Mar 19, 2020

MADE IN ITALY | Venice Artisans Guide for best handcrafted items to support local makers

Support local makers and Made in Italy: discover the best venetian handcrafted items and shop online with our Venice Artisans Guide

|| A post by JoAnn Locktov


Venezia, 2017



First came the November floods and now comes the plague, with a complete lock-down in Venice. There are no visitors, which means there are no customers for the community of artisans in Venice. They are feeling the devastation that comes with a complete loss of income. 

I’ve created this Artisan Guide with Venetian handcrafted items and gift ideas that you can order on-line. It is a meaningful way to support Venetians in this very difficult time.

They say that a culture is often reflected in the artisans who keep the legacy of traditions alive. Blessed are the Venetian makers. When you invest in their creativity, you are helping them to repair, restart, and recover.

With our Venice Artisans Guide, we aim to support local makers and original made in Italy, giving you a guide of original handcrafted items that you can buy also online.

Venice Artisans Guide

Best Venetian handcrafted items to shop online from local makers

1/ Murano seed beads

For many, Marisa Convento is the matriarch of Venetian artisans. She is a celebrated Impiraressa, working with vintage Murano seed beads.  Her intricate signature coral is a regal reminder of the Venetian Lagoon. In 2018 the city of Venice awarded Marisa with the Il premio “ Festa di San Marco” for her dedication to craftsmanship and in recognition of her successful initiatives.   



2/ Traditional printmaking

Plum Plum Creations is the atelier of Arianna Sautariello, a Venetian who decided to preserve the ancient art of printmaking in Venice. Arianna creates etchings, drypoints, linocuts, as well as watercolors and drawings. Venice is her source of inspiration.



3/ Glass miniatures

Alessia Fuga creates lamp work beads in her studio on Murano. Each bead is a miniature sculpture and a testament to the beauty of glass. Named one of the top 40 International bead makers, Alessia’s work is collected internationally. She also teaches private classes on the ancient lamp work technique that originated on Murano in the 14th century.



4/ Painted fabrics

Hélène Ferruzzi was born in France, to a family of musicians. It is no wonder that her hand painted fabrics are filled with lyricism.  Exuberant and vibrant, the textiles are resplendent in color and form.



5/ Murano glass jewelry

The marvelous creations of Perlamadre are born from Simona Iacovazzi’s experience in understanding the closely guarded secrets of Venetian glass. In collaboration with Evelina Pescarolo, they have a deep commitment to the restoration of cultural heritage. Every handcrafted bead contains the history of Murano, an interpretation of the past, which reveals the present. Their glass has a velvet luminescence that begs to be touched. You can also become a “perlera” for a day, and learn about the history of beads and make your very first creation under the guidance of Simona at the Perlamadre atelier in Dorsoduro.



6/ Silk textiles

Tessitura was founded by Luigi Bevilacqua in 1875, after recovering looms and machines once used by the Silk Guild of the Republic of Venice. World renown for their woven textiles, the company continues an ancient Venetian art, combining historical designs and techniques with a “whiff” of modernity. Nowhere is that more apparent than their resplendent collection of purses and totes.



7/ Ceramics

Dangirute Raceviciute is a designer who imbues the aesthetic of beauty, in objects for the home. Her Boutique Danghyra is the summary of her creative insights and innovation, culminating in often glimmering, contemporary design. Working in ceramic, polychrome clay and platinum Dangirute elevates the ubiquitous espresso cup to another dimension of glory.


8/  Gondola ornaments

The romance of Venice is possibly best captured by sleek gondolas, which have navigated her canals since 1094.  But no matter how much we may want one to call our own, they are a tad impractical. Instead, we can be satisfied with a hand crafted gondola ornament from Valese, the last remaining foundry in Venice. The Valese Foundry, founded by Luigi Valese in 1913, is located near the Church of La Madonna dell’Orto. Using traditional sand casting methods, it is one of the few foundries that still use the plug moulding technique to create the mythological figures in brass.



9/ Venetian prints

Small Caps has big, often irreverent designs. They are silk-screen designers, creating witty posters and limited edition art. From a basket- ball playing San Sabastiano to Venice underwater, they are hard-core.



10/ Wearable handmade textiles

Raffaella Brunzin, was born in Venice, and graduated in Architecture.  The passion for her work and in-depth knowledge of textiles techniques are expressed in her handmade objects. The linear, clean, minimalist creations are often inspired by the material and its intrinsic qualities, which are emphasized by the shape and sometimes transformed by a mere gesture.  Modern wearable art. 



