made by hydraulic, electronic, or computerized looms, where the beating is not all done by hand/foot. The weaver stops the mechanical beating of the loom to make pibiones and/or add other decoration by hand.
See the post Textile Classifications for more information.
How do I know textiles are handmade?
While true handweavers maintain integrity and love of their art — and make items one at a time on looms powered by hand and foot — too often, textiles are marketed as “handwoven” when in fact they are either hand-decorated or mill-made. Such practices garner the seller a higher price while leaving the buyer with a weaving that’s not what it was sold as being — handwoven art.
The anima, or spirit, tangible in a handwoven textile is apparent, but you may have a hard time discerning this at first. It’s best to buy directly from weavers you know, or those I have met.
I have visited weavers, studios, shops, and mills across Sardinia. I know those who weave by hand — very few still do professionally — and those who work with power looms. I work with the best of the true hand weavers, and discuss the mills and power loom shops clearly. This is a matter of integrity for me and for the weavers.
I will never present a hand-decorated or mill-made textile as handmade.
I do recognize that hand-decorated and mill-made items have a respectable market and related price — but they are not to be confused with true handwoven items.
Please contact me if you have questions.
What does artigianali mean?
To me, to Sardinian Arts, and to the hand weavers, artigianali means what it traditionally meant: made by hand, using traditional patterns and tools, in the traditional way. The traditional way requires care, skill, and time.
Across Sardina, the term artigianali is used much more loosely, to signify anything made using a traditional design, pattern, or recipe of Sardegna, no matter if the item is made commercially, in small batches, or truly by hand.
The ambiguity of how the terms artigianali and handwoven are used in Sardinia puts the true handweavers and other artisans who work by hand at a disadvantage, often confuses buyers, and ultimately endangers the future of handweaving and commercial weaving in Sardinia.
Commercially-produced textiles, ceramics, knives, and other artwork, as well food and other items that are not necessarily made by hand, but are made using a traditional Sardinian design and symbolic of Sardinian heritage, are often marketed as artigianali in Sardinia.
Similarly, textiles are often mis-classified, and hand-decorated and mill-made textiles are too often marketed and sold as handwoven.
For instance, a mill-made rug may be marketed as artigianali and sold for €30, yet the truly handwoven rug of the same size and design is €300. Textiles that are actually hand-decorated (where a small amount of hand-decoration is added to a textile otherwise made by a power loom) may be sold as handmade, for the same price as a truly handmade work of textile art.
Lost in such cases is the recognition of the time (minutes for machines to produce the mill-made textile, days for a woman to weave the handmade art), quality, and essence of the handmade art.
Why textiles I import more costly than the rugs/pillows/etc I bought when I was in Sardinia?
I help you find only textiles that are truly handwoven. Most shops and studios in Sardinia use the terms artigianali, handmade, and handwoven in a very ambiguous manner to describe all items made with a traditional design, pattern, or recipe of Sardegna, no matter if the item is made commercially, in small batches, or truly by hand.
The ambiguity of how the term artigianale is used in Sardinia puts the true handweavers, the tessitrici artigianali, and other artists who work by hand at a disadvantage. An experienced handweaver will weave a textile row by row, pibione by pibione, manually counting and weaving hundreds, thousands, even hundreds of thousands of threads over days, weeks, or months to craft a work of art. Their heart and essence go into making a unique textile, and the feeling is tangible in the finished piece.
Mills produce high volumes of identical textiles in minutes. While the quality of Sardinian mill-made items is high, the textiles are not handmade. When you buy a handmade textile, you are buying art (and yes, you can use it!), which takes time, skill, dedication, effort, concentration, and the love of the artist to make. You’re paying the artist (and minimal costs for shipping, import, etc), not the factory.
A mill-made pillow sham may be €30 in a tourist shop; a truly handwoven pillow sham of similar design and size may be €300.
I can help you find/have made and import a handwoven textile, but it is likely to be more expensive than an item you bought in Sardinia. This is primarily because I connect you with the true handweavers, and their textiles are more expensive than the textiles sold by mills and power loom shops. In addition, you must pay shipping costs. Sometimes, you must pay an import duty, but this is rare for handwoven items.
