In 2010, SACI weaving instructor, Patricia Kinsella opened “The Weaving Factory” in the historic weaving atelier of Tessilarte. The hand-weaving factory, originally specializing in the production of fabric for women’s wear, dates back to the 1920s. In 1947, the factory was acquired by Vittoria Camerino Martinetti, who founded Tessilarte. Vittoria began her production of brightly colored tablecloths and placemats, on the antique hand looms of the old factory, woven exclusively in linen. In 1969, Vittoria was succeeded by her daughter, Paola Martinetti Graziano, who assumed responsibility for the direction of the company as well as for the creation and design of the collection. In this period, Paola expanded the line to include bed and bath linens. Although the collection is still produced in Tuscany, the hand woven articles were phased out in the early 1990s, as the weavers retired, one by one. The weaving atelier had been quiet for almost 20 years when Pat moved her hand looms in among the antique machinery and began to teach a new generation of weavers.
SACI offers all levels of Weaving courses. Students are introduced to weaving on four harness looms. Basic loom techniques cover pattern, drafting, warp preparation, dressing, and operating the loom. Projects explore basic weave structures, plain weaves, twills, pattern threadings, and hand manipulated techniques such as tapestry, soumack, leno, inlay, pickup, and rug knots. Students move on to experiment with yarns, their weights, settings, color, and texture. Experienced students have access to eight harness looms, and advanced students have access to sixteen harness looms. Intermediate and advanced projects involve research into techniques such as block design theory, double weaves, brocade, and various complex weave structures. Other options include natural dyeing of yarns, ikat dyeing, card and belt weaving, and pictorial and sculptural tapestry. Field trips include visits to an antique silk weaving factory, a tapestry restoration workshop, and industrial textile expositions. Weaving is taught at Tessilarte: Via Toselli 100, a short bus ride from SACI’s main facility.
To see more SACI student work in this area, see the Craft Gallery.