Handmade emotions

gennaro-di-meglio

Island women sitting on a small bench or on low chairs, resting on the legs an apron of heavy cloth. On the ground, on the one hand, a tangle of straw on which from time to time was threw a little water to make it more tender. On the other hand, in a bucket, a wicker treccinella, formed by circularly linked crolle: the magic of bind begins! It is an ancient tradition of Ischia to manufacture wicker baskets, round the edges more or less high, circular or oval baskets, with arched handle, made of willow and cane, baskets "with lace”.

A tradition that has its roots in the Greek colonization, marked with Arabic components that have marked the history of our island. Just think of the use of the cane imported from the mainland, and raffia (plant-based product that is made from a palm tree common on the coast of Madagascar) who came from Africa, to which were added some native plants cultivated on the island, specifically in the municipalities of Barano and Serrara Fontana, where there was a very special grain called “carosella", from which it drew a straw useful art of the bind.
It would appear that this ancient custom the only one can tell, because even build a basket is not easy, many people try to reproduce but few are able to carry on this tradition, but, fortunately, thanks to the passion of a few, today technique of bind is still alive. Gennaro Di Meglio is one of the "passionate" that continues the old activity of his ancestors, with always new and beautiful works, with that particular technique that has left an unmistakable mark in the local handicraft. Gennaro tells me when fontanesi (inhabitants of the village of Fontana) crossing the paths of Epomeo in the night to arrive early in the morning in the various markets of the island, and with a soft voice, trying to sell their "carosella" straw, that the hands of the women knew weave in many objects, such as 'cannistri', which are containers for the collection of fruit, 'panari' for the exposure to the sun for tomatoes , figs or eggplants.
A true rural and craft tradition in contact with nature from the first process of its production, all manual, which years ago was entrusted almost exclusively to women. The basic technique was to drill the straw and make way from time to time to collapses in the succession of points in several rounds. The working tool used for this operation is the awl, a tool similar to a mini screwdriver with the tapered tip.
The art of wicker or cane has matured in many different layers of the island population. For several years the islanders have worked the "baskets "by exporting to Italy and abroad. An art pursued the skill and patience of a few elderly women, who, with great skill, wove the colored raffia and then sell these "masterpieces of craftsmanship" to tourists.
Baskets, bags, slippers, but especially "the Chinese hats" in the fifties became the object of desire of many stars of that time, a special hat obtained by processing the straw of wheat which was stitched and overlapped edge to edge, and with the use of wooden forms, was obtained the desired shape. A period where the manufacturers of hats to their whims in the use of patterns, colors and quality simply weaving corn stalks, and using a curious metaphor we can safely say: the nature that renders insane!
Moving a few miles there is another reminder of "handmade emotions", such as those that revives Maria Scialò in her Emporio in Forio: the manufacture of the "rag dolls". The art that becomes sculpture: here a form of craftsmanship with the use of "poor material" a report with the manual and the immediate and genuine environment.
Stopping to admire with its needle stitching, and unstitches model is a real emotion that you should try. Masterpieces, each with its own soul. It is undeniable that a doll will help your child in the harmonious development of her imagination, an alter ego that encourages dialogue, and the first by a simple pedagogical point of view contributes to growth, but here we go further, the scene here has nothing to trade, is the daily life of Maria who goes on stage, and the extras are these creations that surround it, a corner in a fairytale environment that combines color & heat.
All that greet her and she smiles without stopping the play of hands engaged in sewing: the needle can not fail! Gennaro and Maria are two "ambassadors" of handmade traditions that must be preserved in order to offer our guests this aspect of the island that is not always sufficiently emphasized. Parsimony with which the wire enters the eye of a needle, the skill to choose the right straw, Ischia are moments of life that we hope you will appreciate during your visit on our island. I leave the emporium of Maria and once admiring the architectural beauty of the Quattrocchi Tower, a few feet away, leaning against the wall of her shop, I see Mariolino Capuano the artist poet who loves Pinocchio, and I imagine the man of Collodi wood in a phantasmagoric scene where Maria is surrounded by dolls , led by a "Chinese hat" by Gennaro...
But this will be the next story, which together with those of Maria and Gennaro, remind us that the traditions can not be forgotten, but rather should be "revisited" by proposing the originality of a place, reviving the historical period in the imagination of tourists, projecting it into an exciting era also wearing a simple hat, or a simple bag, stroking a tangle of straw, creating an emotion to love, a handmade emotion”!

Handmade emotions - Gennaro Di Meglio

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029

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