Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hand-stamped fabrics

The tradition of hand-stamped fabrics goes back far into Italian history, at least to the 1400s if not farther. Some fabrics were stamped to embroider over and some were made just to be used as-is. Embroidery took a long time to produce therefore it was expensive, hand-stamping brought similar results at a lower cost.

Hand-stamped fabrics were used for table linens, upholstery, household furnishings, animal trappings and even clothing.

Traditionally the stamps were hand-carved into pear wood. Dye colours included rust, indigo blue, green and very rarely gold-yellow and brown.

Artisan hand-stamped fabrics are still produced today in Italy.

This is the corner of a small table cloth I purchased from Bertozzi:

This is a pear wood hand-carved stamp from the first part of the 20th century, part of a collection owned by Arnaldo Caprai.

Many more can be found in the book: In viaggio con Penelope. A catalogue of many embroideries, laces and textile-related articles owned by Arnaldo Caprai.

The area around Gambettola, Italy was especially productive in this art. Watch the video here that shows how the production is carried out, some patterns and also some modern designs.

This company specializes in Renaissance patterns and has some interesting slide-shows with English text.

To learn more of the history of hand-stamped fabrics in the Romagna region, go to Tuttoricamo and under the 'History' heading, you'll find a fascinating article called 'Hand printed fabric'.

There is an online museum of a collection of stamps from all over Europe here. You can visit this museum which is in Via Ugo Foscolo no. 4, Milan, entrance is free. I have not been there but it's on my list of things to do!

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