Watch the film to see the handweavers in action!
I bought rugs/pillows/etc when I was in Sardinia, and wish I had bought more. Can I get them through you?
I can connect you with weavers who can provide you with handwoven items. In most cases, the items tourists buy in Sardinia are not handwoven, but mill-made textiles that sell for a lower price than handwoven textiles. And, unfortunately, sometimes items that are hand-decorated are sold as handmade, at correspondingly higher prices.
Also see some of the other questions and answers on this page.
How can I buy these textiles?
These wonderful textiles are not sold through an online catalog. They are sold by personal contact! I arrange trunk shows, pop-up shops, and exhibitions as well as speaking engagements where textiles are offered for viewing and purchase, with love and respect for the weavers, clients, and all concerned.
You can purchase handwoven Sardinian textiles in one of several ways:
- Buy directly from artists: View the Meet the Artists section on this site to learn about the handweavers and contact the women directly. The contact information is given for each artist. See this article on this website for hints on how to order directly.
- Come to a Trunk Show or pop-up shop: I am arranging trunk shows and pop-up shops where curated collections of textiles will be available for purchase to those who come to the events. Some of these events will be virtual! Please check the News and Events area and the page Trunk Shows and Exhibits.
- Come to a gallery shows: Some gallery shows — also in the works — will offer exclusive sales of textiles from the handweavers. Again, see the News and Events area and the page Trunk Shows and Exhibits.
- Contact me: While I do not maintain an inventory of textiles for sale, I can help you arrange the purchase of a fine weaving chosen from those a weaver has on-hand in her studio.
Does Sardinian Arts maintain an inventory of items for sale?
I do not maintain an inventory of items for sale. You can contact me or the weavers directly (their contact info is on the Artist pages) to discuss purchasing a handwoven textile the weaver has in her studio. When there is a specific event such as a trunk show or gallery exhibit, I bring handwoven textiles, which may be purchased.
Why can’t I buy your textiles directly online?
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.
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.
Rather than maintaining a click-and-buy catalog of items, I arrange trunk shows, pop-up shops, and exhibitions as well as speaking engagements where textiles are offered for viewing and purchase, with love and respect for the weavers, clients, and all concerned. You can also contact the weavers directly. See the Meet the Artists section.
Can I have a custom piece made?
I can connect you with the handweavers to have them design and weave a textile for you, or sometimes, to realize your design. However, I first recommend that you seek a textile from among items the artists already have in their studios, or at best ask if they can make you an item with colors and designs in their repertoire . When you seek someone to produce your design or work, you really seek a producer of your item, not an artist.
Do you sell to interior designers?
I’ve found that most interior designers seek to work with the commercial power loom shops and mills who produce hand-decorated, rather than handmade work.
If you are a designer who seeks truly handwoven art, I can connect you with the right weavers.
Do you sell fabric? Can you help me source fabric from Sardinia, with Sardinian designs, that I can use in my own designs?
I help Sardinian weavers promote and sell their finished textiles, including rugs, bags, pillow shams, table runners, table cloths, curtains, and so forth.
I do not work with individuals or companies that seek to buy fabric they intend to use — or copy — to create and sell their own items.
Do you work with clothing and bag designers to source from Sardinia?
I’ve found that most clothing and bag designers who contact me seek commercially-made fabric with traditional Sardinian designs to make items of their own design, produced outside Sardinia.
I seek to help preserve, protect, promote, encourage, and advance the tessitrici artigianali and arts, culture, heritage, land, economy, and people of Sardinia in a sustainable manner. Most requests for sourcing, partnerships, or commercial endeavors that come to me do not support these goals.
If you’re interested in partnering with Sardinian weavers and have a demonstrated history of sourcing in a fair-trade, sustainable, and ethical manner, please let me know:
- Other projects where you have worked with traditional weavers/artisans
- How their work has been sold by your company
- Examples, references, and/or information of how you/your company have worked in a fair-trade, sustainable, and ethical manner with those traditional weavers/artisans/sources, including providing copyright protection of their designs, patterns, and items
- A bit more information on how the Sardinian textiles would fit into your inventory, and plans
- Your website address, physical store address, etc.
