The art of hand woven fabric

August 07, 2018

While traveling in Italy, one of my absolute favorite things to do (besides eating) is meeting local artisans and learning more about their craft. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting lace makers in Burano. This year, I was so excited to meet a handloom weaver in Paciano-- Monica Giacomelli. Monica was so kind to open her studio to me and my 6 year old daughter. She set up looms (which is really, the most time consuming part of weaving) for us to learn how to weave fabric like they did before fabrics were industrialized. 

I loved getting to know Monica and learned that we have a lot in common! She was formerly a banker, and on a trip to Central America, she became fascinated with handloom weaving. Though it had absolutely nothing to do with her profession, she was drawn to it. She quit her job and began a new path. (OK I didn't go to Central America to find my path from accounting to acting to fashion, but I totally understood why she left her banking career). 

During our weaving break, Monica showed us her secret garden, which was full of gorgeous flowers and butterflies. My daughter didn't want to leave! 

She also showed us around her studio, where she teaches a weekly class to people with special needs. She has such a beautiful heart and is so passionate about what she does. Not long ago, Monica was able to rescue some ancient looms that belonged to a woman who passed away in Perugia. The woman's kids never learned the craft and didn't want to keep the looms, so they began burning them (I know, so sad). You can see one of the looms in the video above and the jacquard fabric that was produced by it-- amazing! 

Another thing Monica and I share is our desire to rid the world of fast fashion and to restore dignity to the industry. We both agreed that clothing shouldn't be disposable, nor should be the people who make it. I love how, in a matter of hours, two strangers who speak different languages and live across the world, were able to discover we have so much in common and become fast friends (all while patiently weaving our fabric on our hand looms-- and believe me, it requires so much patience). 

If you're ever in Paciano and want to learn about the ancient craft of hand woven fabrics, I would definitely recommend visting Monica at Penelope Tessuti a Mano. 

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