Support the Artisans in Venice – #bethechange
Ok…this is the deal:
You walk into that lovely Artisan shop….you get to spot him/her working away on the latest creation. You get intrigued….you start asking questions. The artisan stops working and starts, with a smile, to answer all of your questions.
Time goes by and What??? You have been there already nearly an hour? Wow, does time fly, right???
But you think: Really I cannot afford to buy any of these lovely pieces, they are so costly….mmmm….I think I will have to walk away…..thanks for your time.
Now…stop a sec…..would you ever walk into a lawyer/doctor/professional office……take away an hour of their time consulting on their work and then walk away scot free ie. without having to open a loan with a bank to pay for their time?
Sooooo……..my question is: WHY DO YOU DO IT WITH AN ARTISAN????
They have to pay their bills too and if they spend all their time talking to people they do not use their hand to create their products…..so now think…..SUPPORT THE ARTISAN, BUY ARTISAN!
NOW READ ON!
Artisans in Venice.
Today Marisa sounds different than usual.
A sense of resigned sadness permeates her writing. We chat nearly every day either via Facebook or with Skype. And no matter what, she is always on high spirits, running around like a spinning top, entertaining her clients and friends in her beautiful little social boudoir aka her little bead atelier Venetian Dreams in Calle della Mandola, all the while stringing away lines and lines of beautiful vintage Venetian seed beads and turning them into little works of art.
One of these little works of art was happily settled on the gorgeous neck of this year winning Maria, from the Venice Carnival’s Marie Parade. And she also decorated the stunning dress that the girl was wearing, a great piece of artisanship created by Atelier Pietro Longhi.
So, the woman that has been kicking my derriere for the last 10 months, telling me to leave the past Annus horribilis behind me and move forward concentrating on myself and my work, the same woman who every morning injects pure adrenaline in my day, well, all of a sudden it feels like that the same woman has left the building!
I got a bit worried: I know things have not been easy lately with her personal life, but in all the years I have known her, these types of situations have never run her down.
And then, finally, after a little poking and asking the right questions, she opens up: even though the last two years have been a long string of successes, one after another, even though her name is pretty much known all over the world, thanks to her beautiful work, she still has the horrible impression that people don’t care anymore about the hard work of artisans.
What is happening with the artisans in Venice
Everyone talks about them, they admire them but then, when it comes down to put their hands in the wallet, they all go to the cheap shops!
In Marisa’s own words: … the artisans in Venice, especially, are suffering the crisis! Many people appreciate the concept of hand made craft, but then, when it comes to actually spending the money, they turn to the large international or low cost companies or, even worse, the trash cost ones. They think that, even if they are not supporting the craftsman, it does not make a huge difference; they believe that it is not up to them to make the choice; that in any case there will always be someone else who will make it on their behalf.
A selfish reasoning, while the right attitude is: #bethechange you want for the world, everybody is called, without exception, there is no excuse for not feeling involved!
You do not like the bad road Venice is taking (which is the symbol of the ideal city, as Settis says)? Then take a stand and make the right choices or show them to those who have to make them.
I must admit that Marisa’s feeling is pretty much shared by most of my other artisan friends.
It happens to them every day that people walk into their shop, admire their beautiful hand made products but as soon as they find out that they cannot buy it for less than 5 Euros, they smile and walk out, muttering and mumbling away words like “too pricey, can’t afford it” etc.
Well, when I hear this type of things, I start fuming!!!
Because, many times, the above-mentioned people are not here on a low budget and struggling to make ends meet!
Many of them spend a few days in some of the best high-end hotels in Venice, they go and dine in the top restaurants, and they go around on the canals of Venice by taxi and not using public transport.
But, for some reason, it is ok to spend the money on that, while it is not ok to pay a fair price for the work of an artisan!
Honestly, this I do not understand!
How come we are happy to hand over, without a single word, a bill for more of 100 Euros an hour to a lawyer or an architect, but we are not willing to pay for a hand made product, which probably took may hours of hard labor to be produced?
Why do we need to belittle manual labor so much?
And so, amidst the fumes of my mounting rage and anger, I realised that Marisa was right! No point in just talking and complaining about it – do something about it!
If you want something to change, you have to start changing it yourself: #bethechange!
I get asked every single day if I can recommend some cute and unique shops, really local, really Venetian or at least Italian.
It is true: it is not easy, as a foreign person, to always understand what is true Hand Made in Italy and what is not.
Maybe, as my friend Lee Laurino suggested, the shops should display a seal of approval sticker on their door from the local Artisan Association (free of charge to the artisan though, not another money making scheme to get money from them!) – this would help those who find it hard to understand the difference.
But also there should be the will of local authorities to educate the people who come to visit Venice and Italy in general – some sort of guide on how to spot a real artisan shop from a low cost trash one!
Finally, here it is, my little bit of #bethechange, the best way I know how to help: given you, my readers and followers, a list of all the local artisans I personally know in Venice, whom I can all call friends.
People who have dedicated their life to their passion and the #madeinitaly, to carry forward the tradition of the beautiful city they live in, working hard and struggling everyday, but always looking forward, because they truly believe in what the are doing!
This is only a small list, the beginning of change!
I will be updating this list regularly with new additions as I get to meet more artisans – so keep coming back to check on new artisans!
Hopefully one day Venice will be beautiful again with lots and lots of small botteghe (the Venetian name for artisan shops) as it used to be until only a few years ago and as it is meant to be!
And then the only Chinese shops, we will have, will be those of beautiful real hand made products from small artisans in China! 😉
The Artisans in Venice – my list!
Calle Della Mandola
Stunning Murano Glass Jewelry in Vintage Venetian Beads and Perle a Lume (Lamp work) Beads created by the Paladin of the Impiraresse herself!
Fondamenta Degli Ormesini
Against all odds, this young artisan opened her Etching Artwork shop only a year ago and is already gaining a lot of success.
Calle Seconda Del Cristo
The Forcola is one of the most important parts of the gondola: it is the oarlock! Piero has dedicated his life to carry on this centuries old tradition. Visit his workshop to be enchanted by all his wood art work! And ladies, he is a cutie too! 😉
I bet you never saw a piece of jewelry that looks like is made in Murano glass and it turns out to be made of paper! You have no idea what Stefania can do with a tiny leaf of paper!
Ponte di Rialto
The only artisan in Venice who still makes hand made cameos, since 1934! Marco and his family are always ready to share their passion of corals and cameos with their clients!
These glass wear artisans have been producing personalized glasses since the 50’s in Venice, for famous people like Hemingway, Music, Vedova and the architect Carlo Scarpa.
Calle Delle Erbe
Giulia and her husband Igor create dreams! They design and stitch by hand every single costume they produce as well as all of the necessary accessories, like masks, wigs etc. Walk in their atelier as Cinderella and you walk out as Madonna!
Alessia is an amazing artist from Murano island who creates stunning lamp work beads. Unique and simply gorgeous!
Cristina creates beautiful delicate Murano glass sculptures by lamp work, which is very complicated and hard labour.
The most delicious hand made chocolates brought to you by the capable hands of Mariangela, her mum and young Laura! There is no way you can walk in here and walk out empty handed!0