In 1911 in the Tuscan municipality of Lamporecchio, an American heiress named Laura Towne Merrick (1842 - 1926) founded a school of lacemaking and "women's work" to provide local women with a means to make extra money. The seat of the school was in a property owned by Ms. Merrick in Piazza Francesco Berni, Lamporecchio.
The teacher Clotilde Negroni (1862 - 1931) was brought in from Reggio Emilia to give lessons to students who were to be of at least 12 years old with priority for admission to the school/workshop going to those women who were the most economically in need. These women became workers for the school who produced embroidered items for sale.
|Taken from Segui la treccia, trovi il ricamo by Federica Mabellini, 2010.|
A special embroidery style, Lamporecchio Embroidery was developed and works were exported to America where they sold for high prices. This characteristic embroidery style was an overcast stem stitch applied to outlines of mostly animal shapes enriched by satin stitch motifs with openwork and pulled-work accents. Design inspiration came from the paintings and romanesque sculptures found in local churches.
Virginia Torrigiani, lady companion to Laura Merrick continued the interest in the school/workshop after the death of Ms. Merrick, eventually passing the technique of Lamporecchio Embroidery on to her niece Vannina Bonfanti. Today the technique is kept alive by the Club del Ricamo di Casale in Casalguidi.
Laura Towne Merrick a Papiano. "La cultura anglo-americana in Toscana alla fine dell’Ottocento" by Michela Cammilli, 2012.
Le Dimore di Pistoia e della Valdinievole, Section 1, Chapter 8: Cultura Eclettica 'Fin de Siècle' e Residenze d'Élite. Tre episodi a confronto: Le Ville di Vaioni, Papiano e Cozzile by Gianluca Chelucci; Section 1, Chapter 9: Una Americana in Valdinievole. Laura Towne Merrick e la sua Villa a Papiano by Simone Martini, 2004.