I’m going to Sardinia. Can you help me connect with the hand weavers?
Do you have links to other information about handweaving and Sardinia?
Do you have press kits and/or photos about the weavers we can use?
First please see the page Meet the Artists, from which you can go to individual pages for each artist, and find contact information and something written their own words, which is often what they give the press.
Depending on the situation, your project, and the artist, I may be able to provide you with additional materials. I always contact the weaver and obtain their permission first.
Why don’t you import commercial textiles?
I can write and talk at length on this topic. For now, if you read some of the other questions and answers on this page, including the following, you’ll understand!
Do you work with the custom houses and mills in Sardinia?
At the request of several owners of factories/custom house shops, I had laid the groundwork to open a business to work with Sardinian mills and shops using power looms. However, after visiting these commercial producers, talking with owners, and thoroughly investigating and considering business practices, import regulations, delivery issues, costs, and many other factors, I decided not to pursue importing items made in factories or on power looms at this time. I did not feel it would be in keeping with my dedication to conserving Sardinian culture and improving the overall commerce of the island. If and when the time comes that I can work with the mills and power loom shops in a sustainable and mutually beneficial manner, I will certainly consider this!
If you would like a custom rug or textile, I may be able to help you. I first recommend that you seek a textile from among items the artists already have in their studios, or at best ask if they can make you an item with colors and designs in their repertoire . When you seek someone to produce your design or work, you really seek a producer of your item, not an artist.
Do you do appraisals?
While I’m always happy to see textiles (or textile photos) from Sardinia, hear your stories, and share what I can about the likely origin of your Sardinian textiles, I do not give appraisals.
I’ve heard that weaving and other fiber arts require mastery of STEM skills — is this true?
Weaving and other fiber arts demand a high degree of proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills as well as the underlying traits, such as patience and problem-solving. This has historically been overlooked because in most parts of the world, the traditional weavers and fiber artists are women. Centuries of bias against women has led scholars, historians, economists, and business owners — traditionally male — to ignore and/or disparage the skills of women weavers and fiber artists, as well as their artistic, cultural, scientific, and economic contributions.
I’m working on developing a presentation to highlight and discuss the STEM skills required by weavers, with the idea that the presentation will eventually become a documentary film.
How did you start working with the weavers in Sardinia?
A number of factors ultimately brought together by synchronicity led me to the tessitrici artigianali and my work with them. See the story here.
Do you weave? Are you a weaver?
While I studied fiber arts with Gayle Wimmer at the University of Arizona, and I learned much from my mom before that, I do not consider myself a weaver or fiber artist. You can read more about my background here.
My art is to use my communications, writing, photo, video, and creative abilities to help others appreciate, value, and support the weavers and their art, skills, and traditions.
Are you Sardinian?
I was surprised the first time someone asked me if I was Sardinian — I’m blond-haired and blue-eyed, and in person, I could never be mistaken for a Sardinian, who tend to be dark-haired and dark-eyed. However, I realize it’s hard to know when reading articles online!
I was born in the United States to parents of predominantly Polish heritage, with a fair bit of Ashkenazi Jewish blood on my mom’s side. I have no Sardinian ancestry — at least in this life! I did dream of Sardinia as a kid, but that’s another story.
Is Sardinian Arts incorporated? Is Sardinian Arts a nonprofit?
When I founded Sardinian Arts in 2013, it was incorporated (Sardinian Arts, Inc.). I later changed the legal structure due to the cost and complications of maintaining a corporation in the state of California. Sardinian Arts, Inc. was dissolved at the end of 2017. I now carry on the educational and other aspects of Sardinian Arts as an individual, supporting the work myself. I don’t profit from Sardinian Arts or my work with weavers or others in Sardinia
Sardinian Arts is not set up as a non-profit because the overhead would be high, which I believe would divert funds and focus from the weavers in Sardinia.
What is Tramite.org?
Tramite means conduit, vessel, channel, or means of communication in Italian.
Tramite.org is the website where I post my writing, videos, and so forth.
© 2013 – 2022 Kelly Manjula Koza | All Rights Reserved