Today was the third and final day of my private workshop at the Giuditta Brozzetti textile atelier in Perugia and I felt a little sad saying goodbye to everyone. The workshop really was fascinating and more fun than I expected!
Marta is the driving force behind the workshop, founded by her great-grandmother almost a century ago, and Marta spent many patient hours with me on a simple, four-pedal loom teaching me the basics of weaving. This was much harder than it looks, and gave me a real appreciation for the intense labour as well as creative energy that goes into the weaving of the beautiful table clothes, napkins, cushion and lamp covers that Marta now creates.
(After many hours of toil, I’ve produced a fairly ugly little piece in many colors and a few different patterns. I’ll post a photo, so readers with weak stomachs, beware!)
Marta’s mother Clara, a passionate historian on the subject of Umbrian textiles, also spent many hours giving me an overview of the history of textiles in general but particularly why these have been so important to the Umbrian economy for centuries.
The textile industry was arguably the backbone of much of the world’s commerce throughout history. People have always needed and valued cloth -- for clothing, for warmth on their beds, to cover windows and warm stone walls, for decoration, for show and even as a means of exchange.
Textile workers revolted against revolutions in the production of fabric over the years, but progress couldn’t be stopped. At least in northern Europe. Umbria, for many reasons, did not industrialize. This has been a curse and a blessing: the economy of Umbria has suffered greatly, but many kinds of art -- including textile production -- were protected as a result.
Of course, it wasn’t all work. Clara and Marta are extremely kind and friendly and a great pleasure to talk with. Today, Clara invited me to lunch with her family, including her husband, her three adult daughters, sons-in-law and a delightful grandchild. It was fantastic -- a simple pasta dish followed by roast chicken -- and wonderful conversation.
Everyone blogs about food, but I do have to say that I’ve had some fantastic meals so far (how could I not?) Last night I tried the restaurant Altro Mondo near my hotel in central Perugia. My antipasto platter included wonderful proscuitto, deep--fried artichoke, bruschette including truffle pate and fresh tomatoes, a couple mozzarella and rice balls -- an interesting mix. My main course was a delicious lentil soup. I’ve become addicted to lentil soup and here in Umbria it is so good -- thick, flavourful, yet very simple.
I skipped gelato last night so perhaps tonight, as a treat, I’ll let myself have one. After all, it hasn’t been all fun and weaving and eating. Two nights ago, strolling on Corso Vannucci, I somehow stepped in some glass and wound up with a piece about half the size of a peppercorn embedded in my foot.
It hurt like hell, and all night it felt like something was under my skin, but I couldn’t see anything. The next morning, I walked all the way to the workshop, still feeling something wasn’t right. I resolved to ask Clara and Marta’s advice -- should I go to a clinic and if so, where?
Of course, Marta -- running a workshop filled with wooden looms -- has had plenty of experience with removing slivers under the skin. Up my foot went and down on her knees was Marta, poking and prodded at my foot. She agreed with me -- something was in there and had to come out.
She disinfected a small needle, then a much larger needle and finally some small scissors. After swabbing the area with disinfectant, she began to work to pull up and snip away the skin, until she finally reached this chunk of glass.
What a relief!!! I worry a lot about infection and cuts on the foot are serious, because of course a lot of bacteria can enter easily through the foot.
Since then, under their strict advice, I’ve been washing the area with disinfectant three times a day, slapping on some Polysporin and hoping it heals soon. Oh, and watching carefully for broken glass.
The things you can learn in a textile workshop!