We arrived in Rome and were picked up by Giovanna of Tuttoricamo and her son at the airport. I had never met Giovanna before but we had corresponded over the past two years and she generously offered to put us up for a few days when we arrived and again just before we left. I often wonder what she and her family thought of us on that first night... we arrived exhausted and in bad need of a shower. They had held dinner for us and we were very sorry to try to explain that they feed you every two hours on a long flight so we weren't the least bit hungry! We managed through dinner (everything was delicious even if I thought I'd never eat again, I was so full). Giovanna and her husband had found us a spare cell phone, got us bottled water for excursions, bought us transit passes and investigated everything we would need. We wandered out the next day into Rome (where I hadn't been for at least 15 years or more) and despite all efforts to prevent it, promptly got lost... and sunburnt.
We wandered into the museum at the Palazzo Venezia and enjoyed the air conditioning while going through the Applied Arts exhibition. I am mentioning this here instead of taking you on to Rimini right away, because it is worth mentioning that if you are in Rome, and some people do opt out of spending the day at the Vatican, there are other museums which have needlework. This is one of them. The collection covers the period around the turn of the 20th century, there are many things to look at, lots of military stuff (bring your husbands!) but there is also embroidery of various types.
Okay, fast forward. My daughter and I worked our way from Rome to Florence where we stayed in a convent. The nuns who worked the reception desk passed the time embroidering some designs from RAKAM, an Italian needlework magazine, and we had a great chat about the show I was headed for. They took us on a tour of the convent and showed us embroideries which were out of the view of the public. The stitching sisterhood is a great club to belong to! Off to Siena and Pisa and then we met up in Verona with Maria Rosaria of Tuttoricamo and her daughter and stayed with them for a few days in Mantua. I had never met Maria Rosaria before either but again, the passion for needlework brought us together. From there we went on to Ravenna and then to Rimini for the Forum.
The 2007 Italia Invita International Lace and Embroidery Forum was held at a bigger venue than the previous two editions in Bellaria, and this time it was in Rimini, Italy. Rimini is quite the place for conferences, exhibitions, shows and the like, busloads of people were arriving from other places when we arrived! I went straight to my first atelier class which was on Sicilian Drawn Thread work and toiled diligently for two hours before I could look at anything. This is what I made (well, almost - I had to complete it at home but we did get quite a lot done in class):
The space for the Forum was divided into sections, on one side were all the vendors and on the other side all the schools and associations had their booths with displays of their works and things for sale like books, kits, supplies.
The Laboratorio Tessile di Alice booth with a display of Trapunto:
The Palestrina Embroidery Booth:
This edition of the Forum's theme was Cushions and 70 schools and associations stitched a cushion cover in their specialty technique which were displayed together in one area;
This cushion was done in Palestrina Embroidery:
Orvieto Lace Cushion (picture taken from the Forum 2007 book):
...there was a competition open to all Italians to produce a 20cm square of embroidery or lace, traditional or freestyle and there were 160 entries displayed on the walls to marvel over:
There were displays of works from textile artists and a memorial display of the works of a beloved stitcher, recently passed on. A booth dedicated to early 20th century Italian needlework scholar Elisa Ricci and her work. I met Bianca Rosa Bellomo who is occupied with researching Elisa Ricci's life and got to see some of her own antique needlework book collection. The stories of her research are fascinating!
I left my daughter with Giovanna's son and Maria Rosaria's daughter at the Tuttoricamo booth which they kindly manned for their mothers while they took turns looking around the Forum. We used the booth as a depository for purchases and a place to go and sit down, compare purchases advise others of things of interest, eat lunch and visit. In the afternoon I attended a Bizantina Ars class and learned that the Punto Stuoia (Rush Stitch) was something that was going to take me more than two hours to learn!
I did eventually complete this piece though:
That night in our hotel after dinner we all met in the hotel's bar and questioned each other about the many things we'd seen during the day, this turned into a two-part tutorial on Puncetto needle lace and Sardinian Knotted Stitch... we fell exhausted into bed sometime after midnight to do it all again the next day. Three days of frenzied learning, buying, meeting people... I met the infamous Agnese who, without knowing it, had helped me so much in finding out things about Italia Invita with her column on SuperEva. I met so many people I got confused as to who was who... I lost my voice from talking so much, I literally wandered around the Forum with my mouth open. I took two other atelier classes, one on Aemilia Ars needle lace and one on Deruta Pulled Thread Embroidery. I can't show you pictures of my finished projects because they don't exist... my mind was so overloaded that unfortunately I retained nothing from these two classes. In the end I could no longer speak either language but spoke a kind of bad mix of the two and my daughter had to constantly remind me that she didn't speak Italian and couldn't understand a word I was saying.
Over the three days of the Forum, I tried to absorb as much as possible about where to find out things later, where to buy things later, who had a website, a book, kits... I bought so much stuff that I invaded my daughter's suitcase with my things and had to leave some clothes behind in my hotel room! It took me months to come down from this experience and I still have a sack of kits and materials in my room that I haven't sorted out yet.
The Forum was the biggest one yet, receiving more than 6,000 visitors. They produced another book (in Italian and English) called Merletti e Ricami Italiani Forum 2007 [Italian Laces and Embroideries] with pictures of all the cushions, stitch diagrams, a glossary of stitches and techniques and a couple of very interesting articles – especially the one on Elisa Ricci and her book collection. This book on the 2007 Forum is still available but I understand that it is nearly sold out at the publisher's. It is truly gorgeous and a fantastic resource for examples of many different Italian lace and embroidery techniques. I understand that Italian Needlecrafts has just received their supply.
Tuttoricamo has pictures of the 2007 Forum in the Italian pages of the website, click here to see some of the booths and click here to see some of the cushions.
Next time I'll tell you about the 2009 Forum which I also went to. I'm sure that I've forgotten to tell you a hundred things but I think you get an idea of how fantastic this Forum is.
Italia Invita - Part One - 2003
Italia Invita - Part Two - 2005
Italia Invita - Part Four - 2009
Italia Invita - Part Five - 2011
Thank you to Giovanna for some of the photos!