11/ Fortuny lamps

What was to become of the legacy of Mariano Fortuny? It was 1984 when the pleating procedure and the hand printing system on silks and velvets was finally perfected, allowing the creation of accessories and clothes. This is how Lino Lando refounded the Atelier of Palazzo Orfei in Venice, continuing the handcrafted production of silks, velvets, lamps, clothing accessories and perfumes. The famous silk lamps and Greek-inspired dresses continue to be designed, painted and printed by hand, with the same devotion to craftsmanship, as the original Fortuny.



12/ Venetian Tabarro

What was born in the 15th century, unisex, democratic, used for warmth, and also to hide jewels? The Venetian Tabarro. Still being created in wool and cashmere by Monica Danielle. The epitome of Venetian seduction, just ask Casanova.



13/ Venetian masks

Ca’Macana masks are custom papier-mache, hand-made from gesso molds by expert artisans. Each mask is a unique piece, the expression of the artist who creates it.  Decorative material includes precious fabrics, real feathers, Swarovski crystals, as well as gold leaf and silver leaf.
Classic masks such as the bauta and the moretta are faithfully reproduced from authentic paintings by Pietro Longhi and Francesco Guardi.



14/ Eyewear

From creating the famous Tondo glasses for Carlo Scarpa to finding the perfect frames for Elton John, Ottica Urbani has been at the cross road of experimentation and personality since 1953. Fosca and her team of visionary designers create eyewear that is both ironic and innovative. A natural propensity for experimentation has led to the rediscovery of techniques and materials, which are typical of small craft companies in the Veneto.



15/ Fórcola

Il Forcolaio Matto di Piero Dri is the youngest remer in Venice, a trade that began in 1307. The hand-carved fórcola (oarlock) is essential to Venetian culture because a gondola cannot be maneuvered without it. A hand carved, functional sculpture with as much poetry of line as Henry Moore. For Piero Dri, the process of crafting a fórcola is a journey, respectful of the wood, and the 700 hundred-year heritage.



16/ Mosaics

When you walk into the Basilica of San Marco you are greeted with the luminous site of gold mosaics from the 11th century. Working in the same methods as this ancient craft, is Venice-born Dusciana Bravura.  She has taken a rigorous and storied tradition and created a modern language of design, reflective of her imagination and curiosity about the world.



17/ Marionettes

As a young boy, Roberto Comin played in the maze of narrow walkways, small squares and canals that make up this ancient lagoon city of Venice. His imagination was captured by the story of Pinocchio, and while a teenager, he started making puppets and marionettes. Each body is made of wood, and the head, hands and feet are wood pulp mixture.  Every creation is painted by hand one at a time. Every day, you can find him at his small workshop, in the same neighborhood, where he grew up.  Venice’s very own Geppetto.



18/ Furlane veneziane

Piedàterre makes the fabled furlane veneziane for your feet. The slippers are made individually by skilled crafts people who painstakingly sew using the blanket stitch, the symbol of a tradition that started in the 19th century.  It was in Venice after the Second World War, that gondoliers discovered the furlane. Being non-slip, the hand made slippers provided grip and stability, without damaging the precious paint of the gondola.  Piedàterre designs many styles with sumptuous fabrics from Venetian velvets and raw silk, to the woven tapestries of Bevilacqua.



19 / Metal handmade design

Materialmente is the collaboration of two artists, Maddalena Venier and Alessandro Salvadori; they work in the unique language of metal, crafting poetic sculptures and emphatic jewelry. Their narrative is intriguing, and often defies the inherent qualities of metal to become light and supple.



20 / Persian “Ebru” painting

Alberto Valese learned the secrets of the Persian “Ebru” painting technique from a Turkish master 5 decades ago. He returned home to Venice, and began experimenting with this 16th century process. The maestro has refined the creation of marbled of paper and applied his expertise beyond the two-dimensional surface with a form of calligraphy, written in color and motion.



21 / Chocolate

Artisan chocolate, in all its tempting wonder at VizioVirtù.  The edible adventure started 2005 when Vizio Virtù opened their first chocolate factory, a shop able to cater for even the most demanding palates (including their own) and to make Venice an even sweeter town. They have chosen a particular corner in Venice for their delectable shop. It is where Marco Polo lived, and spices, coffee, and cocoa powders were traded. Yes, cocoa powder, their preferred ingredient, which is never missing in their delicious shop.


About the author:

JoAnn Locktov is the publisher of the Dream of Venice series of book. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter where she discusses all things Venice. 



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