Painting with Wool

February 13, 2008 / Local Interest
The first mention in Chieri of the stiff, textured Bandera fabric itself dates back to the beginning of the 15th century. The 16th and 17th centuries in Piemonte (Piedmont, literally “foot of the mountain”, a region in NW Italy) saw both increased commerce with Turkey and the East, and influence from France. Taking the motifs and designs from the first and the stitch work and techniques from the second, the local Piemontese artisans lost no time embellishing their own special fabric. The stiff Bandera fabric proved to be the perfect base for this artwork, and Chieri never looked back.

Like so many crafts, the ricamo Bandera (literally Bandera embroidery, although technically it is crewel work) saw a decrease in popularity after the war years and a risky period of neglect which almost removed it from living memory. The Associazione Amici del Ricamo Bandera however, have breathed new life into this art by promoting the old needlework techniques and designs and encouraging local production of the Bandera fabric itself.

Bed sheets, pillow cases, table cloths . . the inner circle of ricamo Bandera artisans call it l’arte della pittura con la lana, “painting with wool”. Good thing for high resolution digital cameras and reading glasses! The level of detail that these artisans are able to achieve is astounding . . except for the framing motifs all the work is done with the thinnest single-ply yarns available.

Associazione Amici del Ricamo Bandera, Via Demaria, 10. Chieri (TO). (+39).011.942.7421, email: info (at) ricamobandera (dot) com,


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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