Thursday, July 8, 2010

Florence- Day 10 Studio Tours

We ventured to the other side of the Arno River, with Fabrizio Aquafresca, a well known Florentine silversmith who specializes in chasing and repousse, and a friend of Linda's.

First, Fabrizio took us to the Brandimarte store front. Brandimarte was started by Fabrizio's uncle, and how he got into silversmithing. I didn't take any photos here, because there's something about photographing someone else's work that just doesn't sit right with me some times. Not a hard and fast rule, but there you go. There was SO MUCH SILVER, all of it high polish, mostly large vessels. We hung out there for a little while, before us metals kids split off from the rest of the group.

And then the real fun began. I think the original plan had been to go to Fabrizio's studio, but we wound up going to a bunch of other places instead. The first was Fratelli Lisi, a silver studio that makes these incredible animals with silver fur. They developed a special machine to cut the silver, and then they solder it in such a way that it looks like fur or feathers.
A woman soldering overlapping pieces of "fur".

A silver beetle.

Soldering a parrot foot.

Hammering a crayfish/lobster.

It was this tiny little studio, making these incredible things. These Italian master craftsmen, humoring us young American girls. I have dozens of more photos, which I'll try to post on flickr later.
Some other amazing places we went to that I'm going to gloss over in interest of brevity:
a violin maker
a cobbler
a small jewelry/sculpture co-op

And then, Alchimia. Alchimia is a contemporary jewelry school in Florence. The likes of Arlene Fisch, Iris Echenburg, and Peter Bauhuis have lectured there. This was a huge deal for me. Seeing contemporary European art jewelry in Europe. I totally had a moment in front of the work on display. I can't even describe what this meant to me. It felt like the Universe was trying to speak to me. To tell me that my work, strange as it is, belongs somewhere. It was brief, but deffinately a moment.

But what really blows my mind is that they don't do any enameling there.

Some studio shots:

After we looked around the studio a bit, Lucia, one of the founders and directors, took us down the block to where Alchimia is moving this fall. We were such dorks, getting so excited over this empty building. I've decided to spare you the pics.

After that was lunch where I tried rabbit for the first time, and after lunch we walked around the city some more, with Fabrizio as our tour guide. We went into Orsanmichele, a church that had once been a granary, where I took half a dozen pictures of the roof beams, and none of the art.

And then it was time for a beer! Fabrizio took us to his local hangout, an Irish pub next to the Doumo that played American music and was also full of Americans. This was the view from the bar:

I couldn't believe I was sitting there, drinking a beer, looking at this. I seriously couldn't stop staring at Doumo. I never did get to tour the inside though.

Group photo! One of the only ones I have from the whole trip. That's me on the far left in the hat, two guys we'd just met from Kansas City, Tara, Fabrizio, Marissa and Sarah.

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